THE VARIOUS STATES OF DEVACHAN
The foremost question that presents itself to the mind of the Occultist of Asiatic birth, upon seeing the multifarious difficulties which beset the European students of Esotericism, as regards Devachan: how to account for their weird fancies with regard to the after states! It is natural for one to measure other persons’ intellectual operations by his own; not without an effort can he put himself in his neighbor’s place and try to see things from his standpoint. As regards Devachan, for example, nothing would apparently be clearer than the esoteric doctrine, incompletely as it may have been expressed by “Lay Chela”; yet it is evidently not comprehended, and the fact must be ascribed, I think, rather to the habitual differences in our respective ways of looking at things than to the mechanical defects in the vehicle of expression. It would be very hard for an Asiatic Occultist to even conjure up such a fancy as that of Swedenborg, who makes the angels our post-mortem inquisitors, ‘ obliged to estimate a soul’s accumulated
merits and demerits by physical inspection of its body, beginning at the tips of the fingers and toes and tracing thence to centres! Equally baffling would be the attempt to bring ourselves to the point of seriously tracing a denizen of the American Summer-Land of Spirits through the nurseries, debating clubs, and legislative assemblies of that optimistic Arcadian Eden. A warp of anthropomorphism seems to run through the entire woof of European metaphysics. The heavy hand of a personal deity and his personal ministers seems to compress the brain of almost every Western thinker. If the influence does not show itself in one form, it does in another. Is it a question about God? A metaphysical slide is inserted, and the stereopticon flashes before us a picture of a gold-paved, pearly-doored New Jerusalem, with its Durbar Hall, peacock throne, Maharajah, Dewans, courtiers, trumpeters, scribes, and general train. Is the intercourse between disembodied spirits under discussion? The Western constitutional bias of mind can conceive of no such intercourse without some degree of mutual consciousness of an objective presence of the corporeal kind: a sort of psychic chit-chat. I hope I do not wrong our Western correspondents, but it is impossible, for myself at least, to draw any conclusions from the whole tenor of the British Theosophist’s memorandum. Vapoury and etherealized as his concept may be, it is yet materialistic at the core. As we would say, the germ-point of metaphysical evolution is of Biblical derivation: and through its opalescent vapour sparkle the turrets of the New Jerusalem.”
There is much fanciful exotericism to be sure, in Asiatic systems. Quite as much and more perhaps than in the Western; and our philosophies have many a harlequin cloak. But we are not concerned now with externals: our critic comes upon metaphysical ground and deals with esotericism. His difficulty is to reconcile “isolation,” as he understands it, with “intercourse” as we understand it. Though the monad is not like a seed dropped from a tree, but in its nature is ubiquitous, all-pervading, omnipresent; though in the subjective state time, space and locality are
not factors in its experiences; though, in short, all mundane conditions are reversed; and the now thinkable becomes the then unthinkable and vice-versa—yet the London friend goes on to reason as though all this were not so. . . .
Now, Buddhistically speaking, there are states and states and degrees upon degrees in Devachan, in all of which, notwithstanding the (to us) objective isolation of the principal hero, he is surrounded by a host of actors in conjunction with whom he had during his last earth-life created and worked out the causes of those effects that are produced first on the field of Devachanic or Avitchean subjectivity, then used to strengthen the Karma to follow on the objective (?) plane of the subsequent rebirth. Earth-life, is so to say, the Prologue of the drama (or we should, perhaps, call it mystery), that is enacted in the rupa and arupa lokas. Now were we to say that nature, with every due regard to personality and the laws of objectivity as understood in exotericism, “constitutes a veritable intercourse” between the devachanic heroes and actors; and, instead of dissociating the monads not only as regards “personal or corporeal” but even astral “association” establishes “actual companionship” between them, as on the earth-plane, we might, perhaps, avoid the strange accusation of “nature cheating” in Devachan. On the other hand, after thus pandering to emotional objections, we could hardly help placing our European Chelas in a far more inextricable dilemma. They would be made to face a problem of personal post-mortem ubiquity, throwing that of the Western deity far into the background of illogical absurdity. Suppose for one moment a Devachanic father, twice wedded, and loving both his wives as he does his children, while the step-mother loves neither his progeny nor their mother, the coolest indifference if not actual aversion reigning between the two. “Actual companionship,” and “real personal intercourse” (the latter applied even to their astral bodies) implies here bliss for the father and irritation for the two wives and children, all equally worthy of Devachanic bliss. Now imagine again the real
mother attracting by her intense love the children within her devachanic state, and thus depriving the father of his legitimate share of bliss. It has been said before, that the devachanic mind is capable only of the highest spiritual ideation; that neither objects of the grosser senses nor anything provocative of displeasure could even be apprehended by it—for otherwise, Devachan would be merging into Avitchi, and the feeling of unalloyed bliss destroyed for ever. How can nature reconcile in the above case the problem without either sacrificing her duty to our terrestrial sense of objectivity and reality, or, without compromising her status before our criterion of truth and honest dealing? On one hand, the children would have to double and treble themselves ad infinitum—as they too may have disembodied, devachanic objects of spiritual attachment clamouring elsewhere for their presence—which process of ubiquity would hardly be consistent with our notions of personal, actual presence, at one and the same time and at several different places; or, there would always be somebody, somewhere “cheated by nature.” To place the monads promiscuously together, like one happy family—would be fatal to truth and fact: each man, however insignificant he may have been on earth, is yet mentally and morally sui generis in his own distinct conceptions of bliss and desires, and has, therefore, a right to, and an absolute necessity for, a specific, personal, “isolated” devachan.
The speculations of the Western mind have hitherto scarcely ever depicted any higher future life than that of the Kama and Rupa lokas, or the lower, intra-terrestrial “spirit-worlds.” In Appendix D many states and spheres are hinted at. According even to exoteric Buddhistic philosophy disincarnate beings are divided into three classes of—(1) Kamawâchara, or those who are still under the dominion of the passions in Kamaloka; (2) Rupawâchara, or those who have progressed to a higher stage, but still retain vestiges of their old form in Rupa loka; and (3) Arupawâchara, or those who are become formless entities in the Arupa lokas of the highest Devachan. All depends on the degree of the monad’s spirituality and aspirations.
The astral body of the 4th principle—called Kama, because inseparable from Kama loka,—is always within the attraction of terrestrial magnetism; and the monad has to work itself free of the still finer yet equally potent attractions of its Manas before it ever reaches in its series of Devachanic states, the upper-Arupa regions. Therefore, there are various degrees of Devachanees. In those of the Arupa lokas the entities are as subjective and truly “not even as material as that ethereal body-shadow—the Mayavi-rupa.” And yet even there, we affirm there is still “actual companionship.” But only very few reach there skipping the lower degrees. There are those Devachanees, men of the highest moral calibre and goodness when on earth, who, owing to their sympathy for old intellectual researches and especially for unfinished mental work, are for centuries in the Rupa-lokas in a strict Devachanic isolation—literally so, since men and loved relatives have all vanished out of sight before this intense and purely spiritual passion for intellectual pursuit. For an example of the study-bound (pardon the new word for the sake of its expressiveness) condition, take the mental state of the dying Berzelius, whose last thought was one of despair that his work should be interrupted by death. This is Tanha (Hindu Trishna) or an unsatisfied yearning which must exhaust itself before the entity can move on to the purely a-rupa condition. A provision is made for every case, and in each case it is created by the dying man’s last, uppermost desire. The scholar who had mainly lived under the influence of manas, and for the pleasure of developing his highest physical intelligence, kept absorbed in the mysteries of the material universe, will still be magnetically held by his mental attractions to scholars and their work, influencing and being influenced by them subjectively—(though in a manner quite different from that known in séance-rooms and by mediums), until the energy exhausts itself and Buddhi becomes the only regnant influence. The same rule applies to all the activities, whether of passion or sentiment, which entangle the travelling monad (the Individuality) in the relationships of any given birth. The
discarnate must consecutively mount each rung of the ladder of being upward from the earthly subjective to the absolutely subjective. And when this limited Nirvanic state of Devachan is attained, the entity enjoys it and its vivid though spiritual realities until that phase of Karma is satisfied and the physical attraction to the next earth-life asserts itself. In Devachan, therefore, the entity is affected by and reciprocally affects the psychic state of any other entity whose relationship is so close with it as to survive, as was above remarked, the purgatorial evolution of the lower post-mortem spheres. Their intercourse will be sensed spiritually, and still, so far as any relationship until now postulated by Western thinkers goes, each will be “dissociated from the other.” If the questioner can formulate to himself the condition of the monad as pure spirit, the most subjective entity conceivable, without form, color, or weight, even so great as an atom; an entity whose recollections of the last personality (or earth-birth) are derived from the late union of the Manas with the lower five principles—he may then find himself able to answer his own interrogatory. According to Esoteric Doctrine this evolution is not viewed as the extinguishment of individual consciousness but its infinite expansion. The entity is not obliterated, but united with the universal entity, and its consciousness becomes able not merely to recall the scenes of one of its earth-evolved Personalities, but of each of the entire series around the Kalpa, and then those of every other Personality. In short from being finite it becomes infinite consciousness. But this comes only at the end of all the births at the great day of the absolute Resurrection. Yet, as the monad moves on from birth to birth and passes its lower and Devachanic spheres after each fresh earthly existence, the mutual ties created in each birth must weaken and at last grow inert, before it can be reborn. The record of those relationships imperishably endures in the Akasa, and they can always be reviewed when, in any birth, the being evolves his latent spiritual powers to the “fourth stage of Dhyana”: but their hold upon the being gradually relaxes. This is accomplished in each
inter-natal Devachan; and when the personal links—magnetic or psychic, as one may prefer to call them—binding the Devachanee to other entities of the next previous life, whether relatives, friends, or family, are worn out, he is free to move on in his cyclic path. Were this obliteration of personal ties not a fact, each being would be travelling around the Kalpa entangled in the meshes of his past relationships with his myriad fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, wives, &c., &c., of his numberless births: a jumble, indeed! It was the ignorant delusion of the geocentric hypothesis which begot all the exoteric theologies, with their absurd dogmas. So, likewise, it is the ignorant theory of monogenesis, or but one earth life for each being, which makes it so hard for European metaphysicians to read the riddle of our existence and comprehend the difference between the monad’s individuality, and its physical appearance in a series of earth-lives as so many different, totally distinct personalities. Europe knows much about atomic weights and chemical symbols, but has little idea of Devachan.