The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
July 1999 Vol. 2 Issue 5
The breath leaves the body and we say the man is dead, but that is only the beginning of death; it proceeds on other planes. When the frame is cold and eyes closed, all the forces of the body and mind rush through the brain, and by a series of pictures the whole life just ended is imprinted indelibly on the inner man not only in a general outline but down to the smallest detail of even the most minute and fleeting impression. At this moment, though every indication leads the physician to pronounce for death and though to all intents and purposes the person is dead to this life, the real man is busy in the brain, and not until his work there is ended is the person gone. When this solemn work is over the astral body detaches itself from the physical, and, life energy having departed, the remaining five principles [spirit, soul, mind, desire, life-force] are in the plane of kama loka.
The natural separation of the principles brought about by death divides the total man into three parts:
Kama loka-- or the place of desire -- is the astral region penetrating and surrounding the earth. As a place it is on and in and about the earth. As a state it is metaphysical, though that metaphysic relates to the astral plane. It is called the plane of desire because it relates to the fourth principle, and in it the ruling force is desire devoid of and divorced from intelligence. It is an astral sphere intermediate between earthly and heavenly life. Beyond any doubt it is the origin of the Christian theory of purgatory, where the soul undergoes penance for evil done and from which it can be released by prayer and other ceremonies or offerings. The fact underlying this superstition is that the soul may be detained in kama loka by the enormous force of some unsatisfied desire, and cannot get rid of the astral and kamic clothing until that desire is satisfied by some one on earth or by the soul itself. But if the person was pure minded and of high aspirations, the separation of the principles on that plane is soon completed, permitting the higher triad to go into Devachan.
Now the Ego, being minus mortal body and kama, clothes itself in devachan with a vesture which cannot be called body but may be styled means or vehicle, and in that it functions in the devachanic state entirely on the plane of mind and soul. Everything is as real then to the being as this world seems to be to us. It simply now has gotten the opportunity to make its own world for itself unhampered by the clogs of physical life. Its state may be compared to that of the poet or artist who, rapt in ecstasy of composition or arrangement of color, cares not for and knows not of either time or objects of the world.
The whole period allotted by the soul's forces being ended in devachan, the magnetic threads which bind it to earth begin to assert their power. The Self wakes from the dream, it is borne swiftly off to a new body, and then, just before birth, it sees for a moment all the causes that led it to devachan and back to the life it is about to begin, and knowing it to be all just, to be the result of its own past life, it repines not but takes up the cross again -- and another soul has come back to earth.
"The Mystery of Death" is our subject this month. We will be discussing such questions as: What happens to us after death, and how can people discover anything about it? What do the world's spiritual traditions say about this mystery? What evidence or experience do they base their beliefs on? How is death related to mystical perception and spiritual growth? Can we contact the dead, and do we ever meet our loved ones again? Is there a heaven or hell? What about reincarnation? What light do phenomena such as déjà vu, near-death experiences, and past-life regressions throw on this subject? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
August 12: One God or Many?
"All the twelve characteristic influences of the zodiacal signs are in us as well as in every other entity, animate or so-called inanimate, for it is actually these influences which build up all things, according to pattern, according to karma. While the particular sign under which a person is born is dominant in that life, the influences of all twelve signs must work in man, for he would not be a complete human being were he deprived of the characteristic quality of any one of the twelve rivers of life flowing from the constellations of the zodiac." -- G. de Purucker, Fountain-Source of Occultism, p.151
Esoteric astrology, or knowledge about the nature, origin, fate, and influences of the celestial bodies, has been taught since ancient times. Source of many myths, it tells how the beings who are embodied as the sun and the so-called sacred planets helped build the earth and its inhabit-ants, serving as agents or foci for creative forces that circulate throughout the universe. These celestial beings still guide and watch over terrestrial development, and indeed are a part of our very make-up.
What are these forces forming the universe and its inhabitants? At the beginning of manifestation these energies emanated as twelve distinct rays from the one unknowable spiritual source. Each ray has its own characteristic quality, comparable to one of the human principles, such as spirit, soul, mind, desire, vitality, and astral and physical substance. These rays are composed of rivers of lives -- there is no energy not originating from a living consciousness -- the different classes of consciousness-centers in fact giving each ray its unique quality.
The twelve forces or rivers of lives circulate in the universe following definite paths. They flow from planet to planet, sun to sun, and plane to plane, by and through individual consciousnesses, just as nerve impulses follow paths in the human body made of living cells, and pool at ganglions or nerve centers. As they move through the universe, these lives must find appropriate vehicles in order to manifest, whether as planets, suns, or groups of stars. Thus, just as spirit, soul, mind, and other principles work through the our physical body to make us what we are, so the twelve cosmic principles work through the celestial vehicles of conscious beings. The type of influence of a celestial body depends on the dominant ray or quality which is working through it.
What is the zodiac, then, and how does it serve as a "vehicle" for the twelve rays? According to G. de Purucker,
"The zodiac is that band of constellations which ancient astrology divided into twelve parts and which, seen from the earth, surrounds our solar system like a belt. Each of these constellations, together forming the twelve houses of the zodiac, is a cluster of stars karmically united by past bonds of destiny, each having its own characteristic swabhâva -- in other words, its own spiritual electricity or fohatic magnetism." -- Fountain-Source of Occultism, p. 125.
Each ray focuses itself through a group of stars in the zodiac, which thus acts as the medium for one of the primeval cosmic forces as well as representing one of the twelve directions of space. These rays then affect mankind: we are born under a certain astrological sign because its qualities express the keynote of our character.
Our sun also transmits these twelvefold forces. It projects rays to seen and unseen planets, which send them throughout the solar system. Of the planets particularly connected with Earth, seven were spoken of by the ancients -- Mercury, Venus, Mars, Moon, Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn. These planets are sacred because, as conveyers of the twelve solar (and cosmic) rays, the spiritual rectors of these planets built earth and its beings.
In closing, it should not be thought that we are merely puppets manipulated by astrological influences. The immortal part of us directs our development, and is stronger than any outside influences which impinge upon us.