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Spiritual Inquiries: 7. Introduction to the Astral World

Jan 01, 2006 06:43 AM
by saidevotee

"Feeling or emotion is of two kinds--pleasurable or painful. 
Pleasure, fundamentally a sense of moreness, produces attraction, 
love (raga); pain, fundamentally a sense of lessness, produces 
repulsion, hate (dvesha)...All emotions arise from love or hate, or 
from both, in varying degrees of intensity."

-- The Science of the Emotions by Bhagavan Das.

The Astral World of the earth is where our desires and emotions
manifest, propagate, and affect both the person who originates them
and the target they are aimed at. Every person has to go via the
astral world after death. It is also the world where most us live, 
in our astral bodies, until we are ready for a brief stay in the 
mental world before another birth.

The souls of highly developed people when they die, just flash 
through the astral world into the higher world. Their consciousness 
is awakened only on the higher or lower planes (devachan or heavens) 
of the mental world. Ordinary people who possess the qualities of
unconditional love, unselfishness and devotion, just sleep through 
out their necessary stay in the astral world, and their 
consciousness awakens only in the mental world.

All other people, however, have to spend their after-death lives on
the astral world, until the seeds of desire in their astral bodies
wither out and the astral bodies die, releasing the consciousness 
into the mental body.

Life in the astral world is more active than on the physical world,
and form more plastic. The spirit-matter of this world is more 
highly vitalised than any grade of spirit-matter in the physical 

The seven worlds are actually concentric interpenetrating spheres, 
not separted from each other by distance but by a difference of
constitution. However, it is convenient to think of the higher 
worlds as forming the next levels of the physical world.

The astral world has seven sub-planes, named after their physical
counterparts: astral solid, astral liquid, etc. Astral objects are
formed by astral matter, just as physical objects are formed by
physical matter.

The matter of the astral world of our planet stretches a little less
than the mean distance of the moon, which is 239,000 miles. The 
astral spheres of the moon and the earth touch each other when the 
moon is in perigee, that is, nearest to the earth. The mental world 
is a still larger sphere. The higher globes are large enough to 
touch the corresponding spheres of other planets. An ultimate astral 
atom has 49^5 or 282,475,249 "bubbles in koilon".

The astral world has its own scenery and inhabitants, but much of 
the scenery resembles that on earth, being largely made of the 
astral duplicates of physical objects. The world and its scenery we 
encounter in our dreams is usually astral.

The astral objects are translucent! Every object in the astral world
has a starry light, even the atmosphere is visible, hence the name
astral (meaning, like the stars) world.

Consciousness in the astral world is less hampered by astral matter,
so an object is visible in the astral world in all its profile: 
back, front, outside and the inside! An untrained observer is 
shocked and confused by this scenario, receives the most topsy-turvy 
impressions, and commits blunders, when he tries to translate them 
to his physical consciousness on return from his astral travels.

The following figure illustrates the geometry of the astral world as
perceived by a clairvoyant.
Fig.7.1 Escher Print: In this Escher wood carving entitled "Another
World", we have a visual representation of the geometry of the 
astral plane as it is perceived by clairvoyant individuals (see 
quote by C. W. Leadbeater on page 274). Note here the seemingly 
paradoxical overlap of separate three dimensional spaces to create a 
geometrical space that is seemingly four dimensional. Such a 
geometry allows one to perceive a three dimensional object from all 
sides at once. The seeming four dimensional geometry of this plate 
is also a key quality of hallucinogenic drug induced perceptions, 
thus pointing to the similarity of clairvoyant and hallucinogenic 
induced perceptions.
Courtesy: Beyond the Physical an e-book by Donald J. DeGracia

Apart from the astral counterparts of the objects and scenery of the
physical world, the astral world has its own entities which are
ensouled by the astral elemental essence. When the second great
outpouring or wave of life that created forms out of matter passed
through the astral world, it vivified the plane by creating forms 
out of aggregated astral atoms and ensouling these forms. Known as 
the astral elemental essence, these forms of astral entities are 
very sensitive, and change their shapes with startling rapidity and
vitality under the impulse of thought vibrations.

This means that we can create shapes out of the astral elemental
essence by our thoughts, feelings and desires, which have different
rates of vibrations. We do create such shapes even in our waking
consciousness, by our incessant thoughts and feelings and desires, 
but we are scarcely aware of this fact.

The shapes or forms we create out of thoughts have three attributes:
duration, outline and color. The duration of the form depends on the
strength of the thought impulse. The clearness of its outline is
determined by the precision of the thinking, and the colour depends 
on the quality of thought: intellectual, devotional, passional.

Shapes produced by thoughts and feelings are called thought-forms or
artificial elementals. Ensouled by a thought, each thought-form has
its own duration of life, and moves very swiftly, towards any 
intended target, or lazily drifts about where there is no target.

Vague, loose thoughts create loose clouds of elemental essence,
drifting idly and attaching themselves to astral bodies whose
magnetism (vibrations) attracts them. Unattached thought-forms
ultimately dissolve into their source elemental essence.

This means that our dreams can also be shaped by the thoughts of
people around us. The thought currents generated by the enormous
number of thoughts floated by people pulsate around us all the time.
Some of these are absorbed by our etheric-double (the counterpart of
our physical body) giving rise to odd, illogical and strange dreams.
More on dreams later.

Clear, sharp thoughts have definite shapes with sharp outlines, and
show an endless variety of designs. They have longer life than their
cloudy brothers.

Average people create more thought-forms by feeling or desire than
with their thoughts. An outburst of anger causes a very definitely
outlined and powerful flash of red. Sustained anger makes a more
dangerous thought-form, red in colour, and pointed, barbed or
otherwise qualified to injure.
Fig.7.2 Thought-forms created by a sudden burst of anger (left),
sustained anger (middle), and radiating love (right).
Courtesy: Thought Forms by Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater

Love, according to its quality, sets up forms more or less 
beautiful, in colours ranging from shades of crimson to the soft 
hues of rose. A mother's love for her son hovers around him like an 
angel-form, dispelling any evil influences that he may attract by 
his thoughts.

Study of thought-forms is a subject by itself. Annie Besant and C.W.
Leadbeater have written a very useful book on this subject. We shall
have more thoughts on this subject later.

Thus, even a slight understanding of the astral world can act as a
powerful stimulus to right thinking.

The Astral World has its own rich scenary, and is populated largely 
by disembodied souls (we call them dead people) and dreamers, who
consititute the human part. There are also non-human entities: Devas
and Nature Spirits on the side of the good, and a whole lot of
entities on the side of the evil, belonging to the realms of Harry
Potter: vampires, werewolves, and the black magician's creations.

We shall take a comprehensive tour of the Astral World in a separate
set of articles.

To continue on the mental and other planes...

1. Theosophy Explained in Questions and Answers by P. Pavri.
2. The Ancient Wisdom by Annie Besant



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