Spiritual Inquiries: 8. The Mental World - Part 2 of 2
Jan 08, 2006 06:55 AM
The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearl'd;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven --
All's right with the world!
--Robert Browning (1812–1889)
In the first part of this article, we examined the nature of the
human mind and had a look at the mental world and its sub-planes.
In this part we get to know the scenery and inhabitants of the
The Scenery of the Mental World
It is not possible to describe the scenery of the mental world in
the way we can describe the scenery of the astral world, which
largely corresponds to the physical world. This is because in one
sense the mental world has no scenery, except the personal
sceneries created by individual thoughts.
Each person is surrounded by the world of the individual's own
making, in which he or she lives. Even to look outside the
personal world, the individual has to come out of personal
thoughts and move about without thinking, in order to see the
world outside. This is because, even a trace of a single thought
shapes up the matter and creates a form! Such a scenario gives an
idea about the power as well as the limitation of thoughts.
In another sense, the conditions of the mental plane, however, are
so difficult to describe in words that it would perhaps be more
accurate to say that all possible scenery exists there; there is
nothing conceivable of loveliness which is not there with a
fullness and intensity beyond all power of imagination. But out of
this splendour of living reality each man sees only that which his
development enables him to perceive.
Anyone who wishes to abstract himself from his surroundings on the
mental plane and devote himself to quiet thought, may live in a
world of his own without possibility of interruption. He will also
have the additional advantage of seeing all his ideas, and their
consequences, full worked out, passing before him in a sort of
If, however, he wishes instead to observe the plane upon which he
is, he must very carefully suspend his own thought for a time, so
that he may not influence the readily impressible matter around
With successul suspension of thoughts, he will observe that the
light, colour, sound and form of the world around him has not
ceased to exist: on the contrary, its harmonies and coruscations
are grander than ever. Presently he will perceive that he is
seeing the colour-language of the devas, the expression of thought
or conversation of beings far higher than himself in the scale of
evolution. By experiment and practice he will also find that he
can himself use this mode of expression, and thus hold converse
with, and learn from, these lofty non-human entities.
It is possible also for a visitor to the mental plane to form
round himself a huge shell, through which none of the thought or
conversation of other entities can penetrate. Then holding his own
mind perfectly still, he can examine the conditions inside his
He is now able to perceive another, and entirely different, series
of regular pulsations, which the other more artificial phenomena
had obscured. These are universal, and cannot be checked or turned
aside by any shell made by human power. They produce no colour or
form, but flow with resistless regularity through all the matter
of the plane, outwards and in again, like the exhalations and
inhalations of a great breath.
There are several sets of these, clearly distinguishable from one
another by volume, period of vibration, and the tone of the
harmony which they bring. Grander than them all sweeps one great
wave which seems the very heart-beat of the system –a wave which,
welling up from unknown centres on far higher planes, pours out
its life through all our world, and then draws back in its
tremendous tide to That from which it came.It comes in one long
undulating curve, and the sound of it is like the murmur of the
sea. Yet in it and through it there echoes a ringing chant of
triumph, the very music of the spheres. This could be the sound of
aum, the pranava mantra, the nada or the note of Brahman.
A man who has once heard that glorious song of nature never quite
loses it again. Even in the physical world, so dreary by
comparison, he hears it always as a kind of undertone.
If the man has reached a certain degree of spiritual development,
it is possible for him to merge his consciousness with the sweep
of the wave and let it bear him upward to its source. But it is
not wise to do this, unless a Master stands beside him to draw him
back at the right moment; for otherwise its irresistible force
will carry him away into still higher planes, whose far greater
glories his ego is as yet unable to sustain. He will lose
consciousness, with no certainty as to when and where he will
Whilst the attainment of such unity is the ultimate object of
man's evolution, he must reach that goal in full and perfect
consciousness, and not drift into absorption in a state of blank
unconsciousness that is little removed from annihilation.
On the mental plane a man may circle the world with the speed of
thought; he is at the other side of it even as he formulates the
wish to be there, for the response of mental matter to thought is
immediate, and it is very readily controlled by the will. The term
mano vegah is used in Hindu puranas to indicate such maximum
On the mental plane there is no alternation of day and night, and
nothing to correspond to waking or sleeping, except of course on
first entering the plane and on finally leaving it.
As the physical world is three-dimensional, and the astral world
four-dimensional, so is the mental world five-dimensional. But it
is probably more accurate to say that consciousness on each plane
is able to appreciate the world in which it is functioning in the
number of dimensions given above.
The three known forms of energy have their appropriate
manifestations on every plane which Theosophy students have yet
reached. Hence Fohat, Prana and Kundalini all exist on the mental
plane, thought at present little is known of the details of their
A man in full consciousness on the mental plane will, of course,
see the whole of humanity, excepting those who are living in their
causal bodies only, for every man who is in physical or astral
life must also possess a mental body. Those, however, who are
confined in their own shells of thoughts in their heavens can
scarcely be considered as companions, for they have excluded
themselves from any outward influence.
Between those who are fully conscious on the mental plane there is
far closer union than is possible at any lower level. A man can no
longer deceive another with regard to what he thinks, for all
mental operations lie open for every one to see. Opinions or
impressions can now be exchanged, not only with the quickness of
thought, but also with perfect accuracy, for each now receives the
exact idea of the other, clean, clear-cut, instantaneous, without
having to puzzle his way through the maze of words.
On the astral plane difference of language is a barrier to
communication, as thoughts must be definitely formulated in words
in order to be comprehensible to another entity on that plane. On
the mental plane, however, men communicate directly by
thought-transference, whatever their language may be.
Space is no barrier, for a man can come into touch with any other
man merely by directing his attention to him. The real barrier
between men are those due to the difference in their evolution. A
smaller vessel can only contain much less than a larger one, but
this limitation is felt only by the larger vessel, as the smaller
one is filled to its capacity. In other words, the less evolved
can know only as much of the more evolved as he is able to respond
to, and such limitations can obviously be felt, only by the more
evolved, as the lesser has all he can contain.
The method of finding a man on the mental plane, whether he be
living or dead, is as follows. For each of a man's vehicles there
is what may be called a keynote, a sort of average tone of the
man's various forces and qualities on the plane concerned. There
have never been found two persons whose keynotes were identical at
all levels, ie., etheric, astral, mental and causal, so as to make
the same chord, when struck simultaneously.
Thus the chord of each man is unique, and whether he be sleeping
or waking, living or dead, his chord is always the same, and he
can always be found by it.
If the man is in the higher world, in his causal body alone, he
still has his chord with him, because his permanent atoms are
quite sufficient to give out the distinctive sound.
The trained seer, who is able to sense the chord, attunes his own
vehicles for the moment exactly to its notes, and then by an
effort of will sends forth its sound. Wherever in the three worlds
the man sought may be, there is an instantaneous response from
him. His causal body lights up instantly, like a great flame, and
this is at once visible to the seer, so that a magnetic line of
communication is established.
The seer can use that line as a kind of telescope, or, if he
prefers, he can send his consciousness flashing along it with the
speed of light, and see from the other end of it, as it were.
The man's chord is his true occult name. The chord is not actually
either heard or seen; it is received by a complex perception which
requires the practically simultaneous activity of the
consciousness in the causal body and in all the lower vehicles.
Thus every man pronounces his own true name. Just as he has his
own odour materially, by which a bloodhound can track him, so he
has his sound spiritually. Those who can hear that sound of his in
the inner worlds know where he stands on the ladder of evolution,
and what he can and cannot do.
This name is different from the more permanent name of Augoeides
of a man, which is the chord of the three principles of the ego,
produced by the vibrations of the atmic, buddhic and mental atoms,
and the monad behind them. (Theosophy uses the term monad for the
ultimate element of godliness in man and all other beings of the
universe.) Obviously, the level of spiritual development of the
monadic element differs among men.
The Augoeides, the glorified man, is a name sometimes given to the
three higher principles of a man, viz., Atma-Buddhi-Manas, which
constitute the Ego, in the causal body. This, of course, is not an
image of any one of the man's past vehicles, but contains within
itself the essence of all that was best in each of them; it is the
body which indicates more or less perfectly, as through experience
it grows, what the deity means that man shall be.
>From that vehicle, on the causal levels, it is possible to see not
only what the man's past history has been, but also to a
considerable extent the future that lies before him.
The Inhabitants of the Mental World
We can classify the inhabitants of the mental world into three
categories: 1. Human, 2. Non-Human and 3. Artificial.
Inhabitants of the astral world also fall under these categories,
but in the mental world, the sub-divisions of the categories are
far fewer, because the products of man's evil passions, which bulk
so largely the astral world, cannot exist on the mental plane.
The following table sets out the main classes:
Lower Mental World Inhabitants
Human Embodied (alive)
3. Highly developed men
Human Disembodied (dead)
Human beings in devachan (heaven)
2. Animal Group Souls
3. Individualised Animals
4. Second Elemental Kingdom
Human beings cannot move with freedom on the lower mental planes
until suitably trained by a master on the use of the mental body.
Every one of us might make it to the mental world in deep sleep,
but we are not conscious of it either during or after the sleep.
People who can traverse the mental world in full consciousness
while still attached to the physical body are: adepts, initiates
and highly developed men.
A brief look at the hierarchy is useful in knowing about the
adepts (or masters) and their initiates.
It should be borne in mind here that humanity comprises people
following different religions in different regions, but these
differences exist only among common people. The main task of the
Hierarchy, according to Theosophy, is to lead the human evolution
to a Universal White Brotherhood. The term White here refers to
the White Path to Godhood to distinguish it from the Black Path of
the black magicians.
The Hierarchy starts with Sanat Kumara, the Lord of the World.
(Sanat Kumaras are the 'mind-born' sons of Brahma). Under him are
his three pupils Sananda, Sanaka and Sanatana. The other masters
of the Hierarchy are: 5. Lord Gautama Buddha, 6. Lord Maitreya, 7.
The Mahachohan, 8. and 9. The Manus, Lord Chakshusha and Lord
Vaivasvata, 10. The 'Nilgiri Master' or Rishi Agastya, 11. Master
M. (Morya), 12. Mater K.H. (Kuthumi), 13. The Venetian Master, 14.
The Master 'Serapis', 15. Master Hilarion, 16. Master Jesus, 17.
Master Rakoczi, 18. Master D.K. (Djwal Kul), 19. Sir Thomas Moore
and 20. Thomas Vaughan. (Source: Theosophy Explained in Questions
and Answers by P.Pavri).
Except for the four Sanat Kumaras, who have bodies of eternal
youth, the other masters have the facility to choose a new
physical body when their existing ones are worn out. Since they
are liberated men, they usually function in their causal bodies at
the higher mental planes. Masters who are at the Jivanmukta or
Asekha level usually do not possess physical, astral, mental or
causal bodies, and reside at their highest level, but when they
need to function at a lower level they create a temporary vehicle
for them in the matter of that plane.
The terms Adept and Master in theosophical literature are used to
denote certain human beings who have completed their human
evolution, attained human perfection and therefore liberation.
These people, insteading of choosing the paths to the kingdom of
God, have sacrificed it to take incarnations and serve humanity
under the Hierarchy. They are generally referred to by the term
Initiates are pupils of the Masters at varying levels of
evolvement, in the Path comprising nine levels of initiation.
Adepts and Initiates appear in the mental world as splendid globes
of living colour, driving away all evil influence wherever they
go, shedding around them a feeling of restfulness and happiness,
of which even those who do not see them are often conscious. It is
in the mental world that much of their most important work is
done, more especially upon the higher levels, where the
individuality or ego can be acted upon directly. It is from this
plane that they shower the grandest spiritual influences upon the
world of thought. From it also they impel great and beneficent
movements of all kinds.
On the higher mental planes much of the spiritual force poured out
by the self-sacrifice of the Nirmanakayas is distributed. The
Initiates are also given their teaching on these planes.
Since unselfishness and spirituality are the characteristics of
the mental world, the black magician and his pupils cannot find a
place there, because whatever be their level of development, it is
tainted by personal desire of some sort, and therefore gets
entangled with the matter of the astral world.
The Masters and other sages usually reside in the highest of the
arupa levels (the first subdivision) of the mental world, but
sometimes visit the rupa levels on some mission. Annie Besant
describes their work in her book The Ancient Wisdom, thus:
"From this world of subtlest mental forces the Masters carry on
Their beneficent work for humanity, raining down noble ideals,
inspiring thoughts, devotional aspirations, streams of spiritual
and intellectual help for men.
"Every force there generated, rays out in myriad directions, and
the noblest, purest souls catch most readily these helpful
influences. A discovery flashes into the mind of the patient
searcher into Nature's secrets; a new melody entrances the ear of
the great musician; the answer to a long studied problem illumines
the intellect of a lofty philosopher; a new energy of hope and
love suffuses the heart of an unwearied philanthropist. Yet men
think that they are left uncared for, although the very phrases
they use; 'the thought occurred to me; the idea came to me; the
discovery flashed on me' unconsciously testify to the truth known
to their inner selves though the outer eyes be blind."
Highly Developed Men
As we said at the beginning of this article, the arupa level of
the three higher subdivisions of the mental world is the habitat
of man, the Thinker. He dwells either in the second or the third
level, depending on his evolution. The vast majority live on the
third level, while a comparatively few of the highest intellectual
live on the second.
This class comprises all those in devachan or the heaven world.
The term Devachan is derived from the Sanskrit Devasthan, the land
of the Gods. A person in devachan is described as a devachani.
Devachan is a specially guarded part of the mental world from
which sorrow and evil are kept away by the action of certain
Devas. More than being a place, devachan is best described as a
state of consciousness, and is here around us at this very moment,
as near to us as the air we breathe. We shall have a look at the
heavens in a separate article.
Visitors from other planets and systems, who are occasionally
found in the astral world, are frequently seen on the mental
world. They are very lofty beings and are concerned, not with
individuals, but with great cosmic processes. Those in touch with
our world are the immediate agents for the carrying out of the law
of karma, especially in connection with changes of land and sea
brought about by earthquakes, tidal waves, and all other seismic
Rupadevas: The beings known to the Hindus and Buddhists as Devas,
to Zoroastrians as the Lords of the heavenly and the earthly, to
the Christians and Mohammedans as angels, and elsewhere as Sons of
God, etc., are a kingdom of spirits belonging to an evolution
distinct from that of humanity, an evolution in which they may be
regarded as a kingdom next above humanity, much as humanity is
next above the animal kingdom. There is here however, an important
difference; for, whilst an animal can pass only into the human
kingdom, a human being, when he attains the Asekha or Jivanmukta
level, has several choices, of which the deva line is one.
Devas are connected with the earth, but not confined to it, since
their evolution is through a grand system of seven chains, each
chain having seven globes of evolution.
There are at least as many types of angels or devas as there are
races of men, and in each type there are many grades of power, of
intellect, and of general development, so that altogether there
are hundreds of varieties. According to Hinduism, Devas are 33
crores in number, falling under several categories, and headed by
Angels have been divided into nine Orders, the names used in the
Christian Church being Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominations,
Princedoms, Virtues, Powers, Cherubim and Seraphim.
In each Order there are many types; in each there are some who
work; some who assist those in trouble and sorrow; others who work
among the vast hosts of the dead; some who guard, some who
meditate, while others are at the stage where they are mainly
concerned with their own development.
There are also angels of music, called Gandharvas in Hinduism, who
express themselves in music as we express ourselves in words; to
them an arpeggio is a greeting, a fugue a conversation, an
oratorio an oration. There are angels of colour, who express
themselves by kaleidoscopic changes of glowing hues. There are
also angels who live in and express themselves by perfumes and
fragrances. A sub-division of this type includes the angels of
incense, who are drawn by its vibrations and find pleasure in
utilising its possibilities.
There is still another kind, belonging to the kingdom of
nature-spirits or elves, who do not express themselves by means of
perfumes, but who live by and on such emanations and so are always
found where fragrance is disseminated. There are may varieties,
some feeding upon coarse and loathsome odours, and others only
upon those which are delicate and refined. Amongst these are a few
types who are especially attracted by the smell of incense, and
who are therefore to be found in churches where incense is used.
None of the devas have physical bodies such as we have. The lowest
kind are called Kamadevas, who have as their lowest body the
astral; the next class is that of the Rupadevas, who have bodies
of lower mental matter, and who have their habitat on the four
lower, or rupa levels of the mental plane; the third class is that
of the Arupadevas, who live in bodies of higher mental or causal
matter. Above these there are four other great classes, inhabiting
respectively the four higher planes of our solar system. Above and
beyond the deva kingdom altogether stand the great hosts of
The relationship of devas to nature-spirits somewhat resembles, at
a higher level, that of men to animals. Just as an animal can
attain individualisation only by association with man, so it seems
that a nature-spirit can normally acquire a permanent
reincarnating individuality only by an attachment of a somewhat
similar character to devas.
Devas will never be human, most of them already byond that stage,
but there are some who have been human beings in the past.
The bodies of devas are more fluidic than those of men, being
capable of far greater expansion and contraction. They have also a
certain fiery quality (tejas) which clearly distinguishes them
from human beings. The fluctuations in the aura of a deva are so
great that, for example, the aura of one which was normally about
150 yards in diameter has been observed to expand to about two
miles in diameter.
The colours in the aura of a deva are more of the nature of flame
than of cloud. A man looks like an exceedingly brilliant, yet
delicate cloud of glowing gas, but a deva looks like a mass of
Devas live far more in the circumference, more all over their
auras than a man does. Whilst 99 percent of the matter of a man's
aura is within the periphery of his physical body, the proportion
is far less in the case of a deva.
They usually appear as human beings of gigantic size. They possess
vast knowledge, great power, and are most splendid in appearance;
they are described as radiant, flashing creatures, myriad-hued,
like rainbows of changing supernal colours, of stateliest imperial
mien, calm energy incarnate, embodiments of resistless strength.
Devas produce thought-forms as we do, but theirs are usually not
so concrete as ours, until they reach a high level. They have a
wide generalising nature, and are constantly making gorgeous
plans. They have a colour language, which is probably not as
definite as our speech, though in certain ways it may express
The Initiations which we can take are not taken by devas; their
kingdom and ours converge at a point higher than the Adept.
There are ways in which a man can enter the deva evolution, even
at our stage, or lower.
The acceptance of this line of evolution is sometimes spoken of,
in comparison with the sublime renunciation of the Nirmanakayas,
as "yielding to the temptation to become a god". But it imust not
be inferred from this expression that any shadow of blame attaches
to the man who makes this choice. The Path which he selects is not
the shortest, but it is a very noble one, and if his developed
intuition impels him toward it, it is certainly the one best
suited to his capacities.
Nothing is known of any rule or limit for the work of the devas.
They have more lines of activity than we can imagine. They are
usually quite willing to expound and exemplify subjects along
their own line to any human being who is sufficiently developed to
appreciate them. Much instruction is given in this way, but few
are able to profit by it as yet.
Whilst devas are exceedingly beautiful, the lower orders of them
have the vaguest and cloudiest conceptions of things, being
inaccurate so far as facts are concerned. Hence, while a deva
friend may be an exceedingly interesting person, yet, having no
relation to the facts amidst which humanity is evolving, the
greatest care should be exercised in following advice he may give
as to physical actions.
In general, the higher order of devas unreservedly co-operate with
the great Plan of the universe; hence the perfect "order" that we
find in nature. In the lower ranks, this perfect obedience is
instinctive and automatic, rather than conscious; they do their
work, feeling impelled in the direction of the One Will which runs
In the case of National devas, whilst the one at the head of each
nation is a being of lofty intelligence, who always co-operates
with the Plan, the lower national devas are found fighting, for
example, for their own nation on a battlefield. As their
intelligence develops, they co-operate more and more with the
The Spirit of the Earth, that obscure being who has the earth for
his body, is not of the highest order of devas. Little is known of
him; he may be said to belong more to the Rupa Devas, because he
has the earth for his body.
Devas who are beyond the level of the Asekha Adept, i.e., that of
the Fifth Initiation, normally live in what is called in Sanskrit
the Jnanadeha, or the body of knowledge. The lowest part of that
body is an atom of the nirvanic (atmic, janarloka) plane, serving
them as our physical body serves us.
Animal Group-Souls and Individualized Animals
Animals do not have individual souls, only group souls. The group
soul is a certain definite quantity of mental matter charged with
the energy of the Logos; this mental matter contains a definite
life at the animal grade of evolution. An animal group soul has
evolved from a vegetable group soul which in turn evolved from a
mineral group soul.
The soul of an animal such as a tiger, after death of its physical
body, spends some period of conscious life on the astral world,
and then pours back to its group soul, coloring it with the
experiences acquired by the animal. Then the animal reincarnates
to continue its journey of evolution.
The brains and souls of domestic animals that associate with man
evolves faster than those of the wild animals, with the result
that at a certain point in its evolution, the soul of the animal
does not pour back into its group soul, but individualizes and is
ensouled separately by the Third Great Outpouring or Shiva aspect
of the Logos. This results in a human birth for the animal in its
next incarnation. Thus, we humans have a responsibility towards
the evolution of the animal kingdom.
While the group souls of animals are found on the lower planes of
the mental world, the individualized souls spend a dreamy life in
the lower heaven world until their egos develop sufficiently to
take a human birth in a future incarnation.
Second Elemental Kingdom
There are three Elemental Kingdoms: the First ensouls matter of
the higher mental or causal sub-planes; the Second, the matter of
the four lower levels of the mental world; the Third, astral
matter. In the Second Kingdom, the highest subdivision exists on
the fourth sub-plane, whilst there are two classes on each of the
three lower sub-planes, thus making in all seven subdivisions on
these four sub-planes.
The mental essence is on the downward arc of evolution, and
therefore is less evolved than astral essence or, of course, than
any of the later kingdoms, such as the mineral. The wonderful
delicacy with which the mental essence responds to the faintest
action of the mind helps its progress in this downard arc.
If it could be imagined as entirely free for a moment from the
action of thought, it would appear as a formless conglomeration of
dancing infinitesimal atoms, instinct with marvellous intensity of
life, but probably making but little progress on the downward path
of evolution into matter. But when thought seizes upon it, and
stirs it into activity, throwing it on the rupa levels into all
kinds of lovely forms [and on the arupa levels into flashing
streams], it receives a distinct additional impulse which, often
repeated, helps it forward on its way.
For when a thought is directed from higher levels to the affairs
of earth, it sweeps downwards and takes upon itself the matter of
the lower planes. In doing this, it brings the elemental essence,
of which the first veil was formed, into contact with that lower
matter; thus by degrees the essence becomes accustomed to answer
to lower vibrations, and so progresses in its downward evolution
into matter. Thus the saying, "matter descends, spirit ascends".
The Essence is also very noticeably affected by music, poured
forth by great musicians in devachan.
Artificial Mental Elementals or Mental Thought-Forms
The mental plane is even more fully peopled by artificial
elementals than is the astral plane, and they play a large part
among the living creatures that function on the mental plane. They
are, of course, more radiant and more brilliantly coloured than
are astral elementals, are stronger, more lasting, and more fully
When it is also remembered how much grander and more powerful
thought is on the mental plane, and that its forces are being
wielded not only by human entities, but by devas, and by visitors
from higher planes, it will be realised that the importance and
influence of such artificial entities can scarcely be exaggerated.
Great use is made of these mental elementals by Masters and
Initiates, the elementals which they create having, of course, a
much longer existence and proportionately greater power than any
of those which were described in dealing with the astral world.
At the present stage of evolution of humanity, the mental world is
dominated by cloudy and irregularly shaped thoughts, produced by
the ill-trained minds of the majority.
Rarely beautiful artistic thoughts are also seen, which give the
inspiration to the painter, or act as the Muse of the poet, as
they struggle to bring down the idea to the limitations of the
physical canvas or language.
No description of the mental world would be complete without an
account of the Akashic Records. These will be described in the
next article of this serial on spitirual inquiries.
1. The Mental Body by Arthur E. Powell
2. The Ancient Wisdom by Annie Besant
3. Theosophy Explained in Questions and Answers by P.Pavri
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