I hope that the time will come when we Theosophists shall weigh more strongly than we have been doing on the teachings of what happens after death in the Kama-loka and the Devachan. The average man seems to be today not so much immoral as amoral, i. e., seems to have largely lost the sense of moral responsibility. If men could realize what is going to happen to them after death, it would awaken a certain sense of needed behavior or conduct.
Now let us try to restore to mankind the teaching of the Ancient Wisdom: As ye live so will ye be after ye die. It is a simple teaching and it is so logical, it appeals. Men may resent it at first, men may not like it; but there is a thought there which on account of its logic, on account of its justice, will finally throw forth sprouts of thought in the mind.
If you want to understand the kama-loka and the devachan, just study yourself now, and you will know what you are going to get. Just that. You are going to get a continuation of precisely what now you are. If a man indulges in vice, what is going to happen to him? He reaps the consequences of his evil-doing. He learns by it the lessons that come out of the suffering. If a man fills his mind with gross thoughts and evil dreams, he learns by it in the long run through suffering, but the effects and consequences on his mind and character will ensue. He suffers, he is in torture, he pays the penalty, he has poisoned his inner system and he won't have peace until the poison has worked itself out, until he has become what is called re-formed, i. e., re-shaped. Then he will have peace again, then he will be able to sleep in peace again.
So the answer lies, it seems to me, in just these thoughts. Study yourself in your daily consciousness; and also study what kind of dreams you have. Why are these two conjoined? Because your dreams are from your own mind, and therefore are a part of your own consciousness. A man during his waking hours has evil dreams, evil thoughts; when he sleeps he has nightmares; he learns by them, but he certainly is not going, when he sleeps, to have a heaven of dreams because he has filled his mind with horrid, hateful, mean, degrading thoughts. He has not builded the substances of heaven.
There you have the answer: and the kama-loka is simply a state of consciousness which the man's consciousness itself is in after death because he has made himself during his lifetime to have that consciousness. It works itself out, and then he rises or sinks into whatever is his destiny: a weak devachan, no devachan at all, according to the individual. In other words, if he has made for himself a character which is X, he will have that character X, whatever it is, after death. He won't have character Y, or Z, or A, or B. Contrariwise, a man who during life has kept himself in hand, has controlled himself, has lived manly, experiences the same law precisely: the after-death state will be unconscious in the kama-loka, or very nearly so, because he has no kama-loka biases in himself; and probably there will be a blissful devachan.
Suppose a man has no marked character at all, is neither particularly good, nor particularly bad. What kind of an after-death state is he going to have? He will have a colorless kama-loka, nothing particularly bad; and he will have a colorless devachan, nothing particularly beautiful or blissful. It will all be like a sort of vague, intangible dream. It doesn't amount to much and consequently he won't amount to much after he dies.
Or take the case of a young man of evil ways who reforms, let us say, at about middle age, and spends the rest of his life in deeds of virtue, of self-improvement. What will be his fate in the worlds to come? As I told you before, the kama-loka and the devachan are simply a continuation of what the man is when he dies. So consequently an evil young man becoming a good old man has practically no kama-loka of an unpleasant kind at all. He will have to pay to the uttermost farthing for any evil he did as a youth — but in his future life. His evil deeds are thought-deposits there. But as he reformed at about middle-age, and had lived a clean decent life as a decent man, his kama-loka will be very slight, because it will be simply a continuation of what he was when he died, and the devachan will be in accordance likewise.
One can be in the kama-loka, as well as in the devachan, before death comes; indeed, it is possible to be in the avichi-condition even while imbodied. And here is a very important deduction we should draw from this fact: if we have kama-loka while imbodied men and women, we shall have it after death; and precisely according to the same law because we have spiritual yearnings, dreams of a spiritual kind and type or character while imbodied, we shall have the devachan after death. Do you see the point? The kama-loka is a prolongation or a continuation, until it is worked out, of what you have been through in your life. If you set your thought and mind and heart on things which bring you pain, which make you suffer because you are selfish, and stiff-necked in pride and egoism, you will assuredly continue the same bending of your consciousness after death. It cannot be otherwise. It is simply you. Therefore, the devachan and the kama-loka are prolongations or continuations of the same states of consciousness respectively that you have gone through on earth — with this difference: that being out of the body, which is at once a blind and a shield of protection, you are, as it were, thought, naked thought. Do you see what I am trying to say? And if your thought has been during life on things of horror, or if you have allowed your thought to bend in those directions while imbodied, you won't be washed free of stain merely because you have cast off the body. Your thought, which is yourself, will continue and you will have to pass through the kama-loka and exhaust that phase of thought. It will have to die out as a fire will burn itself out.
Similarly, indeed exactly: if you have had beautiful thoughts, grand thoughts, sublime thoughts, in life, you will assuredly have the same thing, but a thousandfold stronger because no longer smothered by the body, when you have cast it off; and if you want to know what your destiny will be after death, just study yourself now and take warning. There is a very important and pertinent lesson that we can learn from this fact, just in that. You can make your post-mortem condition what you will it to be now, before it is too late. Nothing in the universe can prevent the bliss of devachan coming to you, or rather your making it for yourself.
Deduction: Take yourself in hand. There you have the teaching of the kama-loka. There you have the teaching of the devachan. It is very simple. All the intricate, abstract questions I think arise largely in failing to understand the elementary principles of the teachings. When you lie down you dream, or you are unconscious. When you die you dream, or you are unconscious. You have, when you lie down at night, evil dreams or good dreams, or you are unconscious. When you die you will have evil dreams or beautiful dreams or you will be unconscious — all depending upon the individual and the life he has led.
So the kama-loka and the devachan and indeed the avichi, are not things that are going suddenly to happen to you when you die; but because your consciousness has been that way while imbodied, they, one or the other, will continue after you die. You see now the importance of ethics, and why all the great Sages and Seers throughout time have tried to teach men to spiritualize their thoughts, to refine their thoughts, to live in the heart-life as some people have said, to cast out the things which are wrong and evil. There is the whole thing, simple as A B C. The devachan is not waiting for you. The kama-loka is not waiting for you — I mean as absolute conditions now separate from you. If you had them in life, you will have them after death. The man who has had no thought of hatred or horror or detestation or venom toward another, in other words whose heart and mind have never been nests of evil, will have neither an avichi in life nor after death, nor an unhappy kama-loka in life or after death; he will have an exquisite devachan, and will come back refreshed and vigorous and strong and renewed to begin a new life and with everything in his favor.
After death you continue to be precisely what you are when you die. There is the whole thing. There is the secret of the kama-loka and of the devachan and of all the intermediate states of the Bardo, as the Tibetans call it. All the rest is detail, and that is why I keep emphasizing in my public lectures and in my writings, that death is but a sleep. Death is a perfect sleep and sleep an imperfect death. It is literally so. When you sleep you are partly dead. When you die, you are absolutely asleep. If you grasp these simple ideas you will have the whole teaching on your thumbnail, a thumbnail picture.
Now this is another point. I have heard people say that they don't want to remain in devachan, it is a waste of time. This is a misunderstanding. You might as well say: I don't want to have sleep tonight, it is a waste of time. As a matter of fact, you need the rest, recuperation, assimilation of the experiences of the past life. You are strengthened by it, you grow by it. So that while the devachan is not a time for evolution, it is a time for building, for recuperation, for assimilation, for inner digestion, for strengthening, and is just as much needed as a man's night's rest in bed is for his body.
There will come a time in human evolution when even the devachan is no longer required, because the man has learned to live in the higher part of his being. Devachan, however beautiful, is an illusion. The time will come in the future when men will no longer have to sleep at night; they won't require it. They will have different kinds of bodies and thus learn to do without the devachan, and thus reincarnate almost immediately in order to help mankind — which is the thing they love most of all — and all other beings. These men are what we now call Masters, in all their grades. But for us ordinary human beings the devachan is a necessary episode.
The devachan, however, while a beautiful experience of the consciousness, is an experience of the higher personal consciousness, the higher part of us human egos, the higher part of the personal man, its aroma so to speak. In this fact lies the training bringing about the shortening of the devachan. If you learn to live outside of the personality, and as the Christians say, in the Eternal, while you are imbodied, if it becomes habitual with you, your devachan will be correspondingly shortened because you won't want it. You won't need it. The bent of your mind is not in selfish beatific satisfactions of the soul. That is what the devachan is, a fool's paradise. When compared with Reality, it is an illusion. But just because men and women strain for those things and suffer to attain them, the devachan in Nature's infinite pity becomes the time when they have it, the resting, relaxing time, the time of recuperation, digestion, assimilation. As we grow, as the ages pass, in future ages, we won't long so desperately to have these beatific satisfactions of the soul. We shall find our happiness in impersonal attachments to things of beauty, things which belong to the higher spiritual man, and not to the hungry human soul. Do you catch the thought?
That is where the training lies that all chelas are taught, that same truth, that and nothing more. Rise out of the personality so that you learn to use it as a willing, acquiescent instrument, and live in the spiritual part of you, which means impersonally; live universally so that you are not swayed by your own hunger for the things that please and help and rest you; but live in the spiritual, in the universal, and all these other things will be added unto you.
I do feel that we should talk more about the kama-loka and the devachan, and especially the kama-loka, in our public lectures. Let people know how logical our teachings are, how simple, how natural — that you get precisely what you have sown in yourself as character, i. e., what is coming to you. It gives man a powerful reason for living decently. It appeals to his reason, it appeals to his instincts of justice. And while Theosophy has removed the fear of death, we must instil also the sense of ethical responsibility lying upon me, upon you, upon every human being.
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