The Path – July 1887

SHALL WE KNOW OUR FRIENDS IN HEAVEN? — Charles Johnston

When that system of philosophy which is now known as the Esoteric Doctrine was first given to the world, it was stated that, in the state of "Spiritual Bliss" or Devachan, — which was entered by the soul which had passed through the "World of Desire," or Kama Loka, after separation from the body — the soul was not alone but was surrounded by those friends who had been loved on earth, and that these friends were as peaceful and happy as the soul in whose company they were.

Some time afterwards the questions were submitted to the authorities in occult matters, the ninth of which, asking for further information as to the intercourse with beloved Souls, was especially directed to ascertain whether those friends who accompanied the enjoyer of "Spiritual Bliss" appeared as they were when he died, supposing that he died first, or as they were when they died themselves.

It is notable that, of the ten questions asked, only this ninth and another also dealing with the same condition of "Spiritual Bliss" were left unanswered, while most of the others were answered fully, not to say voluminously; so that the question we are considering received no further elucidation from the occult authorities, and consequently, still remains open.

Our best chance of arriving at approximately correct conclusions in questions of this sort is by examining them in the light of the analogy afforded by those states of consciousness which are accessible to us while experiencing incarnated existence.

If we examine the various conditions of consciousness grouped under the name of sleep, we may obtain a partial insight into the conditions of after-death experience, and we may gain at least a clue to the solution of the question at issue.

In the ordinary course of events, before reaching the state of deep sleep we pass through an intermediate stage of dreaming, in which we review the events of the day, many of our day's wishes and desires working themselves out and obtaining their fulfilment, and very often faces, which during the day have made a vivid impression on us, reappear in our dreams, acting as we have seen them act and manifesting the various mental and moral qualities which we believe them to possess; in short, in appearance, action, speech and thought very much as we know them in waking life, sometimes as they are, sometimes as they have been formerly, and sometimes in several characters of varying age and growth in a single dream.

It would be very interesting to know what relation the image of a person appearing in a dream has to the mental state, at the time, (if the person dreamed of, if it has any such relation, and what effect various personalities have on each others' dreams while these dreams are in progress; at present, however, we will do no more than indicate such a line of inquiry, suggesting as a clue the modern discoveries in telepathy.

It is sufficient for our purpose that in the state of dreaming the images of our friends are present to us, similar in appearance and in mental qualities to what they were when the state of dreaming began.

The next condition is that of dreamless sleep, some of the higher stages of which have been indicated in a very able article published in the first number of this magazine. Only two characteristics of this state need be noticed, the second higher than the first; one is that it is a state of peaceful calm in which neither the body and physical surroundings, nor the dream-life with its surroundings are present to the consciousness, and the other, that it is the day of the intuitional faculties, the moral and ethical nature, in which the soul becomes vividly conscious of moral law.

To what degree the moral environment of the soul, in this condition of dreamless sleep, is influenced by the moral nature of other individualities, especially those of superior development, is also a very interesting inquiry, but at present we must be content with considering dreamless sleep as a condition of peaceful rest and consciousness of moral law, in which the soul is not conscious of the class of objects manifested in waking and dream life, and in which, consequently, friends could not be present to the consciousness in any form at all similar to our waking or dream experience of them.

These two states will give us a clue to the experiences after death in the "World of Desire" or Kama Loka, and in the state of "Spiritual Bliss" or Devachan. As in dreaming our desires obtain the gratification which was denied them in waking life, so that we often hear of sufferers from thirst dreaming of cooling streams, so we are told that in Kama Loka the lower desires we have accumulated during life must work themselves off before Devachan is reached.

From this we are led to infer that in Kama Loka our friends or at least those of them who have been associated with such desires, may be present to our consciousness in form, speech, and thought as we have known them in life.

In Devachan, however, if our analogy be true, nothing resembling the ordinary appearance of such friends, indeed nothing at all belonging to the class of objects which are cognised by the senses, nothing but what is soundless and invisible can be present to the consciousness.

If, however, it be true that the moral nature of others has an influence on our intuitional consciousness in dreamless sleep, it is also probably true that the moral nature of others, especially of our friends, as being those with whom our moral nature is most in harmony, will influence our consciousness in the Devachanic condition, and will do so, of course, quite irrespective of the question whether they are alive or dead, supposing it be possible to reach the Devachanic state in so short a time as the survival of friends would imply.

But our friends, if present at all, will not be present to us in any visible form, they will make themselves felt as a moral influence, strong in proportion to their purity and affinity to us.

We will conclude with a quotation from Sankaracharya which gives a very suggestive hint as to the entities really concerned in both waking and dream life:

"In dream where there is no substantial reality, one enters a world of enjoyment by the power of manas. So it is in the waking life, without any difference, all this is the manifestation of manas."


The Path

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