(Concluded from September number)
It is very generally held that Devachan is mostly a state of illusion and of the imagination and that the soul is simply surrounded by pictures of its own making. It is said, for instance, that in Devachan we are not really with our friends or those whom we love but that we only imagine this to be the case.
Let us consider what constitutes nearness and recognition. There are the nearness and recognition that are due to physical sense perception and those that are due to inner perceptions. They may belong to the outer or the inner planes of being. Usually we say we are near another when we can see, hear and touch that other. But our physical senses reveal to us only the external physical man, and a little thought will show that something else is needed to constitute nearness and recognition in any true sense. Take the case of one we have loved becoming insane, or simply falling asleep or being absorbed in a train of thought in which we have no part. We may see, hear and touch but because of the absence of soul-response are not in any true sense near that one. In normal cases, however, we infer from the outward manifestations what the inner nature may be, but unfortunately the latter is too often concealed by the former instead of shining through it. We live so much on the outer plane, and place so much confidence in our sense perceptions that the inner perceptions have become dull, and we persuade ourselves into believing that what we see, hear and touch is the real man. We known inwardly that the real man is not to be known in this way, but yet, to a very large extent, we govern our lives according to outward seemings instead of making them conform to inner verities.
A very slight consideration forces us to a belief in the illusory nature of physical, sensuous life, but it needs a strong purpose to turn away from it and make it wholly subservient to the higher life. Instead of this we cling to it as the real life and the thought of physical separation and physical death is the one we shrink from the most. If we hold to the idea that sensuous life is the true one then it is inevitable that Devachan will appear as a state of illusion, but once we begin to realize the inner life then it becomes possible to take a new view of the life after death.
All true love and friendship have their roots in the inner planes and belong, in the measure that they are true, to the soul and to the inner nature. It is however possible for the strongest ties of love and friendship to exist on the soul plane without being manifested in this or any earth life. It is also possible where there is this inner friendship between two persons for it to be obscured in the case of one but not in that of the other. It depends upon the person's Karma and his will whether the personal life is able to faithfully reflect and work harmoniously with the inner life. This view affords an explanation of cases in which there is the desire for love and friendship on one side only, which is not reciprocated. Ultimately we are all linked together by the same ties which have their basis in the essential unity and divinity of man. But we do not at all attain to the full realization of this, though it is not ultimately unattainable; we only realize it in part and too often only as a theory or as a philosophical proposition.
All that we are capable of, so long as we do not rise above this sphere of limitation, is to experience in some small degree one or other of the varied manifestations of the essential unity. We fail to see the pure white light and catch only a faint glimmer of one or other of the prismatic rays into which it is divided on this plane of illusion. Both the mental vesture and the physical vesture act as the prisms which separate the colored rays one from another, and according to the nature of the prisms will the rays be transmitted more or less faithfully or some perhaps not transmitted at all. It is evident therefore that if we place our reliance on the physical senses for the discovery of truth we lay ourselves open to error and delusion. In earth life we use both the physical and the mental prisms — though we rarely use either in the best way possible — and these are the instruments through which shines the light of our own souls, and through which also we perceive the light which shines through the mental and physical vestures of others. In Devachan we use only the mental vesture or prism and because of its being freed from all connection with the physical vesture it transmits more easily and faithfully the rays of light which have their source in the soul. There may still be barriers to the passage of the light owing to one's development and Karma but the barriers of merely personal life are removed. We do not necessarily experience in Devachan that which the personality desires but only to the extent that the desires of the personality are in conformity with those of the soul. We touch more nearly the soul plane and all the things which belong only to the personal life are left behind.
If many of those barriers which prevent us from knowing our true relations to others are in Devachan broken down, we cannot call it an illusion. On earth we interchange with those whom we love the vibrations of sight, hearing and touch and also of thought, but it is only the last named that make true recognition and nearness possible; it is the others, the sense vibrations, that deceive and mislead us. In Devachan these sense vibrations do not exist, but the higher vibrations and the perceptions that belong thereto have fuller scope and wider range, and we enter into a realm of truer recognition and knowledge. There is nothing really lost by our leaving behind the physical sense perceptions, for the soul has its own powers of sight which far transcend anything that can be experienced on the physical plane Whatever true love and recognition there may have been on earth, whether between friend and friend, lover and loved one, mother and child, that love and recognition will be increased a hundredfold in Devachan.
Our conceptions of Devachan and of this life would be much clearer if we could view these as related to consciousness and not to place, time, and matter. We may, if we will, rise to the Devachanic plane while on earth and may even rise above the necessity of a Devachan between earth lives. To the extent that we assimilate the experiences of our lives and put into action our ideals and resolves, to that extent do we shorten the Devachanic period. In the case of the mass of men, their stay in Devachan is of such long duration because they do not put into practice their ideals or live according to inner convictions. We dream so much that is noble and high and pure but are not able to put it into practice. No doubt external conditions have much to do with this but the will is a much more important factor. The fact is that we do not use our wills and have not the courage to live according to the light of our inner nature. We know we are tied down by conventionality but lack the will and the courage to break loose from it. Yet the will is ours if we but knew it and would use it. The mere desire to escape Devachan is not enough to cause us to reincarnate immediately. The Devachanic state is a necessity, the assimilation of experiences and the building up of character are essentials to progress, and also life on the soul plane is necessary. We cannot escape from these if we are to progress along the line of evolution; but nature gives us a choice and a power in the matter. It is not a choice to escape Devachan but either to have our Devachan while on earth or after earth life. It is only in regard to those who know of this power but refuse to exercise it by not living a spiritual life and not making their Devachan here that we can speak of the Devachan after earth life as selfish. For the ordinary man Devachan is not a selfish but a necessary state. Yet we have little need to concern ourselves with shortening the period of or escaping Devachan if we but act up to the highest within us. Our part is to do our duty now, to live the highest life possible; Nature and the Law take care of the rest, and they always give to each the greatest opportunity that is possible and place each in those conditions which are most favorable to progress.
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