A comprehensive description, in outline, of the processes and subjective states in the period between lives, with some information about spiritualistic and psychic phenomena.
These extracts have shown us something of the sequence of events after we die. There is an impressive consistency in the account, even to the words used, all through the extracts although they are widely scattered amongst much other material in the letters which, in the times of their writing, extend over some four years.
Shortly, what have we learned? That for the great majority of us, when we die we fall into a great sleep. We go unconscious and we stay so until we gradually "awake" to a dream state of perfect enjoyment and happiness. We then experience, after a long, long time a decay of consciousness, until eventually we subside into unconsciousness before seeing the light again in a new body.
Some don't like the idea of our after-life being subjective, i.e. a dream state. They feel it is not real, that they are in some way being cheated but as the Master asks, is what we call objective consciousness, essentially, any less of a dream? And, they say, Devachan is a particularly vivid dream.
Something of what has been said about the "spiritualistic" aspects of the after death states of being and about psychic phenomena, will undoubtedly come as a shock to some people and may be distasteful and even be bitterly resented, but in the long run what is here given, may come to be accepted. In so far as it forms a true framework of knowledge of the after-life, any knowledge of the after death states which comes to be "discovered" later will fit into this framework and make an ever growing structure, built on a firm foundation. If any
versions of the after-life states do not fit with the general pattern given here, it is suggested they be taken with reserve. The information received "from the other side", from a trained seer is a very different matter from that received through a medium. Even a "seer", if not properly initiated, cannot "see" or "hear" quite correctly. If we are truth seekers let us be very careful about what we accept as truth however glamorous, comforting and otherwise desirable it may be.
If what we have just said about immortality seems to remove it out of the realms of any relationship to ourselves, as we feel ourselves to be at our present stage of development, there are some passages in The Key To Theosophy that make it more immediately of concern to us. One, on page 8 in the older editions, says: "Ancient Theosophists claimed, and so do the modern, that the Infinite cannot be known by the finite; i.e. sensed by the finite self - but that the divine essence could be communicated to the higher spiritual Self in a state of ecstasy" ... "the liberation of the mind from its finite consciousness, becoming one and identified with the Infinite". "This is the highest condition ... but not one of permanent duration, and it is reached only by the very very few. It is indeed, identical with that state which is known in India as Samadhi."
Later on page 48, it says: "I repeat, we [Note, Theosophists] believe ... , in rare moments of ecstatic bliss, in the mingling of our higher soul with the universal essence, attracted as it is towards its origin and centre; a state, called during life Samadhi and after death Nirvana".
This gives us a link, in imagination only for most of us, between our life as we feel it, and the otherwise far remote state of immortality. Even though the Samadhi experience is for the very very few now, in the periods of
time we are considering many many of us will have attained to it and thereby then know something of Nirvana. Secondly we are told in the Letters that we enter this bliss state in the planetary and solar pralayas; albeit some of us unconsciously if we have not earned our place there during our lives in the world of causes. Here we are thinking of tremendously long periods of time but they are nevertheless of just conceivable duration. We must also remember that the longest night of deep sleep is seemingly soon over, and that the round of births and deaths is not endless. It is the grand opportunity given to all of us to learn to master life at all levels of being, and thereby to transcend death.
This huge vista of Life as now presented is seen to lead us on through aeons of time to a consummation of achievement and eventual rest; rest in the unimaginable bliss of unlimited divine Being.
Infinitely to be desired is this envisaged end to all our human existences but Theosophy opens up prospects where even this is seen only as a beginning.
The tables which follow are an endeavour to give in a precis form, for easy reference, the major points given us on this subject in the Letters.
When We Die ... > Next Page Table I THE PRINCIPLES OF MAN