A Description of the After-Death States and Processes
'A unique, authentic, detailed account'
It is now necessary to see what manner of being a man is and how he fits into the great scheme of things. Firstly, like everything else, he is a creature of Nature. However artificial his modern, civilized environment may now be, he is a natural being, and he forgets this at his peril. Incidentally, the word man here has nothing to do with sex. Man is simply a member of the human family, whether male or female. There are no distinctions between sexes as regards the after-death processes.
Everything that comprises man physically, emotionally, mentally and even spiritually, stems from Nature. There is nothing in his make-up that does not originate in Nature, nor that is exclusively his. In every aspect of his being, he is a child of Nature, and his coming into and going out of being is a natural process. More than this, what he is in terms of his character, his personal idiosyncrasies, his tendencies, his strengths, weaknesses and so on, are all his as a consequence of natural processes, the workings of the Law. Nothing is arbitrarily bestowed on him nor accidentally acquired.
Let us now take a look at some technicalities regarding the constituents of his total being. The chart (Table I) at the end of the chapter will be helpful in keeping track of the divisions and their names.
The constitution of man is seven-fold: we start our study of it at the bottom of the scale, in those areas that we know something about. The first of these constituents (referred to hereafter as principles) is man's physical body. This is his means of action and perception in the physical world. By it he relates to his earthly environment. His brain, his seat of consciousness in life, is obviously physical. Through his body via his brain he manifests his thoughts, emotions and volitions, themselves non-physical but registered in the physical brain.
The body is a living thing, and every part of it, every cell which composes it and its organs, is also living. The dynamic energy within these units is life. This animating aspect is regarded - for purposes of our present classification - as a separate principle, both in Cosmos and in man. Using Eastern terms (with which we should now become familiar because in the
East there is a specific language to deal with these matters), this life or life force is referred to, in the general cosmic sense, as Jiva; and when in association with a single living being such as a man, it is known as Prana. It is that principle which, when it is present, bestows life on a form, and when it is absent, the form is dead and cannot operate any longer as a coordinated whole. For a time after the death of a body, its several parts continue to live their individual lives, but eventually they die because, as the waste elimination system no longer fulfils its function, putrefaction sets in and their forms break up. The physical body and the life principle (Prana) are regarded as two of man's seven principles.
When man is alive, in a physical body, there is a third principle which, in the invisible, subjective realms, acts not only as a collector and reservoir of the life force (Prana), but as a mould or pattern, around which the physical materials of his earthly body collect and assume their typical individual human form. It is also the conveyor not only of some elements of his physical appearance but also of his personal characteristics (Skandhas) which make him the individual man he is. This principle, called the Linga Sarira, is sometimes referred to as the man's double, his astral double or astral body. It has a precise organization corresponding to that of the physical body. In it there is an astral counterpart to his brain and other organs and to the nerve centres in the physical body. It is the seat of his inner subjective faculties. It acts as a medium of transmission between the inner and outer world for his purely subjective activities, his feelings, thoughts and volitions, such that they register in his physical brain, whence they may or may not result in physical actions which make the man effective in the physical world. Commonly this astral double or Linga Sarira is referred to as the second principle, and the life force, Prana, as the third, with the physical body as the first.
The fourth principle, Kama-rupa, is the vehicle of his feelings, his emotions and his desires; it is the seat of his passional nature. Even though certain of his bodily activities are instinctual and unconscious, he is still conscious of his animalistic urges and of his desires and emotions. These can either affect his actions in a purely impulsive way or be controlled by his will and reasoning mind.
It is in the mind principle, Manas, the fifth in order, that man becomes the thinker, the real man. It is this faculty of thought which distinguishes him from the animals. The mind is essentially one single principle, but during a man's life-time it is regarded as dual, with a lower and higher aspect. Its lower aspect is orientated towards and attracted to his desires and emotions (fourth principle), whereas the other, the higher, is orientated upwards and attracted to the more spiritual elements of his nature, his sixth and seventh principles. In the mind's association with the desires
and emotions, it is seen to be personal; it is the part of mind which relates to all that concerns the personal man - his job, his interests, his family, his hobbies, his ambitions, and so on. All these are very closely associated with his wants and desires. In fact, these two middle principles (the fourth and lower part of the fifth), his mento-emotional principles, are commonly regarded in effect as one, Kama-Manas. They constitute the man's psyche, or, as St Paul said, his mortal soul. We shall see why the psyche is referred to as mortal later on. These middle principles constitute the inner nature of man as he normally knows himself. Together with the physical vehicle and its life principles, they constitute the whole of the personal man, his personality. The use of the word personality as defined here becomes important in our study of the after-death states.
The remaining principles, viz. the upper half of the fifth, (the mind), and the sixth and seventh, comprise the spiritual man, the Ego (notice the capital E). Taken together, they are referred to as the Individuality as opposed to the personality. In this sense the upper elements of mind are the areas of high-level cognition on the one hand of and spiritual will on the other. This kind of volition does not imply doing what one wants, for in that case the spur to action is desire (Kama). In the higher sense, the spur to action is this higher will. The higher mind is the inner seat of our individual consciousness and of our higher subjective faculties. These faculties are largely dormant in most of us. The lower mind is really a partial reflection, during earth life, of the higher. The lower is that of our ordinary thinking, in rational logical terms, and of our pictorial imagination. In the higher mind thinking is of a different order altogether. It is more in the nature of understanding by direct perception. So direct is this knowing as to be virtually an identification with what is known. This is because of the higher mind's close association with the sixth principle (Buddhi). Manas (individual human mind) is derived from Mahat, a name given to universal Mind. Mahat is a universal principle; so also is Buddhi. It only becomes individual when in association with the Manas of an individual man.
This sixth principle, Buddhi, is a passive one. It is that in which the seventh, the highest spiritual principle, has its operating base. As we saw in Chapter Two, a force or an energy requires something to give it expression, to act in and through, in order for it to become effective. Man's
sixth principle fulfils that function for the seventh, Atma, and it is said to be its upadhi or vehicle.
Atma, the seventh principle, is also a universal one; it never becomes individual except as it informs or enlivens the fifth in man, via Buddhi. It is the ultimate dynamism, the enabling principle, in all things in Cosmos. It is man's purely spiritual principle. However, as is the case with Buddhi, it is not really an individual principle as such; we share it with the generality of existent things.
The spiritual combination of the seventh principle, Atma, with the sixth, Buddhi, is known as the Monad. This is an important term to remember. The Monad is, in effect, all life, the life essence throughout Cosmos. It is homogeneous and never differentiates or fragments itself. It is only regarded as a monad when in association with a single living entity, when it becomes, say, a mineral monad, or a vegetable, animal or human monad. The seventh principle in man's make-up corresponds to the highest level of being in Cosmos. It is really that from which the other six emanate and of which they are derivatives, with more and more of the nature and qualities of manifest existence coming into being as we pass down the levels of being. At the lowest end we have the physical objective plane which gives expression to them all, insofar as it has been evolved or developed to do so.
For purposes of our study of the after-death states, the above principles of man are grouped into duads and triads. The body and its two life principles are referred to as the lower triad. These three, together with the desire or passional fourth principle, are referred to as the lower quaternary, the personal man in physical existence. Sometimes the mind-cum-emotion complex (fourth and lower part of fifth principles) is referred to as the middle duad, and as the psyche. This middle duad, after death, becomes the man's mortal soul. The psyche or mortal soul becomes a mere shell when the higher principles leave it after death. It is then really a psychic corpse which, sooner or later, disintegrates and dissipates. The three higher principles (upper fifth, sixth and seventh), are referred to as the upper) or higher trinity or triad. This upper triad is virtually immortal. It is the higher or divine Ego. The upper two principles taken together are, as said before, the Monad.
In this division of the principles into duads and triads we must never forget that, although the higher and lower aspects of mind are sometimes regarded as separate principles, the mind principle is in fact always one and indivisible. The Monad is a single universal principle which cannot be fragmented. It is like the life which only appears to be an attribute of separate living things for as long as those living things enjoy separate forms. In this study the term forms can signify something in the inner, invisible world as well as something physical. For example, we can say that an architect has an idea (a mental form) of a bridge to which later the construction workers give physical form in the actual bridge.
Man's physical body has its familiar form; this is a manifestation of an inner form provided by the astral double, on the next (inner) plane to the physical. Apart from this, as we shall see, there can be other forms associated with the personal man which can represent him either in life or in death. These will be described later.
Another important element of man's being is that which marks him out as a being distinct from other individuals and from the general pool of life. This entification must apply even at what are regarded as the formless (so-called) spiritual levels. By it he is an entity, as a drop of water is an entity distinct from the ocean. This further element is known as the Auric Envelope or Egg. It contains the whole man, both as an Individuality and as a personality. It is the container of what he has become as a result of all his experiences in many lifetimes; in short, what he has made of himself.
Quoting from H.P. Blavatsky's Instructions to her Esoteric Students,
... the Auric Egg contains, and is directly related to, both the divine and the physical man. In its essence .. it is eternal; in its constant correlations and transformations, during the re-incarnating progress of the Ego on this earth, it is a kind of perpetual motion machine ...
... Thus the Auric Egg, reflecting all the thoughts, words, and deeds of the man, is:
a) the preserver of every Karmic record.
b) the storehouse of all the good and evil powers of man, receiving and giving out at his will - nay, at his very thought - every potentiality, which becomes, then and there, an acting potency ...
c) As it furnishes man with his Astral Form, around which the physical entity models itself, first as a foetus, then as a child and man, the astral growing apace with the human being, so it
furnishes him .. after death, with his Devachanic Entity and Kama Rupa or Body of Desire. [The Secret Doctrine Vol.III p494, Collected Writings of H.P. Blavatsky Vol.XII p608]
Some of the terms in this description are new, but they will all be defined later and used in the story of the after-death states and processes now to be unfolded.
Such is the constitution of man. It is summarized diagrammatically in Table I.
When We Die ... Exploring the Great Beyond> Next Page: Chapter 4 Dying and Soon After