Death And After

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Death And After

By Annie Besant

Communications Between The Earth And Other Spheres

We are now in position to discriminate between the various kinds of communication possible between those whom we foolishly divide into “dead” and “living”, as though the body were the man, or the man could die. “Communications between the embodied and the disembodied” would be a more satisfactory phrase. 

First, let us put aside as unsuitable the word Spirit: Spirit does not communicate with Spirit in any way conceivable by us. That highest principle is not yet manifest in the flesh; it remains the hidden fount of all, the eternal Energy, one of the poles of Being in manifestation. The word is loosely used to denote lofty Intelligences, who live and move beyond all conditions of matter imaginable by us, but pure Spirit is at present as inconceivable by us as pure matter. And as in dealing with possible “communications” we have average human beings as recipients, we may as well exclude the word Spirit as much as possible, and so get rid of ambiguity. But in quotations the word often occurs, in deference to the habit of the day, and it then denotes the Ego. [Page 81]

Taking the stages through which the living man passes after “Death”, or the shaking off of the body, we can readily classify the communications that may be received, or the appearances that may be seen:

1. ) While the Soul has shaken off only the dense body, and remains still clothed in the etheric double. This is a brief period only, but during it the disembodied Soul may show itself, clad in this ethereal garment. 

For a very short period after death, while the incorporeal principles remain within the sphere of our earth’s attraction, it is possible for spirit, under peculiar and favourable conditions, to appear. [ Theosophist, Sept. 1882, page 310.]

It makes no communications during this brief interval, nor while dwelling in this form. Such “ghosts” are silent, dreamy, like sleep-walkers, and indeed they are nothing more than astral sleep-walkers. Equally irresponsive, but capable of expressing a single thought, as of sorrow, anxiety, accident, murder, etc., are apparitions which are merely a thought of the dying, taking shape in the astral world, and carried by the dying person’s will to some particular person, with whom the dying intensely longs to communicate. Such a thought, sometimes called a Mayavi Rupa, or illusory form, [Page 82]

may be often thrown into objectivity, as in the case of apparitions after death; but, unless it is projected with the knowledge of (whether latent or potential), or owing to the intensity of the desire to see or appear to some one shooting through, the dying brain, the apparition will be simply automatical; it will not be due to any sympathetic attraction, or to any act of volition, any more than the reflection of a person passing unconsciously near a mirror is due to the desire of the latter.

When the Soul has left the etheric double, shaking it off as it shook off the dense body, the double thus left as a mere empty corpse may be galvanised into an “artificial life”; but fortunately the method of such galvanisation is known to few.

2.) While the Soul is in Kamaloka. This period is of very variable duration. The Soul is clad in an astral body, the last but one of its perishable garments, and while thus clad it can utilise the physical bodies of a medium, thus consciously procuring for itself an instrument whereby it can act on the world it has left, and communicate with those living in the body. In this way it may give information as to facts known to itself only, or to itself and another person, in the earth-life just closed; and for as long as it remains within the terrestrial atmosphere such communication is possible. [Page 83] The harm and the peril of such communication has been previously explained, whether the lower Manas be united with the Divine Triad and so on its way to Devachan, or wrenched from it and on its way to destruction.

3.) While the Soul is in Devachan, if an embodied Soul is capable of rising to its sphere, or of coming into rapport with it. To the Devachani, as we have seen, the beloved are present in consciousness and full communication, the Egos being in touch with each other, though one is embodied and one is disembodied, but the higher consciousness of the embodied rarely affects the brain. As a matter of fact, all that we know on the physical plane of our friend, while we both are embodied, is the mental image caused by the impression he makes on us. This is, to our consciousness, our friend, and lacks nothing in objectivity. A similar image is present to the consciousness of the Devachani, and to him lacks nothing in objectivity. As the physical plane friend is visible to an observer on earth, so is the mental plane friend visible to an observer on that plane. The amount of the friend that ensouls the image is dependent on his own evolution, a highly evolved person being capable of far more communication with a Devachani than one who is unevolved. [Page 84] Communication when the body is sleeping is easier than when it is awake, and many a vivid “dream” of one on the other side of death is a real interview with him in Kamaloka or in Devachan.

Love beyond the grave, illusion though you may call it, [See on “illusion” what was said under the heading “Devachan”] has a magic and divine potency that reacts on the living. A mother’s Ego, filled with love for the imaginary children it sees near itself, living a life of happiness, as real to it as when on earth – that love will always be felt by the children in flesh. It will manifest in their dreams and often in various events – in providential protections and escapes, for love is a strong shield and is not limited by space or time. As with this devachanic “mother”, so with the rest of human relationships and attachments, save the purely selfish or material. ["The Key to Theosophy" , page 102, Third edition] 

Remembering that a thought becomes an active entity, capable of working good or evil, we easily see that as embodied Souls can send to those they love helping and protecting forces, so the Devachani, thinking of those dear to him, may send out such helpful and protective thoughts, to act as veritable guardian angels round his beloved on earth. But this is a very different thing from the “Spirit” of the mother coming back to earth to be the almost helpless spectator of the child’s woes. [Page 85] 

The Soul embodied may sometimes escape from its prison of flesh, and come into relations with the Devachani. H. P. Blavatsky writes:

Whenever years after the death of a person his spirit is claimed to have “wandered back to earth” to give advice to those it loved, it is always in a subjective vision, in dream or in trance, and in that case it is the Soul of the living seer that is drawn to the disembodied spirit, and not the latter which wanders back to our spheres. [ "The Theosophist", September 1881 ]

Where the sensitive, or medium, is of a pure and lofty nature, this rising of the freed Ego to the Devachani is practicable, and naturally gives the impression to the sensitive that the departed Ego has come back to him. The Devachani is wrapped in its happy “illusion”, and

The Souls or astral Egos, of pure loving sensitives, labouring under the same delusion, think their loved ones come down to there on earth, while it is their own spirits that are raised towards those in the Devachan [ "Notes on Devachan", "The Path, June 1890, page 80 ] 

This attraction can be exercised by the departed Soul from Kamaloka or from Devachan: 

A “spirit”, or the spiritual Ego, cannot descend to the medium, but it can attract the spirit of the latter to itself, and it can do this only during the two intervals – before and after its “gestation period”. Interval the first is that period between the physical death and the merging of the spiritual Ego into that state which is known in the Arhat Esoteric Doctrine as “Bar-do”. We have [Page 86] translated this as the “gestation period”, and it lasts from a few days to several years, according to the evidence of the Adepts. Interval the second lasts so long as the merits of the old [personal] Ego entitle the being to reap the fruit of its reward in its new regenerated Egoship. It occurs after the gestation period is over, and the new spiritual Ego is reborn-like the fabled Phoenix from its ashes – from the old one. The locality which the former inhabits is called by the northern Buddhist Occultists “Devachan”. [ "The Theosophist", June 1882, Page 226 ]

So also may the incorporeal principles of pure sensitives be placed en rapport with disembodied Souls, although information thus obtained is not reliable, partly in consequence of the difficulty of transferring to the physical brain the impressions received, and partly from the difficulty of observing accurately, when the seer is untrainee. [ Summarized from article in "The Theosophist", September of 1882. ]

A pure medium’s Ego can be drawn to and made, for an instant, to unite in a magnetic (?) relation with a real disembodied spirit, whereas the soul of an impure medium can only confabulate with the Astral Soul, or Shell, of the deceased. The former possibility explains those extremely rare cases of direct writing in recognised autographs, and of messages from the higher class of disembodied intelligences.

But the confusion in messages thus obtained is considerable, not only from the causes above named, but also because

even the best and purest sensitive can at most only be placed at any time en rapport with a particular spiritual entity, and can only know, see, and feel what that particular entity knows, sees, and feels. [Page 87]

Hence much possibility of error if generalisations are indulged in, since each Devachani lives in his own paradise, and there is no “peeping down to earth”. 

Nor is there any conscious communication with the flying Souls that come as it were to learn where the Spirits are, what they are doing, and what they think, feel, and see.

What then is being en rapport? It is simply an identity of molecular vibration between the astral part of the incarnated sensitive and the astral part of the dis-incarnated personality. The spirit of the sensitive gets “odylised”, so to speak, by the aura of the spirit, whether this be hybernating in the earthly region or dreaming in the Devachan; identity of molecular vibration is established, and for a brief space the sensitive becomes the departed personality, and writes in its handwriting, uses its language, and thinks its thoughts. At such times sensitives may believe that those with whom they are for the moment en rapport descend to earth and communicate with them, whereas, in reality, it is merely their own spirits which, being correctly attuned to those others, are for the time blended with them. [ "The Theosophist", September 1882, Page 309 ]

In a special case under examination, H. P. Blavatsky said that the communication might have come from an Elementary, but that it was

far more likely that the medium’s spirit really became en rapport with some spiritual entity in Devachan, the thoughts, knowledge, and sentiments of which formed the substance, while the medium’s own personality and pre-existing ideas more or less governed the forms of the communication. [ "The Theosophist", September 1882, Page 310 ]

While these communications are not reliable in the facts and opinions stated,

we would remark that it may possibly be that there really is a distinct spiritual entity impressing our correspondent’s mind. In [Page 88] other words, there may, for all we know, be some spirit, with whom his spiritual nature becomes habitually, for the time, thoroughly harmonised, and whose thoughts, language, etc., become his for the time, the result being that this spirit seems to communicate with him. … It is possible (though by no means probable) that he habitually passes into a state of rapport with a genuine spirit, and, for the time, is assimilated therewith, thinking (to a great extent if not entirely) the thoughts that spirit would think, writing in its handwriting, etc. But even so, Mr. Terry must not fancy that that spirit is consciously communicating with him, or knows in any way anything of him, or any other person or thing on earth. It is simply that, the rapport established, he, Mr. Terry, becomes for the nonce assimilated with that other personality, and thinks, speaks, and writes as it would have done on earth. … The molecules of his astral nature may from time to time vibrate in perfect unison with those of some spirit of such a person, now in Devachan, and the result may be that he appears to be in communication with that spirit, and to be advised, etc., by him, and clairvoyants may see in the Astral Light a picture of the earth-life form of that spirit.

4.) Communications other than those from disembodied Souls, passing through normal post-mortem states. 

(a) From Shells. These, while but the cast-off garment of the liberated Soul, retain for some time the impress of their late inhabitant, and reproduce automatically his habits of thought and expression, just as a physical body will automatically repeat habitual gestures. Reflex action is as possible to the desire body as to the physical, but all reflex action is marked by its character of repetition, and absence of all power to initiate movement. It answers to a stimulus with [Page 89] an appearance of purposive action, but it initiates nothing. When people “sit for development”, or when at a séance they anxiously hope and wait for messages from departed friends, they supply just the stimulus needed, and obtain the signs of recognition for which they expectantly watch.

(b) From Elementaries. These, possessing the lower capacities of the mind, i.e., all the intellectual faculties that found their expression through the physical brain during life, may produce communications of a highly intellectual character. These, however, are rare, as may be seen from a survey of the messages published as received from “departed Spirits”. 

(c) From Elementals, or Nature Spirits. These play a great part at séances, and are mostly the agents who are active in producing physical phenomena. They throw about or carry objects, make noises, ring bells, etc., etc. Sometimes they play pranks with Shells, animating them and representing them to be the spirits of great personalities who have lived on earth, but who have sadly degenerated in the “spiritworld”, judging by their effusions. Sometimes, in materialising séances, they busy themselves in throwing pictures from the Astral Light on the fluidic forms produced, so causing them to assume likenesses of various persons. There [Page 90] are also Elementals of a high type who occasionally communicate with very gifted mediums, “Shining Ones” from other spheres.

(d) From Nirmanakayas. For these communications, as for the two classes next mentioned, the medium must be of a very pure and lofty nature. The Nirmanakaya is a perfected man, who has cast aside his physical body but retains his other lower principles, and remains in the earth-sphere for the sake of helping forward the evolution of mankind. Nirmanakayas 

have, out of pity for mankind and those they left on earth, renounced the Nirvanic state. Such an Adept, or Saint, or whatever you may call him, believing it a selfish act to rest in bliss while mankind groans under the burden of misery produced by ignorance, renounces Nirvana and determines to remain invisible in spirit on this earth. They have no material body, as they have left it behind: but otherwise they remain with all their principles even in astral life in our sphere. And such can and do communicate with a few elect ones, only surely not with ordinary mediums. [ "The Key to Theosophy", page 151 ]

(e) From Adepts now living on earth. These often communicate with Their disciples, without using the ordinary methods of communication, and when any tie exists, perchance from some past incarnation, between an Adept and a medium, constituting that medium a disciple, a message from the Adept might readily be mistaken for a message from a “Spirit”. [Page 91] The receipt of such messages by precipitated writing or spoken words is within the knowledge of some.

(f) From the medium’s Higher Ego. Where a pure and earnest man or woman is striving after the light, this upward striving is met by a downward reaching of the higher nature, and light from the higher streams downward, illuminating the lower consciousness. Then the lower mind is, for the time, united with its parent, and transmits as much of its knowledge as it is able to retain.

From this brief sketch it will be seen how varied may be the sources from which communications apparently from “the other side of Death” may be received. As said by H. P. Blavatsky:

The variety of the causes of phenomena is great, and one need be an Adept, and actually look into and examine what transpires, in order to be able to explain in each case what really underlies it. [ "The Theosophist", September 1882, Page 210 [ "The Theosophist", September 1882, Page 310 ]

To complete the statement it may be added that what the average Soul can do when it has passed through the gateway of Death, it can do on this side, and communications may be as readily obtained by writing, in trance, and by the other means of receiving messages, from embodied as from disembodied Souls. [Page 92] If each developed within himself the powers of his own Soul, instead of drifting about aimlessly, or ignorantly plunging into dangerous experiments, knowledge might be safely accumulated and the evolution of the Soul might be accelerated. This one thing is sure: Man is today a living Soul, over whom Death has no power, and the key of the prison-house of the body is in his own hands, so that he may learn its use if he will. It is because his true Self, while blinded by the body, has lost touch with other Selves, that Death has been a gulf instead of a gateway between embodied and disembodied Souls. [Pages 93-94 - are blank]



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