Death And After

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Death And After

By Annie Besant

The Return To Earth

At length the causes that carried the Ego into Devachan are exhausted, the experiences gathered have been wholly assimilated, and the Soul begins to feel again the thirst for sentient material life that can be gratified only on the physical plane. The greater the degree of spirituality reached, the purer and loftier the preceding earth-life, the longer the stay in Devachan, [Page 76] the world of spiritual, pure, and lofty effects. [I am here ignoring the special conditions surrounding one who is forcing his own evolution, and has entered on the Path that leads to Adeptship within a very limited number of lives.] The “average time [in Devachan] is from ten to fifteen centuries”, H. P. Blavatsky tells us, and the fifteen centuries cycle is one of those most plainly marked in history.[ See Manual No. 2 "Reincarnation", pages 60-61, Third Edition ] But in modern life this period has much shortened, in consequence of the greater attraction exercised by physical objects over the heart of man. Further, it must be remembered that the “average time” is not the time spent in Devachan by any person. If one person spends there 1000 years, and another fifty, the “average” is 525. The devachanic period is longer or shorter according to the type of life which preceded it; the more there was of spiritual, intellectual, and emotional activity of a lofty kind, the longer will be the gathering in of the harvest; the more there was of activity directed to selfish gain on earth, the shorter will be the devachanic period.

When the experiences are assimilated, be the time long or short, the Ego is ready to return, and he brings back with him his now increased experience, and any [Page 77] further gains he may have made in Devachan along the lines of abstract thought; for, while in Devachan, 

In one sense we can acquire more knowledge; that is, we can develop further any faculty which we loved and strove after during life, provided it is concerned with abstract and ideal things, such as music, painting, poetry, etc. [ "The Key to Theosophy" page 105, Third Edition; Page 100-101, 1969 Edition ]

But the Ego meets, as he crosses the threshold of Devachan on his way outwards – dying out of Devachan to be reborn on earth – he meets in the “atmosphere of the terrestrial plane”, the seeds of evil sown in his preceding life on earth. During the devachanic rest he has been free from all pain, all sorrow, but the evil he did in his past has been in a state of suspended animation, not of death. As seeds sown in the autumn for the springtime lie dormant beneath the surface of the soil, but touched by the soft rain and penetrating warmth of sun begin to swell and the embryo expands and grows, so do the seeds of evil we have sown lie dormant while the Soul takes its rest in Devachan, but shoot out their roots into the new personality which begins to form itself for the incarnation of the returning man. The Ego has to take up the burden of his past, and these germs or seeds, coming over as the harvest of the past life, are the Skandhas, to borrow a [Page 78] convenient word from our Buddhist brethren. They consist of material qualities, sensations, abstract ideas, tendencies of mind, mental powers, and while the pure aroma of these attached itself to the Ego and passed with it into Devachan, all that was gross, base and evil remained in the state of suspended animation spoken of above. These are taken up by the Ego as he passes outwards towards terrestrial life, and are built into the new “man of flesh” which the true man is to inhabit. And so the round of births and deaths goes on, the turning of the Wheel of Life; the treading of the Cycle of Necessity, until the work is done and the building of the Perfect Man is completed. 



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