Astral Plane Inhabitants

Having sketched in, however slightly, the background of our picture,

we must now attempt to fill in the figures--to describe the

inhabitants of the astral plane. The immense variety of these entities

makes it exceedingly difficult to arrange and tabulate them. Perhaps

the most convenient method will be to divide them into three great

classes, the human, the non-human, and the artificial.


The human denizens of Kamaloka fall naturally into two groups, the

living and the dead, or, to speak more accurately, those who have

still a physical body, and those who have not.


The entities which manifest on the astral plane during physical life

may be subdivided into four classes:

1. _The Adept or Chela in the Mayavirupa._ This body is the artificial

vehicle used on the four lower or rupa divisions of the devachanic

plane by those capable of functioning there during earth-life, and is

formed out of the substance of the mind-body. The pupil is at first

unable to construct this for himself, and has therefore to be content

with his ordinary astral body composed of the less refined matter of

the kamic aura; but at a certain stage of his progress the Master

Himself forms his Mayavirupa for him for the first time, and

afterwards instructs and assists him until he can make it for himself

easily and expeditiously. When this facility is attained this vehicle

is habitually used in place of the grosser astral body, since it

permits of instant passage from the astral to the devachanic plane and

back again at will, and allows of the use at all times of the higher

powers belonging to its own plane. It must be noted, however, that a

person travelling in the Mayavirupa is not perceptible to merely

astral vision unless he chooses to make himself so by gathering around

him particles of astral matter and so creating for himself a temporary

body suitable to that plane, though such a temporary creation would

resemble the ordinary astral body only as a materialization resembles

the physical body; in each case it is a manifestation of a higher

entity on a lower plane in order to make himself visible to those

whose senses cannot yet transcend that plane. But whether he be in the

Mayavirupa or the astral body, the pupil who is introduced to the

astral plane under the guidance of a competent teacher has always the

fullest possible consciousness there, and is in fact himself, exactly

as his friends know him on earth, minus only the four lower principles

in the former case and the three lower in the latter, and plus the

additional powers and faculties of this higher condition, which enable

him to carry on far more easily and far more efficiently on that plane

during sleep the Theosophical work which occupies so much of his

thought in his waking hours. Whether he will remember fully and

accurately on the physical plane what he has done or learnt on the

other depends largely, as before stated, upon whether he is able to

carry his consciousness without intermission from the one state to the


2. _The Psychically-developed Person who is not under the guidance of

a Master._ Such a person may or may not be spiritually developed, for

the two forms of advancement do not necessarily go together, and when

a man is born with psychic powers it is simply the result of efforts

made during a previous incarnation, which may have been of the noblest

and most unselfish character, or on the other hand may have been

ignorant and ill-directed or even entirely unworthy. Such an one will

usually be perfectly conscious when out of the body, but for want of

proper training is liable to be greatly deceived as to what he sees.

He will often be able to range through the different subdivisions of

the astral plane almost as fully as persons belonging to the last

class; but sometimes he is especially attracted to some one division

and rarely travels beyond its influences. His recollection of what he

has seen may vary according to the degree of his development through

all the stages from perfect clearness to utter distortion or blank

oblivion. He will appear always in the astral body, since by the

hypothesis he does not know how to form the Mayavirupa.

3. _The Ordinary Person_--that is, the person without any psychic

development--floating about in his astral body in a more or less

unconscious condition. In deep slumber the higher principles in their

astral vehicle almost invariably withdraw from the body, and hover in

its immediate neighbourhood, practically almost as much asleep as the

latter. In some cases, however, this astral vehicle is less lethargic,

and floats dreamily about on the various astral currents, occasionally

recognizing other people in a similar condition, and meeting with

experiences of all sorts, pleasant and unpleasant, the memory of

which, hopelessly confused and often travestied into a grotesque

caricature of what really happened, will cause the man to think next

morning what a remarkable dream he has had. These extruded astral

bodies are almost shapeless and very indefinite in outline in the case

of the more backward races and individuals, but as the man develops in

intellect and spirituality his floating astral becomes better defined

and more closely resembles his physical encasement. Since the

psychical faculties of mankind are in course of evolution, and

individuals are at all stages of their development, this class

naturally melts by imperceptible gradations into the former one.

4. _The Black Magician or his pupil._ This class corresponds closely

to the first, except that the development has been for evil instead of

good, and the powers acquired are used for purely selfish purposes

instead of for the benefit of humanity. Among its lower ranks come

members of the negro race who practise the ghastly rites of the Obeah

or Voodoo schools, and the medicine-men of many a savage tribe; while

higher in intellect, and therefore the more blame-worthy, stand the

Tibetan black magicians, who are often, though incorrectly, called by

Europeans Dugpas--a title properly belonging, as is quite correctly

explained by Surgeon-Major Waddell in his recent work on _The Buddhism

of Tibet_, only to the Bhotanese subdivision of the great Kargyu sect,

which is part of what may be called the semi-reformed school of

Tibetan Buddhism. The Dugpas no doubt deal in Tantrik magic to a

considerable extent, but the real red-hatted entirely unreformed sect

is that of the Nin-ma-pa, though far beyond them in a still lower

depth lie the Boen-pa--the votaries of the aboriginal religion, who

have never accepted any form of Buddhism at all. It must not, however,

be supposed that all Tibetan sects except the Gelugpa are necessarily

and altogether evil; a truer view would be that as the rules of other

sects permit considerably greater laxity of life and practice, the

proportion of self-seekers among them is likely to be much larger than

among the stricter reformers. The investigator will occasionally meet

on the astral plane students of occultism from all parts of the world

(belonging to lodges quite unconnected with the Masters of whom

Theosophists know most) who are in many cases most earnest and

self-sacrificing seekers after truth. It is noteworthy, however, that

all such lodges are at least aware of the existence of the great

Himalayan Brotherhood, and acknowledge it as containing among its

members the highest Adepts now known on earth.

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