Now I’m going to switch over sources in looking more deeply at the Astral Plane, moving from the Company of Light as found in the First Contact database (9) to the dwellers in the Astral and Mental Planes as found in the New Maps of Heaven database. (10)
We’ve heard Archangel Michael call the Fourth Dimension or Astral Plane the “emotional” plane. It is also known as “the plane of desire,” as Theosophist Annie Besant notes:
“Kâmaloka, the place of desire, is the name given [by Theosophists] to the conditions of intermediate life on the astral plane.” (11) (12)
Here Judge David P. Hatch describes the Astral Plane as a “play world.”
“I once heard a man refer to this world as the play world, “for,” said he, “we are all children here, and we create the environment that we desire.” As a child at play can turn a chair into a tower or a prancing steed, so we in this world can make real for the moment whatever we imagine.” (13)
Judge Hatch illustrates this by describing his encounter with a new arrival who found him in a Roman toga.
She glanced at my classical garment, and I could feel her thinking that there was something incongruous between it and my assertion that I had been here only a few months.
“Perhaps you are an actor,” she said.
“We are all actors here,” I replied.
This seemed to puzzle her more than ever, and she said that she did not understand. Poor lady! I felt sorry for her, and I tried my best to explain to her the conditions under which we live.
“You must know in the first place,” I said, “that this is the land of realised ideals. Now a man who has always desired to be a king can play the part up here if he wishes to, and no one will laugh at him; for each spirit has some favourite dream which he acts out to his own satisfaction.
“We have, madam,” I continued, “reacquired the tolerance and the courtesy of children who never ridicule one another’s play.”
“Is heaven merely a play-room?” she asked, in a shocked tone.
“Not at all,” I answered; “but you are not in heaven.” (14)
To translate this cryptic passage, Hatch was acting out his desire to experience life as a Roman on the plane of desire (the Astral Plane) and the lady asked if heaven was merely for play. But “heaven” is the term reserved not for the Astral Plane but for the Mental Plane, which is a stage above “the plane of desires” or Kamaloka.
One of the purposes of the Astral Plane is to release our desires, as T.E. Lawrence’s guide, “Mitchell,” informed the repressed Lawrence:
“Unless you can release some of the forbidden desires the amount of stored and dangerous emotion will constantly overset your equilibrium and keep you in a state of turmoil.” (15)
This release was required before Lawrence could progress to the mental plane.
Professor William James explains how desire carries people back and forth on the Astral Plane:
“A vivid desire of the most momentary nature seemingly transported me from one place to another, with no transition or preparation – exhilarating and unsettling. Countering all of this, however, was the most delightful sense of safety so that, after the first orientations, there is no fear at all; and everywhere, being seems to be couched in perfect safety.” (16)
Here “Imperator”(the prophet Malachi) explains how desire moves us about the Astral Plane. It is this succumbing to desire that must be mastered before we go on.
“Will-power suffices for our movements. We are attracted by sympathy, repelled by antipathy, drawn by desire on our part, or on that of those who wish for our presence.” (17)
Here is an unnamed Chinese philosopher stating the same thing:
“If we wish to go to any place, it is only a question of desire and will power, and we are almost immediately at the place we had in mind.” (18)
Frederic Myers tried to explain the illusory nature of the Astral Plane. He called it a dream land, a land built on memories of Earth life. There is, he said, an “existence within an image or reflection of the earth known to some as “Summer-land”; I prefer to call it ‘Illusion-land.'” (19)
When people enter the Astral Plane, he said:
“They enter into a dream that, in its main particulars, resembles the earth. But now this dream is memory and, for a time, they live within it. All those activities that made up their previous life are re-enacted, that is, if such is their will. They can, at any time, if they choose, escape from the coil of earth memories, from what I might term the ‘swaddling clothes’ of the life after death. For all these souls are as babies, unaware of the real world of which they are inhabitants, no more cognisant than are infants of the vast whirl of life about them, of its astonishing intellectual activities, of its achievements. …
“He lives for a while in this beatific, infantile state. But, like the baby, he inhabits only a dream, and has no knowledge and hardly any perception of the greater life in which he is now planted. Of course the hour comes when his spiritual perceptions awaken, when he seeks to escape from the memory-dream, when, in short, he realizes his own increased intellectual powers, and, above all, his capacity for living on a finer plane of being. Then he passes from the State of Illusion and enters upon an existence which few communicating intelligences have ever attempted to describe to man.
“However, to those of us who have journeyed beyond the memory-world this alleged region or heaven of the departed is false because it is unreal, a reflection of a reflection, a tenuous dream that fades before spiritual knowledge. When the crossing of death is achieved many are happy in that state of grace; but theirs is the vegetative happiness, the unintelligent content of an infant who knows little or nothing of the world in which he or she lives.” (20)
Most other people would say that we live on the Astral Plane in an astral body. But for some reason Myers calls it an “etheric body,” even though the term is usually reserved for the body used in the Etheric Plane or Borderlands:
“In Illusion-land you wear an etheric body. It is of a finer or more tenuous matter than the physical form.” (21)
Myers describes how people create on the plane of desire and illusion.
“In Illusion-land you do not consciously create your surroundings through an act of thought. Your emotional desires, your deeper mind manufacture these without your being actually aware of the process. For still you are the individualized soul caught within the limitations of your earthly self and caught also within the fine etheric body which now is yours. …
“Picture it for a moment: you live in surroundings that resemble those you knew on earth. You are, it is true, freed from money worries, freed from the need to earn your daily bread. Your etheric body is nourished by light which is not the light of the sun. It is possessed also of energy and life. It does not suffer pain, nor is it subjected to struggle of any kind.” (22)
He offers a word-picture of the life of desire:
“Nearly every soul lives for a time in the state of illusion. The large majority of human beings when they die are dominated by the conception that substance is reality, that their particular experience of substance is the only reality. They are not prepared for an immediate and complete change of outlook. They passionately yearn for familiar though idealized surroundings. Their will to live is merely to live, therefore, in the past. So they enter that dream I call Illusion-land.
“For instance, Tom Jones, who represents the unthinking man in the street, will desire a glorified brick villa in a glorified Brighton. So he finds himself the proud possessor of that twentieth-century atrocity. He naturally gravitates towards his acquaintances, all those who were of a like mind. On earth he longed for a superior brand of cigar. He can have the experience ad nauseam of smoking this brand. He wanted to play golf, so he plays golf. But he is merely dreaming all the time or, rather, living within the fantasy created by his strongest desires on earth.” (23)
But eventually we tire of the plane of desire, Myers says.
“It is indeed as if you lived in a pond, and soon you weary of the limitations of that calm unruffled sheet of water. You yearn for struggle, effort, ecstasy; you long for wide horizons. The call of the road has come to you again. In short, you are anxious to make further progress either up or down.” (24)
That further progress is into the Fifth Dimension or Mental Plane, which, it turns out, is the first plane on which dualistic experiencing is left behind and unitive consciousness arises.
So to summarize: The Fourth Dimension or Astral Plane is largely viewed as going together with the Third Dimension or Physical Plane in this cycle of our infinite growth. When we ascend, we progress past both these planes are which are dualistic worlds and into the first unitive world of the Fifth Dimension or Mental Plane. We leave the world of polarity and duality behind and enter a world of oneness. Our release from duality therefore must of necessity be a release from the Fourth as well as the Third Dimension if we are truly to be inheritors of unitiveness or oneness.
(9) New Maps of Heaven: http://www.angelfire.com/space2/light11/nmh/nmh-index1.html
(10) First Contact: http://www.angelfire.com/space2/light11/fc/fc-index1.html
(11) Annie Besant, The Ancient Wisdom. An Outline of Theosophical Teachings. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972; c1897, 64n.
(12) I realize that the Theosophists used “Kamaloka” for both the Etheric Plane or Borderlands and the Astral Plane. I am reserving the term for the Astral Plane.
(13) Judge David Patterson Hatch (“X”), Letters from a Living Dead Man. Elsa Barker, med. New York: Mitchell Kennerly, 1914. Ebook downloaded from http://www.earthlypursuits.com/LtrLDMan/LtrLDMan.htm , 28 August 2008, Letter XXVIII.
(14) Judge Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXXVII.
(15) T.E. Lawrence through Jane Sherwood, medium, Post-Mortem Journal. Communications from T.E. Lawrence. London: Spearman, 1964 37.
(16) William James through Jane Roberts, medium, The Afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher: The World View of William James. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1978, 160.
(17) Spirit leader Imperator in Stainton Moses, More Spirit Teachings. Spirit Writings. Electronically published by Meilach.com. http://www.meilach.com/spiritual/books/morest/mst02.htm, n.p.
(18) Unnamed Chinese philosopher in Fred Rafferty, ed., Charlotte E. Dresser, medium, Life Here and Hereafter. Author’s edition. Downloaded from http://www.harvestfields.ca/ebook/02/001/00.htm, 2 Feb. 2008, 270-1.
(19) Frederic W.H. Myers through Geraldine Cummins, medium. The Road to Immortality. Being a description of the after-life purporting to be communicated by the late F. W. H. Myers [Frederic William Henry Myers, 1843-1901]. Located at http://www.trans4mind.com/spiritual/cummins/cummins1.html, n.p.
(20) Loc. cit.
(21) Loc. cit.
(22) Loc. cit.
(23) Loc. cit.
(24) Loc. cit.