The second subject is kind of difficult, or at least, it’s quite complicated in my view. I shall tell you first what a human is, that’s necessary to tell you what happens after we leave our physical body (my view of course). Further down you’ll read about heaven, hell and purgatory and all interesting things that will come over us when we die.
First I must warn/tell you that my view on the subject is very eastern. Hinduistic and buddhistic sources have a remarkable view on what happens after death. Here and there you may find traces of the Egyptian book of the dead, but mostly Theosophy. Not that I’m going to say that all this is true because these sources say so, but similar ideas provide you with terms and means to explain a topic like this. And remind yourself, this isn’t true because I say so either! These are just my current visions which may or may not alter as I go further and your vision is as good as mine!
To start I have to tell you about the sevenfold constitution of man. Without this information I can’t possibly begin talking about afterlife.
In many people’s vision man is a divine creature. Often ancient philosophies will tell you that ‘inside’ we’ve got a sparkle of the divine fire, to use a familiar metaphor. Esoteric groups have a pretty complicated vision on this. The words in the ‘strange’ language that I use are in Sankrit, the ancient language of India. Nowadays Sankrit is also often used in New-Age. They’re much better terms than we have in our own languages. Our terms are often used incorrectly or vaguely for many years and when you say spirit or mind, everyone will have a different idea about it. Therefor many groups decided to use a different language, like Sankrit.
Our divine sparkle may be called atma. Imagine it “falling from grace” or entering the physical world. 6 Times it takes a more physical vehicle. First vehicle is budhi, second manas, third kama rupa, fourth linga sarira, fifth prana (this isn’t really a vehicle, but “life”) and at last sthula sarira.
A short overview of the vehicles:
– Buddhi is the ‘spiritual’ soul (there you have it! ‘Spiritual’ here is almost divine);
– Manas – thinking, can be divided in higher (abstract) and lower thinking;
– Kama rupa is the ‘desire body’;
– Linga sarira the often mentioned astral body (astral: from the stars, refers to the ‘material’ it’s made off);
– Prana means life, the Chi of the Chinese;
– Sthula sarira is the physical body with wich we’re most familiar with.
These are of course words to give to an idea. The words often differ and the classification does too. Many groups leave Prana from the row and give separate names to the higher and lower thinking. The variations are almost countless.
Of course you’ll also hear about more and less vehicles or bodies, from two, to the Christian (and not very wrong) three to upto about 18 in Zoroastrian philosophies.
But then to the interesting part.
In most cases dead is preceded by a periode in which the individuality (astral and lower mental vehicles) are beginning to withdraw from the physical body. Think of old-age which often comes with dementia and infantality. When death has occured, the astal body will -for a short periode of time- remain with the physical body and it will leave when the body starts to decay. As long as there’re still parts of the physical body present (for example in a grave, hospital or balsemed) the astral body will feel attracted to it and have a hard time leaving. Also the wining of family makes it’s depart more difficult, especially because it won’t realize immediately that the physical body is dead.
Eventually the kama rupa will be leaving to it’s own world, the kama loka (world of desire or “purgatory”), which -so to say- is the astral body of mother earth. In kama loka we’re supposed to break every single bond that has been tied in our incarnation. The ‘time’ that we’ll spend in kama loka depends on how material-minded we were. If we long strongly for the physical world, the stay in kama loka may get pretty long. For most western people, kama loka takes the most time between two incarnations. In the end manas (thinking) will also die away in kama loka.
Then off we go to heaven, or with a more appropriate term: Devachan (litt. domain of the gods). For most people who lived a rather descent and noble life, Devachan will be a place of unspeakable joy, happiness and beauty. All things noble from physical life will be (as a matter of speech) multiplied by 1000. Every unfulfilled desire to do good will be finally fulfilled. Of course this dream is a good example of Maya (illusion), but the main purpose of it is rest. Kama loka and devachan are different for everybody, you get what you expect, to a certain level, but you certainly get what you deserve!
In rare occasions, people can pass or live through Devachan and be taken into Nirvana. This is not for the common man though. Nirvana -I must say- isn’t a static situation either. It may take much much longer than the usual ‘bardo’ of most people, but in the end people will have to choose between becoming a pratyeka Buddha or a Buddha of Compassion, but that’s an entirely different subject.
Being in Devachan you finally reach a point where the desire for physical experiences returns and then you make yourself ready to find a proper set of new vehicles. ‘Going down’ most people fall into an unconscious state, not able to choose the family, town, country or even continent where (s)he will be born. At the end a new man is being created and you get tied to the body. Around the seventh year in it’s life the reincarnation is completed and you’re beginning a new cycle of physical experience.
Of course there’s a lot more to say about the subject. I didn’t mention the panoramic vision, nor did I touch upon the extremely difficult subject of the passage over the seven spheres of the earth. This is an extremely summarized version of a periode that -for most people- takes about 2000 years. In this view you can never be reborn as an animal (once a human, always a human, there’s no going back in evolution). There’s also no going back in earthly time, no matter how relative that is.
Very related subjects to this are of course Karma, reincarnation and evolution. I intend to write articles about these subjects in the future.
Well, since nobody of you writes to let me know what you think yourselves, I will write down another interesting version myself. The following is what I found in a Rosicrucian work.
Death is caused by the fact that the demolition of cells goes faster than the rebuilding of them. As known, our whole organism is renewed in about seven years. Eventually this will prove to be too slow! So eventually the hard, crystallized material-body is lain off together with the with the most material parts of the ethereal body (the life-body). The bloodsoul is cut off the soul-stature and the rest is being pulled to resembling domains. This is caused by the vibrations that resemble to the vibrations of certain ‘worlds’. In the passaway-domains man comes to awareness and leaves for his heavenly or hellish world.
According to the Rosicrucian tradition everything is ‘dialectical’. This means that every thing has a positive and a negative part. Speaking of our world, this means that there is an earthly sphere and a hereafter. The material body remains in the earthly sphere, just like the bloodsoul or earthly soul and the lower parts of the ether/life-body. The so called consciousness-stature and soul-stature leave with the higher ethers (the desire-body and thinking) for the heavenly or hellish world after -as mentioned- a shorter or longer stay in the passaway-domain. In the last domain the desire-body and thinking eventually will also fall apart. The consciousness-stature and soul-stature are left, together with a few original atoms of every body that keep the essence of the lives as experience-harvest (or life-harvest). As the microcosmos is brought back to it’s essence, the impelling activity of the self-decayed forces (that are concentrated in the auric being or Lipika as the karma of the microcosmos) cause the necessity of the taking up of a new mortal personallity. The higher ethers again fall from grace, picking up a bloodsoul and a new body and a new voyage to the grave has begun.
The bloodsoul is the ‘spirit’ or living essence of the blood. The blood keeps the whole bodily stature together. After death a split occurs in the soul. The higher consciousness-stature is the impersonal soul, the living soul-essence of all dialectical lives together. This stature leaves for the hereafter while the lower (spiritual) stature remains here. The (left/higher) bloodsoul contains all values from the life of the deceased, both good and bad.
Even though both heavenly and hellish domains are mentioned, I think the same world is meant, even though I can’t find this explicitly in the literature. The cause if someone’s afterlife is heavenly or hellish is of course how his/her life on earth has been. As you have read the Theosophical literature has both a ‘kama-loka’ and a ‘devachan’ after each other. I could not find any mention of this in Rosicrucian literature.
The length of the stay in the hereafter depends on how great the life-harvest was. If you have more to add to the eternal soul of all life, your stay will be fairly short. It is said that the time of most people (but with many exceptions) is around 600 to 700 years. This differs a lot from Theosophical views which speaks about an average of 2000 years up to approximately 100 years of every lived year on earth. Both claim the ‘knowledge’ of clair-voyants, so it is hard to say who comes most close to the ‘truth’.
Then I must say something about the word “Lipika”. In eastern and Theosophical writings Lipikas are the (metaphorical or course) writers-down of our Karma. Somehow forces that ‘write’ our actions in the great book of life. On the other hand Theosophists have called the forces building the world Lipikas as well! In this form they are helpers of the creating force called ‘Fohat’. Rosicrucians also relate Lipikas to Karma, but seemingly more personal.
An interesting variation in the Rosicrucian version is that our Karma is conserved within certain atoms of all our bodies that remain to the higher ethers. While Theosophical writers claim that our experiences are transferred to a higher part that remains, Rosicrucians keep the experiences where they where gathered and let parts of the lower bodies survive death. A problem with reincarnation that many people have is that many want to believe that something of us remains while it doesn’t. Theosophists can say that only some of our experiences remain and so will Rosicrucians, being it in a more material manner. Maybe I should discuss this in a separate article on reincarnation.
To close off I want to excuse myself for the strange combination of words in this last part. I am not too familiar with Rosicrucian writings and I don’t know the English versions of their expressions. It is pretty hard to try to pour this into an understandable form.