WHEN WE DIE - Exploring the Great Beyond
by Geoffrey Farthing
Chapter VI - The Second Death and Devachan
A Description of the After-Death States and Processes
There are altogether three occasions when we review our past lives: first when we are in the process of dying and leaving our physical bodies; second after the gestation period when the Ego begins to enter the next after-death condition of Devachan; and a third when our whole series of lives on a planet, like earth, is finishing. Then we see them strung out as beads on a necklace and know the significance of them all. Only those rare personal lives which had no spiritual contribution to make to our Egoic triads will be entirely missing as if they had never been.
Concerning the revival of consciousness as we enter Devachan (or Avitchi, as the case may be) and the second review of our immediate past life, we were told that it commences after the akasic sleep in the Kama Loka:
This state [Kama Loka] lasts from a few hours (rarely less), days, weeks, months - sometimes to several years. All this according to the entity, to its mental status at the moment of death, to the character of its death, etc. That remembrance will return slowly and gradually toward the end of the gestation (to the entity or Ego), still more slowly but far more imperfectly and incompletely to the shell, and fully to the Ego at the moment of its entrance into the Devachan. And now the latter being a state determined and brought by its past life, the Ego does not fall headlong but sinks into it gradually and by easy stages. With the first dawn of that state appears that life, or rather is once more lived over by the Ego, from its first day of consciousness to its last. From the most important down to the most trifling event, all are marshalled before the spiritual eye of the Ego; only, unlike the events of real life, those of them remain only that are chosen by the new liver (pardon the word) clinging to certain scenes and actors, these remain permanently - while all the others fade away to disappear for ever, or to return to their creator - the shell. Now try to understand this highly important, because so highly just and retributive law, in its effects. Out of the resurrected Past nothing remains but what the Ego has felt spiritually - that was evolved by and through and lived
over by his spiritual faculties - be they love or hatred. All that I am now trying to describe is in truth - indescribable. As no two men, not even two photographs of the same person, nor yet two leaves resemble line for line each other, so no two states in Devachan are like ... [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p184 (3rd edition), p187 (1st and 2nd editions)]
There is much information in this passage repeating or supplementing what has been said before. It tells us that normally the period of unconsciousness - of both the shell (personal psychic remains) and the Ego - lasts up to several years (for more information about the duration of each post mortem state see Chapter Seven). Consciousness and the remembrance of the past life return slowly as the Ego enters the devachanic state, as a baby through infancy gradually awakens to the (to it) novel surroundings of earth life. Similarly, after the departure of the Ego* the shell recovers a partial consciousness and remembrance. As will be seen later, both these can be enhanced on contact with a spiritualistic medium. [*The departure of the Ego happens as the Spiritual Triad is withdrawn from the lower Duad. This event is sometimes referred to as the Second Death.]
After the Egoic review of the past life, prior to the Ego's entering Devachan, all the purely personal memories are relinquished by it until the end of the seventh Round. Only the truly pure spiritual content of the previous life is transferred to Egoic consciousness. It is this content which conditions the Egoic consciousness in Devachan. Without it the Ego would have no Egoic existence there. It would be unconscious. This was explained as follows:
To awaken in it [the Monad] to life the latent consciousness especially that of personal individuality, requires the monad plus the highest attributes of the fifth - the "animal Soul"; and it is that which makes the ethereal Ego that lives and enjoys bliss in the Devachan. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p102 (3rd edition), p105 (1st and 2nd editions)]
Immediately prior to this it had been explained:
... the sixth and seventh principles apart from the rest constitute the eternal, imperishable, but also unconscious "Monad". [It is not generally realized that the Monad, in itself, is unconscious.]
The Master was then asked, "Who goes to Devachan?" The answer:
The personal Ego of course, but beatified, purified, holy. Every Ego - the combination of the sixth and seventh principles - which after the period of unconscious gestation is reborn into the Devachan, is of necessity as innocent and pure as a new-born babe. The fact of his being reborn at all, shows the preponderance of good over evil in his old personality. And while the Karma (of evil) steps aside for the time being to follow him in his future earth-reincarnation, he brings along with him but the Karma of his good deeds, words, and thoughts into this Devachan. "Bad" is a relative term for us ... and the Law of Retribution is the only law that never errs. Hence all those who have not slipped down into the mire of unredeemable sin and bestiality - go to the Devachan. They will have to pay for their sins, voluntary and involuntary, later on. Meanwhile they are rewarded; receive the effects of the causes produced by them. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p98 (3rd edition), p100 (1st and 2nd editions)]
Devachan is really the after-death state. All that precedes it is preparation. The reviews of the past life, the death struggle, the gestation period and Kama Loka are all preliminary. The extracts quoted above are from a long Letter about the Devachan. The subject had been briefly mentioned before but now we are ready for much more information about a number of aspects of the state. What we are told, however, is condensed and its full import is only realized after considerable study and thought. Continuing the extract: Of course it [Devachan]
... is a state, one, so to say, of intense selfishness during which an Ego reaps the reward of his unselfishness on earth. He is completely engrossed in the bliss of all his personal earthly affections, preferences and thoughts, and gathers in the fruit of his meritorious actions. No pain, no grief nor even the shadow of a sorrow comes to darken the bright horizon of his unalloyed happiness; for, it is a state of perpetual "Maya"... Since the conscious perception of one's personality on earth is but an evanescent dream that sense will be equally that of a dream in the Devachan - only a hundred fold intensified. So much so, indeed, that the happy Ego is unable to see through the veil the evils, sorrows and woes to which those it loved on earth may be subjected. It lives in that sweet dream with its loved ones - whether gone before, or yet remaining on earth; it has them near itself, as happy, as blissful and as innocent as the disembodied
dreamer himself; and yet, apart from rare visions the denizens of our gross planet feel it not. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p98 (3rd edition), p101 (1st and 2nd editions)]
It has been objected that if, in effect, physical life "is but an evanescent dream", the word dream means nothing - everything is dream. This was also a difficulty to those who received these Letters. They could not comprehend the Eastern idea that all manifest existence is a Maya - an illusion or dream. This is a new and strange concept for a Westerner. It has some meaning when we realize that everything in existence is ephemeral, and further that it is continually changing throughout its life period, however long or short that may be. What then is the 'thing' itself? It is only something with its peculiar present-time qualities, for an instant of time. The next instant it has changed. The question then arises, "What is permanent? What is unchangeable?" It is soon realized that nothing in manifestation can be. So it is considered to be illusory, in that sense. But our normal environment is real enough for us, in spite of its transient nature, like that of a dream.
So it is with our state in Devachan: everything there is real enough for us then, in spite of the fact that it is a product of our own minds - again like a dream. The Letter goes on to deal with the possibility of communication between Devachanees and those on earth. This will be returned to in Chapter Nine. Meanwhile there is some more pertinent information:
Certainly the new Ego, once that it is reborn [into Devachan] retains for a certain time - proportionate to its Earth-life, a "complete recollection of his life on earth" ... But it can never return on earth, from the Devachan, nor has the latter - even omitting all "anthropomorphic ideas of God" - any resemblance to the paradise or heaven of any religion ... [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p98 (3rd edition), p100 (1st and 2nd editions)]
As there is no suffering in Devachan it could be asked how the Devachanee's recollection of the past life is complete when all the painful content has been left behind. It is complete because he will observe or see all the painful incidents of his last life quite objectively or dispassionately, i.e. without normal personal reactions because he has no passional (kamic) nature left; the passional part of him is left behind in the shell. This remembrance is more fully described later.
Questioned as to whether those in Devachan can be aware of life on Earth, the Master said:
But "the life of Earth" can be watched by none of these ["an immense number of those who have gone before"], for reasons of the Law of Bliss plus Maya ... [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p103 (3rd edition), p106 (1st and 2nd editions)]
It is explained that to be aware of the events of physical life, physical senses are required. Those in Devachan have long since parted with both their physical and their psychic senses. It was asked whether there was a wide variety of experience in Devachan:
Yes, there are great varieties in the Devachan states ... As many varieties of bliss, as on earth there are shades of perception and of capability to appreciate such reward. It is an ideated paradise, in each case of the Ego's own making, and by him filled with the scenery, crowded with the incidents, and thronged with the people he would expect to find in such a sphere of compensative bliss. And it is that variety which guides the temporary personal Ego into the current which will lead him to be reborn in a lower or higher condition in the next world of causes. Everything is so harmoniously adjusted in nature - especially in the subjective world, that no mistake can ever be committed by the Tathagatas - or Dhyan Chohans - who guide the impulses. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p100 (3rd edition), p102 (1st and 2nd editions)]
The guidance of natural processes by the Dhyan Chohans is an important notion. Everything in nature is a life and everything in a lower or less evolved state is subject to the lives in a higher or more evolved state. The Dhyan Chohans, the beings constituting the post human evolutionary kingdoms, apart from their vast accumulated knowledge of natural processes, have the power to affect them. They also know more about the workings of the Law than the beings at all levels below them, so that they have the competence to guide them accordingly.
The recipient of these Letters was worried about how ordinary people could qualify for existence in this purely spiritual state and was answered:
It is "a spiritual condition" only as contrasted with our own grossly "material condition", and, as already stated - it is such degrees of spirituality that constitute and determine the great "varieties" of conditions within the limits of Devachan. A mother from a savage tribe is not less happy than a mother from a regal palace, with her lost child in her arms; and although as actual Egos, children prematurely dying before the perfection of their septenary Entity do not find their way to Devachan, yet all the same the
mother's loving fancy finds her children there, without one missing that her heart yearns for. Say - it is but a dream, but after all what is objective life itself but a panorama of vivid unrealities? The pleasures realized by a Red Indian in his "happy hunting grounds' in that Land of Dreams is not less intense than the ecstasy felt by a connoisseur who passes aeons in the wrapt delight of listening to divine Symphonies by imaginary angelic choirs and orchestras. As it is no fault of the former, if born a "savage" with an instinct to kill - though it caused the death of many an innocent animal - why, if with it all, he was a loving father, son, husband, why should he not also enjoy his share of reward? The case would be quite different if the same cruel acts had been done by an educated and civilized person, from a mere love of sport. The savage in being reborn would simply take a low place in the scale, by reason of his imperfect moral development; while the Karma of the other would be tainted with moral delinquency ...
Every one but that ego which, attracted by its gross magnetism, falls into the current that will draw it into the "planet of Death" [Avitchi] ... is fitted to pass into a relatively spiritual condition adjusted to his previous condition in life and mode of thought ... [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p100 (3rd edition), p102 (1st and 2nd editions)]
Here again the question can be raised of objective life being "a panorama of vivid unrealities". This was explained earlier in terms of the dream state. Every manifested thing lacks permanence. In the Masters' eyes - and from the point of view of the Ego - all things are unreal. Reality is a word reserved by them for the unchanging, eternal substratum, so to speak, to existence. This idea is enlarged on later when the matter of immortality is discussed.
About the possibility of intercourse between entities in Devachan, the Master said:
Two sympathetic souls will each work out its own devachanic sensations making the other a sharer in its subjective bliss, but yet each is dissociated from the other as regards actual mutual intercourse. For what companionship could there be between two subjective entities which are not even as material as that ethereal body-shadow - the Mayavi-rupa? [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p195 (3rd edition), p198 (1st and 2nd editions)]
In a number of places we are told, or it is implied, that the Monad itself could have no personal memories and could not relate in consciousness in
Devachan to its previous personality unless some manasic (higher) experience of that personality followed it into the devachanic state. This was reiterated:
... man's sixth principle, as something purely spiritual could not exist, or have conscious being in the Devachan, unless it assimilated some of the more abstract and pure of the mental attributes of the fifth principle or animal Soul, its manas (mind) and memory. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p101 (3rd edition), p103 (1st and 2nd editions)]
This matter was referred to and expanded a little later:
Spirit, or the unalloyed emanations of the ONE - the latter forming with the seventh and sixth principles the highest triad - neither of the two emanations are capable of assimilating but that which is good, pure and holy; hence, no sensual, material or unholy recollection can follow the purified memory of the Ego to the region of Bliss. The Karma for these recollections of evil deeds and thought will reach the Ego when it changes its personality in the following world of causes. The Monad, or the "Spiritual Individuality", remains untainted in all cases. "No sorrow or Pain for those born there (in the Rupa-Loka of Devachan); for this is the Pure-land. All the regions in Space possess such lands (Sakwala), but this land of Bliss is the most pure. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p102 (3rd edition), p105 (1st and 2nd editions)]
Concerning the return of remembrance on the Ego's entry into Devachan from its previous unconscious state in Kama Loka and the nature of the remembrance, a later Letter went on to say:
Most of those, whom you may call, if you like, candidates for Devachan - die and are reborn in the Kama Loka "without remembrance"; though (and just because) they do get some of it back in the Devachan. Nor can we call it full, but only a partial remembrance. You would hardly call "remembrance" a dream of yours; some particular scene or scenes within whose narrow limits you would find enclosed a few persons - those whom you loved best, with an undying love, that holy feeling that alone survives, and - not the slightest recollection of any other events or scenes? Love and Hatred are the only immortal feelings, the only survivors from the wreck of Ye-dhamma, or the phenomenal world. Imagine yourself then, in Devachan with those you may have loved with such immortal love; with the familiar, shadowy scenes connected with them for a background and - a perfect blank for everything else
relating to your interior, social, political, literary and social life. And then, in the face of that spiritual, purely cogitative existence, of that unalloyed felicity which, in proportion with the intensity of the feelings that created it, lasts from a few to several thousand years, - call it the "personal remembrance of A.P. Sinnett" - if you can. Dreadfully monotonous! - you may think. - Not in the least - I answer. Have you experienced monotony during - say - that moment which you considered then and now so consider it - as the moment of the highest bliss you have ever felt? Of course not. - Well, no more will you experience it there, in that passage through Eternity in which a million of years is no longer than a second. There, where there is no consciousness of an external world there can be no discernment to mark differences, hence, - no perception of contrasts of monotony or variety; nothing in short outside that immortal feeling of love and sympathetic attraction whose seeds are planted in the fifth [principle], whose plants blossom luxuriantly in and around the fourth, but whose roots have to penetrate deep into the sixth principle, if it would survive the lower groups .. remember, both, that we create ourselves our devachan as our avitchi while yet on earth, and mostly during the latter days and even moments of our intellectual, sentient lives. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p123 (3rd edition), p127 (1st and 2nd editions)]
The matter of monotony in Devachan was further discussed in another Letter.
Because it is so important that we should understand properly the state of Devachan and its relationship to our earth lives, and how our circumstances there must be seen in the light of our personal characters, worldly circumstances and opportunities, the Master emphasized his points:
The Devachan State, I repeat, can be as little described or explained, by giving a however minute and graphic description of the state of one ego taken at random, as all the human lives collectively could be described by the "Life of Napoleon" or that of any other man. There are millions of various states of happiness and misery, emotional states having their source in the physical as well as the spiritual faculties and senses, and only the latter surviving. An honest labourer will feel differently from an honest millionaire. Miss Nightingale's state will differ considerably from that of a young bride who dies before the consummation of what she regards as happiness. The two former love their families; the philanthropist - humanity;
the girl centres the whole world in her future husband; the melomaniac knows of no higher state of bliss and happiness than music - the most divine and spiritual of arts. The Devachan merges from its highest into its lowest degree - by insensible gradations; while from the last step of Devachan, the Ego will often find itself in Avitchi's faintest state, which, towards the end of the "spiritual selection" of events may become a bona fide "Avitchi". Remember, every feeling is relative. There is neither good nor evil, happiness nor misery per se. The transcendent, evanescent bliss of an adulterer, who by his act murders the happiness of a husband, is no less spiritually born for its criminal nature. If a remorse of conscience (the latter proceeding always from the Sixth Principle) has only once been felt during the period of bliss and really spiritual love, born in the sixth and fifth, however polluted by the desires of the fourth, or Kamarupa - then this remorse must survive and will accompany incessantly the scenes of pure love ... Search in the depths of your conscience and memory and try to see what are the scenes that are likely to take their firm hold upon you, when once more in their presence you find yourself living them over again; and that, ensnared, you will have forgotten all the rest ... [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p185 (3rd edition), p187 (1st and 2nd editions)]
The Master had previously referred to love and hate:
Unless a man loves well or hates as well, he will be neither in Devachan nor in Avitchi. "Nature spews the luke-warm out of her mouth" means only that she annihilates their personal Egos (not the shells, nor yet the sixth principle) in the Kama-Loka and the Devachan. This does not prevent them from being immediately reborn - and, if their lives were not very very bad, there is no reason why the eternal Monad should not find the page of that life intact in the Book of Life. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p131 (3rd edition), p134 (1st and 2nd editions)]
In other words, our personal lives must have some significant content if they are to make a mark on the Egoic consciousness.
Love and Hatred are mentioned again:
Yes, Love and Hatred are the only immortal feelings; but the gradations of tones along the seven by seven scales of the whole key-board of life, are numberless. And, since it is those two feelings - (or, to be correct, shall I risk being misunderstood again and say those two poles of man's "Soul" which is a unity?) - that mould the future
state of man, whether for Devachan or Avitchi, then the variety of such states must also be inexhaustible. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p185 (3rd edition), p188 (1st and 2nd editions)]
In the matter of Devachan being monotonous because it is so largely coloured by the spiritual highlights only of the past life, necessarily in most cases few, coming up repeatedly for review, the Master said:
Why should it be supposed that Devachan is a monotonous condition only because some one moment of earthly sensation is indefinitely perpetuated - stretched, so to say, throughout aeons? It is not, it cannot be so. This would be contrary to all analogies and antagonistic to the law of effects under which results are proportioned to antecedent energies. To make it clear you must keep in mind that there are two fields of causal manifestation, to wit: the objective and the subjective. So the grosser energies, those which operate in the heavier or denser conditions of matter manifest objectively in physical life, their outcome being the new personality of each birth included within the grand cycle of the evoluting individuality. The moral and spiritual activities find their sphere of effects in "Devachan". For example: the vices, physical attractions, etc. - say, of a philosopher - may result in the birth of a new philosopher, a king, a merchant, a rich Epicurean, or any other personality whose make-up was inevitable from the preponderating proclivities of the being in the next preceding birth. Bacon, for inst.: whom a poet called - "The wisest, greatest, meanest of mankind" - might reappear in his next incarnation as a greedy money-getter, with extraordinary intellectual capacities. But the moral and spiritual qualities of the previous Bacon would also have to find a field in which their energies could expand themselves. Devachan is such a field. Hence - all the great plans of moral reform, of intellectual and spiritual research into abstract principles of nature, all the divine aspirations, would in Devachan come to fruition, and the abstract entity previously known as the great Chancellor would occupy itself in this inner world of its own preparation, living, if not quite what one would call a conscious existence, at least a dream of such realistic vividness that none of the life-realities could ever match it. And this "dream" lasts until Karma is satisfied in that direction, the ripple of force reaches the edge of its cyclic basin, and the being moves into the next area of causes. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p188 (3rd edition), p191 (1st and 2nd editions)]
In answer to a query as to whether there was change of occupation in Devachan:
Yes, certainly there is "a change of occupation", a continual change in Devachan, just as much - and far more - as there is in the life of any man or woman who happens to follow his or her whole life one sole occupation whatever it may be; with that difference, that to the Devachanee his special occupation is always pleasant and fills his life with rapture. Change then there must be, for that dream-life is but the fruition, the harvest-time of those psychic seed-germs dropped from the tree of physical existence in our moments of dreams and hopes, fancy-glimpses of bliss and happiness stifled in an ungrateful social soil, blooming in the rosy dawn of Devachan, and ripening under its ever fructifying sky. No failures there, no disappointments! If man had but one single moment of ideal happiness and experience during his life - as you think - even then, if Devachan exists, - it could not be ... the indefinite prolongation of that "single moment", but the infinite developments, the various incidents and events, based upon, and outflowing from , that one "single moment" or moments, as the case may be; all in short that would suggest itself to the "dreamers" fancy. That one note, as I said, struck from the lyre of life, would form but the Key-note of the being's subjective state, and work out into numberless harmonic tones and semi-tones of psychic phantasmagoria. There - all unrealized hopes, aspirations, dreams, become fully realized, and the dreams of the objective become the realities of the subjective existence. And there behind the curtain of Maya its vapours and deceptive appearances are perceived by the adept, who has learnt the great secret how to penetrate thus deeply into the Arcana of being. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p194 (3rd edition), p197 (1st and 2nd editions)]
All this was amplified in the next extract. The subject of variety of experience in Devachan appeared to be quite a problem to the two enquirers. The difficulty seems to have stemmed from the idea that Devachan was only a dream, wholly conditioned by highlights only of the last life's experience.
Then - how can you think that "but one moment of earthly sensation only is selected for perpetuation"? Very true, that "moment" lasts from the first to last; but then it lasts but as the key-note of the whole harmony, a definite tone of appreciable pitch,
around which cluster and develop in progressive variations of melody and as endless variations on a theme, all the aspirations, desires, hopes, dreams, which, in connection with that particular "moment" had ever crossed the dreamer's brain during his lifetime, without having ever found their realization on earth, and which he now finds fully realized in all their vividness in Devachan, without ever suspecting that all that blissful reality is but the progeny begotten by his own fancy, the effects of the mental causes produced by himself. That particular one moment which will be most intense and uppermost in the thoughts of his dying brain at the time of dissolution will of course regulate all the other "moments"; still the latter - minor and less vivid though they be - will be there also, having their appointed place in his phantasmagoric marshalling of past dreams, and must give variety to the whole. No man on earth but has some decided predilection if not a domineering passion; no person, however humble and poor - and often because of all that - but indulges in dreams and desires unsatisfied though these be. Is this monotony? [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p189 (3rd edition), p192 (1st and 2nd editions)]
The question of Devachan's monotony was still further pursued, especially in view of the very long duration, in terms of earth years, of the period spent in Devachan. The Master added later:
No; there are no clocks, no timepieces in Devachan ... though the whole Cosmos is a gigantic chronometer in one sense. Nor do we, mortals, - ici bas même [even here below] - take much, if any, cognizance of time during periods of happiness and bliss, and find them ever too short: a fact that does not in the least prevent us from enjoying that happiness all the same - when it does come. Have you ever given a thought to this little possibility that, perhaps, it is because their cup of bliss is full to its brim, that the "devachanee" loses "all sense of the lapse of time". [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p190 (3rd edition), p193 (1st and 2nd editions)]
The Master then gives a dissertation on time that need not be dwelt on here, but in the course of it, he makes a very significant statement justifying the authoritative nature of the mass of information he is giving:
"To realize the bliss in Devachan, or the woes in Avitchi, you have to assimilate them - as we do." [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p191 (3rd edition), p194 (1st and 2nd editions)]
The end of the devachanic term prior to rebirth comes gradually. The cycle of births and deaths continues until either a consummation of many
lives is attained by the personal man becoming so pure and Karmaless that there can be a conscious complete union with the Ego, or, not having completed his development, the man passes with the world into Nirvana at the end of the seventh Round. Until that time the cycle of births and deaths continues. Prior to another birth the devachanic period comes gradually to its end:
As in actual earth-life, so there is for the Ego in Devachan - the first flutter of psychic life, the attainment of prime [of life], the gradual exhaustion of force passing into semi-unconsciousness, gradual oblivion and lethargy, total oblivion and - not death but birth: birth into another personality, and the resumption of action which daily begets new congeries of causes, that must be worked out in another term of Devachan, and still another physical rebirth as a new personality. What the lives in Devachan and upon Earth shall be respectively in each instance is determined by Karma. And this weary round of birth upon birth must be ever and ever run through, until the being reaches the end of the seventh round, or - attains in the interim the wisdom of an Arhat, then that of a Buddha and thus gets relieved for a round or two, - having learned how to burst through the vicious circles - and to pass periodically into the Paranirvana. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p193 (3rd edition), p195 (1st and 2nd editions)]
As said before, the fate of Egos in Devachan will depend on the nature of the personality and its doings in the last preceding life. Two examples are given:
But suppose it is not a question of a Bacon, a Goethe, a Shelley, a Howard, but of some hum-drum person, some colourless, planless personality, who never impinged upon the world enough to make himself felt: what then? Simply that his devachanic state is as colourless and feeble as was his personality. How could it be otherwise since cause and effect are equal. But suppose a case of a monster of wickedness, sensuality, ambition, avarice, pride, deceit, etc., but who nevertheless has a germ or germs of something better, flashes of a more divine nature - where is he to go? The said spark smouldering under a heap of dirt will counteract, nevertheless, the attraction of the eighth sphere [Avitchi], whither fall but absolute nonentities, "failures of nature", to be remodelled entirely ... [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p193 (3rd edition), p195 (1st and 2nd editions)]
As we have seen, although this period of bliss is long, sometimes millennia in terms of earth years, it, like everything else, comes to an end. Consciousness then gradually diminishes; the process was likened to the onset of old age in physical existence until death and unconsciousness close in, and the processes of re-birth are started:
".. in all these Rupa-Lokas, the Devas (Spirits) are equally subjected to birth, decay, old age, and death", means only that an Ego is borne thither, then begins fading out and finally "dies", i.e. falls into that unconscious condition which precedes re-birth ... "As the devas emerge from these heavens, they enter the lower world again"; i.e. they leave a world of bliss to be reborn in a world of causes. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett p103 (3rd edition), p106 (1st and 2nd editions)]
In this long chapter we have seen what happens to the Ego after the preparatory stages of the postmortem process in Kamaloka. There is a "second death" when the psychic remains of the mortal soul (4th and 5th principles) are severed from the Ego, the higher Triad (upper 5th, 6th and 7th principles). Prior to final separation there is a second review of the immediate past life, and then a slow return of consciousness to the Ego as it enters Devachan. It is explained that for this consciousness to arise there must be some content of the manasic (mind) principle of the late personality sufficiently pure and spiritual to be assimilated by the Ego. Without this content nothing of the last personality could condition the Ego, and in respect of that particular life, there could be nothing in Devachan.
The conditions in Devachan, while always necessarily pure and spiritual, are as varied in nature as the devachanees enjoying it, for the state is entirely subjective and private to the devachanee. No other human being nor devachanee (except a Master who has learned to operate objectively at Egoic level, i.e. free from all personal limitations) can actually share that state, although it seems to the devachanee that all those whom he would most like to be there, are in fact there with him. Devachan is a state of recuperative rest between lives with no trace of the painful experiences of earth life.
It is as sleep at night between days of activity in our ordinary lives - the parallel is very close. "Perchance to dream?" wondered Hamlet: the whole devachanic experience is dreamlike in the sense that it is completely subjective, of our own making entirely, but it is nevertheless completely real to us - as real as our objective lives are on earth.
Those in Devachan can never know what is going on on earth. They can never know the fate of their projects, nor of their loved ones. Only a little imagination tells us what suffering such knowledge could entail.
Devachan, however, is a state of complete fulfilment, of the working out of all our highest dreams and aspirations. We cannot, as ex-persons, learn anything there. It is wholly, and only, a world of effects - the result of causes we set going when we were alive. We are told, however, that the Ego, free of the limitations of the personal element in Devachan, can learn about things of a spiritual nature towards which it aspires.
When We Die ... Exploring the Great Beyond > Next Page Chapter 7 Rebirth and Karma