Consciousness, Mind & Brain ► The Consciousness called Heaven

Posted: 06.06.2017

As said, the spiritualists can have contact with the deceased humans or kāmarūpas in kāmaloka (the desire world), but not with those who have passed on to the world or state of consciousness beyond that. That 'place' or rather state of consciousness because physical place has little meaning here, has been indicated with a variety of names in various literature. 'Heaven' is one of these terms. But people have attached so many fantasies to the idea of heaven, usually highly anthropomorphic, and often philosophically incorrect, that it might be better to discard that term at all. Hindus have spoken of 'Indraloka' - the world where the king of the gods, Indra, is the Leader. Indra represents the higher human mind, and all the gods in Indra's loka (world) or heaven in principle represent high mental accomplishments, but not yet liberation from cyclic existence. When we humans die, and have practiced enough of our higher mind, we will life for a shorter or longer period among the gods in Indra loka. We may live like gods, according as we have been able to imagine higher states: those of beautiful music, those of accomplishing our highest wishes, to communicate with divine beings, etc. but it is not for ever. It is just heaven, no more - not nirvāṇa. Because nirvāṇa is beyond illusion - it is insight in Truth, not conceptualized, and from nirvāṇa there is no turning back to mundane existence, because we have lost all attractions to falsity, to the small truths of the earth and its limited human minds and ideas and theories. After exhaustion of the ideas and their energies we had on earth, we will be attracted again to our lowly home, our earth, and incarnate again. And without conscious effort, we will remain in that treadmill of cyclic existence forever. Plato and the ancient Egyptians, pre-Colombian (and therefore pre-Christian) Native Americans, also knew about 'heaven'. The Buddhist used terms like Tuṣita[1], Sukhāvatī[2], Western Paradise, Pure Land, and the term adopted by most modern Theosophical writers is the Tibetan term Devachan (Devacan), literally 'possession happiness'.

Devachan is not at all the so-called 'Summerland' of western spiritualists, which is but a beautiful realm described or fancied by beings in kāmaloka. Devachan is a state that is reached after the so named 'second death' at the end of the ego's experiences in kāmaloka, when this is exhausted and the astral shell (vehicle, body) if left by the egoic consciousness, and that astral form begins to fall apart just like a physical corpse after death. Devachan, 'heaven', is a state of consciousness in which kāma and the lower mind are absent, and the reincarnation Ego has (mostly unconsciously to the personal Ego itself) been purified during a testing gestation period in the realm between desire and higher mind. This gestation period is a necessity to earn birth in the devachanic state. In the devachanic consciousness, no suffering of any kind exists, nor the possibility to see or communicate with those who are incarnated on earth. It is a state of pure reward of the higher, ethical and beautiful imaginations during one's stay on earth.

In a correspondence between an Theosophical teacher in occultism and a lay disciple we find that it is deemed supremely difficult if not utterly impossible for pure disembodied Spirits to communicate with men in devachan through mediums. This is a fact based on the very structure of the universe, which is divided in worlds of cause (karma-bhūmi, such as physical life on our Earth) and worlds of effects, to which devachan belongs. This is so, (a) on account of the antagonistic atmospheres respectively surrounding these worlds; (b) because of the entire dissimilarity of physiological and spiritual conditions; and (c) because that chain of worlds [of cause and those of effects -RJ], is not only an epicycloid but an elliptical orbit of existences, having, as every ellipse, not one but two points - two foci, which can never approach each other; man being at one focus of it and 'spirit' [i.e. the man in devachan -RJ] at the other. [...] Like a rosary composed of white and black beads alternating with each other, so that concatenation of worlds is made up of worlds of causes and worlds of effects, the latter - the direct result produced by the former. Thus it becomes evident that every sphere of Causes - and our Earth is one - is not only interlinked with, and surrounded by, but actually separated from its nearest neighbor - the higher sphere of Causality - by an impenetrable atmosphere (in its spiritual sense) of effects bordering on, and even interlinking, never mixing with - the next sphere: for one is active, the other - passive,... This passive resistance can be overcome but under conditions, of which your most learned Spiritualists have not the faintest idea. All movement is, so to say, polar....

The intermediary spheres [bardo], being but the projected shadows of the Worlds of Causes - are negatived by the last. They are the great halting places, the stations in which the new Self-Conscious Egos... are gestated. Before the new phoenix, reborn of the ashes of its parents can soar higher, to a better, more spiritual, and perfect world [such as for example devachan -RJ] - still a world of matter [though subtler matter than the physical -RJ] - It has to pass through the process of a new birth, so to say; and, as on our earth, where the two-thirds of infants are either stillborn or die in infancy [as was the fact in the nineteenth century -RJ], so in our 'world of effects.' On earth it is the physiological and mental defects, the sins of the progenitors [i.e. parents, grandparents, etc. and so on through genetic inheritance -RJ] which are visited upon the issue: in that land of shadows, the new and yet unconscious Ego-foetus becomes the just victim of the transgressions of its old Self, whose karma - merit and demerit - will alone weave out its future destiny[3].

By the way, the above gives obviously a very different picture of cosmology than any accepted scientific model in our first part of the 21st century.

As said, after exhaustion of the desire-energies which keep the kāmarūpas, the 'ghosts', alive, they die. This is often called 'the second death', sooner or longer after physical death, and the physical processes involved in the first death have nothing to do with it. There will be another 'dying' experience, and another review of the life just left, but now with more premonitions of the future, including understanding of the karmic logic of the future, especially in the next incarnation seen in the light of one's deeper inner Wisdom.

So the part of human consciousness contacted through spiritualism is not immortal. In fact it dies usually within years or even weeks - especially short for mindful noble thinking people. The grandmothers and -fathers of the séance room can not be contacted any more. But the inner being, the 'spirit', or rather the monad or jīva or living and consciousness essence of 'grandmother' or any human being whatsoever, never dies. The higher part of the mind normally also never dies. It is this higher mind which is going to experience the world that belongs to it.

Occult science teaches that before awakening in devachan, when we still are kāmarūpas, an inner, but to the personal ego perhaps mostly unconscious, a struggle takes place between our higher, spiritual mind and our kāmic or desire mind. It is called a 'gestation period' before being 'born' in devachan. The gestation period is a term used in Theosophical Literature, notably The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, to indicate the intermediate (bardo) period in the afterlife in which the entity or ego is preparing for its birth into devachan. This struggle between the upper two and the lower two conscious human principles seems to be that what is described in the Bardo Thödol as the 49 'days', but as intensely conscious, while what is described in the Mahatma Letters may apply for our personal egoic consciousness after death, and this process takes place practically unconscious for it. The Theosophical literature of the early days of the Theosophical Society does not give many details about this gestation period. But this seems to be the core of the teachings in the Bardo Thödol ('the book of liberation through wisdom,' known as Tibetan book of the Dead'). Parts of this text which are assigned to Padmasambhava[4] in the eighth century CE, seem to be a description of this gestation period. It begins shortly after the separation from the physical body, when the deceased have taken on their astral forms in what we above referred to as kāmaloka.

The Tibetan text describes in sufficient detail what are the inner experiences of the person between their last death and their next rebirth.

Rebirth, after the gestation period, will be in a pure realm, if the higher mind or mental-spiritual recognition wins from the lower mind. It will be a higher, 'heavenly' realm, among which devachan is one. Devachan itself has many levels from low to high - the highest, experienced by humans of great but still imperfect spiritual knowledge are bordering the lower states of nirvāṇa. In which level one will 'reside' depends entirely on one's higher mental and spiritual pursuits during the last life, and is totally independent and undisturbed by any activity of the lower, personal, mind. No two devachans of different people are exactly alike.

In almost all cases, according to Theosophical literature, the struggle of the gestation period is successful. When it is over, the conscious ego that will ultimately reincarnate will experience a shorter or longer time in devachan, usually, and on average, well over a thousand earthly years. 'Years' and other time distinctions, do of course not exist for the experience of the devachanī, because worldly time divisions belong to the physical realm only: the devachanī experiences only an ongoing 'now' that contains all, without distinction between past, present and future.

If the inner tests of the gestation period are unsuccessful, the jīva that should have carried the reincarnating ego through devachan and into a new incarnation, will have to develop an appropriate new form and a new personal ego. It will not remember its personal ego. The old personality "In a very short time like a straw floating within the attraction of the vortices and pits of the Maelstrom,... is caught up and drawn into the great whirlpool of human Egos."[5] This is now devoid of a 'higher self', and will, perhaps after repeated mindless, or rather 'soulless' incarnations, ultimately get lost.

The state between death and rebirth, or rather the finalizing of the processes of dying in that bardo of testing before rebirth in devachan, on Earth or elsewhere consists, according to the Bardo Thödol of maximum 49 'days' - believed literally by many Tibetans, though some Tibetans say that in reality these 'days' may take much longer than worldly days[6]. These 'days' are periods in which each time an aspect of one's karmic and kāmic or mundane desire-being is tested against an overwhelming awareness of the deity which represents an aspect of one's higher self. This happens first in a kind, and then in wrathful form.

To give an impression of the path of consciousness we quote a few passages here - only from the first 'day' from the Bardo Thödol:

The living lama or representative says to the dead person, who is supposed to be able to hear with his inner ear[7]:

"Oh, Child of the Buddha Nature[8] listen very intently and without distraction. There are six kinds of intermediate state [bardo], namely: the intermediate state of living or natural existence, the intermediate of dreams, that of meditative stability, that of the time of death, that of reality and that of consequent rebirth. O Child of the Buddha nature [during and after death], you will experience three intermediate states: that of the time of death, that of reality and that of rebirth. Of these three, it was the intermediate state of the time of death which you experienced until yesterday1. Although the inner radiance of reality arose during that time [during the increasing clarity of the mind], you did not recognize it. So now you are compelled to wander here [in the gestation bardo of maximum 49 days] and now you will experience the bardo of reality, which will be followed by that of rebirth [in any realm, including devachan and physical rebirth -RJ]. You must therefore recognize, without distraction what I am now going to introduce to you.

O, Child of the Buddha Nature, that we is called death has now arrived. You are leaving this world. But in this you are not alone. This happens to everyone. Don't be attached to this [past] life!. Even if so, you don't have the power to stay - you will only continue to roam within the cycles of existence....

O Child of the Buddha, however terrifying the appearances of the intermediate state might be, don't forget the following words. Go forward remembering their meaning. The crucial point is that through them recognition may be attained."

In the subsequent days, one at least, and maximum 49, one will be placed before aspects of one's higher self or inner (divine) essence. In the first seven days the Dhyāni Buddhas will be met, which represent the essence of all great stages of evolution a human being goes through. These experiences are peaceful, because they are spiritual and higher than any mental construction. Thereafter, when one has still not recognized one's own true spiritual nature, the dead person will experience meetings with the so-called wrathful deities, which are aspects of his higher mind. They are wrathful because one does not want to face the real origin and essence of the mind. One has to fully understand them because they represent phases of one's own spiritual evolution and insight as well as stages of evolution of the whole of humankind throughout long ages. The obstructions to recognizing the essence of each of these phases are one's own karmas: the comfortable and easy illusions to which one has adhered during life. But one should never shy away from reality, during death nor during life - on the contrary one should recognize that they are the true nature of the mind. In contrast with each of these essential aspects, at the same time a lesser light will shine, formed by one's karma or former thoughts in life. And because karma involves attraction and bondage, it is easy to choose this side - and then misses to opportunity to make a great leap forward. In any of the 49 'days' or confrontations one has the opportunity to break through illusion and restriction, and be liberated, and either enter the nirvāṇa of no more illusions, or become a great Teacher in the invisible realms, and only enter an illusionary (māyāvi) or true physical form if one chooses so in wisdom and compelled by compassion - or is ordered to do so by one's own teacher or Lord.

If no true recognition takes place, quick rebirth on earth is inevitable, because that is where one feels attracted to. But in almost all cases, as I understand it, even though not liberated, one earns a rebirth in devachan - the realm of lofty mental constructions but illusions nevertheless.

To continue quoting the Bardo Thödol: "Whatever experiences may arise, they are natural manifestations. O Child of the Buddha Nature, when your mind[9] and body separate, the pure [luminous] apparitions of reality itself, will arise: subtle and clear, radiant and dazzling, naturally bright and awesome, shimmering like a mirage on a plain in summer. Do not fear them! Don't be terrified! They are the natural luminosities of your own actual reality. Therefore, recognize them!..."

"On the first day of the bardo of reality all space will arise as a blue light. At this time, from the central Buddha field[10] called Pervasive Seminal Point [bindu] related to the Dhyāni Buddha Vairoc(h)ana will dawn before you... A blue luminosity, radiant and clear, bright and dazzling, the pristine recognition of reality's expanse, which is the natural purity of your aggregate of consciousness (vijñāna skandha) will emanate from the heart of Vairocana."

Every deity appearing on the successive days (if still necessary) is characterized by a dazzling light in a different color 'that the eyes can nor bear. But:

"Together with this, a dull white light will also dawn before you. At this time, under the sway of negative past actions, you will wish to flee in fear from the bright light, which is the pristine cognition of reality's expanse, and you will come to perceive the dull light with delight. At this moment, do not be awed by the by the dazzling very bright light. This is the supreme inner radiance [of pristine recognition]! This is the light ray of the Tathāgata[11].... The dull light is the inviting path created by your own habitual tendencies for deep delusion, which you yourself have generated. Don't be attracted to it! Don't cling to it! If you become attached to it, you will... be drawn into the cycles of existence. It is an obstruction blocking the path to liberation. Don't look at it!"

Thus the Bardo Thödol guides us though all our phases of inner mental evolution, now and in times to come.

At the beginning of each 'day' we are reborn (astrally) via the inversion of the same processes that took place during our first dying, and we temporarily regain all mentalities that we had in the past life. At the end of such a day we die again. It repeats all the processes (except the physical) that took place at the first death, i.e. the increasing clarity of mind and awakening in the next 'day'. This happens up to maximum 49 times. But as every time it happens is an opportunity to recognize and follow the inner spiritual impulse from the inner deity, it happens from 1 to maximum 49 times. I suppose we will have no experiences literally the same as the near-death experiences described by resuscitated patients, because these probably occur only at violent and unnatural circumstances. But with each of the (49 or less) rebirths within the bardo of death, we go through the processes of re-attraction of our mundane mentalities while the mind loses its clarity, until 'the next day' we will die again and again gain clarity, until we awaken for that next day.

The deities who are guiding the successive days are in fact the divine essences in which the personal desires find their root, but are harmful in their lower, mundane expression. For example, jealousy is a reflection of a genuine inner impulse towards spiritual progress, but seen in the light of separateness between 'I' and 'you' or 'they' it becomes jealousy. One can choose to follow the genuine impulse, or due to karmic attraction and weakness, follow the illusion one has become attached to during existence in the last physical body. The deities of the first seven days are dhyāni-buddhasxii, the seven buddhas of meditation who are far ahead in evolution compared to our personal egos, and represent our own spiritual essences who each rule over large periods of the evolutionary history or the Earth. Five of these are active in us, two are latent - that is why the future two are only indirectly alluded to in the Bardo Thödol. The other deities, either peaceful (residing in the heart) of wrathful (residing in the brain), who the dead person meets during the successive days of the 49-days (or 7×7) period as described in the Bardo Thödol, represent aspects of ourselves which the experiencer must recognize as emanating from his spiritual essence or Higher Self[12] Self recognized by his buddhi. All of the deities, either peaceful or wrathful are the deeper essences of ourselves and all other creatures. All contain, 'holographically' the essence of all others, but in each of them one aspect is dominating[13].

So it seems that one's ability to recognize such deities as being of our own essence - which we ARE in fact - depends on one's evolutionary history and experience. A Neanderthal man or woman may have been able to recognize much less than a Cro-Magnon living near him or than us average people today, just as we ourselves are able to recognize what for future human races will be obvious. In the cases of people who have but blindly followed their impulses of what was 'fun' during life (actually their stock of karmas from former lives) - these people will be so overwhelmed by the spiritual vision that they shun away from it. Doesn't that happen everyday in common life: we choose what is 'easy' rather than that of which we know inwardly or conscientially is right? Mindfulness towards oneself in daily life is one of the greatest trainings to be prepared for life and its challenges after death. Usually, in these 'daily adventures' after death we will somewhere recognize the true nature of things. Once that has happened, rebirth in devachan takes place.

In a Theosophical root text, The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett[14] we find the following: "(Question 3) Now the question of importance - is who goes to Heaven - or Deva Chan? Is this condition only attained by the few who are very good, or by the many who are not very bad, - after the lapse in their case of a longer unconscious incubation or gestation.

(3) 'Who goes to Deva Chan?' The personal Ego of course, but beatified, purified, holy. Every Ego - the combination of the sixth and seventh principles [ātma + buddhi, or jīva - Ed.] - which, after the period of unconscious gestation is reborn into the Deva-Chan, is of necessity as innocent and pure as a newborn babe. The fact of his being reborn at all, shows the preponderance of good over evil in his old personality [during the gestation period -RJ]. 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 Deva-Chan. 'Bad' is a relative term for us... and the Law of Retribution [Karma, -RJ] 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 Deva Chan. 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.

... 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 [devachan] is a state of perpetual "Māyā"... - only a hundred fold intensified [as compared to a dream during earthly deep sleep -RJ]. 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 to. 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."

Perhaps the encounter with loved ones during an NDE is a premonition of the devachanic period which will occur much later, because temporarily all evil thoughts and attractions are pushed aside during the NDE.

"There are great varieties in the Deva-Chan states, and, it is all as you say. 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 be ever committed...

When man dies, his second and third principles [his liṅga śarīra or astral model body and his physical vitality or prāṇa -RJ] die with him; the lower triad [physical body, model body and prāṇa together -RJ] disappears, and the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh [kāma (personal desire), manas, buddhi or spiritual intuition and power of spiritual distinction, and seventh: ātman, the spiritual Self or essence respectively -RJ] principles form the surviving Quaternary.... Thenceforth [the gestation period in kāmaloka before being born in devachan or 'heaven' -RJ] there is a "death" struggle between the Upper [ātma-buddhi] and Lower dualities [manas-kāma or desire-attached mind -RJ]. If the upper wins, the sixth [buddhi], having attracted to itself the quintessence of Good from the fifth [mind, manas] - its nobler affecttions, its saintly (though they be earthly) aspirations, and the most Spiritualised portions of its mind - follows its divine elder (the 7th [ātman Ed.]) into the 'Gestation'[15] State; and the fifth and fourth [manas and kāma or mind and lower personal desire -RJ] remain in association as an empty shell - (the expression is quite correct) - to roam in the earth's atmosphere, with half the personal memory gone, and the more brutal instincts fully alive for a certain period - an 'Elementary' in short. This is the 'angel guide' of the average medium. If, on the other hand, it is the Upper Duality [ātma-buddhi] which is defeated, there, it is the fifth [mind] principle that assimilates all that there may be left of personal recollection and perceptions of its personal individuality in the sixth [buddhi or buddhi-manas ((Buddhi-manas is the higher ego, the principle of essential self-consciousness, especially when considered as over-enlightened by the ātman or self per se. Buddhi-manas is the kāraṇa-śarīra (causal body), hence the immortal or spiritual self which passes intact from one incarnation to another. This higher self or ego is formed of the indissoluble union of buddhi, the sixth principle counting upwards, and the spiritual efflorescence of manas, the fifth principle. Buddhi-manas is the divine individual soul infilled with the light of the ray from the atman, and hence includes human intellect and egoic selfconsciousness, in addition to all the spiritual faculties and powers inherent in the ray itself.)) -RJ]. But, with all this additional stock, it will not remain in Kama-Loka [as a kāmarūpa -RJ] - 'the world of Desire' or our Earth's atmosphere. In a very short time like a straw floating within the attraction of the vortices and pits of the Maelstrom, it is caught up and drawn into the great whirlpool of human Egos; while the sixth and seventh [buddhi and ātman -RJ] - now a purely Spiritual, individual MONAD [Jīva -RJ], with nothing left in it of the late personality, [has] no regular "gestation" period to pass through...."

A difference between the Tibetan '49-days' bardo and the theosophical 'gestation period' is that the former is described as intensely conscious and the latter as (almost) unconscious. As consciousness is the universal principle, it can exist in many forms, levels, intensities and phases, some of which are 'unconscious' for one ego within us because it is (evolutionary as yet) unable to perceive on that level, while for another, 'higher' ego within us the same is experienced in full consciousness. "We are not just one ego (as explained above) but a hierarchy of ego's, in some of which we can consciously abide and other of which our personal ego can not consciously abide[16]

If the processes described in the Bardo Thödol would be unconscious, how could the author of the book himself know it? I suppose that during conscious initiation in the processes of death by a chela (i.e. a disciple of someone who knows) those processes are gone through in full awareness by the prepared personal ego. Ultimately every human being who wishes to know their Self - i.e. who they really are and become fully selfconscious - divinely as well as humanly, has to know the nature of all lower and higher aspects of the universe of which they are a part.

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Title: Consciousness, Mind & Brain
Publisher: Prakrit Bharati Academy
Edition: 2016
(C): Rudi Jansma