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The Lowest Four Subplanes of the Astral Plane

AC 432: December 26, 2010 (Part 3)

[In part 1, I visited what I call the astral plane ashram and met up with an Administrator (a level of human consciousness evolution beyond that of Facilitator, which is itself beyond that of most embodied humans). She explained the concept of transcendental souls, which is an alternative term for incarnated Facilitators–those who come back to Earth to learn various lessons, to teach, and to act as grounding agents for energetic overlays designed by the Overseers (the highest level of human consciousness evolution) who guide the development of our planet.

In part 2, the Administrator explained the functions of the astral plane ashram, which I perceived as a Welcome Center. She discussed the correlation between the seven subplanes of the astral plane and the seven chakras of the astral body.

In the current part, the Administrator continues her explanation of this correlation, going into detail about the four lowest subplanes of the astral plane and how they’re experienced by Shades (the dead), Dreamers (people who are alive and dreaming), and Rangers (fully conscious explorers of the astral plane).]

“You know that in any energy body, when the first chakra comes online, the result is the sense of being in a different body and state of consciousness, often without knowing where you are. Sense impressions are limited. In the astral body, you may feel blind, deaf, and dumb. Many beginning astral projectors find such an experience frustrating if not frightening.

“Now, think of the traditional Western associations of this chakra with survival and groundedness. Until this chakra is mastered, individuals in the astral body, living or dead, will fear for their survival and feel ungrounded.

“Now think of the theosophical description of the first (lowest) subplane of the astral plane. This level is supposedly experienced by the dead as a realm of terror and hell-like punishment, reserved for evildoers who acted from uncontrolled desire while alive, often without being able to restrain themselves. They had no conscious awareness of doing evil. They simply followed their desires without regard to personal or social consequences.

“They were acting from hungers as strong as those in the physical body when that body is deprived of sustenance, except that their hungers were for experiences that would feed the astral body, such as lust. Furthermore, they were ungrounded in the astral body because they had no control over the astral elemental.

[Each of our energy bodies has its own body consciousness, called an elemental–just as our physical body has a body consciousness made up of the individual consciousness of all the cells of the body. This body consciousness is responsible for running the so-called automatic or involuntary processes of that body. In the physical body, these processes involve the breath, the heartbeat, the digestive system, the immune system, and so on.

The body consciousness of the astral body is called the astral elemental. It’s responsible for the automatic processes involving our emotions and desires.

It’s called an elemental because it’s made up of elemental essence, the basic ground of consciousness in nonphysical reality. Thought forms, too, are made up of astral essence. Thus the astral elemental is a thought form.

When under our conscious control, the astral elemental is an effective workhorse in our emotional life and vehicle of consciousness on the astral plane. But it can also resist our attempts to control it, like a horse that tries to throw us, drag us by the reins, or wander off the trail to eat whatever looks interesting by the side. The astral elemental is often responsible for our emotional activity, temper tantrums, and other types of acting out commonly called emotional drama.]

“It may take the whole process of mastering the astral body to bring the astral elemental under complete control. But the first step is being able to restrain desires so that you’re not acting impulsively whenever you want sex by raping someone or feel uncontrollable rage and murder someone.

“Because at this level you can’t sense yourself in a space (second chakra), only in a body (first chakra), and you can’t move (third chakra), this hell is a place of complete immobilization. It’s depicted in Dante’s Inferno as the lowest ring of Hell, in which Satan lies frozen and upside down. [Dante, The Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto 34].

“Imagine the torture of being assaulted inwardly by unexpressed emotions and unfulfilled desires and being unable to escape from or satisfy them. In Buddhism there is a similar lowest hell called Avichi, the waveless–again meaning no motion.

“Shades will not remain forever at this level. But not all of them are capable of being reclaimed. They were insane in life, and in a sense doubly insane after death. The personality may simply be allowed to dissolve–a possibility described in The Causal Body and the Ego in connection with the so-called Eighth Sphere. [See Arthur E. Powell, The Casual Body and the Ego, pages 182-83.]

“Rangers will rarely encounter this phase of the Afterlife. Their experience of the first subplane of the astral plane will simply demonstrate to them their lack of groundedness in the astral body, their inability to use its senses, and the weight of the negative emotions and unfulfilled desires they will have to clear before they can advance to higher levels–and chakras–of the astral plane.

“Most people have a basic level of competence in the astral body, so the first chakra was developed long ago in past lives. Experiences related to the development of this chakra when projectors get serious about mastering the astral body are merely reminders or refresher courses designed to make sure they understand the purpose and function of this chakra by having it temporarily turned off, resulting in the blindness and immobility described previously.

“Simulations pertaining to the first chakra will often deal with fear of dying if you attempt to transfer the focus of your consciousness temporarily into the astral body. This fear is so strong because you’re so used to maintaining your focus of consciousness in the physical body and identifying yourself with and as that body. Also, you associate this transfer of consciousness to the astral body with death because you subconsciously remember the sensation of dying from recent past lives.

[Simulations are dreamlike environments in which we master skills pertaining to the astral body and plane. These environments are usually created and maintained by Facilitators–highly evolved souls who are working in nonphysical reality while between lifetimes on the physical plane. They’re usually more focused and intense than the average dream. They set a problem or task and often repeat themselves until the problem has been resolved or the task has been accomplished.]

“When the astral body’s second chakra comes online, the first chakra sense of being in a body is augmented by the sense of being in a space or on a plane–in this case the second subplane of the astral plane. Remember that the traditional functions of this chakra have to do with sensuality and sexuality.

“For Shades, the second subplane is still experienced as a hell. Motion is limited, because the third chakra is not yet active. What is experienced here is passive (and therefore uncontrolled) receptivity to waves of unexpressed negative emotion and unfulfilled desire.

“You might think that the experience of having all of your desires fulfilled would be a kind of heaven. But these are lower astral desires, such as lust. What makes these experiences hellish is that they never stop, there’s no time to rest from or integrate them. It’s an onslaught of emotion and desire in which the personality, freedom of choice, selectivity of experience and any form of control are completely absent. Imagine drowning in waves of desire.

“Furthermore, Shades experience not only the expression of these emotions and the fulfillment of these desires, but simultaneously the experiences of anyone used as a target for them when they were alive, whether in reality or in imagination. Every unloving action comes back as the experience of the hatred resulting from it. The basic reality of this level is self-loathing, the inability to love or accept love, the feelings of being unlovable, which are the cause of so many unloving actions in oneself and toward others.

“In Dreamers, this is the level of nightmare. You don’t have to be an astral projector to experience this level. Again, everyone has a basic level of competency here. Nightmares allow you to discharge feelings of anger, lust, fear, unlovability, and self-loathing, among others. The more actively you discharge such feelings while alive, the less likely you are to experience the hell of the second subplane after death.

“You speak of a Catharsis Zone in the astral plane Dream Zone. This is the second subplane of the astral plane. It’s also the level from which the recently dead attempt to discharge unexpressed negative emotions and unfulfilled desires by using the living as lightning rods. If you’re carrying similar emotions and desires in yourself when entering the astral plane as a Dreamer or a Ranger, you show up to Shades on this level and may be made use of for mutual discharge. So you could say that there’s a Catharsis Zone in the Afterdeath Zone as well. You visited it many years ago, describing your adventure in The Unanswered Question. At that time, you called it the Release Zone. [See The Unanswered Question, pages 137-42 (AC 117: January 9, 1993).]

“This is also the level described by Robert Monroe in Far Journeys when he saw a huge pile of worms that turned out to be deceased human beings experiencing a sexual orgy. [See Far Journeys, pages 88-90.]

“You’ve had a couple major experiences of catharsis of accumulated sexual tension through a nightmare-like discharge of unfulfilled desire, as if having to follow through in the dream on every sexual thought with the person it was directed to. Those were experiences of the second subplane of the astral plane. [See The Unanswered Question, pages 181-83 (AC 133: October 6, 1993).]

“Drug addicts on bad trips and advanced alcoholics in the delirium tremens phase often gain access to this level of the astral plane. Some people with mental disorders are also in touch with it.

“The relative ease of access to this level in the waking state by people experimenting with the occult–and having a great deal of unexpressed negative emotion and unfulfilled desire to discharge–is a primary reason why the astral plane has such a bad reputation among certain spiritual teachers, including many theosophists.

“This is the level of the so-called Dweller on the Threshold that scares away many would-be occultists and projectors. This Dweller is really just the astral elemental. By the time most people turn forty, it’s at its strongest as a negative influence from being stuffed full of a lifetime of unexpressed negative emotions and unfulfilled desires. It may block your progress to the next higher body and plane until you’ve emptied it out.

[The Dweller on the Threshold was a term coined by the early nineteenth century novelist Sir Edward Bulker-Lytton in Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale. It was subsequently taken up by Madame Blavatsky and other occultists, including Rudolf Steiner, to explain the fearsome and nightmarish beings sometimes encountered by neophytes on the astral plane, functioning as a bouncer of sorts to scare away those who weren’t ready to explore and master the astral plane. Usually, this lack of readiness was the result of their ignorance of the conditions that prevail on the astral plane, often combined with unexpressed emotion and unfulfilled desire stored in their astral body and likely to make their experience of the astral plane unpleasant, even hellish.

When filled to the brim with stored emotional reactivity, the astral elemental becomes the Dweller on the Threshold and prevents conscious exploration of the astral plane and mastery of the astral body. Instead, we end up locked into our personal dream space, in which we attempt to understand, process, and release the emotions stored within it, often in fear- or anger-based nightmares.]

“Rangers usually experience this level as a dropout of the abilities of the other chakras. They’ll feel as if they’re in a space, but unable to move. This serves not only as a test of the chakra to make sure that it operates in isolation from the others, but also as a basic initiation, to see how the projector responds. If fear and frustration cause the individual to give up these explorations, the initiation has not been passed. If the individual does everything possible to overcome this problem, the initiation is passed.

“Think of this as a kind of temporary inner sense blackout. Something similar happens with the first chakra for the same two purposes.

“Advanced projectors sometimes go back to this level with the astral body more fully developed to learn about the lightning rod effect, as you did. Again this learning is initiatory. If you get scared, you many not be able to progress.

[The lighting rod effect occurs when Shades on the astral plane release negative emotions or desires that were unexpressed on the physical plane while they were alive through people who are still living. This subject is discussed at length in The Multidimensional Human, 201-204.]

“There are two reasons to undertake this test: learning that your identity is strong enough to allow the entry of the contents of someone else’s consciousness into your own during the discharge process (this helps with more advanced simulations, in which gentle mind control asserted by the creator of the Simulation may be necessary to set the task and keep you focused on it without distraction); and discharging your own unexpressed negative emotions and unfulfilled desires in preparation for exploration of the mental body.

“The third chakra adds movement to the sense of being on the astral plane (second chakra) and of being in the astral body (first chakra). The traditional function of the third chakra is motivation and will.

“This is the ordinary entry level onto the astral plane for most of the dead who are not psychopaths or sociopaths (first subplane) or seriously debilitated neurotics (second subplane). The Tibetan Book of the Dead describes the bardo as a nightmare place in which the recently dead are pursued by demons representing the karma created in the life just left behind. This is an apt description of the third subplane of the astral plane. The emphasis here is on mobility, hence the experience of running. But there’s no lucidity, only a will to escape. Shades on this subplane are driven by guilt and by a desire to avoid or not to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

For Dreamers, this is the level of recurrent anxiety dreams, such as finding onself naked in public or feeling that one has forgotten to go to class and will probably flunk a test. Such dreams are not strong enough to be second subplane nightmares. But they reflect passivity or wrong motivation (fear or resistance to growth).

“What you call the personal dreamspace resides at this level. There’s no lucidity. Dreams are experienced passively, as something happening to Dreamers without the ability to direct or change them. They’re accepted as completely real, no matter how absurd the imagery may be. People who can’t remember their dreams visit this level, but do not want to take responsibility for what they’ve experienced there.

“Every form of resistance to growth is identified and worked through in the dreams of this level. Such issues are a result of what your friend Charles calls failure of will–the inability to act on one’s own best interests as perceived by the soul and the tendency to willfully pursue what you think will make you happy. The purpose of this level is to purge one’s resistance to growth and restore one’s motivation to grow according to the soul’s master plan.

“The ability to perceive and understand that plan consciously, without symbolism, comes only with the development of the mental and causal bodies. At the astral/emotional level, the experience of this plan is more instinctive and often overwhelmed by desires about happiness and the motivation to satisfy them.

“The experience at the third level is less hell-like and more purgatorial than that at the first two levels. Rangers working at this level experience simulations designed as tests of their ability to move, their motivation to learn, and the power of their will to effect changes in the astral environment, an essential though limited tool of lucidity. I say ‘limited’ because lots of Rangers go crazy with the idea of being able to shape the contents of their dreams and never get beyond this level of development.

“The experience at the fourth level is neutral. The fourth chakra has to do with perceiving the presence of other nonphysical beings and identifying them. The traditional meaning of the fourth chakra is love and relationships.

“In the Afterlife, this is level at which all good and loving human beings begin their journey, even if they come to it with unexpressed negative emotions and unfulfilled desires. The belief in the idea that one is saved by the loving kindness of the founders of a religion or its saints counteracts the tendency to fall into one of the hells. This is one of the reasons for deathbed confessions and for the teachings in Judaism about resting in the bosom of Abraham, in Christianity about being saved by the Christ, and in the Tibetan Book of the Dead about Buddhas and Bodhisattvas reaching down into the Bardo and drawing you up to a higher level.

“The fourth level is not a paradise, except in comparison to the hells. However, enough of the love of the Source is able to penetrate the thick shells of selfish emotions and desires most ordinary people die with that they begin not with a sense of guilt but a sense of forgiveness.

“Shades here have access to the love of those left behind and it supports and stabilizes them, speeding them forward in the process of stripping away the selfish behavior that prevented them from seeing the light of the Source in themselves and others and acting appropriately. You can be a good person and still be motivated by selfishness. Each of the next three levels increases access to the love of the Source in oneself and in others and decreases the tendency to act from selfish motives.

“For Dreamers, this level is that of all growth-oriented dreams, as opposed to cathartic dreams, which are in a sense remedial (that is, you can’t do the growth without removing obstacles or resistance to growth first). This is the level at which most fluent Dreamers find themselves. They’re still in the personal dreamspace, but it no longer imprisons them to the same degree as in the hells.

“All purely personal dreams are in a sense imprisoning. The elemental essence of the astral plane rushes in to create the dream environment the moment you enter the astral plane. The degree to which the feelings and desires you bring with you are selfish is the degree to which you’ll find the dream environment imprisoning. As you work off your emotional reactions to the events of daily life, you become more free to explore beyond the personal dreamspace.

“Because dreams at the fourth level involve fourth chakra sensitivity to the presence of others, you’ll experience dream characters as largely benign. Your relationships with them will involve interest, affection, and mutual support. In other words, you won’t attempt to murder them when they cross you.

“Sometimes Facilitators acting as Personal Trainers will show up in these dreams to see whether you’re able to recognize them, in which case you may get support for developing lucidity so you can interact with them more actively as teachers.

“What you call the Passive Learning Zone is present at this level for those who are unable to recognize Personal Trainers. They witness dreams that are growth-motivated solutions to archetypal human problems, using images and people from daily life. From outside, they seem to be attending a movie theater with others, though themselves unaware of the presence of others. No two people see exactly the same dream, though the theme is identical.”

“So is that the level of the downstairs movie theater here in the welcome center?” I asked.

“It is indeed,” the Administrator replied.

“Why is there such a direct connection?” I wondered. “It makes me think of chutes in that children’s board game called Chutes and Ladders–if you lose lucidity, a trapdoor opens and down you go.”

“I suppose that some Rangers could experience the transition between the highest subplane of the astral plane and the fourth subplane in that way,” the Administrator said. “But it’s not as if we push them or it’s a permanent feature of the place.

“You may have seen it as the next level below the one you were on. But what you were really seeing was the passage between our level and the one Roberta needed to be on to work out certain resistances to growth, as we discussed earlier. She needed to drop down several levels, so the steps appeared You saw them as physical steps, though they represented a stepping down of lucidity to a degree that she could handle.

“When Rangers operate on the fourth subplane of the astral plane, they often experience simulations designed to teach them how to tell the difference between the kinds of nonphysical beings, such as dream Characters, Robots, Creatures, Shades, Personal Trainers, and so on. They may not be able to communicate with them as yet (fifth chakra). But they can at least distinguish one from another and treat them all with loving kindness, instead of attempting to destroy them under the assumption that they aren’t real.

“Destroying other beings on the astral plane is only appropriate when you encounter self-generated thought forms, such as dream Characters and Creatures, and similar thought forms generated by other Dreamers. The latter are only attracted to you when you’re operating from the same emotions or desires that originated them. Such negs are produced by incompletely experienced nightmares from which a Dreamer has awakened without fully discharging the negative emotions that created it. The marauding Creature of the dream then goes wandering about the astral plane as a neg, looking for other people’s desire, fear, or anger to feed on to keep itself alive.

“This middle level of the astral plane represents a significant turning point in the evolutionary process–the moment when a misbehaving astral elemental that seems to oppose your development settles down and becomes an astral vehicle in training, increasingly obedient to your guidance. In fact, the fourth chakra of the astral body must be developed before you can even sense the difference between what you call yourself and your emotions and become aware of the astral elemental as a separate entity.”

[Go to part 4]