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The Upper Three Subplanes of the Astral Plane

AC 432: December 26, 2010 (Part 4)

[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 part 3, the Administrator continued 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).

In the current part, the explanation continues with correlations between the fifth, sixth, and seventh astral body chakras and subplanes of the astral plane.]

“Let’s go on a little tour of the fifth, sixth, and seventh subplanes of the astral plane. Keep in mind as I explain these levels to you that you may think of them as locations in nonphysical reality. This is true only if your idea of location is based on psychological distance from the Source. Remember that they’re actually discrete states of consciousness. You participate in that state of consciousness because it represents the next stage of your afterdeath journey as a Shade, the current level of your development as a Dreamer, or a necessary step in mastering the astral body as a Ranger.”

Arm in arm, the Administrator and I walked out of the Cultural Center into a small town. It appeared to have some of the cultural amenities of a large city, but appeared to me like a provincial backwater. I was reminded of Dayton, Ohio, where I grew up.

The Administrator smiled at my association, still reading my mind. “Of course you would think of the so-called heavens of the astral plane–the fifth, sixth and seventh subplanes–as backwaters compared to the more fully realized heavens of the mental plane. But really, Dayton–they’re not as bad as that. There’s still some intelligent life left downtown, as it were, instead of the drug addicts and hookers who were taking over Dayton’s downtown when you were growing up. That’s a physical representation of an astral hell, not a heaven.”

“You said it, sister,” I replied. Then I noticed that the Administrator’s outward appearance had changed. She now resembled an old college friend of mine who was a freshman when I was a senior and who I thought of as a little sister.

The Administrator noticed my doubletake and responded, “Thinking of me as a sister would be insufficient cause for representing me in a different form from the way you first saw me, which was clearly older than you as a sign of my being at a more advanced stage of spiritual development. There’s another reason for the change.

“You know that your friend Roberta has been having trouble freeing herself from the perceptual biases of the astral plane. You’ve wanted to help her and haven’t been able to figure out how. Dealing directly with her dreams by pointing out the private and public aspects of the astral plane Dream Zone they exhibited by email would have been time-consuming and tedious. There had to be a better way.

“Earlier in this adventure, you took her on a somewhat rushed mini-tour of the astral plane by passing through several levels in your way to the seventh. But she was not in a position to understand where she was and you were not perhaps the best informed tour guide, since there were still some gaps in your understanding of the structure of the astral plane.”

“When was that?” I asked. I didn’t recall having pass through any clearly defined levels when Roberta was with me, except for climbing what looked like a short steep slope leading to a sidewalk along some mansions in Concord, Mass.

“You’ll understand better in a moment,” the Administrator said. “The important thing to note right now is that I’m giving you the tour that you could have given to Roberta.

“You see me as her because you think of her as a little sister who needs some guidance from a more experienced big brother on the astral plane. Therefore, I’ve taken on an appearance that reflects your intention. Or, more accurately, you’re projecting onto me the mission that originally brought you here.

“At your level of development, there will always be a mission, though you might not know it consciously when you first become lucid. Discovering the mission is often a part of your adventures. When you realize what the mission is, you can often see how thoughts in daily life over a matter of days or weeks–in this case months–have prepared you for it.”

We arrived at an amphitheater-like area. Seats that were also steps led down to a platform where a Roman Catholic priest in the robes of a Jesuit was lecturing to a small audience of rapt listeners. He was expounding a vast philosophical system in highly dramatic and emotional terms. To his audience, the effect was impressive. To me, however, his words merely seemed like the crazy ranting of a homeless person.

“We’re still on the highest level of the astral plane,” the Administrator explained. “But from here we can easily ‘see down’ to the fifth level.

“When the fifth chakra of the astral body goes online, you can communicate with other astral entities. The traditional functions of this chakra in the western system have to do with communication and friendship. In Music and the Soul, you also associate this chakra with well-being and lifestyle.

For Shades, the fifth level is the first of the astral heavens. The keynote here is the well-being that comes with rest. You’ve visited this realm several times. It provides people with a respite from the intensity of their initial entrance into the astral Afterdeath Zone, which often involves some purging of unexpressed emotions and unfulfilled desires. You once saw it as a campground people would come to for longer or shorter stays.” [See The Unanswered Question, pages 266-76 (AC 181: September 20, 1998).]

“I think I must have passed through this level when I was with Roberta,” I said, “before we got to the Cultural Center. I saw it as a line of mansions along a street in the city of Concord, Mass.”

“That’s right,” the Administrator replied. “Your inner senses told you you’d crossed over into the astral heavens and you represented that to yourself with the image of Concord. While selfish motives may still be present in these heavens, there is enough of a sense of other in the Shades at this level that they’re able to interact harmoniously with each other instead of attempting to use and abuse each other, as in the astral hells.

“At the fifth level, Shades become available for teaching. This teaching usually begins from their spiritual and religious beliefs, affirming them. It then seeks to expand these beliefs, moving beyond dogmatism to a perspective that will make it easier for them to understand what’s expected of them at later stages of the afterdeath journey. Seeds are planted even for the understanding of the mental plane heavens, especially when those stages may not be described within the context of a Shade’s religion.

“That’s what you see going on down there. A small collection of the Roman Catholic faithful are being appealed to by a Facilitator in the guise of teacher. This Teacher appears as a priest because such an individual is a recognized authority within that religion. He speaks in emotional and dramatic terms because this is the astral plane–the information he conveys is couched in a language the astral body understands. However, he’s wily, as Jesuits are said to be. Beneath his pitch, as it were, is a philosophical structure that makes use of Roman Catholic tenets in ways the Church might not approve of, but which are more aligned with the actual structure of the astral and mental aspects of the Afterdeath Zone.”

“Why does he seem like a ranting homeless person?” I asked.

“Well,” the Administrator replied, “he’s clearly not at home in the religion he describes. His own spiritual views and understandings are broader, being those of an advanced soul who sees the structure of the Afterdeath Zone as Facilitators do. You simultaneously perceive the role he has taken on, the self he actually is, the apparent disharmony between them–and apply the physical plane definition of craziness to someone who’s so obviously a serious case of cognitive dissonance.

“Some less discerning Rangers might even see him as a neg, since his purpose seems to be that of deception, or indoctrination. Skillful means is often the way advanced souls have to work with less advanced ones to lead them forward. It always looks bad from outside–but especially to those who lack the astral fourth and fifth chakras, which would allow them to see the light of the Source shining even in these alleged deceivers. The ignorant have no idea how such Facilitators suffer and of the sacrifice they make in placing themselves so many subplanes lower than their actual level of spiritual development deserves. But they have a job to do and it’s an act of mercy.

“Their task is to salvage Shades who were not sufficiently developed to question some of the tenets of their faith and who might be blocked from participating fully in later stages of the Afterlife by having accepted these tenets wholesale and literally. The biggest problem of course is the issue of resurrection at the Day of Judgment, when they’re supposed to come back in the original body of the lifetime just left behind. There’s no room for reincarnation in such a belief and certain stages on the mental plane require preparation for a very different life to come than some people are trained to expect.

“Sometimes these Facilitators are doing karmic penance through suffering as this one is–having been religious fanatics in past lives who should have known better than to indoctrinate the faithful into the very beliefs they’re now gently coaxing them to let go of. They were born into times and places in which there was little support for self-remembering with a highly spiritual temperament that got directed along religious channels they had long since grown out of.

“At the fifth level of the astral plane, Dreamers, too, become more amenable to teaching. They may not be fully lucid, but they do remember their dreams regularly. They now have access to what you call the Interactive Learning Zone, in which they receive group instruction and remember such dreams in terms of conferences, seminars, workshops, classes, and so on. These classes are also taught by Facilitators, usually in the early stages of their development as such. They do not experience working at this level as punishment.

“Rangers, who tend to be more lucid than the average Dreamer on this level, may interact directly with the Facilitators on duty, asking questions instead of simply taking in the information offered. Rangers are now able to gather information freely about the scenes, dwellers, and phenomena of the public areas of the astral plane Dream Zone. They often get hints of the structure of the astral plane by perceiving transitions between dreams as movements between various regions such as the Passive Learning Zone [often perceived as a movie theater, in which dreams on basic aspects of life on Earth (interacting with a marriage partner, children, or boss) are offered to Dreamers as movies–the theme is the same for each Dreamer, but the characters and plots are individualized, using images from their lives] or the Interactive Learning Zone and others you’ve described. Rangers often see these environments from the outside, instead of from the inside, as do most Dreamers do.

“You should understand that by assigning the development of communication to the fifth level, I don’t mean merely the conveying of information between two beings that you call conversation. Remember that everything in nonphysical reality is consciousness, information, and energy. When the fifth chakra is developed, you’re able to glean information from just about everything you encounter, whether or not you perceive a being in connection with it.

“However, when considered in its consciousness aspect, everything in nonphysical reality is a being. Thus, at this level, you can ask a question of any object or environment you encounter and it will respond with a download of information. You’re not used to communicating in this way with objects and environments on the physical plane, so many Rangers working at this level of development must frequently remind themselves to ask where they are and what’s required of them there.

“They may not yet understand all the information they receive. Until the fifth chakra is fully developed, they may experience instances in which Guides and Teachers seem not to hear them or make unintelligible replies to their questions. The more skill in interpreting dreams you bring with you into this phase of your growth, the easier time you’ll have in learning how to communicate with astral entities. Mastering the translation process from exchanges of information-carrying images or energy into words is the key to moving through this level.

“As mentioned, friendship is connected with this level, but not in the way you might think. The requirement is not so much to make nonphysical friends, but rather to recognize that with fully functioning fourth and fifth chakras, you’re able to determine who are the friendly entities and who are the unfriendly (usually less evolved) entities. You can then choose to interact with the former and avoid the latter.

“At this point, you may begin to encounter certain entities on a regular basis and develop longstanding relationships with them. Recognizing these Teachers and Guides on subsequent visits to the astral plane is a sign that the fourth and fifth chakras of the astral body have been mastered. As you develop these chakras, you may be tested by such entities to determine whether you’re able to recognize their distinctive ident beneath a variety of outward appearances.”

I paused to look around. Off in the distance I could see several beautiful buildings, fantastic, fairylike. One was the wall surrounding a cemetery. Beyond that was a larger building like great cathedral with buttresses, spires, and domes.

Lots of people were moving about from one area to another like tourists taking in the sights. They seemed not to see us, behaving as if we were not there.

The sky was clear, the light was bright. Everything sparkled. I was reminded of the Seattle waterfront with Pike Place Market and the piers arranged south to north along Alaska Way.
Looking at me sideways, as if to see whether light bulbs were going off in my head, the Administrator continued her explanation. There was something she wanted me to get, but I had no idea what it was.

“When the sixth chakra comes online,” she said, “you’re able to coordinate all inner-sense impressions, including those of the lower five chakras, into a cohesive and intelligible experience of the astral plane.”

The light bulbs suddenly lit up. “That’s why everything looks so clear to me,” I said. “I can see the surrounding areas and how they’re arranged with respect to one another.”

“Yes, that’s right,” the Administrator said. “You’re directly experiencing the sixth chakra of the astral body. The piers arranged south to north are actually the lower levels of the astral plane. You’re seeing them in a horizontal instead of a vertical arrangement, but the vertical arrangement is implied by the movement from south to north–if you consider magnetic north as a symbol of this plane’s orientation to the Source.

“In the Western tradition, the sixth chakra has to do with understanding and compassion. You’re presently experiencing the aspect of understanding.

“For Shades at this level, the focus is on understanding the reasons for their guilt over inappropriate behavior deriving from their emotions and desires in the life left behind. They’re learning to forgive themselves for impulsive outbursts that harmed themselves and others–hence the notion of compassion.

“Life for Shades at this level involves quiet contemplation and a developing feeling of peace in connection with such emotional misbehavior. Since people are often tortured by their emotions while alive, this peace is a heavenly experience. However, it’s more dynamic and expansive than mere rest, as at the fifth level. It may also involve the forgiveness of those who seem to have wronged you while you were alive.

“This tends to be a very churchy level, sometimes tinged with selfishness and smugness–feelings of spiritual superiority. More complete understanding of one’s own inappropriate behavior and that of others comes during the mental body phases of the Afterlife.

“You can see this area of the sixth level off in the distance–the cemetery and cathedral. Actually, there are many such areas on this level. The one you’re perceiving is for the Roman Catholic dead.

“For Dreamers, this is the level of what you call the Private Coaching Zone. They work with Personal Trainers who set up dream experiences and explain how to use dreams to resolve emotional issues or remove emotional blocks to the manifestation of their intentions in physical reality. By this stage, most Dreamers are lucid enough to be called Rangers and are actively seeking out the coaching offered by Personal Trainers. A typical focus of training is on how the Dream Zone works.

“It could be said that all astral plane knowledge is accessible at this level, so it may be seen as a school, museum, or library. But it will seem small, parochial, to those who have access to the mental plane library of human knowledge, which is more vast and comprehensive.”

“I think I saw that library on my way to the Welcome Center,” I said. “It reminded me of the atmospheric but provincial public library in Concord.”

“That’s correct,” the Administrator said. “You were passing through several levels of the astral plane, but you perceived them horizontally instead of vertically. They were farther from the town center (the mansions–fifth level) or closer (the library–sixth level). Or in the town center itself–the Cultural Center (seventh level). This Cultural Center is a government-sponsored organization that functions as a headquarters and clearinghouse for all the activities of the surrounding areas, providing rest, orientation (in its role as Welcome Center), and distribution of astral plane gifts (abilities) and missions.

“When the seventh chakra comes online, you’re able to transcend the inner-sense biases of the astral body that limit you to the astral plane. The traditional Western notion of the function of this chakra involves intuition and openness to guidance from the soul.

“As you know from past visits to this level, it’s called Summerland, which is why you see it in terms of clear skies (no remaining astral plane troubling of the emotions and desires, all lessons of this nature having been learned). The sense of bright light, though without a clear source in the form of the sun, is an indication that this highest level of the astral plane doubles as the astral subplane of the cosmic physical plane. It’s far closer to the Source in terms of psychological distance than the lower subplanes of the astral plane. Or you could say the light of the Source is far less dimmed at this level by the emotional and desire-based murk of the lower subplanes.

[The concept of the cosmic physical plane is too complicated to explain here, but it is the subject of part 5 of this adventure, which will be published in the October newsletter.]

“For the Shade, this is the highest heaven of the astral plane. Many people on Earth yearn for more leisure time in which to pursue activities that give sensory and emotional pleasure. Here, they must purge themselves of this yearning before moving on to the mental plane phases of the Afterlife. The purpose of this heaven, therefore, is to give them the opportunity to experience sensory and emotional pleasures to the point of satiety.”

“These must be the tourists rushing around to see all the sights as if they were on vacation,” I said.

“That’s correct,” the Administrator replied. “To the relatively unevolved, such pleasures seem to be the reward for guilt purged at the sixth level through forgiveness and a vacation from the cathartic processes of the lower levels. This is why psychics such as Sylvia Browne say that the Afterlife may be perceived as preternaturally beautiful golf course that you can play on as often and for as long as you like.

“Such a heaven may seem enormously attractive to good people who have worked all their life. It certainly represents fulfillment of a sort. But it’s limited because it’s based on astral plane perceptual biases that equate happiness with the fulfillment of desire. For Shades to rise to the mental plane, they must eventually transcend such biases.

“The Buddhist notion of the six realms of reincarnation reflects the levels I’ve discussed with you. The demons correspond to the hellish first subplane, the hungry ghosts to the cathartic second subplane, the animals to the anxious third subplane (think of it in terms of restless movement, impelled by anxiety–the experience of animals constantly in fear of their survival), the neutral fourth and restful fifth subplanes to two levels of humanity (described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead as Buddhist practitioners of little merit and dedication and of mediocre merit and dedication), the clear-sighted though parochial sixth level to the titans or asuras (emphasizing self-righteous arrogance about the superiority of one’s own religion over that of others), and the reward-like seventh level of Summerland to the gods and their heavens of sensory pleasure.

“In Islam, the heaven of the houris is also associated with the highest subplane of the astral plane. Such a heaven has nothing to do with the satisfaction of lust. The pleasures of being in the company of beautiful virgins at this level are purely aesthetic. If the lust element is present, the individual ends up on the second (cathartic) level of the astral plane.

“The experience of attraction to and pleasure in the presence of such virgins is analogous to that first rush of being nobly in love with the physical and emotional beauty of another that occurs at the beginning of courtship, before the encroachment of sexual desire and passion. Yet selfishness is still present–the idea of being rewarded for one’s goodness rather than being offered opportunities to increase love through service. The houris are entirely imaginary. There are male equivalents for the womenfolk, embodying physical beauty and noble virtues, though these are rarely mentioned in sacred scriptures.

“Spouses will sometimes wait for each other at this level so they may undertake the mental plane deep life review process together. They may spend an interval in Summerland as a happily married couple, having believed that marriage was or could be a form of heaven on Earth, free of the emotional obstructions that may have prevented or interrupted such an experience while they were alive.

“Swedenborg saw such marriages in the heavens he described,” I remarked.

“These were versions of Summerland,” the Administrator replied. “Spiritualists, Swedenborgians, and many protestant religions have had trouble figuring out which spouse you’ll experience this heaven with in case of remarriage due to death of your partner or divorce. The problem here is one of seeing personal identity in too limited a form.

“You’re not identical to your infant, childhood, or teenage self, or to who you were ten or twenty years ago–though of course there’s a relationship between these past selves and your present self. Certain personal characteristics are carried over from one life period to the next age.

“Thus the self you were in your first marriage may experience the heaven of that marriage with your spouse of that period. The self you were in your second marriage would experience the heaven of that marriage. A larger, more realized version of yourself would be aware of both selves and their respective partners and heavens, just as you can keep your memories of both marriages separate from each other while alive, though they both still live within your breast.

“Only the relationships that have made it to the union or permeation phases of intimacy show up in this way, however. Only couples who are that deeply bonded would want to wait for each other. Those who never got past the involvement phase are too selfish to have access to a spouse in Summerland–which is another way to say that the marriage was too hellish or purgatorial to show up there. It may, however, achieve more advanced stages of intimacy in some future life.

[Charles says there are five stages of intimacy in human relationships: 1) attraction (recognizing at the soul level that the possibility of growth exists between two people); 2) togetherness (getting to know each other and checking for compatibility at various levels, including sexuality); 3) involvement (a challenging period of overcoming internal resistance to growth with each other); 4) union (a more stable and happy period of mutual support for fulfilling one’s life purpose and growing into deeper intimacy as a couple); 5) permeation (the rarely achieved goal of complete oneness with the other without loss of identity).]

“Two levels of Rangers show up at this level–those who are mastering the astral body, and those who have already done so.

“For the first type, this is the level of exposure to the astral Simulation Zone. You’ve made the assumption that astral plane simulations designed to train highly motivated projectors in how to use the astral body stood, as it were, at the entrance to the astral plane. But the true purpose of these gyms for the astral body is to condition unused astral muscles, so to speak.

“Most highly motivated projectors have already developed the astral body to some degree in past lives and are either completing its development in the present lifetime or reachieving their past mastery of it. For these purposes, it’s necessary that all the chakras be active, hence the hints I gave earlier about how the first three chakras are experienced by those who participate in this retraining program.

“Each chakra represents a certain set of perceptual biases that must be overcome. The purposes of the astral plane simulations that allow you to develop and master these chakras are: 1) to activate them; 2) to demonstrate their proper and improper use; 3) to point out their limitations when underdeveloped; 4) and to transcend these limitations by integrating them into a seamless experience of the astral plane.

“When these goals have been achieved, the astral body chakras require no further attention or direction. You have a fully functional vehicle of consciousness on the astral plane. These chakras operate as automatically as the process of breathing, walking, and talking do in the physical body.

“The second type of Ranger consists of those who have mastered the astral body. They come to this level to visit what you’ve called the Astral Ashram for rest, recharge, instructions, and missions on the physical plane or the astral plane.

“Rangers who typically operate in higher bodies sometimes come here to regroup or debrief, as you do with your friend Athena. For you, experience of this level is so much less intense than that of the mental plane ashram, which lies closer to the leading edge of your growth. It’s easier for you to contemplate, communicate, and understand experiences in the higher bodies and planes when you come to the Astral Ashram for rest and recharge.

“The goal of this level for the Rangers who are mastering the astral body and the actual experience of the Rangers who have already achieved this mastery, is complete freedom of access to all levels and zones of the astral plane, with complete inner-sense understanding of all that's encountered there.”

[Go to part 5]