Life and Activity in Heaven
We saw in another lecture how the evil acts of life and
our undesirable habits are dealt with by the impersonal law of consequence, and
make for good in future lives, and to illustrate we noted its operation in such
cases as those of the murderer, suicide, drunkard, and miser. These are extreme
cases, however, and there are many people who have lived good moral lives,
tainted more by petty selfishness, which is the besetting sin of our age, than
by actual pronounced evil, and for them the stay in the purgatorial regions of
the Desire World is of course correspondingly shortened and the suffering
incidental is lightened. Thus in time all pass to the upper regions of the
Desire World where the First Heaven is located.
The First Heaven
This is the "Summerland" of the Spiritualists. Of the matter of this region the thoughts and fancies of people during life build the actual forms they see in their imagination. It is a characteristic of the inner worlds that the matter in them is readily molded by thought and will, and all these fantastic forms created by people go about, ensouled by elementals and enduring as long as the thought or desire which formed them endures. Around Christmas time, for instance, Santa Claus actually lives and rides around in his sleigh. There are all sorts of variety of him, and he remains in vigorous health for a month or more until the desires of the children who created him cease to flow in that direction, then he fades away till he is recreated next year. The New Jerusalem, with its pearly streets and sea of glass, and all the other pious and moral fancies of the church people are there also. Purgatory has its thought-form devil, with horns and cloven hoof, created by the thoughts of people, but in this upper part of the Desire World we find only that which is good and desirable in human aspirations. Here the student revels in libraries and is able to pursue his studies in a much more effective way than while confined to the dense body. If he desires a book, presto, it is there. The artist by his imagination shapes his models perfectly, he paints with living fiery colors instead of with the dead and dull pigments of earth, which are the physical artist's despair, for here in Earth-life it is impossible for him to reproduce the tints he sees with his inner vision, but the Desire World is the world of color par excellence, and therefore he obtains his heart's desire in the First Heaven, and receives inspiration and power to continue his work in future lives.
The sculptor likewise finds this part of the postmortem
state a joy and an upliftment; he shapes with facility the plastic materials of
this world into the statues he dreamt of in Earth-life. The musician is also
benefited, but he is not yet in the true world of tone. That ocean of harmony,
where the heavenly "music of the spheres" is heard, is in the part of
the Region of Concrete Thought which, in the esoteric Christian religion, we
call the second heaven; and so the musician only hears the echoes of the
celestial strains; yet they are sweeter than any he ever heard on Earth, and his
soul revels in their exquisite harmony, the earnest of better things to come.
Why Children Die and Where They Go
Here we also find all the little children, who go directly to this place after passing out, and if their friends could see them, there would be no mourning, for theirs is rather an enviable life. They are always met by some relative or friend who has previously passed out, and are taken care of in every respect. There are people who lay up a great deal of treasure for themselves by giving much of their time to the invention of plays and toys for the little ones, and thus life in this First Heaven is spent in the most beautiful way by the children, nor is their instruction neglected. They are brought together in classes, not only according to age and capability, but according to temperament, and are particularly instructed in the effects of desires and emotions, which can so easily be done in a world where those things can be objectively demonstrated. Thus they are taught by object-lessons the benefit of cultivating good and altruistic desires, and many a soul who lives a moral life now, owes it to such a cause as the death in infancy and fifteen or twenty years in the First Heaven before a new incarnation was entered upon. It is often asked why children die. There are many causes, one is death under the dreadful strain of accident, by fire, or on the battlefield in a previous life, for under such circumstances the departing Ego could not properly concentrate upon the panoramic view of its past life. This is also the case where loud lamentations of relatives hinder. The result is of course a weak imprint of the life-experiences upon the desire body, with an insipid purgatorial and First Heaven life.
In such cases the Ego does not reap what it has sown, and so it might commit the same follies or sins life after life. To prevent such a contingency the new desire body which the Ego gathers before its next birth must be impressed with the needed lesson. The Ego is always unconscious on its way to rebirth, blinded by the matter it draws around itself, as we are blinded when we enter a house on a sunny day. Only after birth does the consciousness return in a measure. Then, when by death it passes into the First Heaven it is taught objectively in a different way the lesson it should have learned on its outward passage in the former life. When that lesson has been mastered and impressed upon the still unborn desire body the Ego is reborn on Earth and goes on in the ordinary manner.
Children who die before the seventh year have only been
born so far as the dense and vital bodies are concerned and are not responsible
to the Law of Consequence. Even up to twelve or fourteen years the desire body
is in process of gestation, as will be more fully explained in another lecture,
and as that which has not been quickened cannot die, the dense and vital bodies
alone go to decay when a child dies. It retains its desire body and mind to the
next birth. Therefore it does not go around the whole path which the Ego usually
traverses in a life cycle, but only ascends to the First Heaven to learn needed
lessons, and after a wait of from one to twenty years it is reborn, often in the
same family as a younger child.
The Panorama as Postmortem Arbiter
It is a mistake to think that heaven is a place of unalloyed happiness for all. No one can reap any more happiness than what he sowed on Earth. The measure of our joy there will be the good deeds we did in Earth-life. The panorama of life etched into our desire-bodies just after death forms the basis of our enjoyment in heaven, as it was the decreer of our suffering in purgatory.
We remember, that as the panorama of the past life
unrolled in Purgatory, only the scenes in which we had injured people operated
to produce suffering. In the First Heaven only the good desires and unselfish
acts are productive of feeling. When we behold a scene where we helped someone,
soothing their sorrow and alleviating their suffering, we not only feel the most
intense personal satisfaction, but in addition we feel all that the recipient of
our favor felt in ease of body, of mental relief and gratitude to the helper. It
does not matter whether he knew who helped him or not, the feeling he poured out
to us when we helped him will be realized there, independent of other
circumstances. On the other hand, if we have ourselves been grateful to our
benefactors, we will feel the same feeling of relief from distress and gratitude
for the help over again. As all these feelings and desires are built into the
Ego by the spiritual alchemical forces generated when they are being realized
there, and as they undergo a transmutation into faculties, usable in future
incarnations, it is easily seen HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO OUR OWN SOUL-GROWTH THAT
WE SHOULD FEEL AND EXPRESS OUR GRATITUDE FOR FAVORS SHOWN US, for thus we lay
the foundation for the receipt of new favors both in this and future lives. It
is said that the Lord loves a cheerful giver; it is equally true that the
"Law" (of Consequence) loves an appreciative heart.
The Ethics of Giving
When "GIVING" is under consideration let us beware of the fallacious idea that only the moneyed man can give. Indiscriminate gifts of money are a curse to both the giver and the recipient. Only when the giver bestows thought and heart also may gold be of value. But what is gold carelessly given compared to sympathy? Expression of faith in a man may give him the courage to go in and win; stirring his ambition we help him to help himself, where financial aid would render him helplessly dependent on our bounty. When we give, let us give OURSELVES first.
The ethics of giving, with the effect on the giver as a spiritual lesson, are most beautifully shown in Lowell's THE VISION OF SIR LAUNFAL. The young and ambitious knight, Sir Launfal, clad in shining armor and astride a splendid charger, is setting out from his castle to seek The Holy Grail. On his shield gleams the cross, the symbol of the benignity and tenderness of Our Savior, the meek and lowly One, but the knight's heart is filled with pride and haughty disdain for the poor and needy. He meets a leper asking alms and with a contemptuous frown throws him a coin, as one might cast a bone to a hungry cur, but--
"Better to me the poor man's crust,
Better the blessing of the poor,
Though I turn me empty from his door;
That is no true alms which the hand can hold;
He gives nothing but worthless gold
Who gives from a sense of duty;
But he who gives but a slender mite,
And gives to that which is out of sight,
That thread of the all-sustaining Beauty
Which runs through all and doth all unite--
The hand cannot clasp the whole of his alms,
The heart outstretches its eager palms,
For a god goes with it and makes it store
To the soul that was starving in darkness before."
On his return Sir Launfal finds another in possession of his castle, and is driven from the gate.
He came back from seeking the Holy Grail;
Little he recked of his earldom's loss,
No more on his surcoat was blazoned the cross,
But deep in his soul the sign he wore,
The badge of the suffering and the poor.
Again he meets the leper, who again asks alms. This time the knight responds differently.
An image of Him who dies on the tree;
Thou also hast had thy crown of thorns,--
Thou also hast had the world's buffets and scorns,--
And to thy life were not denied
The wounds in the hands and feet and side;
Mild Mary's Son, acknowledge me;
Behold, through him, I give to Thee!"
A look in the leper's eye brings remembrance and recognition, and
He parted in twain his single crust,
He broke the ice on the streamlet's brink,
And gave the leper to eat and drink.
A transformation takes place:
But stood before him glorified,
* * * * * * * * * * * *
And the Voice that was calmer than silence said,
Postmortem Experience of the Materialist
The out-and-out materialist, who denies God and has the idea that death is annihilation, is in the worst of straits. He sees his mistake, yet having so dissociated himself from spiritual ideas, he often cannot believe but that this is a prelude to annihilation. The dreadful suspense wears terribly on such people, and it is not an uncommon sight to see them going about murmuring to themselves: Is it not soon the end? And, worst of all, if anyone who is instructed tries to inform them they will deny the existence of spirit there as much as they did in Earth-life, calling him visionary for thinking that there is anything beyond.
The natural tendency of the desire body is to harden and
consolidate all it comes into contact with. Materialistic thought accentuates
this tendency to such an extent that it very often results, in succeeding lives,
in that dread disease, consumption, which is a hardening of the lungs. These
should remain soft and elastic. It also sometimes happens that the desire body
crushes the vital body in the next life, so that it fails altogether to
counteract the hardening process, and then we have quick consumption. In some
cases materialism makes the desire body brittle, as it were; then it cannot
perform its proper hardening work on the dense body, and as a result we have
"rachitis," where the bones soften. So we see what dangers we run by
entertaining materialistic tendencies: either HARDENING of the soft parts of the
body, as in CONSUMPTION, or SOFTENING of the hard bony parts, as in RACHITIS. Of
course not every case of consumption shows that the sufferer was a materialist
in a former life, but it is the teaching of occult science that such a result
often follows materialism. There is another cause for the prevalence of this
dread disease back in the Middle Ages.
The Second Heaven
In the course of time every man makes ready to ascend into the Second Heaven, which is located in the Region of Concrete Thought. All good aspirations and desires of the past life are etched into and branded upon the mind, which then contains all that is of permanent value. The Ego withdraws from the desire body, which is then but an empty shell, and clothed only in the mind, it ascends into the Second Heaven.
We remember, that after the termination of the panorama,
just subsequent to death, when the Ego withdrew from the vital body, it went
through a period of unconsciousness before it awoke in the Desire World. There
is also an interval between the withdrawal from the desire body in the First
Heaven to the awakening in the Second Heaven. But this time there is no
unconsciousness; every faculty is keenly on the alert, there is a state of
hyperconsciousness, as the Spirit passes through this interval, which is called
"The Great Silence." No matter how materialistic a man may have been
on Earth, that state of mind has now vanished, and the man KNOWS that he is
inherently divine when he reaches this Great Silence which is the portal to his
heavenly home. It is as when one awakens after a dreadful dream, and draws a
deep sigh of relief at finding that the occurrences of the dream were not
realities. So the Ego, when it enters this Great Silence, awakes from the
delusions and illusions of Earth-life with a sense of infinite relief, is filled
with a feeling of impregnable security, feels anew the restful repose of being
in the everlasting arms of the Great Universal Spirit.
Music of the Spheres
Presently there break upon the Ego's ear the indescribable harmonies of celestial music which fills this Region incessantly. It is no figment of the fancy when celestial music is spoken of, although it is untrue that the dead people who had little or no sense for music during Earth-life have suddenly developed a passion for and the faculty of expressing music at death. The fact of the matter is, that the World of Thought, where the Second Heaven is located, is also the realm of tone, as the Desire World is the world of light and color, and the Physical World is the world of form. The artist gets his color-schemes and his light-effects from the Desire World, but the musician must draw upon the more subtle World of Thought for his inspirations, and in this fact we have the reason why music is the highest art we possess. The painter draws upon a world closer at hand, and is therefore able to fix his creation once for all upon canvas, there to be seen by all who have eyes at any time. Music cannot be thus fixed; it is more elusive, it must be recreated each time, and at once vanishes into silence. In return, however, it has so much greater power to speak to us than even the greatest painting, for it comes directly from the heaven world, fresh and fragrant with echoes from the home of the Ego, awakening memories of and putting us in touch with that which we so often forget in our material existence. Therefore music, above all other human arts, alone has power to still the savage breast and affect us in a way that nothing else can.
Goethe was an initiate, and in his "Faust" emphasizes twice the fact that in the heavenly realms all things are reducible to terms of sound. The opening scene is laid in heaven, and the Archangel Raphael is represented as saying:
'Mid rival CHANT of brother-spheres.
His prescribed course he speeds along,
In thunderous way throughout the years."
Again, in the second part:
Proclaims the coming day is near.
Rocky gates are creaking, rattling,
Phoebus' wheels are rolling, singing--
What intense SOUND the light is bringing."
Pythagoras' "music of the spheres" is a fact in the Second Heaven, and to some musicians this is not at all a far-fetched idea, for they know that every city, every lake and forest has its own peculiar tone. The babbling brook and the summer zephyr which stirs the young leaves in the wood speak the language of the Universal Soul. The true musician hears its grand, majestic voice in the mountain torrent and in the storm upon the great deep. No mere intellectual conception of God, life and superphysical things can ever reach the sublime heights achieved by him, for he knows.
In Purgatory the evil habits and acts of life produced
suffering which was transmuted into RIGHT FEELING in the First Heaven. The good
in the past life was extracted in the First Heaven, and when the Ego enters the
Second Heaven it broods over the good in such a way as to transmute it into
RIGHT THOUGHT to act as a guide in future lives on Earth. Thus at every new
birth the Ego brings with it, as capital, the accumulated wisdom derived from
the experiences of all its past lives, which is its capital or stock in trade.
The experience in each new life is interest, which in the Second Heaven is added
to the capital.
Activity in the Region of Concrete Thought
Man there is also preparing himself for his next dip into matter, qualifying himself for the new battle with ignorance in the coming life-day in God's great school. If any worthy ambitions had failed of realization, he sees where the fault lay, and learns to carry out next time his designs on improved lines. The musician takes with him grander melodies when he returns, to gladden the heart of man in his exile to Earth conditions. The painter brings new aspirations, for it must not be supposed that the Second Heaven is devoid of color because it was called the region of tone. Both color and form are there, just as in the Physical World, but TONE is the predominating feature of the World of Thought. COLOR is most accentuated in the Desire World and FORM in the Physical World, although it is also true that the colors and forms of the Second Heaven are much more beautiful than in either of the two other worlds.
We have spoken of this process of brooding and assimilation of the good and lasting part extracted from the experiences of the past life as if it were a negative process, and many students have the idea that existence in the Second Heaven is a dreamy, illusory experience. Nothing could be more erroneous, for the actual activities of life in heaven are manifold. Man not only reviews or lives his past, but he is also actively preparing his future.
We are wont to speak of evolution, but do we ever analyze what it is that makes evolution, why it does not stop in stagnation? If we do, we must realize that there are forces back of the visible which make the alteration in the flora and fauna, the climatic and topographical changes which are constantly going on; and it is then but a natural question, What or who are the forces or agents in evolution?
Of course, we are well aware that scientists give certain mechanical explanations. They deserve great credit; they have accomplished much, when we take into consideration that science is but an infant and has only five senses and ingenious instruments at its command. Its deductions are marvelously true, but that does not say that there may not be underlying causes which it cannot, as yet, perceive, but which give a more thorough understanding of the matter than the mere mechanical explanation affords. An illustration will elucidate the point.
Two men are conversing, when suddenly one knocks the other down. There we have an occurrence, a fact, and we may explain it in a mechanical way by saying: "I saw one man contract the muscles of his arm, direct a blow at the other, and knock him down." That is a true version, so far as it goes, but the occult scientist would see also the angry thought which inspired the blow, and would be giving a more complete version if he said that the man was knocked down by a thought, for the clenched fist was but the irresponsible instrument of aggression. Failing the impelling force of the angry thought, the hand would have remained inert and the blow would never have been struck.
Thus the occult scientist refers all causes to the Region
of Concrete Thought, and tells how they are generated there by human and
Remembering that the creative archetypes of everything we see in the visible world are in the World of Thought, which is the realm of tone, we are prepared to understand that the archetypal forces are constantly playing through these archetypes which then emit a certain tone, or, where a number of them have massed to create a species of plant, animal, or human FORMS, the different sounds blend into one grand chord. That single tone or chord, as the case may be, is then the keynote of the form thus created, and as long as it sounds, the form or the species endures; when it ceases the single form dies or the species dies out.
A jumble of sound is not music any more than words massed together haphazardly are a sentence, but ORDERLY RHYTHMIC SOUND is the builder of all that is, as John says in the first verses of his gospel, "In the beginning was the WORD, . . . and without it was not anything made"; also "the Word was made flesh."
Thus we see that sound is the creator and sustainer of all form, and in the Second Heaven the Ego becomes one with the nature forces. With them he works upon the archetypes of land and sea, on flora and fauna, to bring about the changes which gradually alter the appearance and condition of the Earth, and thus afford a new environment, MADE BY HIMSELF, in which he may reap new experience.
He is directed in his work by great teachers belonging to the Creative Hierarchies, which are called Angels, Archangels, and other names, who are God's ministers. They instruct him then consciously in the divine art of creation, both as to the world and the objects in it. They teach him how to build a FORM for himself, giving him the so-called "nature-spirits" as helpers, and thus man is serving his apprenticeship to become a creator each time he goes to the Second Heaven. There he builds the archetype of the form which he later externalizes at birth.
In a previous lecture we spoke about the four ethers, and we said the forces of assimilation work in the chemical ether. The Egos in the heaven world are those forces and thus the very people whom we call dead are the ones who build our bodies and help us to live. We may also note that no one can have a better dense body than he can build. If they make mistakes in heaven, they find it out when they come to use such a defective body on Earth, and thereby learn to correct the fault next time.
This brings to mind an interesting phase of the Law of Consequence, as in the case of Egos who require a body of peculiar construction, like musicians, where not only the hand, but also the ear has to be specially adjusted, so that the three semicircular canals point as accurately as possible to the three dimensions of space, and the fibers of Corti have to be unusually delicate; such an instrument cannot be formed out of raw materials, and therefore such an Ego must be born in a family where others have built along similar lines, and that is not always to be found.
Supposing, then, that an occasion offers 100 years before the time such an Ego should be normally reborn, and that the Recording Angels who have charge of the administrations of the Law of Consequence, see that another opportunity will not occur for perhaps 300 years, that Ego may then be brought into birth 100 years ahead of time, and the loss of time in heaven made up at another time. Thus we see that the living and the so-called dead are constantly acting and reacting upon each other while traveling onwards along the path of evolution.
Having thus progressed through the Second Heaven, the Ego at last withdraws from the sheath of mind, which was its garment there, and thus entirely free and untrammeled enters the Third Heaven, which is the highest point attainable by man at his present stage of development.
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