Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2003.
Life After Death in Kamaloka (the Astral World)
H.P. Blavatsky versus C.W. Leadbeater
According to H.P. Blavatsky and the Mahatmas, when most people die, there is no conscious existence for them in the Kamaloka (the psychic realm, the so-called astral world or plane, ). Most do not traverse the various planes of the astral realm in consciousness. For the majority of persons who die, they are not aware of either the physical world or the astral world. They remain unconscious until they awaken in their respective Devachanic states.
Following Mme. Blavatsky's death, C.W. Leadbeater, a noted clairvoyant in the Theosophical Society (Adyar), contradicted point-blank Mme. Blavatsky's and the Mahatmas' teachings on the above subject. He apparently gave out the common spiritualistic notions dressed up more or less in Theosophical terminology.
In a 1975 Adyar T.P.H. publication, Helen V. Zahara observed:
"The original statements in the Theosophical Society regarding the after death processes were given in Letters of the Mahatmas to A.P. Sinnett. . . . One must, however, note that a different description of the after death process appears in some works by theosophical writers. One such exponent was C.W. Leadbeater, a notable clairvoyant, who recorded what he saw of after death conditions. . . . This [Leadbeater's version] would seem to be at variance with the original teaching." Italics added. (1)
I give below a comparison of Blavatsky's views with Leadbeater's rendition. In column I, extracts from Blavatsky's writings and The Mahatma Letters are given, while in column II, excerpts are cited from Leadbeater's writings. [I also give in column II one quotation from Geoffrey Hodson, who is another clairvoyant of the T.S. (Adyar).]
H.P. Blavatsky & the Mahatmas
According to the Eastern teaching, the state of the deceased in Kama-loka is not what we, living men, would recognise as "conscious." . . . the process of stripping off the lower . . . principles is an unconscious one in all normal human beings. It is only in very exceptional cases that there is a slight return to consciousness in Kama-loka; and this is the case of very materialistic unspiritual personalities. . . . (2)
There can be no conscious meeting in Kamaloka hence no grief. . . . in Kamaloka there is as a rule (apart from vicarious life and consciousness awakened through contact with medium) no recognition of friends or relatives. . . . We meet those we loved only in Devachan. . . . (3)
A mother dies, leaving behind her little helpless children -- orphans whom she adores -- perhaps a beloved husband also. We say that her "Spirit" or Ego. . . is now entirely separated from the "vale of tears," that its future bliss consists in that blessed ignorance of all the woes it left behind. Spiritualists say, on the contrary, that it is as vividly aware of them, and more so than before, for "Spirits see more than mortals in the flesh do." . . . According to their [spiritualists'] doctrine, unfortunate man is not liberated even by death from the sorrows of this life. Not a drop from the life-cup of pain and suffering will miss his lips; and nolens volens, since he sees everything now, shall he drink it to the bitter dregs. Thus, the loving wife, who during her lifetime was ready to save her husband sorrow at the price of her heart's blood, is now doomed to see, in utter helplessness, his despair, and to register every hot tear he sheds for her loss. . . . [But according to the esoteric teaching] the spirit is dazed after death and falls very soon into what we call "pre-devachanic unconsciousness." . . . . (4)
Reviving consciousness begins after the struggle in Kama-Loka at the door of Devachan, and only after the "gestation period." . . . (5)
. . . In that world. . . we find but unconscious, self-acting, ex-human machines, souls in their transition state, whose dormant faculties and individuality lie as a butterfly in its chrysalis; and Spiritualists would yet have them talk sense! . . . (6)
But why should they [the dead] "communicate" [with the living]? . . . how can an unconscious 5th principle [Manas - the Mind] . . . impress or communicate with a living organism . . . ? (7)
C. W. Leadbeater & Geoffrey Hodson
The average man has by no means freed himself from all lower desires before death, and it takes a long period of more or less fully conscious life on the various subdivisions of the astral plane to allow the forces which he has generated to work themselves out, and thus release the ego. . . . (8)
The dead man carries on with him his affections and hatreds; he knows his old friends when he meets them [in Kamaloka or the astral plane], and he also forms new friendships among new companions whom he meets for the first time on the astral plane. . . . (9)
The dead can see us, but it is our astral body that they see; consequently they are at once aware of our emotions, but not necessarily of the details of our physical condition. They know whether we are happy or miserable . . . . (10)
Because we cannot usually remember in our waking consciousness what we have seen during sleep, we are under the delusion that we have lost our dead; but they are never under the delusion that they have lost us, because they can see us all the time. To them the only difference is that we are with them during the night and away from them during the day. . . . the astral body is . . . the vehicle of our feelings and emotions; it is therefore these feelings and emotions of ours which show themselves most clearly to the eyes of the dead. If we are joyous, they instantly observe it. . . if sadness comes over us, they at once realize it and share it. . . . All this, of course, is during our waking hours; when we are asleep, they converse with us. . . . (11)
. . . when we are asleep, they [the dead] converse with us. . . . (11)
. . . [In Kamaloka] awakening . . . occurs and the deceased . . . looks about him. In nearly all cases, friends and relatives await. . . . There [in Kamaloka] people gather together in thought-forms of houses and cities. . . . (12)
After comparing and carefully studying the above extracts, one can readily see why Hugh Shearman (another well-known member and writer of the Theosophical Society, Adyar) also acknowledged these contradictions:
". . . the accounts of after-death conditions in her [Blavatsky's] own direct writings and in the Mahatma Letters clash very emphatically not only with what Bishop Leadbeater and other members of the [Adyar Theosophical] Society later described, but also with descriptions given by psychics quite unconnected with the Society." Italics added. (13)
The reader may ask: "Why are there such contradictions?"
Madame Blavatsky herself warns students of Theosophy not to be misled by the visions of psychics and the revelations of mediums regarding the post-mortem states. She specifically wrote that:
"In dealing with dicta of psychics and mediums, it must always be remembered that they translate automatically and unconsciously their experiences on any plane of consciousness into the languages and experiences of our normal plane. . . . All conclusions drawn from such data are vitiated . . . . There can be no conscious meeting in Kamaloka. . . . in Kamaloka there is as a rule (apart from vicarious life and consciousness awakened through contact with mediums) no recognition of friends and relatives. . . ." Italics added. (14)
In regards to Shearman's comment about "psychics quite unconnected with the Society", I give Master Koot Hoomi's assessment of the common run of psychics and seers:
"Vainly do your modern seers and their prophetesses, creep into every cleft and crevice without outlet or continuity they chance to see; and still more vainly, when once within do they lift up their voices and loudly cry: 'Eureka! We have gotten a revelation from the Lord!' for verily have they nothing of the kind. They have disturbed but bats, less blind their intruders; who, feeling them flying about, mistake them as often for angels as they too have wings! . . . " Italics added. (15)
Master KH (in writing to the clairvoyant Mrs. Laura C. Holloway) gave more insight on this subject:
"Your vivid creative fancy evokes illusive Gurus and chelas, and puts into their mouths words coined the instant before in the mint of your mind, unknown to yourself. The false appear as real, as the true, and you have no exact method of detection since you are yet prone to force your communications to agree with your preconceptions. . . . " (16)
The Master Morya, H.P.B.'s personal teacher, provided an important key to understanding the above problem when he wrote:
". . . There is one general law of vision (physical and mental or spiritual) but there is a qualifying special law proving that all vision must be determined by the quality or grade of man's spirit and soul, and also by the ability to translate divers qualities of waves of astral light into consciousness. There is but one general law of life, but innumerable laws qualify and determine the myriads of forms perceived and of sounds heard. There are those who are willingly and others who are unwillingly -- blind. Mediums belong to the former, sensitives to the latter. Unless regularly initiated and trained -- concerning the spiritual insight of things and the supposed revelations made unto man in all ages from Socrates down to Swedenborg . . . no self-tutored seer or clairaudient ever saw or heard quite correctly." Italics added. (17)
Note well the phrase: "Unless regularly initiated and trained. . . . "
How many of the "psychics quite unconnected with the Society" (as Shearman phrases it) have been regularly initiated and trained? Yet Shearman apparently emphasizes the similarity between the teachings of C.W. Leadbeater and these other psychics regarding the after-death states. Why?
Readers will find other relevant material in the following sources:
Madame Blavatsky & the Latter-Day Messengers of the Masters
C.W. Leadbeater's and Annie Besant's Theosophical Teachings
Theosophy Versus Neo-Theosophy (abridged ed., reprint of Part I only) compiled by Margaret Thomas
Theosophy Or NeoTheosophy? (reprint of complete, unabridged original edition) compiled by Margaret Thomas
Extract of a Letter from Mme. Blavatsky
In all the quotations given in this article , I have added italics not found in the original writings.
(1) Zahara, Helen V. "The Panorama of Human Existence," pp. 68-69 in The Universal Flame: Commemorating the Centenary of the Theosophical Society, Adyar, Madras, India, Theosophical Publishing House, 1975.
(2) Blavatsky, H.P. Collected Writings, Volume IX, p. 164.
(3) Blavatsky, H.P. Collected Writings, volume IX, pp. 163-164.
(4) Blavatsky, H.P. The Key to Theosophy, original 1889 edition, pp. 146-147 & 151.
(5) Master K.H. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, 3rd edition, p.197.
(6) Master K.H. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, 3rd edition, p. 48.
(7) Master K.H. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, 3rd edition, p. 129-130.
(8) Leadbeater, C.W. The Astral Plane, 8th Adyar ed., p. 49.
(9) Leadbeater, C.W. The Inner Life, Volume I, p. 83.
(10) Leadbeater, C.W. The Inner Life, Volume I, p. 83.
(11) Leadbeater, C.W. To Those Who Mourn, pp. 21-22.
(12) Hodson, Geoffrey. The American Theosophist, Spring 1973.
(13) Shearman, Hugh. "Theosophical Ontologies," The Theosophist, October, 1971, p. 11.
(14) Blavatsky, H.P. Collected Writings, Volume IX, p. 163-164.
(15) Master K.H. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, 3rd edition, pp.269-270.
(16) Master K.H. Mrs. Holloway and the Mahatmas. Letter 17.
(17) Master M. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, 3rd edition, p. 252.