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The Astral Plane
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2011
The controversial C.W. Leadbeater (1854-1934) was one of the leaders of the Theosophical Society Adyar, a new religious movement often regarded as the forerunner of current New Age thinking. He seems to have been number two within the society, immediately below the supreme leader Annie Besant. Leadbeater was also a bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church (LCC), essentially a front group for the Theosophists. Otherwise, Leadbeater is mostly known for having discovered Jiddu Krishnamurti. Both the Adyar society and the LCC still exist. (I attended one of the LCC's masses some years ago, and almost collided with the poor priest!)

"The Astral Plane", also known as "Manual No. 5", is Leadbeater's description of the astral world, a spirit-world the Theosophists believe is situated immediately above the material world. However, the astral world is nevertheless lower than the mental world or Heaven. It corresponds most closely to what Christians would call purgatory, and all souls of dead humans must pass through it on their way to the real heavenly world. (The words "above" and "below" are, of course, figurative.)

According to Leadbeater, the astral plane is experienced in many different ways by the souls passing through it. Evil souls are stuck on its lowest rung and experience something similar to Hell. To others, it looks like Heaven. It seems everyone at this plane reaps what he has sown. Sooner or later, all souls leave the astral plane, shed their astral bodies, and move on to the mental, devachanic or heavenly realms. In this sense, Leadbeater was a "universalist". Of course, most souls eventually reincarnate, but the book says little about this. Parts of the book are critical of Spiritualism, claiming that most spirits talking through mediums are impostors.

I was struck by two things while reading this book. One is the non-sensationalist tone of the author, very different from current New Age writings on the subject. "The Astral Plane" could actually be described as boring! Various evil entities such as warewolves and vampires are mentioned, but they (and the hellish realms) nevertheless play a relatively minor role. The other thing I found striking is the complex nature of Leadbeater's descriptions. There seems to be innumerable kinds of souls, spirits, elementals and even artificial thought forms at the astral plane. Frankly, the author has some problems sorting them all out.

Those interested in what (supposedly) awaits us at the other side, should presumably continue with "Manual No. 6", or "The Devachanic Plane or the Heaven World". I haven't read it yet, but please stay tuned for any further developments...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 2010
I have often seen this book on amazon in the past and recently took up the chance to read it. I was very very suprised by how well written and good this book is. As he says at the start, there is no information in this book that hasn't been verified by himself and at least two other astral projecters on the astral plane, so at least you know this is not another theory book wrote for fun or giggles.

The chapter on some of the inhabitants of the astral plane is almost worth the price of the book itself.

My one or two wee niggles (there is always one floating about isn't there) is that I was unfamiliar with theosophical terms before reading this. So I found myself having to write down words and look them up later to make sense of some passages. So my copy has a handwritten glossary in the back few pages - which completely adds to the charm of the book for me personally. I now know what 'kamaloka', 'kaliyuga' and 'upadhi' means. So not really a negative niggle then. Another thing is the author is very pro-seance, as were very popular back in the day, and so I feel he goes to great lengths to almost explain and justify the seance going ons. Which to me, felt like a waste of 3-4 pages of an already short book.

So while my paragraph on my very slight negatives is seven times longer than my pros, I mean to say that this book will be on my 'favourites' shelf in my bedroom for a very long time to come. I encourage you to buy this.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2010
A most enlightening book. Its contents were written in 1895 and are relevent today. I rate this work very highly.
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on 8 November 2013
This older publication gives a great account of the nature of the astral plane. If you've had some experience of being in this dimension & want further information, this text supplies it like most modern books on the subject do not. No wonder it's still in demand. I only wish the author went further in what he gives.
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on 27 February 2014
Really enjoyed reading this book, excellent for insight and enjoyed the explanations as they weren't too deep that I could still find out about subjects I had no previous knowledge of with a good explanation to them here.
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on 30 July 2015
Well written by an experienced theosophist who has dedicated a lot of years of his life to be able to bring these truths to the world. As with all his books this one is very informative and worth a recommendation.
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on 22 October 2011
To be honest, I thought that this was quite an uneventful tedious read. Outdated, bland and unadventurous, which is not what I had expected from a book with "Astral Plane" in the title!
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on 22 April 2013
This is an amazingly insightful book. It addresses the interaction between human emotional life and the astral plane. It has clarified lots of things I have often been curious about.
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on 8 April 2015
Very detailed, descriptive and factual account of the astral plane. admittedly I'm not finished yet but already found it very informative and helpful great book
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 February 2011
An interesting historical perspective which gives a highly detailed view of the Theosophists and their world, together with Buddist elements.
Worth a read for those interested in the history of the metaphysical.
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