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- Print Length: 107 pages
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- Language: English
- ASIN: B0082X4NFK
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- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
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The Astral Plane Its Scenery, Inhabitants and Phenomena Kindle Edition
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"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...
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.
My receptive frame of mind eventually gave way as the author seemed to become ever more dogmatic and superior, stressing that it was forbidden to divulge certain mysteries, that teaching should only be imparted by 'Adepts' due to the dangerous nature of this plane, and that all he was describing was naturally (as in 'nature') scientific rather than supernatural, the information gathered by explorations of members of the Theosophical Society and verified by comparison between them.
It would have been more interesting and effective had he described these journeys from personal experience more than the once (or possibly twice) secondhand that he did in the book.
His insistence on purity of morals for the initiate - of body, mind including every thought)- sounded in retrospect horribly hollow when I read his biography after turning the final page.
Difficult as she can be, I think 'll stay with Helena Blavatsky to read about Theosophy for the time being.
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