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The Threshold of the Spiritual World
GA 17

XVI. Remarks on the Connection of what is described in this Book with the Accounts given in my Books Theosophy and Occult Science

Names which are to express the experiences of the human soul in the elemental and spiritual worlds must be adapted to the special characteristics of those experiences. In giving such names it will have to be borne in mind that even in the elemental world experience runs its course in quite a different way from that in which it does in the physical world. Experience in the elemental world is due to the soul's capacity for transformation and to its observation of sympathies and antipathies. The terminology will necessarily assume something of the changeful character of such experiences. It cannot be as fixed and rigid as it must be with regard to the physical world. One who does not keep in view this fact, arising out of the nature of the case, may easily find a contradiction between the terminology used in this book and that in Theosophy and Occult Science. The contradiction disappears when it is remembered that in the two latter works the names are so chosen that they characterise those experiences which the soul has during its complete development between birth (conception) and death on the one hand, and between death and rebirth on the other. In this book, however, the names arc given with reference to the experiences of clairvoyant consciousness when it enters the elemental world and the spiritual spheres.

It is seen from Theosophy and Occult Science that soon after the detachment of the physical body from the soul at death, there is also detached from the soul that which in this book is called the etheric body. The soul then lives for a while in the entity which is here called the astral body. The etheric body, after being detached from the soul, is transformed within the elemental world. It passes into the beings forming that world. When this transformation of the etheric body takes place, the soul which had lived in it is no longer there. The soul, however, experiences as its outer world after death the processes of the elemental world. This experience of the elemental world “from withou” is described in Theosophy and Occult Science as the passage of the soul through the “soul-world.” It must therefore be realised that this soul-world is identical with that which, from the standpoint of clairvoyant consciousness, is in this book called the elemental world.

When the soul in the interval between death and rebirth—as described in Theosophy—becomes detached from its astral body, it goes on living in the entity which is here called the real ego. The astral body then experiences by itself, the soul being no longer with it, that which has been described above as oblivion. It plunges, so to speak, into a world in which there is nothing which can be observed with the senses, or experienced in the way in which will, feeling and thought, as man develops them in his physical body, experience things. This world is experienced as its outer world by the soul which continues to exist in the real ego. If it is desirable to characterise the experience in this outer world, it can be done in the same way in which it is described in Theosophy and Occult Science, as the passing through the “spirit region.” The soul, experiencing itself in the real ego, has around it within the spiritual world that which has been formed in it as soul-experiences during physical existence. Within the world above described as that of living thoughts-beings, the soul finds between death and rebirth all that it has experienced in its inner being during physical existence through its sense perceptions and its thinking, feeling, and willing.