1 July 1906, Leipzig
Today I should give you a description of Devachan, that is to say, of man's experiences in that world, between death and a new birth. We should not think of this world is situated somewhere else. It always surrounds us. But an ordinary human being does not possess the organs which enable him to perceive the facts pertaining to this world. We should moreover, bear in mind that our language, our words, are only coined for the physical world. The higher worlds can therefore only be described by comparisons.
An object in the physical world is found in Devachan as a vacuum corresponding to the space occupied by the object in the physical world, and a void, a nothing in the physical world is found in Devachan as something resplendent, radiant and resounding. We may compare this with the photographic negative. The physical object would exactly fit into the vacuum. It is however strange that this only applies to objects of Nature, whereas artificial forms made by man appear in Devachan as a positive. Everything consisted of firm, mineral substances, including the mineral parts of plants, animals and men, is a negative, a vacuum, existing in the first region of Devachan. This constitutes, as it were, the firm foundation of Devachan: the continent of Devachan. Negative images of physical-mineral objects therefore form the continental regions of Devachan.
In Devachan, all that constitutes life here on earth, all that enables plants and animals to grow, may be compared with the ocean. This is the second region of Devachan. There we find flowing, streaming life. And this streaming life, these oceans of Devachan, have a great regularity. One might compare them with the blood-circulation in the human body.
The third region consists of air, it is the atmosphere in Devachan. It contains everything which is known on Earth as feeling and sensation. There, the currents of pain may be felt like the winds which blow on the Earth. Every calamity that takes place in the physical plane can be heard in this region. For example, through clairvoyance he was able to have perceptions in Devachan, a battle appears as a terrific tempest, unchaining itself in lightning, thunder and storms.
In the fourth region we find all the fruitful and valuable ideas ever thought out by man. Even as the starry sky surrounds us here on Earth, so in this fourth reason we find a wonderful starry writing. It can be read as these so-called Akasha Chronicle. All the thoughts connected with human deeds are everlastingly engraved there and may be read. But we come across a still larger writing in Devachan. At the foundation of each animal, each plant, each crystal, there is a thought, an idea. All this is engraved in Devachan.
In the fifth region man discovers his true being. “Tat twam asi — this is thou”, the great central truth of the Vedanta philosophy resounds in this region.
In the continental region man gradually overcomes the feeling of importance which he attributes to his own body. He learns to compare his physical existence in a selfless way with every other form of physical existence. With every incarnation he becomes a degree less selfish. The first region of Devachan is the great school leading to this degree of perfection.
Whenever man passes through the second region, the oceanic region of Devachan, he experiences the unity of all life. Little by little, with the development of a theosophical mentality, this truth of the one life contained in everything, will gradually enter human life. When we incarnate again, we still have a pale reminiscence of this streaming life which pervades everything.
In the third sphere, the atmosphere of Devachan, the initiate and the human being living between death and a new birth perceive every pain and pleasure in the form of wonderful atmospheric phenomena, in the sound of thunderstorms, lightning and tempests. We are then outside the soul-emotions and can therefore look upon them objectively, recognize their full significance. We come back to a new earthly life enriched by this observation, this experience gained in Devachan.
When we reach a certain stage in our inner development, we shall be able to recall our past earthly lives. This is only a question of development. Everyone will finally reach this stage. The frequent repetition of Devachanic experiences will impress these pictures so deeply upon us, that our ordinary memory will suffice.