Emotional Plane

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The Emotional Plane in the teachings of Annie Besant, C. W. Leadbeater and other teachers in the Theosophical Society (Adyar) is also called Astral Plane. It is immediately above the physical plane in degree of subtlety. This is the plane of the Emotional Body (also known as Astral Body in their teachings), the one where the Ego experiences dreams, and on which the soul of the deceased person dwells immediately after physical death.

General description

Annie Besant wrote:

The astral plane is the region of the universe next to the physical, if the word “next” may be permitted in such a connection. Life there is more active than on the physical plane, and form is more plastic. . . . The word “next” is, however, inappropriate, as suggesting the idea that the planes of the universe are arranged as concentric circles, one ending where the next begins. Rather they are concentric interpenetrating spheres, not separated from each other by distance but by difference of constitution.[1]
The spirit-matter of the astral plane exists in seven subdivisions, as we have seen in the spirit-matter of the physical. There, as here, there are numberless combinations, forming the astral solids, liquids, gases, and ethers. But most material forms there have a brightness, a translucency, as compared to forms here, which have caused the epithet astral, or starry, to be applied to them – an epithet which is, on the whole, misleading, but is too firmly established by use to be changed. As there are no specific names for the subdivisions of astral spirit-matter, we may use the terrestrial designations. The main idea to be grasped is that astral objects are combinations of astral matter, as physical objects are combinations of physical matter, and that the astral world scenery much resembles that of earth in consequence of its being largely made up of the astral duplicates of physical objects.[2]

Regarding the illusory nature of this plane, C. W. Leadbeater wrote:

The astral region . . . has often been called the realm of illusion – not that it is itself any more illusory than the physical world, but, because of the extreme unreliability of the impressions brought back from it by the untrained seer.


Why should this be so? We account for it mainly by two remarkable characteristics of the astral world – first, that many of its inhabitants have a marvellous power of changing their forms with Protean rapidity, and also of casting practically unlimited glamour over those with whom they choose to sport; and secondly, that sight on that plane is a faculty very different from and much more extended than physical vision. An object is seen, as it were, from all sides at once, the inside of a solid being as plainly open to the view as the outside; it is therefore obvious that an inexperienced visitor to this new world may well find considerable difficulty in understanding what he really does see, and still more in translating his vision into the very inadequate language of ordinary speech.

A good example of the sort of mistake that is likely to occur is the frequent reversal of any number which the seer has to read from the astral light, so that he would be liable to render, say, 139 as 931, and so on.[3]

Kamaloka

Some students assume that the Kāmaloka found in the teachings of H. P. Blavatsky and the Masters of Wisdom are equivalent to the Emotional or Astral Plane. But this is not the case. As C. W. Leadbeater explained to Indian Theosophists:

You will observe that in speaking of this subtler world I am using the term "astral plane", and not "Kamaloka", which is often employed as a Sanskrit equivalent. I avoid that because I am not sure that it is an equivalent, for I think that when you define it as the place of desire you mean almost exclusively lower desire, and that would make it much more limited than is the astral plane.[4]

Online resources

Articles

Books

Audio

Notes

  1. Annie Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1998), 63.
  2. Annie Besant, The Ancient Wisdom, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1998), 64-65.
  3. Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Astral Plane, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1987), 6-7.
  4. The Reality of the Astral Plane by C. W. Leadbeater.