The eighth sphere is a locality in which soulless entities are dissolved.
In Isis Unveiled, H. P. Blavatsky wrote:
The eighth sphere (numbering inversely), is merely a planet like our own, attached to the latter and following it in its penumbra; a kind of dust-hole, a “place where all its garbage and filth is consumed,” to borrow an expression of the above-mentioned authors [of the book Unseen Universe], and on which all the dross and scorification of the cosmic matter pertaining to our planet is in a continual state of remodelling.
The spheres of the cyclic process of evolution are seven in number, but there is an eighth in connection with our earth, our earth being, it will be remembered, the turning-point in the cyclic chain, and this eighth sphere is out of circuit, a cul de sac, and the bourne from which it may be truly said no traveller returns.
This "eight sphere" is a locality into which irredeemable personalities from whom the soul has separated are eventually drawn to be dissolved. Master K. H. wrote that this is a region...:
... whither fall but absolute nonentities; "failures of nature" to be remodelled entirely, whose divine monad separated itself from the five principles during their life-time, (whether in the next preceding or several preceding births, since such cases are also on our records), and who have lived as soulless human beings. These persons whose sixth principle has left them (while the seventh having lost its vahan (or vehicle) can exist independently no longer) their fifth or animal Soul of course goes down "the bottomless pit."
According to Sinnett, this is a very rare occurrence:
One statement though is definitely made--viz., that such a total degradation of a personality as may suffice to draw it, after death, into the attraction of the eighth sphere, is of very rare occurrence.
There is a connection between the "eight sphere" and the moon, although it may be subtler than it seems. Mme. Blavatsky wrote:
Nâraka (Sk.). In the popular conception, a hell, a “prison under earth”. The hot and cold hells, each eight in number, are simply emblems of the globes of our septenary chain, with the addition of the “eighth sphere” supposed to be located in the moon.Mme. Blavatsky states that there are mistaken conceptions about "the 'Mystery of the Eighth Sphere' in its relation to the Moon", because the subject is a secret one a little and vague information as been given:
As to her [the moon's] metaphysical and psychic nature it must remain an occult secret in this work, as it was in the volume on “Esoteric Buddhism,” notwithstanding the rather sanguine statement made therein on p. 113 (5th edition) that “there is not much mystery left now in the riddle of the eighth sphere.” These are topics, indeed, “on which the adepts are very reserved in their communications to uninitiated pupils,” and since they have, moreover, never sanctioned or permitted any published speculations upon them, the less said the better.
Actually, it seems that the Mahatmas did not want A. P. Sinnett to write about this:
Be more careful as to what you say upon forbidden topics. The “eighth sphere” mystery is a very confidential subject, and you are far from understanding even its general aspects. You were repeatedly warned and should not have mentioned it. You have unintentionally brought ridicule upon a solemn matter.
Something similar can be seen in a letter from Mme. Blavatsky to Mr. Sinnett written on August 23, 1883:
And now speaking of moons why, should you in pity sake, speak of forbidden things! Did I not tell you a hundred times that They allowed no one to know or speak of this eighth sphere, and how do you know it is the moon, as we all see it?
Another term connected to the eighth sphere and the moon is "the Planet of death:"
Every one but that ego which, attracted by its gross magnetism, falls into the current that will draw it into the “planet of Death” — the mental as well as physical satellite of our earth — is fitted to pass into a relative “spiritual” condition adjusted to his previous condition in life and mode of thought.
Nor must you laugh, if ever you come across Pinda-Dana or any other Buddhist Sutra and read: “Between the Kama-Loka and the Rupa-Loka there is a locality, the dwelling of ‘Mara’ (Death). This Mara filled with passion and lust, destroys all virtuous principles, as a stone grinds corn.(*) His palace is 7000 yojanas square, and is surrounded by a seven-fold wall,” for you will feel now more prepared to understand the allegory. (* This Mara, as you may well think, is the allegorical image of the sphere called the “Planet of Death” — the whirlpool whither disappear the lives doomed to destruction. It is between Kama and Rupa-Lokas that the struggle takes place.)
The Dwelling of Mara
In one of his letters, Mahatma K.H. mentions the concept of "the dwelling of Mara" as being the Buddhist equivalent of the "planet of death." However, no such place is known in the Buddhist teachings that have become standard. The Mahatma's reference was taken from a book published in an 1871 titled, A Catena of Buddhist Scriptures from the Chinese, by Samuel Beal. Searching for the original source of the sutra quoted in Beal's book, Theosophical and Buddhist scholar David Reigle found it in the Ta leou t’an king, a Chinese translation of a lost Sanskrit sutra belonging to the Dīrghāgama collection. Reigle also found a reference to this concept in one of the earliest Buddhist Sanskrit texts we have--the Mahāvastu, which belonged to the vinaya of the long-defunct Lokottara-vādin Mahā-sāṃghika Buddhists.
According to Besant and Leadbeater
C. W. Leadbeater explained that the eighth sphere is--
... a fate reserved solely for those personalities which have been definitely severed from their egos.
These unhappy entities (if entities they may still be called) pass into the eighth sphere, and are there resolved into their constituent elements, which are then ready for the use of worthier egos in a future age. This may not inaptly be described as falling into aeonian fire; but . . . this could happen only to lost personalities - never to individualities.
This happens to personality that have severed their connection with the higher ego:
The lost entity would very soon after death find himself unable to stay in the astral world, and would be irresistibly drawn in full consciousness into "his own place", the mysterious eighth sphere, there slowly to disintegrate after experiences best left undescribed.
Its natural tendency therefore is to drift out of this evolution, and to be drawn by the irresistible force of law into that astral cesspool which in earlier Theosophical writings was called the eighth sphere, because what passes into it stands outside the ring of seven worlds, and cannot return into their evolution. There, surrounded by loathsome relics of all of the concentrated vileness of the ages that are past, burning ever with desire, yet without possibility of satisfaction, this monstrosity slowly decays, its mental and causal matter being thus at last set free-- never indeed to rejoin the ego from which it has torn itself, but to be distributed among the other matter of the plane to enter gradually into fresh combinations, and so put to better uses.
He connected this sphere to the moon:
The moon has often been described in Theosophical literature as the eighth sphere, because it is not one of the seven planets of our chain upon which evolution is taking place. It is therefore what is called a “dead end,” a place where only refuse gathers, and it is a kind of a dust-heap or waste-paper-basket to the system--a kind of astral cesspool into which are thrown decaying fragments of various sorts, such as the lost personality which has torn itself away from the ego, who has allowed it to slip out of his grasp in the manner which I explained in the first volume of this book, in the article on Lost Soul.
Annie Besant clarified this subject as follows:
In the early days, when we did not possess as much knowledge as we now have, and did not have all the present literature, we puzzled over this phrase about the "dropping out," and the passing into the "planet of death," the mental as well as the physical satellite of our earth. . . . Some thought that the "eighth sphere" was the physical moon, which did not seem an unnatural meaning. We may think of the moon as we think of our own embodiments, with physical, astral and mental bodies . . . all connected with the physical, the astral and the mental of our earth, closely related, and in each case, on their own particular planes of matter, the satellites of the earth.
But we have there not the mental plane as you know it, where Devachan is and where your thought is working, but its corresponding sphere reflected downward as it were. There is the world as we know it, and the denser world which is part of it. As we have our astral, there is a lower astral which is denser than the dense physical, and so also you have the mental reflected down below the lower astral. There is the same correspondence in this that you have in the reflection of a mountain in a lake. The lowest part of the mountain is the highest part of the reflection, and so you look downward and downward until the apex of the mountain is the deepest point in the water—the law of reflection, of course—a perfect analogy. This is often called a devolution, instead of evolution, a proceeding downwards instead of proceeding upwards. Of course, at this stage, very few people pass downwards in this way; there is only an occasional case.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 328.
- Alfred Percy Sinnett, Esoteric Buddhism (London: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 85.
- Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 104 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 359.
- Alfred Percy Sinnett, Esoteric Buddhism (London: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 86.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 225.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 163.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 156.
- Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 114 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 393.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. V (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1997), 133-134.
- Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 68 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 192.
- Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 68 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 195.
- For more information see The Dwelling of Māra by David Reigle
- Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Christian Creed (London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1909), 168.
- Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Astral Plane, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1987), 81.
- Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Inner Life (First Series), (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1917), ???.
- Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Inner Life vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Press, 1942), 184.
- Annie Besant, Talks with a Class, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1921), 22.