Death and The Afterlife

Q. I have always been afraid of death and dying. What will happen to me when I die, according to the teachings of Madame Blavatsky and the Masters presented in Theosophy? What did they say about it?

A. First of all, there is nothing to worry about. You will never die. The only part of you which will actually die when the change or transition commonly known as “death” takes place is the physical body . . . and this is nothing more than your outer shell anyway.

The famous poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye says in part: “Do not stand at my grave and weep; I am not there, I do not sleep . . . do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there, I did not die.”

The true “I” of your being will never die. Your astral body will eventually disintegrate when the very last particle of the dead physical body disintegrates. Also, the prana (vitality, life energy) which now animates your physical body and keeps you in physical incarnation will return after death to the universal prana.

But still you – the soul – will never die.

In the very last moments of life, when the body appears dead for all intents and purposes, everything you did, said, thought, and experienced in the life just ended will pass in perfect clarity before your inner vision. You will see the absolute justice and fairness of everything that happened to you in life and how everything proceeded exactly as it should have done, according to the unfailing law of cause and effect, action and reaction, known as Karma.

Then the cord or link connecting your physical body with its vitalising astral double will break and this is what brings about real physical death. This causes such shock to the soul that the next part of the process will then take place unconsciously to yourself.

Unconsciously you will enter into Kama Loka, which is the psychic atmosphere or “astral plane” surrounding and to some extent interpenetrating the physical plane.

How long you will remain there can be determined by various factors but primarily by the degree of sensuality and material attraction that characterised the life just lived. What takes place there is the separation between your lower, sensual, material nature and your higher and more spiritual nature.

The lower, sensual, more material side of your nature cannot enter into the heaven state and so it has to be cast off there in the intermediate state of Kama Loka. The more spiritually and less materially and sensually inclined and oriented, the swifter this will happen. It may only take a matter of minutes or, more usually, several hours, days, weeks, occasionally months – or, less frequently, even several years – depending on the preponderance of the lower nature over the higher.

But you will not be conscious while all this is going on. Only in very rare exceptions and unnatural deaths is there a return to consciousness in Kama Loka. When the break between the lower and the higher eventually occurs, this is known figuratively speaking as the “second death.”

This will inevitably cause further shock to the soul and so you will then enter into what is known as the “gestation state,” a period and state of profound rest and inner recuperation, deeper than the deepest sleep you can presently imagine. We cannot speculate as to how long this might last but in some cases it is far longer than we might think.

Meanwhile, the elements of your lower nature, now coalesced into a type of psychic shell, remain in Kama Loka. Your soul – which in Theosophy is often called the Ego, using that word in its true and literal sense – has moved on and joined itself with your higher and spiritual nature.

The shell in Kama Loka is known as the Kama Rupa, meaning “desire form.” It is soulless and any surviving intelligence it has is basic and automatic. It has no individual consciousness of its own. It is just the amalgamation of the dregs of the lower nature from the lifetime just ended.

It will remain in Kama Loka until all its remaining passion and force completely wears out and then it will disintegrate entirely and remain only in the form of skandhas – most easily thought of as “Karmic seeds” – which will later reunite for your next rebirth. This disintegration of what has been called the “astral shell” (but which should not be confused with the astral body) may take weeks, months, or years, again determined by the force and amount of sensuality.

We have to hope that none of your surviving friends or loved ones will try to make contact with you after the death of your physical body. It will be impossible for your soul to be reached or communicated with by those on earth. The laws of Nature ensure that you will not be subject or victim to the misguided efforts of those left behind to make contact with you or drag you back to the physical considerations of earth life.

Any type of spiritualism, mediumship, and channelling is always dangerous and detrimental, particularly to the people doing it.

Although they will most likely not realise it, it is only your Kama Rupa they will have any chance of reaching. They will mistake this soulless shell for the real you because of its ability to automatically repeat certain facts, details, characteristics, and information which you possessed during that lifetime. The life span of the Kama Rupa in Kama Loka will be prolonged as a result of such meddlesome interference, and undesirable situations and problems may potentially arise. Perhaps it would be wise, before you pass away, to ask your family members and loved ones – if there is a likelihood of their doing so – to not try to make contact with you once you are gone.

The real you will eventually emerge from the gestation state and enter into the heaven state which Theosophy calls by the Tibetan word “Devachan” rather than “Heaven.” Consciousness returns at the door of Devachan. It is not a location or a plane but a state. It is actually quite different from the popular religious conceptions of Heaven.

For a start, everyone has their own personal Devachanic state and each of us creates it for ourselves – though without realising it – out of our own consciousness and within our own consciousness. It is the exact representation and experience of what you had believed, hoped, and expected Heaven or the afterlife to be like while you were still alive on earth.

It is a perfect state of the utmost bliss, peace, and joy. There is not even the faintest shadow, hint, or trace of sorrow, disappointment, suffering, or pain there. Everyone and everything you had hoped to be there will be there because it is your own mental creation. Even your loved ones who you left behind on earth when you died and who are still physically alive will be there in your state of Devachan. They will not really be there but they will seem to be there, so vivid and realistic that you will never be inclined to question the matter or to doubt the reality of your experience for even one moment.

This is necessary in order for it to be a state of the highest possible bliss for you. Those of your loved ones who had passed on before you will also be there in your Devachanic state, regardless of how long ago and even regardless of whether they have already reincarnated again.

Again, they will not really be there but they will seem to be there, as perfectly vivid and realistic as when you were with them on the physical plane. Some of them will be having their own Devachan at the same time as you are having yours but the law of perfect justice and bliss requires that we each have our own personal or private Devachan, entirely of our own making. So there is no actual interaction or communication between departed souls but you will be represented there, as real as life, in your loved one’s Devachanic state just as they will be in yours. Such a height of healing justice and happiness-ensurance as this, is not found in any religion’s teaching about the afterlife.

In Devachan there is no memory or awareness of having died or even of there being such a thing as death. Bliss, peace, and joy prevails unfailingly throughout. Being a temporary, subjective, and self-created experience, it is really a type of dream but a dream as vivid, tangible, and well defined as life on earth.

The duration of your stay in the Devachanic state of consciousness will be in exact accordance with the amount and force of the good or positive Karma that you accrued during the preceding lifetime. This is what sustains and prolongs your Devachanic experience. This will naturally vary greatly from person to person. For you, Devachan may last 1,000 years or even longer. Alternatively it may perhaps last several hundred years or just several decades. Some people return to earth life after just a few years or sometimes even less, primarily if the attraction for physical and material existence is a strong force within their soul . . . or, in rarer cases, where there exists a strong and compassionate wish or vow to be reincarnated as soon as possible, to continue helping, teaching, or serving humanity.

Either way, your Devachanic state will eventually begin to fade out and draw to a close, coinciding with the process of the reincarnation of your soul, from conception, through pregnancy, and finally culminating in your rebirth on the physical plane.

You will then have dropped and discarded forever the personality and persona of the previous lifetime and will be embarking upon a new lifetime, incarnated in, through, and as a brand new persona, shaped and determined by your own past Karma. And so the journey of ongoing inner evolution and unfoldment continues. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “The end of birth is death; the end of death is birth.”

I hope you feel reassured now that death is not the end and birth is not the beginning.

This was a brief summary and overview of what H. P. Blavatsky and her Adept Teachers have to say about death and the afterlife. If you would like to explore the Theosophical teachings on death in more detail, you are invited to take a look at the article When We Die. The over 300 other articles on this website are sure to help answer any questions that may have arisen while reading this, so please visit the Articles page where they are listed in categories by general topic.

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16 thoughts on “Death and The Afterlife

  1. Can souls stay in the astral world for very long time periods and refuse to reincarnate?

    1. Hello Richard, it’s possible that you may find some answers to this question in the article “What happens to people who commit Suicide?” at

      Those who commit suicide and those whose lives are ended in some other violent way are likely to spend a lengthier period after death in Kama Loka (i.e. the astral world) than those who die a natural death. The reason for this is explained in the article on suicide. They will in many cases be quite conscious in Kama Loka, whereas the average person passes through Kama Loka after death in a virtually, if not entirely, unconscious state.

      However, even the suicide, the murder victim, and others who meet a sudden and violent end, will not stay in Kama Loka any longer than the number of years remaining of the destined duration of that lifetime. After that period they are due to pass into Devachan and to eventually reincarnate, like everyone else.

      Theosophy teaches that the Law of Karma and evolution is such that reincarnation cannot be refused or avoided by anyone. The only individuals who possess sufficient power and ability to – in the words of your question – “stay in the astral world for very long time periods and refuse to reincarnate” are Adepts, of either the “good” or “bad” variety, i.e. White Magicians and Black Magicians.

      An Adept in White Magic would only wish to stay out of physical incarnation for a lengthy period of time if they saw and knew for definite that by doing so they would be able to help, serve, and benefit humanity more effectively “from the other side” than by reincarnating. Eventually the time would come when, under Karmic Law, they would HAVE to reincarnate and they would do so gladly, since they live solely to benefit mankind and wish only to work along in the best and most suitable way with the Law of Evolution and Progress.

      An evil and selfish Adept, however, would have no interest in helping humanity and his motive for using his powers in an attempt to delay his reincarnation would be in order to put off as long as possible the reaping on Earth of the just Karmic consequences of his past evil actions and misuse of the Laws of Nature and to wreak havoc or cause trouble and mayhem from the astral plane. He may potentially be able to evade reincarnation for many centuries but definitely not forever…and by deliberately evading and avoiding it through such means and motives he is creating even worse Karma for himself.

      The difference between an Adept and an average person at death is that the Adept remains fully conscious throughout the whole process, knowing and understanding exactly what’s happening, whereas this is not the case for the average person.

      I hope this lengthy reply helps to answer your question in some way!

  2. I was wondering how mediums that contact the dead often are able to provide validation of current events in the life of the person being read. How is this possible, if according to theosophic teachings, the medium can only contact Suicide or accident victims, yet many people being read have relatives that died of old age.

    1. To quote from part of the article:

      “Any type of spiritualism, mediumship, and channelling is always dangerous and detrimental, particularly to the people doing it.
      Although they will most likely not realise it, it is only your Kama Rupa they will have any chance of reaching. They will mistake this soulless shell for the real you because of its ability to automatically repeat certain facts, details, characteristics, and information which you possessed during that lifetime. The life span of the Kama Rupa in Kama Loka will be prolonged as a result of such meddlesome interference, and undesirable situations and problems may potentially arise.”

      The Kama Rupa or astral shell which the medium may contact will most likely contain within it certain knowledge of details about the loved one(s) who that person left behind, although this would almost always be in relation to things that had already happened before that person’s death.

      We should emphasise, for sake of clarity, that Theosophy does not say that mediums can only contact suicide or accident victims. On the contrary, it teaches that mediums most frequently come in contact with astral shells.

      Another potential answer to your question is that a medium, having at least some degree of psychic perception, will in certain cases be able to perceive by themselves some of the current events in the life of the person they are dealing with. We do not deny that mediums and psychics have certain special abilities; we simply say that in 99% of cases they do not properly understand, interpret, or apply those abilities. Many mediums, having uncontrolled and semi-hysterical imaginations, attribute many of their own natural psychic perceptions to all sorts of external entities, be it departed souls, angels, or even “God”! HPB emphasised that no medium whatsoever can ever be trusted or taken at their word, regardless of how good and sincere they may be.

      You may possibly like to read the article “The Psychic is not the Spiritual” at

      Thank you for your question!

      1. How can a psychic be able to give you information on future events which do actually come true within your life with actual names, christian and surname, whom you do meet with years later but do not at the time of the reading.

        1. Hello Glenn, many psychics are unreliable but as you say, some are indeed able to provide accurate information.

          Theosophy attributes this to the astral light, a term used to refer to the psychic atmosphere that surrounds and to some extent interpenetrates this physical plane. The astral light, like a sort of universal memory tablet, contains the records and images of everything from the past as well as information regarding the future for those things which are already sufficiently and definitely determined by one’s own Karma.

          In most cases, accuracy on the part of a psychic means an ability to see to a certain extent in the astral light. However, only an initiate or Adept has perfectly clear – even infallible – perception of everything they may need to see and know from all seven planes or degrees of the astral light.

          There’s rarely any necessity for ourselves to try to find out from others what our future holds for us. Whatever it may hold is of our own making and is what we have earned and deserved through our past deeds, thoughts, and words, and we thus have to face it calmly and confidently, knowing that everything proceeds according to Law and that Law is perfect justice.

  3. I regularly have lucid dreams and can control my dreams quite well at times.
    When I’m “dead” I assume it’ll be the same experience since this ability is part of my soul.
    What’s your take on lucid dreams?

    1. Thank you for your comment and questions.

      From the perspective of Theosophy, a “lucid dream” is the individual becoming conscious – to some extent – on the astral plane while the physical body is in a state of dormancy or sleep.

      In other words, one is astrally conscious whilst being physically unconscious, although one is aware of the fact of that physical unconsciousness seeing as one is functioning on a higher level than the physical, i.e. the plane above the physical, which we may call the astral or psychic realm. It is also possible to be conscious of the state of one’s physical body and physical surroundings even while conscious and active on the astral plane, such as in a lucid dream.

      It is not possible for us to speculate on what your afterlife state will be like. Yet there is nothing in the teachings to suggest that one can consciously “control” one’s Kama Loka or Devachanic states. Those who are in Devachan do not even have the awareness that they are no longer alive on the Earth. The after-death states are states of effects rather than states of causes.

      Even if someone has the abilities that you mention, it doesn’t at all mean that they have gone beyond all illusion and delusion…and it is only those who HAVE surpassed all of that who are beyond the need or possibility of having a Devachan and they are those who we speak of as the “Masters” and “Adepts.”

      If you haven’t already read “When We Die” ( this is recommended for further explanation and clarification.

  4. cant say it makes me feel any better – Devachan sounds like virtual reality

    1. Thank you for your comment Lilith. Things are not always the way we would like them to be. In fact, they very rarely are! Your description of the state of Devachan as “virtual reality” is actually quite correct. But when we finally transcend our illusions and re-become in consciousness Who and What we really are, our experience will no longer be a dreamlike virtual reality but REALITY ITSELF.

  5. Hello and thank you for creating this site. My question is, should the human race become extinct for some reason before we are able to reincarnate, what happens then? Thanks for your time

  6. Hello again. Another question that occurred to me. If we were convinced we would go to “hell” when we die, and have horrific fears of what the afterlife will hold for us, how do we escape possible creating our own hell if the afterlife is what we envision it to be? I do come from a heavily fundamentalist background, and some of its effects are hard to shake off. Thanks

    1. Thank you for your comments and questions Marion.

      You may possibly find it interesting to read the article “Answers, Ideas, Suggestions” at Amongst other things it deals with the question of whether the Earth will ever be destroyed and says:

      “As for our planet, it will never be fully destroyed or rendered uninhabitable as long as humanity still needs it…and the Theosophical teaching is that the Earth goes through seven major evolutionary cycles, each lasting extremely long periods of time. We are still only just over halfway, i.e. we are in what is known as the Fourth Round. It has taken millions upon millions of years to reach to this point and it will take millions more to reach to the end of the Seventh Round. As bad as things may possibly get in the future, the planet will not be destroyed but will continue to exist until the close of the Seventh Round.”

      For clarification on these technicalities, you can see such articles as “Chains, Globes, Rounds and Root Races” at and “Human Evolution in The Secret Doctrine” at

      As far as I can see, it is safe to say that, from the perspective of Theosophical teachings, as long as human beings still have Karma to work out on this planet, there is no chance of the human race becoming extinct.

      Theosophy says that the only hell is a life of Karmic suffering in physically incarnated life here on this Earth. The Devachanic state is a blissful and heavenly one for all. The most likely outcome for someone convinced that they are destined for hell is the possible experiencing of psychological, emotional, and psychic disturbances resulting from this, in the next life.

      If you haven’t done so already, please take a look at the compilation titled “When We Die.” It should help to answer other questions you may have:

  7. How does a soul know if he or she is still alive or has allready passed? I notice that i cannot grasp the full contents of both the more complex but also the simpler version of the text provided. Can a soul also be born in the astral plane? Live an entire life in the astral plane? I have some reasons to inquire after this especially. Many thanks in advance for an answer….

    1. Estella, please don’t worry about not being able to fully grasp what’s said in “Death and the Afterlife” and “When We Die.”

      You are welcome to ask any questions that may help you to understand more clearly.

      You asked:

      (1) “How does a soul know if he or she is still alive or has allready passed?”

      Sometimes people who hear or read about Devachan ask “How can I know that I’m not in Devachan right now?” The answer usually given is to remind the enquirer that according to the Theosophical teachings Devachan is a state of such perfect and all-encompassing bliss that the soul no longer has any knowledge or awareness of there even being such a thing as death or suffering. It “forgets” that it has passed through the process of death and hence in Devachan it enjoys an awareness only of life, peace, bliss, and joy, which is what it experiences in this heavenly “dream state” that it has unwittingly created for itself out of its own consciousness. Looking at the world around us, as also at our life experiences and memories, and the fact that we are able to think in terms of “Devachan” and conditions DIFFERENT from Devachan, is sufficient evidence that at present we are certainly still alive on Earth. But what about the intermediate state of Kama Loka, which is passed through between physical death and entering Devachan? As has been explained, the vast majority pass through Kama Loka in a wholly or predominantly unconscious state and are thus not really aware of their astral surroundings. So this too should suggest that we are not in Kama Loka currently. Hopefully this helps to answer that question.

      (2) “Can a soul also be born in the astral plane? Live an entire life in the astral plane?”

      The answer partly depends on what you really mean here by “born” and “an entire life.” In terms of the Karmic cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, passed through by each human soul, the incarnations occur HERE, on the physical material plane, and not on the astral plane or anywhere else. But in terms of cases of suicide, violent death, and so forth, as described in the articles here, a soul may end up spending a large part of its Karmically allotted incarnated period in the astral realm rather than the physical, if it is separated from its physical body prematurely. Aside from this, Theosophy shows us that there are also certain beings who live in the astral plane for very extended periods of time but these are usually Adepts and their disciples and colleagues, both of the good and bad variety.

      If you haven’t previously read it, you may possibly gain further clarification from reading “What Happens To People Who Commit Suicide?” at

  8. @secretdoctrine. Many thanks for your extensive answer. Truly insightful. For sure not yet in Devachan, that much is clear.

    I cannot answer the question for myself about Kama Loka, since i cannot determine how conscious i am at this point in time.

    I am fairly sure not to have actually committed suicide during this lifetime. I had a near death experience when i was about 35 if i remember correctly, an unpleasant one, but it happened naturally. I literally fought my way back, when i fell in an unnatural sleep after having exercised, from a greyish dimension, from where it was difficult for me to return.

    I did pick up somewhere though that having had a near death experience can allow a person to be more conscious of changes on an astral level.

    I had a car accident in which i was brought away by an ambulance about a year ago and since that time i noticed increasing changes and synchronicities but also involvement of darker energies. Let us say the astral world made now a full appearance. This means also amongst other things a strong spiritual regrowth , gaining of insights and a process forcing me to lay off long existing fears inside myself.

    It made me wonder if i had somehow died and not being aware of that fact.

    I had an enlightenment experience, which might have been a trial path as Blavatsky describes it, when i was in the beginning of my 20s. This lasted for about 3 months until i fell out of that state because of making a decision out of love for another but against what i felt to be the natural order of things.

    On 27 september i had another near death experience it seems, because on that date i had to fight back my consciousness again to “reality” from the deepest darkness it felt. It made me scared, because i realized that if i did not go back immediately i would not be able to regain consciousness.

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