Will a student of Theosophy have a different type of after-death experience than the average Devachanic experience?
The latter – the temporary “heaven” state between incarnations – is described in this way by H. P. Blavatsky:
“The Ego is, so to say, wedded to the memory of its last incarnation. Thus, if you think over what I have said, and string all the facts together, you will realize that the Devachanic state is not one of omniscience, but a transcendental continuation of the personal life just terminated. It is the rest of the soul from the toils of life.” (“The Key to Theosophy” p. 156)
More can be read under the heading “DEVACHAN – ITS NATURE, PURPOSE, AND EXPERIENCES” in the compilation article When We Die.
Those who are Mahatmas, Adepts, and direct, initiated, accepted chelas (disciples) of the Masters, generally preserve an unbroken continuity of consciousness which is not affected by either sleep or death and thus when their body dies they continue to function consciously on an astral level – primarily doing work that will help humanity – until such a time as they need to take up physical embodiment again on this material plane of ours.
But the fact of being a Theosophist does not automatically equate to being such an advanced soul as that.
And of course, just belonging to a Theosophical organisation doesn’t automatically make a person a true Theosophist either . . . nor even necessarily a better person. It is the endeavour to study, practice, apply, live, and spread, the Theosophical teachings (the original and authentic ones) which takes us closer to being a true Theosophist, literally a “DivineWisdom-ist.”
Yet although we may not have become direct, initiated, accepted, and conscious chelas, and although almost all of us as serious and devoted students of Theosophy are likely to have at least some sort of Devachanic state after death (if we are still influenced at all by illusions in life, we will still experience “illusions” after death, as the after-death state is just a “world of effects”), nonetheless –
“All workers for the Lodge, no matter of what degree, are helped out of Devachan if they themselves permit it.” (“Conversations with H.P.B.” published by William Q. Judge in the “Conversations on Occultism” series)
So if in life we have been actually working for Theosophy and the Masters’ Cause – and “the Lodge” in this context means the collective Lodge or Brotherhood of the Masters of Wisdom rather than any particular physical Lodge, although that can be part of it – and if we die with the hope and intent of continuing such work in the next lifetime, then that can aid the Masters to somehow or other get us out of the Devachanic condition and back into incarnation sooner than would happen otherwise.
If They see that we do need some time in Devachan then They would not take us out of it prematurely but would do so once They see that we have had as much as we need and are capable of starting another incarnation.
And in that next incarnation we may not have any conscious memory or awareness of any of this; often we do not need to have it, but for some there will be glimpses and understandings about this.
There are two other passages we know of on this subject:
“The Mahatma, a being who has developed all his powers and is free from illusion, can go into the devachanic state and then communicate with the Egos there. Such is one of their functions, . . . They deal with certain entities in devachan for the purpose of getting them out of the state so as to return to earth for the benefit of the race. The Egos they thus deal with are those whose nature is great and deep but who are not wise enough to be able to overcome the natural illusions of devachan.” (William Q. Judge, “The Ocean of Theosophy” p. 116)
“Entities are kept in devachan by the very force of their blissful state; they have no incentive to come out of it; . . . Such is the case with the generality of beings, but if an entity of strong and clean nature enters the state with the desire to be of help on earth in a body, he may be aroused from his sleep to assume a body by those Adepts whose function it is to perform such services. These Adepts are beings free from all delusion and themselves not in the devachanic state, but able to act consciously on any and all planes of being. Hence they, and they alone, can come in actual contact with beings in devachan.” (Robert Crosbie, “Answers to Questions on The Ocean of Theosophy” p. 171)
Many tremendous and significant workers for Theosophy and the Theosophical Movement, of the type described above, have come and gone since the inception of the modern Movement in 1875. Some have already come back and left again, others are here now, and others must be liable to be returning to Earth life in the coming years and decades, with the Masters’ aid.
A myriad of names are known of earnest and devoted labourers during the time of HPB and Mr Judge and a still larger amount have worked in and through the United Lodge of Theosophists since Robert Crosbie established it 110 years ago, in 1909. Most of their names are unknown to all but a few, or in some cases now entirely forgotten, due to the ULT practice of maintaining anonymity and impersonality as much as reasonably possible in Theosophical work.
But what they have done and what they aspire to continue to do is surely known in the right quarters and they will reappear on the scene to carry on their work, if their and the Movement’s Karma permits.
Such can only be the logical conclusion when one comprehends what Theosophy means by the Skandhas and in particular the Skandha known as the Samskaras or “mental deposits.” Also, in chapter six of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna:
“The man whose devotion has been broken off by death goeth to the regions of the righteous, . . . and is then born again on earth . . . Being thus born again he comes in contact with the knowledge which belonged to him in his former body, and from that time he struggles more diligently towards perfection, . . . For even unwittingly, by reason of that past practice, he is led and works on.” (p. 51, William Q. Judge rendition, published by Theosophy Company)
Naturally, “workers for the Lodge” are not limited solely to the modern Theosophical Movement, for the Masters’ Work has been present in all ages and nations and in numerous different avenues and channels.
As we have seen, what is being described here is not avoiding Devachan altogether but being “helped out” of it, with one’s prior permission or consent, after a certain relatively short time has passed. As for avoiding the state of Devachan completely, Mr Judge repeats the point we made earlier:
“Staying out of Devachan is for those who are really pledged and accepted and not merely for those who aspire.” (“Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 187)