After Death States
These levels are commonly referred to after death states (although we can experience some of them in human incarnations too): It is speculative, especially about the higher realms, as they are something of which none of us has full knowledge.
The spirit began a journey many eons ago to explore the whole universe. By so exploring it, the spirit gradually gains wisdom and 'evolves' to existing on the higher planes, or in a higher form of consciousness.
We began as mineral spirits, perhaps controlling an atom or molecule, and gradually evolved to plants. From there, after countless reincanations we evolved to animal forms. We then took on human form. Although this is often described as the crown of God's creation, it is not very high at all. At this time, there are spiritual beings that are being minerals, plants, animals, and human beings. We are all at different levels of development. Within the human state, (and within each state) there are many variations of the degree of spiritual development. We are born and re-born in each state many times while we learn the lessons we have to learn in that state. In the normal course of things we progress as follows:
Yet from the Plane of Illusion, we have the opportunity to move upwards and away from this cycle and do not accept rebirth.
We live in a world we call three dimensional, which is composed of matter, energy, space, time and form. In our normal Earthly state we can perceive the agreed-upon universe through our sense of sight, hearing, feeling and smell-tast. We are aware sometimes of other forms of knowing, but basically we use these senses to learn about our world. In this world these ways of knowing are the main ways we learn and know.
When we go to the Plane of Illusion, which is the normal place we go after death, we are no longer limited by matter. This is sometimes called the Magical Universe. We create our world and our thoughts become reality. This is not really the agreed-upon matter of our Earthly life, but can appear just as real. We get the world we want and we might play in it alone, perhaps creating thought forms, or play with other people (who are now spirits).
We are freed of the restrictions of life on Earth where we have to take reality as-is and are somewhat limited in making our own reality. In the plane of illusion we have no such limitations and create whatever world we wish. We can create a world of sexual fulfilment, sadism, drunkenness, become master businessmen, warriors, Olympic champions ... whatever we want. For some people this world of illusion can be Heaven or Valhalla, or whatever they believe. We are free to do whatever we wish, and here is the rub. We can create extreme negative Karma.
Some people on death, go into a state of unconsciousness. They have no awareness of the Earthly world or the spirit world. They are just unconscious. Sometimes other spirits can revive them and help them move to the Plane of Illusion. Sometimes living mediums can contact them and enable them to awaken.
Others, on death, wander in a world of darkness without being aware of anything. They are not unconscious but they wander alone and lost. Unaware they are dead, and unaware of any world. Such beings can call upon other spirits to help them. If they persist someone will lead them out of this state.
Yet others are aware of the Earth and remain as ghosts. They too might not know they are dead, or they might not realise they can progress to the Plane of Illusion. Some remain, even knowing they are dead, and act maliciously towards living people.
Some can live in a world, a kind of Hell, where they practice the bad things they enjoy doing, such as hurting others. Yet they will play in this world with those who equally are able to hurt them. For example, a woman enjoys having affairs with married men and then reveals the affair and leaves the man and his wife in a state of conflict and misery. She claims she is an innocent victim of seduction. In her world, though, she would play with those who were just as good at this as she was. Many times, she would enjoy being the seductress, but just as often being the victim. The repetition of the scene with her as the cause and the effect of her behaviour gives her the opportunity of learning. After a while, this world becomes dull or too unpleasant and she would seek rebirth after a Soul Review.
However, it is possible that she could learn her lesson, and realise she is in the Plane of Illusion and move to the Plane of Forms. Actually, the Plane of Form Only.
In the spirit world, or Plane of Illusion, we have released our dependence on the use of agreed-upon matter and live in a world of apparently-real spiritual substance, which we can change at will. When we develop from this state, we can enter the Plane of Forms, or the Plane of Mind. Here we become free of the Earth-pull, the desire to reincarnate. We live in a world of relationships between ideas and things. We begin to learn how things come together, or to related in the way they are.
For example, when we love, we create a loved-person. This secondary creation is one we would be prepared to accept. When we hate, we create a hated-person, and this is something we do not want. In creating an 'ideal world' we need to create those things which result in what is desirable. Then we can make progress. In war, a king might wish to conquer, and succeed in conquering, and this has created a state of being-conquered - something the king does not want. He wanted part of his creation - to conquer. But he didn't want the other part - being-conquered. He will, however, experience all aspects of his creation. Had he created what was wanted, then he would have begun to create an 'ideal world'. Such is the world of forms, or ideals, where we can begin to learn the nature of our previous life on Earth. (We can also learn this on Earth too!)
Edgar Cayce gave many examples through his life readings of those who had suffered as above. In one case, a bed-wetting boy had been a witch-hunting priest - dunking suspected witches in the village pond to test them. In his present life he dunked himself in urine! (Cayce advised a treatment which cured this difficult condition.)
In another case, an obese girl had been an athlete in a previous life. She had mocked and scorned those who did not have beautiful bodies. In her present life she became the effect of what she had created - an obese unattractive girl (although she had a pretty face). Cayce's advice enabled her to create a beautiful body.
Now, at the Plane of Forms, sometimes called the 4th level, we are really making progress. We begin to understand Karma and how this world is formed.
Near this level is the Akashic record - the record of everything which is, has ever been, and will ever be. The record of all things. The Akashic record has many appearances, but is often symbolic. By being able to read its symbols, you can read its meaning. Some living people have been able to access the Akashic record and tell the future, make great discoveries, etc.
Above the Realm of Forms, is the Realm of Flame - the Formless Realm. Here matter, and form are gradually given up and the new world beyond forms begins to be experiences. The being might complete its learning by studying and being the stars and galaxies. Here the spirit can practice the use and control of vast energies over vast periods of time and over great distances in space. The being becomes a master of space and time and prepares itself for existence at a level where the reliance on energy is greately diminished. This is the Plane of Light.
By learning about and being able to give up agreed-upon-matter, form, and energy, the being moves into the Realm of Light, of Pure Thought without Form or Substance. Although the previous Realm of Forms is a great development on Worldly living, it is, like all the levels, somewhat limited. The Realm of Form is a Realm of Love, because love does not create undesirable effects or creations. Yet Form, even, is flawed, and does not result in the 'perfect world' (However wonderful and perfect it might seem to us). The being must give up form and begin the master learning to prepare itself to relinquish even space and time (At the Seventh level). To do so it must progress through the Realm of Flame to the Realm of Light. At this level of Pure Thought, it relies only minimally on rarified energy. It is impossible to describe level of knowing without a knower, without form, or substance.
When a being can relinquish matter, energy, form, space and time then it can enter, or has attained the Seventh Level. It is somewhat like the description of the Buddhist Nirvana, although no Earthly being has attained anything like this state. It can only be progressed to in the spiritual planes. It is quite unknown to us and quite undescribable. Lao Tse, said that those who know do not talk, and those who talk do not know. At this level, it is almost true. Nothing coherent can be said about this level. (Although there is no harm in mentioning it and talking about it, even if we do not have the words. Silence and keeping such knowledge secret is not something that helps us on Earth!)