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An identical claim is made by 'Seth,' a discarnate teacher who communicates through the medium Jane Roberts. According to Seth, each individual consciousness - or spark of God-consciousness - must undergo a long period of training and learning through repeated physical embodiments. Being human is simply one 'stage' in this process of development, and when, through repeated incarnations, this stage is complete, one passes onward to further planes of existence which offer more exalted opportunities for development and creative expression of the God-like qualities of love, life and truth. The most crucial lesson to be learned is karmic or ethical. Through repeated embodiments, the undeveloped individual - through ignorant selfishness - treats others with cruelty and hatred, and, in accordance with natural process, is subjected to cruelty and hatred in return. When one treats others with unconditional and selfless love and kindness, one is likewise rewarded.
The ultimate result of these lessons is spiritual development and a passage beyond physical embodiment, giving access to God-like creative powers once the entity is highly enough evolved to use these in an ethically responsible way. While he is still unevolved and would use these powers to injure, control, exploit or destroy others, he does not have access to them.
In a series of trance communications, Seth had given Jane Roberts and her husband Rob a series of 'lectures' on the nature of reality as he perceived it from a plane higher than the human. With all Seth had told them about man's potentials, they wondered why the race isn't more developed morally and spiritually. They were pretty upset about the state of the world in general. That evening, Seth came through in his usual distinct, clear voice. Among other things, Seth said:
"The responsibility for creation must be clearly understood. In physical life on earth, you are in a soundproof and isolated room. Hate creates destruction in that room, and until the lessons are learned, destruction follows destruction ... the agonies are sorely felt. You must be taught to create responsibly. Earth life is a training system for emerging consciousness. If the sorrows and agonies of your system were not felt as real, the lessons would not be learned. It is like an educational play."
In other words, in these realms beyond the human, thought and emotion can immediately create - through the causative attribute of consciousness that is the power of intention - a concrete, objectively real environment. Entities - being essentially 'of God' - do not allow themselves to enter these realms until they are highly developed enough to create 'responsibly.'
6. Dr. Grof's LSD Research
Hypnosis and deep psychoanalysis has been able to demonstrate that the subconscious mind contains not only an incredibly detailed and accurate record of present-life experiences, but similarly a whole set of past existences. Going even deeper, Stanislav Grof in the 1970's undertook remarkable research using the powerful drug LSD in the context of psychotherapeutic procedures. The results were astounding. When patients were given a series of LSD treatments, their subconscious minds yielded up memories from progressively more remote points in time. First are memories from this life, vividly re-lived, including many from foetal life in the womb and from the actual birth experience. Once these memories have been therapeutically released, the individuals then began to re-experience past human lives. Grof writes:
Although this is extraordinary enough, the evidnce from hypnotic regression will have prepared us for it. But with LSD regression we find ourselves in an even more alien and dizzying realm, for LSD subjects not infrequently report experiences as animals, plants and minerals. These experiences are typically accompanied by uncannily accurate knowledge of the nature of such creatures and structures. Grof writes:
With respect to plant experiences, Grof says:
And these experiences of existence in forms simpler than the human are not confined to biological life:
Of course, the lower you go in the chain of matter, the greater the number of 'forms' which exist. How can so many become so few? Myers has an answer:
In other words, every material form and variety of life in the universe is at a different stage in the very long process of psychic evolution. More than 'men' are brothers!
7. The Planes of Existence
After death a person enters a second, intermediate plane of existence. This is familiar from descriptions of near-death survivors who pass through a tunnel towards the light that is the third plane. As they go, memories of their entire past lives flash before them. If this contains sinister episodes and terrifying experiences, these will drift by the person's vision along with the more joyful happenings. Some persons begin at this stage to feel what is called "the earth pull, the birth pull" and the person may decide immediately to return to the earth plane. For others, they may not reach the light and remain in unconsciousness. But for most, stage two is brief and is followed by entry into a more stable world called "the plane of illusion." According to Myers, after death, most of us can expect to enter this realm. Although extraordinary, this world will not seem strange, for our dreams and our earth life will have prepared us for it. Dreams, although manufactured mysteriously by our minds, seem very real. The world of the third plane is similar, except that the 'dreams' are completely objectified. The third plane, according to Myers, consists of a subtle form of matter which is responsive to the individual's emotion and thought. And because human beings come there after years of mental and emotional immersion in earth life, the worlds their minds create are based entirely on earthly memories and desires.
The worlds of the third plane are created by thought, and so are at the same time subjective and objective. The process may be either conscious or unconscious, depending on the state of awareness of the being. In either case, what is created is based on one's deepest desires - for pleasure, for beauty, for the familiar, and the fulfillment of one's beliefs. According to Myers, people who are close to one another, and who have similar tastes and inclinations, come together in little communities where their entire world is mutually constructed. Those of a more solitary temperament may build their own worlds. Often the real nature of these thought creations is completely unknown to their creators, who simply find themselves in a world where every desire is gratified. This world, then, is a depiction of the 'heaven' or 'paradise' of the ancient theologies.
Sometimes living persons have had a preview of this plane in out-of-the-body experiences, maybe during sleep or at times of extreme threat to the body's survival. Because this 'heaven' is based on earth desires, it is a far cry from the pallid and etherealized afterlife depicted in conventional religious prints. For example, a recently-dead alcoholic may find himself surrounded by liquor in a favourite drinking environment, surrounded by congenial companions who may be other dead alcoholics or simply self-created thought-forms. Because such a person desires prolonged drunkeness, this is exactly what he will experience.
Thus the third plane is a paradise for voluptuaries. Those with intense sexual interests may have their desires gratified, surrounded by orgiasts similarly committed to the pleasures of sexual adventure. Ascetics are generously supplied, by their own minds, with bread and water. The newly-dead are utterly enchanted by this paradise. And because on this plane what is created depends entirely upon earthly tatstes, wedded to the scope and power of the creator's imagination, an almost infinite variety of different worlds can be effortlessly formed and dwelt within. This if course explains the tremendous variety of after-death descriptions received through mediums and near-death experiences related by survivors.
But there is a strange kind of limitation to this world. The effortless satisfaction of any desire can enchant for a time, but eventually it begins to bore. A sense of dissatisfaction arises, a desire for some kind of effort or challenge in contrast to this world lacking in adventure beyond trivial games, because one is not fulfilling one's higher goals. And this, in fact, seems to be the major evolutionary purpose of the third plane - to partially exhaust the possibilities of creation and desire at the level of earthly matter. At this point - which may be arrived at very quickly or after a great deal of 'time' - the individual may choose to ascend to the fourth plane, if it has become real for him due to his further development and insight, attained through experience of earthly life, bodily death and life on the third plane. Before leaving, however, the more enterprising souls may choose to experience one of the great wonders of this plane of consciousness - to view desired sections of The Akashic Record. Just as on earth one may go to a library and see newsreels of important earth events of history, so on the third plane, one may witness any event that occurred from the beginning of existence. Everything that has ever happened has been recorded by the cosmic memory. Of course, great lessons are there to be learnt.
The alternative is to choose to reincarnate again on earth because of needs that can only be fulfilled there. To help him clarify this decision, the individual undergoes a kind of karmic 'review' - similar to and yet in a way crucially different from - the 'life review' he experienced immediately following death. The individual relives the incidents of his previous life once again but this time re-experiences the emotions he felt at the time; and simulataneously he experiences the emotions of the other persons who were involved. In other words, the torturer becomes, simultaneously, both torturer and victim. It would be difficult to imagine a more instructive and chastening experience than this. He is assisted in this by a spiritual guide, who being from a higher plane, is able to perceive the subject's experiences and repressed feelings, and project them back to him. Myers writes:
This experience appears to result in enlightened decisions about the nature of the next life the individual will live, with new purposes based on the lessons he has leaned from all his experiences. This, then, is taken into the next incarnation.
9. The Higher Planes
Myers calls the fourth plane, "the world of idealized form," and when one attains this level, all desire for an earth existence is gone. Here one dwells in a realm from which no traveller returns to earth. Consciousness and existence are more intense than anything we know. This is a world of magnificent, unimagineable beauty in which the mind learns the ultimate mastery of form. Using substances, light and color unknown on earth, the mind, now god-like in its powers, learns to create an infinite variety of forms having beauty of an ultimate, unsurpassable quality. One leaves behind all rigid intellectual structures and dogmas, be they scientific, religious, or philosophical. Spiritual beings find a much wider freedom to function with more highly energized intellect and creativity, presenting challenges that are not competitive but far more fulfilling.
Since Myers had not progressed beyond the fourth plane at the time of his communication, his accounts of the higher levels of consciousness beyond this are less detailed and more speculative. He seems to have picked up enough hearsay, however, to outline with some confidence the general nature of the further advance.
If on the fourth plane the soul becomes free from the earth pull, the soul is qualified to experience cosmic ranges beyond earth's confines. One of these ranges is the next plane, the "plane of flame," in which the being explores the physical universe beyond the earth, and thus completes its knowledge of matter. In the fifth plane, one acquires a body of flame, enabling him to tour the stellar universe without being harmed by its temperatures and turbulence and to return with a fuller experience of these cosmic reaches.
The sixth plane is the "plane of light". Individuals on this plane are matured spirits, having lived through, with conscious understanding, all the aspects of the created universe and wrought every variety of mentally-created form. They are capable of passing beyond matter and form, of existing as white light, as pure thought.
But one step now remains - the final passage to the ultimate plane of being, the achievement of the last goal on an infinitely long path of personal evolution. It is important to remember at this point that Myers was not a religious man. His lifelong commitment was to experience, and to the teachings of experience. What he reports from beyond the grave he has either experienced himself or been told of by those more highly evolved than he. Myers called this last goal the seventh plane, and he said that when one enters it, he becomes a part of God. He writes:
It is clear that Mankind still has a long way to go to achieve the required enlightenment for the game on earth to move on to a higher level. Indeed, in some ways, we in Western cultures have gone backwards. But for the individual there is a unique personal choice: to remain a human being or to undertake spiritual development and attempt to achieve - in this lifetime - a transcendence of the human state. The tools of The Insight Project are intended to accelerate the process of development, so instead of many lifetimes of roller-coaster struggle, you can learn the lessons necessary to evolve to higher planes, even to the Godhead, within this life.
These pages are closely based on the final chapter of the book, "You Cannot Die: The Incredible Findings of a Century of Research on Death" by Ian Currie.
Frederic Myers wrote the classic book, "Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death".