When spiritual sight is developed so that it becomes possible to behold the Desire World, many wonders confront the newcomer, for conditions there are so widely different from what they are here that a description must sound quite as incredible as a fairy tale to anyone who has not himself seen them.
Many cannot believe that such a world exists, and that other people can see that which is invisible to them, yet some people are blind to the beauties of this world which we see. A man who was born blind, may say to us: "I know that this world exists. I can hear, I can smell, I can taste, and above all I can feel, but when you speak of light and of color, they are non-existent to me. You say that you see these things. I cannot believe it for I cannot see myself. You say that light and color are all about me, but none of the senses at my command reveal them to me and I do not believe that the sense you call sight exists. I think you suffer from hallucinations." We might sympathize very sincerely with the poor man who is thus afflicted, but his skepticisms, reasonings, objections, and sneers notwithstanding, we would be obliged to maintain that we perceive light and color.
The man or woman whose spiritual sight has been awakened is in a similar position with respect to those who do not perceive the Desire World of which he or she speaks. If the blind man acquires the faculty of sight by an operation, his eyes are opened and he will be compelled to assert the existence of light and color which he formerly denied, and when spiritual sight is acquired by anyone, he also perceives for himself the facts related by others. Neither is it an argument against the existence of spiritual realms that seers are at variance in their descriptions of conditions in the invisible world. We need but to look into books on travel and compare stories brought home by explorers of China, India, or Africa; we shall find them differing widely and often contradictory, because each traveler saw things from his own standpoint, under other conditions than those met by his brother authors. We maintain that the man who has read most widely these varying tales concerning a certain country and wrestled with the contradictions of narrators, will have a more comprehensive idea of the country or people of whom he has read, than the man who has read only one story assented to by all the authors. Similarly, the varying stories of visitors to the Desire World are of value, because giving a fuller view, and more rounded, than if all had seen things from the same angle.
In this world matter and force are widely different. The chief characteristic of matter here is inertia: the tendency to remain at rest until acted upon by a force which sets it in motion. In the Desire World, on the contrary, force and matter are almost indistinguishable one from the other. We might almost describe desire-stuff as force-matter, for it is in incessant motion, responsive to the slightest feeling of a vast multitude of beings which populate this wonderful world in nature. We often speak of the "teeming millions" of China and India, even of our vast cities, London, New York, Paris, or Chicago; we consider them overcrowded in the extreme, yet even the densest population of any spot on Earth is sparsely inhabited compared with the crowded conditions of the Desire World. No inconvenience is felt by any of the denizens of that realm, however, for, while in this world two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time, it is different there. A number of people and things may exist in the same place at the same time and be engaged in most diverse activities, regardless of what others are doing, such is the wonderful elasticity of desire-stuff. As an illustration we may mention a case where the writer, while attending a religious service, plainly perceived at the altar certain beings interested in furthering that service and working to achieve that end. At the same time there drifted through the room and the altar, a table at which four persons were engaged in playing cards. They were as oblivious to the existence of the beings engaged in furthering our religious service, as though these did not exist.
The Desire World is the abode of those who have died, for some time subsequent to that event, and we may mention in the above connection that the so-called "dead" very often stay for a long while among their still living friends. Unseen by their relatives they go about the familiar rooms. At first they are often unaware of the condition mentioned: that two persons may be in the same place at the same time, and when they seat themselves in a chair or at the table, a living relative may take the supposedly vacant seat. The man we mistakenly call dead will at first hurry out of his seat to escape being sat upon, but he soon learns that being sat upon does not hurt him in his altered condition, and that he may remain in his chair regardless of the fact that his living relative is also sitting there.
In the lower regions of the Desire World the whole body of each being may be seen, but in the highest regions only the head seems to remain. Raphael, who like many other people in the Middle Ages was gifted with a so-called second sight, pictured that condition for us in his Sistine Madonna, where Madonna and the Christ-child are represented as floating in a golden atmosphere and surrounded by a host of genie-heads: conditions which the occult investigator knows to be in harmony with actual facts.
Among the entities who are, so to speak, "native" to that realm of nature, none are perhaps better known to the Christian world than the Archangels. These exalted Beings were human at a time in the Earth's history when we were yet plant-like. Since then we have advanced two steps; through the animal and to the human stage of development. The present Archangels have also made two steps in progression; one, in which they were similar to what the Angels are now, and another step which made them what we call Archangels.
Their densest body, though differing from ours in shape, and made of desire-stuff, is used by them as a vehicle of consciousness in the same manner that we use our body. They are expert manipulators of forces in the Desire World, and these forces, as we shall see, move all the world to action. Therefore the Archangels work with humanity industrially and politically as arbitrators of the destiny of peoples and nations. The Angels may be said to be Family Spirits, whose mission is to unite a few Spirits as members of a family, and cement them with ties of blood and love of kin, while the Archangels may be called race and national spirits, as they unite whole nations by patriotism or love of home and country. They are responsible for the rise and fall of nations, they give war or peace, victory or defeat, as it serves the best interest of the people they rule. This we may see, for instance, from the book of Daniel, where the Archangel Michael is called the prince of the children of Israel. Another Archangel tells Daniel (in the tenth chapter) that he intends to fight the prince of Persia by means of the Greeks.
There are varying grades of intelligence among human beings; some are qualified to hold lofty positions entirely beyond the ability of others. So it is also among higher beings. Not all Archangels are fitted to govern a nation and rule the destiny of a race, people, or tribe; some are not fitted to rule human beings at all, but as the animals also have a desire nature, these lower grades of Archangels govern the animals as Group Spirits and evolve to higher capacity thereby.
The ancient Egyptians knew of these animal Group spirits and sketched many of them, in a crude way, upon their temples and tombs. Such figures with a human body and an animal head actually live in the Desire World. They may be spoken to, and will be found much more intelligent than the average human being.
That statement brings up another peculiarity of conditions in the Desire World in respect of language. Here in this world human speech is so diversified that there are countries where people who live only a few miles apart speak a dialect so different that they understand each other with great difficulty, and each nation has its own language that varies altogether from the speech of other peoples. In the lower regions of the Desire World, there is the same diversity of tongues as on Earth, and the so-called "dead" of one nation find it impossible to converse with those who lived in another country. Hence linguistic accomplishments are of great value to the Invisible Helpers, of whom we shall hear later, as their sphere of usefulness is enormously extended by that ability.
Even apart from differences of language our mode of speech is exceedingly productive of misunderstandings. The same words often convey most opposite ideas to different minds. If we speak of a "body of water," one person may think we mean a lake of small dimensions, the thoughts of another may be directed to the Great Lakes, and a third person's thoughts may be turned towards the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean. If we speak of a "light," one may think of a gaslight, another of an electric arc-lamp, or if we say "red," one person may think we mean a delicate shade of pink and another gets the idea of crimson. The misunderstandings of what words mean goes even farther, as illustrated in the following.
The writer once opened a reading room in a large city where he lectured, and invited his audience to make use thereof. Among those who availed themselves of the opportunity was a gentleman who had for many years been a veritable "metaphysical tramp," roaming from lecture to lecture, hearing the teachings of everybody and practicing nothing. Like the Athenians on Mars' Hill, he was always looking for something "new," particularly in the line of phenomena, and his mind was in that seething chaotic state which is one of the most prominent symptoms of "mental indigestion."
Having attended a number of our lectures he knew from the program that: "The lecturer does not give readings or cast horoscopes for pay." But seeing on the door of the newly opened reading room, the legend: "Free Reading Room," his erratic mind at once jumped to the conclusion that although we were opposed to telling fortunes for pay, we were now going to give free readings of the future in the Free Reading Room. He was much disappointed that we did not intend to tell fortunes, either gratis or for a consideration, and we changed our sign to "Free Library" in order to obviate a repetition of the error.
In the higher Regions of the Desire World the confusion of tongues gives place to a universal mode of expression which absolutely prevents misunderstandings of our meaning. There each of our thoughts takes a definite form and color perceptible to all, and this thought-symbol emits a certain tone, which is not a word, but it conveys our meaning to the one we address no matter what language we spoke on Earth.
To arrive at an understanding of how such a universal language becomes possible and is at once comprehended by all, without preparation, we may take as an illustration the manner in which a musician reads music. A German or a Polish composer may write an opera. Each has his own peculiar terminology and expresses it in his own language. When that opera is to be played by an Italian bandmaster, or by a spanish or American musician, it need not be translated; the notes and symbols upon the page are a universally understood language of symbols which is intelligible to musicians of no matter what nationality. Similarly with figures, the German counts: ein, zwei, drei; the Frenchman says: un, duex, trois, and in English we use the words: one, two, three, but the figures: 1,2,3, though differently spoken, are intelligible to all and mean the same. There is no possibility of misunderstanding in the cases of either music or figures. Thus it is also with the universal language peculiar to the higher regions of the Desire World and the still more subtle realms in nature, it is intelligible to all, an exact mode of expression.
Returning to our description of the entities commonly met with in the lower Desire World, we may note that other systems of religion than the Egyptian, already mentioned, has spoken of various classes of beings native to these realms. The Zoroastrian religion, for instance, mentions seven Amshaspands and the Izzards as having dominion over certain days in the month and certain months in the year. The Christian religion speaks of Seven Spirits before the Throne, which are the same beings the Persians called Amshaspands. Each of them rules over two months in the year while the seventh: Michael, the highest, is their leader, for he is ambassador from the Sun to the Earth; the others are ambassadors from the planets. The Catholic religion with its abundant occult information takes most notice of these "star-angels" and knows considerable about their influence upon the affairs of the Earth.
The Amshaspands, however, do not inhabit the lower regions of the Desire World but influence the Izzards. According to the old Persian legend these beings are divisible into two groups: one of twenty-eight classes, and the other of three classes. Each of these classes has dominion over, or takes the lead of all the other classes on one certain day of the month. They regulate the weather conditions on that day and work with animal and man in particular. At least the twenty-eight classes do that, the other group of three classes has nothing to do with animals, because they have only twenty-eight pairs of spinal nerves, while human beings have thirty-one. Thus animals are attuned to the lunar month of twenty-eight days, while man is correlated to the solar month of thirty or thirty-one days. The ancient Persians were astronomers but not physiologists; they had no means of knowing the different nervous constitution of animal and man, but they saw clairvoyantly these superphysical beings; they noted and recorded their work with animal and men, and our own anatomical investigations may show us the reason for these divisions of the classes of Izzards recorded in that ancient system of philosophy.
Still another class of beings should be mentioned: those who have entered the Desire World through the gate of death and are now hidden from our physical vision. These so-called "dead" are in fact much more alive than any of us, who are tied to a dense body and subject to all its limitations, who are forced slowly to drag this clog along with us at the rate of a few miles an hour, who must expend such an enormous amount of energy upon propelling that vehicle that we are easily and quickly tired, even when in the best of health, and who are often confined to a bed, sometimes for years, by the indisposition of this heavy mortal coil. But when that is once shed and the freed Spirit can again function in its spiritual body, sickness is an unknown condition, and distance is annihilated, or at least practically so, for though it was necessary for the Saviour to liken the freed Spirit to the wind which blows where it listeth, that simile gives but a poor description of what actually takes place in soul flights. Time is non-existent there, as we shall presently explain, so the writer has never been able to time himself, but has on several occasions timed others when he was in the physical body and then speeding through space upon a certain errand. Distances such as from the Pacific Coast to Europe, the delivery of a short message there and the return to the body has been accomplished in slightly less than one minute. Therefore our assertion, that those whom we call dead are in reality much more alive than we, is well founded in facts.
We spoke of the dense body in which we now live, as a "clog" and a "fetter." It must not be inferred, however, that we sympathize with the attitude of certain people who, when they have learned with what ease soul-flights are accomplished, go about bemoaning the fact that they are now imprisoned. They are constantly thinking of, and longing for, the day when they shall be able to leave this mortal coil behind and fly away in their spiritual body. Such an attitude of mind is decidedly mistaken; the great and wise Beings who are invisible leaders of our evolution have not placed us here to no purpose. Valuable lessons are to be learned in this visible world wherein we dwell, lessons that cannot be learned in any other realm of nature, and the very conditions of density and inertia whereof such people complain, are factors which make it possible to acquire the knowledge this world is designed to give. This fact was so amply illustrated in a recent experience of the writer:
A friend had been studying occultism for a number of years but had not studied astrology. Last year she became aroused to the importance of this branch of study as a key to self-knowledge and a means of understanding the natures of others, also of developing the compassion for their errors, so necessary in the cultivation of love for one's neighbor. Love for our neighbor the Saviour enjoined upon us as the Supreme Commandment, which is the fulfillment of all laws, and as astrology teaches us to bear and forbear, it helps as nothing else can in the development of this supreme virtue. She therefore joined one of the classes started in Los Angeles by the writer, but a sudden illness quickly ended in death and thus terminated her study of the subject in the physical body, ere it was well begun.
Upon one of many occasions when she visited the writer subsequent to her release from the body, she deplored the fact that it seemed so difficult to make headway in her study of astrology. The writer advised continued attendance at the classes, and suggested that she could surely get someone "on the other side" to help her study.
At this she exclaimed impatiently: "Oh, yes! of course I attend the classes. I have done so right along; I have also found a friend who helps me here. But you cannot imagine how difficult it is to concentrate here upon mathematical calculations and the judgment of a horoscope or in fact upon any subject here, where every little thought-current takes you miles away from your study. I used to think it difficult to concentrate when I had a physical body, but it is not a circumstance to the obstacles which face the student here."
The physical body was an anchor to her, and it is that to all of us. Being dense, it is also to a great extent impervious to disturbing influences from which the more subtle spiritual bodies do not shield us. It enables us to bring our ideas to a logical conclusion with far less effort at concentration than is necessary in that realm where all is in such incessant and turbulent motion. Thus we are gradually developing the faculty of holding our thoughts to a center by existence in this world, and we should value our opportunities here, rather than deplore the limitations which help in one direction more than they fetter in another. In fact, we should never deplore any condition, each has its lesson. If we try to learn what that lesson is and to assimilate the experience which may be extracted therefrom, we are wiser than those who waste time in vain regrets.
We said there is no time in the Desire World, and the reader will readily understand that such must be the case from the fact, already mentioned, that nothing there is opaque.
In this world the rotation of the opaque earth upon its axis is responsible for the alternating conditions of day and night. We call it day when the spot where we live is turned towards the Sun and its rays illumine our environment, but when our home is turned away from the Sun and its rays obstructed by the opaque earth we term the resulting darkness night. The passage of the earth in its orbit around the Sun produces the seasons and the year, which are our divisions of time. But in the Desire World where all is light there is but one long day. The Spirit is not there fettered by a heavy physical body, so it does not need sleep and existence is unbroken. Spiritual substances are not subject to contraction and expansion such as arise here from heat and cold, hence summer and winter are also non-existent. Thus there is nothing to differentiate one moment from another in respect of the conditions of light and darkness, summer and winter, which mark time for us. Therefore, while the so-called "dead" may have a very accurate memory of time as regards the life they lived here in the body, they are usually unable to tell anything about the chronological relation of events which have happened to them in the Desire World, and it is a very common thing to find that they do not even know how many years have elapsed since they passed out from this plane of existence. Only students of the stellar science are able to calculate the passage of time after their demise.
When the occult investigator wishes to study an event in the past history of man, he may most readily call up the picture from the memory of nature, but if he desires to fix the time of the incident, he will be obliged to count backwards by the motion of the heavenly bodies. For that purpose he generally uses the measure provided by the Sun's precession: each year the Sun crosses the Earth's equator about the twenty-first of March. Then day and night are of even length, therefore this is called the vernal equinox. But on account of a certain wobbling motion (nutation) of the Earth's axis, the Sun does not cross over at the same place in the zodiac. It reaches the equator a little too early, it precedes, year by year it moves backwards a little. At the time of the birth of Christ, for instance, the vernal equinox was in about seven degrees of the zodiacal sign Aries. During the two thousand years which have intervened between that event and the present time, the Sun has moved backwards about twenty-seven degrees, so that it is now in about ten degrees of the sign Pisces. It moves around the circle of the zodiac in about 25,868 years. The occult investigator may therefore count back the number of signs, or whole circles, which the Sun has preceded between the present day and the time of the event he is investigating. Thus he has by the use of the heavenly time keepers an approximately correct measure of time even though he is in the Desire World, and that is another reason for studying the stellar science.
This article was adapted from "The Rosicrucian Mysteries," by Max Heindel, page 67-85.