By knowing the nature of the astral body you can learn to stand free from it, and once this freedom has been gained you will also know how to work on it when required by circumstances.
When the astral plane is seen for the first time through the ‘opened eye’, it will give the impression of a kaleidoscopic world in a state of utter confusion and for the greater part only vaguely discernable through a foggy atmosphere, blurring the constantly changing forms and intermingled colours.
This is the meeting ground of innumerable uncontrolled forces resulting in apparently total chaos. The astral is the plane of illusion, of glamour, and of a distorted presentation of reality.
Every individual in the world is to some extent working in astral matter, resulting in innumerable urges and cravings. It is the outpouring of this host of human desires into the astral cauldron, which results in the phantasmagoria of astral scenes and illusions. This conglomeration of interacting forces arising from humanity also includes numerous other forces, and all these jointly act upon and influence the human being.
The response to these impulses will depend on the calibre of the lower vehicles, and more specifically on the condition and quality of the etheric centres. Through this illusory labyrinth the aspirant has to find his way, snatching at every clue which promises to be of help, and after many years of experience he learns to distinguish between truth and glamour, the real and the unreal.
Every individual who in the course of time succeeds in liberating himself, who begins to see more clearly, and who releases himself from the glamour of illusion, contributes towards the realization of the Divine Plan.
The pairs of opposites meet and interact on the astral plane, and this is the terrain where the potent pull of the great dualities are felt, where the interaction between the soul and the personality takes its course, and also where numerous lesser dualities play their part.
Light and darkness struggle for dominance, and so do pleasure and pain, good and evil, poverty and riches, health and disease, heat and cold, and so many more.
The light which man has discovered within himself makes him more aware of the dark; through the good which attracts him, he sees the evil which is in the line of least resistance; the activity leading to pain simultaneously permits him to visualize the contrasting pleasure, and thus he experiences something of both hell and heaven. And so the wretched aspirant becomes aware of these dualities, and is constantly pulled hither and thither between the two.
The secret of eventual human liberation lies in the correct balancing of these opposing forces, and in finding the narrow path between these dualities which will finally lead him to the Light. The deciding factor in this Herculean struggle is the divine Will as expressed through the soul, which so often comes into collision with the selfish personal will – but though the battle may be long and arduous, the final triumph of the soul remains inevitable. It is on the astral plane that these battles are fought which eventually will lead to the release of the imprisoned soul.
The emotional body of the average man fulfils the role of a great reflector, but at the same time it is a most unreliable mirror, ever distorting the image of that which is received. It records the impulses from every kind of force and influence radiated from its environment, and mixes all these colours and movements, as well as every form of desire, emotion, action and sound into a muddled conglomeration of impressions. The objective of the aspiring individual should be to bring some measure of order into this chaos, and to still the agitated surface of the waters of this plane to such an extent that it can serve as a clear mirror for reflecting the qualities and impulses from the soul.
It is through the analysing mind that the astral body is brought under control. No excessive emotion should be permitted, though strong currents of love for all that breathes should be allowed to sweep through man’s being. Systemic love is constructive and stabilizing, and does not contain the dangers hidden in sentimental or emotional love.
The aspirant should rid his emotional body of all fear and worry by cultivating serenity and stability, and a sense of secure dependence on Higher Powers. He should never harbour jealousy, dark depression, greed or self-pity, but instead proceed calmly on the Way with quiet and joyous confidence in his heart.
Every individual constructs his own astral body from the energies of the surrounding astral plane, a body which will be responsive to his particular note and quality, and limited to his specific point on the ladder of evolution. This emotional body will constitute his field of response to life experience within defined limits, but it will also lend itself to tremendous expansion, development, adjustment and control, harmonizing with impulses received from a growing mental body, and a soul progressively asserting itself over its three bodies of expression – the physical, astral and mental.
The astral body is usually animated by forces which can be grouped under three main headings:
1. Forces of selfish desire.
This forms an essential part of the evolutionary process, because man has to experience every phase that life in the physical has to offer, including both the good and the evil; honour and opprobrium; the pleasant and the distressful; wealth and poverty; leadership and servility; the pride and glory of position in contrast with utter humiliation.
It is these desires which constitute the forces which will drive him on from life to life, and from one experience to another, ever craving that which he does not possess, that which belongs to others, whether material possessions, money, power, status or knowledge. These desires will remain dominant till man is sated with all that material life has to offer; till the soul has extracted the essence from all these experiences, and the higher mind takes over from the lower and the light is seen ahead.
2. The second group of forces are those engendered by sexual attraction.
There is nothing wrong with the basic principle of physical attraction, for that is part of nature’s way for the propogation of man. But man has abused this natural urge, and it has deteriorated into emotional and lustful desire. However, even these hurdles will be surmounted after the necessary experience has been gained and the needed lessons have been learnt.
3. The third group of forces impelling man along the way of life is fear.
This illusory force is displayed daily in its many patterns, causing excruciating pain, suffering and frustration, sometimes driving man to the most irresponsible action. These fears may be of a selfish nature, but often they concern those who are emotionally near to us. How many torturing hours are spent in anguish on premonitions, doubts, questionings and imaginary illusions which never come to pass?
These fears may assume many guises – one’s own, family fears, national and racial fears, including fear of pain, of the future, of death, and fear of failure.