Corresponding to the subtle bodies within humans are seven planes of existence, each defined by its state of manifest form from densest to most refined. Rising from the denser to the finer, are the Physical, the Astral, the Mental or Devachanic, the Buddhic, and the Nirvanic and two others beyond. The Astral realm is the second in level of density and the most frequented by human and non-human.
This realm is often called the realm of illusion. Largely because as we move up the planes, the energy becomes more refined and rarified and becomes increasingly difficult to comprehend in the current form of our evolved state. Contact made within this realm itself acts as a catalyst for change upon those energies and beings that journey through its space and information is gathered primarily in response and awakening of the memory, images and innate knowledge we carry from past lifetimes.
According to C. W. Leadbeater…
“The first conscious introduction to this remarkable region comes to people in various ways. Some only once in their whole lives under some unusual influence become sensitive enough to recognize the presence of one of its inhabitants, and perhaps, because the experience does not repeat itself, they may come in time to believe that on that occasion they must have been the victims of hallucination. Others find themselves with increasing frequency seeing and hearing something to which those around them are blind and deaf; others again – and perhaps this is the commonest experience of all – begin to recollect with greater and greater clearness that which they have seen or heard on that other plane during sleep.
Most of us, then, are awake on the astral plane during the sleep of the physical body, and yet we are generally very little awake to the plane, and are consequently conscious of our surroundings there only vaguely, if at all. We are still wrapped up in our waking thoughts and our physical-plane affairs, and we pay scarcely any attention to the world of intensely active life that surrounds us. Our first step, then, is to shake off this habit of thought, and learn to see that new and beautiful world, so that we may be able intelligently to work in it. Even when that is achieved, it does not necessarily follow that we shall be able to bring over into our waking consciousness any recollection of those astral experiences. But that question of physical-plane remembrance is an entirely different matter, and does not in any way affect our power to do excellent astral work.”
The astral realm is one of potential. Imagination, idea and thought can be brought to a space of form on this plane and if fueled with will and clarity of intent can be brought down into the manifest world. Additionally, thoughtforms are given life within the astral realm. The combined and collective will directed from human kind if focused and engendered with enough life, and energy can be brought to creation in its more refined nature on the astral.
For complete and comprehensive information:
The Astral Plane: Its Scenery, Inhabitants, And Phenomena by C. W. Leadbeater or take a look at it in e-book format as a downloadable
pdf (123pgs) The Astral Plane
Astral Dynamics: The Complete Book of Out of Body Experience by Robert Bruce
For another perspective on the Astral Plane, take a look at the information and lessons relevant to the sphere of Yesod in the study of Qabalah.
Foundations of Practice:
I have purposely saved the Foundational exercises for this last post of the lesson. This lesson is one that moves in and out of the planes of reality and although not always apparent and visible to us is still present nonetheless. These foundations have been planned and in the background scenery, waiting just the right timing and readiness on your part to reveal themselves as catalysts to action in their execution.
Lesson Twelve: The Greater Work Within Community