The Buddhic Plane

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Last revised: 6 August 2008

Contents

The Buddhic Plane is the Plane of Unity

Abandoning the Causal Body
Entering and “Occupying” the Buddhic Plane
Buddhic Consciousness
Claims of Buddhic Attainment
General Characteristics of the Buddhic Plane
Consciousness on the Buddhic Plane
C.W. Leadbeater Relates an Instance of Buddhic Enlightenment



The Buddhic Plane is the Plane of Unity

Abandoning the Causal Body

At the first Initiation (for many, this experience comes before that), the man abandons the causal body and plunges into the buddhic plane. At that time, as I have explained before, the causal body absolutely vanishes—the one thing that has seemed permanent through his long line of lives, since he left the animal kingdom, disappears. (C.W. Leadbeater in Annie Besant and Leadbeater, CLP, 120.)

Entering and “Occupying” the Buddhic Plane

When a man begins to function on the buddhic plane, he enters it at its lowest level, but he is unable at first to make the most even of that lowest sub-plane. He will feel an intensity of bliss which no words can express, and an extension of consciousness which by contrast with anything which he has ever felt before, will no doubt give the idea that the whole world is included. Nevertheless it is not so at all. When he is sufficiently accustomed to this higher level to analyse it, he will find that the extension of consciousness, though a very great one, is by no means as yet full or universal.

Gradually he extends the sphere which he can effectively occupy. It is somewhat like the way in which an army occupies a conquered territory. He establishes himself first, and then gradually extends that part over which he has definite power, until it includes the entire / country. He then proceeds to try to push his consciousness into the next sub-plane; but even after he has worked his way through sub-plane after sub-plane until he reaches the highest, he has not necessarily built the buddhic vehicle.

The man who has the buddhic consciousness within his reach by meditation or by effort can always raise himself into that condition. The man who has definitely built a buddhic vehicle has that consciousness all the time in the background of his lower physical, astral or mental consciousness. That is another and separate achievement and a difficult one, because to do that the causal body must be eliminated, must be destroyed as a separating wall.

One whose consciousness works on the buddhic plane during meditation finds that although he is one with all the wonderful consciousness of the plane, yet there is a little circle of emptiness shutting him out from the rest. This little barrier is, of course, the causal body. In order that the buddhic vehicle shall be developed, even that must disappear. Then the man feels the reality of unobstructed Life in a way impossible to describe down here. Madame Blavatsky expressed the idea as a circle with its centre everywhere and its circumference nowhere—a very beautiful and expressive description. Of course it is a paradox, but all things that can be said about these higher conditions must necessarily be paradoxical.

When the unity is fully realized the man feels, however paradoxical it may sound, as though his vehicle at that / level filled the whole of the plane, as though he could transfer his point of consciousness to any place within that plane and still be the centre of the circle. It is an experience which is quite indescribable.

Along with that feeling, permeating and accompanying it always, is a sense of the most intense bliss—bliss of which we can have no conception at all on these lower planes— something vivid, active, fiery beyond all imagination. Most bliss down here, at the rare moments when we feel anything deserving of the name, consists chiefly in the absence of pain. We are happy and blissful down here when, for a moment, we are free from fatigue and pain, when we can relax and feel that we are taking in pleasant influences. That is rather a negative feeling. The bliss of the buddhic plane is the most intensely active, vivid feeling. I do not know in the least how to express it If you could imagine the most intense activity that you have ever felt and then replace that vivid and strenuous activity by a feeling of bliss, then somehow raise it—spiritualize it—to an altogether higher plane, to the nth power, it would convey some idea of what that feeling is.

It is an active reality which is quite overpowering in its strength. There is nothing at all passive about it; one is not resting. Down here we live lives of so much strain and strenuousness that rest is always a very prominent part of any ideal we may have; but there it is not in the least a feeling that one is resting or wanting to rest. One is a tremendous incarnate energy whose expression is to pour itself forth, and the idea of rest or / the need of rest is entirely outside one's consciousness. What to us here seems rest would seem a kind of negation up there. We have become one with the expression of the divine power, and that divine power is active life. People talk of the rest of nirvana—but that is from the lower point of view. It is the intensity of power that is the real characteristic of this higher life— a power so intense that it does not show itself in any sort of ordinary movement at all, but rather in one vast resistless sweep which might look like rest when viewed from below, but which means the consciousness of absolute power. It is impossible to express all this in words. When we have achieved this we have finally conquered the giant weed—the great enemy, the sense of separateness. It is the hardest task, on the whole, that is before us, because it involves everything else.

It is only after the buddhic body is fully developed on all the seven sub-planes that the man has the full fruition of the whole plane, a complete power of identification with the whole of humanity, so that he can learn through that relation what all these people think and feel. Before that buddhic consciousness is gained we may labour to reduce the sense of separateness and it may be done with great success intellectually, but we still remain outside, in the sense of not understanding others. They will still be an absolute mystery, for man is the greatest of mysteries to his fellow-man. We may come into very close relations with people for quite a long time, and yet not really know them inside. It may be that until the buddhic level is reached no man ever really knows any / other man thoroughly.

When a man reaches that condition he is able to pour himself down into the consciousness of others and see what they do and why they act in that particular way. There all things are within him instead of outside, and he studies them as parts of himself. It sounds impossible down here, but that is something of what he feels. All the joy of the world is his joy; its suffering is his suffering. When he chooses to put himself down through any one of the million tentacles—the consciousness of other people with which he is one—then he can and does experience all which that person is experiencing. In this way all the world's suffering is within his reach, but he knows with absolute certainty that it is a necessary part of the plan and has no existence on those higher levels. He is in no way less sympathetic with it, yet he knows that " Brahman is Bliss," and that to be one with the divine is a state of perpetual inner joy. It is only when one gains that development that one can fully help others.

When a man touches that consciousness he has for a time withdrawn from these lower physical levels where he can be perturbed or upset, and he is himself part of the divine joy. When he comes back again into his mental, astral and physical bodies he may permit little troubles to annoy him. This ought not to be so; but still there is a great gap between the higher life and that lived in the physical body, where small things can still be very irritating. The possibility of being momentarily annoyed / by something on the physical plane remains even when a very high level has been reached, but it is then merely superficial. The things from which people really suffer in this world are those which they feel to be hopeless. No one can ever have any feeling of hopelessness after he has touched that higher consciousness, because when we are absolutely certain that the reality is always joy, we know that all suffering at lower levels is only temporary, and that even that would not come to us if we were nearer to perfection.

The power of identification is gained not only with regard to the consciousness of people but with regard to everything else on the buddhic plane. Everything is learnt from the inside instead of from the outside. If we wish to study any subject, any organism, the working of any law of nature—it does not matter what—up to and including the consciousness of the causal body we have to study it from without, looking out at it. In the causal body we are able to examine it with an enormously widened consciousness, with the power of knowing vastly more about it than we could possibly know on lower planes.

But when we get to the buddhic plane the difference is a fundamental difference. That which we are examining has become part of ourselves. We examine it as a kind of symptom in ourselves. It is difficult to put into words because down here we have nothing exactly like it, but this looking at things from within instead of from without does give one a very great advantage. It is so different in its characteristics that we are probably justified in saying that that is the / first glimpse we get of the way in which the Deity looks at His universe, because He must have exactly that experience—that that at which he looks must be part of Himself because there is nothing which is not part of Him. Therefore His consciousness must be this buddhic consciousness raised to the nth power, and with all the insight and glory and splendour of which we can have no idea on any plane as yet. One can understand very clearly why that world is spoken of as the real, and all these lower ones as the unreal, because the difference is so great and the attitude is so entirely changed that any other way of looking at things does seem unreal, even ridiculous when once one has learned to see them from the inside. (C.W. Leadbeater in Annie Besant and Leadbeater, CLP, 121-27.)

[The] bliss-aspect is named in theosophical terminology Buddhi, a name derived from the Sanskrit word for wisdom, and it belongs to the fourth, or buddhic plane of our universe, the plane, in which there is still duality, but were there is no separation. Words fail me to convey the idea, for words belong to the lower planes where duality and separation are ever / connected, yet some approach to the idea may be gained.

It is a state in which each is himself, with a clearness and vivid intensity which cannot be approached on lower planes, and yet in which each feels himself to include all others, to be one with them, inseparate and inseparable. (The reader should refer back to the Introduction, p. 36, and reread the description given by Plotinus of this state, commencing: “They likewise see all things.” And he should note the phrases, “Each likewise is everything,” and “In each, however a different quality predominates.)

Its nearest analogy on earth is the condition between two persons who are united by a pure, intense love, which makes them feel as one person, causing them to think, feel, act, live as one, recognising no barrier, no difference, no mine and thine, no separation. (It is for this reason that the bliss of divine love has in many Scriptures been imaged by the profound love of husband and wife, as in the Bhagavad Purâna of the Hindus, the Song of Solomon of the Hebrews and Christians. This is also the love of the Sufi mystics, and indeed of all mystics.)

It is a faint echo from this plane which makes men seek happiness by union between themselves and the object of their desire, no matter what that object may be. Perfect isolation is perfect misery; to be stripped naked of everything, to be hanging in the void of space, in utter solitude, nothing anywhere save the lone individual, shut out from all, shut into the separated self – imagination can conceive no horror more intense. The antithesis to this is union, and perfect union is perfect bliss.

As this bliss-aspect of the Self begins to send / outwards its vibrations, these vibrations, as on the planes below, draw round themselves the matter of the plane on which they are functioning, and thus is formed gradually the buddhic body, or bliss-body, as it is appropriately termed. (Ânandamayakosha, or bliss-sheath, of the Vedântins. It is also the body of the sun, the solar body, of which a little is said in the Upanishads and elsewhere.)

The only way in which the man can contribute to the building of this glorious form is by cultivating pure, unselfish, all-embracing, beneficent love, love “that seeketh not its own” – that is, love that is neither partial, nor seeks any return for its outflowing. This spontaneous outpouring of love is the most marked of the divine attributes, the love that gives everything, that asks nothing. Pure love brought the universe into being, pure love maintains it, pure love draws it upwards towards perfection, towards bliss.

And wherever man pours out love on all who need it, making no difference, seeking no return, from pure spontaneous joy in the outpouring, there that man is developing the bliss-aspect of the Deity within him, and is preparing that body of beauty and joy ineffable into which the Thinker will rise, casting away the limits of separateness, to find himself, and yet one with all that lives.

This “the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,” whereof wrote St. Paul, the great Christian Initiate; and he raised charity, pure love, above all other virtues, because by that alone can man on earth contribute to that glorious dwelling. For a similar reason is / separateness called “the great heresy” by the Buddhist, and “union” is the goal of the Hindu; liberation is the escape from the limitations that keep us apart, and selfishness is the root-evil, the destruction whereof is the destruction of all pain. (Annie Besant, AW, 166-9.)

Buddhic Consciousness

The evolution of the fourth and fifth planes belongs to a future period of our race, but those who choose the harder path of swifter progress may tread it even now, as will be explained later. (see Chapter XI, on “Man’s Ascent.”) On that path the bliss body is quickly evolved, and a man begins to enjoy the consciousness of that loftier region, and knows the bliss which comes from the absence of separative barriers, the wisdom which flows in when the limits of the intellect are transcended. Then is the wheel escaped from which binds the soul in the lower worlds, and then is the first foretaste of the liberty which is found perfected on the nirvânic plane. (Annie Besant, AW, 170.)

Claims of Buddhic Attainment

Much has been written about the buddhic or intui¬tional world, and all students are theoretically acquainted with its wonderful characteristic of unity of consciousness; but most of them probably regard the possibility of obtaining any personal experience of that consciousness as belonging to the far-distant future. The full development of the buddhic vehicle is for most of us still remote, for it belongs to the stage of the Fourth or Arhat (1) Initiation; but it is perhaps not entirely impossible for those who are as yet far from that level to gain some touch of that higher type of consciousness in quite another way.

I was myself brought along what I should describe as the ordinary and commonplace line of occult development, and I had to fight my way laboriously upward, conquering one sub-plane after another, first in the astral world, then in the mental, and then in the buddhic; which means that I had the, full use of my astral, mental and causal vehicles before anything came to me that I could define certainly as a real buddhic experience. This method is slow and toilsome, though I think it has / its advantages in developing accuracy in obser¬vation, in making sure of each step before the next is taken. I have no doubt whatever that it was the best for a person of my temperament; indeed, it was probably the only way possible for me; but it does rot follow that other people may not have quite other opportunities. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 63-4.)

(1) An arhat or arahant is an individual who has attained God-Realization, Brahmajnana, or kevalya nirvikalpa samadhi. This level of enlightenment does not entail liberation from the wheel of birth and death, which comes with a higher level of enlightenment that Ramana Maharshi called “sahaja [permanent] nirvikalpa samadhi.” The various levels of enlightenment are discussed here.

General Characteristics of the Buddhic Plane

There is no separateness on the buddhic plane. There consciousnesses do not necessarily merge instantly at the lowest level, but they gradually grow wider and wider until, when we reach the highest level of the buddhic plane, and have fully developed ourselves through all its different subdivisions, we find ourselves consciously one with humanity. That is the lowest level at which the / separateness is absolutely non-existent; in its fullness the conscious unity with all belongs to the next plane —the nirvanic.

Suppose that all of us could develop the buddhic consciousness within ourselves simultaneously. Each one would realize that he had risen to that level, and that his consciousness included that of all the others, but he would still feel that inclusive consciousness to be his consciousness. None of us would have lost his sense of individuality at all, only in it he would include very much more than he had ever done before. He would feel himself as manifesting through all these others as well. Really what we are experiencing is the one consciousness which includes us all, the consciousness of the Logos Himself. (C.W. Leadbeater in Annie Besant and Leadbeater, CLP, 119-20.)

We have seen that man is an intelligent self-conscious entity, the Thinker, clad in bodies belonging to the lower mental, astral and physical planes; we have now to study the Spirit which is his innermost Self, the source whence he proceeds.

This Divine spirit, a ray from the LOGOS, partaking of His own essential Being, has the triple nature of the LOGOS Himself, and the evolution of man as man consists in the gradual manifestation of these three aspects, their development from latency into activity, man thus repeating in miniature the evolution of the universe.

Hence he is spoken of as the microcosm, the universe being the macrocosm; he is called the mirror of the universe, the image, or reflection, of God – and hence also the ancient axiom, “As above, so below.” It is this in-folded deity that is the guarantee of man’s final triumph; this is the hidden motive power that makes evolution at once possible and inevitable, the upward-lifting force that slowly overcomes every obstacle and every difficulty. It was this Presence that Matthew Arnold dimly sensed when he wrote of the “Power, not ourselves, that makes for righteousness,” but he erred in thinking “not ourselves,” for it is the very innermost Self of all – truly not our separated selves, but our Self. (Annie Besant, AW, 179-80.)

“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” – Gen. I, 26.
(1) Âtma, the reflection of Paramâtmâ.

This Self is the One, and hence is spoken of as the Monad (1) and we shall need to remember that this Monad is the outbreathed life of the LOGOS, containing within itself germinally, or in a state of latency, all the divine powers and attributes.

These powers are brought into manifestation by the impacts arising from contact with the objects of the universe into which the Monad is thrown; the friction caused by these gives rise to responsive thrills from the life subjected to their stimuli, and one by one the energies of the life pass from latency into activity. The human Monad – as it is called for the sake of distinction – shows as we have already said, the three aspects of Deity, being the perfect image of God, and in the human cycle these three aspects are developed one after the other.

These aspects are the three great attributes of the Divine Life as manifested in the universe, existence, bliss, and intelligence (2) the three LOGOI severally showing these forth with all the perfection possible within the limits of manifestation.

In man, these aspects are developed in the reversed order – intelligence, bliss, existence – “existence” implying the manifestation of the divine powers. In the evolution of man that we have so far studied we have been watching the development of the third aspect of the hidden deity – the development of consciousness as intelligence. Manas, the Thinker, the human Soul, is the image of the Universal Mind, of the Third LOGOS, and all his long pilgrimage on the three lower planes is devoted to the evolution of this third aspect, the intellectual side of the divine nature in man.

While this is proceeding, we may consider the other divine energies as rather brooding over the man, the hidden source of his life, than as actively developing their forces within him. They play within themselves, unmanifest. Still, the preparation of these forces for manifestation is slowly proceeding; they are being roused from that unmanifested life that we speak of as latency by the ever-increasing energy of the vibrations of the intelligence, and the bliss-aspect begins to send outwards its first vibrations – faint pulsings of its manifested life thrill forth.

This bliss-aspect is named in theosophical terminology Buddhi, a name derived from the Sanskrit word for wisdom, and it belongs to the fourth, or buddhic plane of our universe, the plane, in which there is still duality, but were there is no separation. Words fail me to convey the idea, for words belong to the lower planes where duality and separation are ever connected, yet some approach to the idea may be gained.

It is a state in which each is himself, with a clearness and vivid intensity which cannot be approached on lower planes, and yet in which each feels himself to include all others, to be one with them, inseparate and inseparable. (3)

Its nearest analogy on earth is the condition between two persons who are united by a pure, intense love, which makes them feel as one person, causing them to think, feel, act, live as one, recognising no barrier, no difference, no mine and thine, no separation. (4)

It is a faint echo from this plane which makes men seek happiness by union between themselves and the object of their desire, no matter what that object may be. Perfect isolation is perfect misery; to be stripped naked of everything, to be hanging in the void of space, in utter solitude, nothing anywhere save the lone individual, shut out from all, shut into the separated self – imagination can conceive no horror more intense. The antithesis to this is union, and perfect union is perfect bliss.

As this bliss-aspect of the Self begins to send outwards its vibrations, these vibrations, as on the planes below, draw round themselves the matter of the plane on which they are functioning, and thus is formed gradually the buddhic body, or bliss-body, as it is appropriately termed. (5)

The only way in which the man can contribute to the building of this glorious form is by cultivating pure, unselfish, all-embracing, beneficent love, love “that seeketh not its own” – that is, love that is neither partial, nor seeks any return for its outflowing. This spontaneous outpouring of love is the most marked of the divine attributes, the love that gives everything, that asks nothing. Pure love brought the universe into being, pure love maintains it, pure love draws it upwards towards perfection, towards bliss.

And wherever man pours out love on all who need it, making no difference, seeking no return, from pure spontaneous joy in the outpouring, there that man is developing the bliss-aspect of the Deity within him, and is preparing that body of beauty and joy ineffable into which the Thinker will rise, casting away the limits of separateness, to find himself, and yet one with all that lives.

This “the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,” whereof wrote St. Paul, the great Christian Initiate; and he raised charity, pure love, above all other virtues, because by that alone can man on earth contribute to that glorious dwelling. For a similar reason is separateness called “the great heresy” by the Buddhist, and “union” is the goal of the Hindu; liberation is the escape from the limitations that keep us apart, and selfishness is the root-evil, the destruction whereof is the destruction of all pain. (Annie Besant, AW, 180-4.)

Besant’s footnotes: (1) It is called the Monad, whether it be the Monad of spirit-matter, Âtma; or the Monad of form or the human Monad, Âtma-Buddhi-Manas. In each it is a unit and acts as a unit, whether the unit be one-faced, two-faced, or three-faced.
(2) Satchitânanda is often used in the Hindu Scriptures as the abstract name of Brahman, the Triműrti being the concrete manifestation of these. [Ed. I do not agree with Besant here. As I understand it, the Trimurthy in Hinduism is Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, which may be a way of personifying the gunas – rajas, sattwa, and thamas. The gunas are a subset of Shakti.]
(2) The reader should refer back to the Introduction, p. 36, and reread the description given by Plotinus of this state, commencing: “They likewise see all things.” And he should note the phrases, “Each likewise is everything,” and “In each, however a different quality predominates.”
(3) It is for this reason that the bliss of divine love has in many Scriptures been imaged by the profound love of husband and wife, as in the Bhagavad Purâna of the Hindus, the Song of Solomon of the Hebrews and Christians. This is also the love of the Sufi mystics, and indeed of all mystics.
(4) Ânandamayakosha, or bliss-sheath, of the Vedântins. It is also the body of the sun, the solar body, of which a little is said in the Upanishads and elsewhere.

Consciousness on the Buddhic Plane

Students who have not yet experienced the buddhic consciousness - consciousness in the intui¬tional world - frequently ask us to describe it. Efforts have been made in this direction, and many references to this consciousness and its character¬istics are to be found scattered through our literature; yet the seeker after knowledge finds these unsatisfactory, and we cannot wonder at it.

The truth is that all description is necessarily and essentially defective; it is impossible in physical words to give more than the merest hint of what this higher consciousness is, for the physical brain is incapable of grasping the reality. Those who have read Mr. Hinton’s remarkable books on the fourth dimension will remember how he tries to explain to us our own limitations with regard to higher dimensions, by picturing for us with much careful detail the position of an entity whose senses could work in two dimensions only. He proves that to such a being the simplest actions of our world must be incomprehensible. A creature who has no sense of what we call depth or thickness could never see any terrestrial object as it really is; he could observe only a section of it, and would therefore / obtain absolutely wrong impressions about even the commonest objects of everyday life, while our powers of motion and of action would be utterly incomprehensible to him.

The difficulties which we encounter in trying to understand the phenomena even of the astral world are precisely similar to those which Mr. Hinton supposes to be experienced by his two-dimensional entity; but when we try to raise our thoughts to the intuitional world we have to face a state of existence which is lived in no less than six dimensions, if we are to continue at that level to employ the same nomenclature. So I fear we must admit from the outset that any attempt to comprehend this higher consciousness is foredoomed to failure; yet, as is but natural, the desire to try again and again to grasp something of it arises perennially in the mind of the student. I do not venture to think that I can say anything to satisfy this craving; the utmost that one can hope is to suggest a few new considerations, and perhaps to approach the subject from a some¬what different point of view. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 26-7.)

When we follow the man into the intuitional world, developing the buddhic conscious¬ness, we are in the presence not only of an in¬definite extension of various capacities, but also of an entire change of method. From the causal body we looked out upon everything, understanding, seeing everything exactly as it is and appraising it at its true value, yet still maintaining a distinction between subject and object, still conscious that we looked upon that which we so thoroughly compre¬hended. But now a change has come; the compre¬hension is more perfect and not less, but it is from within instead of from without. We no longer look upon a person or upon an object, no matter with what degree of kindliness or of sympathy; we sim¬ply are that person or that object, and we know him or it as we know the thought of our own brain or the movement of our own hand.

It is not easy even to suggest the subtle change which this casts over everything - the curiously / different value which it gives to all the actions and relations of life. It is not only that we understand another man still more intimately; it is that we feel ourselves to be acting through him, and we appreciate his motives as our own motives, even though we may perfectly understand that another part of ourselves, possessing more knowledge or a different view-point, might act quite differently.

All through our previous evolution we have had our own private view-point and our own qualities, which were cherished because they were our own - which seemed to us in some subtle way different from the same qualities when manifested in others; but now we lose entirely that sense of personal property in qualities and in ideas, because we see that these things are truly common to all, because they are part of the great reality which lies equally behind all. So personal pride in individual development becomes an utter impossibility, for we see now that personal development is but as the growth of one leaf among the thousands of leaves upon a tree, and that the important fact is not the size or shape of that particular leaf, but its relation to the tree as a whole; for it is only of the tree as a whole that we can really predicate permanent growth. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 52-3.)

Down here we meet people of different dis¬positions; we study them, and we say to ourselves that under no conceivable circumstances could we ever act or think as they do, and though we sometimes talk of “putting ourselves in the other man’s place”, it is generally a feeble, half-hearted, / insufficient substitution; but in the intuitional world we see clearly and instantly the reason for those actions which here seem so incomprehensible and repugnant, and we readily understand that it is we ourselves in another form who are doing those very things which seem to us so reprehensible, and we recognise that to that facet of ourselves such action is quite right and natural. We find that we have ceased altogether to blame others for their differ¬ences from ourselves; we simply note them as other manifestations of our own activity, for now we see reasons which before were hidden from us. Even the evil man is clearly seen to be part of ourselves - a weak part; so our desire is not to blame him, but to help him by pouring strength into that weak part of ourselves, so that the whole body of humanity may be vigorous and healthy. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 53-4.)

Yet in all this strange advance there is no loss of the sense of individuality, even though there is an utter loss of the sense of separateness. That seems a paradox, yet it is obviously true. The man remembers all that lies behind him. He is himself, / the same man who did this action or that in the far-off past. He is in no way changed, except that now he is much more than he was then, and feels that he includes within himself many other manifestations as well. If here and now a hundred of us could simultaneously raise our consciousness into the intuitional world, we should all be one consciousness, but to each man that would seem to be his own, absolutely unchanged except that now it included all the others as well.

To each it would seem that it was he who had absorbed or included all those others; so we are here manifestly in the presence of a kind of illusion, and a little further realisation makes it clear to us that we are all facets of a greater consciousness, and that what we have hitherto thought to be our qualities, our intellect, our energy, have all the time been His qualities, His intellect, His energy. We have arrived at the realisation in actual fact of the time-honoured formula: “Thou art that”. It is one thing to talk about this down here and to grasp it, or think that we grasp it, intellectually; but it is quite another to enter into that marvellous world and know it with a certainty that can never again be shaken.

Yet it must not be supposed that when a man enters upon the lowest subdivision of that world, he at once becomes fully conscious of his unity with all that lives. That perfection of sense comes only as the result of much toil and trouble, when he has reached the highest subdivision of this realm of unity. To enter that plane at all is to / experience an enormous extension of consciousness, to realise himself as one with many others; but before him then there opens a time of effort, a time of self-development, analogous at that level to what we do down here when by meditation we try to open our consciousness to the plane next above us. Step by step, sub-plane by sub-plane, the aspi¬rant wins his way; for even at that level exertion is still necessary if progress is to be made. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 54-6.)

While we were still in the higher mental plane, we learned to see things as they are, to get behind our preconceptions of them, and to reach the reality which lay behind what we had been able to see of them. Now we are able to see the reality which lay behind other people’s divergent views of that same object; coming simul¬taneously up their lines as well as our own, we enter into that thing and we realise all its possi¬bilities, because now it is ourselves, and its possi¬bilities are possible also for us. Difficult to put into words; impossible fully to comprehend down here; and yet approaching and hinting at a truth which is more real than what we call reality in this world. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 56.)

At this [buddhic] level man still has a definite body, and yet his consciousness seems equally present in vast numbers of other bodies. The web of life (which, you know, is constructed of buddhic matter - matter / of the intuitional world) is extended so that it includes these other people, so that instead of many small separate webs we get one vast web which enfolds them all in one common life. But remember that many of these others may be entirely uncon¬scious of this change, and to them their own private little part of the web will still seem as much separat¬ed as ever - or would do so if they knew anything at all about the web of life. So from this stand¬point and at this level it seems that all mankind are bound together thus by golden threads, and make one complex unit, no longer a man, but man in the abstract. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 56-7.)

C.W. Leadbeater Relates an Instance of Buddhic Enlightenment

A certain student of deeply affectionate nature developed an intense love for the teacher who had been appointed by his Master to assist him in the preliminary training. He made it a daily practice to form a strong mental image of that teacher, and then pour out his love upon him with all his force, thereby flooding his own astral body with crimson, and temporarily increasing its size enormously. He used to call the process “enlarging his aura”. He showed such remarkable aptitude in this exer¬cise, and it was so obviously beneficial to him, that an additional effort along the same line was suggested to him. He was recommended, while holding the image clearly before him, and sending out the love-¬force as strongly as ever, to try to raise his con¬sciousness to a higher level and unify it with that of his teacher.

His first attempt to do this was amazingly suc¬cessful. He described a sensation as of actually rising through space; he found what he supposed to be the sky like a roof barring his way, but the force of his will seemed to form a sort of cone in it, which presently became a tube through which he found himself rushing. He emerged into a region of blinding light which was at the same time a sea of bliss so overwhelming that he could find no words to describe it. It was not in the least like anything that he had ever felt before; it grasped him as definitely and instantaneously as a giant / hand might have done, and permeated his whole nature in a moment like a flood of electricity. It was more real than any physical object that he had ever seen, and yet at the same time so utterly spiritual. “It was as though GOD had taken me into Himself, and I felt His Life running through me”, he said.

He gradually recovered himself and was able to examine his condition; and as he did so he began to realise that his consciousness was no longer limited as it had hitherto been - that he was somehow simultaneously present at every point of that mar¬vellous sea of light; indeed, that in some inexplicable way he was himself that sea, even though apparently at the same time he was a point floating in it. It seemed to us who heard, that he was grop¬ing after words to express the consciousness which, as Madame Blavatsky so well puts it, has “its centre everywhere and its circumference nowhere”.

Further realisation revealed to him that he had succeeded in his effort to become one with the consciousness of his teacher. He found himself thoroughly comprehending and sharing that teacher’s feelings, and possessing a far wider and higher outlook on life than he had ever had before. One thing that impressed him immensely was the image of himself as seen through the teacher’s eyes; it filled him with a sense of unworthiness, and yet of high resolve; as he whimsically put it:

“I found myself loving myself through my teacher’s intense love for me, and I knew that I could and would make myself worthy of it.” /

He sensed also a depth of devotion and reverence which he had never before reached; he knew that in becoming one with his earthly teacher he had also entered the shrine of his true Master, with whom that teacher in turn was one, and he dimly felt himself in touch with a Consciousness of un¬realisable splendour. But here his strength failed him; he seemed to slide down his tube again, and opened his eyes upon the physical plane.

Consulted as to this transcendent experience, I enquired minutely into it, and easily satisfied myself that it was unquestionably an entry into the buddhic world, not by toilsome progress through the various stages of the mental, but by a direct course along the ray of reflection from the highest astral sub¬-plane to the lowest of that intuitional world. I asked as to the physical effects, and found that there were absolutely none; the student was in radiant health. So I recommended that he should repeat the effort, and that he should with utmost reverence try to press higher still, and to raise himself, if it might be, into that other August Consciousness. For I saw that here was a case of that combination of golden love and iron will that is so rare on this our Sorrowful Star; and I knew that a love which is utterly unselfish and a will which recognises no obstacles may carry their possessor to the very Feet of GOD Himself.

The student repeated his experiment, and again he succeeded beyond all hope or expectation. He was able to enter that wider Consciousness, and he pressed onward and upward into it as though he / were swimming out into some vast lake. Much of what he brought back with him he could not comprehend; shreds of ineffable glories, fragments of conceptions so vast and so gorgeous that no merely human mind can grasp them in their totality. But he gained a new idea of what love and devotion could be - an ideal after which to strive for the rest of his life.

Day after day he continued his efforts (we found that once a day was as often as it could be wisely attempted); further and further he penetrated into that great lake of love, and yet found no end to it. But gradually he became aware of something far greater still; he somehow knew that this indescrib¬able splendour was permeated by a subtler glory yet more inconceivably splendid, and he tried to raise himself into that. And when he succeeded he knew by its characteristics that this was the Conscious¬ness of the great World-Teacher Himself. In becoming one with his own earthly teacher he had inevitably joined himself to the consciousness of his Master, with whom that teacher was already united; and in this further marvellous experience he was but proving the close union which exists between that Master and the Bodhisattva, Who in turn had taught Him. Into that shoreless sea of Love and Compassion he plunges daily in his meditation, with such upliftment and strengthening for himself as may readily be imagined; but he can never reach its limits, for no mortal man can fathom such an ocean as that.

Striving ever to penetrate more and more deeply into this wondrous new realm which had so suddenly / opened before him, he succeeded one day in reach¬ing a yet further development - a bliss so much more intense, a feeling so much more profound, that it seemed to him at first as much higher than his first buddhic touch as that had been above his earlier astral experiences. He remarked:

“If I did not know that it is impossible for me to attain it yet, I should say that this must be Nirvana.”

In reality it was only the next sub-plane of the buddhic - the second from the bottom, and the sixth from the top; but his impression is significant as showing that not only does consciousness widen as we rise, but the rate at which it widens increases rapidly. Not only is progress accelerated, but the rate of such acceleration grows by geometrical progression. Now this student reaches that higher sub-plane daily and as a matter of course, and is working vigorously and perseveringly in the hope of advancing still farther. And the power, the balance and the certainty which this introduces into his daily physical life is amazing and beautiful to see.

Another phenomenon which he observes, as accompanying this, is that the intense bliss of that higher plane now persists beyond the time of meditation and is becoming more and more a part of his whole life. At first this persistence was for some twenty minutes after each meditation; then it reached an hour; then two hours; and he is confidently looking forward to a time when it will be his as a permanent possession - a part of / himself. A remarkable feature of the case is that this prodigious daily exaltation is not followed by any sign of the slightest reaction or depression, but instead produces an ever-augmenting radiance and sunniness.

Becoming gradually more accustomed to function¬ing in this higher and more glorious world, he began to look about him to some extent, and was presently able to identify himself with many other less exalted consciousnesses. He found these existing as points within his extended self, and he discovered that by focusing himself at any one of these points he could at once realise the highest qualities and spirit¬ual aspirations of the person whom it represented. Seeking for a more detailed sympathy with some whom he knew and loved, he discerned that these points of consciousness were also, as he put it, holes through which he could pour himself down into their lower vehicles; and thus he came into touch with those parts of their lives and dispositions which could find no expression on the buddhic plane. This gave him a sympathy with the characters, a comprehension of their weaknesses, which was truly remarkable, and could probably have been attained in no other way - a most valuable quality for the work of a disciple in the future.

The wondrous unity of that intuitional world manifested itself to him in unsuspected examples. Holding in his hand one day what he regarded as a specially beautiful little object, part of which was white, he fell into a sort of ecstasy of admiration of its graceful form and harmonious colouring. / Suddenly, through the object, as he gazed at it, he saw unfolded before him a landscape, just as though the object had become a tiny window, or perhaps a crystal. The landscape is one that he knows and loves well, but there was no obvious reason why the little object should bring it thus before him. A curious feature was that the white part of that object was represented in the landscape by huge piles of cumulus clouds, which he saw as floating in the sky of his picture.

Impressed by this wholly unexpected phenome¬non, he tried the experiment of raising his con¬sciousness while he revelled in the beauty of the prospect. He had the sensation of passing through some resisting medium into a higher plane, and found that the view before him had changed to one which was strange to him, but even more beautiful than that which he knew so well. The piles of white cloud had become a towering snow-covered mountain, with its long line sweeping down to a sea of colour richer than any that in this incarnation he had seen. The rocky bays, the buildings, the vegetation, were all foreign to him, though well-known to me; and by a little careful questioning I soon ascertained without room for doubt that the scene upon which he was looking was that which I suspected - a real physical view, but one many thousands of miles from the spot where he sat gazing at it. Since that hallowed spot is often in my mind, though I was not thinking of it at that moment, what the student saw may have been a thought-form of mine. /

I imagine that up to this point what had happened may be quite simply described. I presume that the student’s emotion was excited by his admiration, and that the heightened vibrations which were caused in this way brought into operation his astral senses, and this enabled him to see a view which was not physically visible, but well within astral reach. The endeavour to press on further tempora¬rily opened the mental sense, and by it he was able to see my thought-form-if that second view was a thought-form of mine.

But the student did not rest satisfied with that; he repeated his attempt to push on still higher, or as he put it, still deeper into the real meaning of it all. Once more he had the experience of breaking through into some more exalted and more refined state of matter; and this time it was no earthly scene that rewarded his effort, for the foreground burgeoned forth into an illimitable universe filled with masses of splendid colour, pulsating with glorious life, and the snow-covered mountain became a great White Throne vaster than any mountain, veiled in dazzling golden light.

A strange fact connected with this vision is that the student to whom the experience came is entirely unacquainted with the Christian scripture, and was unaware that any text existing therein had any bearing upon what he saw. I asked him whether he could repeat this experience at will; he did not know, but later on he tried the experiment, and succeeded in passing again through those stages in the same order, giving some additional details / of the foreign landscape which proved to me that this was not merely a feat of memory; and this time the awestricken seer whispered that amidst the coruscations of that light he once had a passing glimpse of the outline of a Mighty Figure Who sat upon the Throne. This also, you may say, might be a thought-form, built by some Christian of vivid imagination. Perhaps; but when a few days later an opportunity occurred, and I asked a Wise One what signification we might attach to such a vision, He replied:

“Do you not see that, as there is but One Love, so there is but One Beauty? Whatever is beautiful, on any plane, is so because it is part of that Beauty, and if it is pushed back far enough, its connection will become manifest. All Beauty is of GOD, as all Love is of GOD; and through these His Qualities the pure in heart may always reach Him.”

Our students would do well to weigh these words, and follow out the idea contained in them. All beauty, whether it be of form or of colour, whether it be in nature or in the human frame, in high achievements of art or in the humblest household utensil, is but an expression of the One Beauty; and therefore in even the lowliest thing that is beautiful all beauty is implicitly contained, and so through it all beauty may be realised, and He Who Himself is Beauty may be reached. To understand this fully needs the buddhic consciousness by which our student arrived at its realisation; but even at much lower levels the idea may be useful and fruitful. /

I fully admit that the student whose experiences I have been relating is exceptional - that he possesses a strength of will, a power of love, a purity of heart and an utter unselfishness which are, unfortunately, far from common. Neverthe¬less, what he has done with such marked success may surely be copied to some extent by others less gifted. He has unfolded his consciousness upon a plane which is not normally reached by aspirants; he is rapidly building for himself a capable and most valuable vehicle there - for that is the meaning of the ever-increasing persistence of the sense of bliss and power. That his is a definite line of progress, and not a mere isolated example, is shown by the fact that even already the abnormal buddhic development is producing its effect upon the apparently neglect¬ed causal and mental bodies, stimulating them into action from above instead of leaving them to be laboriously influenced from below as is usual. All this success is the result of steady effort along the line which I have described. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 65-74.)

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