JUST as there are people who talk with authority about life yet know but little, so are there people who talk about Yoga who have never practised it. When we review our past lives we find we have lived through but a fragment of a far greater experience. What the world calls life is but an objective experience. The efforts to trace the cause of things are the first steps given us to know the reason for our sufferings. If one asks a great Yogi “What is life?” he would reply “I know but a fragment.” Or, as I have heard one say: “I am standing upon the shore of a vast and great Reality.” 

Our bodies differ in their radiations; for they absorb as well as radiate the waves of sound and colour that come within their range, and it is from these that one can see what is wrong with a person. When we find that these radiations are confused, then the vitality of the person is very low. In healthy people the astral, mental and several other currents are clear. 

The Astral body in the illustration shows a faint outline of grey with several interwoven strands near the axis of the spine that pass through the body to the navel centre where they unite in a closed sheath. It is from this that the seminal fluid is extracted when the medium wishes to materialise astral entities. The astral sheath is undeveloped and the sounding board that controls the sensitive when controlled by a discarnate entity. It takes several seconds for the semen to be collected in the sac-like sheath, and with this creative force we can project the Astral body a short distance from the physical body; but it cannot record anything above its intelligence; for its radiation is not strong, and is foreign to our secondary and central system. 

Every person is different in their range of passion and desire, and the seminal system responds to them. If we are animal in our passions we collect such atoms. Therefore we should aspire for purity and seek the greatest intelligence within our central system. 

As the student develops in his practice he will notice several changes in his Astral body. It begins to assume a new development and appear more lustrous. This is caused by atoms in the seminal system being transferred to it, and this grows more pronounced as we develop our power to emerge into our secondary and central system. 

The Astral body registers all that is foreign to our Innermost, and belongs to the submerged states of our existence: worlds of an ancient day when we were of the substance of the animal and antediluvian period. 

As we do not go into the lower levels of Society to meet great minds, neither do we enter the astral planes for wisdom; for they possess very little of true worth. 

The Astral body consists of numerous fibres held together by a composite body of matter similar to the translucent membrane of a fish’s eye. This membrane has the power to extend its area of activity several inches beyond the surface of the physical body during our waking state. 

The subconscious world of sex-animalism is very strong in many people; though they would shudder at such a thought, yet they unconsciously revert to their animal ancestry. Psychoanalysts will discover this; for they often analyse astral conditions, and place them in regions of their patient’s subconscious mind wherein astral conditions are unlocked and disturbed. For these reasons it would be better for these psychoanalysts to study Yoga , as they can then consciously enter these submerged states of man’s animal worlds of disease and destruction. 

The greatest use we can find in the most developed atoms in the astral sheath is that they possess great influence over minds closely related to their atmosphere. Though this astral intelligence might be of an animal nature, if it is cleansed through the purity and aspiration of the Silver Shield—to which we will devote a chapter later—it will become radiant and a sounding board for the thoughts of animals that will also receive our thoughts. Thus in time we can converse with animals as did Appolonius of Tyana. 

There is some confusion regarding this astral sheath. In occult literature we read about astral travels. This is a wrong term, since we cannot travel more than about twenty feet from the physical body as we are attached to it by the silver cord. 

When we travel into the astral plane we climb in our Mental body to a high altitude and from this height project ourselves into these planes; though the student will not waste much time in such worlds. 

There are three belts of illusion around the world, and as the student passes through these he attracts hosts of entities, and if he halts and listens to their demands for aid and instruction he might become beclouded by their ignorance. When entering the secondary system he casts a light behind, and like a candle in the darkness he attracts a multitude of rebellious atoms. 

Spirits are seldom interesting though we often test them, when we realise that they possess but little intelligence beyond this world. Though they presume to hold great secrets they cannot enter into the secondary system. Therefore the student should avoid those who claim to be great beings. As we scatter them with our power we see that they radiate but little of that light they claim to possess. Too close a relationship with them will result in the degradation and sapping of our vitality. 

We should keep aloof from those lower orders whose morals and views of life are of the nature of the animal kingdom, and to consort with gangsters and rum-runners is not the goal of a refined soul. Developed souls do not linger on the lower levels infested by these spirits. Hell is full of those who still long to keep their place and position in a Society that has at last divorced them. Such unfortunates are seldom willing to work on the lower levels to assist those beneath them. Though sacrifice of self can place them on a higher plane and in time evolve them into higher spheres. Evil natures bring sorrows to those who have their interests at heart. This is how the good are frequently persecuted by the Secret Enemy. 

In our practices we often descend into a lower sphere in order to liberate someone imprisoned there. The atoms of the Innermost observe those truly repentant of their evil deeds, and have watchmen who report upon those who are to be redeemed from their periods of illusion; just as the student is observed and given that initial effort that will enable him to gain a higher note. 

There is a Consciousness called the Overseer planet that retards our progress in order that we may gain sufficient power to overcome obstacles placed in our path. This planet is a secret of initiation and casts a pink light over the Initiated and gives them a new Consciousness of a militant nature. This is the symbol of one who has conquered atoms of the Secret Enemy within his astral and lower mental envelope. 

Mars—that is the instrument of this overseer planet—impresses a warlike quality upon those who are intermittently governed by its attributes of justice. 

Within the astral sheath are migratory atoms possessing our passions and desires. We do not realise that we attract myriads of these into this sheath. When we can visualise this atmosphere we shall see a moving and livid mass of small clusters revolving around their own centres. These atoms absorb the life and nourishment we radiate. Such atoms are particularly fond of the diseased centres caused by our unnatural passions and desires and states belonging to our past and submerged nature. We have often created images of a subnormal kind, and these are perceived and impressed upon us by our Secret Enemy. This causes our astral envelope to be invaded by hordes of lower atoms. 

We speak of entities living within a definite range of astral fluid and not of those entities that infest the atmosphere of the lower mind-body; for these belong to a more intelligent class. 

The astral nodes of communication are comparatively few, whereas the Mental body has many, and we are often aware of some astral entity who seeks information about the plane above that it cannot enter. These are like certain beasts that neither toil nor enrich the world, but are parasites of the life force of others. Those contacting them become likewise—devitalising and indolent, with no incentive to work. 

To overcome and sever one from such conditions one should cultivate a sense of prosperity and activity. This comes to those who have collected the Aspiring atoms. Vitality throws them off just as laziness attracts, and sunlight also severs them from such conditions. If a student becomes infected with these lower conditions flowers of sulphur shaken into the stockings will eradicate them. Several kinds of obsessions can also be remedied by this process; for these conditions refuse to inhabit the astral fluid when the odour of sulphur permeates its sheath. People who have died from accidents and whose skins have been lacerated make it easy for these entities to impersonate them; gathering the astral and mental moisture oozing from such wounds and creating apparitions at seances. 

The attachments of such entities to a sensitive can be broken by the application of vinegar to the rectum. This increases the voltage of the seminal fluid and produces greater resisting powers to foreign entities. 

In the atmosphere that divides us from our secondary system are innumerable places where certain atomic species suspend themselves like weaver-birds’ nests. These colonies distort our minds. Imagine myriads of these drifting unresistingly in space. They hover unseen about one’s atmosphere, and are more easily received upon the surface of our mental sheath in wet weather, and there remain, infesting it like ants swarming about a mound. 

People who receive them become anxious and distressed, particularly in a storm, for these colonies are deflated in the rain and, becoming denser, increase the depression of the people who receive them. 

The only way to check them is by radiating health by means of physical culture and any other healthy activity. 

The student should not aspire when the air is heavy and depressing; such conditions will impair his mental envelope; as aspiration breathing makes one a magnet for other atoms as well. These atoms are the parasites and drones of the atomic species: lazy, useless, devitalising. Sensitive people who attract such conditions need more nourishment. They should form regular and normal habits in order to eradicate refuse from their system. 

We are constantly surrounded by the cast-off shells of those whom we loved and who have reached their own true spheres of attainment. To visit them is easy to the advanced student, who reaches them by going inwardly and not reacting to the objecting atmosphere that is full of these shells. 

There are times when a person living within a loftier sphere may appear to us. This is not often, and occurs when one of the greater Beings pilots or guides a person through the Purgatory states of illusion into our objective atmosphere, and then only when it is deemed necessary for the loved one on Earth. 

Survival after death is easily learned during the first steps in Yoga . Afterwards the student will not think of survival at all as it is usually conceived; for he learns about space-time and it does not distress him. 

We do not apply right methods in burial. Immediately after death place the body in a dark room without draughts, then place a warm water-bottle to the feet and raise them to a slightly vertical position. This improves the circulation of the sheaths so that they can be easily loosened and withdrawn from the body. For we often bury people when their astral sheaths are still in the atmosphere of the body, and this causes great distress to the atoms that compose them, and afterwards react upon the higher mentality of the person who has left the shell. 

The processes of disintegration are carried on for a considerable time, and the body should not be buried before three days unless in a warm climate. But above all it is better to cremate the body, as this gives the person peace of mind and his sufferings are lessened. When the astral shell still clings to the corpse it is then that its apparition appears to the sensitive mind. 

Thoughtless people think little about the care of the dead; they imagine that no further care is needed. But if a person has died suddenly and his body has become chilled it causes him acute agony, and a low nature will avenge itself upon those responsible for its sufferings. Incidentally when assisting drowning people while out of the body I have not witnessed this agony; for there is an affinity between the astral sheath and water, both being of a protean nature. 

Death has not its sting for the occultist as for the normal man: for whenever he enters his interior systems he goes through a form of death, but religions have so impressed their followers about the terrors of after death that many devout Christians fight against that which should sometimes be welcomed. 

It is well that the femoral artery should be severed after the doctor has definitely decided that death has ensued, there having been cases of coma or trance state. 

As the Earth breathes in and out as we do, graveyards are a menace to civilisation; in time cremation will take its place, and people will have an altar in their house for the ashes of those who have showered their love upon them when alive, but not the ashes of those who gave no love: the youth of the future will not worship their ancestors indiscriminately, but will only send the pressure of their love to those deserving it, and evolve them to higher levels of Consciousness. In these ashes will lie the atmospheric links between their ancestors and themselves. Incidentally the pressure of a child’s prayer is one of the most protective forces known to the occultist, and in occult history Egypt was once saved from calamity through the prayer of a child. This will show wherein the Chinese have a greater wisdom regarding these things. 

The Initiates say that the living should be respected, and when death awakens them into their own states of the Reality they will be given their incense and perfume. This means that when a person who has loved others and has been loved passes over, his love is perfume and incense to our mind, and as we inhale this we contact those who are far beyond us in the inner states of being. 

Death is but an awakening into another state of Consciousness, and the Greeks treated this beautifully, as can be seen in their sculptures. It should be awaited with joy and not with misgiving, seeing that we return to those spheres that are of the nature of our being. 

The Dayspring of YouthThis chapter is from The Dayspring of Youth (1931) by M. Benefit yourself and others: buy the book, and you help raise awareness of Gnosis.