In previous posts on this blog I have focused mainly on comparing the Integral model to the Ageless Wisdom model in regards to what is known as the Egoic Lotus, Stages of Discipleship, and Stages of Initiation in the Ageless Wisdom teachings. In this post I am taking a different approach. I am going “down” the model spiritually, instead of “up” the model by looking closer at what is known as the Emotional Plane.
In the Ageless Wisdom teachings there are seven major planes, which are each broken into seven sub-planes. Each “plane” or level represents a different stage of spiritual growth and development. In this post I will detail more my understanding of what takes place on the emotional plane and how the Ageless Wisdom view of this fits in with the Integral model.
To begin with take a look at the chart below.This chart shows you the seven different major planes of the Ageless Wisdom model with the Emotional Plane highlighted on top of the main Ageless Wisdom map. The oval circle of pink, with the red dots in between, is meant to illustrate that we don’t simply grow one level at a time. Rather, we tend to have a range of development (which the pink oval represents) that we encompass. At our best moments we may “peak” and reach a higher level (the single red dot at the top). But, in general we constellate around a few levels. In Integral terms that peak is like reaching a higher state (going to the next level), but we do not live (constellate) there at our stage of development. In the Ageless Wisdom teachings (written about a hundred years ago) this stage vs state distinction was very well known. So was the idea of gaps or breaks in development (given the word “cleavages” at the time). What this means is if we have not integrated a level/plane in a solid way due to misunderstandings, distortions, glamours, traumatic episodes etc, we may have to go back and re-integrate these levels to stabilize them (complete the stage).
Now that you understand the general idea of what I am trying to convey by the pink ovoid (hopefully you do at least), I want to call your attention to the three levels I have created to the side. I call these Materialistic World View, Spiritual World View, and Self-Realization world view. Please note, these do not fit exactly with the notion of Integral’s Tier One, Tier Two, and Tier Three stages of development. In another post I will show how their tiers fit in with what I am creating here. Right now I simply want to convey what I believe the Ageless Wisdom model is trying to represent.
Also, for those of you who know primarily the Alice Bailey system of the Ageless Wisdom teachings, I need you to understand that as I go through the sub-planes of the Emotional Plane, what they mean, and how they relate to Integral, I will be drawing on the Theosophical Model as well (which pre-dates the Alice Bailey model, though they are similar in many ways as Bailey came out of Theosophy).
Having shared this I will put up the images I have shared on another post of the colors I am associating with the Emotional and Mental planes.
Again, you can quickly see that the chart on the right fits into the Emotional and Mental planes on the left. As mentioned in a previous post, the colors on the right also correlate to the colors of the Integral system, though I have added a lot more colors because at the level of the emotional and mental planes the Integral model just doesn’t have enough levels and colors associated with these levels to go around.
Going back to these charts, I invite you to see now how the levels of the Physical Plane and the Emotional Plane fit in with the bracket of what I am calling the Materialistic World View. This is an important thing to consider. What is the materialistic world view? In modern times it can mean the prevalent scientific notion that we are nothing more than our physical bodies and our brains. Any so-called spiritual insights are simply a result of stimulation of the brain. In short, consciousness is a by-product of the brain and when the brain dies, that is it! We are worm food. Nothing more.
However, when we look at the Ageless Wisdom teachings, especially in light of the earlier Theosophical teachings, the notion of the materialistic world view means much more than simply what we consider it to be today. Especially when we study their ideas of the sub-planes of the emotional and mental planes (found in the writings of Annie Besant, Charles Leadbetter and A.E. Powell) their view of Materialism means much more than the notion that the brain is the source of consciousness. It also includes the tendency after death to see and experience things materially! This is the basis of life on what they call the “astral plane” (astral equals emotional). In many ways movies, video games, and virtual reality worlds are the same as the astral plane. They are less solid projections of images and phenomena that are pretty much the same as the physical world. They look like the physical world, but they are not “physical.” They are not real in a physical sense.
However, the content of these emotional/astral/virtual realms is pretty much the same as the physical material realms. Instead of going to the physical Yosemite, we go to the virtual or imaginary one. Instead of having sex with a real person, we have sex with a virtual/imaginary one. We have conversations with our virtual/imaginary friends or loved ones, including those how have passed away. Even there, when we pass away, our experiences of heaven and hell look a lot like things we have seen here on Earth. In fact, in my research on where the ideas of heaven and hell came from, I discovered that hell images often were derived from places that existed in the real physical world (like Gehenna) where people really were killed, tortured and burned. We also see heaven images looking a lot like the physical world as well whether you are getting all the game you want in the happy hunting grounds, or being rewarded with rivers that flow like honey where a 1000 virgins await you, or you get to hang out with your long lost relatives etc.
It may surprise people to discover that these images are all considered “materialistic” in the traditional Ageless Wisdom texts. And, it may surprise others (it did me) to learn that traditionally the Ageless Wisdom teachings considered the astral plane to be absorbed in materialistic views. This does not mean the astral/virtual realms are not real. They are! To use a Buddhist phrase they are relatively real. Just as the physical body has a relative reality, it seems real in its own way, so the astral/virtual realms seem real in their own way. They are just not yet “spiritual.”
What in the world do these authors (Besant, Leadbetter, Powell) mean by spiritual then? In reading their works it appears as if they mean “other centered.” An individual’s thoughts, desires, and aspirations are not so much about his/her own money/pleasure/power and how to get more of these for oneself alone, but how to do this for others as. As one progresses up the sub-planes of the emotional/astral plane you go from what will seem like the hell realms where you can’t get any of your desires met to the heaven realms where they all get met. The reason you seem to be able to get your desires met more is primarily because you can use your emotions to better manipulate and push others around. In short, as you get to the top of the food chain on the emotional (or maybe we should call it desire) plane, you get to be a full blown narcissist.
This view of the emotional/astral plane was quite a surprise for me. Previously, I had seen it as mainly the levels where your emotions dominated over your mind. The more you used your mind to dominate and subdue your emotions, the more you were lifting out of the emotional/astral plane into the mental plane. The more traditional Theosophical view is more in alignment with the phrase “kama-manas” used so often in association with the emotional/astral plane. Kama is the Sanskrit word for desire. Manas is the Sanskrit word for mind. In short, you learn to use the mind to help you fulfill all of your desires predominantly along the lines of the three lower chakras of solar plexus = power, sacral = pleasure/sex, base of the spine = money and security.
In regards to the Integral model keeping the Theosophical view of the emotional/astral sub-planes in mind, once again I had to make adjustments. I will talk more about those adjustments in the next post.