In the First Heaven, which is located in the higher regions of the Desire World, the panorama of life again unrolls and reveals every scene where we aimed to help or benefit others. They were not felt at the time the Spirit was in the lower regions, for higher desires cannot express themselves in the coarse matter composing the lower regions of the Desire World; but when the Spirit ascends to the First Heaven it reaps from each scene all the good which it expressed in life. It will feel the gratitude poured out by those whom it helped; if it comes to a scene where itself received a favor from others and was grateful, it will experience the gratitude anew. The sum of all these feelings is there amalgamated into the Spirit to serve in a future life as incentives to good.
Thus the Spirit is purged from evil in Purgatory and strengthened in good in the First Heaven. In one region the extract of sufferings become conscience to deter us from doing wrong, in the other region the quintessence of good is transmuted to benevolence and altruism, which are the basis of all true progress. Moreover, Purgatory is far from being a place of punishment. It is perhaps the most beneficent realm in nature, for because of purgation we are born innocent life after life. The tendencies to commit the same evil for which we suffered remain with us, and temptations to commit the same wrongs will be placed in our placed in our path until we have consciously overcome the evil here. Temptation is not sin, however, the sin is in yielding.
Among the inhabitants of the invisible world there is one class which lives a particularly painful life, sometimes for a great many years, namely, the suicide who tried to play truant from the school of life. Yet it is not an angry God or a malevolent devil who administers punishment, but an immutable law which proportions the sufferings differently to each individual suicide.
We learned previously, when considering the World of Thought, that each form in this visible world has its archetype there--a vibrating hollow mold which emits a certain harmonious sound. That sound attracts and forms physical into the shape we behold, much in the same manner as when we place a little sand upon a glass plate and rub the edge with a violin bow; the sand is shaped into different geometrical figures which change as the sound changes.
The little atom in the heart is the sample and the center around which the atoms in our body gather. When that is removed at death, the center is lacking, and although the archetype keeps on vibrating until the limit of the life has been reached--as also previously explained--no matter can be drawn into the hollow shape of the archetype. Therefore the suicide feels a dreadful gnawing pain as if he were hollowed out, a torture which can only be likened to the pangs of hunger. In his case, the intense suffering will continue for exactly as many years as he should have lived in the body. At the expiration of that time, the archetype collapses as it does when death comes naurally. Then the pain of the suicide ceases, and he commences his period of purgation as do those who die a natural death. But the memory of sufferings experienced in consequence of the act of suicide will remain with him in future lives and deter him from a similar mistake.
In the First Heaven there is a class who have not had any purgatorial existence and who lead a particularly joyous life: the children. Our home may be saddened almost beyond endurance when the little flower is broken and the sunshine it brought has gone. But could we see the beautiful existence with these little ones lead, and did we understand the great benefits wich accrue to a child from its limited stay there, our sorrow would be at least ameliorated in a great measure, and the wound upon our heart would heal more quickly. Besides, as nothing else in the world happens without a cause, so there is also a much deeper cause for infant mortality than we are usually aware of, and as we awake to the facts of the case, we shall be able to avoid in future the sorrow incident to loss of our little ones.
To understand the case properly we must revert to the experiences of the dying in the death hour. We remember that the panorama of the past life is etched upon the desire body during a period varying from a few hours to three and one-half days just subsequent to demise. We recall also that upon the depth of this etching depends the clearness of the picture, and that the more vivid this panorama of life, the more intensely will the Spirit suffer in Purgatory and feel the joys of heaven; also, that the greater the suffering Purgatory the stronger the conscience in the next life.
It was explained how the horrors of death upon the battle field, in an accident, or other untoward circumstances would prevent the Spirit from giving all its attention to the panorama of life, with the result that there would be a light etching in the desire body, followed by a vague and insipid existence in Purgatory and the First Heaven. It was also stated that hysterical lamentations in the death chamber would produce the same effect.
A Spirit which had thus escaped suffering proportionate to its misdeeds, and which had not experienced the pleasure commensurate with the good it had done, would not in a future life have as well developed a conscience as it ought to have, nor would it be as benevolent as it ought to be, and therefore the life, terminated under conditions over which the Spirit had no control, would be partly wasted. The Great Leaders of humanity therefore take steps to counteract such a calamity and prevent an injustice. The Spirit is brought to birth, caused to die in childhood, re-enters the Desire World and in the First Heaven it is taught the lessons of which it was deprived previously.
As the First Heaven is located in the Desire World (which is the realm of light and color), where matter is shaped most readily by thought, the little ones are given wonderful toys impossible of construction here. They are taught to play with colors, which work upon their moral character in exactly the manner each child requires. Anyone who is at all sensitive is affected by the color of his clothing and surroundings. Some colors have a depressing effect, while others inspire us with energy, and others again soothe and comfort us. In the Desire World the effect of colors is much more intense; they are much more potent factors of good and evil there than here. In this color play, the child imbibes unconsciously the qualites which it did not acquire on account of accident or lamentations of relatives. Often it also falls to the lot of such relatives to care for a child and see it die. Thus they receive just retribution for the wrong committed. As wars cease, and man learns to be more careful of life, also how to care for the dying, infant mortality, which now is so appalling, will decrease.
When both the good and evil of a life have been extracted, the Spirit discards its desire body and ascends to the Second Heaven. The desire body then commences to disintegrate as the physical body and the vital body have done, but it is a peculiarity of desire-stuff that, once it has been formed and inspired with life, it persists for a considerable time. Even after that life has fled it lives a semiconscious, independent life. Sometimes it is drawn by magnetic attraction to relatives of the Spirit whose clothing it was, and at spiritualistic seances these shells generally impersonate the departed Spirit and deceive its relatives. As the panorama of the past life is etched into the shells, they have a memory of incidents in connection with these relatives, which facilitates the deception. But as the intelligence has fled, they are of course unable to give any true counsel, and that accounts for the inane, goody-goody nonsense of which these things deliver themselves.
When passing from the First to the Second Heaven, the Spirit experiences the condition known and described previously as "The Great Silence," where it stands utterly alone, conscious only of its divinity. When that silence is broken there floats in upon the Spirit celestial harmonies of the world of tone where the Second Heaven is located. It seems then to lave in an ocean of sound and to experience a joy beyond all description and words, as it nears its heavenly home--for this is the first of the truly spiritual realms from which the Spirit has been exiled during its Earth life and the subsequent post-mortem existence. In the Desire World its work was corrective, but in the World of Thought the human Spirit becomes one with the nature forces and its creative activity begins.
Under the Law of Causation we reap exactly what we sow, and it would be wrong to place one Spirit in an environment where there is a scarcity of the necessities of life, where a scorching sun burns the crop and millions die from famine, or where the raging flood sweeps away primitive habitations not built to withstand its ravages, and to bring another Spirit to birth in a land of plenty, with fertile soil which yields a maximum of increase with a minimum of labor, where the earth is rich in minerals that may be used in industry to facilitate transportation of products of the soil from one point to another.
If we were thus placed without action or acquiescence upon our part, there would be no justice, but as our post-mortem existence in Purgatory and the First Heaven is based upon our moral attitude in this life, so our activities in the Second Heaven are determined by our mental aspirations. They produce our future physical environment, for in the Second Heaven, the Spirit becomes part of the nature forces which work upon the earth and change its climate, flora, fauna. A Spirit of an indolent nature, who indulges in daydreams and metaphysical speculations here, is not transformed by death respecting its mental attitude any more than regarding its moral propensities. It will dream away time in heaven, glorying in its sights and sounds. Thus it will neglect to work upon its future country and return to a barren and arid land. Spirits, on the other hand, whose material aspirations lead them to desire so-called solid comforts of hearth and home, who aim to promote great industries, and whose mind is concerned in trade and commerce, will build in heaven a land that will suit their purpose: fertile, mineralized, with navigable rivers and sheltered harbors. They will return in time to enjoy upon Earth the fruits of their labors in the Second Heaven, as they reap the result of their life upon Earth in Purgatory and the First Heaven.
In the Third Heaven most people have very little consciousness, for reasons explained in connection with the Region of Abstract Thought, for there the Third Heaven is located. It is therefore more of a place of waiting where the Spirit rests between the time when its labors in the Second Heaven have been completed and the time when it again experiences the desire for rebirth. But from this realm inventors bring down their original ideas, there the philanthropist obtains the clearest vision of how to realize his utopian dreams, and the spiritual aspirations of the saintly minded are given renewed impetus.
In time the desires of the Spirit for further experiences draw it back to rebirth, and the great celestial Beings who are known in the Christian Religion as Recording Angels, assist the Spirit to come to birth in the place best suited to give it the experience necessary further to unfold its powers and possibilities.
We have all been here many times and in different families, we have had relations of varying nature with many different people, and usually there are several families among whom we may seek re-embodiment to work out our self- generated destiny and reap what we have sown in former lives. If there are no special reasons why we should take birth in any particular family among certain friends or foes, the Spirit is allowed to choose its own place of birth. Thus it may be said that most of us are in our present places by our own prenatal choice.
In order to assist us in making that choice the Recording Angels call up before the Spirit's vision a panorama in general outlines of each of the offered lives. This panorama will show what part of our past debts we are to pay, and what fruits we may be expected to reap in the coming life.
The Spirit is left free to choose between the several lives offered. But once a choice has been made no evasion is possible during life. We have free will with regard to the future, but the past mature destiny we cannot escape. When the Spirit has made its choice, it descends into the Second Heaven where it is instructed by the Angels and Archangels how to build an archetype of the body which it will later inhabit upon Earth. Also here we note the operation of the great Law of Justice which decree that we reap what we sow. If our tastes are coarse and sensual, we shall build an archetype which will express these qualities; if we are refined and of aesthetic taste, we shall build an archetype correspondingly refined, but no one can obtain a better body than he can build. Then, as the architect who builds a house in which he afterwards lives, will suffer discomfort if he neglects to ventilate it properly, so also the Spirit feels disease in a poorly constructed body. As the architect learns to avoid mistakes and remedy the shortcomings of one house when building another, so also the Spirit which suffers from defects in its body learns in time to build better and better vehicles.
In the Region of Concrete Thought, the Spirit also draws to itself materials for a new mind. As a magnet draws iron filings but leaves other substances alone, so also each Spirit draws only the kind of mind-stuff which it used in its former life, plus that which it has learned to use in its present post- mortem state. Then it descends into the Desire World where it gathers materials for a new desire body such as will express appropriately its moral characteristics. Later it attracts a certain amount of ether which is built into the mold of the archetype Constructed in the Second Heaven and acts as cement between the solids, liquids, and gaseous material from the bodies of parents which form the dense physical body of a child, and in due time the latter is brought to birth.
This article was adapted from "The Rosicrucian Mysteries," by Max Heindel, page 127-137.