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Sunday, 8 January 2017

THE SECOND SOUL-SLEEP

Nature is consistent and uniform in her methods. One of these constant methods of habits is that by which she always interposes a period of rest, pause, sleep, or recuperation between the end of one period of activity and the beginning of another. On the physical plane, we have many instances of this, from the momentary pause of the pendulum between its forward and backwards swing; the pause between the inhalation and exhalation of the breath; the sleep between the close of one day and the beginning of another; the period of rest of the unborn child between its formative period and its birth into the world, etc.

In the Astral world, we find the same phenomenon in the soul-slumber which occurs between that which we call Death and the beginning of the new existence on the Astral Plane. And, reasoning from analogy, we might naturally expect a similar phase or period to exist between the close of the activities of the soul on the Astral Plane and its passing on to reincarnation or to higher spheres of spiritual life. And, indeed, such a phase or period does exist and forms a very distinct feature of the soul's existence on the other side. Such phase or period is known as the second soul-sleep or slumber.

The second soul-sleep is preceded by a transition state of gradually declining activity and consciousness and a corresponding desire for rest on the part of the soul. The natural processes on the Astral Plane nearing their close, the soul begins to experience a feeling of lassitude and weariness and instinctively longs for rest and repose. It finds that it has lived out the greater part of its desires, ambitions and ideals and in many cases has also outlived them. There comes to it that wistful feeling of having fulfilled the purpose of its destiny and a premonition of the coming of some newer phase of existence. The soul does not feel pain at the approach of the second soul-sleep but, on the contrary, experiences satisfaction and happiness as the coming of something which promises rest and recuperation. Like the weary traveller who has climbed the mountain paths and has delighted in the experiences of the journey, the soul feels that it has well earned a restful repose and, like that traveller, it looks forward to the same with longing and desire.

The soul may have passed but a few years, or perhaps a hundred or a thousand years, of earth-time on the Astral Plane, according to its degree of development and unfoldment. But, be its stay short or long, the feeling of weariness reaches it at last and, like many aged persons in earth-life, it feels that my work is over—let me pass on, let me pass on. Sooner or later, the soul feels a desire to gain new experience and to manifest in a new life some of the advancement which has come to it by reason of its unfoldment on the Astral Plane. And, from these reasons, and also from the attraction of the desires which have been smouldering there, not lived out or cast off; or, possibly influenced by the fact that some loved soul on a lower plane is ready to incarnate and wishing to be with that soul (which is also a form of desire), the soul falls into a current sweeping toward rebirth and the selection of proper parents and advantageous circumstances and surroundings. In consequence, it again falls into a state of soul-slumber, gradually, and so when its time comes it dies on the Astral Plane, as it did before on the material plane, and passes forward toward rebirth on earth.

But, strictly speaking, the soul continues in a condition of partial slumber even after it has been reborn on earth-life, for it does not at once wake up in the body of the newborn child in which form it has reincarnated. On the contrary, it awakens gradually during the early childhood and youth of the child. 

A soul does not fully awaken from its second soul-slumber immediately upon rebirth but exists in a dreamlike state during the days of infancy, its gradual awakening being evidenced by the growing intelligence of the babe, the brain of the child keeping pace with the demands made upon it. In some cases, however, the awakening is premature and we see cases of prodigies, child-geniuses, etc., but such cases are more or less abnormal and unhealthy. Occasionally, the dreaming soul in the child half-wakes and startles us by some profound observation or mature remark or conduct. The rare instances of precocious children and infant genius are illustrations of cases in which the awakening has been more than ordinarily rapid. On the other hand, cases are known where the soul does not awaken as rapidly as the average and the result is that the person does not show signs of full intellectual activity until nearly middle-age. Cases are known where men seem to wake up when they are forty years of age, or even older, and then take on freshened activity and energy, surprising those who had known them before. 

In the earlier stages of the second soul-slumber—the stages which are passed on the Astral Plane, the slumbering soul undergoes a peculiar stage of what might be called spiritual digestion and assimilation. Just as in its first soul-slumber, the soul digested the fruits of its earth-life and assimilated its lessons and experiences, so in this second slumber the soul digests and assimilates the wonderful experiences of the Astral. For, be it remembered, the period on the Astral has been not only one of retrospect and manifestation of latent powers, it has also been a period of reconstruction and unfoldment.

Many things have been lived-out and outlived on the Astral and the soul leaves the Astral a far different entity from that which entered it. But, and remember this also, the change is always for the better. Many undesirable characteristics have been burned away by the fires of repentance and remorse and many desirable characteristics have been unfolded in the rich spiritual soil of the higher planes, aided by the Sun of Spirit which envelops the soul on the higher planes. But, there is still needed a process of stocktaking, readjustment of mental conditions and spiritual preparation for a new life—and this is supplied during the early stages of the second soul-slumber.

Just as the child, or the adult, receives the energy necessary for the work of the new day, when it is wrapped in sleep at the close of the old day, so does the sleeping soul receive energy from the One Supply, that it may face the new life with vigour and power. The soul receives a fresh impetus of energy and is also given the psychic pattern of its new physical body during the second soul-slumber. It is also allowed to experience the attractive power of its Karmic ties, which leads it into the channel of rebirth in accordance with the character of its nature—like attracts like is the axiom which expresses the processes.

Each soul goes to where it belongs by reason of what it is. It is not subject to the arbitrary dictates of any being in heaven or on earth, but the absolutely just and equitable law of Karma operates in every case. There is no favouritism, nor is there the slightest chance of even the faintest injustice being the fate of any soul, no matter how humble or lowly it may be. The lowest, as well as the highest, comes under the same law, for all are children of the same parent—all little children in the kindergarten of the Absolute. All are on the Path, whether they know it or not—and their ignorance is not counted against them in the reckoning.

There is a class of souls that rise above further reincarnation in earth-life and ascend to planes and stages of existence far above anything which the earth can offer. Even such souls must pass through the second soul-slumber of the Astral Plane before they can proceed further. In such cases, they lose in their sleep all that is left of the confining sheaths of earth-desire and throw aside all the fruits of earth action except that which is called Liberation and Freedom. Such souls never again awaken on earth, nor do they ever return to it unless, perchance, they voluntarily revisit earth in after ages as great teachers or leaders. Such have worn the garb of men, now and then throughout the ages, but have always been far more than men in all but form. There are planes upon planes of existence higher than earth or its Astral Plane. Blessed indeed is the soul which awakens from the second soul-slumber and finds itself in even the most humble of these exalted states. Even the wisest sage bows his head in reverence at the mention of such spheres of existence, which transcend even the human imagination.

Life Beyond Death, Yogi Ramacharaka, Yogi Publication Society, Chicago, 1912