The path through the causal realms

When the aspirant ascends beyond Sahansdal Kanwal, the negative powers working under the lordship of Kal are at their worst. Kal can neither create nor destroy a soul, but he can keep souls trapped in the causal, astral and physical realms. He imprisons the souls of men with the chains of worldly pleasures, and when a soul aspires to return to its True Home, Kal brings his forces to bear in order to prevent the soul from ascending. But the

Supreme Lord of Love, Sat Purusha, is the highest deity of all, and He is the creator of all the universes. The perfect mystic adept is His incarnation and can escort the soul safely through the regions of Kal.

In the higher astral planes, immediately before he reaches the vestibule of the causal planes, the aspirant meets indescribably beautiful men and women, and these offer incredible allurements in order to prevent the soul from further ascent. However, the protecting Shabd-power of the mystic adept will render these seductive astral beings invisible to the aspirant. No negative power of any kind whatsoever can approach the Shabd-radiation given out by a perfect mystic adept. Maulana Rumi has spoken of the protecting grace of the mystic adept: "O brave Soul! take hold of the garment of One who knows well the various planes - physical, mental, supra-mental and beyond - and who is able to remain with thee as a true friend, whether in life or in death, in this world or in the next."

The aspirant now prepares to take the second stage of the upward journey; but before it can enter the causal regions he has to pass through an incredibly narrow pathway, a crooked tunnel or curved pipe, known as the Bankanal to the oriental mystic adepts. Kabir has described this tunnel to the mental worlds as one-tenth the size of a mustard seed, and he likens the mind to the size of an elephant in its striving to effect an entrance into this tunnel. Guru Nanak has also described this tunnel, comparing it to a passage that is one-tenth the width of a hair. Other mystic adepts have compared it to the eye of the finest needle. It is impossible for the aspirant to pass through this tunnel without the help of a competent mystic adept, but with the help of such a master of spirituality the pathway is widened, and the aspirant may then ascend and descend without further difficulty.

Thus the initiate enters the causal realms through the U-shaped tunnel of the Bankanal. The way of progress extends straight and level for Some distance, and then descends suddenly. After a descending curve the way again ascends and the initiate traverses a level pathway which leads to a region that has been termed the "seventh heaven" in Sufi literature.

When the initiate has journeyed to the higher end of the Bankanal tunnel, his vision and perspective appear to be reversed, and he sees everything as if from the opposite side of a veil or mirror that he has penetrated. He is now in the second great Division of creation, known as Brahmanda (the Egg of Brahm) in the oriental mystical teachings. Brahmanda is so called because of its apparently elliptical shape. It embraces within its totality both the materio-spiritual and the physical universes, but it is far more vast than the combination of both of these. In point of fact, the three lower Divisions of the entire cosmic creation may be conceived as a totality, with the summit of this region as Brahmanda, the spirito- material Division, and the middle section as the astral realms, the materio-spiritual Division, and the lowest section as the physical universe itself.

The inhabitants of the causal regions are unutterably happy, but they are still subject to eventual rebirth into the physical universe after along sojourn in Brahmanda. They are thus not immortal as are the liberated souls in the purely spiritual realms, but they do live in an infinitely vaster time-scale than do the beings in the astral and physical universes. Brahmanda is ruled by Maha-Kal, also known as Par-Brahm in the oriental teachings. Maha-Kal is the higher aspect of Kal and resides in the upper and more spiritual regions of Brahmanda, as Kal himself resides in the lower and more material regions. In the lower regions of Brahmanda, mental matter is supreme, for it is the plane of mind, and mind itself is composed of a subtilized form of matter with a certain admixture of spirit.

The aspirant ascends into the lower planes of Brahmanda and finds himself in the realm of Universal Mind, known as Trikuti in the oriental teachings. This realm of Universal Mind has been erroneously conceived of as "God" by many metaphysicians and mystical theologians, but it is still only the beginning stage of the second step of the upward journey of the mystic adepts and their disciples. As he ascends through this region of Trikuti, the aspirant hears an exalted melody, which resembles a tonal enunciation of the word "Om." It is are sonant and rumbling sound, reminiscent of the thunder of the storm clouds on earth, but with an unearthly sweetness and harmony. In my book, "The Journey of Sounding Fire," published in 1956, I referred to the soul's descent into incarnation, through the planes of Universal Mind, in the following words: "Thus I returned to Myalba (earth),through the rumbling planetary pathway, regained the numbing cloak of sentient self's desire, to take once more my Journey of Sounding Fire."

Trikuti is a plane where the soul can journey through a "rumbling planetary pathway," quite literally a pathway through pulsating planets. As the soul of the initiate gazes upwards, in the direction of the "rumbling planetary pathway," he passes into a region of fortress-like buildings, with high towers and turrets. He lingers for a period of time in this region, and filled with the attributes of devotion and faith, he sees himself as the lord of the mental planes. The fortress region is the storehouse of human karmas, the record of the actions and reactions of the past and present. The Law of Karma, the immutable law of cause and effect, governs the entire three-fold creation of the causal, astral and physical universes. Each person's individual karmic pattern has determined his destiny. The way in which a man has acted during his present life, and during past cycles of life, ordains what he is at the present time. The karmic law works constantly, for "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.

"How can man's karmic debts be completed or rendered ineffective, other than by the long and apparently endless cycle of birth and rebirth? Part of the answer to this question lies in the fortress region of the causal worlds; but no one can get there without a competent spiritual guide. On the physical levels it seems that as soon as man has atoned for past mistakes, he creates new karma for himself, and the just law of action and reaction must take its toll. Kal holds the supreme court of judgment in the causal, astral and physical universes; he is the Lord of Karma, and only one embodiment can beem powered to change certain decrees of Kal, for the purpose of liberating a soul from the Wheel of Birth and Death. Such an embodiment is the mystic adept of the highest order, known in the oriental terminology as a Sant Satguru. Once such a mystic adept has taken an aspirant under his protection, that aspirant is freed from bondage to Kal, the negative power, and his karmic debts-part of which are dissolved at the time of initiation – are subsequently dissolved through the grace of the mystic adept.

When, through the grace of the mystic adept, the disciple reaches the fortress region of Trikuti, the seeds of his past karmas are eventually seared to nothingness, although the soul still retains the stain of much impurity garnered through many incarnations. During his stay in the fortress- realm, the disciple gazes above the high turrets and sees dark clouds of great vastness, from which peals of cosmic thunder constantly resound. Then, when the purpose of his stay in the fortress-realm has been fulfilled, the initiate ascends beyond the black clouds and beholds that the entire sphere is a sublime cosmos of vibrant red color, with a glorious red sun in the center of the sky, imparting its crimson tones to the entire region.

Trikuti, in addition to being the grand storehouse of human karma (a vast reserve which has been accumulating for millions of lives), is also the region of knowledge. It is within this sphere that the three cosmic attributes - harmony, action and inertia -have their origin, and the creation of the astral and physical universes was made possible by their interplay. These three attributes are personified in the Hindu scriptures as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, which are collectively termed Mahadev (Great God). Under the glowing red skies of Trikuti, reminiscent of the most beautiful dawn that can be seen on earth, the radiant form of the mystic adept is seen in an even greater glory, and the initiate experiences higher impulses of the heavenly Shabd in a manner that overshadows all his previous experiences in the astral and physical regions.

The initiate sees the cosmic form of a resplendent four-petaled lotus, and its predominating red color evolves into exquisite details and manifold radiant tones, becoming more and more pronounced as he approaches it. He now hears the magnificent sound of a collossal drum, beaten incessantly, and its deep tones accompany him on this stage of his upward journey. As the initiate progresses onwards, he wheels through the profound space of the causal regions, with the melody of the drum sounding all about. He now consciously grasps the import of the celestial Shabd, the audible life stream, from which primal power all creation has come into being. The initiate ascends through a pulsating stellar pathway, speeding onwards and upwards, with innumerable suns, moons and stars appearing and disappearing. Words are completely inadequate to describe this experience, for the disciple now fully realizes his complete separation from the universe of materiality and from the languages of the physical world.

Rising to the upper regions of the causal realm, the initiate becomes intoxicated with the joy and bliss of his newly found freedom. He speeds across glowing cosmic mountains and glorious plains. Below him, he sees wondrous gardens where vibrant flowers are arranged in symmetrical patterns everywhere, in a symphony of color and sound. Radiant rivers and canals of ethereal "nectar of Brahm "flow abundantly through this region, and ultimately the initiate approaches a great ocean of radiance and crosses this ocean on a mighty bridge of light.

He now sees before him the awe- inspiring prominences of Guru Nanak has described the realm of Brahmanda in the following way:

Countless the Fields of Action, countless the golden mountains,
And countless the Dhrus (saints) meditating therein.
Countless the Indras, countless the suns and moons, and countless the earthly and stellar regions;
Countless the Siddhas, the Buddhas, the Naths, and countless the gods and goddesses.
Countless the Danus (demigods) and the Sages, and countless the bejeweled oceans.
Countless the sources of creation, countless the harmonies, countless those that listen unto them, And countless the devotees of the Word,
Endless and unending, O Nanak! this realm.

This glorious realm, then, is the plane of Universal Mind, through which the Supreme Lord has created the cosmic universes. However, the Supreme Lord is not that Universal Mind, in spite of statements to the contrary made by many modern metaphysicians and mystics. Universal Mind is a projection of the Will of the Supreme Lord to manifest part of Himself in His creation. Man himself, made in "the image of his Creator, "also creates through the medium of his own mind, but he is not that mind. Man is a living soul, a spiritual entity who is the essence of God, and on his upward journey the aspiring initiate sees that the human mind is still far lower on the ladder of the inner universes than the spiritual aspects of the human being, in spite of the mind's wonderful functions and creativeness. Beyond that realm of Universal Mind is that region of which Christ spoke: "There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed, and hid that shall not be known." (Matt. 9:26).

The aspirant must remain in this causal region, a realm of unalloyed delight, for a period of time, during which his entire karmic burden Is liquidated in the fortress-like dominion. He is instructed by the mystic adept to meditate for a long time in this causal realm, so that his Soul may be further cleansed of impurities. When this purification is achieved, the mystic adept urges the initiate on to the higher regions beyond Brahmanda, The ascent now must be made to the super causal realm, known as Par-Brahm (beyond Brahm) or Daswan Dwar (the Tenth Gate) to the oriental mystics.