This chapter gives an overview of the Emotional Plane, which most of humanity is said to be on, demonstrating how it is connected to the emotions and desire.
NOTE: This book is now in the process of being edited. Once it is completely edited it will no longer be free online. As of 4/8/20 this chapter has been edited.
Having covered the Physical Plane we are now ready to get an overview at how the Bailey model views the Emotional Plane. (Note: For a much more detailed understanding of the seven subplanes of the Emotional Plane see my book Becoming Human).
Let’s start with the chart below and the words associated with it. In green we see how the Emotional Plane was traditionally called the Astral or Kāma Plane. We also see the association with “cosmic liquid” or water. And, we see how this plane is called the “plane of the emotions.” This chapter will quickly review then: 1) the connection of the Emotional Plane to kāma, 2) what is meant by the Astral Plane and its connection to “cosmic liquid”, 3) the association with the emotions.
Before I go into these three points let’s examine the detailed version of the chart above. Notice how you see a triangle connected to initials. These initials stand for the seven chakras. The dotted lines connect these chakras upwards to the Mental Plane and downwards to the Physical Plane, implying that our thoughts and feelings/desires influence the overall state of our etheric/vital and physical bodies. You will also note that just as we had a Physical Permanent Atom on the 1st subplane of the Physical Plane, we have an Emotional, or Astral, Permanent Atom on the 1st subplane of the Emotional Plane. Again, the permanent atoms represent the sum total of experience, or lessons learned, within each lifetime that are carried forward to the next life in a sort of DNA code. Keeping this in mind let’s look at some keywords for the Emotional Plane overall.
Kāma = Desire
One of the words associated with the Emotional Plane is that of kāma. Kāma comes from the Sanskrit word which means “desire.” In and of itself desire is not a difficulty. Without some level of desire we could not survive in the world. Desire is connected to motivation, or the ability to move ourselves to accomplish something. Even the word emotion, has a reference to motion, showing how our emotions help us to move in a particular direction for better or worse. What we desire and how conscious we are in regards to our desires is what creates well-being or difficulty, not the fact that we desire in and of itself. What is important then is to examine if what we desire leads to greater spiritual growth and development, or impedes it?
On the Emotional Plane our desires tend to be materialistic in nature primarily because of how we overly identify with the five senses at this level. From an evolutionary perspective this makes sense. For much of humanity’s existence the focus is on assuring survival, which means using desire to motivate yourself to get your basic needs met. At first human desires are fairly primitive such as wanting food, clothing, shelter and sexual relations to help propagate the species. At the lower levels of the Emotional Plane getting these basic desire met is difficult. We lake the mental understanding and control to ensure that these basic desires will be met on a regular basis. Eventually as we reach the higher levels of the Emotional Plane we become more adept at getting our food, clothing, shelter needs met so much so we may go to excess. Then we run the risk of becoming dominated by our desires becoming addicted and attached to them making us potentially destructive in our quest to get fulfill them.
Throughout the Emotional Plane then what do humans primarily desire? Go down any street, turn on any television, listen to most music, watch most movies, and play almost any video game and it is easy to observe. The overwhelming majority of human desires center around achieving money, pleasure, and power. These three needs are also related to the three lower centers, or chakras, known in modern language as the root, sacral, and solar plexus chakras. Beginning with the root chakra the emphasis is on getting money so that one can secure the basics of food, clothing and shelter in either a minimal or extravagant way.
Next is the sacral center, which has to do with the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. When sex is not used as a means to procreate, it falls into the realm of desire, Now sex is used as a source of pleasure, anxiety relief, and even escape (from loneliness or pain for example). Sex is also used as a way to make oneself feel special or desirable to others. Some even use sex in a manipulative way to get power over others so they can gain money, influence, or other favors. Others use sex as way to get high becoming addicted to the hormones that are released when we become infatuated with someone or have an orgasm. For all these reasons many societies spend a lot of time and energy in promoting sexual pursuits.
Other ways we tend to pursue pleasure in either a positive or negative way on the Emotional Plane can involve things like food, drugs, alcohol; shopping and gambling sprees; going to a spa or resort; having romantic affairs; indulging in various sports; participating in thrill seeking activities, and traveling to exotic places to name just a few things. Some people may even gain pleasure in ways that cause others pain such as when we take out our emotional revenge on someone. The highs and lows that we involve ourselves in over the pursuit of pleasure frequently become addictive causing us to even get pleasure from living lives of constant emotional turmoil.
Then there is the solar plexus center with its association with power. For most people power is obtained through acquiring property, money, and influence. On a selfish level power is sought because it feeds ones sense of superiority knowing that people, animals, and the environment can be dominated, controlled and used for ones selfish enjoyment. As we move up the Emotional Plane the increased focus on gaining personal power and influence over others increases, causing some serious temptations that can move a person to the “dark side of the force” (to use a popular phrase) if one is not careful.
Put these three chakras together and for the most part you have the entire experience of the Emotional Plane summed up. Even if you are out of the physical body and in your “astral body” (or “dream body” as some like to call it), the likelihood is high that your consciousness will still be focused on money, pleasure, and power. That is because the human race is so immersed in the Emotional Plane that even when they are out of the body (while dreaming or even dead) few people can even imagine anything apart from focusing the consciousness on satisfying these kinds of desires.
The Astral Realm
Now let’s examine the phrase that the traditional Theosophical model uses in association with the Emotional Plane known as the Astral Plane. The “astral plane” is said to be made up of “liquid” like images that mimic the physical realm, but are not a part of it. How do we access the “astral plane?” Perhaps the main methods are through our dreams, various kinds of drugs, an most important of all our imagination. The materialistic way of looking at astral phenomena is to view it all as unreal. Too often then something experienced on the astral plane such as in a dream or an altered state is considered make-believe, unreal, a hallucination, or simply made up. This makes it easy to simply discount these things creating a lack of understanding and inquiry into astral plane phenomena. I believe that instead of seeing astral phenomena as unreal it is better to see it as having a reality of its own apart from how we experience reality in the physical plane world. Doing so helps us start to understand more clearly what this astral realm is about.
Bailey made some attempts along these lines especially in her book Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II. In that book she put forward some ideas regarding what may be going on in regards to channeling, psychic phenomena and dreams. Carl Jung, a psychologist who knew of Bailey likewise made attempts to understand these things becoming especially famous for his attempts to understand the workings of what he called the “collective unconscious.” Before Bailey many Theosophist such as Helena Blavatsky, Charles Leadbetter, and Annie Besant put forward their theories as well. Many people have continued to try to understand and research astral plane phenomena before and since Bailey’s time. The point is instead of discounting all astral phenomena as meaningless, we can take the approach to consider it more seriously and try to sort out its value and meaning in association with our mental and physical lives.
Another important factor in connection with the astral plane is that of the imagination. In a way everything starts with a thought and then an image. According to the Ageless Wisdom tradition, imagination actually comes from the Soul. This means the more in tune anyone is with the Soul, the greater the capacity to imagine. Bailey states, “Through the use of the creative imagination, the soul creates; it builds thoughtforms on the mental plane and objectifies desire on the astral plane. It proceeds then to externalise its thought and its desire upon the physical plane through applied force, creatively actuated by the imagination of the etheric or vital vehicle” (Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II, p. 243). However, when that imagination hits the astral plane, it gets distorted and becomes fanciful (a word similar to fantasy). Because most of humanity today is not yet in touch with the soul, Bailey says that few humans know how to access the higher levels of imagination that remain free from “fancy” or “glamour” as she calls it. The famous Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali also talk about the problems of fancy as something to be overcome if we are obtain the Real.
On the lower subplanes of the Emotional or Astral Plane human beings imaginations are more restricted to creating images of the physical world around them. As they moved up the subplanes they were able to populate their surroundings with spirits creating fables, stories and myths in regards to them. Since the mid 1800’s human imagination has exploded with the inventions of the camera, movie camera, television, video games, and even virtual reality goggles. The images humans now create can rapidly morph and change reflecting the liquid like nature of the Emotional Plane. Humans can also share their imaginative stories and images across the world with great speed meaning one person’s imagination can greatly influence another’s. The explosion and speed in humanity’s ability to imagine and represent images means they are now being saturated with images both positive and negative. The boundaries between the Emotional Plane and Physical Plane are also being increasingly blurred, meaning it becomes ever more essential that human beings develop awareness and discernment as the Emotional Plane itself. If humans do not develop this, they will become lost in what Bailey refers to as “glamour”
Glamour is a word the Bailey teachings use to refer to the overall distortions created on the Emotional Plane. Bailey states, “The bulk of the people are purely emotional with occasional flashes of real mental understanding—very occasional, my brother, and usually entirely absent. Glamour has been likened to a mist or fog in which the aspirant wanders and which distorts all that he sees and contacts, preventing him from ever seeing life truly or clearly or the conditions surrounding him as they essentially are” (Glamour: A World Problem, p. 31). In short, the emotional reactions, the materialistic focus and the emphasis on desire make it difficult for human beings to see and experience the reality of the higher spiritual realms. Only as the emphasis shifts to contacting the Soul do the difficulties with glamour become more evident and are able to be removed with wisdom and care.
Emotions & Desire
In many spiritual traditions mastery of the emotions becomes essential. Mastery does not mean suppression so much as it means having more insight, wisdom and skill regarding how to deal with various emotional states. For most people emotions regularly swing from high to low. Emotions are also intimately intertwined with desire. If we achieve what we desire positive emotions tend to arise. If we do not achieve what we desire negative emotions frequently appear. When our consciousness is locked on the Emotional Plane our emotions are easily manipulated by our desires. The advertising industry plays on this using images (interestingly enough) to manipulate our emotions and desires in various ways.
Because we do not know how to handle our emotions and know how to desire in the right way, the images around us that play upon our desires can trigger us to act in addictive and compulsive ways causing us to want “more, more, more” of what the material world can offer us. Then quantity outweighs quality, greed outweighs need, and want outweighs necessity. If our desires are not met in the way that we hope, we can drift into escapist practices allowing ourselves to be distracted by books, movies, television programs, video games, and even our own inner fantasies that continue to trap our consciousness onto the Emotional Plane and into the realm of glamour.
As we mature spiritually we grow out of the kāma or desire realm. For many this process starts when we become satiated by the fulfillment of our desires creating a kind of “burn-out.” Slowly it begins to dawn on us that desires (primarily for material goods, money, pleasure, sex, and power) simply do not satisfy. We also become exhausted with the emotional highs and lows associated with desire. Now we seek to discern what is proper to desire in regards to it assisting our overall spiritual growth and development. Through spiritual practice we learn to gain increased mastery over our emotions so we are no longer pulled this way or that way by our emotional states. Whether our desires are satisfied (producing pleasure) or denied (producing pain) we retain our equanimity. As our emotions calm down a new sense of clarity emerges regarding the nature of the Emotional Plane and desire itself. Recognizing the addictive and unfulfilling nature of kāma we move away from desire and start to aspire into realizing who we really are as Soul (the Eogic Lotus) and then as Spirit (the Spiritual Triad and Monad). The more this shift takes hold, the better we are at capturing images that represent more the good, the true, and the beautiful of the higher spiritual levels, then the distortions, confusions, chaos and even horrors that too often exist in the Emotional Plane realms.
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