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Manifestations Of The Higher Consciousness During The Different Kinds Of Sleep

Normal dream. During normal sleep there exists a special
consciousness which must not be confounded either with waking
consciousness or with that of the astral body. It is due to the
automatic, cerebral vibration which continues during sleep, and which
the soul examines on its return to the body--when awake. This dream is
generally an absurd one, and the reason the dreamer notices it only on
awaking is that he is absent from the visible body during sleep.

The proof of the departure of the astral body during sleep has been
ascertained by a certain number of seers, but the absurdity of the
commonplace dream is a rational proof thereof, one which must here be
mentioned. As another rational proof of the existence of a second
vehicle of consciousness, we must also notice the regular registering
of the commonplace dream, because it takes place in the brain, and the
habitual non-registering of the true dream experience, because this
latter takes place in the externalised astral body.

Why does the astral body leave the physical during sleep? This
question is beyond our power to answer, though a few considerations on
this point may be advanced.

Sleep is characterised by the transfer of consciousness from the
physical to the astral body; this transfer seems to take place
normally under the influence of bodily fatigue. After the day's
activity, the senses no longer afford keen sensations, and as it is
the energy of these sensations that keeps the consciousness "centred"
in the brain[5]; this consciousness, when the senses are lulled to
sleep, centres in the finer body, which then leaves the physical body
with a slight shock.

It is, however, of the real dream--which is at times so intelligent
that it has been called lucid, and at all events is reasonable,
logical, and co-ordinate--that we wish to speak. In most cases this
dream consists of a series of thoughts due to the soul in action in
the astral body; it is sometimes the result of seeing mental pictures
of the future[6] or else it represents quite another form of animistic
activity, as circumstances and the degree of the dreamer's development

It is in the lucid dream--whether belonging to normal or to abnormal
sleep--that occur those numerous and well-known cases of visions past
or future to be found in so many of the books dealing with this
special subject.

To these same states of higher consciousness are due such productions
as Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. The author, suffering from fever, wrote
this work whilst in a kind of delirious condition; Ivanhoe was
printed before the recovery of the author, who, on reading it at a
later date, had not the slightest recollection that it was his own
production. (Ribot's Maladies de la Memoire, p. 41.)

Walter Scott remembered nothing, because Ivanhoe was the fruit of
the astral consciousness impressed upon a brain which fever had
rendered temporarily receptive to the higher vibrations.

There are certain peculiarities of the real dream which prove almost
mathematically the superior nature of the vehicle which gives
expression to it. This dream, for instance, is never of a fatiguing
nature, however long it may appear to last, because it is only an
instantaneous impression made upon the brain by the astral body, when
the latter returns to the physical body, on awaking. On the other
hand, the cerebral ideation of the waking state is fatiguing if
intense or prolonged, or if the nervous system of the thinker is
deprived of its normal power of resistance (in neurasthenia); the
commonplace (brain) dream is also fatiguing if prolonged or at all

Another peculiarity is that a dream--the real dream--which would
require several years of life on earth for its realisation, can take
place in a second. The dream of Maury (Le Sommeil et le Reve, p.
161), who in half a second lived through three years of the French
Revolution, and many other dreams of the same nature, are instances of
this. Now, Fechner has proved, in his Elemente der Psychophysik,
first, that a fraction of a second is needed for the sensorial contact
to cause the brain to vibrate--this prevents our perceiving the growth
of a plant and enables us to see a circle of fire when a piece of
glowing coal is rapidly whirled round; secondly, that another fraction
of a second is needed for the cerebral vibration to be transformed
into sensation. We might add that a third fraction of a second is
needed for sensation to be transformed into ideation, proving that in
these special dreams there can have been no more than an
instantaneous, mass impression of all the elements of the dream upon
the brain,[7] and that the dream itself has been produced by the
imaginative action of the soul in the astral body, an extremely subtle
one, whose vibratory power is such as to transform altogether our
ordinary notions of time and space.

The death-bed dream. In dying people, the bodily senses gradually
lose their vitality, and by degrees the soul concentrates itself
within the finer vehicle. From that time signs of the higher
consciousness appear, time is inordinately prolonged, visions present
themselves, the prophetic faculty is sometimes manifested, and
verified cases are related of removal to a distance, like that of the
Alsatian woman dying on board ship. During the final coma she went to
Rio de Janeiro and commended her child to the keeping of a
fellow-countryman. (D'Assier's L'humanite posthume, p. 47) Similar
instances are found in The Night Side of Nature, by C. Crowe, as
well as in other works of the same kind.

The dream of intoxication. Under the influence of soporifics the
same transfer of consciousness is produced, and we meet with more or
less remarkable phenomena due to the higher consciousness. Opium
smokers and eaters of hashish are able to form ideas with such
rapidity that minutes seem to them to be years, and a few moments in
dreamland delude them into the idea that they have lived through a
whole life. (Hervey's Les reves et les moyens de les diriger.)

The dream of asphyxia. During asphyxia by submersion the higher
consciousness enters into a minute study of the life now running to
its close. In a few moments it sees the whole of it again in its
smallest details. Carl du Prel (Philos. der Mystik) gives several
instances of this; Haddock (Somnolism and Psychism, p. 213) quotes,
among other cases, that of Admiral Beaufort. During two minutes' loss
of consciousness in a drowning condition, he saw again every detail of
his life, all his actions, including their causes, collateral
circumstances, their effects, and the reflections of the victim on the
good and evil that had resulted therefrom.

Perty's account (Die Mystischen Erscheinungen der Menschlichen
Natur) of Catherine Emmerich, the somnambulist nun, who, when dying,
saw again the whole of her past life, would incline one to think that
this strange phenomenon, which traditional Catholicism appears to have
called the "Private Judgment," and which theosophy defines with
greater preciseness, is not limited to asphyxia by submersion, but is
the regular accompaniment of life's ending.

Next: Manifestation Of The Higher Consciousness In Various Cases Of Mental Faculties Lost To Normal Consciousness

Previous: Proofs Of The Astral Body

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