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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 absen
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.