CHAPTER VI - The Art of Elimination
To take up again the thread of our instruction, we will now consider the activity of the inner spiritual man who has discarded his physical and etheric bodies and now stands within the shell of the subtle body—a body composed of astral or sentient substance and of mental substance. Owing to the strongly emotional and sentient polarisation of the average man, the idea has taken hold that man withdraws, after true death, first of all into his astral body, and then, later, into his mental vehicle. But this is not actually the case. A body constructed predominantly of astral matter is the basis of this idea. Few people are as yet so developed that the vehicle in which they find themselves after death is largely composed of mental substance. Only disciples and initiates who live mostly in their minds find themselves, after death, immediately upon the mental plane. Most people discover themselves upon the astral plane, clothed in a shell of astral matter and committed to a period of elimination within the illusory area of the astral plane.
As I have earlier told you, the astral plane has no factual existence, but is an illusory creation of the human family. From now on, however (through the defeat of the forces of evil and the disastrous setback suffered by the Black Lodge), the astral plane will slowly become a dying creation,  and in the final period of human history (in the seventh rootrace), it will become nonexistent. Today this is not the case. The sentient substance which constitutes the astral plane is still being gathered into forms of illusion and still forms a barrier in the path of the soul seeking liberation. It still "holds prisoner" the many people who die whilst their major reaction to life is that of desire, of wishful thinking and of emotional sentiency. These are still the vast majority. In Atlantean days the astral plane came into being; the mental state of consciousness was then practically nonexistent, though the "sons of mind" had their place on what is today the higher levels of that plane. The mental permanent atom was also practically quiescent within each human form, and there was consequently no attractive "pull" from the mental plane, as is the case today. Many people are still Atlantean in consciousness, and when they pass out of the physical state of consciousness and discard their dual physical body, they are faced with the problem of elimination of the astral body, but they have little to do to release themselves from any mental prison of the soul. These are the undeveloped and average persons who, after the elimination of the kamic or desire body, have little else to do; there is no mental vehicle to draw them into a mental integration because there is no mentally focussed potency; the soul on the higher mental levels is as yet "in deep meditation" and quite unaware of its shadow in the three worlds.
The art of elimination falls, therefore, into three categories:
1. As practised by those people who are purely astral in quality and constitution. These we call "kamic" people.
2. As practised by those balanced people who are integrated personalities and who are called "kama-manasic"  individuals.
3. As practised by advanced people and disciples of all grades who are mainly mental in their "living focus." These are called "manasic" subjects.
The same basic rules control them all, but the emphasis differs in each case. I would have you bear in mind that where there is no physical brain and where the mind is undeveloped, the inner man finds himself practically smothered in an envelope of astral matter and is for a long time immersed in what we call the astral plane. The kama-manasic person has what is called the "freedom of the dual life," and finds himself possessed of a dual form which enables him to contact at will the higher levels of the astral plane and the lower levels of the mental plane. I would again remind you that there is no physical brain to register these contacts. Awareness of contact is dependent upon the innate activity of the inner man and his peculiar state of apprehension and of appreciation. The manasic person is possessed of a translucent mental vehicle with a light density which is in proportion to his freedom from desire and emotion.
These three types of people all use an eliminative process of a similar nature, but employ a different technique within the process. For the sake of clarity, it might be stated that:
1. The kamic person eliminates his astral body by means of attrition, and vacates it via the astral correspondence to the solar plexus centre. This attrition is brought about because all the innate desire and inherent emotion are, at this stage, related to the animal nature and the physical body—both of which are now nonexistent.
2. The kama-manasic individual uses two techniques. This would naturally be so because he eliminates, first of all, his astral body, and then his mental vehicle.
a. He eliminates the astral body by means of his growing desire for mental life. He withdraws gradually and steadily into the mind body, and the astral body esoterically "drops away" and finally disappears. This takes place usually unconsciously and may require quite a long time. Where, however, the man is above the average, and on the verge of becoming a manasic person, the disappearance is brought about suddenly and dynamically, and the man stands free in his mental body. This takes place consciously and rapidly.
b. He shatters the mental body by an act of the human will, and also because the soul is beginning to be slowly aware of its shadow. The inner man is therefore attracted towards the soul, though still only in a somewhat feeble manner. This process is relatively quick and is dependent upon the extent of the manasic influence.
3. The manasic man, focussed now in his mental body, has also two things to accomplish:
a. To dissolve and rid himself of any astral sediment which may be discolouring his translucent mental body. The so-called astral body is now practically nonexistent as a factor of expression. This he does by calling in increased light from the soul. It is soul light which, at this stage, dissolves the astral substance, just as it will be the combined light of the soul of humanity (as a whole) which will dissolve finally the astral plane—again so-called.
b. To destroy the mental body through the use of certain Words of Power. These Words are communicated to the disciple via the Ashram of his Master. They bring in soul power to a greatly enhanced extent, and produce consequently such an  expansion of consciousness within the mental body that is broken up and no longer constitutes a barrier to the inner man. He can now stand, a free son of mind, within the Ashram of his Master and "shall no more go out".
Activities Immediately After Death
Immediately after death, and particularly if cremation has taken place, the man, in his kama-manasic body, is as much aware and alert to his environment as he was upon the physical plane when alive. This phrasing permits latitude as to the extent of the awareness and of observation, for a similar latitude must be allowed for those on the physical plane. People are not all equally awake or equally conscious of circumstances or immediate experience. However, as most people are more conscious emotionally than they are physically, and live to a great extent focussed in their astral vehicles, the man is quite familiar with the state of consciousness in which he finds himself. Forget not that a plane is essentially a state of consciousness and not a locality, as so many esotericists seem to think. It is recognised by the focussed reaction of the self-conscious person who—constantly and distinctly aware of himself—is sentient to the theme of his environment and of his outgoing desires, or (where advanced people are concerned, functioning upon the more advanced levels of the astral plane) sentient of outgoing love and aspiration; the man is engrossed with what engrossed his attention and involved the kamic principle during his incarnated experience. May I again remind you that there is now no physical brain to respond to impacts generated by the inner man, and also that sex, as it is physically understood, is nonexistent. Spiritualists would do well to remember this and so grasp the foolishness as well as the impossibility of those spiritual  marriages which certain schools of thought in the movement teach and practice. The man, in his astral body, is now free from the strictly animal impulses which, upon the physical plane, are both normal and right, but which now have no meaning to him in his kamic body.
Therefore, taking the average man, what are his first reactions and activities after the restitution of the physical body to the universal reservoir of substance? Let me enumerate some of these reactions:
1. He becomes consciously aware of himself. This involves a clarity of perception unknown to the average man whilst in physical incarnation.
2. Time (being the succession of events as registered by the physical brain) is now nonexistent as we understand the term, and—as the man turns his attention to his more clearly defined emotional self—there ensues invariably a moment of direct soul contact. This is due to the fact that even in the case of the most ignorant and undeveloped man, the moment of complete restitution does not pass unnoticed by the soul. It has a definite soul effect, something like a long and strong pull at a bell rope, if I might use so simple a simile. For a brief second the soul responds, and the nature of the response is such that the man, standing in his astral body, or rather in his kama-manasic vehicle, sees the experience of the past incarnation spread before him like a map. He records a sense of timelessness.
3. As a result of the recognition of these experiences, the man isolates those three which were the three major conditioning factors in the life which has gone and which also hold the keys to his future incarnation which he will next initiate. All else is forgotten, and all the lesser experiences fade out of his memory, leaving nothing in  his consciousness but what are esoterically called "the three seeds or germs of the future". These three seeds are in a peculiar manner related to the permanent physical and astral atoms, and thus produce the fivefold force which will create the forms later to appear. It might be said that:
a. Seed One determines later the nature of the physical environment in which the returning man will find his place. It is related to the quality of that future environment and thus conditions the needed field or area of contact.
b. Seed Two determines the quality of the etheric body as a vehicle through which the ray forces can make contact with the dense physical body. It delimits the etheric structure or vital web along which the incoming energies will circulate and is related in particular to the special one of the seven centres which will be the most active and alive during the coming incarnation.
c. Seed Three gives the key to the astral vehicle in which the man will be polarised in the next incarnation. Forget not, I am dealing here with the average man and not with the advanced human being, disciple or initiate. It is this seed which—through the forces it attracts—brings the man again into relation with those he previously loved or with whom he had close contact. It can be accepted as a fact that the group idea governs subjectively all incarnations, and that reincarnated man is brought into incarnation not only through his own desire for physical plane experience, but also under group impulse and in line with the group karma as well as with his own. This is a point which should receive more emphasis. Once this is truly grasped and understood, a great deal of the  fear engendered by the thought of death would disappear. The familiar and the loved will still remain the familiar and the loved, because the relation has been closely established over many incarnations and—as the Old Commentary expresses it:
"These seeds of determining recognition are not unique to me and you, but also for the group; within the group they relate one to the other in time and space. Only in the lower three shall those related find their true existence. When soul knows soul and in the meeting-place within the Master's call, these seeds shall disappear."
It will be apparent, therefore, how necessary it is to train children to recognise and profit by experience, for this, once learnt, will greatly facilitate this third activity upon the astral plane after death.
4. Having completed this "isolating of experience," the man will then seek and automatically find those whom the third seed influence indicates as possessing a constant part in the group experience of which he is an element, consciously or unconsciously. The relation once again established (if those sought have not yet eliminated the physical body), the man acts as he would on earth in the company of his intimates and according to his temperament and point in evolution. If those who are closest to him and whom he deeply loves or hates are still in physical incarnation, he will also seek them out and—just again as he did on earth—he will remain in their neighbourhood, aware of their activities, though (unless highly evolved) they will not be aware of his. I can give no detail as to reciprocal give and take or to the modes and methods of contact. Each person differs; each temperament is largely unique. I only seek to make  clear certain basic lines of behaviour pursued by man prior to the act or acts of elimination.
These four activities cover varying periods of time—from the angle of "those who live below," though there is no time recognised on the part of the man on the astral plane. Gradually the lure and glamour (of a low or high order) wears off, and the man enters into the stage where he knows—because the mind is now more incisive and dominating—that he is ready for the second death and for the entire elimination of the kamic body or of the kama-manasic vehicle.
One of the things to remember here is that once restitution of the physical in its two aspects has taken place, the inner man is, as I have earlier said, fully conscious. The physical brain and the swirl of etheric forces (mostly somewhat disorganized in the case of the majority of men) are no longer present. These are the two factors which have led students to believe that the experiences of the man on the inner planes of the three worlds are those of a vague drifting, of a semi-conscious experience, or indicate a repetitive life, except in the case of very advanced people or disciples and initiates. But this is not the case. A man on the inner planes is not only as conscious of himself as an individual—with his own plans, life and affairs—as he was on the physical plane, but he is also conscious in the same manner of the surrounding states of consciousness. He may be glamoured by astral existence or subject to the telepathic impression of the varying thought currents emanating from the mental plane, but he is also conscious of himself and of his mind (or of the measure of manasic life developed) in a far more potent manner than when he had to work through the medium of the physical brain, when the focus of his consciousness was that of the aspirant, but anchored in the  brain. His experience is far richer and fuller than he ever knew when in incarnation. If you will think this out for a little, you will realise that this necessarily would be so.
It may therefore be assumed that the Art of Elimination is practised more definitely and more effectively than was the restitution of the physical vehicle. Another point must also be considered. On the inner side, men know that the Law of Rebirth governs the experience-process of physical plane living, and they realise then that, prior to the elimination of the kamic, kama-manasic or manasic bodies, they are only passing through an interlude between incarnations and that they consequently face two great experiences:
1. A moment (long or short, according to the attained point in evolution) wherein contact will be made with the soul or with the solar angel.
2. After that a contact, a relatively violent reorientation to earth life takes place, leading to what is called "the process of descent and calling," wherein the man:
a. Prepares for physical incarnation again.
b. Sounds his own true note into the substance of the three worlds.
c. Revitalises the permanent atoms, which form a triangle of force within the causal body.
d. Gathers together the needed substance to form his future bodies of manifestation.
e. Colours them with the qualities and characteristics he has already achieved through life-experience.
f. On the etheric plane arranges the substance of his vital body so that the seven centres take shape and can become the recipients of the inner forces.
g. Makes a deliberate choice of those who will provide him with the needed dense physical covering, and then awaits the moment of incarnation. Esoteric  students would do well to remember that parents only donate the dense physical body. They contribute naught else save a body of a particular quality and nature which will provide the needed vehicle of contact with the environment demanded by the incarnating soul. They may also provide a measure of group relationship, where the soul experience is long and a true group relation has been established.
These two critical moments are consciously faced by the discarnate man and he knows what he is doing within the limits set by his point in evolution.
The Devachan Experience
I would also point out that this conscious undertaking of the art of elimination, and this awareness of process and purpose, in reality constitute the state of consciousness which has been called devachan by the orthodox theosophist. There has been a great deal of misunderstanding of this experience. The general idea has been that, after the process of ridding himself of the astral and mental bodies, the man enters into a sort of dream state wherein he reexperiences and reconsiders past events in the light of the future and undergoes a sort of rest period, a kind of digestive process, in preparation for the undertaking of renewed birth. This somewhat erroneous idea has arisen because the concept of time still governs theosophical presentations of truth. If, however, it is realised that time is not known apart from physical plane experience, the entire concept of devachan clarifies. From the moment of complete separation from the dense physical and etheric bodies, and as the eliminative process is undertaken, the man is aware of past and present; when elimination is complete and the hour of  soul contact eventuates and the manasic vehicle is in process of destruction, he becomes immediately aware of the future, for prediction is an asset of the soul consciousness and in this the man temporarily shares. Therefore, past, present and future are seen as one; the recognition of the Eternal Now is gradually developed from incarnation to incarnation and during the continuous process of rebirth. This constitutes a state of consciousness (characteristic of the normal state of the advanced man) which can be called devachanic.
It is not my intention to elaborate the technique of the eliminative process. Humanity is at so many different stages—intermediate between the three already outlined—that it would be impossible to be definite or concise. Attrition is relatively easy to understand; the kamic body dies out because, there being no call from physical substance, evoking desire, there is nothing with which to feed this vehicle. The astral body comes into being through the reciprocal interplay between the physical plane, which is not a principle, and the principle of desire; in the process of taking rebirth, this principle is utilised with dynamic intent by the soul in the mental vehicle to reverse the call, and matter then responds to the call of the reincarnating man. Kamic man, after a long process of attrition, is left standing free within an embryonic mental vehicle, and this period of semi-mental life is exceedingly brief and is brought to an end by the soul who suddenly "directs his eye to the waiting one," and of the power of that directed potency instantaneously reorients the individual kamic man to the downward path of rebirth. The kama-manasic man practises a process of withdrawal and responds to the "pull" of a rapidly developing mental body. This withdrawal becomes increasingly rapid and dynamic until it reaches the state where the probationary disciple—under steadily growing soul contact—shatters the kama-manasic body, as a unit, by an act of the mental will,  implemented by the soul. You will note that the "devachanic" experience will necessarily be briefer in connection with this majority than with the kamic minority, because the devachanic technique of review and recognition of the implications of experience is slowly controlling the man on the physical plane so that he brings the significance of meaning and learns constantly through experience whilst incarnating. Thus you will realise also that continuity of consciousness is also being slowly developed, and the awarenesses of the inner man begin to demonstrate on the physical plane, through the medium of the physical brain at first, and then independently of that material structure. I have here conveyed a definite hint on a subject which will receive wide attention during the next two hundred years.
The manasic person, the integrated personality, works, as we have seen, in two ways which are necessarily dependent upon the integration achieved. This integration will be of two kinds:
1. That of the integrated personality focussed in the mind and achieving a constantly growing rapport with the soul.
2. The disciple, whose integrated personality is now being rapidly integrated into and absorbed by the soul.
In this stage of mind development and of constant mental control (based on the fact that the man's consciousness is now definitely focussed and permanently centered in the mental vehicle), the earlier processes of the destruction of the astral body through attrition and by "dynamic negation" are carried on whilst in physical incarnation. The incarnated man refuses to be ruled by desire; what is left of the illusory astral body is dominated now by the mind, and the urges towards the satisfaction of desire are refused with full and  conscious deliberation, either because of the selfish ambitions and mental intentions of the integrated personality, or under the inspiration of soul intention which subordinates the mind to its purposes. When this point in evolution is attained, the man can then dissolve the last remaining vestiges of all desire by means of illumination. In the early stages of purely manasic or mental life, this is done through the illumination which knowledge brings and involves mainly the innate light of mental substance. Later, when soul and mind are establishing a close rapport, the light of the soul hastens and supplements the process. The disciple now uses more occult methods, but upon these I may not here enlarge. The destruction of the mental body is no longer brought about by the destructive power of light itself, but is hastened by means of certain sounds, emanating from the plane of the spiritual will; these are recognised by the disciple, and permission to use them in their proper word-forms is given to him by some senior initiate within the Ashram or by the Master Himself, towards the close of the cycle of incarnation.
Tenth Law of Healing
I would like now to lay down certain postulates which we shall need to consider in our study of Part Three where we take up the Fundamental Laws of Healing. These Laws and Rules, I have already given you, but I seek now to elaborate.
We have studied at some length the immediate processes which take place when the principle of life withdraws or is withdrawn from the body. There is a distinction, based on evolutionary development, in these two processes. We have traced the withdrawal of the life principle, plus the consciousness, from the subtle bodies in the three worlds, and have now reached the point where we are no longer dealing  with average man or with undeveloped man. We shall be concerned with the conscious activity of the soul in relation to its form aspect.
With the undeveloped or the average man, the soul plays a very small part in the death process, beyond the contribution of a simple soul determination to end the cycle of incarnated life, prior to another return to the physical plane. The "seeds of death" are inherent in the form nature and demonstrate as disease or as senility (using that word in its technical and not in its colloquial sense), and the soul pursues its own interests on its own plane until such time as the evolutionary process has brought about a situation wherein the integration or close relation between soul and form is so real that the soul is deeply and profoundly identified with its manifesting expression. It might be said that when this stage is reached, the soul is, for the first time, truly incarnated; it is truly "descending into manifestation" and the entire soul nature is thereby involved. This is a point little emphasised or realised.
In the earlier lives of the incarnating soul and for the majority of the cycles of life experience, the soul is very slightly concerned in what is going on. The redemption of the substance of which all forms are made goes forward under natural process and the "karma of matter" is the initial governing force; this is succeeded in time by the karma generated by the fusion of soul and form, though (in the earlier stages) very little responsibility is engendered by the soul. That which occurs within the threefold soul-sheath is necessarily the result of the innate tendencies of substance itself. However, as time goes on and incarnation follows upon incarnation, the effect of the indwelling soul quality gradually evokes conscience, and—through the medium of conscience, which is the exercise of the discriminative sense, developed as the mind assumes increasing control—an  awakening and finally an awakened consciousness is evoked. This demonstrates in the first instance as the sense of responsibility; it is this which gradually establishes a growing identification of the soul with its vehicle, the lower triple man. The bodies become then steadily more refined; the seeds of death and of disease are not so potent; sensitivity to inner soul realisation grows until the time is reached when the initiate-disciple dies by an act of his spiritual will or in response to group karma or to national or planetary karma.
Disease and death are essentially conditions inherent in substance; just as long as a man identifies himself with the form aspect, so will he be conditioned by the Law of Dissolution. This law is a fundamental and natural law governing the life of the form in all the kingdoms of nature. When the disciple or the initiate is identifying himself with the soul, and when the antahkarana is built by means of the life principle, then the disciple passes out of the control of this universal, natural law and uses or discards the body at will—at the demand of the spiritual will or through recognition of the necessities of the Hierarchy or the purposes of Shamballa.
We come now to the enunciation of a new law which is substituted for the Law of Death and which has reference only to those upon the later stages of the Path of Discipleship and the stages upon the Path of Initiation.
Hearken, O Chela, to the call which comes from the Son to the Mother, and then obey. The Word goes forth that form has served its purpose. The principle of mind (the fifth principle. A.A.B.) then organises itself, and then repeats the Word. The waiting form responds and drops away. The soul stands free.
Respond, O Rising One, to the call which comes within the sphere of obligation; recognize the call emerging from the Ashram or from the Council Chamber where waits the Lord of Life Himself. The Sound goes forth. Both soul and form together must renounce the principle of life and thus permit the Monad to stand free. The soul responds. The form then shatters the connection. Life is now liberated, owning the quality of conscious knowledge and the fruit of all experience. These are the gifts of soul and form combined.
I have wished to make clear in your minds the distinction between disease and death as experienced by the average man, and certain corresponding processes of conscious dissolution as practised by the advanced disciple or initiate. These later processes involve a slowly developing technique in which (in the earlier stages) the disciple is still the victim of disease-producing tendencies of the form, as of all forms in nature. This tendency produces subsequent death, through the stages of modified disease and peaceful, consequent death, on to the other stages where death is brought about by an act of the will—the time and the mode being determined by the soul and consciously recorded and registered in the brain. Pain is demonstrated in both cases, but upon the Path of Initiation pain is largely negated, not because the initiate endeavours to avoid pain, but because the sensitivity of the form to undesirable contacts disappears, and with it pain also disappears; pain is the guardian of the form and the protector of substance; it warns of danger; it indicates certain definite stages in the evolutionary process; it is related to the principle whereby the soul identifies itself with substance. When the identification ceases, pain and disease and also death lose their hold upon the disciple; the soul is no longer subject to their requirements, and the man is free because disease and death are qualities inherent in form, and subject to the vicissitudes of form life.
Death is to man exactly what the release of the atom appears to be; this the great scientific discovery of the release of atomic energy has demonstrated. The nucleus of the atom is split in two. (This wording is scientifically incorrect.) This event in the life experience of the atom releases a great light and a great potency; upon the astral plane, the phenomenon of death has a somewhat similar effect and has a close parallel in the phenomena brought about by the release of atomic energy. Every death, in all the kingdoms of nature, has to some extent this effect; it shatters and destroys substantial form and thus serves a constructive purpose; this result is largely astral or psychic and serves to dissipate some of the enveloping glamour. The wholesale destruction of forms which has been going on during the past few years of war has produced phenomenal changes upon the astral plane and has shattered an immense amount of the existing world glamour, and this is very, very good. These happenings should result in less opposition to the inflow of the new type of energy; it should facilitate the appearance of the ideas embodying the needed recognitions; the new concepts will now be seen, and their emergence into the realm of human thinking will be dependent upon the formulation of the new "lanes or channels of impression" whereby the minds of men can become sensitive to hierarchical plans and to the purposes of Shamballa.
This, however, is by the way. My proposition will serve to show you some of the relationships between death and constructive activity, and the wide usefulness of death as a process in reconstruction. It will convey to you the idea that this great Law of Death—as it governs substance in the three worlds—is a beneficent and corrective event. Without enlarging upon it, I would remind you that this Law of Death, which governs in such potency in the three worlds of human evolution, is a reflection of a cosmic purpose which  governs the cosmic etheric planes of our solar system, the cosmic astral plane and the cosmic mental plane. The death-dealing energy emanates as an expression of the life principle of that greater LIFE which enfolds all the seven planetary systems which in Themselves express the Life of our solar system. When, in our thinking and in our effort to understand, we enter this realm of pure abstraction, it is time to call a halt and draw our minds back to the more practical ways of planetary living and to the laws governing the fourth kingdom in nature, the human.
We are now in a position (after this attempt to argue from the universal to the particular, which is ever the occult way), to take up, in Part Three, the last point which deals with the Basic Requirements, and must now consider the use of the death principle by the disciple or the initiate. I would have you note my way of expressing this concept. This is dealt with under the title of The Processes of Integration.