Abstract The innumerable recorded and researched cases of past life experiences clearly point to life after death. In all the recorded cases of reincarnations, it was found that there was a variable time lag between the death of the person and his next reincarnation on Earth. So, where do we go after death till our reincarnation on Earth? Is it a single plane of existence or are there a variety of planes of existence? If so, what are the factors that decide where we go after death? In this article, we present the answers to these and other questions about this topic. These answers are obtained through spiritual research done by seekers of the Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF) with highly developed sixth sense (ESP). Note: In order to understand this article better, it is recommended that you read the article on the three subtle basic components of sattva, raja and tama. Table of contents 1. What happens after death? 2. The various planes of existence in the Universe 3. Characteristics of the seven positive planes of existence in the Universe 3.1 Positive planes of existence and reincarnation on Earth 3.2 The importance of the Earth plane of existence 4. What is Hell, who goes to Hell and what are the characteristics of the various planes of existence of Hell? 5. Movement between subtle planes of existence in the Universe 6. What decides where we go after death? 6.1 Importance of the mental state at the time of death 6.2 Who goes to Hell 7. Suicide and the after life 8. Why is there a time lag between two reincarnations? 9. Conclusion 1. What happens after death? Spiritual research has shown that man is comprised of the following four basic bodies: Physical Mental Causal or intellectual Supracausal or subtle ego The picture below is a diagrammatic representation of what a human being is comprised of. When a person dies the physical body ceases to exist. However, the rest of his existence or consciousness continues. The existence of the person minus the physical body is known as the subtle body (linga deha) and it comprises of the mental, causal (intellect) and supracausal (subtle ego) bodies. This subtle body then goes to one of the 13 subtle planes of existence other than the Earth plane. 2. The 14 planes of existence in the Universe There are 14 main planes of existence in the Universe. Seven of them are positive planes of existence and seven are negative planes of existence. The seven negative planes of existence are commonly known as Hell (Paataal). There are numerous sub-planes within these main planes of existence. Seven positive planes of existence: The planes of existence occupied mostly by living persons and subtle bodies doing righteous deeds and engaged in spiritual practice according to the positive path of spiritual practice are known as the seven positive planes of existence or saptaloka. By positive path, we mean the orientation of spiritual practice is towards God-realisation, which is the ultimate in spiritual growth. The Earth plane is the only physical plane of existence in the Universe and is also the first plane of existence in the hierarchy of the positive planes of existence in the Universe. Seven Negative planes of existence: These are planes of existence occupied mostly by subtle bodies that have done unrighteous deeds and are engaged in spiritual practice according to the negative path. By negative path, we mean the orientation of spiritual practice is towards attaining spiritual power, e.g. supernatural powers. This spiritual power is primarily used to enhance one’s control over others or for negative purposes. Thus all subtle bodies that go to any one of the planes of existence of Hell, by virtue of their evil intentions become ghosts. Refer to the article on, ‘What is a ghost’? Sub planes of existence of Hell (Narak): Every plane of existence of Hell (Paataal) has a sub-plane known as Narak. For example, the first plane of existence of Hell will have within it a sub-plane that is known as the first Narak. Narak is reserved for the worst ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) in Hell. The ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) occupying the first Narak face more severe punishment and for a longer duration than those occupying the first plane of existence of Hell. The diagram below shows the 14 planes of existence in the Universe. An explanation behind the colour scheme used Earth is depicted reddish as it represents action (i.e. subtle basic raja component), as it is the only plane where we have the physical body to do something. Heaven has been depicted in pink, which represents an abundance of happiness. Yellow represents spiritual knowledge and an increase in the subtle basic sattva component. It finally becomes almost white at the highest stage, which represents the close proximity to the unmanifest God principle. The regions of Hell are represented by darker shades to black, as there is an increase in the subtle basic tama component. 3. Heaven and the other positive planes of existence in the Universe Footnotes (based on the numbers in red in the above table): 1. Each positive and negative plane of existence beyond the Earth (physical) plane of existence becomes more and more subtle. By subtle, we mean, that which is beyond the comprehension of the five senses, mind and intellect. Satyaloka is the subtlest, i.e. the most difficult to perceive or comprehend unless the highest sixth sense (ESP) level is attained. 2. Due to lack of spiritual practice, most people in the current era go to either the Nether world or one of the planes of existence of Hell. We generally go to the Nether world after death when the proportion of demerits (incurred due to wrong doings on Earth) is approximately 30%. Demerits typically include malice towards others and a lot of desires. The likelihood of being attacked in the Nether world by higher-level ghosts from the lower plane of existence of Hell is almost certain. 3. Earth is the only plane of existence where there is an amalgamation of people with varying spiritual levels. However, after death we go to the precise plane of existence corresponding to our spiritual level. 4. The minimum spiritual level required to attain Heaven after death is 60%. Please refer to the article, which describes what spiritual level is and the breakdown of the world population in 2006 according to spiritual level. Basically from the Spiritual science perspective, meritorious acts to attain Heaven or the higher positive planes of existence are those acts done with the objective of God-realisation. The following three criteria can be applied. Acts done without doership, i.e. with the outlook that God Himself is getting it done from me and hence I cannot lay claim to any credit. Done without expectation of acclaim or appreciation. Done without expectation of results. More than the acts per se, it is the attitude or outlook behind the acts that counts more. 5. To attain a higher plane of existence beyond Heaven one needs to be at a spiritual level higher than 80%. This can only be achieved by consistent spiritual practice according to the six basic laws of spiritual practice along with a major reduction in ego. 6. By predominant body, we mean the body that is most active, i.e., mental, intellect or the subtle ego. For example, in the Nether plane of existence (Bhuvaloka), the subtle bodies still have a lot of desires and attachments. As a result, quite often they become ghosts trying to fulfil some desire of theirs. This leaves them open to higher-level ghosts from the lower rungs of Hell to take advantage of their cravings to affect people on Earth. 7. In the Nether plane of existence we experience some happiness. However, the unhappiness is amplified as compared to the unhappiness experienced on Earth. 8. In Heaven plane of existence, subtle bodies experience an over abundance of happiness. This happiness is much beyond the happiness experienced on Earth in quantity, quality and duration. As we go up the positive planes of existence, there is an increase in the quality of happiness and no unhappiness. 9. Sattvik happiness means happiness derived from helping others without any expectations or strings attached. When ego is involved in the act, it becomes raajasik. 10. Serenity is a higher experience than Bliss. 3.1 Positive planes of existence and reincarnation on Earth In the planes of existence below Mahaaloka, people need to be reincarnated on the Earth plane to settle their destiny and complete their give-and-take accounts. If one attains Mahaaloka and Janaloka after death that means they are above the spiritual level of 80%. Here people do not need to be reincarnated as all their remaining destiny can be worked out in these planes itself, but may do so at their own will. Their reincarnation is primarily to act as spiritual guides for humanity. If one attains Tapaloka or Satyaloka after death, then one does not take birth and continues to do spiritual practice at that plane of existence until one merges completely with God. 3.2 The importance of the Earth plane of existence The Earth plane of existence is very important. It is the only plane of existence where we can make rapid spiritual growth and settle our give-and-take account in the shortest period of time. The main reason for this is that with the help of the physical body, we can do many things to enhance our spiritual growth and spiritual level and reduce the basic subtle tama component. Other than Earth, spiritual growth is mostly likely to occur only in the regions beyond Heaven such as Mahaaloka etc. This is because in Heaven, the subtle bodies run the risk of getting caught up in the unending pleasures it offers. In the Nether and Hell planes of existence, the punishment is so severe and also the distress from the other higher-level ghosts is such that it becomes very difficult to rise above the suffering to undertake any spiritual practice of value. 4. What is Hell, who goes to Hell and what is Hell like? As one goes to lower planes of existence of Hell, as the subtle basic sattva component progressively reduces the environment becomes less conducive to the experience of happiness. Within the planes of existence of Hell, there are some ghosts who do certain types of spiritual practice to gain spiritual power. The highest in the hierarchy of ghosts are sorcerers from the seventh plane of existence of Hell. They have immense spiritual power almost equivalent to a Saint at the 90% spiritual level. They control all the other types of ghosts with lesser spiritual power. As one goes deeper into the various planes of existence of Hell, i.e. from 1st to 7th, the extent of happiness experienced by the subtle bodies therein goes on decreasing and the extent of unhappiness goes on multiplying. The minimal experience of happiness is also due to being engrossed in memories of past positive events, pleasant memories of wealth in a past life, etc. The experience of unhappiness is due to memories of physical pain and insulting events, memories of unfulfilled desires, e.g. regarding education, house, career, expectation of happiness from children in past life. The extent of punishment/pain to be endured in the various planes of existence of Hell (Paataal) and their associated Narak goes on increasing with the subsequent plane of existence of Hell. Also, the period of punishment to be endured in each Narak is in excess compared to the corresponding plane of existence of Hell. If we consider the punishment in first plane of existence of Hell as 100%, then the punishment in the corresponding first Narak region is 50% more, i.e. 150%. The following table is a description of examples along with the average intensity of happiness and unhappiness we experience in the various planes of existence of Hell. 5. Movement between subtle planes of existence in the Universe One is assigned that plane of existence which matches one’s basic nature in terms of sattva, raja and tama. This is also a function of one’s spiritual level. Hence, subtle bodies from lower positive planes of existence cannot go to higher positive planes of existence and those from first or second negative planes of existence cannot go to the deeper planes of existence Hell. This is similar to how people living in the planes find breathing difficult at higher altitudes, but people staying at higher altitudes manage fine. 6. What decides where we go after death? At the time of death, as the physical body becomes inactive the vital energy used for the functioning of the physical body is liberated into the Universe. This vital energy at the time of death propels the subtle body away from the Earth region. Just as the weight of a projectile decides how far a rocket will propel it, similarly the weight of the subtle body decides which plane of existence it goes to in the subtle planes of existence in life after death. The ‘weight’ of the subtle body is primarily a function of the amount of the subtle basic tama component in our being. The 3 subtle basic components: Each one of us is made up of three subtle basic components or gunas. These components are spiritual in nature and cannot be seen but they define our personalities. They are: Sattva: Purity and knowledge Raja: Action and passion Tama: Ignorance and inertia In an average person in the current era, the basic subtle tama component is as high as 50%. Please read the article on the 3 subtle basic components The more we are filled with the raja and tama components the more we display the following characteristics which add to our ‘weight’ and impact which plane of existence we go to in our life after death: More attachment to worldly things and selfishness More unfulfilled desires Feelings of revenge Higher amount of demerits or wrong-doings Higher amount of personality defects such as anger, greed, fear, etc. A higher amount of ego: By ego we mean how much a person identifies himself with his body, mind and intellect as opposed to the soul within Resulting in lower spiritual level A permanent reduction in the proportion of the subtle basic tama component and the related characteristics mentioned above come about only with sustained spiritual practice according to the six basic laws of spiritual practice. Psychological improvements with self-help books or trying to be nice are at best superficial and temporary. 6.1 Importance of the mental state at the time of death The mental state at the point of death, apart from what has been mentioned above, is very important. Our mental state is generally relative to the proportion of the subtle basic components in our being. If a person is actually doing his spiritual practice such as chanting the Name of God at the time of death then the influence of desires, attachments, ghosts, etc. are minimal possible for that person compared to his state when not chanting. This makes his subtle body lighter. Hence, if he passes away while chanting, he attains better plane of existence among the sub-planes than what he would have attained were he to pass away without chanting. At the time of death, if a person is chanting the Name of God and is also in a state of surrender to God’s will, then he attains an even better plane of existence in his life after death and his sojourn is undertaken with lightening speed. This is because the person being in a state of surrender on Earth plane of existence itself, has very less chance of increasing his ego in his life after death. Also, the entire responsibility of his well-being in his life after death is undertaken by his evolved spiritual guide (Guru). 6.2 Who goes to Hell? The following are the types of deeds in our life on Earth that typically land us in one of the planes of existence of Hell. The extent, duration and intention behind the wrong-doings are important factors deciding the planes of existence of Hell attained after death rather than just the action itself. 7. Suicide and the after life There are two types of death with regards to its timing. Destined final death: This is the time of death no one can escape. Possible death: This is where a person can possibly die. Each person may undergo a possible death wherein one comes close to death but is saved due to his or her merits. In cases where a person is going through insurmountable crisis in his life or has severe personality disorders, he may think of taking his own life in a depressed state. Ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) also fuel the depression of a suicidal person and sometimes are instrumental in pushing a person over the edge into committing suicide. However, suicide remains a wilful act that happens when a person is going through a possible death phase as per their destiny. The gift of life on the Earth plane of existence is precious and is given to us primarily for spiritual growth. By committing suicide, we squander away this opportunity and become eligible for divine punishment. The consequences are that a person committing suicide goes to the Narak part of the 7th plane of existence of Hell for a period of 60,000 Earth years in his life after death. It is a place that is without any light; something like solitary confinement in a prison. As there is nobody in that Narak region to advise about spiritual practice, the subtle body in this region remains in the darkness of spiritual ignorance. 8. Why is there a time lag between two reincarnations? In the course of research by using hypnotic trance to trace the past lives of the person, it has been found that the time lag between two reincarnations on Earth could be on average 50 to 400 years. The reasons for this time lag are as follows: The subtle body remains in the Heaven or the Nether plane of existence for variable periods of time to undergo its merits and demerits (sins). Circumstances on Earth plane of existence need to be favourable to complete the give-and-take account from previous births with various people. This is in accordance with the law of Karma. The reincarnation of the subtle body is postponed until the time various other people who they have a give-and-take account with are also preparing to take reincarnation. Sometimes in past life regression, a person does not report a reincarnation in the trance state. The reason for this is that a certain reincarnation has been very uneventful or brief and the person may not remember any details of it. In the case of subtle bodies that have been relegated to the deeper planes of existence of Hell, the time lag between two reincarnations may be thousands of years. They stay in their respective plane of existence of Hell until such time they have completed their punishment. In most cases, this means languishing in plane of existence of Hell in their life after death till the dissolution of the Universe some 400,000 years later. 9. Life after death – in summary The above facts about the various planes of existence give us a fair idea of the possible consequences in our life after death of how we live our lives. Only with spiritual practice or with extreme meritorious deeds can one go to the higher planes of existence and thereby avoid unhappiness and punishment and enjoy higher levels of happiness. There are also better chances of a reincarnation on Earth plane of existence in circumstances conducive to spiritual practice. This is so that one moves further up in the subtle planes of existence in the Universe. As we go further into the current Era of Strife (Kaliyuga), there is lesser likelihood of people going to the higher planes of existence. Once we go to the lower planes of existence such as the Nether plane of existence or other planes of existence of Hell, we stay there and experience severe unhappiness for centuries until we completely pay for our demerits (sins) by suffering the intense punishments meted there and get a chance to be reincarnated on Earth. To do consistent spiritual practice on the Earth plane of existence according to the 6 basic laws of spiritual practice is like swimming against the tide in the current era. However, it is also a guaranteed way of advancing to higher planes of existence in our life after death 1. Introduction Almost all of us have at sometime wondered if we can meet our departed ancestors and loved ones when we leave this Earth at the time of death. The purpose of this article is to explain the factors and principles governing who we can meet and who we cannot in the afterlife. 2. Where do we go after death? Please refer to our article on ‘Where do we go after death?’. As you will see, there are 13 subtle and intangible regions we can go to after death. In the current era, approximately only 5% of us make it to the positive regions of Heaven, Mahaaloka and above. This is because one needs to be at least at the 60% spiritual level (which is 5% of the world’s population) to attain the first positive region of the Universe, i.e. Heaven, after death. Refer to the breakdown of the world’s population by spiritual level. There is another region that is very important to mention in what happens to us after death. Immediately after we die, we go to a region known as Martyaloka or the ‘Region of the Dead’. This is a halfway house or an interim plane of existence as one makes their journey from the moment of death to their final resting place in one of the 13 subtle (intangible) planes of existence. Please refer to the article on the Region of death (Martyaloka). ^ Top 3. Some principles that govern which of our departed ancestors we can meet in the afterlife Same region: Subtle bodies of relatives in the same region can meet each other easily. For example, two subtle bodies of relatives in the Nether Region (Bhuvaloka) can meet each other. Subtle to subtler regions: It is not possible for a person in a subtle (intangible) plane to meet a person in an even more subtle (intangible) plane of existence. After the Earth plane, the Nether region (Bhuvaloka) is the most gross (tangible). A subtle body in one of the planes in Nether region (Bhuvaloka) cannot go to meet a subtle body in Heaven or the ‘1st Region of Hell’ (Pataal). Subtle regions to more gross regions: A subtle body from a more subtle plane of existence can go to a grosser (less subtle) plane of existence. For example, a subtle body in the 3rd Region of Hell can go to meet a person in the 1st region of Hell on a temporary basis. Such visits usually last for as long as they are required and are also dependent on the spiritual strength of the visiting subtle body. Subtle higher regions: Subtle bodies in the higher positive subtle regions of Mahaaloka are so spiritually advanced that they are devoid of desires including desire to meet family members. The main purpose in their existence is to grow spiritually. Subtle bodies in Heaven (Swargaloka) experience immense happiness and are generally caught up in the subtle pleasures that Heaven has to offer. As a result, the desire to meet previous relatives just does not encroach upon their consciousness. Visiting Region of the Dead: Subtle bodies in any subtle region can visit the subtle bodies in the Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) or Earth region. A ghost of higher spiritual strength in the lower regions of Hell can temporarily enter higher positive regions such as Heaven to upset the peace. ^ Top 4. How do we recognise our previously departed ancestors when we die? 4.1 What form do we take after we die? Once a subtle body enters the Region of the Dead, it begins to loose its identity with its previous Earthly life. By the time it crosses the Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) and reaches one of the main subtle regions such as the Nether region (Bhuvaloka), the subtle body takes an amorphous form. If people have a strong attachment to their Earthly life and relatives, they are not able to move on beyond the Region of the Dead. Here they continue to take a form resembling their previous form. The form is created by the ‘energy of Desire’. Subtle bodies can get stuck in the region of the Dead for many years and hover around the ancestral home. As a result, those with sixth sense are able to feel or see their presence. 4.2 Mechanism of meeting When entering the same region: When the subtle bodies of departed ancestors have an intense desire to meet another departed relative or friend, the energy from that single-minded thought creates a subtle (intangible) materialisation. At the same time the relative who has just died and entered that region is attracted to that particular ancestor’s subtle body because of the frequencies of desire emanating from the subtle body of the ancestor. The descendant who has recently expired then recognises his ancestor because of the familiar form that the subtle body of the ancestor has taken. At the time of death: There are generally hereditary similarities at the level of subtle basic sattva, raja and tama components among family members. Hence the subtle bodies of ancestors residing in the ‘Region of the Dead’ (Martyaloka) and Nether region, due to their over sensitiveness are able to perceive the changes happening in the dying person at the time of death. They are then pulled towards the sound of the sub-vital energies emitted and excretory gases discharged by the dead body. Thus they enter the Earth’s environment and come near the dying person. That is why many dying people get visions of their dead ancestors. If the recently dead person strongly wishes to meet his departed ancestors or if the departed ancestor strongly wishes to meet the dead person, then the ancestor on the strength of his strong ‘energy of Desire’ attains a gaseous apparition like form. They thus help the dead person in identifying themselves. 4.3 Risks involved with meeting In some cases higher level ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies etc.) like subtle sorcerers can take the form of dead relatives and misguide recently departed subtle bodies. This can be best avoided if one has done a lot of spiritual practice on Earth and can see through their illusory form. Departed ancestors who are in one of the regions of Hell can also mislead recently departed subtle bodies. The sure way of ensuring one is not misled after death is to do regular spiritual practice as per the six basic principles of spiritual practice and attain as high a spiritual level as possible. The higher the spiritual level at the time of death, lower the chances of being deceived by ghosts or ancestors from regions of Hell. Also one is able to access a greater protection from God. 5. Once identified do we stay together with other departed relatives in the afterlife? Subtle bodies from a family generally stick together. This is because there is lot of similarity among relatives compared with others. ^ Top 6. How do we communicate when we meet with relatives and friends in the afterlife? The method of communication in the afterlife is not the language of sound that we are used to on Earth. The thoughts in the mental body of one are perceived by the others. 7. Do we meet our pets in the afterlife? Pets' and other animals' existence comes to an end when they die. For them there is no rebirth. Hence there is no question of meeting them in the afterlife. If at all one sees pets this again is the doing of illusion creating sorcerers. Again regular spiritual practice is the assured way of avoiding being deceived. What is the Region of the Dead (Martyaloka)? Table of contents 1. Introduction 2. To whom is this plane of existence most relevant? 3. The various sub-regions in the Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) 4. Duration of time spent in the Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) 1. Introduction In the article on, ‘Where do we go after death?’, we described the 13 main subtle regions in the Universe where we can go after death. However, immediately after we die, we all go through an interim region in the Universe which is known as the Region of the Dead (Martyaloka). In this region, the subtle body gets accustomed to its new state without a physical body. There are 10 sub-regions in this plane of existence that a subtle body goes through. 2. To whom is this plane of existence most relevant? This plane is most relevant to those whose final destination in the afterlife is the Nether Region. For these subtle bodies, they move slowly through the various sub-regions of the Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) as they shake off the vestiges and attachments of their Earthly life. For highly evolved people due to the lightness of their subtle bodies and no attachment to worldly life, they shoot through this region to the higher subtle regions such as Heaven, Mahaaloka etc. Alternately, subtle bodies who go to one of the regions of Hell sink to the lower regions without spending much time in the Region of the Dead (Martyaloka). This is due to the heaviness of their subtle body that is laden with the negative deeds in their lifetime and their ego and attachments. ^ Top 3. The various sub-regions in the Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) There are a total of ten sub-divisions in the Region of the Dead (Martyaloka). We have given a basic description of each of these subtle divisions and the general behaviour of subtle bodies in each of these sub-divisions. There are descriptions in ancient holy scriptures of the Holy subtle river Vaitarna that all departed ancestors are said to cross before entering the Nether region (Bhuvaloka). This is in fact a subtle sheath of the Absolute Cosmic Water element around the Earth region. This sheath itself is the river Vaitarna. After death, the subtle bodies take a dip in the Vaitarna and enter the Nether region (Bhuvaloka). The remaining excretory gases and sub-vital energies related to the physical body accompanying the subtle body are discharged into the Vaitarna. Thus the Vaitarna helps strip the subtle body of the last vestiges of the gross body so as to make it subtle enough to make it possible for it to enter the Region of the Dead. ^ Top Footnotes: M1, M2, M3.... M10 M1 refers to the first sub division of the Region of the Dead. M2 refers to the second sub division of the Region of the Dead and so on. 3.1 Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) No 1: The subtle bodies seen running helter-skelter The subtle bodies after crossing the Vaitarna enter the ‘Region of the Dead’ (Martyaloka) No 1. The environment in this division appears reddish purple in colour. The subtle bodies are seen running helter-skelter because the environment is new to them. The inherent understanding that they have to move is there, but they have no clue as to which is the right way. Hence all the bodies in this division are restless. 3.2 Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) No 2: Impatience of subtle bodies The environment of this division consists of broad streaks of purple and red. The subtle bodies in this division are seen struggling in a drowning motion. The subtle bodies after entering this division do not run around like in the earlier division but nevertheless they are seen constantly moving in one place. Impatience is seen in them. This is because after coming to this division, they are better adjusted than the earlier division, but still do not have a clue about which way to move. 3.3 Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) No 3: Unrestrained subtle bodies The environment in this division appears as if made from intertwining threads of purplish red colour. Many subtle bodies in this division appear to be moving up and down in an unrestrained manner but in a horizontal line. The subtle bodies have further progressed than the earlier division and try moving in a horizontal line. 3.4 Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) No 4: Unstable subtle bodies Here the intertwining of purplish red threads is even more. The subtle bodies in this division appear very restless to move to the next division. The subtle bodies move in a vertical line from the upper to the lower portion of this division. As movement in the horizontal direction fails to take them out of the Region of Dead, they try vertical movement. 3.5 Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) No 5: Efforts by the subtle bodies to adjust to the environment Particles of subtle basic raja-tama are seen in this division. Many streaks of purplish red threads are seen in it. The subtle bodies in this region appear to move ahead, then remain steady and again resume forward motion. They appear to be inclined more towards stability. 3.6 Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) No 6: Subtle bodies adjusted to the pressure in the environment The subtle bodies in this division appear becoming stable at times in the middle zone and in the lower zone at other times. The environment in this division is filled with purplish red clouds. 3.7 Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) No 7: The subtle bodies steady at times in the upper zone and in the middle zone at other times In this division, the clouds become sparse and the subtle basic raja-tama particles are more. The subtle bodies steady at times in the upper zone and in the middle zone at other times. 3.8 Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) No 8: Subtle bodies steady in the upper zone This division consists of entirely purple colour. Sparse subtle basic raja-tama particles are seen. The subtle bodies steady at the edge of the upper zone. 3.9 Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) No 9: The subtle bodies realise how to cross the division This division is entirely purple in colour. In this division, effulgent frequencies are seen emanating from the external covering of the subtle bodies. The subtle bodies move to the next zone on the strength of these effulgent frequencies. 3.10 Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) No 10: The subtle bodies realise how to cross the division The aerial atmosphere of this division is faint purple in colour. The subtle bodies appear to habituate this division for a very short time. The subtle bodies are thrown in an upward direction with the help of the aerial covering of the 9th division. Their destination in the Nether region (Bhuvaloka) or other regions is decided as per their deeds. 3.11 Subtle space vehicle (Antariksha yaan): The subtle bodies are thrown out of this area into the Nether region (Bhuvaloka) like comets This is also known as the Ancestor vehicle. It has its own energy. It is by virtue of momentum of this energy that the subtle bodies are thrown out of this area into the Bhuvaloka like comets. A hurricane like sound is heard in this region. The colour of Martyaloka consists of the collective flow of purple and red. It is an apt setting to the disintegration of the frequencies of desire. This occurs in the sheaths around the subtle bodies or on the centres of impressions in the covering around the subtle bodies. Besides this, it is also due to the continuous disintegration of the excretory gases related to the physical bodies. 4. Duration of time spent in the Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) The duration of time spent in the Region of the Dead (Martyaloka) is anywhere between a few months to years. The factors that decide the time spent there are: 1. The intensity of the departed ancestors attachments: The more the attachments the slower the progress. 2. The rituals done for the ancestors: Depending on if specific rituals are done, the subtle body gains momentum in its onward journey. 3. Spiritual level: A subtle body at the 50% spiritual level will traverse the region faster than that of a subtle body at the 30% spiritual level. This is due to the lightness of the subtle body owing to dissolution of the five senses, mind and intellect. When we refer to ancestors being Earthbound we mean that that they are stuck in the Region of the Dead (Martyaloka). Here we can help them move on with specific spiritually potent rituals or by chanting the special protection chant of Sree Gurudev Datta. As in most cases in the present times, neither has the dead person done any substantial spiritual practice as per the six basic principles of spiritual practice nor do the descendants do any correct rituals or chanting of Sree Gurudev Datta. As a result, most subtle bodies languish in the Region of Dead for years. 3.4 Basic principles of Spiritual Practice How can we ensure rapid spiritual progress towards achieving Bliss? Rapid spiritual progress can be achieved when we do spiritual practice according to the basic principles of Spirituality. Even though there are many different types of spiritual practice, whether our spiritual practice adheres to the basic principles of Spirituality is a true litmus test for its effectiveness. If not, we run the risk of putting in a lot of effort but not seeing the results that match that effort. The six basic principles are 1. There are as many paths to God as there are people 2. Going from many to one 3. Progressing from gross (tangible) to subtle (intangible) 4. Undertaking spiritual practice as per the spiritual level or spiritual capacity 5. Doing spiritual practice relevant to the times 6. Offering to God as per your talent or capacity 1. About spiritual level The Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF) uses the term „spiritual level‟ to describe a person‟s spiritual maturity or spiritual capacity. It acts as a scale to define spiritual growth and gives perspective on where we are in our spiritual journey. The higher one‟s spiritual level the greater is the amount of God principle manifest in that individual. 2. The scale of spiritual level The SSRF uses a scale between 1 and 100% to describe spiritual level. 1% would refer to the spiritual level of an inanimate object, while 100% would refer to the pinnacle of spiritual growth for a person, which is Self-Realisation or being one with God. The majority of people in the current era, which is Kaliyuga, also known as the Era of Strife, fall in the 20% spiritual level category. According to the science of Spirituality, a person who is above the 70% spiritual level is known as a Saint. Just as we have people who are at the top of their fields in the material world, so also, in Spirituality, the Saints who live on Earth are the authorities. They are not just scholars, but practitioners of the science of Spirituality in day-to-day life and are God-realised souls. Those Saints active in teaching Spirituality and nurturing seekers to grow spiritually are known as Gurus. Less than 10% of the Saints living on Earth are Gurus. Gurus are the physical form of the Teaching aspect of God and they act as beacons of spiritual knowledge in our highly materialistic world. ^Top 3. Spiritual level and spiritual practice 4. How can spiritual level be measured? Spiritual level cannot be measured by any modern scientific equipment, nor can it be ascertained intellectually by any person. Only a Saint or a Guru can ascertain the spiritual level of a person with the help of His highly activated sixth sense or subtle perception ability. Quite often the question is asked, “How can a Saint accurately measure a person‟s spiritual level?” Just as the eye due to its intrinsic ability can easily differentiate between a blue object and a red object with 100% accuracy, so also a Saint with His sixth sense ability can accurately estimate a person‟s spiritual level. The sixth sense enables one to be acutely aware and accurately measure the unseen world. As a rule of thumb, we have provided a scale below which will give an intellectual understanding of one‟s spiritual level. ^Top With increase in one‟s spiritual level, one‟s attitude and perspective to life changes dramatically. For example, a person at 30% spiritual level may find it very difficult to find time in his busy schedule to attend even one spiritual discourse. The same person having the same worldly commitments, after attaining the 40% spiritual level will easily find time on a regular basis to attend spiritual discourses and regularly study spiritual texts. A person at a certain spiritual level, e.g. 30% spiritual level can only relate to a person within a few percentage points from him. For example it is very difficult for a person at the 30% spiritual level to relate to a person at the 40% spiritual level and vice versa. By the use of the intellect, it is somewhat possible to estimate that another person is slightly ahead of one spiritually; however the estimation would at best be vague. By use of the intellect it is impossible to identify whether a person is a Saint. Spiritual level is defined by a number of contributing factors. In the following points we have discussed some of the more important parameters that contribute to a person‟s spiritual level and how they vary with spiritual growth. ^Top 4.1 Ego and spiritual level One of the important parameters of the spiritual level of a person is the amount of ego or darkness around the Soul that has been removed and how much he identifies himself, with the Soul within. By darkness around the Soul or ego, we mean the tendency of man to perceive himself only as his five senses, mind and intellect. This ego is also known as the spiritual ignorance of our true state of existence, that is the Soul. Our modern education system and society teaches us to identify with our body, mind and intellect little knowing that we are actually the Soul within. After studying the science of Spirituality even though we may intellectually understand that there is a Soul within us, we cannot perceive or experience it. As we do spiritual practice, this darkness or ego begins to reduce until we reach the highest spiritual level where we are able to fully identify with the Soul within. With spiritual practice our ego starts reducing, which is directly related to the increase in our spiritual level. The chart below shows how there is a reduction in ego with an increasing spiritual level. At the 20% spiritual level one is very self-centred, self-conscious and only thinks about oneself. As we do spiritual practice our body awareness reduces. We are not only able to withstand discomfort and suffering but are also able to take praise without letting it go to our head. For example, an indication of high ego would be if a woman is told that she has put on weight or is looking old and she gets depressed for an elongated period of time. Another variation of ego is when one does not publicly acknowledge doing spiritual practice as it may alienate him from his peers. In most cases we get a negative reaction if others point out our mistakes. Not being able to accept mistakes is a sign of ego. ^Top 4.2 Attention to one’s own happiness and spiritual level A clear sign of a higher spiritual level than the average person is a reduced attention to one‟s own happiness. As you can see in the chart below, the attention to one‟s own well- being by a person who has reached the level of a Saint is only 10%. One of the reasons for the reduced attention is that with spiritual growth, identifying oneself with one‟s body, mind and intellect steadily starts declining. Examples of attention to their own happiness are replete in an average person‟s life. They include: 1. Irritation at having to nurse a family member because it means discomfort to oneself. 2. Readiness to attend a spiritual discourse only if it is in the immediate vicinity. 3. Readiness to contribute monetarily to a protest against injustice, but not ready to volunteer one's time and effort due to fear of discomfort. Another positive outcome of reduced attention to one‟s own happiness is one becomes more expansive. One whole-heartedly looks for the happiness of others and society. Paradoxically even though we attend less to our happiness as we grow spiritually, one of the benefits of growing spiritually is that we get access to greater amounts of happiness in our lives. The following chart shows the increase in happiness in life experienced both qualitatively and quantitatively as our spiritual level increases. A Saint experiences Bliss, a superlative state which is far above and beyond happiness. ^Top ^Top 4.3 Spiritual practice and spiritual level As our spiritual level increases, our capacity to do spiritual practice both qualitatively and quantitatively increases. Our capacity to do more spiritual practice is like growing „spiritual muscles‟. The more we stretch ourselves to do spiritual practice, the more we grow our „spiritual muscles‟. Spiritual practice really starts in the true sense at the spiritual level of 35%. By this we mean, when one truly seeks spiritual growth and practices Spirituality on a daily basis, according to the basic principles of Spirituality. One of the criteria of spiritual growth is going beyond sectarian spiritual practice (that is belonging to any one religion) and taking up progressively higher and subtle spiritual practice. For example, a person previously worshipping God through the medium of his body – ritualistic worship, moves on to a higher and subtler medium, that is worshiping God mentally. An example of this is doing the spiritual practice of chanting the Name of God. Here are a few examples that explain the difference in attitude towards spiritual practice. At the 20% spiritual level, there is very little or no spiritual practice. If people go to places of worship it is merely out of force of habit or as a past time. At the 30% spiritual level, there would be a general interest in going to a place of pilgrimage or worshipping God in a ritualistic manner. At the 40% spiritual level one would have a keen interest in obtaining spiritual knowledge and putting it into practice. They would spend a fair amount of their free time in spiritual pursuits. At the 50% spiritual level one generally goes beyond their own religion to pure Spirituality. One‟s primary focus in life is to grow spiritually rather than indulging in any worldly attachments and achievements. Accordingly, the majority of their time is spent in practising Spirituality irrespective of their life‟s situation, that is, whether they are businessmen, housewives etc. It does not automatically follow that those at 50% spiritual level give up material or worldly life or profession, only that, the focus shifts from one of achieving worldly progress to that of achieving spiritual progress. So the person, who previously cared very much about what he earned and what others thought of him, now would be more interested in what God thinks about him. ^Top 4.4 Psychological emotion and spiritual level In today‟s selfish and ruthless world to have positive emotions, especially concerning others is commendable. But after attaining this level, which is superior to that of the average ruthless, unemotional person, one has to keep in mind that this is not the ultimate state. In fact, psychological emotion is a function of the mind which is part of the dark covering around our Soul as explained in the picture above. Thus it keeps us away from experiencing the God (Soul) within us. God is beyond psychological emotions and is in a state of superlative happiness which is Bliss. As one grows spiritually, one is less likely to act out of emotion. One achieves a more balanced state of mind and no longer does one oscillate between highs and lows due to events around us. A young woman at 20% spiritual level may throw a tantrum because her fringe is cut a centimetre shorter than desired and be immersed in misery for days. The same young woman after attaining a level of 50% may be stoic even at the news of being diagnosed with an incurable illness like cancer or AIDS. ^Top 4.5 Spiritual emotion and spiritual level Spiritual emotion towards God is experiencing an intense awareness of the existence of God in everything, that is feeling God‟s presence while carrying out day-to-day life activities and experiencing life based on this awareness. As one‟s spiritual emotion increases one is more and more able to experience God‟s hand in every aspect of life and hence is able to surrender more to God. Once one attains the state of surrender, the God principle can then work through him. This principle becomes progressively more and more manifest in the person and he as well as those around him, experience the flow of God‟s divine energy through him. A person at the 20% spiritual level may be full of himself and his intellectual skills after sealing a big and prestigious deal. A person at a 50% spiritual level in similar circumstances will be overwhelmed with spiritual emotion and full of gratitude to God for His kindness in gracing him with the deal. If the person at the 20% spiritual level was to lose the deal, he would be full of irritation, jealousy and unhappiness. However the person at the 50% spiritual level in similar circumstances would still be able to see God‟s hand in the situation and understand that the deal has gone to the deserving and he would be thankful to the Almighty for gracing him with this point of view. 5. Some aspects of spiritual level The spiritual level that we are at is a key function in how we live our life and how we are impacted by life‟s situations and destiny. The following are some aspects about the concept of spiritual level and how it affects our lives. 5.1 Spiritual level and birth We are all born at a certain spiritual level. This is based on the spiritual level achieved in the previous life time. So suppose a person does spiritual practice and grows to the 50% spiritual level, then in the next lifetime he will be born at the 50% spiritual level. Basically in Spirituality we take off from where we left, in a previous birth or lifetime. This is unlike worldly knowledge where we have to start all over again once we are born. 5.2 Can atheists have a higher spiritual level? Absolutely, even atheists can have a higher spiritual level even though they do not believe in God. Sometimes atheists start spiritual practice later in their life – this is due to destiny. ^Top 5.3 Spiritual level and compatibility As we have seen earlier a difference in spiritual level can dramatically influence the outlook of two people towards life. Therefore compatibility reduces as the spiritual level gap increases between any two people. This factor accounts for 5% of the incompatibility between two people. Even if two people are at the same spiritual level differences in desire for spiritual growth could cause incompatibility. Another reason for incompatibility between two seekers of God is if one seeker focuses on individual spiritual practice while the other focuses on the spiritual practice for the sake of uplifting society. This can contribute upto 8% of the incompatibility between two people who are seekers of God. Please refer to the detailed article on “Factors affecting compatibility” 5.4 Spiritual level and access to power in the universe As we grow spiritually, we get access to higher levels of power in the universe. To put things into perspective, the following come under the lowest level of power, that is physical power. Majority of the world spend their entire lifetime trying to attain some aspect of this power. Medicines to cure an illness – for example, antibiotics to kill germs A physical weapon used to kill Financial power Political power For example, one of the reasons of Adolf Hitler‟s dramatic rise to power is because it was orchestrated by a powerful sorcerer from the lower regions of hell (patal). This sorcerer who possessed Hitler through his years in power made him invincible against any physical power. The people who actually stopped Hitler (i.e. the sorcerer possessing Hitler) were two Saints in India Holy Mataji and Yogi Arvind (Sri Aurobindo) through their spiritual strength. (Ref: lightworks.com 2006, gurusoftware.com 2006, lightendlesslight.org 2006) Please click here to read the full article on the - ‟Hierarchy of power in the universe‟. ^Top 5.5 Spiritual level as a protection from ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) The only sure and sustainable way to insulate ourselves from ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) is to grow spiritually. At the 20-30% spiritual level, we are very vulnerable to an attack from all types of ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.). At this level, any ghost can possess us as they please as we are not in a position to benefit from the protection by God. Please click here to read the full article - How much does spiritual level provide a protective sheath against ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.)? 5.6 Spiritual level of a mentally challenged person Spiritual level of a mentally challenged person is 19% as compared to the majority of human beings who are at the 20% spiritual level. The reason for this is that the mentally challenged person lacks in intellect. Intellect is a function of basic subtle sattva component that enhances our spiritual level. Hence his spiritual level is less than that of an average person. 6. Breakdown of the world population in present times by spiritual level We have used spiritual research methodology to provide a breakdown of the world population in the current era (Kaliyuga year 2006) by spiritual level based on 6.5 billion people. The chart above shows that the majority of present population is at the 20% spiritual level. The present state of the world (which is filled with natural disasters, wars, drug addictions, marital disharmony and communal violence) is primarily because most of the population and its leaders are at a lower spiritual level. It follows that this state that the world is in, can only be corrected if the average spiritual level of mankind increases.