The Different Planes – Terminology

By now you have questions – “what are the Astral and Mental planes? How do they relate to our world? What’s the difference?”  Or, maybe you already know about these things, and you’re wondering what I think they are, and how different my understanding is from yours. Let’s hope my descriptions fit in with what you already know well enough to be useful to you.  But if this is all new to you, welcome!

Different writers have used different names for these levels in different teachings, in different books. This knowledge is not widely distributed enough for everyone to have settled on a common set of terms yet.  But I’m sure that day is coming.

So, I decided to use the wording and concepts found in books I’ve learned the most from, generally called the “Ancient Wisdom”: the author Torkom Saraydarian; the Agni Yoga series; and other works such as those by Alice Bailey and others who have worked with these people during their lifetimes. I’m trying to use their common terms, but the dreams and many concepts I write about are from my own experience, not something I read in a book.

Physical Plane

The Physical Plane is the regular world we live in today – solid matter, the stuff all around us, including our human bodies.  Cars, houses, the ground underfoot, the air you breathe, paper, computers, all of these things exist in the Physical Plane. The physical Plane is sub-divided somewhat, as there are different types of matter (solid, liquid, gas, and 4 ethers), but that’s a topic for a different article.

The physical plane has a lot of rules; you can’t fly around the place; if you fall off a cliff, you could die. It’s possible to break your arm simply by slipping in mud! Because of this, we learn to be careful, and avoid situations and things that can hurt or kill us.  There’s lots of them.

We each have figured out actions to take, words to say, so that we can have a happy life, or at the very least a less-objectionable one, given our situation in the physical world. There’s a lot of shit-work we all have to do in our lives, things we don’t want to do but have to do.  We’re used to it and are getting pretty good at it by now. But there’s also fun things to do, places to explore, people to encounter, stories to read and movies to watch, to entertain us and stretch our imagination, all created on the Physical plane.

Astral / Emotional Plane

The Astral Plane is where your Astral or Emotional body lives.  (the terms Astral and Emotional are interchangeable here).  This plane, too, has 7 sub-levels, which I will talk about in later posts. The most important thing to understand is that your emotional body is separate from your physical body.  These two bodies are connected, of course – a feeling in one can affect the other; but they are completely separate bodies. One can be damaged without hurting the other; one can die before the other dies. An illness in one can reflect in the other, or not.

The dreams that most people experience come from the Astra plane. Nightmares come from the lower levels of the Astral plane. Self-serving dreams, crazy dreams that don’t make sense when you are awake, come from the Astral plane. If everybody you see in the dream act exactly as you always expect them to, that’s an Astral dream, and you created those people to say just those things in just that way. They aren’t real people, and you can do anything you want with this artificial construction, so have no fear.

All of the creations you see in most Astral dreams come from you – all the people, things, places, colors, smells, sounds – it’s all from your own consciousness. Sometimes we replay scenarios that are fearful for us, to work through the fear, or find a better way to handle a situation.

Astral dreams can feel “more real than real life!” There can be brighter colors, more powerful feelings. It’s the world of feeling-creations, including everything you can perceive in this fluid environment.

The most important thing to remember is: nothing in the Astral plane can hurt you.  The most fearsome monster with huge teeth cannot bite you! Or if he bites you, it doesn’t actually hurt you in any way. Maybe it tickles.  It can’t actually touch you, really, at all.  Go ahead and jump off that cliff you’re standing on the edge of, you can fly! Falling can’t hurt you!  In fact, you can fly through the ground – even the solid-looking earth is not an obstacle on the Astral plane. I know this because I’ve done all of these things many times.

The Astral plane is a way to face your fears and overcome them.  It’s a way to learn to control the situation all around you, and change it the way you want – neutralize the bad guy, turn a gun pointed at you into a flower, and dismiss everyone from your sight if you want.  You can replay it all you want, until you get it right.

If you have powerful emotions that control your waking life, these emotions often control your dreams. By conquering your jealousy, hatred, embarrassment, and other such feelings in the Physical world, you will begin to develop the ability to control your dreams.  You can literally create anything you want in the Astral plane, and experience it, and have fun with it – it is the worlds greatest sensory playground ever created. It takes practice to learn to control it.

If someone warns you about a horrendous danger to you in the near future, and it scares you – that is most likely an Astral dream with no merit or truth to it.  If that happens, you can certainly take it under advisement and keep alert and aware, but understand it’s most likely just an attempt to scare you.

After waking up from a night full of Astral dreams, you will likely feel drained of energy; or at least, the normal amount of sleepiness and morning heaviness that you feel when waking up in the morning.

Mental Plane

The Mental Plane is where your Mental Body lives.  It does not live in your “brain”, but in a field around your head. Religious paintings from the past often showed a representation of this with a “halo” encircling a spiritual person’s head.  Perhaps very spiritually high-level people have a visible halo like this around their head that everyone can see. Or maybe certain spiritually advanced people can see this part of the human aura on everyone they meet.  I don’t know, I have never seen anything like this myself, in this lifetime, but I know its there and have heard of people being able to see it.

People have a lower mind and a higher mind.  The lower mind is connected to your body through your brain.  The lower mind is where logic and reasoning are. “If this is true and that is true, then this other thing must be true,” your lower mind says.  It is 100% sure of itself, even though a lot of the time it’s wrong.  Have you caught yourself in that situation, assuming something that you’re absolutely certain is true, but then discovering you were wrong?  How does that happen?

The lower mind can only work with what it has seen in the past.  It calculates solutions, compares alternatives, then picks one as the “best”, based on its facts – whether it really is best, or not. The lower mind tends to be separative – me versus you – which is why people feel separate from each other. The lower mind comes up with “net zero” solutions, for example: for me to have more, you must have less – I take from you.  Or, if I give something to you, then I have lost something. This is old-fashioned thinking, and it’s wrong – but seems completely right to the lower mind. “There’s only so much _____ in the world”.

The higher mind is different.  Some people call it the Heart. The higher mind wants to bring people together. It finds solutions where everybody can win, nobody loses – it finds the “win-win scenarios”. Solutions where everybody benefits are harder to think up than ones where someone wins and someone loses.  But it’s totally worth it.  It’s the future of problem solving. It’s the core concept behind the idea of Mediation.  One example can be seen in nature: people inhale oxygen, exhale carbon-dioxide – and, trees and plants do exactly the opposite: inhale carbon-dioxide, and exhale oxygen! Nature automatically creates win-win scenarios.  You could even say that this is proof that nature is more advanced than the average human being.

The higher mind doesn’t need to store a lot of facts – it knows what’s right automatically. The higher mind can solve problems quickly, it just knows the answers.

A small child watching a bug on the ground – does he crush the bug violently, or does he help it walk to a new place and offer it a small leaf to eat? You can see which mind a child is naturally focused in by observing their behavior.

There is nothing wrong with having a lower mind – you need both lower and higher minds.  They’re simply different tools in your toolbox.

When you are dreaming and visiting the Mental plane at night, the people you see there are real, actual people – not fake constructions created by you (like on the Astral plane). You can ask them questions and learn new things – things you didn’t know before. Their answers to your questions may surprise you, and be deeper or more complex than you anticipated. If you say something a little off, they may react in a way you didn’t expect – maybe pull away from you, or go somewhere else.

Everything happens faster than you’re used to on the Mental plane – if you’re aware while visiting the Mental plane, you notice the higher speed, but somehow you’re able to keep up with everything since your Mental body is designed for it.  Conversations are faster and deeper – when words are spoken, you understand the meaning behind the words, in addition to hearing the words with your ear.  Misunderstandings cannot happen on the Mental plane, you hear everything the way the speaker intended it to be heard.

People don’t joke around and say painful things on the Mental plane. It’s just not done.  Everyone is friendly on the Mental plane, and happy to share knowledge with you.  If you sense someone is being sneaky, hiding things from you or backstabbing you, that is an Astral dream.

After waking up from a Lower Mental dream, you feel like you’ve solved some problems – it can feel good, but ordinary.  Your mind might feel tired at that point.

After waking up from a Higher Mental dream, you will feel like a million bucks! You feel refreshed from this kind of sleep, ready to face a new day, a new week of physical life – it feels like no problems in this physical world can be real problems, because you can always go back to a much greater place when you go to sleep again later.

There is no discrimination on the Higher Mental plane – you see people the way they are, and nobody cares what color / sex / shape / size anybody else is.  Your lower mind might be surprised to see the shape and color of some of the people you consider to be your close friends on the Higher Mental plane!

The greatest schools exist on the Higher Mental plane. The greatest scientific research is conducted there, and anybody interested is welcome to join in. Great teachers and great heroes can be found on the Higher Mental plane, they are a great inspiration to all who see them.

Your Bodies

These three bodies are called your Personality – physical, emotional, and mental.  These three were born at different times, and will pass away at different times.  Consider what a “birthday” is… isn’t it really just your physical body’s birthday? In the past, people have really focused only on the physical body.  This is why the science of Astrology is only partially accurate and useful today.  They ask you the exact time of your birth – but they’re talking about your physical body!  When was your Emotional body born?  How about your Mental body?  These are just as important as the Physical body birth to understand the full astrological picture of a single human being, but how can we discover these things?

You are not your physical body.  It may feel like it sometimes, but it’s not so.  Neither are you your emotional body.  Neither are you your mental body!  When you realize these things, some amazing life changes will occur for you.  You’ll realize that your bodies are under your care, they are your closest family members, and you have a responsibility, a duty, to take care of them, to feed them and love them, just as you would a child, or a pet – but even more so.  They are your greatest allies while they are alive, and you are living in them.

The proof that these bodies are separate from each other is that sometimes they want opposite things.  You really want to lose weight, but 5 minutes later you eat a giant bowl of ice cream!  Then you hate “yourself” for eating that ice cream – why did you do that?  Well, your body wanted ice cream, and your mind wanted to lose weight. Your mind was focused on the future, and your body was focused on right now. If they were a single body then there would be a single desire, a single view, a single need, with no conflict whatsoever!  The fact that there are conflicting behaviors and desires tells you there is some separation between them.

More and more people are discovering meditation as a way to calm their lower 3 bodies, integrate them together (rather than fighting against each other), at least for a few minutes of time – in order to “tune in” to the silence, the higher self, to the inner thoughts within themselves.  We all have higher thoughts which cannot be heard over the din of three conflicting bodies talking, thinking, arguing, worrying, making demands, taking actions, forgetting, remembering, etc.  It’s so important as a human being to calm all these bodies for a short while and just relax, calm, and listen. Silent, but aware. You can think about higher topics of beauty, justice, joy, freedom; about specific harmless things like flowers, trees; ponder why, what, how, they came to be; how their form is different than their purpose, and what the cause is behind all of that; etc.

Your bodies are like clothing that you put on.  It’s the clothing that people first notice when they see you. But you aren’t your clothing.  You can clean and fix your clothing, or leave it dirty and damaged.  You can take off your clothing, and, standing there naked, you are still you! Passing away is like removing your clothing.  And, you can put on new clothing – you can be born again as a baby with a fresh physical body, emotional body, and mental body, to live a new life, with new opportunities, new challenges, new people to meet, new things to do, new joys and happiness to experience.

Your bodies are not you – but they are your closest friends.  Love them. Take care of them. Train them, decorate them, show them off! Enjoy your life as long as you are still here.

Meditating quietly for 5 or 10 minutes a day is very powerful in letting the real you have some control over these bodies that sometimes misbehave. Meditation can “ground you”, enable you to stand above the problems life will throw at you today – rather than having it eat your lunch, you will be able to deal with unexpected issues with a fresh source of calmness and energy that you don’t normally experience.

All three of these bodies are less spiritually-advanced than you are.  You are the leader of your bodies.  You are more spiritual, and have greater connections to higher sources, than any of your bodies do.  Your bodies depend on you to guide them for happiness and health and success.  Someday each of your bodies will die – but the real you cannot die.  The real you has been around for a very very long time, and has had many bodies to work with throughout the eons of time.

I sometimes think of these three bodies as the Three Stooges.  Think about it!  Curly (the big bald guy) is the Physical body – very strong, but doesn’t think, and can hardly talk. Larry (the skinny curly-haired guy) is the Emotional Body – he’s scared of everything, and is usually the only one who sees the ghost or zombie; he runs away from every little threat.  Moe (short black haired guy) believes he is a genius – he’s the brains of the outfit, as they say, always figuring and calculating, talking the most, commanding everyone around.  He coming up with the plan that gets the three of them in trouble every single time.  The Three Stooges represent the worst aspects of the three bodies.  Maybe some day we’ll have a television show about three people who express the higher aspects of the three bodies of a “balanced, integrated human being”.  Now that would be a fascinating show.

An ancient philosopher once said: “I died as a stone, and was born as a flower. I died as a flower, and was born an animal. I died as an animal, and was born as a person.  When has dying ever been a bad thing for me?”

Higher Planes

There are many planes above these three lower ones.  The seven known planes of existence for us are, from high to low:

  1. Divine plane
  2. Monadic plane
  3. Atmic plane
  4. Intuitional/Buddhic plane
  5. Mental plane
  6. Emotional plane
  7. Physical plane

It’s not time to talk about those higher four levels yet, as 99.9% of the people in our world haven’t developed those bodies at all and aren’t conscious on those levels yet.  They are written about in various books, if you’re curious about them.  Probably only 0.1% of the people walking around our world have the ability to visit the Intuitional plane with their Intuitional or Buddic body. And, our universe doesn’t stop at that highest plane on the list, the Divine plane, either – but that’s way out of my area of knowledge.

There are different beings who live at each of these different levels, and many of them can move around and communicate between levels above/below where they naturally live. They are human beings, just like us, only a bit more spiritually advanced – they have more subtle bodies than we do.  It’s a shame that we can’t directly see them or sense them during our waking consciousness, because it would sure be nice to “see with our own eyes” that these things are real. You can sense they are real, and you can dream about them and meet with them.  Maybe you already do.  I will share with you many, many dreams I’ve had about these things. I’ve had enough experiences now to prove it’s real to me.  I sincerely hope that you will have these kind of experiences yourself in the future.

An Apology

I apologize for deviating a bit away from my main goal of taking about dreams, the dream world, and telling my stories of experiences while dreaming.  That is what my blog is really about. But I felt it important to lay some ground work, so you will more deeply understand the things I describe without misunderstanding me too much. I want you to understand. I am not here to “impress you”, I’m here more to entertain you and lead you to the next level of understanding in something that you already find fascinating – the different levels of the world we’ve somehow found ourselves to exist in.

See Also

If you want more detail, some useful books:


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