Before I can write about the spiritual path and the 3 keys for awakening, I will say how the universal esoteric teachings, further clarified by Samael Aun Weor, state about the reason why we are here in this physical dimension, and about evolution and devolution. This post is a glimpse of something that has much more depth, but the general idea is here:
Before we arrived to Earth, we were part of the Absolute/Source. Infinite number of particles have left the Absolute to gain experience of life in Creation, to become conscious of ones own existence, and to awaken. Creation has 7 dimensions:
7th dimension (Spirit) is called Atmic
6th dimension (Electronic) consists of Causal and Buddhic plane
5th dimension (Eternity) consists of Astral and Mental plane
4th dimension (Time) is Etheric
3rd dimension is where we are, and it consists of height, width and depth.
Each particle that left the Absolute is what is commonly known as the Being, or Monad. The highest part of that Monad has centered itself in the highest dimension, while other parts have descendent and are residing in dimensions below (some other parts are known as Divine Mother, Divine Father, Atman/Spirit, Divine soul, etc.). The consciousness is the smallest part of that Being, and it was that tiny part that got the mission to self-realize. It can do that in the 3 dimensional world, and that’s the reason why we are now in this dimension. The core of what we are is consciousness, and all of us have our own particular Being (our highest core) that is waiting to once again become complete through successful Self-realization that we/consciousness are assigned to do.
The consciousness comes on a planet in the physical dimension and starts to experience life through what is known as the Wheel of Samsara (or as a Wheel of Life). It starts evolving from the mineral kingdom and lives as a nature spirit, an elemental whose body is of a mineral composition (rocks, stones etc.). From there it moves to the vegetable kingdom and lives in many kinds of plants. Elementals are not bound to their physical bodies and can stay outside of it whenever they wish. These creatures are innocent, pure, and some can be very wise. In folk stories they are portrayed as elves, pixies, gnomes (elementals of earth), undines (elementals of water), salamanders (elementals of fire) etc.
From the vegetable kingdom, the consciousness moves to animal kingdom, and from then on the consciousness is bound by the body for the first time. It has also got animal energies that are needed for one to survive as an animal (those energies are also known as egos: instincts, fear, anger, lust, gluttony, envy, pride etc.). It starts from simple organisms and it progresses to more and more complex ones. This entire process lasts for a very long time. And then finally, the consciousness evolves to the human state, taking with it the animal ego energies. However, these energies are now more complex due to the intellect that we got upon entering the human state.
As a human it learns and grows through karma – it makes many mistakes, pays karma, understands what it did wrong through suffering and therefore grows. The consciousness has been given 108 human lives (this is symbolized by 108 beads on Buddha’s necklace). The ultimate purpose of human life is for consciousness to evolve through karma and decide to end the suffering of the physical plane and to eventually develop a yearning for its own divine Being, which may lead to awakening. If consciousness awakens, it achieves ultimate freedom, mergence with its own Being and achieves the ultimate purpose of human life. To awaken it means that it has to destroy all these animal ego energies and create higher energy bodies through alchemy so that higher parts of the Being could enter in. Energy bodies that we now have are lunar and would be burned out by the high energy of our Being.
Devolution and Abyss
If the consciousness doesn’t awaken within the 108 lives, it enters devolution. Evolution and devolution are natural part of the physical dimension, since everything in it has a pattern of growth and decay. We can see it all around us – everything grows and develops until a certain point, and then it starts to decay and finally die. That’s why Buddhists often refer to the physical dimension as impermanent, because everything in it will eventually die.
Devolution is the process of evolution in reverse. This time consciousness goes back through the animal, plant, and mineral kingdoms (though different kinds of animals and plants then in evolution; for example some of the evolving animals are dolphins, cats, dogs horses etc., while devolving animals are rats, pigs, cockroaches etc). After that it enters the infradimensions, also known as the abyss or hell. These are located on a lower frequency of the interior of the planet. They have 9 levels, also known as 9 circles of hell as Dante Alighieri described them in his Divine Comedy.
Many people believe that hell is made up by religions to scare people. However, even though the eternal damnation is made up, the hells as such do exist. As higher dimensions are planets-based, it is probable that the infra-dimensions were created for the purpose of balance.
In the case of the Wheel of Samsara, the purpose of consciousness going through the abyss is to be cleansed from the animal egos. It goes through all nine levels of it until it is fully cleansed. Only cause egos will remain. Naturally, going through hells/abyss in this context involves a lot of suffering.
Then, pure, it starts a new cycle. Again it starts evolution – going through mineral, vegetable and animal kingdom. In animal kingdom, the egos are revived out of the “cause egos”. It reaches the human state again with its 108 lives and it has another chance for awakening. If it doesn’t awaken, the entire process (cycle) repeats again. The consciousness is entitled to 3000 cycles, which is more than enough to reach awakening. Each time it passes through a cycle, it is wiser and it has more experience, which can eventually lead for natural yearning for liberation from suffering. If it doesn’t awaken, it returns back to the Absolute but as an unrealized spark.
So those were the basics of our life in the physical dimension, according to the universal esoteric teachings. It’s recommended to look for in-depth understanding of it in the astral plane. For further reading I suggest Hell, Devil, Karma by Samael Aun Weor, and chapters 39 and 40 of the book The Mystery of the Golden Blossom, by the same author. You can download both of these books from the book section of this site.
I will finish this post with a 13th century poem by Mevlana Rumi that poetically touches upon this subject.
The Progress of Man
First he appeared in the realm inanimate;
thence came into the world of plants and lived
the plant-life many a year, nor called to mind
what he had been; then took the onward way
to animal existence, and once more
remembers naught of what life vegetive,
save when he feels himself moved with desire
towards it in the season of sweet flowers,
as babes that seek the breast and know not why.
Again the wise Creator whom thou knowest
uplifted him from animality
to Man’s estate; and so from realm to realm
advancing, he became intelligent,
cunning and keen of wit, as he is now.
No memory of his past abides with him,
and from his present soul he shall be changes.
Though he is fallen asleep, God will not leave him
in this forgetfulness. Awakened, he will laugh
to think what troublous dreams he had,
and wonder how his happy state of being
he could forget, and not perceive that all
those pains and sorrows were the effect of sleep
and guile and vain illusion.
So this world seems lasting,
though ’tis but the sleepers’ dream;
who, when the appointed Day shall dawn, escapes
from dark imaginings that haunted him,
and turns with laughter on his phantom griefs
when he beholds his everlasting home.