Astral travel is a fantastic ability that many would like to develop, but for many this thought of consciously stepping out of their body brings up fear, not knowing if they will come back, or fearing the unknown etc. On top of that, some 19th century occult writers, such as Helena Blavatsky, have also contributed to spreading this fear of astral planes by saying that it’s better to avoid it all together because of its illusionary nature and temptation that is to be found there. However, there is much more to the astral realms then what has been said by Theosophists and those who fear travelling there.
The astral plane is one of the two parts of the fifth dimension (the second part is the mental plane), and is rather large with many levels and realms. Normally people experience the astral plane through dreams or conscious astral projection. The former takes place in the lower astral levels, but depending on its purpose (such as being taught within a dream or being taken somewhere) it can also take place somewhat higher up. And at occasions dreamers are taken up to mid astral levels.
When someone wakes up within a dream, they find themselves in that particular level where they were at the time of dreams, and when a person experiences astral projection (regardless if voluntary or spontaneous), they would be in the astral realm that most closely corresponds to the physical dimension. In this latter situation the person could visit their friends and relatives in the astral body and verify the next day if what they saw was accurate.
Now, because the astral plane is so diverse and large, it can indeed have realms that are distractive and even scary, but normally we don’t end up there (unless we take drugs or if we deliberately want to experience it). It is much more probable to experience such realms during regular hours of sleep than in conscious astral travel. If our purpose is to explore the astral plane and find out about important questions of life, then we will be helped to arrive to a destination where such things could be glimpsed and even fully discovered.
I do not think there is a need to fear astral realms, in the same way as it would be silly to fear having dreams. The latter happen regardless if we want them or not, so it’s up to us to accept them and try to make a good use of them. By avoiding astral realms just because of a possibility of being deceived by a negative spirit somewhere in the lower astral realms, or because of being scared by such, would cut us off for a wonderful opportunity of learning. We spent eight hours of our day sleeping, and a lot of that time we are unconsciously dreaming away in the lower astral realms. Now imagine what could be achieved if a large chunk of that time we spend unconsciously in the astral realms (during dreams) is converted to actually being conscious during those hours in the astral plane. The potential is enormous.
There are many spiritual masters who have recommended (and keep recommending) exploring the astral plane for our own spiritual progress. Many people who have regular astral experiences can testify that once you become conscious in that dimension, you suddenly have options that you can choose from, such as staying and exploring the realm in which you are, or travelling upwards to the higher astral planes where things are much nicer and much more interesting. On those levels are temples of learning, spirit worlds, potential to visit other planets, talking to developed beings of light, being shown wonderful things about the history of our planet and its root races through the means of Akashic records, and finding out things about ones own esoteric history.
Some writers recommend going directly to highest dimensions of existence, but the question is how plausible this is to achieve for humans of average development. It is much more realistic to expect to access astral realms first, properly explore them, and once there it may even be possible to go to those higher dimensions, exploring even higher things in our Universe, all depending on our merits and spiritual unfoldment.
HDP, January 2020