Since further enquiry has shown that the word "Devachan" is etymologically inaccurate and misleading, the author would prefer to omit it altogether, and to issue this manual under the simpler and more descriptive title of "The Mental Plane". The publishers inform him, however, that this alteration of title would cause difficulties in the matter of copyright, and produce confusion in various ways, so he defers to their wishes.
In the previous manual an attempt was made to describe to some extent the astral plane — the lower part of the vast unseen world in the midst of which we live and move unheeding. In this little book must be undertaken the still harder task of trying to give some idea of the stage next above that — the mental plane or the heaven-world, often spoken of in our Theosophical literature as that of Devachan or Sukhâvatí.
Although, in calling this plane the heaven-world, we distinctly intend to imply that it contains the reality which underlies all the best and most spiritual ideas of heaven which have been propounded in various religions, yet it must by no means be considered from that point of view only. It is a realm of nature, which is of exceeding importance to us — a vast and splendid world of vivid life in which we are living now as well as in the periods intervening between physical incarnations. It is only our lack of development, only the limitation imposed upon us by this robe of flesh, that prevents us from fully realizing that all the glory of the highest heaven is about us here and now, and that influences flowing from that world are ever playing upon us if we will only understand and receive them. Impossible as this may seem to the man of the world, it is the plainest of realities to the occultist; and to those who have not yet grasped this fundamental truth we can but repeat the advice given by the Buddhist teacher:
— "Do not complain and cry and pray, but open your eyes and see. The light is all about you, if you would only cast the bandage from your eyes and look. It is so wonderful, so beautiful, so far beyond what any man has dreamt of or prayed for, and it is for ever and for ever." (The Soul of a People, page 163.)
It is absolutely necessary for the student of Theosophy to realize this great truth, that there exist in nature various planes or divisions, each with its own matter of an appropriate degree of density, which in each case interpenetrates the matter of the plane next below it. It should also be clearly understood that the use of the words "higher" and "lower" with reference to these planes does not refer in any way to their position (since they all occupy the same space), but only to the degree of rarity of the matter of which they are respectively composed, or (in other words) the extent to which their matter is subdivided — for all matter of which we know anything is essentially the same, and differs only in the extent of its subdivision and the rapidity of its vibration....