Kama Loka
By William Q. Judge

Let us now consider the states of man after the death of the body and before birth, having looked
over the whole field of the evolution of things and beings in a general way. This brings up at once
the questions: Is there any heaven or hell, and what are they? Are they states or places? Is there
a spot in space where they may be found and to which we go or from where we come? We must
also go back to the subject of the fourth principle of the constitution of man, that called Kama in
Sanskrit and desire or passion in English. Bearing in mind what was said about that principle, and
also the teaching in respect to the astral body and the Astral Light, it will be easier to understand
what is taught about the two states ante and post mortem. In chronological order we go into
kama loka -- or the plane of desire -- first on the demise of the body, and then the higher
principles, the real man, fall into the state of Devachan. After dealing with kama loka it will be
more easy to study the question of Devachan.

The breath leaves the body and we say the man is dead, but that is only the beginning of death; it
proceeds on other planes. When the frame is cold and eyes closed, all the forces of the body and
mind rush through the brain, and by a series of pictures the whole life just ended is imprinted
indelibly on the inner man not only in a general outline but down to the smallest detail of even the
most minute and fleeting impression. At this moment, though every indication leads the physician
to pronounce for death and though to all intents and purposes the person is dead to this life, the
real man is busy in the brain, and not until his work there is ended is the person gone. When this
solemn work is over the astral body detaches itself from the physical, and, life energy having
departed, the remaining five principles are in the plane of kama loka.

The natural separation of the principles brought about by death divides the total man into three

First, the visible body with all its elements left to further disintegration on the earth plane, where
all that it is composed of is in time resolved into the different physical departments of nature.
Second, the kama rupa made up of the astral body and the passions and desires, which also
begins at once to go to pieces on the astral plane;
Third, the real man, the upper triad of Atma-Buddhi-Manas, deathless but now out of earth
conditions, devoid of body, begins in devachan to function solely as mind clothed in a very
ethereal vesture which it will shake off when the time comes for it to return to earth.
Kama loka -- or the place of desire -- is the astral region penetrating and surrounding the earth.
As a place it is on and in and about the earth. Its extent is to a measurable distance from the
earth, but the ordinary laws obtaining here do not obtain there, and entities therein are not under
the same conditions as to space and time as we are. As a state it is metaphysical, though that
metaphysic relates to the astral plane. It is called the plane of desire because it relates to the
fourth principle, and in it the ruling force is desire devoid of and divorced from intelligence. It is
an astral sphere intermediate between earthly and heavenly life. Beyond any doubt it is the origin
of the Christian theory of purgatory, where the soul undergoes penance for evil done and from
which it can be released by prayer and other ceremonies or offerings. The fact underlying this
superstition is that the soul may be detained in kama loka by the enormous force of some
unsatisfied desire, and cannot get rid of the astral and kamic clothing until that desire is satisfied
by some one on earth or by the soul itself. But if the person was pure minded and of high
aspirations, the separation of the principles on that plane is soon completed, permitting the higher
triad to go into Devachan. Being the purely astral sphere, it partakes of the nature of the astral
matter which is essentially earthly and devilish, and in it all the forces work undirected by soul or
conscience. It is the slag-pit, as it were, of the great furnace of life, where nature provides for the
sloughing off of elements which have no place in Devachan, and for that reason it must have
many degrees, every one of which was noted by the ancients. These degrees are known in
Sanskrit as lokas or places in a metaphysical sense. Human life is very varied as to character and
other potentialities, and for each of these the appropriate place after death is provided, thus
making kama loka an infinitely varied sphere. In life some of the differences among men are
modified and some inhibited by a similarity of body and heredity, but in kama loka all the hidden
desires and passions are let loose in consequence of the absence of body, and for that reason the
state is vastly more diversified than the life plane. Not only is it necessary to provide for the
natural varieties and differences, but also for those caused by the manner of death, about which
something shall be said. And all these various divisions are but the natural result of the life
thoughts and last thoughts of the persons who die on earth. It is beyond the scope of this work to
go into a description of all these degrees, inasmuch as volumes would be needed to describe
them, and then but few would understand.

To deal with kama loka compels us to deal also with the fourth principle in the classification of
man's constitution, and arouses a conflict with modern ideas and education on the subject of the
desires and passions. It is generally supposed that the desires and passions are inherent
tendencies in the individual, and they have an altogether unreal and misty appearance for the
ordinary student. But in this system of philosophy they are not merely inherent in the individual
nor are they due to the body per se. While the man is living in the world the desires and passions
-- the principle kama -- have no separate life apart from the astral and inner man, being, so to
say, diffused throughout his being. But as they coalesce with the astral body after death and thus
form an entity with its own term of life, though without soul, very important questions arise.
During mortal life the desires and passions are guided by the mind and soul; after death they
work without guidance from the former master; while we live we are responsible for them and
their effects, and when we have left this life we are still responsible, although they go on working
and making effects on others while they last as the sort of entity I have described, and without
our direct guidance. In this is seen the continuance of responsibility. They are a portion of the
skandhas -- well known in eastern philosophy -- which are the aggregates that make up the man.
The body includes one set of the skandhas, the astral man another, the kama principle is another
set, and still others pertain to other parts. In kama are the really active and important ones which
control rebirths and lead to all the varieties of life and circumstance upon each rebirth. They are
being made from day to day under the law that every thought combines instantly with one of the
elemental forces of nature, becoming to that extent an entity which will endure in accordance
with the strength of the thought as it leaves the brain, and all of these are inseparably connected
with the being who evolved them. There is no way of escaping; all we can do is to have thoughts
of good quality, for the highest of the Masters themselves are not exempt from this law, but they
"people their current in space" with entities powerful for good alone.

Now in kama loka this mass of desire and thought exists very definitely until the conclusion of its
disintegration, and then the remainder consists of the essence of these skandhas, connected, of
course, with the being that evolved and had them. They can no more be done away with than we
can blot out the universe. Hence they are said to remain until the being comes out of devachan,
and then at once by the law of attraction they are drawn to the being, who from them as germ or
basis builds up a new set of skandhas for the new life. Kama loka therefore is distinguished from
the earth plane by reason of the existence therein, uncontrolled and unguided, of the mass of
passions and desires; but at the same time earth-life is also a kama loka, since it is largely
governed by the principle kama, and will be so until at a far distant time in the course of
evolution the races of men shall have developed the fifth and sixth principle, thus throwing kama
into its own sphere and freeing earth-life from its influence.

The astral man in kama loka is a mere shell devoid of soul and mind, without conscience and
also unable to act unless vivified by forces outside of itself. It has that which seems like an
animal or automatic consciousness due wholly to the very recent association with the human
Ego. For under the principle laid down in another chapter, every atom going to make up the man
has a memory of its own which is capable of lasting a length of time in proportion to the force
given it. In the case of a very material and gross or selfish person the force lasts longer than in
any other, and hence in that case the automatic consciousness will be more definite and
bewildering to one who without knowledge dabbles with necromancy. Its purely astral portion
contains and carries the record of all that ever passed before the person when living, for one of
the qualities of the astral substance is to absorb all scenes and pictures and the impressions of all
thoughts, to keep them, and to throw them forth by reflection when the conditions permit. This
astral shell, cast off by every man at death, would be a menace to all men were it not in every
case, except one which shall be mentioned, devoid of all the higher principles which are the
directors. But those guiding constituents being disjoined from the shell, it wavers and floats about
from place to place without any will of its own, but governed wholly by attractions in the astral
and magnetic fields.

It is possible for the real man -- called the spirit by some -- to communicate with us immediately
after death for a few brief moments, but, those passed, the soul has no more to do with earth
until reincarnated. What can and do influence the sensitive and the medium from out of this
sphere are the shells I have described. Soulless and conscienceless, these in no sense are the
spirits of our deceased ones. They are the clothing thrown off by the inner man, the brutal
earthly portion discarded in the flight to devachan, and so have always been considered by the
ancients as devils -- our personal devils -- because essentially astral, earthly, and passional. It
would be strange indeed if this shell, after being for so long the vehicle of the real man on earth,
did not retain an automatic memory and consciousness. We see the decapitated body of the frog
or the cock moving and acting for a time with a seeming intelligence, and why is it not possible
for the finer and more subtle astral form to act and move with a far greater amount of seeming
mental direction?

Existing in the sphere of kama loka, as, indeed, also in all parts of the globe and the solar system,
are the elementals or nature forces. They are innumerable, and their divisions are almost infinite,
as they are, in a sense, the nerves of nature. Each class has its own work just as has every
natural element or thing. As fire burns and as water runs down and not up under their general
law, so the elementals act under law, but being higher in the scale than gross fire or water their
action seems guided by mind. Some of them have a special relation to mental operations and to
the action of the astral organs, whether these be joined to a body or not. When a medium forms
the channel, and also from other natural coordination, these elementals make an artificial
connection with the shell of a deceased person, aided by the nervous fluid of the medium and
others near, and then the shell is galvanized into an artificial life. Through the medium connection
is made with the physical and psychical forces of all present. The old impressions on the astral
body give up their images to the mind of the medium, the old passions are set on fire. Various
messages and reports are then obtained from it, but not one of them is original, not one is from
the spirit. By their strangeness, and in consequence of the ignorance of those who dabble in it,
this is mistaken for the work of spirit, but it is all from the living when it is not the mere picking
out from the astral light of the images of what has been in the past. In certain cases to be noted
there is an intelligence at work that is wholly and intensely bad, to which every medium is
subject, and which will explain why so many of them have succumbed to evil, as they have

A rough classification of these shells that visit mediums would be as follows:

(1) Those of the recently deceased whose place of burial is not far away. This class will be quite
coherent in accordance with the life and thought of the former owner. An unmaterial, good, and
spiritualized person leaves a shell that will soon disintegrate. A gross, mean, selfish, material
person's shell will be heavy, consistent, and long lived: and so on with all varieties.

(2) Those of persons who had died far away from the place where the medium is. Lapse of time
permits such to escape from the vicinity of their old bodies, and at the same time brings on a
greater degree of disintegration which corresponds on the astral plane to putrefaction on the
physical. These are vague, shadowy, incoherent; respond but briefly to the psychic stimulus, and
are whirled off by any magnetic current. They are galvanized for a moment by the astral currents
of the medium and of those persons present who were related to the deceased.

(3) Purely shadowy remains which can hardly be given a place. There is no English to describe
them, though they are facts in this sphere. They might be said to be the mere mold or impress
left in the astral substance by the once coherent shell long since disintegrated. They are therefore
so near being fictitious as to almost deserve the designation. As such shadowy photographs they
are enlarged, decorated, and given an imaginary life by the thoughts, desires, hopes, and
imaginings of medium and sitters at the seance.

(4) Definite, coherent entities, human souls bereft of the spiritual tie, now tending down to the
worst state of all, avitchi, where annihilation of the personality is the end. They are known as
black magicians. Having centered the consciousness in the principle of kama, preserved intellect,
divorced themselves from spirit, they are the only damned beings we know. In life they had
human bodies and reached their awful state by persistent lives of evil for its own sake; some of
such already doomed to become what I have described, are among us on earth today. These are
not ordinary shells, for they have centered all their force in kama, thrown out every spark of
good thought or aspiration, and have a complete mastery of the astral sphere. I put them in the
classification of shells because they are such in the sense that they are doomed to disintegration
consciously as the others are to the same end mechanically only. They may and do last for many
centuries, gratifying their lusts through any sensitive they can lay hold of where bad thought gives
them an opening. They preside at nearly all seances, assuming high names and taking the
direction so as to keep the control and continue the delusion of the medium, thus enabling
themselves to have a convenient channel for their own evil purposes. Indeed, with the shells of
suicides, of those poor wretches who die at the hand of the law, of drunkards and gluttons, these
black magicians living in the astral world hold the field of physical mediumship and are liable to
invade the sphere of any medium no matter how good. The door once open, it is open to all.
This class of shell has lost higher manas, but in the struggle not only after death but as well in life
the lower portion of manas which should have been raised up to godlike excellence was torn
away from its lord and now gives this entity intelligence which is devoid of spirit but power to
suffer as it will when its final day shall come.

In the state of Kama Loka suicides and those who are suddenly shot out of life by accident or
murder, legal or illegal, pass a term almost equal to the length life would have been but for the
sudden termination. These are not really dead. To bring on a normal death, a factor not
recognized by medical science must be present. That is, the principles of the being as described
in other chapters have their own term of cohesion, at the natural end of which they separate from
each other under their own laws. This involves the great subject of the cohesive forces of the
human subject, requiring a book in itself. I must be content therefore with the assertion that this
law of cohesion obtains among the human principles. Before that natural end the principles are
unable to separate. Obviously the normal destruction of the cohesive force cannot be brought
about by mechanical processes except in respect to the physical body. Hence a suicide, or person
killed by accident or murdered by man or by order of human law, has not come to the natural
termination of the cohesion among the other constituents, and is hurled into the kama loka state
only partly dead. There the remaining principles have to wait until the actual natural life term is
reached, whether it be one month or sixty years.

But the degrees of kama loka provide for the many varieties of the last-mentioned shells. Some
pass the period in great suffering, others in a dreamy sort of sleep, each according to the moral
responsibility. But executed criminals are in general thrown out of life full of hate and revenge,
smarting under a penalty they do not admit the justice of. They are ever rehearsing in kama loka
their crime, their trial, their execution, and their revenge. And whenever they can gain touch with
a sensitive living person, medium or not, they attempt to inject thoughts of murder and other
crime into the brain of such unfortunate. And that they succeed in such attempts the deeper
students of Theosophy full well know.

We have now approached devachan. After a certain time in kama loka the being falls into a state
of unconsciousness which precedes the change into the next state. It is like the birth into life,
preluded by a term of darkness and heavy sleep. It then wakes to the joys of devachan.

(From The Ocean of Theosophy by W. Q. Judge)