You don’t have a Soul, You are a Soul. You have a Body – C.S Lewis
In Buddhism, and other authentic paths, the main goal is self-realization….because knowing about reincarnation, and believing in it, doesn’t benefit you one bit if you don’t understand what YOU are, and what gets re-incarnated.
Just like a tree has many rings that make up the trunk, and as it gets older, it gets more rings…..so also is our soul-mind-body configuration. We have many sheaths.
The most subtle “sheath”, or “armor” or “body” or “vehicle” or whatever you want to call it – is the body of PURE consciousness.
Next, you have a body of light, a vehicle that allows you to travel the casual realms, which are the highest realms next to that of pure awareness itself, nirvana (whatever you want to call it)
Next, you have a mental body. This allows you to remember, configure information. It too is very, very light.
Next, you have an emotional/astral vehicle/body. Much more dense in vibration than the above bodies, but still not physical.
Next, you have the physical body. When you die, you shed the physical body
At the time of death, most people are usually caught off guard, and they don’t recognize they are dead right away. The awareness goes through a journey of sorts, if you will, and your ‘karma’ , or residual emotions, imprints, memories, etc play a part in what this journey is, how you react on the journey, and where you ultimately end up next, in your existence.
You can view the soul as a stream of consciousness. After incarnations though, that stream of consciousness carries with it attachments, aversions, and….simply put, ‘baggage’. This is all part of what determines where you end up next.
There is no such place as the Other side. It is neither up nor down, neither north, south, east or west. It lies in no special direction—and yet it lies in all directions. It is, first, last, and always, a state or condition and not a place. It is rather a phase or degree of vibration, rather than a portion of space. Its dimensions are those of Time—not those of Space. When we use the words; “region;” “realm;” “higher or lower;” “above or below;” we employ them merely figuratively, just as we speak of “a high rate of vibration,” or “a rate or vibration above that, etc.”
First you need to understand that we have many bodies. Like an onion having many skins layers. Death means the passing merely from one speed to another, the adjusting of the soul to a more intense vibration, to a livelier, quicker state of manifestation.
At the time of death, your physical body “dies” but your soul move into a an etheric body (astral body), an exact counterpart of the physical body, without any imperfection. At the time of death the dying person’s Astral body gradually disengages itself from its physical counterpart.
The Astral body, however, leaves the physical body at the death of the latter, and forms the covering of the soul for some time. It is really a form of material substance, of a degree, however, so fine that it escapes the tests which reveal ordinary matter. Toward the last the Astral body actually slips from the physical body and is connected with it only by a slender thread or cord of Astral substance. Finally this thread snaps, and the Astral body floats away, inhabited by the soul which has left the physical body behind it. But this Astral body is no more the soul that was the physical body which it has just left. Both physical and Astral bodies are merely temporary coverings for the soul itself.
The soul leaving the physical body into the Astral body is plunged into a deep sleep or state of coma resembling the condition of the unborn child for several months before birth.
It is being prepared for rebirth on the Astral Plane, and requires time in order to adjust itself to the new conditions and to gain strength and vigor required for its new phase of existence.
This step is translated by an experience of seeing a white light (being your higher self) and going into it. A this stage usually a review of what happened during this lifetime is done. Your life movie kinda play again before your eyes, but now you feel every emotions, deeds that you have done, feeling even others.
Once played forward, the movie is played again backward. Another “movie” is shown to you, this one being the one that was planned for this lifetime by you and your higher self before you incarnate. After the life review is done, The soul “wake up” and go into the astral planes.
According to your spiritual growth, and your consciousness level and your beliefs, you go to according places.
But souls have to go to the astral plane right after they die, and can progress from there. On the lowest astral, there are beings that are negative, on the highest, there are positive beings. From ‘summerland’ (astral 2 ) entities are pretty much neutral.
In case nobody gets it so far, the ultimate goal of the soul is to go back to the highest plane, find and merge with your soul group to merge with the One creator (Source)
A common problem is that people do not believe in the afterlife, as the astral is pretty much a place where all your thoughts are realized, those people end up in a deep coma sleep for years/centuries until they reincarnate. That’s really a waste, and almost nobody can wake them up.
The soul feeling the impulses of reawakened life, stirs itself slowly and languidly, as one does in awakening from a sound slumber in earth-life. Then, like the butterfly throwing aside the chrysalis shell, it slips away from the Astral body, and in rapid succession unconsciously discards the lower principles of its nature. This occupies but a short time, and occurs while the soul is slowly regaining consciousness. At the moment of the actual awakening, the soul is free from all these worn out shells and encumbrances, and opens its eyes upon the scenes of its new activities and existence in the Astral World.
Now let’s say that you find yourself in the Astral plane. The astral plane (illusion land) is a plane where all your thoughts materialize, you create your own reality there. So you can create any people you want, any kind of houses you want, anything. All is open there. That is why there are so many different reports of people during Near Death Experiences (NDE) – their thoughts created their surroundings.
However, most of souls there are bound to karma, want to go back to earth because they have attachment. And others are unable to rise to any higher plane, and soon their souls grow weary and they end up reincarnating on earth to progress further. But you can choose to reincarnate earlier if this is your will.
Some souls are able to rise to even higher plane, and reach places of unspeakable bliss. There is much work in the afterlife for every souls, but everybody does as it wants. Usually souls rest there. There is no need to eat/sleep/drink. Almost all thoughts are open, and souls talk in a kind of telepathic way.
There are always helpers if you want to rise to higher plane, but it is usually very hard to progress without reincarnating on earth (or another planet).
If a soul happens to reach the end of the 3rd planes, then it doesn’t have to reincarnate on earth. Usually they choose to reincarnate in others planets where they can learn others things to progress even more. Some souls choose to come back to earth to help others, or some become spirit guide for others members of their soul group.
Everything you had learned during the afterlife, you will recover it by what people call ‘intuition’. That’s why we have some people that are genius, they studied the field during their previous lifetime/afterlife and kept honing their skill. We all have different interests. Each soul group has a common interest, be it art, health, philosophy, science, mysticism etc. And so we keep doing that over and over, until we reach the ultimate state, union with the One creator.
Etheric plane is the energy plane. It is the where sensitive people feel all those energies, they feel the etheric plane. It is the plane of our Chakra’s, our Nadis, our energy field.
The Astral plane is the plane of our emotions, our emotional body and this is the plane that you usually visit when we are asleep in our dreams.
The Causal plane is actually the higher mental plane. It is the plane of the archetypes from where our physical world and all other worlds are created.
The Mental plane is the plane of the mind of the thought forms of the ideas. After we die and after we transmit through the etheric and astral plane for some time we also spend before the next incarnation, we spend some time on the mental plane. This is the so-called paradise between 2 incarnations.
The Sat Nam’ Plane – some people describe this as the plane of truth. Some people call it the Buddhic plane or the spiritual plane or the 6th dimension. It is the plane of pure love and light.