It is natural for the human mind to desire to know the general structure of the universe. It is also helpful to have a sort of chart of the universe in which one finds oneself. The fabric of the universe includes the spheres and the planes, and the different bodies with which a human soul is endowed.
The Gross, Subtle and Mental spheres are interpenetrating globes, and have an existence in space. They can be regarded as places since they have an expansion in space. The planes, on the other hand, are both places and states, though the state of a particular plane cannot be experienced unless one’s consciousness first gets raised to it and begins to function from there.
There are 49 steps in the ascent through the planes. The human mind delights in perceiving and creating symmetry and proportion everywhere, but this tendency should not be carried into the realm of facts. The 49 steps in the Path are not evenly distributed within the seven planes. They are distinguished from each other because of their distinguishing psychic characteristics, although they have also structural equivalents in the subdivisions of the seven planes.
Just as a change of place in the physical world is linked with changes in the mental state and gathered experiences, an ascent to a plane also brings about changes in states and experiences. An ascent to a plane means a change in the standing ground of consciousness. It is a change of place. It therefore brings with it the changes in states and experiences.
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