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|A Treatise on Cosmic Fire - Section Two - Division D - Thought Elementals and Fire Elementals|
|(b.) The Nature of Pralaya
We can view pralaya as the work of "abstraction," and as the method which brings the form under the Destroyer aspect of Spirit, working ever under the Law of Attraction, of which the Law of Synthesis is but a branch. The basic law of the system is that which governs the relation of all atoms to the aggregate of atoms, and of the Self to the Not-self. It is (from the occult standpoint) the most powerful force-demonstration in the system, and should the law inconceivably cease to work, instantaneously the system and all forms therein, planetary, human and other would cease to be. By an act of will the planetary schemes persist, by an act of will the system is; by an act of the egoic will man appears. When the Will of the Logos, of the Heavenly Man, and of the human divine Ego is turned to other ends, the substance of Their vehicles is affected, and disintegration sets in. The five types of pralaya which concern the human unit are as follows:
(1) The Period of Pralaya between two Incarnations
This is of a triple nature and affects the substance of the three vehicles, physical, astral and mental, reducing the form to its primitive substance, and dissipating its atomic structure. The energy of the second aspect (that of the form-builder) is withdrawn by the will of the Ego,  and the atoms composing the form become dissociated from each other, and are resolved into the reservoir of essence to be recollected again when the hour strikes. This condition is brought about gradually by stages of which we are aware.
The first stage is the withdrawal of the life force in the etheric vehicle from the threefold (dense, liquid and gaseous) dense physical body and the consequent "falling into corruption," and becoming "scattered to the elements." Objective man fades out, and is no more seen by the physical eye, though still in his etheric body. When etheric vision is developed, the thought of death will assume very different proportions. When a man can be seen functioning in his etheric physical body by the majority of the race, the dropping of the dense body will be considered just a "release."
The next stage is the withdrawal of the life force from the etheric body or coil, and its devitalization. The etheric coil is but an extension of one aspect of the sutratma or thread, and this thread is spun by the Ego from within the causal body much as a spider spins a thread. It can be shortened or extended at will, and when the period of pralaya has been decided upon, this thread of light, or of solar fire (note the word "solar") is withdrawn, and gathered back to the atomic subplane where it will still vitalize the permanent atom and hold it connected within the causal body. The life impulses are then - as far as the physical plane is concerned - centralized within the atomic sphere.
The third stage is the withdrawal of the life force from so that it disintegrates in a similar manner and the life is centralized within the astral permanent atom. It has gained an increase of vitality through physical plane existence, and added color through astral experience.
The final stage for the human atom is its withdrawal  from the mental vehicle. The life forces after this fourfold abstraction are centralized entirely within the egoic sphere; contact with the three lower planes is still inherently possible by means of the permanent atoms, the force centers of the three personality aspects.
In each incarnation the life forces have gained through the utilization of the vehicles,
These are wrought into faculty in devachan.
Devachan 45, 46 is a state of consciousness, reflecting, in  the life of the Personality, that higher state which we call nirvanic consciousness, and which is brought about by egoic action. It is but a dim reflection in the separated units (and therefore tinged with selfishness and separative pleasure) of the group condition called nirvanic. In this high state of consciousness each separate identity, though self-realizing, shares in the group realization, and therein lies bliss for the unit. Separation is no longer felt, only unity and essential oneness is known. Therefore, as might be naturally deduced, there is no devachan for the savage or little evolved man, as they merit it not, and have not the mentality to realize it; hence, therefore, the rapidity of their incarnations, and the brevity of the pralayic period. There is little in their case for the Ego, on its own plane, to assimilate in the residue of incarnations, and hence the life principle withdraws rapidly from out of the mental form, with the resulting impulse of the Ego to reincarnate almost immediately.
When the life of the personality has been full and rich, yet has not reached the stage wherein the personal self can consciously cooperate with the ego, periods of personality nirvana are undergone, their length depending upon the interest of the life, and the ability of the man to meditate upon experience. Later, when the Ego dominates the personality life, the interest of the man is raised to higher levels, and the nirvana of the soul  becomes his goal. He has no interest in devachan. Therefore, those upon the Path (either the probationary Path, or the Path of Initiation) do not, as a rule, go to devachan, but immediate incarnation becomes the rule in the turning of the wheel of life; this time it is brought about by the conscious cooperation of the personal Self with the divine Self or Ego.
45Devachan. "(3) 'Who goes to Devachan?' The personal Ego, of course, but beatified, purified, holy. Every Ego - the combination of the sixth and seventh principles - which, after the period of unconscious gestation is reborn into the Devachan, is of necessity as innocent and pure as a newborn babe. The fact of his being reborn at all shows the preponderance of good over evil in his old personality. And while the Karma (of evil) steps aside for the time being to follow him in his future earth-reincarnation, he brings along with him but the Karma of his good deeds, words, and thoughts into this Devachan. 'Bad' is a relative term for us - as you were told more than once before, - and the Law of Retribution is the only law that never errs. Hence all those who have not slipped down Into the mire of unredeemable sin and bestiality - go to the Devachan. They will have to pay for their sins, voluntary and involuntary, later on. Meanwhile they are rewarded; receive the effects of the causes produced by them."
"Of course it is a state, one, so to say, of intense selfishness during which an Ego reaps the reward of his unselfishness on earth. He is completely engrossed in the bliss of all his personal earthly affections, preferences, thoughts, and gathers in the fruit of his meritorious actions. No pain, no grief nor even the shadow of a sorrow comes to darken the bright horizon of his unalloyed happiness; for, it its a state of perpetual 'Maya'. ...Since the conscious perception of one's personality on earth is but an evanescent dream that sense will be equally that of a dream in the Devachan - only a hundredfold intensified."
'Bardo' is the period between death and rebirth - and may last from a few years to a
kalpa. It is divided into three subperiods
Subperiod (1) may last from a few minutes to a number of years - the phrase 'a few years' becoming puzzling and utterly worthless without a more complete explanation; Subperiod 2nd is 'very long'; as you say, longer sometimes than you may even imagine, yet proportionate to the Ego's spiritual stamina; Subperiod 3rd lasts in proportion to the good Karma, after which the monad is again reincarnated."
"...Every effect must be proportionate to the cause. And, as man's terms of incarnate existence bear but a small proportion to his periods of inter-natal existence in the manvantaric cycle, so the good thoughts, words, and deeds of any one of these 'lives' on a globe are causative of effects, the working out of which requires far more time than the evolution of the causes occupied."
- From Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, pp. 100-105-106.
46Devachan. A state intermediate between two earth lives into which the Ego enters after its separation from its lower aspects or sheaths
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