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So let's do a short thought 💭 experiment.

1 You have physically died.

2 But, like those who report near-death experiences (such as those in Raymond Moody's Life After Life) you're surprised there is a direct continuity of consciousness in the post-death state.

3 You're surprised to see you are in a nonphysical copy of your physical body which can now act in the "spirit world."

4 You then receive a visit from a spirit; but, one taking on the form of a globe of light. This being communicates with you in a direct way beyond the means of speech.


👆This scenario is illustrative, as it shows us the two states of being you can have in the spirit world: either (1) a form-based spirit or (2) a formless spirit.

👉If you are form-based, you would retain your humanoid appearance. Or, you could transfigure into the form of a wolf, or an eagle, or a lion.

👉If you are formless, you would become increasingly similar to a point of consciousness in space.

💭Think of those images you've seen of "Biblically accurate angels." Sometimes they are portrayed as a rotating wheel make completely of eyes, or as a globe of light covered with eyes - this would be the best pictorial representation one could make of one of these beings. The "many eyes" would be a reference to the spirit's 360 degree vision. The wings would refer to the spirit's interdimensional nature: being able to move through and manipulate reality solely by the power of thought.

If we study this Orthodox icon, it shows the different kinds of spirit one might encounter (or become) in the post-death state:

 Nine orders of angel

 

If we study religious literature, we can find this division of nonphysical beings in different sources:

 

Dante had eight (and ninth is God, the Self):

In Dante’s “Paradiso,” the final part of his epic poem “The Divine Comedy,” there are nine heavens or spheres that represent different levels of celestial existence. Each heaven is associated with a specific virtue or aspect of divine revelation. Here is a breakdown of the nine heavens in Dante’s “Paradiso”:

First Heaven (Moon): The Moon represents the sphere of inconstant souls and those who failed to fulfill their vows. It is associated with the virtue of humility.

Second Heaven (Mercury): Mercury represents the sphere of souls who were active in the pursuit of fame and glory. It is associated with the virtue of active life.

Third Heaven (Venus): Venus represents the sphere of souls who were motivated by love and desire. It is associated with the virtue of love.

Fourth Heaven (Sun): The Sun represents the sphere of souls who were wise and illuminated by divine knowledge. It is associated with the virtue of wisdom.

Fifth Heaven (Mars): Mars represents the sphere of souls who displayed courage and fought for justice. It is associated with the virtue of fortitude.

Sixth Heaven (Jupiter): Jupiter represents the sphere of souls who were just and held positions of authority. It is associated with the virtue of justice.

Seventh Heaven (Saturn): Saturn represents the sphere of contemplative souls and those who dedicated their lives to spiritual pursuits. It is associated with the virtue of temperance.

Eighth Heaven (Fixed Stars): The Fixed Stars represent the sphere of souls who were true Christian believers and defenders of the faith. It is associated with the virtue of faith.

Ninth Heaven (Primum Mobile/Empyrean): The Primum Mobile, also known as the Empyrean, represents the highest heaven where God’s light and presence reside. It is the dwelling place of the blessed and associated with the virtue of hope. (ChatGPT)

 

Seven for Mohammed:

In Islamic belief, the concept of “heavens” refers to various levels or realms of existence within the celestial realm. The exact number of heavens mentioned in Islamic tradition can vary, and there isn’t a universally agreed-upon number. However, based on Islamic literature and interpretations, there are several references to the seven heavens.

In the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, the term “seven heavens” is mentioned in multiple verses. These heavens are described as ascending levels or layers of creation. They are depicted as being distinct from the earthly realm and inhabited by angels, celestial bodies, and other divine creations.

The seven heavens are often described in Islamic literature as follows:

First Heaven: This is the closest heaven to the Earth and is associated with the material realm.

Second Heaven: The second heaven is described as the realm of angels and is associated with the moon.

Third Heaven: The third heaven is associated with the planet Mercury.

Fourth Heaven: The fourth heaven is associated with the planet Venus.

Fifth Heaven: The fifth heaven is associated with the planet Mars.

Sixth Heaven: The sixth heaven is associated with the planet Jupiter.

Seventh Heaven: The seventh heaven is the highest and most exalted heaven, often considered the dwelling place of God or the Divine Throne. (ChatGPT)

 

And eight in Buddhism:

In Buddhism, the levels of heaven associated with the Four Rupa Jhanas (the Four Form-based Absorptions) and the Four Arupa Jhanas (the Four Formless Absorptions) describe different states of meditative absorption or concentration. These states are achieved through deep meditation practice and are considered higher planes of existence within the Buddhist cosmology. Here is an overview of the levels of heaven associated with these jhanas:

Four Rupa Jhanas (Form Realms):

First Jhana (Rupa Jhana): This level of absorption is characterized by the experience of bliss and joy, accompanied by focused attention and tranquility. It is associated with the Brahma realm, the highest of the realms within the desire realm.

Second Jhana (Rupa Jhana): The second jhana involves a deepening of concentration, where the initial applied and sustained attention from the first jhana are replaced by a more refined level of joy and tranquility. It is associated with the Brahma realm.

Third Jhana (Rupa Jhana): In the third jhana, the meditator experiences a further refinement of joy, where bliss is experienced without the initial joy and accompanied by equanimity. It is also associated with the Brahma realm.

Fourth Jhana (Rupa Jhana): The fourth jhana is characterized by equanimity, mindfulness, and purity of mind. It is a state of deep serenity and peacefulness, free from both joy and sorrow. It is associated with the transition into the formless realms.

Four Arupa Jhanas (Formless Realms):

Fifth Jhana (Arupa Jhana): The fifth jhana is associated with the realm of infinite space (Akasanancayatana), where the meditator experiences a state of boundless, infinite space as the object of meditation.

Sixth Jhana (Arupa Jhana): The sixth jhana corresponds to the realm of infinite consciousness (Vijnananancayatana), where the meditator transcends the concept of space and perceives only an infinite expanse of consciousness.

Seventh Jhana (Arupa Jhana): The seventh jhana is associated with the realm of nothingness (Akincannayatana), where the meditator experiences a state of pure mental spaciousness and emptiness, devoid of any perception of form or consciousness.

Eighth Jhana (Arupa Jhana): The eighth jhana corresponds to the realm of neither perception nor non-perception (N’eva-saññā-n’āsaññāyatana), which is the highest formless realm. In this state, the meditator experiences a profound state of transcendent awareness beyond perception or non-perception. (ChatGPT)