The Astral Plane is a world both of suffering and of joy.
At the limit between the higher and lower regions of the Astral Plane is an intermediate zone inhabited by those who are in the process of perfecting themselves, of severing the bonds that tie them to the lower world, but who can still suffer the torments of these lower astral and physical regions.
Thus the astral body is a world both of suffering and of joy: of joy when human beings, at last, manage to refine and purify their desires; of suffering when they are still on too low a level, when their appetites and passions still have too strong a hold on them.
We first find ourselves on the Astral Plane where we are very susceptible
At the moment of death a human being detaches themself from their physical body, but this separation does not mean that they are instantly set free. To begin with, in fact, they will be even more susceptible to torment than when they were on earth.
This is because, when we are on earth, our physical body serves as a shell or armour and prevents us from feeling the reality of the psychic world. But when we die and find ourselves on the astral plane, released from our physical body and the protection it once afforded us, we are liable to experience terrible suffering and unhappiness.
What is Hell?
Hell is simply the experience of a very intense state of consciousness on the astral plane and we can escape from it only when we have been purified by suffering. When death comes to those who have lived in debauchery, injustice, viciousness and cruelty and who have managed to escape punishment at the hands of human justice, they find themselves on the astral plane, face to face with all the evil they have ever committed.
There is no escape and no protection; they no longer have their physical body to protect them and make them less sensitive, so they experience all the torments and sufferings that they imposed on others during their life on earth.
After a nightmare we escape to the protection of our physical body
You have all had nightmares, I imagine, and you know that they usually end abruptly when you wake up and suddenly feel enormously relieved to find yourself safely at home in your physical body: ‘Oh, thank God! It was only a dream!’
Why do you wake up so suddenly? Because you know, subconsciously, that you must get back into your physical body in order to defend yourself against hostile beings or forces of the astral plane: your physical body is a fortress in which you are safe from attack.
If you stayed on the astral plane you would continue to be at the mercy of your enemies, so you escape from them by going back into the thick, solid protection of your physical body.
Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
To be continued…
Complete Works Volume 32, The Fruits of the Tree of Life – The Cabbalistic Tradition
Chapter 15, Death and the Life Beyond