The astral plane
"One of the most vital things every aspirant has to do, is to learn to understand the astral plane, to comprehend it's nature, and to learn both to stand free from it and then to work on it. . . . The moment a man can "see" on the astral plane, and can achieve equilibrium and hold steady in the midst of it's vibrating forces, that moment he is ready for initiation. . . .
The appearance of the astral plane when first definitely seen by the "opened eye" of the aspirant, is one of dense fog, confusion, changing forms, interpenetrating and intermingling colors, and is of such a kaleidoscope appearance that the hopelessness of the enterprise seems overwhelming. It is not light or starry clear. It is apparently impenetrable disorder, for it is the meeting ground of forces. . . .
The astral plane is the plane of illusion, of glamour, and of a distorted presentation of reality. The reason for this is that every individual in the world is busy working in astral matter, and the potency of human and of world produces that constant "outpicturing" and form building which leads to the most concrete effects of astral matter. . . . Add to these forms that persistent and steadily growing scenario we call the "akashic records", which concern the emotional history of the past, add the activities of the discarnate lives which are passing through the astral plane, either out of or towards incarnation, add the potent desire, purified and intelligent, of all superhuman Lives, including those of the occult planet Hierarchy, and the sum total of forces present, is stupendous. All play upon, around and through every human being, and according to the caliber of his physical body, and the condition of his centers will be his response. Through this illusory panorama, the aspirant has to make his way, finding the clue or thread which will lead him out of the maze, and holding fast to each tiny fragment of reality as it presents itself to him, learning to distinguish truth from glamour, the permanent from the impermanent, and the certain from the unreal. . . .
No glamour, no illusion can long hold the man who has set himself the task of treading the razor edged Path which leads through the wilderness, through the thick set forest, through the deep waters of sorrow and distress, through the valley of sacrifice and over the mountains of vision to the gate of Deliverance. He may travel sometimes in the dark (and the illusion of the darkness is very real); he may travel sometimes in a light so dazzling and bewildering that he can scarcely see the way ahead; he may know what it is to falter on the Path, and to drop under the fatigue of service and of strife; he may be temporarily sidetracked and wander down the by-paths of ambition, of self interest and of material enchantment, but the lapse will be but brief." (A Treatise on White Magic, p. 221/3)
"There is no astral plane except in the consciousness of the fourth kingdom in nature, for man is "under illusion" in a sense different to the conscious awareness of any other kingdom -- subhuman or superhuman.
I despair in making my meaning clear. How can one who is subject to the illusion of the senses, as are all human creatures, conceive of the state of consciousness of those who have freed themselves from the illusions of the astral plane, or realism the state of awareness of those forms of life which have not yet developed astral consciousness? It is the dual nature of the mind which causes this illusion. . . .
Yet it is this very illusion which renders man up to eventually the secret password into the Kingdom of God, and brings about this release. It is this maya itself which serves to guide him into truth and knowledge; it is on the plane of the astral that the heresy of separateness has to be overcome. . . . The secret science of the Master of Wisdom is the secret of how to dissipate the fogs and mist and darkness and gloom, which are produced by the union of the fires in the early stages. The secret of the Master is the discovery that there is no astral plane; he finds that the astral plane is a figment of the imagination and has been created through the uncontrolled use of creative imagination, and the misuse of the magical powers." (A Treatise on White Magic, p. 614/5)
"As I have said elsewhere, there is no such thing as the astral plane or the astral body. Just as the physical body is made up of matter which is not regarded as a principle, so the astral body -- as far as the mind nature is concerned -- is in the same category. This is a difficult matter for you to grasp, because desire and emotion are so real and so devastatingly important. But -- speaking literally -- from the angle of the mental plane, the astral body is a "figment of the imagination"; it is not a principle. The massed use of the imagination in the service of desire , has nevertheless constructed an illusory glamorous world, the world of the astral plane. During physical incarnation, and when man is not upon the Path of Discipleship, the astral plane is very real, with a vitality and a life all its own. After the first death (the death of the physical body) it still remains equally real. But its potency slowly dies out; the the mental man comes to realize his own true state of consciousness (whether developed or undeveloped), and the second death becomes possible and takes place. This phase covers the Process of Elimination." (Esoteric Healing, p. 409)
"Even if there is no astral plane, from the standpoint of the Master, yet thousands of millions recognize it, and labour in its delusive sphere, and are there aided by the initiated disciple, working from the higher corresponding levels." (The Rays and the Initiations, p.65)