I’ve previously talked a little about lokas, mainly for the 2 versions of the Gayatri mantra. One describes a 3-worlds model of physical, subtle, and Divine. The other, a more detailed 7-worlds model with the physical, 3 progressively more subtle layers, and 3 heavens. Same arena divided in more detail. How many colours in a rainbow?
Loka means place or world. The Vedas define lokas ranging from the physical world up into various heavens in the celestial realm. Essentially lokas are a type of nested sub-space. Just as the described koshas often stop with the causal, heavens are not usually described above that either. Most related models consider anything further to be absolute or Divine.
There are many kinds of lokas for different kinds of beings, like Ghandarva loka, home of celestial musicians (we may hear subtle music) and Sarpa loka, home of wise snake devas.
Rather than thinking of lokas as other worlds, it’s more effective to consider them the collective consciousness of those beings. Just as we have community, state, and country consciousness, more subtle beings live in the space of their own collective consciousness. [Update:] Established lokas will have beings responsible for sustaining that loka/ group consciousness. Often, they’re in the loka but large ones like our universe have a team outside the loka.
The Patalas are lokas where the members of the group are more driven by darkness than light. They go from moderate to extreme. We would typically call these the hells.
In the way they’re often described, lokas and patalas are places we might go to after death when we leave the physical loka. And yet, they’re collective places in consciousness. They’re not somewhere else but coexist with all the other spaces of this universe.
We exist in a loka by the state of our being. We have a physical body so are in the physical world by default. But we’re also in various layers of the collective with other like beings. Where do we visit when we dream or sleep, for example? For beings who are more aware of group consciousness, they can define their shared “space” with more detail. How do they decorate their collective?
Do we live in love or fear? Our stage of consciousness does help develop a presence to live more consciously but our entry into higher places has more to do with our clarity or sattva. Our degree of purification and healing, we might say. Then detail is more accessible.
Heaven and hell are a spectrum of quality. We can meet people living in heaven and others in hell in our neighborhood. We can also meet more subtle beings living in the same ranges but in different collectives based on their body and development.
For example, if we wake up but die while carrying a bunch of anger issues, they will inform where we go next to work them out. But this isn’t a black and white thing. There are a lot of nuances in quality. To illustrate, when you graduate from grade school it may be best to pursue academics, to go to a technical school, or go into a special program. Your marks and aptitudes will influence the choice but so will your attitude and state.
The quality of our inner world determines the quality of the space we live in. It is our offering to the world. And it determines what follows. What qualities do you culture? What qualities do the people around you culture? Are we culturing heaven on earth? When enough of the population shifts to love and happiness, that will become the shared experience in the collective. This is underway but the current task is bringing shadows to light.