Daniil Andreev. «The Rose of the World»
Book IV. The Structure of Shadanakar: The Infraphysical planes

IV. Chapter 2. The Worlds of Retribution

During the prehistoric era, the demonic powers were occupied with slowing human development and preparing the planes of transphysical magma and the core to receive millions of human souls in the future. Later, during historical times, the shrastrs and Witzraor sakwalas were created. The majority of purgatories appeared at even later times.

Our survey of the worlds of retribution begins with the purgatories, because they are closer to us than the other planes. They are more commensurate with our customary notions, and in the case of a descent after death, it is in the purgatories that the descent begins. In the majority of cases, it ends there as well.

The word purgatory is borrowed from Catholicism, but many of the Catholic beliefs invested in it do not coincide with the overall picture of what is to be described. The term sheol could also have been used in reference to those planes, but the Judaic images of those shadowy lands of the dead will also find no parallel in my description.

The purgatories of the various metacultures differ somewhat from each other. Taken separately, each of them also undergoes substantial changes over the course of centuries. In addition, they took shape in different historical periods. There were none at all in the metacultures of antiquity, the Byzantine metaculture included. To be more precise, worlds of eternal suffering existed in their place, and a distinct echo of the mystical knowledge about planes of eternal suffering can be heard in the majority of ancient religions.

The oldest of the purgatories belongs to the Indian metaculture. It was the Indian Synclite that first attained the power of

Light necessary to prevent Gagtungr's forces from turning into planes of torment their sakwala of afterlife atonement-a sakwala that the Indian metaculture had inherited from the daemons and Titans, the most ancient of humankind. Later some planes in the metacultures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were converted into purgatories. The key role in that was played by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, His descent into the demonic worlds, and the struggle that ensued over several centuries between the Christian Synclites and the demons over mitigation of the Law of Retribution. But the struggle did not end in victory in the Byzantine metaculture. The enemy camp offered stubborn resistance. As a result, the Byzantine metaculture broke away from Enrof.

I mentioned before, in passing, the implications of the Byzantine Orthodox Church's refusal to embrace the idea of purgatories when it arose in the Western Church. The horrifying prospect of the eternal torments awaiting the soul of a sinner should be regarded as the impulse for the extreme asceticism with which the Byzantine religious spirit burned to the very end of its history. Yes, the eschatological depths, with all the extremes of its demonic cruelty, unfolded before the eyes of Byzantine prophets. One can only be surprised not at the desperate ascetic excesses of that culture but at the fact that such excesses did not take place in all the metacultures that lacked purgatories.

The first sheol in the Russian metaculture was created in the twelfth century, after having been converted from a plane of torment through the efforts of Christ. Its appearance has changed somewhat over time, and the karmic weights that draw the dead down into that world have changed as well. Be that as it may, the mechanics of the Law of Retribution have, of course, remained always and everywhere the same: it dictates that a violation of moral laws encumbers the ether body of the perpetrator. While such a person is still alive, the encumbered ether body remains afloat, as it were, on the surface of the three-dimensional world, with the physical body playing the role of life preserver. But as soon as that person's link is severed by death, the ether body begins to sink deeper and deeper, from plane to plane, until it reaches equilibrium with its surroundings.

These are the basic mechanics. But there are also beings who oversee its smooth operation: the enforcers of karma. Among the various demons of Shadanakar, they are a class unto themselves. They are newcomers. When the demonic hordes of the planet Daiya were expelled to the bramfatura of its moon, and the moon soon after broke up into a mass of dead fragments (asteroids), its demonic inhabitants scattered into space in search of a new haven. A group of them entered Shadanakar after concluding a sort of pact with Gagtungr's forces. They are beings of superior intellect, but they are as cold as ice emotionally. They know neither hate nor love, malice nor compassion. They assumed supervision of the mechanics of karma, replenishing their energy with emanations from the mental suffering of people who have been forced to descend to Skrivnus, Ladref, and Morod-the upper planes of the purgatories-after their life in Enrof. The enforcers of karma are immense in size, they are as translucent and grey as frosted glass, their bodies are rectangular, and, strangely enough, their faces somewhat resemble those of guard dogs: pointy ears and alert eyes. They enter into battle with the forces of Light only when those forces undertake to mitigate the laws of karma and to transform purgatories.

The first of the purgatories is called Skrivnus. It is the very picture of a stark, Godless world and society: a colorless landscape, a leaden grey sea that is always calm. Withered grass, stunted bushes, and moss call to mind our tundra. But at least in the spring, the tundra is covered with flowers. Not a single flower has sprouted from the soil of Skrivnus. Hollows surrounded by short but unscalable slopes serve as the dwelling places of the millions who were once people.

Skrivnus knows neither love nor hope nor joy nor religion nor art. Nor has it ever seen children. Interminable labor is interrupted only by sleep, but the sleep is without dreams and the labor is without creativity. Huge, frightful beings keep watch on the other side of the slopes. From time to time they toss out piles of objects that seem to float through the air. On its own, each object finds the one who is to work on it: mending old clothes no one needs, washing things that look like bottles caked in grease and dirt, stripping pieces of broken metal. Both work and sleep take place primarily in long barracks, sectioned off inside by waist partitions.

The inhabitants fully retain their human appearance, but their facial features are smudged and flattened. They remind one of identical-looking pancakes. Be that as it may, the memory of life in Enrof is not only preserved in the hearts of the inhabitants; it gnaws at them like the dream of paradise lost. The most relentless of the torments of Skrivnus is the weariness of interminable slavery, the tedium of the labor, and the absence of any hope for the future.

It is not a hopeful prospect, but the nightmare of an everpresent threat that offers the only seemingly realistic way out of that place. A black, box-like ship appears on the sea and quickly and noiselessly glides into shore. Its sighting sends the inhabitants into a horrified panic, since none of them can be sure that they will not be swallowed up in the pitch black of the ship's hold. Having rounded up a number of them-they whose karmic weight condemns them to suffer on deeper planes-the ship casts off. Those confined in the hold do not see the route being taken. They only sense their horizontal motion giving way to a spiraling descent, as if the ship were being sucked into a whirling maelstrom.

Skrivnus is restricted to the expiatory suffering of those whose conscience has not been sullied by the memory of grave sins or crimes but whose consciousness in Enrof was insulated from the will and influence of its shelt by a thick wall of worldly cares and exclusively material concerns.

The next plane resembles the previous one, but it is darker, as if it were suspended in nebulous murk on the edge of everlasting night. There are neither buildings nor crowds here. Everyone, however, is aware of the unseen proximity of a great many others: tracks like footprints betray their presence. That purgatory is called Ladref, and tens of millions spend a brief time there. Descent to Ladref is the consequence of religious skepticism, which does not give spirituality the power to penetrate into a person's essence and lighten his or her ether body.

They who are doomed to a further descent have the impression of falling asleep and then suddenly waking up in unfamiliar surroundings. In actual fact, demonic beings-the enforcers of karma-transport them while they are in a stupor into a different time stream, though the number of dimensions-three- remains constant in all the sheols.

Those expiating their karma find themselves in a darkness where only the soil and sparse equivalents of vegetation emit a dim phosphorescent light. Glowing cliffs do lend a grim beauty to the landscape in places. That is the last plane with vestiges of what we group under the name Nature. The planes that follow will consist solely of urban settings.

In Morod, that next plane, absolute silence reigns. Everyone in that world is convinced they are utterly alone, there being no signs of any other inhabitants. An overpowering feeling of forsakenness encases them like a suit of armor. In vain do they scramble about, pray, call for help, or seek out others-all are left alone with their own soul. But their souls are corrupt, their memories are sullied by the wrongs they did on Earth, and there is nothing more frightening for such souls than solitude and quiet. There, everyone comes to a full realization of the meaning and repercussions of the wrongs they committed on Earth and drains the cup of horror their sins instill. Nothing distracts the unfortunates from that endless internal monologue, not even the struggle for survival. There is no struggle-there is food all around in abundance in the form of certain kinds of soil. As for clothing, in the majority of planes, Morod included, the ether body itself radiates a material coating-a coating for which clothes are a substitute in our world. And if, in the worlds of Enlightenment, this coating is beautiful and radiant, the creative handicap of the inhabitants of Morod allows only for the creation of ether rags. In point of fact, the astral-ether essence of those undergoing expiation was already clothed in such tatters back in Ladref.

They whose conscience Morod does not cleanse can no longer expect a smooth passage into the next plane. Instead, they

experience a sudden and terrifying plunge down into it. It is as if a quagmire opens up underneath the unfortunates and sucks them down: first their legs, then their bodies, and last their heads.

Our survey of the purgatories has arrived at Agr, a plane of black vapors, where the dark mirror images of the great cities of Enrof dot the landscape like islands. Agr, like all the purgatories, does not extend into outer space, so neither sun nor stars nor moon can be seen there. The sky appears as a solid firmament wrapped in constant night. Some objects glow of themselves; the ground also emits a dull glow, as if it were saturated with blood. There is one dominant color there, but we in Enrof are unable to see it. It gives an impression close to dark crimson and might well be the color we know as infrared.

I am only slightly acquainted with infra-Petersburg. As I recall, it also has a large river, but it is as black as ink, and there are buildings that emit a blood-red glow. It could, in a way, be likened to the light given off by the fires on Vasilievsky Island on national holidays, but it is a ghastly likeness. Those who have fallen into that world have retained their human features, but their bodies are deformed and repulsive. They are short in height and their movements have slowed. Their bodies no longer radiate any kind of material substitute for clothes, and unrelieved nakedness reigns everywhere. One of the torments of Agr is a feeling of impotent shame and a constant awareness of one's own wretched state. The inhabitants are also tormented by the beginnings of a stinging pity for others like them, as it dawns on them that they share the blame for their tragic fate.

The unfortunates are afflicted by a third torment: fear. It is instilled by volgras, demonic predators also present in Agr. When we had come near the building that constitutes the dark-ether body of the Engineer's Castle, I saw a huge creature the size of a dinosaur sitting motionless on its roof. It was a female, one droopy and flabby with grey, porous skin. Forlornly pressing a cheek to the tower and hugging it with its right paw, the poor thing was staring blankly into the distance with what appeared to be empty eye sockets. It seemed very unhappy. I had the impression it desperately wanted to cry out or howl, but it had no mouth or orifice of any kind. To feel pity for it, however, was in itself very dangerous. The crafty predator was on the lookout for prey, and any of those who had been humans were potential victims. The poor beings, wild with fear of the volgras and hardly daring to breathe, were hiding behind corners or skulking at the base of the buildings the monsters had chosen to rest on. To be eaten, or rather, to be sucked in by a volgra through its porous skin, is to die in Agr, but only to reappear even lower, in Bustvich or in horrible Rafag.

I later learned that there were a great many volgras, that they are to some degree intelligent, and that the primitive, dark civilization that characterizes Agr is their creation. They had virtually no mechanical devices to facilitate their labor. They erected the buildings that I saw all around by hand, using material similar to the trunks of California's giant redwoods, and every piece of that material, once it had been fixed to the other pieces, began to glow with a dull crimson light that illuminated virtually nothing. What connection exists between the buildings in the human cities of Enrof and the volgras' buildings in Agr remains a mystery to me.

They have no oral language, of course, but they do use a kind of sign language. They must have built the buildings for shelter from the brief showers that poured down every few minutes. The rain was black.

Also strange is the fact that volgras have three sexes, not two. The male impregnates the neuter, who carries the embryo for a period of time and then passes it on to the future mother.

But here and there silent buildings that do not glow at all dot the civilization like islands. The volgras did not go anywhere near them. There must have been something I could not see that was hindering them. Such buildings were standing on the site of St. Isaac's Cathedral and certain other churches in St. Petersburg. They are the only refuge where the tormented of Agr can feel safe from the volgras, if only for a short time. Who built them? When? Out of what? I do not know. Hunger did not permit the unfortunates to hide long in those shelters, but drove them out in search of the edible mold that grows on the base of buildings in that bleak city.

If those who were human are not doomed by a heavy karma to fall prey to a volgra and come to in the next world of descent, then they are destined sooner or later to undergo a transformation that will lift them up. The bodies of those who are nearing completion of their atonement gradually begin to change. They grow in height, the facial features they used to have begin to form anew, and the volgras do not dare go near them. The transformation itself takes place with the assistance of brothers and sisters from Heavenly Russia. Descending to Agr, they surround the ones who have completed their ordeal. Only those others who themselves will soon be raised from there in the same way are allowed to be in attendance. While they watch from the wings, it seems to them that the members of the Synclite lift those freed onto their wings or into the folds of glittering sheets. The volgras, gripped by mystic fear and trembling, watch from a distance, unable to understand what is happening.

The staircase of ascent is not closed to a single demonic monad, not even to volgras. But such a conversion requires a high level of consciousness, which is hardly ever in evidence there.

Something completely different is sometimes in evidence there instead. The landscape is broken in places by glowing puddles that resemble small pools of waste. There is something nauseating about the green in them. It is Bustvich, the next lowest plane, visible through Agr. Everything there is rotting, but nothing decomposes completely. The sensation of rotting alive combined with a spiritual lethargy constitutes the torment of Bustvich. They whose soul, encumbered by indulgence of unenlightened physical desires, did not fashion any kind of counterweight during life on Earth, unravel the knots of their karma in Bustvich. There the prisoner is gnawed at by an overpowering feeling of self disgust, because its ether body has taken the form of excrement. For, horrifying and revolting as it may be, Bustvich is essentially nothing more than the volgras' cesspool.

Physical torments begin to commingle with mental ones. The prisoners are extremely restricted in their mobility, and in their means of self-defense. But self-defense is of primary necessity for every one of them, for abiding with them there, between incarnations in one of the worlds of demonic elementals, are the souls of small, human-like demons coated in a dark ether body. They look like human worms, and are about the size of cats. They eat alive those who at one time were humans in Enrof, and they do it slowly, a little at a time.

At that time (that is, in 1949), the Emperor Paul I was in that plane's twin copy of the Engineer's Castle. (There is one in Bustvich as well.) He had already passed through a cycle of torments on deeper planes and was being slowly raised up to Drokkarg, the shrastr of Russian antihumankind. I was astonished by the harshness of his fate. But it was explained to me that if the agony of his murder on the night of March 1 2th had not relieved him of a part of his karmic weight and if instead he had continued to tyrannize the country right up until a death by natural causes, the weight of his crimes would have drawn him down even deeper, until he had reached Propulk, one of the most horrific of the planes of torment.

Bustvich is followed by the purgatory of Rafag, where the karmic consequences of betrayals and self-serving loyalty to tyrants are expunged. Rafag is the torment of constant affliction by debilitating illness of a sort that might find on our plane a distant parallel in cholera. Rafag is the last plane in which the landscape is even faintly reminiscent of our cities, but there are no shelters such as were scattered throughout Bustvich and Agr. The mantle of humanity's prayers does not reach Rafag; only the powers of the Synclites and upper hierarchies of Shadanakar can penetrate beyond it.
 
Angels of darkness rule over the lowest three purgatories.

Shim-big, the first of these planes, is a slow stream flowing through an inexpressibly oppressive world enclosed under a high vault. It is hard to tell what the source of its drab, colorless half-light is. A drizzle sprinkles on the stream, raising tiny bubbles on its surface. It is no longer the covering of the souls being tormented there but the souls themselves, in their decomposed ether bodies, that resemble wispy brown rags. They stumble back and forth, grabbing hold of whatever they can to keep from falling into the stream. It is not only fear that torments them. They are afflicted even more by a feeling of shame of unsurpassed intensity and by a desperate longing for their real body and for the soft, warm world-memories of the joys of life on Earth.

The feeling of pity also intensifies there.

In the meantime, the mouth of the stream can be seen up ahead. The stream itself, and the entire tunnel-shaped world, breaks off just as a subway tunnel breaks off where a trestle begins. But the water does not fall anywhere: the water and the banks and the vault-everything-dissolves into a grey, featureless void. Nobody can exist there, and there is not even a hint of any kind of ground or atmosphere. Only one thing does not disappear there: the spark of self-consciousness. In that purgatory, Drornn, the soul experiences the terrifying illusion of non-existence.

In Shim-big, atonement is done by those who were responsible for a few human deaths (even the deaths of criminals), whether by passing death sentences or by denouncing someone to the authorities. In Dromn can be found those whose violation of the Law would seem, in our view, incomparably lesser. The arithmetic of karma is strange indeed! What draws one down to Dromn is not heinous crimes or bloodshed but only the karmic consequences of a zealous atheism, an aggressive repudiation of spirituality, the active promotion of the false idea of the soul's mortality. The secret behind that surprising and seemingly disproportionate punishment is that those acts of will corked tight, as it were, the breathing holes of the soul while it was still in Enrof, resulting in an even greater encumbering of the ether essence than occurs even as the result of individual crimes taken separately. To prisoners of Dromn, it appears that nothing exists anywhere, that they themselves do not exist-just as they imagined it during their lives. Only after tremendous efforts taking up no brief span of time are they able to come to grips with the astonishing fact that, contrary to all reason and common sense, their conscious self does not disappear even there, in the void.

In so doing, they begin to understand, vaguely at first, that it could all have been very different if they had not chosen that nonexistence, or semi-nonexistence, themselves.

But the misery of self-inflicted aloneness that colors their stay in Dromn begins to give way, little by little, to alarm. The self feels as if it is being drawn somewhere down and to the side and as if it is turning from a dot into an elongated body pointed downward. The absence of any points of reference prevents it from knowing whether it is falling slowly or descending at a rapid speed. The only orientation it has is an inner voice, which howls louder than any logical thought, that it is moving neither up nor horizontally, but down.

Down below, an area of pink comes into view. For several seconds the color may even appear inviting. But then a blood-chilling guess takes hold of the unfortunate self: it realizes that it is falling helplessly into a calm sea of molten iron. It gains in weight, and it hits the molten-red surface of Fukabirn, the last plane in the sakwala of purgatories, and plunges deep down into it. Besides the burning sensation, the torment consists of a feeling of horror at descending into eternal torture, a descent that rings of finality.

Commencing after Fukabirn is the sakwala of transphysical magma. These circumscribed worlds coexist in three-dimensional space, though in different time streams, with belts of molten rock within the planet's crust. I would like to repeat and stress that in all the metacultures, except the Indian, the suffering in those worlds was without end until Jesus Christ carried out His liberating descent into them, which in Church tradition is called the descent of the Savior into the dead. From that moment on, it became possible, though only at the cost of tremendous efforts, for the forces of Light to extricate sufferers from those abysses after the period of time necessary for them to unravel the knots of their personal karma.

The first of the magmas is Okrus, the muddy bottom of Fukabirn.

As far back as in Dromn, the shelt had been left without any of its old coatings and a new bodily essence had begun to form. Its formation nears completion in Okrus, but there is nothing even remotely human in its appearance. It is a spherical object of animate inframetal.

Who are the torments of Fukabirn and Okrus for? There are actually few such sufferers. Millions suffered in Skrivous and Ladref, but hundreds, perhaps only dozens, suffer here. The condemnation of ideological enemies to horrible tortures, the condemnation of the innocent, the torment of the defenseless, the torture of children-that is what is expiated through suffering in Okrus and Fukabirn.

There, the tormented remember well the religious teachings and the warnings they were given on Earth. They are sensible of bodily pain as retribution but have already begun to recognize the dual nature of the Law and the demonic, not Divine, responsibility for its harshness. Their consciousness begins to waken. That is the Providential side of the Law, the ancient basis for it that was established by the demiurges back before Gagtungr's invasion of Shadanakar. The wakening of consciousness, the wakening of conscience, and the growth of spiritual thirst are those aspects of the Law of Retribution that the forces of Light did not cede to the dark forces and thanks to which the Law, despite everything, has not become an absolute evil.

In its infraphysical state, the magma is very similar to its physical counterpart. Prisoners there at first retain their freedom of movement, but there is as yet no need to make efforts to sustain their existence. They absorb energy from their surroundings automatically. The same is true of Gvegr, the second belt of magma, a motionless lava sea.

I would, however, like to remind the reader that suffering of any kind in Enrof alleviates torments in the afterlife, primarily by reducing their time span, but sometimes also through a change in their «quality.» On the whole, the length of a soul's expiatory punishments after death is determined by the number of the victims that suffered from its actions in Enrof. Mass crimes result in descent to a lower plane of retribution. For example, Urkarvire can take the place of Okrus, or Propulk can take the place of Gvegr. For the bodily suffering that began in Fukabirn and increased in Okrus and Gvegr reaches its zenith on the next plane, the seething magma of Urkarvire. There, the corrupters of lofty and enlightened ideas, who bear the blame for warping the transphysical paths of thousands and millions, do atonement. Urkarvire likewise harbors those who are guilty of those heinous deeds known, in our dry, lifeless language, as conscious sadism-that is, not only did the criminals experience a feeling of pleasure from causing others suffering but they were fully aware of the immorality of the pleasure at the time. They were aware, but that did not prevent them from enjoying it, nor from indulging in it time and again.

Fortunately, time flows much more quickly there. For example, a world famous writer of modern times, who was not guilty of conscious sadism, of course, but of corrupting ideals, of perverting ideas and poisoning a great many minds with lies, had the impression that he had spent only a few days there, and not the ten years it was in Enrof time.

Next comes the hard magma of Propulk, the world of expiatory suffering for mass butchers, the instigators of bloody wars, and the torturers of entire peoples. All freedom of movement is lost. Their bodies feel as if they were lodged in a hard substance and pressed from all sides. But even this horrible bodily suffering is surpassed by the suffering of the soul. They feel a stinging remorse and longing for God that is impossible on any of the planes above it. Fortunately, few descend to Propulk. Need I say that Yezhov or Beria's cohorts are there? Amazingly, only a short while ago, Malyuta Skuratov was still suffering there. In the Propulk of the Western metacultures, not only Robespierre and Saint-Just but even some of the sixteenth-century inquisitors were still unraveling their karma.

The magma sakwala concludes with the superheavy magma of Yrl. The bodily suffering there is completely overshadowed by spiritual torment. Yrl was created for the punishment of those who in our legal tongue are called «repeat offenders»: those who, having once already fallen to the magma and returned to Enrof, again encumbered themselves with unspeakable crimes.

The magmas end there.

Below the magmas begins the sakwala of worlds corresponding to the physical core of the planet, worlds common to all metacultures.

First come the infrared caves of Biask, the direst of the red infernos, as we might designate the entire staircase of planes from Fukabirn down to Biask. There, the body again metamorphoses, sprouting the semblance of a head and four limbs. But the gift of speech is lost, for there is no one with whom to converse. Each of the prisoners is held in solitary confinement and sees only his or her tormentors, who, strangely enough, resemble the devils of our legends. Sitting here in Enrof in relative security, we can afford to chuckle as much as we like about people believing in those horned villains, but do not wish even your sworn enemy a closer acquaintance with them. The victims that fall to Biask number at most in the dozens, but because there is a great throng of devils in need of their gavvakh, these devils wring gavvakh out of their victims by every means they are capable of devising.

The victims of Biask are those who in Enrof were tempters of the spirit. Such crimes are judged so harshly because they do great karmic damage to thousands of human souls. Even butchers at whose hands hundreds of people have died physically do not do as much harm as those about whom it is said in the Gospels: «whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea» (Matt.18:6). And even if Yaroslavsky or Bedny had been good people in their private lives, it would not have saved them from the fate that awaits tempters of the spirit in the afterlife.

Beneath Biask gape the vertical cracks of Amints. Those who fall there get snagged, as it were, and hang there completely helpless. And since the cracks lead down to Gashsharva, the unfortunates finds themselves hanging right over the lair of the demonic powers in Shadanakar. In Amiuts are those who combined conscious sadism with an immensity of heinous deeds.

But there are side tunnels leading from the vertical cracks of Amints. They are Ytrech, the planetary night which will last until the end of our planet's existence in Enrof-that is, until the end of the second (future) eon. There have been very few there, Ivan the Terrible, for instance. Further, there is yet another, very special plane. Only this plane could be equal to the crime of Judas Iscariot. It is called Zhursh, and no one except Judas has ever entered it.

It goes without saying that we do not have even the slightest inkling of the suffering experienced on the planes of the Core.

Our survey has now arrived at the graveyard of Shadanakar, the last of the planes. I could not clearly make out its name. Sometimes it sounded like Suiel, sometimes I thought it was closer to Suietkh, and the question has remained unresolved in my mind. Those who persist in doing evil descend there from the lower planes of torment. Their shelts-what is left of them- are abandoned by their monads. The monads leave Shadanakar for good, to start anew in places, times, and forms beyond our conception. Yet that is still better than falling through the Pit of Shadanakar into the Pit of the Galaxy. At least in the former case the monad does not leave cosmic time.

But the shelt is alive. It is a conscious, albeit lesser, self. It is barely stirring in Sufetkh, as little by little the last of its energy expires. It is that same second death mentioned in the Holy Scriptures. A spark of consciousness flickers to the end, and the magnitude of its suffering surpasses even the imagination of the demons themselves. To this day, no one of Light, not even the Planetary Logos, has been able to penetrate into Sufetkh. It is sometimes visible to members of the Synclites, but from neighboring planes, not from within. At those times they can make out a desert, over which glows the dim purple sun of Gashsharva, Gagtungr's anticosmos.

Fortunately, in the entire history of humanity, the total number of monads that has fallen to Sufetkh does not exceed a few hundred. Of them, only a few have left any trace in history, for all the prominent chronically descending monads are brought to Gashsharva. Those for whom even Gagtungr has no use go to Sufetkh. I know of only one historical figure among them: Domitian, who in the incarnation following his fall to Propulk became Marshal Gilles de Retz, the one who at first was a comrade-inarms of Joan of Arc but was later a villain and sadist, who bathed in tubs made from the innards of children he had murdered. Cast down to Yrl, he soiled himself again in his next incarnation in Enrof with atrocities committed during the Inquisition. After his third death, he sliced through all the planes of the inferno for the third time, reached Sufetkh, and was ejected from Shadanakar like slag.

I know full well that the humanitarian spirit of our age would prefer to be presented with a very different picture from the one I have described in this chapter. Some will find it objectionable that, departures notwithstanding, my testimony seems to resemble too closely traditional images from historical Christianity. Others will be shocked by the savagery of the laws and by the bodily character of the horrible agonies endured on the planes of torment. But I am prepared to ask of the former: Did you seriously think that the teachings of the Fathers of the Church were based on nothing but figments of a spooked imagination? Only a mind as empty of spirit as a tractor or a rolling mill could suppose, for example, that we can reduce The Divine Comedy to a collection of artistic techniques, political diatribe, and poetic fantasy. In the first part of his book, Dante revealed the staircase of infraphysical planes extant in the Roman Catholic metaculture in the Middle Ages. One must learn to separate the impurities introduced into the picture to satisfy artistic demands or as the result of aberrations inherent to the age from the expression of genuine, unparalleled, and staggering transphysical revelation. And I do not consider it out of place to mention that the one who was Dante now numbers among the few great human spirits that have it within their power to penetrate unhindered down to the very Pit of Shadanakar.

As for those who are upset at the severity of the laws, I have only one thing to say: Work to enlighten them! Of course, it would be easier to sell the intellectual mindset of the humanitarian age on an image of so-called spiritual, rather than physical, torments: pangs of conscience, despair over the inability to love, and the like. Unfortunately, these barbaric laws were clearly established without consideration for the sentiments of the twentieth-century intelligentsia. It is true that spiritual suffering also plays a large role in the planes of descent. Essentially, only the great criminals of history are primarily subjected to bodily suffering, suffering that is, in addition, worse than any physical pain of ours, because ether pain surpasses the physical both in intensity and length. But we could also ask: Given the amount of pain these people caused their victims in Enrof, what pangs of conscience or, as Dostoyevsky thought, despair at not being able to love could counterbalance that mountain of suffering on the scales of the impartial Law of karma?

And each of us is free to join those who are working to mitigate that Law.


to the next part: 4.3. Shrastrs and Witzraors
to the previous part: 4.1. The Demonic Base
to the beginning: «The Rose of the World». Table of contents
 
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