In one sense we can acquire more knowledge; that is, we can develop further any faculty which we loved and strove after during life, provided it is concerned with abstract and ideal things, such as music, painting, poetry, &c.
But the Ego meets, as he crosses the threshold of Devachan on his way outwards—dying out of Devachan to be reborn on earth—he meets in the “atmosphere of the terrestrial plane”, the seeds of evil sown in his preceding life on earth. During the devachanic rest he has been free from all pain, all sorrow, but the evil he did in his past has been in a state of suspended animation, not of death. As seeds sown in the autumn for the spring-time lie dormant beneath the surface of the soil, but touched by the soft rain and penetrating warmth of sun begin to swell and the embryo expands and grows, so do the seeds of evil we have sown lie dormant while the Soul takes its rest in Devachan, but shoot out their roots into the new personality which begins to form itself for the incarnation of the returning man. The Ego has to take up the burden of his past, and these germs or seeds, coming over as the harvest of the past life, are the Skandhas, to borrow a convenient word from our Buddhist brethren. They consist of material qualities, sensations, abstract ideas, tendencies of mind, mental powers, and while the pure aroma of these attached itself to the Ego and passed with it into Devachan, all that was gross, base and evil remained in the state of suspended animation spoken of above. These are taken up by the Ego as he passes outwards towards terrestrial life, and are built into the new “man of flesh” which the true man is to inhabit. And so the round of births and deaths goes on, the turning of the Wheel of Life; the treading of the Cycle of Necessity, until the work is done and the building of the Perfect Man is completed.
What Devachan is to each earth-life, Nirvana is to the finished cycle of Re-incarnation, but any effective discussion of that glorious state would here be out of place. It is mentioned only to round off the “After” of Death, for no word of man, strictly limited within the narrow bounds of his lower consciousness, may avail to explain what Nirvana is, can do aught save disfigure it in striving to describe. What it is not may be roughly, baldly stated—it is not “annihilation”, it is not destruction of consciousness. Mr. A.P. Sinnett has put effectively and briefly the absurdity of many of the ideas current in the West about Nirvana. He has been speaking of absolute consciousness, and proceeds: