The fourth heaven, or the fourth sub-plane, is the highest sub-plane of the lower mental plane. Its activities are so varied that it is difficult to group them under a single characteristic. They are best explained by arranging them into four main divisions :
Unselfish pursuit of spiritual knowledge.
High philosophic or scientific thought.
Literary or artistic ability, exercised unselfishly.
Service for the sake of service.
A few examples of each of these classes will make them more readily comprehensible. Unselfish pursuit of spiritual knowledge: Most of the inhabitants of this class are drawn from those religions in which the necessity of obtaining spiritual knowledge is recognised. Thus, among Buddhists, this group includes those who looked upon Buddha as a teacher rather than as a being to be adored. Their supreme aspiration was to sit at his feet and learn. In their life their wish is fulfilled by the image they have made of Buddha, through which shines the wonderful wisdom, power and love of one of the greatest teachers of earth. They are therefore acquiring fresh knowledge and wider views, the effect of which will greatly influence their next life. They will not remember any individual facts, but when such facts are presented to them in a subsequent life they will grasp them readily and intuitively recognise their truth. Further, the result of the teaching will be to build into the ego, a strong tendency to take broader and more philosophical views on all such subjects.
The effect of such a heaven-life is to hasten the evolution of the ego. Hence we can see the enormous advantage gained by those who accept the guidance of living and powerful spiritual teachers. A similar result, though to a lesser degree, accrues to one who has followed the teachings of a great and spiritual writer. The ego of the writer will enter into the student’s heaven-life and by virtue of its own developed power, vivify the mental image, and thus further illuminate the written teachings.
High philosophic or scientific thought: This class does not include those philosophers who spend their time in verbal argument and discussion that has its roots in selfishness and conceit. This can never help towards a real understanding of the facts of the universe. One finds here those noble and unselfish thinkers who seek insight and knowledge only for the purpose of enlightening and helping others.
A typical example was that of an astronomer whose studies had led him to pantheism. He was still pursuing his studies with reverence and was gaining knowledge from orders of devas. He was lost in contemplation of a vast panorama of whirling nebula and gradually forming systems and worlds striving to form some idea of the shape of the universe. Scientists such as this astronomer would return to earth as great discoverers, with unerring intuition of the mysterious ways of nature.
Literary or artistic effort, exercised unselfishly: On this level are found the greatest musicians like Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Wagner and others. They are still flooding the heaven-world with harmony far more glorious than they were able to produce when on earth. Streams of divine music pour into them from higher regions. Both those who are functioning in full consciousness on this plane as well as disembodied entities of this level are deeply affected by the influence of this music. An example was that of a man who had refused to use his literary power merely to earn a living for himself and had instead written a book which none would read. He had been alone all his life and eventually had died of sorrow and starvation. In his heaven-life he was also in solitude but he saw stretching before him the utopia of which he had dreamed and the vast impersonal multitudes whom he had longed to serve. The bliss of their joy surged back to him and made his solitude a heaven.
Service for the sake of service : On this level are found many who have rendered service for the sake of service, rather than to please any particular deity. It should be noted that the various examples given above are for the sole purpose of explaining in more simple and clear terms the characteristics and life activities on the various sub-planes. These examples are the outcome of spiritual experiences of those spiritual masters who, while living in the physical body, were able to visit the mental plane in altered and deep states of meditation.
The article is taken from the book Life beyond death by Anil Sharma