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Anybody interested in New Age or esoteric topics is familiar with the term Akashic Records. Many books have been written about it, authors have written about stories written in the records. It is a concept taken for granted. Even more, YouTube has numerous videos from people who will tell you all about it. Type "Akashic Records" in Google search bars and you will find nearly two million results.
It always fascinated me that some people were able to see or experience past scenes in any history period of the Earth.
Most people will tell you that the Akashic Records is a term that came from the Sanskrit language, or from ancient Hindu scriptures. So, I wondered what scriptures where talking about it. I decided to look up where the term Akashic Records actually came from. Well, to my surprise, I found that there are no Buddhist or Hindu scriptures that mention the term Akashic Records. What I did find what a convoluted history of the term in Western literature, more specific in Theosophy. Below are the result of my findings.
Lets first have a look at what the word ākāśa, or the more common English spelling akasha means.
We now have a better understanding of what the Sanskrit term ākāśa implies. In the 18th-19th century, Westerners started to translate Eastern texts, but did not always fully understand what certain terms meant. They also weren't knowledgeable about all the different Buddhist and Hindu religions, that had different descriptions for the term ākāśa.
The following will give you an idea what the different Eastern religions understand by ākāśa, and by comparing them you might get an overall view of its basic meaning.
In the Hindu Vedānta system, ākāśa is a near-ultimate cosmic principle that is the first thing to emanate from the ultimate cosmic principle, brahman, the ultimate reality.
Advaita Vedānta is the non-dualistic school of Vedānta, which teaches that brahman, the ultimate reality, and ātman, the self, are one. From brahman, from ātman, arose ākāśa. In a non-dual system, nothing can actually arise from the one brahman as separate from it. So ākāśa arises only by way of the coming into play of māyā, the power of illusion or illusory appearance, a power possessed by brahman.
In the Hindu Vaiśeṣika system, ākāśa is a near-ultimate cosmic principle that did not emanate from anything, but is one among other eternal cosmic principles. It is one of nine realities or ultimate substances: the four elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ākāśa, time, direction, souls and minds. ākāśa provides the medium in which the other four eternal elements can combine to produce the visible cosmos.
In the Jaina system, ākāśa is a near-ultimate cosmic principle that did not emanate from anything, but is one among other eternal cosmic principles. It is one of six realities or ultimate, eternal substances. Here, ākāśa is not one of the elements (earth, water, fire, and air). It is the principle whose function is to be a receptacle for the other five cosmic principles. It is the world-space. Beyond the world-space is infinite space, in which nothing exists.
In the early Buddhist Abhidharma teachings, as systematized by the Sarvāstivādins of Kashmir, called the Vaibhāṣikas, ākāśa is one of three uncompounded or unconditioned dharmas among the seventy-five dharmas that make up the cosmos. The uncompounded ākāśa is not produced by anything else. It is omnipresent and eternal or permanent. There is also a compounded ākāśa element (not a dharma) which is delimited space.
In the Mahāyāna Buddhist Yogācāra system, ākāśa is one of six or eight uncompounded or unconditioned dharmas among the hundred dharmas that make up the cosmos.
In the Mahāyāna Buddhist Madhyamaka system, ākāśa is the mere empty space, as is also the case in the early Buddhist Sautrāntika system, and in the Buddhist Theravāda system.
In contrast to what many believe, Neither Buddhism nor Hindu ancient texts mention the term ākāśa records, or any records inscribed into ākāśa.
In Western literature, Henry Thomas Colebrooke(1765-1837), in his book Essays on the Religion and Philosophy of the Hindus, published in 1858 (posthumous reprinting of Miscellaneous Essays), mentions for the first time the term akasha interpreted as one of the five elements, the others being Fire, Air, Water and Earth.
He was an English orientalist and mathematician. He has been described as the first great Sanskrit scholar in Europe. In his book he defines ākāśa as:
A diffused, etherial fluid (ácásá), occupying space: it has the property of audibleness, being the vehicle of sound, derived from the sonorous rudiment or etherial atom. (page 154)
He equated ácásá with the Western concept of Aether (page 71), which was considered to be the fifth element, also called the quintessence. Out of the Aether the Four Elements of Fire, Air, Water and Earth arise and dissolve back into it.
Four years later the term would enter The Theosophical Movement.
The Theosophical Society took great liberties with the original term and imbued it with meanings it had not possessed before.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) was the first one who mentions records of everything in the past, present and future inscribed onto a spiritual substance.
Blavatsky claimed that she traveled around the globe and went to Tibet where she was instructed by "Masters of Ancient Wisdom", but apparently this was all fictitious. Throughout her life she claimed to be in contact with different masters.
She was involved in the Spiritualist movement in the early 1870s. Relocating to the United States in 1873, she befriended Henry Steel Olcott (1832-9107), who was was an American military officer, journalist and lawyer, and where she rose to public attention as a spirit medium. In 1875, in New York City, Blavatsky co-founded the Theosophical Society with Olcott and William Quan Judge (1851-1896) an Irish-American mystic, esotericist, and occultist.
In 1877 she published Isis Unveiled, outlining her worldview. Although her first and most important work, it has often been criticized as a plagiarized occult work, with scholars noting how Blavatsky extensively copied from many sources popular among occultists at the time. You can find more information on this on Wikipedia.
In Isis Unveiled she writes that a person magnetized (mesmerism was sill popular those days) can be made to view records inscribed in the astral light:
There are two kinds of magnetization; the first
is purely animal, the other transcendent, and depending on the will and
knowledge of the mesmerizer, as well as on the degree of spirituality of
the subject, and his capacity to receive the impressions of the astral
light. But now it is next to ascertain that clairvoyance depends a great
deal more on the former than on the latter. To the power of an adept,
like Du Potet, the most positive subject will have to submit. If his
sight is ably directed by the mesmerizer, magician, or spirit, the light
must yield up its most secret records to our scrutiny; for, if it is a
book which is ever closed to those "who see and do not perceive," on the
other hand it is ever opened for one who wills to see it opened. It
keeps an unmutilated record of all that was, that is, or ever will be.
The minutest acts of our lives are imprinted on it, and even our
thoughts rest photographed on its eternal tablets. It is the book which
we see opened by the angel in the Revelation, "which is the Book of
life, and out of which the dead are judged according to their works." It
is, in short, the MEMORY of GOD!
Her explanation has clear biblical undertones, combined with the hermetic concept of 'astral light'.
The Book of Life comes from the Bible. The apocryphal Book of Jubilees speaks of two heavenly tablets or books: a Book of Life for the righteous, and a Book of Death for those that walk in the paths of impurity and are written down on the heavenly tablets as adversaries (of God). The Book of Life is the book in which God records the names of every person who is destined for Heaven or the World to Come.
So, Blavatsky is extending the meaning of the Book of Life, which contains only the names of people, to records of everything that has happened, is happening and shall happen. She includes future events ("future events — effects of long-forgotten causes"), and this is a characteristic of determinism. Determinism is the philosophical view that all events are determined completely by previously existing causes. It implying that the future is determined completely by preceding events. It excludes free will.
She does not use the term akashic records, although she equates akasha with astral light:
We certainly could very easily demonstrate that the two forces are identical, moreover, the astral or sidereal light as explained by the alchemists and Eliphas Levi, in his Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie; and that, under the name of AKASA, or life-principle, this all-pervading force was known to the gymnosophists, Hindu magicians, and adepts of all countries, thousands of years ago; and, that it is still known to them, and used at present by the Thibetan lamas, fakirs, thaumaturgists of all nationalities, and even by many of the Hindu "jugglers." (page 122 in Vol. I)
She interprets Akasa as the life-principle, throughout Isis Unveiled:
The akasa is a Sanscrit word which means sky, but it also designates the imponderable and intangible life-principle--the astral and celestial lights combined together, and which two form the anima mundi, and constitute the soul and spirit of man; the celestial light forming his νουσ (nous), πνευμα (pneuma), or divine spirit, and the other his ψυχε (psyche), soul or astral spirit. The grosser particles of the latter enter into the fabrication of his outward form--the body. Akasa is the mysterious fluid termed by scholastic science, "the all-pervading ether" it enters into all the magical operations of nature, and produces mesmeric, magnetic, and spiritual phenomena. (page 139 in Vol. I).
In The Secret Doctrine, vol. 3, published in 1888, she reiterates that Akasha is the life-principle:
For the Occultist “Space” and “Universe” are synonyms. In Space there is not Matter, Force, nor Spirit, but all that and much more. It is the One Element, and that one the Anima Mundi – Space, Ãkâsha, Astral Light – the Root of Life which, in its eternal, ceaseless motion, like the out-and in-breathing of one boundless ocean, evolves but to reabsorb all that lives and feels and thinks and has its being in it.
So, she equates Akasa with the astral light, and the life-principle, what does not correspond to any of the Hindu or Buddhist meanings of the term. She does not use the term akashic records, instead she talks about records inscribed into the astral light. But the link between them is there, and the meaning is the same..
So, Blavatsky invented the idea of the astral records on a Biblical basis, and they are not related, in any way, to a Buddhist or Hindu source. Blavatsky also never claimed that she could read the records in the astral light, as other after her would claim.
In 1880 Blavatsky and Olcott visited Alfred Percy Sinnett (1840-1921) and his wife at their summer home in Simla, India. Sinnett was the Editor of The Pioneer, the leading English Daily of India. Sinnett would become a Theosophist too.
Olcott as co-founder of the Theosophical Society worked together with Blavatsky for many years. During his time in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Olcott strove to revive Buddhism within the region, while compiling the tenets of Buddhism for the education of Westerners. It was during this period that he wrote The Buddhist Catechism (1881). This work was one of Olcott's efforts to help the Buddhists of Ceylon to establish schools supporting their own culture and traditions. It contains a mixture of Buddhist doctrines and Western science.
Olcott, familiar with Theravāda Buddhism (Theravāda was the traditional Buddhism of Ceylon), defines Akasa as the fundamental substance out of which everything is created (in contrast to Blavatsky's astral light/life-principle):
Buddha taught that two things are eternal, viz., Akasa and Nirvana: everything has come out of Akasa in obedience to a law inherent in it, and, after a certain existence, passes away. We do not believe in miracle; hence we deny creation, and cannot conceive of a Creator. (page19, Q.113)
But Olcott didn't get it right either. He wrote the Buddhist Catechism on behalf of the Theravāda Buddhists. The phrase "two things are eternal, viz., Akasa and Nirvana" does not come from Theravāda Buddhism. It is actually a teaching of the Milinda-pañha (a Buddhist text which dates from sometime between 100 BC and 200 AD). His statement that "everything has come out of Ākāsha, in obedience to a law of motion inherent in it" is not a Theravāda doctrine. It is actually a Theosophist doctrine, and Olcott was a Theosophist. (source)
In 1884, Olcott was accused by Sinnett of plagiarism what evolved into the Kiddle Case. He defended himself by saying: "I have a habit of often quoting, minus quotation marks — from the maze of what I get in the countless folios of our Akasic libraries, so to say — with eyes shut. Sometimes I may give out thoughts that will see light years later; at other times what an orator, a Cicero may have pronounced ages earlier, and at others, what was not only pronounced by modern lips but already either written or printed — as in the Kiddle case." (The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, Letter No. 55; page 324)
Here he said that he was able to read akasic libraries, and he used this as an excuse to defend himself against plagiarism.
In 1883, Sinnett, after having met Blavatsky while he was in India, published his book Esoteric Buddhism. On page 126-7 he makes the following statement:
But everything that I have found in Buddhism accords with the theory of a gradual evolution of the perfect man, viz., a Buddha through numberless natal experiences. And in the consciousness of that person who at the end of a given chain of beings attains Buddhahood, or who succeeds in attaining the fourth stage of Dhjana, or mystic self-development, in any one of his births anterior to the final one, the scenes of all these serial births are perceptible. In the 'Jatakattahavannana,' so well translated by Mr. Rhys Davids, an expression continually recurs which I think rather supports such an idea, viz., 'Then the blessed one made manifest an occurrence hidden by change of birth or 'that which had been hidden by, etc'.
Early Buddhism, then, clearly held to a permanency of records in the Akasa, and the potential capacity of man to read the same when he has evoluted to the stage of true individual enlightenment.
So, he says that an enlightened being is able to recall his previous births, and that this implies that there are records in the Akasa. Because Buddhism does not know the term Akashic Records, and Sinnett does not provide a Buddhist source, it is he who introduces the idea based on Theosophical teachings.
Having met Blavatsky three years earlier, he must have read Isis Unveiled.
A strange thing happened in 1883, when 17-year-old Frederick Spencer Oliver from Yreka, California in the USA, was mapping his family’s property line at the base of Mt. Shasta. As described later to his mother Mary, he began writing uncontrollably with the pen and paper he held in his hand (automatic writing). By this method of automatic writing, an entity called Phylos the Thibetan transferred a text for a book, A Dweller on Two Planets.
Oliver claimed Phylos began sharing spiritual messages with him when he was 17 years old. He became preoccupied with the talks, initially keeping them secret from his parents. However, his father became so worried about his son’s behavior that he planned to have him treated for “approaching imbecility.” At that point, Oliver shared his experiences, eventually repeating Phylos’s accounts to a Yreka Theosophical circle. (source)
The 442 page manuscript is divided into three books. Book One describes Phylos’s 11,160 B.C. Atlantean incarnations. Book Two recounts Phylos’s gold rush incarnation as Americam citizen Walter Pierson, including details about Pierson’s journey to Venus and his mystical experience on Mt. Shasta. Book Three explores the concept of karma.
The book was finished in 1886, but not published until 1905, six years after Oliver’s death, by his mother.
Oliver was certainly influenced by the Theosophical circle he was frequenting. In his Glossary we find the word Devachan, which comes from Theosophy, and means "regarded as the place where most souls go after death where desires are gratified", and karma and the decline of Atlantis.
Although the A Dweller on Two Planets is clearly fiction, I mention it because it is strange that at in this time period, Charles Webster Leadbeater would write down his clairvoyant investigations in the Akashic records, regarding Atlantis. Because the manuscript was already finished in 1886, is it possible that the Theosophical circle in Yreka, sent word to the London Lodge? Leadbeater came back to London, England from India in 1889. He would publish his own story of Atlantis, but gleaned from the Akashic Records, ten years later, in 1896, although through another writer. It could be that he found the inspiration in A Dweller on Two Planets. Leadbeater changed the concept of the Akashic Records from a mere concept to a source of clairvoyant reading of the past.
Charles Webster Leadbeater (1854-1934), originally a priest of the Church of England, read Sinnett's book Occult World (published in 1881), and this made him join the Theosophical Society in 1883. Leadbeater travelled with Olcott (the co-founder of the Theosophical society) to Burma and Ceylon in 1885.
When Leadbeater was in Adyar, India, in 1884, he claimed to have developed clairvoyant abilities in 42 days by practicing kundalini yoga under instruction of a certain Master Kuthumi. (How Theosophy Came to Me, by Leadbeater, 1930, Chapter 9, Unexpected Development)
If you know of anybody else who became clairvoyant after practicing kundalini yoga for only 42 days, let me know!
Leadbeater would change the concept of Akashic Records forever. We have seen that records associated with akasa was being talked about in Theosophical circles, but only as a concept and a short hint at seeing them "with eyes shut" by Sinnett.
First we have to mention that the concept of Akashic Records is often connected to stories of Atlantis, and later Lemuria. It is kind of strange because one could use the records to look at any time period from any culture around the world. Atlantis was briefly described by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. After Plato nobody paid attention to it, until Blavatsky mention it again from contemporary writings about Plato's works, and she added her own descriptions to it in her first book Isis Unveiled (1877). These were just additions and not gleaned from the Akashic records, as Blavatsky never claimed to have access to it.
Between 1994 and 1999 Leadbeater was publishing a few books, based on his clairvoyant investigations. The William Scott-Elliot comes to the foreground.
William Scott-Elliot (1849-1919) was an East India Merchant and amateur anthropologist, and a theosophist.
In 1896 he published The Story of Atlantis. He was listed as the sole author, but later it became known that the information came from Leadbeater who claimed that with recently developed clairvoyance he was able to read the Akashic records of the history of humanity. Part of the information was also derived from Matilda (Maude) Louise Travers who was a medium in the London Lodge and who married Alfred Percy Sinnett's wife in 1893. Scott-Elliot was tasked to put the information together in a scholarly way.
In 1904 Scott-Elliot published The Lost Lemuria (also sourced from Leadbeater). In The Lost Lemuria he mentions that the evidence is obtained from the same source as in The Story of Atlantis, namely from 'Archaic Records' (and thus from Leadbeater). In 1925 the two books were combined and published as The Story of Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria.
The books were elaborations on the root-races of humanity originally described by Blavatsky, who herself got it from Alfred Percy Sinnett in Esoteric Buddhism.
The descriptions are sometimes bizarre. For example: in The Lost Lemuria, man of the third root race is described as having a third (physical) eye on the back of the head. In a later sub-race, he had "eyes small but piercing and set curiously far apart, so that he could see sideways as well as in front, while the eye at the back of the head--on which part of the head no hair, of course, grew--enabled him to see in that direction also." In a still later sub-race, "the head might be described as almost egg-shaped--the small end of the egg being uppermost, with the eyes wide apart and very near the top." Reproduction is quite curious. First they were sexless, then bisexual or androgynous, and then unisexual. They then laid eggs with distinct male and female babies in it. And finally they were born as we now know it.
Well, so far, archaeologists have never uncovered ancient human skeletons that would fit these descriptions.
Aside from this, the book also contains racist remarks: "The degraded remnants of the Third Root Race who still inhabit the earth may be recognized in the aborigines of Australia, the Andaman Islanders, some hill tribes of India, the Tierra-del-Fuegans, the Bushmen of Africa, and some other savage tribes." Did he ever meet those people?
Although in these two books the term akashic records is not used, he did use it in a book he wrote, Clairvoyance, published in 1899, three years after The story of Atlantis came out:
Now though this is not exactly the way in which clairvoyance works, the theory is nevertheless quite true in most of its premises. Every object undoubtedly is throwing off radiations in all directions, and it is precisely in this way, though on a higher plane, that the akashic records seem to be formed. (page 2- 3)
The word is in truth somewhat of a misnomer, for though the records are undoubtedly read from the akasha, or matter of the mental plane, yet it is not to it that they really belong. Still worse is the alternative title, "records of the astral light", which has sometimes been employed, for these records lie far beyond the astral plane, and all that can be obtained on it are only broken glimpses of a kind of double reflection of them, as will presently be explained.
Like so many others of our Theosophical terms, the word akasha has been very loosely used. In some of our earlier books it was considered as synonymous with astral light, and in others it was employed to signify any kind of invisible matter, from mulaprakriti down to the physical ether. In later books its use has been restricted to the matter of the mental plane, and it is in that sense that the records may be spoken of as akashic, for although they are not originally made on that plane any more than on the astral, yet it is there that we first come definitely into contact with them and find it possible to do reliable work with them. (page 118-119)
So it seems that the theosophists, at that time, had various opinions of what these Akashic Records were. Some of them thought the records to be connected with the astral light, most likely because Blavatsky equated Akasha with astral light. Leadbeater holds that the Akashic records are only to be viewed on the mental plane which is above the astral plane. But the records are not made on the mental plane either. Where the Akashic records are recorded he doesn't explain.
Leadbeater was not without lies about his life, and he was accused of sexual misconduct with boys (maybe because he was a priest?). He also made vast alteration to the teachings of Theosophy. (source) Some called him a fraud. In other words, his teachings are not a reliable source of esoteric information. Nevertheless, he opened the concept of the Akashic records as a means to discover any information, even in detail, about just anything in our human history, for anybody with clairvoyant abilities, and of course, you had to be a high initiate.
Four years after The story of Atlantis, in 1908, Levi H. Dowling, an American preacher, published The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Dowling said he had transcribed the text of the book from the Akashic Records, as it is stated on the title page: "Transcribed from the book of God's remembrances, known as the Akashic Records". The book describes the 19 missing years of Jesus. Most Christians are unaware of it, but the New Testament contains no information about where Jesus was, or what he was doing, from the age of 12 to the beginning of his ministry at age 30.
Did Dowling read The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, by Nicolas Notovitch, published in 1890? Notovitch was a Crimean Jewish adventurer who claimed to be a Russian aristocrat, spy and journalist. He said that he was exploring the Himalayas in 1887 when he broke his leg and was taken to the Buddhist Hemis Monastery, in Leh, Ladak, to heal. While there, the lama showed him ancient manuscripts that proved that Jesus, who was referred to as "Saint Issa", ("Isa" is Aramaic for "Jesus") had studied in India prior to his ministry during his unknown years.
Too much of a coincidence?
Levi and Levi's wife Eva, who wrote the Introduction to The Aquarian Gospel ,were deep in esoteric, occult and Theosophical teachings. In 1894, Levi, having delved in Theosophical literature, said he had received a vision of Theosophical sages who had come to him with an initiation and a commission. He began publishing articles and poems in the journals and newspapers of New Thought, Theosophy and spiritualism. (The True Story Behind The Aquarian Gospel)
From the introduction written by Eva Dowling, who wrote down the channeled material, she says: "Among the manuscripts of Levi we have found a most remarkable paper describing the transfer of dominion from the Piscean Age to the Aquarian Age, but it is difficult to determine whether it is a recital of facts or a prophetic statement." In this paper we find some references to the Akashic Records. Eva continues: "In his manuscript entitled "The Cusp of the Ages," a part of which we have already reproduced in this Introduction, we find the following copy of the Commission, which Levi received from Visel, the Goddess of Wisdom, or the Holy Breath." She gives the short paper in full, in which we find this passage:
Behold the Akasha! Behold the Record Galleries of Visel where every thought and word and deed of every living thing is written down...you may read in Akasha the wondrous lessons that these Christs have taught to men... ( page 9)
She goes on to say about Levi himself, and his access to the records:
Who was Levi the Transcriber of this Book? Regarding the personality of Levi we are permitted to write but little. Suffice it to say that he is an American citizen, and has been a close student of the religions of the world from childhood. When but a boy he was impressed with the sensitiveness of the finer ethers and believed that in some manner they were sensitized plates on which sounds, even thoughts, were recorded. With avidity he entered into the deeper studies of etheric vibration, determined to solve the great mysteries of the heavens for himself. Forty years he spent in study and silent meditation, and then he found himself in that stage of spiritual consciousness that permitted him to enter the domain of these superfine ethers and become familiar with their mysteries. He then learned that the imaginings of his boyhood days were founded upon veritable facts, and that every thought of every living thing is there recorded.
I suspect that this is again an invented story, as the "40 years he spent in study and meditation" is a reference to a legend of the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the desert. The number 40 appears many times in the Bible, such as:
40 days and nights of rain during the flood of Noah
40 days after flood Noah opened door to ark
40 years the children of Israel wondered in the desert
Moses was in Egypt 40 years, in Midian 40 years, and then in the desert 40 years.
Moses was on mountain for 40 days and 40 nights
Solomon reigned 40 years
Jonah said it would be 40 days until Nineveh would be destroyed
Leadbeater also said that he spent 40 days practicing kundalini yoga to open his clairvoyancy (plus 2 days that his master would need to get the breakthrough). His story probably was also fake.
That Levi associated the records with plates is reminiscent to the tablets of astral light that Blavatsky described in Isis Unveiled.
What are the Akashic Records ? Akasha is a Sanskrit word, and means ''Primary substance," that out of which all things are formed. According to Aquarian philosophy, it is the first stage of the crystallization of spirit. This philosophy recognizes the fact that all primordial substance is spirit; that matter is spirit moving at a lower rate of vibration, becoming, as one master expressed it, a coagulum. This Akashic, or primary substance, is of exquisite fineness and is so sensitive that the slightest vibrations of an ether any place in the universe registers an indelible impression upon it. This primal substance is not relegated to any particular part of the universe, but is everywhere present. It is in very fact the "Universal Mind" of which our metaphysicians speak. When the mind of man is in exact accord with the Universal Mind man enters into a conscious recognition of these Akashic impressions, and may collect them and translate them into any language of earth with which he is familiar. (page 11)
The Akashic Records. The imperishable records of life, known as the Akashic Records, are wholly in the domain of Supreme Intelligence, or Universal Mind, and the Akashic Record reader must be in such close touch with the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Breath, as the ancient masters call this spirit of Supreme Intelligence, that every thought vibration is instantly felt in every fibre of his being. (page 12)
Levi is the first one who claimed to have used the Akashic records to view the life of Christ.
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) also was an original member of the Theosophical society who later (1912/1914) broke off and founded his own Anthroposophical Society. He wrote extensively about the history of mankind and this planet based upon his own viewing of the Akashic Records.
In 1909, while still a member of the Theosophical society, he wrote in the Gospel of St. John:
Everything that happened in those times is preserved in the trace left by its spiritual prototype, and can be observed in the spiritual world. This kind of vision is called 'reading the Akashic records'. A living script of this kind does indeed exist and can be seen by the spiritual eye. (Lecture II)
In 1911, he published The Submerged Continents of Atlantis and Lemuria Their History and Civilization. He defined these records as:
It is true that this history is written in other than the ordinary characters, and in the Gnosis, in Theosophy, is called "The Âkâshic Records."
... He who has won for himself the power to observe in the spiritual world, there recognises bygone events in their eternal character. They stand before him, not as dead witnesses of history, but in the fullness of life. In a certain sense, the past events are played out before him. Those who have learnt to read such a living script can look back into a far more distant past than that which external history depicts; and they can also, by direct spiritual perception, describe those matters which history relates in a far more trustworthy manner than is possible by the latter. (page 3)
Steiner writes that he was familiar with The Story of Atlantis, by W. Scott-Elliot, and that his own The Submerged Continents of Atlantis and Lemuria: Their History and Civilization is a more detailed description, and that he paid more attention to "... the soul-life, and of the inner nature of the conditions under which they lived."
In (1920), in his Occult Science :
These abiding traces of all spiritual happenings may be called the 'Akashic Records," denoting as "Akasha-essence" that which is spiritually permanent in the world process, in contrast with the transient forms. Here once again it must be emphasized that researches in the supersensible realms of existence can only be made with the help of spiritual perception — that is to say, as regards the region we are now considering, by actual reading of the Akashic Records. Nevertheless here too, what has been said already in similar connections holds good: to investigate and discover the supersensible facts is possible only by supersensible perception; once found however, and communicated in the science of the supersensible, these facts can be understood with man's ordinary faculty of thought. There must only be the readiness to approach the subject with an open mind. (Chapter 4)
Throughout his books, Steiner mentions that most of his information is gained from looking into the Akashic Records.
In 1913 Theosophist Annie Besant, together with Leadbeater, published the book Man: How, Whence, and Whither. The book is a study on early times on planetary chains, beginnings of early root races, starting from invisible astral forms on the moon, early civilizations and empires, as well as a future society on Earth. Here again, we have determinism at work. It is all written in the Akashic Records what is going to happen.
The source of the information is hinted as in vague terms as 'ever-living records', the 'Memory of Nature', 'the divine Memory', 'Eternal Memory', and "The writers of this book, having been taught the method of gaining touch [with this memory]."
In other words, they are implying that they were able to read the Akashic records, although they did not mention the word Akashic.
More than a decade later we stumble upon Alice A. Bailey (1880-1949), another Theosophist that left the Theosophical movement, and formulated her own teachings, which are similar to those of Blavatsky. She formed her own group known as the Lucis Trust (formerly called the Lucifer Trust). Her teaching are highly elaborate and complex, and very intellectual.
She did not profess to read the Akashic records. Instead she described the majority of her work as having been telepathically dictated to her by a Master of Wisdom, initially referred to only as "the Tibetan" or by the initials "D.K.", later identified as Djwal Khul.
In her book Light of the Soul on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, published in 1927, she gives a detailed explanation of what she considers the Akashic records to be:
The akashic record is like an immense photographic film, registering all the desires and earth experiences of our planet. Those who perceive it will see pictured thereon:
1. The life experiences of every human being since time began,
2. The reactions to experience of the entire animal kingdom,
3. The aggregation of the thought-forms of a karmic nature (based on desire) of every human unit throughout time. Herein lies the great deception of the records. Only a trained occultist can distinguish between actual experience and those astral pictures created by imagination and keen desire.
4. The planetary "Dweller on the Threshold" with all that appertains to that term and all the aggregations of forms which are to be found in its environment.
The trained seer has learnt to dissociate that which pertains to his own aura and the aura of the planet (which is in actuality the akashic record). He can distinguish between those records which are:
b. Hierarchical or pertaining to the work of the twelve Creative Hierarchies as they bring to concretion the plan of the Logos.
c. Imaginative forms, the result of the desire-thought activity of the myriads of men, animated by desire for some form of experience or other.
d. The historical record pertaining to races, nations, groups and families in their two great divisions on the physical plane and on the astral. It should be borne in mind that every human being belongs to a physical family which constitutes his link with the animal kingdom, and also belongs to an astral family. Through that affiliation on the upward are he is linked with his egoic group and on the downward arc with the vegetable kingdom.
e. The astrological record, or the forms taken on the astral plane under the influence of the planetary forces. These are in two great groups.
1. Those forms or pictures in the akasha produced by the inflow of solar force via the planets.
2. Those forms or pictures which are produced by the inflow of cosmic force from one or other of the signs of the zodiac, that is, from their corresponding constellations. (page 275-277)
Bailey, just like Leadbeater, is of the opinion that only highly trained occultists can view the Akashic records.
Anybody who is familiar with the term Akashic Records is familiar with Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), the so-called Sleeping Prophet.
Edgar Cayce would go into a trance and retrieve information to help the patient who was seeking his help, with medical questions and personal issues. He also made prophecies, and gave information about past cultures.
He started with his readings around 1900. At that time he solely did medical readings. In the 1920s, Cayce’s trance readings expanded beyond medicine to include life readings, in which he explored a person’s inner conflicts and needs.
In 1922 he became a member of the Theosophical society, albeit for only two years (1922-1923). So Cayce was familiar with the Theosophical teachings and thus with the concept of the Akashic Records.
Then his readings also included global prophecies, climate or geological changes, and the lost history of mythical cultures, such as Atlantis and Lemuria.
A lot of people say "Edgar Cayce said that..." but that is incorrect. Cayce was always in a trance, and was only relaying the information that came from someone or somewhere else. When asked about the source of his information, Edgar Cayce replied that there were essentially two. The first was the subconscious mind of the individual for whom he was giving the reading and the second was the Akashic Records.
Cayce's readings are not always coherent, as is often the case of channeled material. Here are two readings in which he talks about the Akashic Records:
When there is the thought or the activity of the body in any particular environ, this very activity makes for the impressions upon the soul...As to the records made by such an activity, these are written upon what is known as time or space; much in the form or manner as are the messages that are of a familiar nature to the body in its present activity. As the instruments of recording are used, so does the activity of ENERGY expended leave its imprint upon the etheric wave that records between time and space that DESIRED to be put, as to that impelling or producing. Just as the figures or characters make for communications between individuals, so does the soul upon the pages or records of time and space. (Reading 416-2; year 1934)
Upon time and space is written the thoughts, the deeds, the activities of an entity – as in relationships to its environs, its hereditary influence; as directed – or judgment drawn by or according to what the entity's ideal is. Hence, as it has been oft called, the record is God's book of remembrance; and each entity, each soul – as the activities of a single day of an entity in the material world – either makes same good or bad or indifferent, depending upon the entity's application of self ... (Reading 1650-1; year 1938)
Here is another brain-scratcher:
...for, as records are made, the akashic records are as these: Activity of ANY nature, as of the voice, as of a light made, produced in the natural forces those of a motion - which pass on, or are upon, the record of that as time. As may be illustrated in the atomic vibration as set in motion for those in that called the audition, or the radio in its activity. IT passes even faster than time itself. Hence LIGHT forces pass much faster, but the records are upon the esoteric, or etheric, or akashic forces, as they go along upon the wheels of time, the wings of time, or in WHATEVER dimension we may signify as a matter of its momentum or movement. Hence as the forces that are attuned to those various incidents, periods, times, places, may be accorded to the record, the CONTACT as of the needle upon the record, as to how clear a rendition or audition is received, or how clear or how perfect an attunement of the instrument used as the reproducer of same is attuned to those KEEPERS - as may be termed - OF those records. What would be indicated by the keepers? That as just given, that they are the records upon the wings or the wheel of time itself. Time, as that as of space - as inter-between. That inter-between, that which is, that of which, that from one object to another when in matter is of the same nature, or what that is what the other is, only changed in its vibration to produce that element, or that force, as is termed in man's terminology as DIMENSIONS of space, or DIMENSIONS that give it, whatever may be the solid, liquid, gas, or what ITS FORM or dimension! (reading 364-6)
Basically, his source is saying that everything is recorded in time or space, or somewhere in-between.
To make it even 'clearer':
The records are upon time and space, but these - ye say - are concepts of man. There is no time, there is no space; they are concepts. Then, - where? (reading 2072-8)
Edgar Cayce has several times stated that everyone can access the records, but one must be able to get in a trance state. This in contrast to the Theosophists who claim only highly initiated ones can access the records.
In 1938, Franz Werfel, an Austrian-Bohemian novelist, playwright, and poet, published his fictional novel Hoeret die Stimme (Hearken Unto the Voice). Werfel took the not-very-familiar story of the Prophet Jeremiah and set it into a frame, by making it a vision of a writer today, who goes into a trance on the site of the Temple in Jerusalem, and relives the whole of the tragic period when Jeremiah thundered the warnings of his God to the Jewish people and their rulers, during the 7th and 6th century BC. He implied that the story is preserved in the Akasha and recovered by the person during trance.
Werfel had an interest in Catholicism, but also studied Theosophy and explored Islam. He also would attend séances.
In the chapter Conversations by the Dead Sea, on page 16, he connects Akasha with cosmic records:
“All these words,” Cartwright [the fictional person who goes into a trance] admitted, “are of course only inadequate circumlocutions whose purpose is to bring the inconceivable within the scope of the imagination. For example, we can quite easily imagine that a ray of light, on its precipitous journey from star to star, immortalizes or renders timeless the pictures and happenings which it carries with it. We cannot, however, imagine the suprasensual substance akäsha, since akäsha is Pre-Light, Primal Light. According to my friend’s teaching, in some incomprehensible way, akäsha contains in each of its particles, simultaneously and pervading the whole of space, all the phenomena and happenings of the cosmos. If one could make up one’s mind to employ lame comparisons, one might speak of a mysterious film archive or a complete photographic montage, of an all-embracing chronicle, a cosmic protocol, of the universal mind projecting its memories into the present. Since akäsha pervades everything far more even than light can do, it pervades us too. Even our personal memories exist only by virtue of akäsha. Without äkasha there would be no urge to write history. That which you call deja-vu, my dear Burton, is explained by my friend in the East as a sudden condensation of akäsha, which is trying in vain to come to consciousness within our minds.” (source)
Hearken Unto the Voice was not well received and not successful. This might be the reason why this chapter, Conversations by the Dead Sea, was left out in the second printing of the book. Better to leave it as a fictional story, what it was, than claiming it to be read from the Akashic Records.
When the world had recovered from WWII, interest in esoteric teachings increased and the concept of Akashic Records became wide spread. Many authors wrote stories they claimed where from the Akashic Records, read by clairvoyance, trance or during out-of-the-body experiences. Nowadays YouTube is packed with people talking about the records. Atlantis, Lemuria and the life of Jesus still spark interest. But is it all true?
Based on what I found, the concept of the Akashic Records were invented by the Theosophists, who were using it to write fictional stories, and gain prestige and fame. Some writers, not Theosophists, but familiar with their writings, also used it for the same purposes. Others, who were also familiar with the concept, got their information by more arcane methods, such a trance or channeling, by which the source can be one's own subconscious.
Outside the movement of Theosophy, and those who were already familiar with their writings, the concept of Akashic Records, or any records (of anything that happens on earth) permanently written on a spiritual substance, is unknown. No other religious or esoteric doctrine talks about it.
There isn't much ground for assuming any truth in all those Akashic Records tales. To begin with, they assume an antiquity for mankind which is against all the indications of paleontology & geology. Other stories can't be verified and differ from one author to the author.
It is probably a big disillusion for many spiritually oriented people to hear this. We like to find meaning in our lives, and we like to know what happened in the past. Is there a cosmic memory in the universe after all that we cannot tap into, so we invented something in its place, with made-up stories to sooth our mind? Maybe in the future when we can reach out in the spiritual domain and find out how it all fits together. In the meantime be skeptical of what people claim.