The Akashic Records (from the Sanskrit ākāśa, “sky”, “space”, or ‘æther’) are sometimes described as the “memory of nature”. The subtle matter that composes the different planes of the cosmos has the ability to receive and record “impressions” of everything that happens on the terrestrial plane. These records, which can be seen by some clairvoyants, exist on several planes. The records on the astral plane (or astral light) are said to be fragmentary and unreliable. The ones preserved on the mental plane, though more difficult to access, are said to be accurate. The latter are the true “akashic” records.
The akashic records were first mentioned in 1881, in Col. Olcott’s book The Buddhist Catechism. There, he talks about “a permanency of records in the Akasha, and the potential capacity of man to read the same when he has evolved to the stage of true individual enlightenment.”
An example of this ability can be found in one of the letters from Mahatma K.H. Referring to an accusation of plagiarism the Master received, he explained the following to A. P. Sinnett:
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.
Formation of Records
Clairvoyant C. W. Leadbeater explained that “every object undoubtedly is throwing off radiations in all directions, and it is precisely in this way . . . that the âkâshic records seem to be formed.
The term “akasha” is used in Theosophical literature to refer to the matter of the third plane (counting from the subtler to the denser kind). In our Earth, it corresponds with the mental or manasic plane.
Although we talk of these records as being on the akasha, Theosophist C. W. Leadbeater explained that they are really formed “on planes far beyond any that we can possibly know at present”. The true records are not within any of the terrestrial planes, but on the macrocosmic ones:
Whatever happens within our system happens absolutely within the consciousness of its Logos, and so we at once see that the true record must be His memory; and furthermore, it is obvious that on whatever plane that wondrous memory exists, it cannot but be far above anything that we know, and consequently whatever records we may find ourselves able to read must be only a reflection of that great dominant fact, mirrored in the denser media of the lower planes.
Thus, a clairvoyant sees the reflections of the true records on the mental matter or on the astral light. Again, in C. W. Leadbeater’s words:
The word [“akashic record”] is in truth somewhat of a misnomer, for though the records are undoubtedly read from the âkâsha, 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. 
When a person develops clairvoyance the plane that opens up to his or her perception is the one that is immediately “above” the physical–the astral plane (also called astral light). H. P. Blavatsky explained that on this plane we can find a record of everything that happened in the past:
According to Occult teaching the Astral light is . . . the recorder of every thought; the universal mirror which reflects every event and thought as every being and thing, animate or inanimate. We call it the great Sea of Illusion, Maya. As can be seen in the quote, Mme. Blavatsky regards the astral light as illusory. In her writings she warns that “unless the Clairvoyant or Seer can get beyond this plane of illusion, he can never see the Truth, but will be drowned in an ocean of self-deception and hallucinations.
Clairvoyant C. W. Leadbeater explained why the records seen on this plane are unreliable. He wrote:
On the astral plane it is at once evident . . . that what we are dealing with is only a reflection of a reflection, and an exceedingly imperfect one, for such records as can be reached there are fragmentary in the extreme, and often seriously distorted. We know how universally water is used as a symbol of the astral light, and in this particular case it is a remarkably apt one. From the surface of still water we may get a clear reflection of the surrounding objects, just as from a mirror; but at the best it is only a reflection – a representation in two dimensions of three-dimensional objects, and therefore differing in all its qualities, except colour, from that which it represents; and in addition to this, it is always reversed.
But let the surface of the water be ruffled by the wind and what do we find then? A reflection still, certainly, but so broken up and distorted as to be quite useless or even misleading as a guide to the shape and real appearance of the objects reflected. Here and there for a moment we might happen to get a clear reflection of some minute part of the scene – of a single leaf from a tree, for example; but it would need long labour and considerable knowledge of natural laws to build up anything like a true conception of the object reflected by putting together even a large number of such isolated fragments of an image of it.
Now in the astral plane we can never have anything approaching to what we have imaged as a still surface, but on the contrary we have always to deal with one in rapid and bewildering motion; judge, therefore, how little we can depend upon getting a clear and definite reflection. Thus a clairvoyant who possesses only the faculty of astral sight can never rely upon any picture of the past that comes before him as being accurate and perfect; here and there some part of it may be so, but he has no means of knowing which it is. For this and other reasons, unless a person is especially trained for the purpose, it is not possible to read the records accurately on this plane. In Mme. Blavatsky’s words:
Seeing in the astral light is not done through Manas, but through the [psychic] senses, and hence has to do entirely with sense-perception removed to a plane different from this, but more illusionary. The final perceiver or judge of perception is in Manas, in the Self; and therefore the final tribunal is clouded by the astral perception if one is not so far trained or initiated as to know the difference and able to tell the true from the false.
As Mme. Blavatsky stated in the previous quote, direct perception takes place on the manasic or mental plane, which is the plane of akasha. It is on this spiritual plane that the truth behind appearances can be perceived. Theosophist Geoffrey Farthing writes:
The higher levels of Akasa concern the spiritual triad of man, his [higher] Ego. It is in this way that the Ego can be regarded as omniscient. It has access, in the Akasa, to the noumena of all phenomena. This is properly the seeing into the Akashic records we hear about. Often, however, this expression is used to describe what is really psychic vision, personal clairvoyance, in the Astral Light. This is far from Egoic omniscience, an important difference that should be noted. Only a high initiate can see into the spiritual levels of Akasa. Clairvoyant C. W. Leadbeater agrees on the idea that only on this level can the records be read accurately. In speaking of the general characteristics of the mental plane he explained:
We must not omit to mention the ever-present background formed by the records of the past — the memory of nature, the only really reliable history of the world. While what we have on this plane is not yet the absolute record itself, but merely a reflection of something higher still, it is at any rate clear, accurate, and continuous, differing therein from the disconnected and spasmodic manifestation which is all that represents it in the astral world. It is, therefore, only when a clairvoyant possesses the vision of this mental plane that his pictures of the past can be relied upon; and even then, unless he has the power of passing in full consciousness from that plane to the physical, we have to allow for the possibility of errors in bringing back the recollection of what he has seen. At this point in evolution relatively few people are conscious on the mental plane when the body is in trance or sleeping. The ability to be aware on this plane while remaining in the waking state is even more rare, and cannot be attained without a systematic training guided by those who have already developed this ability. Again, in C. W. Leadbeater’s words:
The accurate reading of the records, whether of one’s own past lives or those of others, must not, however, be thought of as an achievement possible to anyone without careful previous training. As has been already remarked, though occasional reflections may be had upon the astral plane, the power to use the mental sense is necessary before any reliable reading can be done. Indeed, to minimise the possibility of error, that sense ought to be fully at the command of the investigator while awake in the physical body; and to acquire that faculty needs years of ceaseless labour and rigid self-discipline.
C. W. Leadbeater briefly described the seeing these records on the buddhic plane as follows:
Great interest attaches to the experience of the clairvoyant with reference to these records when he stands upon the buddhic plane – the higher which his consciousness can reach even when away from the physical body until he attains the level of the Arhats.
Here time and space no longer limit him; he no longer needs, as on the mental plane, to pass a series of events in review, for past, present and future are all alike simultaneously present to him, meaningless as that sounds down here.
References. Akashic records, Theosophy Wiki, Accessed April 2021. . Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 130 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 433. . Charles Webster Leadbeater, Clairvoyance, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1986), 69. . Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1918), 35. . Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 361. . Charles Webster Leadbeater, Clairvoyance, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1986), 124-125. . Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. IX (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1974), 400-G. . Geoffrey Farthing, Exploring the Great Beyond, (Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1978), 90-91. . Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Devachanic Plane, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1909), 28. . Charles Webster Leadbeater, Clairvoyance, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1986), 148-149. . Charles Webster Leadbeater, Clairvoyance, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1986), 132.