The Theosophical Forum – August 1947


[Note: page numbers cited for The Esoteric Tradition are to the 2-vol. Second Edition and do not correspond to the 1-vol. 3rd & Revised Edition.]

Hierarchies of Consciousness

One cannot start with a Supreme Hierarch called God in discussing the gradations of individualized consciousness in the Universe at large. The limitless totality of All termed Tat in Sanskrit is incomprehensible. It embraces no-thing and every-thing, unconsciousness and consciousness in what we may designate as the Kosmos. Every individual Hierarch, or aggregate of subsidiary consciousnesses, is autonomous within its Cosmos, or space of Space, in proportion to its status of evolution. No One of them can be the All; hence each is limited by the law that governs the entire Kosmos. That law is stated on pages 137-8 by K. H. in The Mahatma Letters. He asserts that the "infinite FORCE" known as God or infinite mind to most men, exhibits only the functions of the human cerebellum in so far as can be ascertained. Such functions are involuntary, unconscious and mechanical. The description is that it displays "no more than the regular unconscious throbbings of the eternal and universal pulse of Nature, throughout the myriads of worlds within as without the primitive veil of our solar system." Aught else is only to be inferred from "the Kabalistic theory (correct in every other relation) of the Macrocosm being the prototype of the Microcosm." In essence, this is identical with the Smaragdine Tablet of Hermes mentioned in Study No. 1 of this series.

With respect to astronomical nomenclature, it is possible to picture the spaces of Space as occupied by an endlessly ascending scale of aggregate entities. Our present knowledge permits us to surmise that a Metagalaxy may consist of a specific number of Galaxies. Our Galaxy is said to include three Spiritual Suns, a Central Sun, a Polar Sun and two Equatorial Suns with their planets, Secret Doctrine, II, 240. The statement is derived from the Qabbalah and is set forth, hypothetically, in Principia Nova Astronomica by Henry Pratt, London, 1894. In accordance with the Hermetic doctrine of correspondences, our Solar System may be regarded as conforming to the plan of this prototype. Definite data that is available is not adequate for an exact delineation of its construction. This astronomical enumeration is set forth in order to establish a basis for the categories of consciousness that determine our psychological apparatus and its motivation.

As The Esoteric Tradition, I, 198, indicates, "It is all a matter of expansion of consciousness. . . . But our consciousness expands . . . self-consciously, first to comprehend all in the solar system, and then still later in aeonic time to embrace the Galaxy, and finally to embark upon still vaster fields within the limitless ranges of Kosmic Space." The stages of this evolution from within of the inherent powers of consciousness may be tabulated in successive steps. They will be; first, from unconsciousness to consciousness, and to self-consciousness as a normal evolutionary development thereof. This subject is analyzed scientifically in From the Unconscious to the Conscious by Dr. Gustave Geley, formerly Director of the Institut Metapsychique International. Its conclusions are closely analogous to those of the theosophic doctrines, and both have their sources in the ancient wisdom. It will be referred to specifically in the following study on the operation, or functioning, of the individual consciousness within that of its Hierarchy. In psychological terminology, the connecting link between the "eternal imperishable, but also unconscious "Monad" " (p. 104, The Mahatma Letters) and the consciousness of the individual entity is the subconscious mind. With that link, which is the soul or psyche, fully established, the succeeding stages will be " "Full Individual Consciousness" " and "Absolute Consciousness." (Ibid.) This, then, gives four states or stages of consciousness. In the final one, we will attain to "The light of Samma-Sambuddh

. . . that light which shines beyond our mortal ken
The line of all the lives in all the worlds — " (Ibid.)

The "four great Planes or Bases or Worlds" that pertain to the stages of consciousness are listed by G. de P. (Ch. VIII, E. T.) as:

Divine, or sphere of activity of the Gods.
Spiritual, or domain of the Monads (unconscious).
Souls, or rays from the Monads (conscious but liable to recall).
Physical, or habitat of life-atom entities.

These must be understood as interpenetrating in the sense of general levels of life extending from the surface to the depths of one ocean. A more detailed description, with diagram, is given on pages 173-79, E. T., and includes the ten divisions of our "Home Hierarchy." In The Secret Doctrine, I, 200, H. P. Blavatsky gives a diagram comparing the Gupta Vidya and Chaldean Qabbalah versions of the four lower planes, or worlds, and the three next above them. They are the Archetypal, Intellectual Ideative or Creative, Substantial or Formative, and the Physical-Material which we inhabit. These are called Emanations, Creation, Formation and Labor or Works in the Qabbalah and are discussed by G. de P. (Ibid.)

The four Suns in the Galaxy have been mentioned. In our Solar System, there are three planets between the Earth and the Sun, if the existence of the Intra-Mercurial Vulcan be accepted. With respect thereto, K. H. states, p. 169, The Mahatma Letters, that "not all of the Intra-Mercurial planets, . . . are yet discovered." Likewise, there are three planets with orbits outside that of the Earth. The status of Neptune and Uranus as not pertaining to our system is explained in The Esoteric Tradition, p. 192. The reason for not enumerating twelve planets as composing a chain is given on page 183. On page 182 it is stated that "All physical bodies in the sky that we see are fourth-plane globes, i.e., globes existing on the Fourth Cosmic Plane, and this statement is without exception, at least so far as our solar system is concerned." Inferentially, we may judge that some of those which we see nearby are not members of our chain. The location of the Earth as fourth in our chain of seven globes is shown in the diagram on page 200, I, S. D., noted in the preceding paragraph. Thus, the four-fold enumeration of the Suns, of the Cosmic Planes and of the placement of the planets is in accord with the Hermetic doctrine of correspondences.

The correspondence may be carried down into the four gaseous components into which all matter, including our bodies, may be resolved. A discussion of The Mysteries of the Hebdomad is given in The Secret Doctrine, II, 590-7. Diagrams therein show the square "quaternary" surmounted by the triangle or, in solidity, the cube capped by the tetrahedron. The parallelism between the human and the physical, or inorganic, principles is indicated. The basis of the four elements is given as Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Carbon, which correspond to Fire, Air, Water and Earth. The statement of the "Alchemists" in regard to the four lower principles and the three higher human ones (Atma, Buddhi and Manas, or spirit, soul and mind) is quoted. It is:

"When the Three and the Four kiss each other, the quaternary joins its middle nature with that of the Triangle," (or Triad, i.e., the face of one of its plane surfaces becoming the middle face of the other), "and becomes a cube; then only does it (the cube unfolded) become the vehicle and the number of LIFE, the Father-Mother SEVEN." — p. 593

The concept may be enhanced by quoting the beautiful imagery of B. W. Betts, inspired author of Geometrical Psychology or The Science of Representation, London, 1887. This volume will be referred to in subsequent studies on Symbolism of Consciousness and Mathematical Laws of Consciousness which will follow the next Study No. 3 on Individual Consciousness.

If we take the active or positing ideal activity as hydrogen we have the determining or passive real activity as carbon, and the synthetical activity of the Imagination in supporting and combining these opposites as oxygen, which, as you are aware, is a supporter of combustion. Further, the negative reactionary activity, which is not contemplated as activity but felt as resistance and gives definite substance to our Thoughts, may be compared to nitrogen, which carries off, as oxygen carries on, the opposite activities of Life. That which, therefore, enters consciousness as "I" is the equilibrium of these opposite activities or elements which cannot be explained but only felt, and we must not confuse the condition of these elements in their pure or uncombined state, with their condition when in action and reaction with one another. It is undoubted, for instance, that hydrogen and oxygen, in composing water lose all their original characteristics, and that the union is attended with activities too minute for the microscope to detect, and which can perhaps be analyzed by correspondence in the human race. If these activities exist the so-called elements interact again in a new and infinite sphere of individualities, and, at the moment of reducing form to elementary composition, at the same moment our Panorama widens into infinitude, divisible only by Thought, and our hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen dissolve in a flood of Light, tinting it with rainbow colors.

This transmutation of terrestrial values into those of spiritual realms is the raison d'etre of psychology as a science. Truly understood, it points the way to the Resurrection that will lift us to the status of the Risen Souls who inspire mankind. There be not many such, but they are the leaven in the loaf. Each one added to that Lodge of the Elect will help to lighten the heavy dough of misery in which men suffer. The radiation of their thought, consciously directed in accordance with Creative Law, will permeate the bread of life upon which humanity subsists. This is the token of the bread and wine, the flesh and blood of the Christos. It is Wisdom and Love conjoined in the Elixir of Life as Thought purified and freed from dross. It is nectar and ambrosia commingled in the River of Bliss that is Ananda. Borne upon its current, the consciousness may contemplate Nirvana. To forego this in the service of humanity is the great renunciation of the Buddhas of Compassion. In some degree it is attainable by all whose beautiful thoughts create an intense emotion of compassionate love.

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