The Masters and the Path

C. W. Leadbeater



Part IV

The Hierarchy


Chapter 11

The Work of the Masters



A Summary

I have just explained that of the human beings who attain Adeptship, but a few remain on our earth as members of the Occult Hierarchy, to promote the evolution of life upon it in accordance with God’s plan. At present there are some fifty or sixty of these Supermen so engaged, and of their general work Dr. Besant  has written as follows in her pamphlet on The Masters:

They aid, in countless ways, the progress of humanity. From the highest sphere they shed down light and life on all the world, that may be taken up and assimilated, as freely as the sunshine, by all who are receptive enough to take it in. As the physical world lives by the life of God, focused by the sun, so does the spiritual world live by that same life, focused by the occult Hierarchy. Next, the Masters specially connected with religions use these religions as reservoirs into which they pour spiritual energy, to be distributed to the faithful in each religion through the duly appointed “means of grace”. Next comes the great intellectual work, wherein the Masters send out thought-forms of high intellectual power to be caught up by men of genius, assimilated by them and given out to the world; on this level also they send out their wishes to their disciples, notifying them of the tasks to which they should set their hands. Then comes the work in the lower mental world, the generation of the thought-forms which influence the concrete mind and guide it along useful lines of activity in this world, and the teaching of those who are living in the heavenly world. Then the large activities of the intermediate world, the helping of the so-called dead, the general direction and supervision of the teaching of the younger pupils, and the sending of aid in numberless cases of need. In the physical world the watching of the tendencies of events, the corrections and neutralizing, as far as law permits, of evil currents, the constant balancing of the forces that work for and against evolution, the strengthening of the good, the weakening of the evil. In conjunction with the Angels of the Nations also they work, guiding the spiritual forces as the others guide the material.

The Parishes

We may consider more fully some of the lines of work, here indicated in small compass with the sweep of vision for which Dr. Besant is world-renowned. Though the number of Adepts is small, they have arranged that in all the world no life shall be disregarded or neglected; so they have divided the earth into special areas in somewhat the same way as in older countries the Church has divided the whole land into parishes, so that wherever a man may live he is within one of these geographical divisions and has a definite Church organization to administer to his spiritual and sometimes to his bodily needs. The parishes of the Adepts, however, are not country districts or parts of towns, but huge countries and even continents.

As the world is at present divided, one great Adept may be said to be in charge of Europe, and another looks after India; and in the same way the whole world is parcelled out. The parishes do not follow our political or geographical boundaries, but within his territory the Adept has all the different grades and forms of evolution to regard—not only our own, but also the great kingdom of the Angels, of the various classes of nature-spirits, the animals, vegetables and minerals beneath us, the kingdoms of the elemental essence, and many others of which so far nothing has been heard by mankind; so there is a vast amount of work to be accomplished. In addition to the guardianship of the Adepts, each race or country has also the assistance of a Spirit of the Race, a Deva or guardian Angel who watches over it and helps to guide its growth, and corresponds in many ways to the ancient conception of a tribal Deity, though he stands at a considerably higher level. Such, for example, was Pallas Athene.

There are many different sets of influences at work in the service of the Logos for the evolution of man, and naturally they all operate in the same direction, and in co-operation with one another.

We must never make the mistake of attributing to these great agencies the disasters which sometimes overtake countries, as in the case of the French Revolution and the recent upheavals in Russia. Those are due entirely to the savage passions of the people, which have run riot and caused destruction instead of construction, and they illustrate the danger to which the work of the Adepts and the Spirit of the Race is exposed, when they make experiments along democratic lines. There is terrible evil involved in tyranny, and sometimes great suffering also, but at least there is some sort of control; and the great problem in getting rid of the tyranny is how to do it without losing social stability and self-control. When that goes, many persons fail to keep the human end uppermost in their own personalities, passion rises, crowds run riot, and the people become liable to obsession by great waves of undesirable influence. The national Angel tries to guide the feelings of the people; he is interested in them in great masses, and he would when necessary urge them to great patriotism and heroic deeds, just as a general might encourage his men to advance on the field of battle; but he is never reckless of their lives or careless of their suffering, any more than a wise general would be.

Distribution of Force

A large part of the Adepts’ work, as we have seen in an earlier chapter, lies at levels far beyond the physical, as they are engaged in pouring out their own power, and also the force from the great store filled by the Nirmanakaya. It is the karma of the world that it shall have a certain amount of this uplifting force at its service, and even ordinary men who turn their wills into line with the Divine Will (by directing their thought and feeling to the service of humanity) add a little to the reservoir, and are thus privileged to share in the great sacrifice. On account of this, humanity is evolving as a unit, and the miracle of brotherhood enables every one to make much more progress than would be even remotely possible were he standing entirely by himself. All this is part of the scheme of the Logos, who apparently has calculated upon our taking part in his plan. When he devised it he thought: “When my people shall rise to a certain level, they will begin to co-operate intelligently with me; therefore I will arrange so that when they come to that point they will be able to draw upon my power.” Thus he is counting upon every one.

The Brotherhood is one with all humanity on higher levels, and through its agency the distribution of the supply of force from the great reservoir takes place for men. The Adepts are raying upon all egos without exception in the higher mental plane, and thus giving the greatest possible assistance to the unfoldment of the indwelling life. That life is like a seed which cannot die and must grow, because the principle of evolution, the Logos himself, is at the heart of its very being; in man the plant has already risen through the soil and is seeking the upper air, and the rapidity of its development is now very largely due to the sunlight of the spiritual force that comes through the channels of the Hierarchy. This is one of the many ways in which the more advanced help the less advanced, as they share more and more the divine nature, in accordance with the divine plan.

Each of the Adepts who have undertaken this special work is raying out upon enormous numbers of people, running often into many millions simultaneously; and yet, such is the wonderful quality of this power which he pours forth, that it adapts itself to each one of these millions as though he were the only object of its influence, and it appears as though what for us would be full attention were being given to that one.

It is difficult to explain on the physical plane how this may be—but it arises from the fact the Master’s nirvanic consciousness is a kind of point which yet includes the entire plane. He can bring that point down through several planes and spread it out like a kind of vast bubble. On the outside of that huge sphere are all the causal bodies which he is trying to affect, and he, filling the sphere, appears all in all to each individual. In this way he fills with his life the ideals of millions of people, and is for them respectively the ideal Christ, the ideal Rama, the ideal Krishna, an Angel or perhaps a spirit-guide.

This is quite a different kind of work from the superintendence of one of the great parishes, and in it the Master pays attention chiefly to people of one type, those who are developing along his own line of evolution, though naturally most of them are quite unconscious of his action. He has also many special cases to deal with, and for this purpose sometimes delegates part of this work to Devas, leaving them con­siderable liberty within certain well-defined limits. The Devas in their turn employ nature-spirits and make a variety of thought-forms, and there is thus a large field of activity connected with their work.

The Use of Devotion

In The Science of the Sacraments I have explained how the Great Ones take advantage of the ceremonies of all religions to pour out their power over the world on the lower planes, and thus to stimulate in as many men as possible the spiritual growth of which each is capable. But it is not only in connection with religious ceremonial that this is done, for the Brotherhood makes use of every opportunity that offers. If there be a gathering of people who are all under the influence of devotion, all bent for the time being upon nobler and higher thought, such a gathering offers to the Adepts an unusual opportunity, of which they will straightway make use, since it forms a focus which they can employ as a channel for spiritual influence. When people are scattered and living in their homes, they are like a number of separated lines down each of which but a little force can flow, but when they come together at a meeting, it is as though these were combined to make a kind of pipe through which a much greater flood of blessing may be poured than the sum of what could descend through the separate lines.

I have seen a million pilgrims together in the holy city of Benares, many of them no doubt ignorant and superstitious, but for the time full of devotion and utterly one-pointed. The mass of devotional feeling, generated by such a crowd is almost incalculable, and the Adepts never miss the opportunity of utilizing it for good. It is, of course, unques­tionable that a similar number of equally enthusiastic but intelligent people would supply vastly more force—and also force capable of playing upon a higher plane altogether; but we must not for a moment make the mistake of ignoring the value of the vast amount of energy produced by ignorant and even fanatical people. The members of the Brotherhood have a wonderful faculty of separating the evil from the good, or rather of drawing out the last ounce of force which can be used for good, even from the midst of a great deal that is evil.

It is common to find the most intense devotion allied with bitter sectarian feeling; in such a case the Adept will extract and make use of every particle of the devotional feeling, simply ignoring and leaving behind the savage hatred which to us seems to be a part of it. Therefore people with most undesirable characteristics often produce a certain amount of good karma, though it is undeniable that it would be far greater if it were dissociated from the other unfortunate qualities.

Such a city as Benares is always a tremendous centre of force, even quite apart from the annual pilgrimages. It is a city of shrines and relics, and these also can be utilized as channels by the Adepts; and the same is true of such things the world over. In some place, for example, there may be a relic of a great saint belonging to any one of the religions of the world. If the relic is genuine, a certain amount of strong magnetism does radiate from it, on account of its connection with a worthy man, and it may therefore be used, by sending through it a stream of force, to bless those who reverence it. In many cases, however, the relic is not genuine; but that, which to us would seem a most important fact, in reality matters less than one might suppose.

If for a long time people have made a great centre of devotional feeling around it, on that account alone the Brotherhood can use it as effectively as a genuine relic, and the fact that the people are deluded in their belief does not affect its usefulness, since their devotion is genuine, and that is the important thing. If this were more fully understood, it would probably check many thoughtless people who are inclined to ridicule the superstitions of the Catholic peasants in Italy, Sicily or Spain, or to look down upon Indian coolies because they pay homage at some shrine which is obviously not what it is supposed to be. There is no doubt that truth is better than error, yet we must remember that it is not well to tear away from the ignorant the objects of their devotion until they are able to rise to higher things; by such iconoclasm the world is the poorer, for by it not only is devotion destroyed, but useful channels of the Masters’ force may be closed.

Besides, it is obviously impossible for an ignorant peasant to judge as to the genuineness of a relic, and it would be grossly unfair that the effect of his devotion, poured out with good intention and in all innocence of heart, should be made to depend upon a fact as to which he can have no knowledge. In the great world of realities things are never so badly managed as that; the true devotion will find full and hearty response whether the object round which it is centred is or is not all that the devotee thinks it to be. The devotion is the real thing—the only thing that matters, and it must and does receive the real return which it deserves. The supposed relic is merely a point upon which it is focused, and an imaginary point will do for this as well as any other.

Work by the Pupils

I have already mentioned that the pupils of the Masters are also apprentices, that at their lower level they serve as transmitters of force, and also do a great variety of work in every branch of civilization and human culture all of which is part of the Adepts’ work in the world. A vast amount of this is done by others who have received inspiration or suggestion from these pupils, or though the various societies and agencies that they have set going or influenced. Without these influences humanity would be poor indeed, though for the most part it knows little of the source of its true wealth. The Adepts themselves cannot turn aside from their exalted work to do these lower and easier tasks, because if they did the whole machinery of evolution would suffer.

Men sometimes ask why these Great Ones have not written books, for example. They forget that the Adepts are carrying on the evolution of the world; they can hardly drop that in order to give people information with regard to some part of it. It is true that if one of the Great Ones had the time to write a book, if his energy could not be better employed, that book would be far superior to any that we have. But if it were the plan of things that all work should be done by those who can already do it perfectly there would be no field for the exercise of our faculties, and it would be difficult to see any utility in our existence in this world.

A department of activity which has recently been organized on a large scale by pupils of the Masters is that of practical service on the astral plane, about which I have written in the book Invisible Helpers. The greater part of that work is among the newly-dead, who often find themselves there confused, bewildered, and even suffering, especially when they have been frightened during life by the hideous stories of dreadful torture after death, which form part of the stock-in-trade of some perverted religious sects. Though it is many years ago, it was still within the life of The Theosophical Society that the organized band of invisible helpers was founded and set to work. It was originally composed of people still living, who had decided to use their time during the sleep of the body in this definite way; but they soon drew to themselves a great many already dead, who had not thought of this work before.

Until that time new-comers to the astral world were mostly left to themselves, unless it occurred to their relations to meet them and introduce them to the new life. For example, a mother who died would still watch over her children, and if any of the children died shortly after the mother she would give them what help and information she could; and generally the good-natured people among the dead would pass on to others what knowledge they possessed when they saw the need of help. In older civilizations, when large families and joint families were the rule, perhaps comparatively few people found themselves without a friend in need on the other side of death. Readers of Oriental literature will remember how much is said in Hindu religious books about the importance of family ties and duties as extending to the invisible regions beyond the veil of the death. Still, the condition there was somewhat like that of a country without hospitals, or schools, or bureaux of public information, where many must suffer, and in times of special calamity and war that was often most serious.

The Centennial Effort

An excellent picture of the way in which the Adepts work for the betterment of civilization is given in Dr. Besant’s London Lectures of 1907. in which she tells us something of the steps that were taken by the Brotherhood to lift Europe out of the terrible darkness of the Middle Ages. She explains that in the thirteenth century a mighty Personage, then living in Tibet, promulgated his order to the Brotherhood that in the last quarter of every century an effort should be made to enlighten Europe. Looking through history carefully, we can see that from that time onward, a new ray of light was sent forth towards the end of each century from the Lodge. These have been worked out by Mr. Fritz Kunz as follows:



Effort About

Nature of Advance



Roger Bacon and the restoration of mental culture

Democracy of culture: renaissance


Christian Rosenkreuz and the spread of culture



The printed book: fixation of knowledge

Democracy of knowledge: reformation


Francis Bacon and science: English language the medium



Union of classes attempted: secret societies

Political democracy: revolution


Political freedom, unfortunately mainly by revolution



Theosophical Society: Society for Psychical Research: Liberal Catholic Church: Co-Masonry: Evolution

Democracy of occultism: evolution


Wide spread of what is now called esotericism: Evolution (spiritual)




The latest of these efforts was the founding of the Theosophical Society in 1875. After careful consideration the Masters Morya and Kuthumi undertook the responsibility of that step, and chose that noble worker Madame Blavatsky to help them on the physical plane. Most students of Theosophical literature know how she was prepared for what she had to do; how in due course the Brotherhood sent her to America to search for Colonel Olcott, the comrade who would supply what was lacking in herself—the power of organization and of speaking to men and gathering them round him and shaping them into a movement in the outer world—and how the Society was founded in New York, and later had its Headquarters removed to India.

As I write,[1] our Society has completed its fiftieth year of service to humanity, and it is impossible to estimate the vast amount of good it has done in every department of human life. Its influence cannot in the least be measured by the number of its members or branches, although that is by no means insignificant, since it extends to every civilized part of the globe. But in each field of human endeavour it has sounded its characteristic note, the reverberations of which multiply around us in the words and work of statesmen and scientists, literary men and artists, and many others, of whom, great numbers perhaps have never even heard the word Theosophy. It has drawn attention to the realities of the invisible world and the power of mind. It has voiced the claims in outward life of the fact of brotherhood, seeking no uniformity in human life, but the organization for mutual support of widely different individuals, each of whom shall be strong in his special type, and all of whom shall be bound together by the indissoluble bond of respect for the man who is different from oneself. It has brought together East and West as never before; it has demanded fair play in the comparison of religions, and revealed with unmistakable clearness their essential unity of teaching and their common source. And it has brought thousands to the feet of the Masters to serve them with all their power and with all their hearts for the good of mankind for all time to come.

The Races

In its work for the world the Brotherhood deals not only with the present, but looks far into the future, and prepares for the evolution of new races and nations in which the qualities of humanity shall be developed in harmonious sequence. As we shall see in Chapter 13, the progress of mankind takes place in no haphazard manner, but the formation of the races with their special characteristics, physical, emotional and mental (serving as classes in the great world-school, for the development of special qualities) is as precise and definite as the curriculum and time-table of any modern college.

The great Aryan race which, though not yet at its prime, dominates the world to-day with its supreme gift of intellect, has followed after the Atlantean race, the people of which still form the majority of mankind and occupy a great portion of the land surface of our globe.

The Coming

In this connection three great pieces of work are in hand at the present time, the first of which is the preparation for the physical embodiment and activity among men of the Bodhisattva or World-Teacher, who is the same great Personage, the Christ, who occupied the body of Jesus two thousand years ago. His coming must not be confused with the centennial events already mentioned; those belong to the First Ray, and are in the department of occult work that deals with the guidance of races and subdivisions of races; whereas this is an event which occurs only once in a long time, and is an activity of the Second Ray, the department of religion and education.

The World-Teacher is even now at our doors, and we may hope for ever-increasing manifestations of his power, his wisdom and his love. The Order of the Star in the East was established in 1911 to prepare for that Coming by drawing together people of every sect and religion all over the world, who for various reasons believe in the near approach of the World-Teacher, and are willing to combine, in a grand effort to proclaim it to the world, and prepare themselves as far as may be to be useful servants of the Lord when he comes.

Since the Lord Maitreya has chosen to announce his coming to the world through Dr. Besant, we are justified, I think, in assuming that his teaching will be somewhat along the line of the ideals that she has been promulgating with such wonderful eloquence during the last thirty-seven years. Some sects of Christians still cling to the superstition that he will come to judge mankind and to destroy the earth, so that there is a great element of fear and uncertainty connected with their beliefs. But all fear of God comes from a misunderstanding.

The Coming of Christ is indeed connected with an end—not the end of the world, but the end of an age or dispensation. The Greek word is aion, which is the same as aeon in English; and just as Christ said two thousand years ago that the dispensation of the Jewish law had come to an end, because he had come to found a new one, that of the gospel, so will the era of that gospel come to an end when he returns and founds yet another. He will give the same great teaching; the teaching must be the same, for there is only one Truth, though perhaps it may be put a little more clearly for us now, because we know a little more. It will be promulgated in some fresh dress, perhaps, with some beauty of expression which will be exactly suited to us in this present day, and there will be some statement of it which will appeal to a large number of people.

It will certainly be the same, because if has appeared in all the existing faiths. They have differed much in their method of presenting it, but they all agree absolutely in the life which they ask their followers to live. We find considerable difference between the external teachings of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Muhammadanism; but if we examine the good men of any one of those religions and inquire into their daily practice, we shall find that they are all leading precisely the same life—that they all agree as to the virtues a good man must possess and as to the evils he must avoid.

They all tell us that a man must be charitable, truthful, kindly, honourable, helpful to the poor; they all tell us that a man who is hard and grasping and cruel, who is untruthful and dishonourable, is making no progress, and has no chance of success until he changes his ways. As practical people we must recognize that the things of real importance in any religion are not the vague metaphysical speculations on matters of which no one can really know anything for certain, for these can have no influence upon our conduct; the important things are the precepts which affect our daily lives, which make us this kind of man or that kind of man in our relations with our fellow-men. Those precepts are the same in all existing religions; they will be the same in the new teaching, whatever it may be.

Perhaps we may go a little further than that in Predicting what he will teach. Surely, the great central truth which he will emphasize is that the evils of the world come from lack of love and brotherliness—that if man will learn to love and to adopt the brotherly attitude, all evil will pass away and the golden age will dawn upon us. Not immediately—we cannot hope for that; but at least men will begin to see for themselves, and to understand how much more is to be gained along that line than the other.

The Sixth Sub-Race

The second of these great events is the moulding of the form of body, emotions and mind of the sixth sub-race of our Aryan race, which has already begun to appear in America and Australia and perhaps in other parts of the world. The great modelling power of the Manu’s mind and will is at work on the inner planes, modifying even the physical type of the children of the new age, wherever they may be susceptible to it, and some of the junior members of the Brotherhood, working in the outer world, have their instructions to provide for these when possible the education and training that befits the new race. This work is small as yet, but it is destined to swell into voluminous proportions, until within a few short centuries the sixth sub-race will stand out distinct and admirable in its young manhood in the new world, while the old world continues to develop the fifth sub-race to its maturity and perfection. And perchance later still the sixth sub-race, radiant and glorious in its manhood, will shed its blessing upon the fifth, so that for the first time a race shall have a serene and dignified decline into fruitful and venerable age. That may be the reward of its present and coming service to the infant race, and of its fight, full of sacrifice but triumphant, against the powers of darkness, opening up possibilities for man such as the race has never known before.

We must try to understand what is meant by belonging to the new sixth sub-race. Our ideas are liable to be too inelastic. When the sixth sub-race is fully established, it will show certain definite characteristics‌—physical, astral and mental—which are not to be seen in the average man of the fifth sub-race. Remember, it has to be built gradually out of the fifth sub-race, and these new characteristics must be developed one by one in each of the egos concerned. The process of’ preparation is a long one, and may well extend over several lives. So when we look round and examine people (and especially young people) from this point of view, we must not expect to be able to say off-hand that one belongs to the new sub-race, and another does not.

A more accurate statement would be something like this: “A seems to possess about twenty-five per cent of the characteristics of the new sub-race; B has perhaps as much as fifty per cent; C has a large proportion—perhaps seventy-five per cent; in D I cannot see anything lacking; as far as I can tell, he is a fully developed example.” And you must understand that the average boy or girl whom you think hopeful is probably an A, for B’s are as yet very rare in the world, and C’s and D’s practically non-existent, except in our own tiny circle. Remember also that developments are very unequal; a boy may have made a considerable amount of astral or mental progress before it shows much in his physical body; and on the other hand, through good heredity, he may have a physical body, capable of expressing greater advancement on higher planes than he has yet attained. Very few can expect to show all the signs yet; they may be well satisfied if they show one or two.

Even at its culmination it will not be uniform; for example, it is in the main a dolichocephalous race, but it will always have brachy­cephalous sub-divisions; it will contain fair-haired and dark-haired people, people with blue eyes and people with brown. Naturally the astral and mental traits are the more important, but in most cases it is only by the physical appearance that one can make an estimate. The keynote is unselfishness, and the dominant is eager enthusiasm for service; and these must he accompanied by active kindliness and large-hearted tolerance. He who forgets his own pleasure, and thinks only how he can help others, has already gone far on the path. Discrimination and common sense are also marked characteristics.

If we wish to know for what physical tokens we may look, perhaps the most marked of all are delicate, well-shaped hands and feet, thin fingers and oval nails, especially thinness in fingers and thumb when seen edgewise. The texture of the skin is also important. It is always clear, and never coarse. Of faces there are three types—the markedly oval with high forehead, the slightly less oval with broad forehead, and the practically brachycephalous (this last being rare; the definition of a brachycephalous skull is that its breadth is four-fifths of its length). There is about the person who is approaching the sixth sub-race a distinguishing expression which one who looks for it will soon begin to recognize.

We frequently hear from independent observers and students of their recognition of a new racial type seen especially in California, Australia and New Zealand. For example, in 1923 an address was delivered by Captain Pape to the British Association, dealing with what he called the Austral-American Race, and his remarks included the following description of its peculiarities:

The head tends to be dome-shaped, especially over the frontal region; there is a departure from what is known as the “low-set ear”; hair and skin are fine; eyes luminous, intelligent, but not full; bridge of the nose early developed; lips sensitive and mobile; eyebrows prominent; frontal brain development large; type of face somewhat triangular, but not sharp; general physiology harmonious, propor­tionate, healthy, not at all the “all brain and no body” type. The psychology of the new-race child manifests as a rapid response to sympathy, pity in suffering, power to comprehend principles easily, quick intuitions, thoroughness, sensitiveness, quick sense of justice, absence of parrot-like intelligence, eagerness to help others. They also show a dislike of coarse food, and often have not a large appetite along any lines. In other respects they are normal children but especially need sympathy and understanding teachers.

In the previous year there was a long article in The Los Angeles Sunday Times devoted to the subject of the new race appearing in California and New Zealand. After referring to some of the mental and physical characteristics ascribed to the children of the new race, it remarked particularly upon their qualities of exceptional poise and intuition.

The Sixth Root Race

The third great event is the foundation of the sixth root race, which is to take place physically in California about seven hundred years from now. A community will be established there with the Manu of that race, he who is now our Master Morya, at the Head of it, and beside him his co-worker throughout the ages, the Master Kuthumi, who is to be the Bodhisattva of the sixth root race. We have written of that community in Man: Whence, How and Whither. Although it lies some hundreds of years ahead, which after all is but a brief time in the life of a man, as all of us will realize when we look back upon it, preparations are already afoot for that also, and The Theosophical Society is playing no inconsiderable part in those.

Every branch of the Society is or ought to be encouraging each one of its members in his efforts to apply in the outer world the Theosophical knowledge that he has gained; he must of course do that according to his temperament and ability, and his opportunities as he mixes with men; but all that helps the present race. Within the Theosophical Lodge, where so many different types of men forgather and must help one another, if the Lodge be true to its ideals, a breadth of character should be developed in the members, for they receive in this respect an education in the spirit of brotherhood which can scarcely be had elsewhere in the world. Most societies are organized for the attainment of one goal or one purpose, but in The Theosophical Society we know that although one model of perfection appeals most strongly to one man and another to another, the brotherhood of man will not be achieved by the triumph of any one ideal, be it love, or truth, or beauty alone, but by the twisting of all these strands into one mighty rope which will bind man for ever to the Divine. As was said in the Hitopadesha long ago:

Small things wax exceeding mighty,

     Being cunningly combined:

Furious elephants are fastened

     With a rope of grass-blades twined.

Such is the spirit of brotherhood gradually acquired by the true Theosophist, holding to his fellow by inner impulse, not by outward compulsion; and membership in the Society is verily a training by the Masters which, if successful, will fit the man to be reborn in the community of the sixth root race when it is established on the physical plane.


Chapter 12

The Chohans and the Rays

The Chohans

In the last chapter I have tried to describe some of the numerous avenues of work of the great Masters, but there are of course many others, about some of which we know practically nothing; yet what we do know indicates that the work is vast and varied, and that the Adepts deal with it in different ways, according to their own temperaments and preferences. There is a sevenfold division running through all things, as I must explain more fully presently, and this appears also in the Great White Brotherhood. In the Hierarchy the seven Rays are clearly distinguished. The First or ruling Ray is governed by the Lord of the World; at the head of the Second Ray stands the Lord Buddha, and under these come respectively the Manu and the Bodhisattva of the root race which is predominant in the world at any given time. Parallel in rank with these is the Mahachohan, who supervises all the other five Rays, each of which nevertheless has also its own Head. In my next chapter I will explain what I can about the loftier ranks of the Hierarchy, attempting in this to render some account of the work of the Heads of Rays Three to Seven, and of the Masters Morya and Kuthumi, who stand at their level on the First and Second Rays.

The title Chohan is given to those Adepts who have taken the sixth Initiation, but the same word is employed also for the Heads of Rays Three to Seven, who hold very definite and exalted offices in the Hierarchy. We are given to understand that the meaning of the word Chohan is simply “Lord,” and that it is used both generally and specifically, in much the same way as the word Lord is employed in England. We speak of a man as a lord because he possesses that title, but that is quite different from what we mean when we speak, for example, of the Lord Chancellor or the Lord-Lieutenant of the County. The term appears again in the name Dhyan Chohan, which occurs in The Secret Doctrine and elsewhere, and then it refers to Beings of every high station, altogether outside the Occult Hierarchy of our planet.

The Master Djwal Kul’s Table

It is necessary at this point, if we are to understand at all this part of the work of the Masters, to digress a little and say something of what is meant by the Seven Rays. This is a matter of considerable difficulty. Long ago we received some information, very incomplete certainly, but still very valuable, about these Rays. I remember well the occasion on which it was given to us. Mr. Cooper-Oakley and I and a Hindu brother were sitting talking on the roof at Adyar in the very early days, when there was only the one headquarters house and twenty-nine acres of half-jungle behind it; and there came to us suddenly the Master Djwal Kul, who was at that time the chief pupil of the Master Kuthumi. He gave us a great deal of teaching in those days, and was always very kind and patient, and while he sat and talked to us that day this question of the Rays came up. Mr. Cooper-Oakley in his characteristic way said: “Oh, please, Master, will you tell us all about the Rays?”

There was a twinkle in our Teacher’s eye as he said: “Well, I cannot tell you all about them until you have reached a very high Initiation. Will you have what I can tell you, which will be partial and inevitably misleading, or will you wait until you can be told the whole thing?” Not unnaturally we thought that half a loaf was better than no bread, so we said we would take what we could get. We noted down the very interesting information that he gave, but much of it was incompre­hensible to us, as he had foretold. He said: “I cannot tell you any more than that, for I am bound by certain pledges; but if your intuition can make out more I will tell you whether you are right.” Even that little fragmentary information was of very great value to us.

The following Diagram 4 is the table of Rays and their characteristics which he then gave to us:



Characteristic of Ray

Characteristic Magic

Last Religion


Fohat, Shechinah





Raja Yoga (Human Mind)




Astrology (Natural Magnetic Forces)



Birth of Horus

Hatha Yoga (Physical Development)




Alchemy (Material Substances)



Incarnation of Deity

Bhakti (Devotion)

Christianity (Kabala, etc.)



Ceremonial Magic

Elemental Worship

Diagram 4

It was explained that the religion written opposite each Ray is not to be taken as necessarily a perfect exposition of it, but is simply that which now remains on earth as a relic of the last occasion on which that Ray exercised dominant influence on the world. The Magic of the First Ray and the characteristics of the Seventh were not given, we may imagine the first to be kriyashakti and the second to be co-operation with the Deva kingdom. The meaning of the Birth of Horus could not be explained, but one of the characteristics of the Fourth Ray was stated to be the use of the forces of action and interaction—the male and female forces of nature, as it were. Whenever phallicism occurs in the various religions, it is always due to a materialization and miscon­ception of some of the secrets connected with this Ray. The true development of the Seventh Ray would be communication with and instruction from the higher Devas.

After what I have said above it should be clear that the information that has as yet reached us about the Rays is fragmentary. It is not only not a full account of the subject, but it is not even a perfect outline, for we were plainly told that there were huge gaps in the description given to us, which could not possibly be filled up till much later. So far as we know, very little has hitherto been written on this subject, and that little so guardedly expressed as not to be at all readily intelligible, and occult teachers are markedly reticent when questioned about it.

The Sevenfold Division

The essential thing to understand is that there is a certain sevenfold division of everything that exists in the manifested world, whether of life or matter. All life which exists in our chain of worlds passes through and belongs to one or other of Seven Rays, each having seven sub­divisions. In the universe there are forty-nine such Rays, making, in sets of seven, the Seven Great Cosmic Rays, flowing from or through the Seven Great Logoi. In our chain of worlds, however, and perhaps in our solar system, only one of these Great Cosmic Rays is operating, and its subdivisions are our seven Rays. It must not of course be supposed that our solar system is the only manifestation of that particular Logos, since each of the Seven Great Logoi may have millions of systems dependent on it. As I have explained in The Inner Life:

The whole of our solar system is a manifestation of its Logos, and every particle in it is definitely part of his vehicles. All the physical matter of the solar system taken as a totality constitutes his physical body; all the astral matter within it constitutes his astral body; all the mental matter, his mental body, and so on. Entirely above and beyond his system he has a far wider and greater existence of his own, but that does not in the least affect the truth of the statement which we have just made.

This Solar Logos contains within himself Seven Planetary Logoi, who are as it were centres of force within him, channels through which his force pours out. Yet at the same time there is a sense in which they may be said to constitute him. The matter which we have just described as composing his vehicles also composes theirs, for there is no particle of matter anywhere in the system which is not part of one or other of them. All this is true of every plane; but let us for a moment take the astral plane as an example, because its matter is fluid enough to answer the purposes of our inquiry, and at the same time it is near enough to the physical to be not entirely beyond the limits of our physical comprehension.

Every particle of the astral matter of the system is part of the astral body of the Solar Logos, but it is also part of the astral body of one or other of the Seven Planetary Logoi. Remember that this includes the astral matter of which your astral body and mine are composed. We have no particle which is exclusively our own. In every astral body there are particles belonging to each one of the Seven Planetary Logoi, but the proportions vary infinitely. The bodies of those Monads which originally came forth through a Planetary Logos will continue all through their evolution to have more of the particles of that Planetary Logos than of any other, and in this way people may be distinguished as primarily belonging to one or other of the Seven Great Powers.

The Seven Spirits

In Christian terms these seven great Beings are found in the vision of St. John the Evangelist, who said: “And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the Seven Spirits of God.”[2] Those are the Mystical Seven, the great Planetary Logoi, who are life-centres in the very Logos himself. Those are the true Heads of our Rays—the Heads for the whole solar system, not for our world only. Out through one or other of that mighty Seven every one of us must have come, some through one, some through another.

They are the Seven Sublime Lords of The Secret Doctrine, the Primordial Seven, the Creative Powers, the Incorporeal Intelligences, the Dhyan Chohans, the Angels of the Presence. But remember that this last title is used in two quite different senses, which must not be confused. At every Celebration of the Holy Eucharist among our Christian brethren there appears an “Angel of the Presence,” who is in truth a thought-form of the Lord Christ, a vehicle of his consciousness, and so is rightly called a manifestation of his Presence; but these Seven Great Ones receive the title for a very different reason—because they stand ever in the very presence of the Logos himself, representing there the Rays of which they are the Heads—representing us therefore, since in every one of us is part of the Divine Life of every one of them.

For though each of us belongs fundamentally to one Ray—the channel through which he, as a Monad, flowed forth from the Eternal into Time—yet has he within himself something of all the Rays; there is in him no ounce of force, no grain of matter, which is not actually part of one or other of these wondrous Beings; he is literally compacted of their very substance—not of one, but of all, though always one predominates. Therefore, no slightest movement of any of these great Star Angels can occur without affecting to some extent every one of us, because we are bone of their bone, flesh of their flesh, Spirit of their Spirit; and this great fact is the real basis of the often misunderstood science of Astrology.

We all stand always in the presence of the Solar Logos, for in his system there is no place where he is not, and all that is, is part of him. But in a very special sense these Seven Spirits are part of him, manifestations of him, almost qualities of his—centres in him through which his Power flows out. We may see a hint of this in the names assigned to them by the Jews. The first of them is always Michael, “your Prince,” as he is called; and this name means “The Strength of God,” or, as it is sometimes interpreted, “He who is like God in strength.” El, in Hebrew, means God; we find it in Beth-El, which is “The House of God”; and Elohim is the word used for “God” in the very first verse of the Bible. This word El occurs as a termination in the name of each of the Seven Spirits. Gabriel means “The Omniscience of God,” and he is sometimes called God’s Hero. He is connected with the planet Mercury, as Michael is with Mars. Raphael signifies “The Healing Power of God,” and he is associated with the Sun, which is the great health-giver for us on the physical plane. Uriel is “The Light or Fire of God”; Zadkiel is “The Benevolence of God,” and is connected with the planet Jupiter. The other Archangels are usually given as Chamuel and Jophiel, but I do not at present recollect their meanings or their planets.

St. Denys speaks of these Seven Spirits as the Builders, and also calls them the Co-operators of God. St. Augustine says that they have possession of the Divine Thought, or the Prototype, and St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that God is the primary and these Angels are the secondary cause of all visible effects. Everything is done by the Logos, but through the mediation of these Planetary Spirits. Science will tell you that the planets are fortuitous aggregations of matter, condensa­tions from the mass of the nebula, and so no doubt they are; but why at those particular points? Because behind each there is a Living Intelligence to choose the points so that they will balance one another. Truly whatsoever exists is the outcome of natural forces working under cosmic laws; but do not forget that behind every force is always its administrator, an Intelligence directing and managing. In thus describing them I have used the Christian terminology, but the same Beings can be found under different names in every great Religion.

The Seven Types of Beings

When, then, that primordial matter or spirit, which in the future was to become ourselves, first emerged from undifferentiated infinity, it issued through seven channels, as water might flow from a cistern through seven pipes, each of which, containing its peculiar colouring matter, would so tinge the water that passed through it that it would for ever after be distinguishable from the water of the other pipes. Through all the successive kingdoms, the elemental, the mineral, the vegetable, the animal, the Rays are always distinct one from another, as they are also distinct in man, though in the lower kingdoms the influence of the Ray naturally acts in a somewhat different manner. Since in them there is no individualization, it is obvious that the whole of one species of animals, for example, must be on the same Ray; so that the different kinds of animals in the world might be arranged in seven parallel columns according to the Rays to which they belong, and since an animal can individualize only through association with man, at the head of each of these Rays stands some class of domestic animal through which alone individualization on that particular Ray takes place. The elephant, dog, cat, horse and monkey are examples of such classes, so it is clear that the impulse of the Universal Life which is now animating, let us say, a dog, can never animate a horse or a cat, but will continue to manifest through the same species until individualization takes place.

Researches have not yet been made as to the particular animals and vegetables which stand on each Ray, but I had reason a few years ago to investigate the precious stones, and found that each Ray had its own representatives, through which the force of the Ray works more readily than through any other. I print here the table that appears in The Science of the Sacraments, in which is shown the jewel at the head of each Ray, and others which stand on the same Ray and therefore hold the same kind of force, though less strongly.



Jewel at the Head of Ray




Rock Crystal



Lapis Lazuli, Turquoise, Sodalite



Aquamarine, Jade, Malachite



Chalcedony, Agate, Serpentine



Citrine, Steatite



Tourmaline, Garnet, Cornelian, Carbuncle



Porphyry, Violane

Diagram 5

From all that I have said above it follows that these seven types are visible among men, and that every one of us must belong to one or other of the Rays. Fundamental differences of this sort in the human race have always been recognized; a century ago men were described as of the lymphatic or the sanguine temperament, the vital or the phlegmatic, and astrologers classify us under the names of the planets, as Jupiter men, Mars men, Venus or Saturn men, and so on. I take it that these are only different methods of stating the basic differences of disposition due to the channel through which we happen to have come forth, or rather, through which it was ordained that we should come forth.

It is, however, by no means an easy matter to discover to what Ray an ordinary man belongs, for he has become very much involved in matter and has generated a great variety of karma, some portion of which may be of a kind that dominates and obscures his essential type, even perhaps through the whole of an incarnation; but the man who is approaching the Path ought to be showing in himself a definite driving impulse or leading power, which has the character of the Ray to which he belongs, and tends to lead him into the kind of work or service which distinguishes that Ray; and it will also bring him to the feet of one of the Masters upon it, so that he becomes enrolled, as it were, in the College of which the Chohan of the Ray may be regarded as the Principal.

Magic and Healing Powers

It may help a little towards the comprehension of these differences of type if I give one or two examples of the methods likely to be employed, judging from the table that I have printed above, by persons on the different Rays when they want to use magic to produce a given result. The First Ray man would attain his object by sheer force of resistless will, without condescending to employ anything in the nature of means at all; he of the Second Ray would also work by force of will, but with the full comprehension of the various possible methods, and the conscious direction of his will into the channel of the most suitable one; to the Third Ray man it would come most naturally to use the forces of the mental plane, noticing very carefully the exact time when the influences were most favourable to his success; the Fourth Ray man would employ for the same purpose the finer physical forces of the ether, while his Fifth Ray brother would be more likely to set in motion the currents of what used to be called the astral light; the devotee of the Sixth Ray would achieve his result by the strength of his earnest faith in his particular Deity and in the efficacy of prayer to him, while the Seventh Ray man would use elaborate ceremonial magic, and probably invoke the assistance of non-human spirits if possible.

Again, in attempting the cure of disease, the First Ray would simply draw health and strength from the great fountain of Universal Life; the Second would thoroughly comprehend the nature of the malady and know precisely how to exercise his will-power upon it to the best advantage; the Third would invoke the Great Planetary Spirits, and choose a moment when astrological influences were beneficent for the application of his remedies; the Fourth would trust chiefly to physical means such as massage; the Fifth would employ drugs; the Sixth faith-healing; and the Seventh mantras or magical invocations. In all the above cases the operator is of course free to use any of the different powers mentioned, but would probably find the most effective instrument in his hands to be that which is typical of his own Ray.

The Chohans of the Rays

In the members of the Adept Brotherhood the distinctions of Rays are much more clearly marked than in others, and are visible in the aura; the Ray to which an Adept belongs decidedly affects not only his appearance, but also the work that he has to do. We may perhaps best see what are the distinctive characters of the Rays by observing the work of the five Chohans of Rays Three to Seven, and of the two Chohans who stand at their level on the First and Second Rays, and carry on work of the same grade in the service of the Greater Ones who are their directing Heads. In the Seven Heads of the Rays in the Hierarchy we have a reflection of the Seven Spirits before the Throne.

It must be understood that we can here mention but the merest outline of the qualities that are grouped under each of the Rays, and but a fragment of the work that the Adepts on those Rays are doing; and care must be taken also to realize that full possession of the qualities of one Ray in no case implies a lack of those of the other Rays. If we speak of one of the Adepts as pre-eminent in strength, for example, it is also true that he has achieved nothing less than human perfection in devotion and love and every other quality as well.

Of the Master Morya, who is the representative of the First Ray at the level of the Chohan Initiation, I have already written to some extent. He stands with all the unshakable and serene strength of his Ray, playing a great part in that work of guiding men and forming nations, of which I must speak more fully in the next chapter. On that Ray, too, there is the Master whom we have called Jupiter, acting as Guardian of India for the Hierarchy, Guardian of that nation which throughout the long life-time of the fifth race cherishes the seeds of all its possibilities, and sends them out in due course to each sub-race, that there they may grow and ripen and fructify. He also penetrates deeply into the abstruser sciences of which chemistry and astronomy are the outer shells, and his work in this respect is an example of the variety of activity that may exist within the limits of one Ray.

The Master Kuthumi, who was formerly the great teacher Pythagoras, is also a Chohan, and he represents the Second Ray at the same level. This is the Ray of Wisdom, which gives great Teachers to the world, and the work that lies upon it can best be described in connection with that of the Bodhisattva and the Buddha in my next chapter. I have already spoken of the marvellous love and wisdom that radiate from the Master whom I have the inexpressible delight and honour to serve and follow, and all that I have said about the teaching and training of pupils expresses especially his method. Other teachers on other Rays bring their pupils to the same point and develop in them exactly the same noble qualities, and always by the most irreproachable means, yet there are distinct differences in their methods; indeed, there are varieties in the way in which the same Master deals with different pupils.

At the Head of the Third Ray stands the great Master called the Venetian Chohan. In the men of that Ray engaged in the service of man there appears very strongly the characteristic of adaptability that belongs to the Ray and its influence tends to make them fit themselves to people, so as to help them the better, and thus become, as St. Paul said, “all things to all men”. Those who are advanced on this Ray have great tact, and a rare faculty for doing the right thing at the right moment. Astrology is connected with this Ray, because, so far as an outsider may understand, the science of it is to know exactly when is the best time to do anything, to set any given forces in motion, and to know also when the present time is not a fitting one to do a certain thing, and in that way save ourselves a great deal of trouble and make ourselves more useful.

The Fourth Ray is under the care of the Master Serapis. In the earlier days of The Theosophical Society we used to hear a good deal about him, because of the fact that he at one period took charge of the training of Colonel Olcott, when his own Master, the Master Morya, was otherwise engaged for a time. Such interchange of pupils among the Masters, for special and temporary purposes, is not infrequent. The particular line of this Chohan is harmony and beauty, and people who belong to his type are always unhappy until they can introduce harmony into their environment, for it is along that line that they do most of their work. Art counts for much on this Ray, and many artists belong to it.

At the Head of the Fifth Ray stands the Master Hilarion, with his splendid quality of scientific accuracy. He was once Iamblichus, of the Neoplatonic school, and he gave to us, through M. C., Light on the Path and The Idyll of the White Lotus, he being, as Dr. Besant puts it, a “skilled craftsman in poetic English prose and in melodious utterance”. His influence is upon most of the great scientists of the world, and people well advanced along his Ray are notable for their ability to make accurate observations, and be absolutely dependable where scientific investigation is concerned. The Master’s science extends, of course, far beyond what is commonly called by that name, and he knows and works with many of the forces which nature introduces into the life of man.

Nature is responsive to the moods of mankind and intensifies them in various ways. If a man is happy and joyous, other creatures enjoy his presence; the nature-spirits go forth to meet him, and his own happiness is thus increased. This sort of reaction takes place everywhere. In the north of Europe, for example, the nature-spirits are somewhat wistful, and have moods of mournful introspection, and such as these find a ready home in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Brittany and similar places; they respond less readily to joy, and the people there are also colder and more difficult to rouse. In those countries nature is less joyous; they are all lands of much rain and dull skies, grey and green, where life and poetry take a wistful turn.

The contrast is tremendous between those and Greece or Sicily, where everything is radiant, golden and blue and red, and all the people are joyous and happy on the surface. The creatures of nature actually bathe in a person’s happiness, and most of all they are drawn to anyone who is full of joyous love, and they are happy in his aura and regard him with high favour. To-day much of this side of life is ignored, though our knowledge of the physical plane is wide and detailed. We know, for example, that water = H2O; the ancient Hindus and the ancient Greeks may or may not have been aware of that, but at any rate they recognized the presence of the different types of nature-spirits connected with the water, and utilized their services as definitely as we today use the power of electricity and the expansion of steam to drive many forms of machinery.

The Master Jesus, who became an adept in his incarnation as Apollonius of Tyana, and was afterwards the great South Indian religious reformer, Shri Ramanujacharya, rules the Sixth Ray, that of bhakti or devotion. This is the Ray of the devotional saints and mystics of every religion, and the Chohan Jesus has charge of such people, under whatever form they may worship the Divine Being. Nineteen hundred years ago Apollonius of Tyana was sent out by the Brotherhood upon a mission, one feature of which was that he was to found, in various countries, certain magnetic centres. Objects of the nature of talismans were given to him, which he was to bury at these chosen spots, in order that the forces which they radiated might prepare these places to be the centres of great events in the future. Some of these centres have already been utilized, but some have not, and all these latter are to be employed in the immediate future in connection with the work of the coming Christ; so that much of the detail of his work was already definitely planned nearly two thousand years ago, and arrangements even on the physical plane were being made to prepare for it.

The Head of the Seventh Ray is the Master the Comte de St. Germain, known to history in the eighteenth century, whom we sometimes call the Master Rakoczy, as he is the last survivor of that royal house. He was Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, in the seventeenth century, Robertus the monk in the sixteenth, Hunyadi Janos in the fifteenth, Christian Rosenkreuz in the fourteenth, and Roger Bacon in the thirteenth; he is the Hungarian Adept of The Occult World. Further back in time he was the great Neoplatonist Proclus and before that St. Alban. He works to a large extent through ceremonial magic, and employs the services of great Angels, who obey him implicitly and rejoice to do his will. Though he speaks all European and many Oriental languages, much of his working is in Latin, the language which is the especial vehicle of his thought, and the splendour and rhythm of it is unsurpassed by anything that we know down here. In his various rituals he wears wonderful and many-coloured robes and jewels. He has a suit of golden chain-mail, which once belonged to a Roman Emperor; over it is thrown a magnificent cloak of crimson, with on its clasp a seven-pointed star in diamond and amethyst, and sometimes he wears a glorious robe of violet. Though he is thus engaged with ceremonial, and still works some of the rituals of the Ancient Mysteries, even the names of which have long been forgotten in the outer world, he is also much concerned with the political situation in Europe and the growth of modern physical science.

The Qualities to Be Developed

The following is a summary of the characteristics of these Chohans and their Rays as I have given them in The Science of the Sacraments, with the thought to be held in mind by those who wish to serve along their respective lines:

1.     Strength.

“I will be strong, brave, persevering in his service.”

2.     Wisdom.

“I will attain that intuitional wisdom which can be developed only through perfect love.”

3.     Adaptability or Tact.

“I will try to gain the power of saying and doing just the right thing at the right moment—of meeting each man on his own ground, in order to help him more efficiently.”

4.     Beauty and Harmony.

“So far as I can, I will bring beauty and harmony into my life and surroundings, that they may be more worthy of him; I will learn to see beauty in all Nature, that so I may serve him better.”

5.     Science (detailed knowledge).

“I will gain knowledge and accuracy, that I may devote them to his work.”

6.     Devotion.

“I will unfold within myself the mighty power of devotion, that through it I may bring others to him.”

7.     Ordered Service.

“I will so order and arrange my service of God along the lines which he has prescribed, that I may be able fully to take advantage of the loving help which his holy Angels are always waiting to render.”[3]

All these different qualities will have to be developed in each one of us in due time, but we shall possess them all perfectly only when we ourselves have reached perfection and become Supermen. At the present time one of the ways in which our imperfection shows itself in our lives is in the fact that we have some one characteristic developed in excess of the others. There are some, for example, who have scientific accuracy and discrimination well unfolded within them, but because as yet they have not cultivated affection and devotion their nature is cold and hard; they often appear unsympathetic and are liable to misjudge their fellow-men, and in matters of judgment or in the consideration of an intellectual problem their attitude is often intensely critical. Their decision would always tend to be against rather than in favour of any person who happened to cross their path, whereas the devotional of affectionate type of people would make far more allowance for the other man’s point of view, and would on the whole be more likely to judge favourably, and even if their judgement were wrong, as they might easily be swayed by their feelings, it would err on the side of mercy. Both these are deflections from strictly accurate judgement, and in ourselves it will be necessary in the course of time to balance these qualities perfectly, for the Superman is the perfectly balanced man. As it says in the Bhagavad Gita, “Equilibrium is called Yoga.”

Cyclic Changes

In the seven Planetary Logoi certain cyclic changes periodically occur, which correspond perhaps to in-breathing and out-breathing or to the beating of the heart down here on the physical plane. However that may be, there seems to be an infinite number of possible permutations and combinations of them; and since our astral bodies are built of the very matter of their astral bodies, it is obvious that no one of these Planetary Logoi can change astrally in any way without thereby affecting the astral body of every man in the world, though of course more especially those in whom there is a preponderance of matter expressing him. If it be remembered that we take the astral plane merely as an example, and that exactly the same thing is true on all the other planes, we shall then begin to have some idea of the importance to us of the emotions and thoughts of these Planetary Spirits.

Whatever these may be, they are visible in the long history of human races as regular cyclic changes in the temperament of the people and the consequent character of their civilization. Putting aside the thought of world-periods and considering only the period of a single root race, we find that in it the Seven Rays are preponderant in turn (perhaps more than once) but in the period of that dominance of each Ray there will be seven subcycles of influence, according to a rather curious rule which requires some explanation.

Let us take, for example, that period in the history of a race when the Fifth Ray is dominant. During the whole of that epoch the central idea of that Ray (and probably a religion founded upon it) will be prominent in the minds of men; but that time of predominance will be subdivided into seven periods, in the first of which this idea, though still principal one, will be coloured by the idea of the First Ray, and the methods of the First Ray will be to some extent combined with its own. In the second of its subdivisions its idea and methods will be similarly coloured by those of the Second Ray, and so on, so that in its fifth subdivisions it will naturally be at its purest and strongest. It would seem as if these divisions and subdivisions ought to correspond with the sub-races and branch races respectively, but it has not so far been possible for us to see that they do so.

The Reign of Devotion

In discussing a subject so complex and so obscure as this with a knowledge of it so slight as it so slight as is ours at present, it is perhaps hardly safe to adduce instances; yet since we are told that the Sixth or devotional Ray has been recently dominant, we may fancy that we can trace the influence of its first subcycle in the stories of the wonderful powers exhibited by the earlier saints; of its second in the Gnostic sect whose central idea was the necessity of the true wisdom, the Gnosis; of the third in the Astrologers; of the fourth in the strangely distorted efforts to develop will-power by the endurance of painful or loathsome conditions, as did St. Simeon Stylites or the Flagellants; of the fifth in the Alchemists and Rosicrucians of the Middle Ages; while its sixth division of the purest devotion might be imaged in the ecstasies of the contemplative monastic orders, and the seventh cycle would produce the invocations and exact adherence to external forms of the Roman Church.

The advent of modern spiritualism and the devotion to elemental worship which is so often a characteristic of its degraded forms, may be regarded as a premonition of the influence of the coming Seventh Ray, the more so as this movement was originated by a secret society which has existed in the world since the last period of the Seventh Ray predominance in Atlantis.

How real and decided a dominance is exerted by a Ray in the course of its cycle of influence is very evident to those who have read anything of Church history. They realize how much of utterly blind devotion there was all through the Middle Ages, how people who were very ignorant about religion nevertheless spoken in its name, and tried to force the ideas bred of their ignorance on other people who in many cases knew much more. Those who wielded the power—the dogmatic Christians—were precisely the people who knew least about the real meaning of the dogmas they taught. There were those who could have told them a great deal more, and could have explained the meaning of many points in Christian doctrine; but the majority would not hear, and they cast out these more learned men as heretics.

Throughout this dark period the people who really knew something, such as the alchemists (not that all alchemists knew very much, but certainly some of them knew more than the Christians), were to be found among such secret orders as the Templars and the Rosicrucians, and some of the truth was hidden in Freemasonry. All these people were persecuted by the ignorant Christians in those days, in the name of devotion to God. A great many of the mediaeval saints were very full of a devotion that was often beautiful, and even spiritual; but it was generally so narrow in form that it usually allowed them, in spite of their spirituality, to hold uncharitable views about others who differed from them, and even to persecute them openly. There were a few who held really spiritual ideals, but they were regarded with suspicion. Such were the Quietists: Ruysbroek, Margaret and Christina Ebner, Molinos and Jacob Boehme. In almost all cases the more ignorant people rode down those who knew; they always did it in the name of devotion, and we must not forget that their devotion was very real and very intense.

It was not only in Christianity that the reign of devotion showed itself. It reflected itself powerfully into the religions left behind by the earlier Rays. Hinduism might be thought distinctly cold by devotional people. The religion of Shiva, God the Father, the First Person of the Blessed Trinity, spread almost entirely over India; and even to this day three-fourths of the Hindus are worshippers of that aspect of the Divine. Before these people is set up the ideal of duty—dharma—which is unquestionably the strong point of that religion. They held that men were born in the different castes according to their deserts; that wheresoever a man was born, it was his duty to carry on the dharma of his caste, and to rise out of it he must be so exceptional that for a long time such a thing was almost unknown. They worshipped law and order, and did not approve of discontent as applied to environment, but taught that the way to God was to use to the utmost the conditions in which a man found himself. If he did that, those conditions would improve from birth to birth. Nevertheless, they always said that the door to God was open to a man from any caste if he lived rightly, not seeking to better his opportunities by strife, but by doing his dharma to the uttermost in the state of life to which God had called him.

To the very devotional mind that would seem cold and scientific, and perhaps it was; but when the devotional Ray began to influence the world there came a great change, and the worship of the Second Person of the Trinity, Vishnu, incarnating as Shri Krishna, came prominently forward. Then devotion surged forth without restraint; so extreme it was that it became in many ways a mere orgy of emotion; and it is probable that there is greater devotion at this moment among the followers of Vishnu in India than can be found even among Christians, whose religion is confessedly devotional. The emotion is so great that its demonstration is often uncomfortable for us of the colder races to watch. I have seen hard men of business throw themselves into an ecstasy of devotion, which led them to burst into tears and apparently to break up and change entirely, merely at the mention of the Child Shri Krishna. All that has ever been felt for the Child Jesus among Western nations, is felt for the Child Krishna amongst the Hindus.

This was the effect of devotion on a religion which in itself was not devotional in character. Buddhism also can hardly be called a devotional faith. The Buddhist religion was a gift of Hinduism to the great Fourth Race, and the devotional cycle for that race does not necessarily coincide with ours. That religion does not hold the necessity for prayers; it tells its people, in so far as it recognizes the existence of God, that he knows his own business very much better than they can hope to know it; that it is quite useless for them to pray to him, or to try to influence him, for he is already doing better than any man can think. The Buddhists in Burma would say: “The boundless Light exists, but that is not for us. We shall reach that one day; meantime our business is to follow the teaching of our Lord, and see to it that we do those things which he would have us do.”

It is not that they disbelieve in a God, but that they set God so far—so infinitely far—above us all; they are so sure about him, that they take it all for granted. The missionaries say that they are atheistical. I have lived among them and know them more intimately than does the average missionary, and my impression is that they are not in the least atheistical in spirit, but that their reverence would be too great for them to put themselves on such familiar terms with God, or, like many in the West, to talk with intimacy of him, as if they knew precisely what he is going to do and all about his work. That would strike the Oriental as a very irreverent attitude.

Buddhism itself has been touched by this fire of devotion, and in Burma they worship the Lord Buddha almost as a God. I noticed this when I had to write a catechism for Buddhist children. Colonel Olcott wrote the first catechism of Buddhism, intending it for the use of children, but he made his answers difficult even for grown-up people to understand. We found it necessary to write an introduction to it for children, and to reserve his catechism, which was a splendid work, for older students. He asked in that catechism: “Was Buddha a God?” and the answer was: “No, not a God, but a man like ourselves, only far more advanced than we.” That was accepted fully in Ceylon and Siam, but when we came to Burma they objected to the negative answer, saying: “He is greater than any God of whom we know anything.” The Sanskrit word for God is “Deva” and the Hindus never use “God” in our sense of the word, unless they are speaking of Ishvara, or else of the Trinity, Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.

When the missionaries talk about the Hindus as having thirty-three million (or three hundred and thirty million) gods, the word which they translate as god is “deva,” and that includes a great many beings—angels, nature-spirits and so on—but the Indians no more worship them than we should. They know that they exist and they catalogue them, that is all. In Burma we found that devotion had thus appeared in Buddhism, but in Ceylon, where the people are mostly descendants of Hindu immigrants, they will tell you, if you ask them why they make offerings to the Lord Buddha, that it is out of gratitude for what he has done for them. When we asked if they thought that he knew of it and was pleased, they said: “Oh no! He has passed far away into Paranirvana; we do not expect him to know anything about it, but to him we owe this knowledge of the Law which he has taught us, and for that we perpetuate his Name, and make our offerings out of gratitude.”

So this wave of devotion has influenced the world powerfully since the coming of the Child Krishna two thousand four hundred years ago, but now the special intensity of that sixth phase has gone, and is rapidly giving place to the influence of the incoming Ray, the Seventh. There is still ignorant devotion among the peasantry in many Aryan countries, but the more educated people are not now readily moved to devotion unless they have at the same time some understanding of its object. There was a phase which had its own value, in the fourth sub-race particularly, when the people were prepared to be devoted to almost anything that would draw out their emotion, and from that, with the stronger development of the lower mind in the fifth sub-race, there was a reaction into agnosticism. That now in its turn has proved unsatisfactory, so that that wave has practically passed over, and men are now ready at least to inquire and examine instead of frantically denying everything.

There is a double change now taking place, for in addition to the modification of Ray influence, there is also the beginning of the sixth sub-race, which brings in intuition and wisdom, blending all that is best in the intelligence of the fifth sub-race and the emotion of the fourth.

The Advent of Ceremonial

The Ray that is now coming into force is very largely one of ceremonial. There was plenty of that in the Middle Ages, but it was chiefly due to the influence of the seventh sub-ray of the Sixth Ray, whereas ours is due rather to the first sub-ray of the Seventh; so it will not be regarded principally from the point of view of its devotional effect, but rather from that of its usefulness in connection with the great Deva evolution. It will be most beneficial when the people make it their business to understand, as much as may be, what is going on.

In modern religion, ceremonial is year by year playing a more prominent part. In the middle of the last century in England the churches and cathedrals had but little life in them. The average country church was then scarcely different from a dissenting chapel; there were no vestments, no painted windows nor decorations of any kind, and everything was as dull and unornamental as could be. No attention was paid to making things beautiful and reverent and worthy of God and his service; thought was given to preaching more than to anything else, and even that was done mainly from a practical point of view. If we were to go into the same churches in England to-day, we should find hardly a parish in that condition. The old carelessness has been replaced by reverence; the churches have in many cases been beautifully decorated, and in many of them, and of the cathedrals, the ceremonies are performed with accuracy and reverence. The whole conception of church work has changed.

The influence of the change of Ray is beginning to manifest in other ways as well. There is now rising a special form of Freemasonry, called Co-Masonry, which differs from other forms of the same Craft in that the necessity of our time is met by accepting women as well as men, for it is the tendency of our present age that women shall take their place beside men and be equal to them in every respect. Those who initiated the movement were not thinking about the influence of the Ray; nevertheless, it has been formed and directed by the ceremonial tendency of the age. I remember that for a long time in the reign of Queen Victoria there was but little ceremonial to be seen in the streets of London, but it was revived towards the end of her rule, and Edward VII restored it to its original splendour. Many people will now begin to feel the influence of the new Ray, and will desire to see and perhaps take part in ceremonial as they have not done before.

Diagram 5

Diagram 6


[1] In 1925

[2] Rev. iv, 5.)

[3] Op. cit., p. 92.