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Esoteric Psychology I - Section Two - I. The Seven Creative Builders, the Seven Rays
The Seven Rays

We are told that seven great rays exist in the cosmos. In our solar system only one of these seven great rays is in operation. The seven subdivisions constitute the "seven rays" which, wielded by our solar Logos, form the basis of endless variations in His system of worlds. These seven rays may be described as the seven channels through which all being in His solar system flows, the seven predominant characteristics or modifications of life, for it is not to humanity only that these rays apply, but to the seven kingdoms as well. In fact there is nothing in the whole solar system, at whatever stage of evolution it may stand, which does not belong and has not always belonged to one or other of the seven rays.

The following table may explain the various characteristics of the seven rays:

 
No. Characteristics Methods of development Planet (according to Besant) Color (according to Besant)
 
I Will or Power. Raja Yoga. Uranus representing Sun. Flame.
II Widsom. Balance. Intuition. Raja Yoga. Mercury. Yellow. Rose.
III Higher Mind. Exactitude in thought. Higher Mathematics. Philosophy. Venus. Indigo. Blue. Bronze.
IV Conflict.
Birth of Horus.
Intensity of struggle. Hatha Yoga, the most dangerous method of psychic growth. Saturn. Green.
V Lower Mind. Exactitude in action. Practical Science. The Moon. Violet.
VI Devotion. Bhakti Yoga. Necessity for an object. Mars. Rose. Blue.
VII Ceremonial order. Ceremonial observances. Control over forces of nature. Jupiter. Bright. Clear. Blue.
 
It will be clear that each of the kingdoms - elemental, mineral, vegetable, and animal as well as the human - is divided into seven primary types or rays, and as individualization (i.e. the transition from the animal to the human kingdom) can take place at present only through association with man, it follows that there must stand at the head of the animal kingdom, on each ray, some species of animal susceptible to human influence through which such individualization can take place. The elephant is said to stand at the head of the second ray type of animal, while the cat and dog occupy a similar position on the fourth and sixth rays respectively. We have had no information as to the others, with this exception, that the animals of the first ray are no longer in existence on earth.

Besides regarding the rays as the channels through which all being flows, we must recognize them as influences operating on the world in turn. Each ray has its period of greatest [165] influence, to which all are subject to a considerable extent, not merely those belonging by nature to that particular ray, but those on all the other rays as well. The long period of influence of each is divided into seven stages, each of which is qualified by the influence of the greater ray period, being intensified when its own subray period is reached (i.e. the sixth ray influence is greatest during the period of the sixth subray). We must carefully note that the term "subray" is used merely for convenience to designate the shorter period of influence, not as indicating any difference in the nature of the ray.

We are told that the dominant ray at the present time, though passing out, is the sixth, the Ray of Devotion, and that this ray was already in operation before the dawn of Christianity; also that the seventh subray became the modifying influence about seventy-five years ago (1860), and of course will continue as such. The first outcome of this seventh subray influence was the Ecumenical Council at Rome (1870), with its declaration of Papal Infallibility. The Tractarian Movement in England started at the same time, whilst the progress of the seventh subray influence, still going on, is marked by the steady increase of ritualism and sacerdotalism in the various churches, and even in the church of Rome there has been a distinct tightening of priestly authority in all matters of dogma and practice. So much for its influence on religious thought; its other aspects will be considered later.

We have also been told that the religious revival under Wesley and Whitfield in England was under the sixth subray, and I think we are justified in drawing the inference that the rise of Molinos and the Quietists in Spain and Central Europe, and of St. Martin and his band of spiritual philosophers in France and elsewhere, may have also marked the [166] progress of the same period, during which the Ray of Devotion was accentuated by its own sixth subray.

With these few isolated facts before us we may perhaps conclude that the time during which each subray exerts its modifying influence is between one hundred and fifty and two hundred years.

We do not know how often (perhaps seven times?) the subrays are repeated successively within the cycle of the great ray. It must manifestly be more than once, seeing that the great sixth ray was operating before the rise of Christianity. It is also apparent that Buddhism cannot have been, as was at one time thought, the last outcome of the great second ray period, for the interval between the rise of Buddhism and that of Christianity was only five hundred years. It seems probable that Buddhism arose under the influence of the second subray of the great sixth ray period. In attempting to trace back the influence which was the last outcome of the subrays, 5 4 3 2 and 1, it has been suggested that this period of the Alchemists and Rosicrucians may have been dominated by the fifth subray; the epoch of the Flagellants and other fanatical enthusiasts who practiced self-torture and mutilation was influenced by the fourth subray; and the time when astrology was widely practiced as representing the third subray; while the earlier epoch of the Gnostics may have been the outcome of the second subray. But these are only conjectures, and while the last named is possible, there can be no such correspondence of time in the previous cases, as the Alchemists, Flagellants, and Astrologers were all more or less contemporary during the Middle Ages.

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