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This term is used in theosophy to denote the vast range of evolving beings that exists in the Cosmos. There is said to be an innumerable series of hierarchies, each one under the supervision of a divine Being.

The names given in one system to these series of hierarchies was listed in Gottfried de Purucker’s Occult Glossary as: (1) Divine; (2) Gods, or the divine-spiritual; (3) Demi-gods; (4) Heroes [Saints?]; (5) Men; (6) Animals; (7) Vegetable world; (8) Mineral world; (9) Elemental world. Purucker, in the above quoted work, suggests that the concept of hierarchies is the noblest of the theosophical teachings and that this teaching is so basic that it might be truly called the structural framework of being.

In Helena P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine (SD) we read:

It is on the Hierarchies and correct numbers of these Beings invisible (to us) except upon very rare occasions, that the mystery of the whole Universe is built. (I:89)
. . . The Secret Doctrine . . . teaches that the whole universe is ruled by intelligent and semi-intelligent Forces and Powers. (I:287)

The “Powers” are the major classes or hierarchies, the generic name being DHYANI-CHOHANS (Sanskrit/Tibetan compound) who, among other functions, guide the semi-intelligent Forces or ELEMENTAL Kingdoms.

The Hierarchy of Earth as described in the SD consists of ten classes or kingdoms, these forming what has been called “a ladder of life.” Each rung of this “ladder” represents a Kingdom, and at any particular stage on the ladder the whole of that Kingdom experiences conditions appropriate to its evolutionary need. These Kingdoms may be tabulated as:

1. Class I of the Dhyani-Chohanic.
2. Class II of the Dhyani-Chohanic.
3. Class III of the Dhyani-Chohanic.
4. The Human.
5. The Animal.
6. The Plant.
7. The Mineral.
8. Class I of the Elemental.
9. Class II of the Elemental.
10. Class III of the Elemental.

The first three of the above classes are on planes superior to our physical; the last three are lower than our physical; 4, 5, 6 and 7 are, of course, on our physical level.

An essential component of the solar hierarchical system is “The Hierarchy of Compassion.” Two aspects involved in the formation and continuance of a system are “Intelligence” and “Form.” Intelligence provides the laws and paradigms, the laws under which the whole system will function being the province of what might be called “The Architects,” the prototypes of all that manifests on the physical level.

The Hierarchy of Compassion may be tabulated as:

1. Adi-Buddhi (Primeval Wisdom)
2. Maha-Buddhi (Great Wisdom, Universal Mind)
3. Daiviprarkti (the direct emanation from the Universal Mind which is also called FOHAT.)
4. Seven Sons of Light (the first seven emanations of the LOGOS)
5. Dhyani-Buddhas (equivalent to the Round-MANUS)
6. Dhyani-Bodhisattvas (each governs one of the seven globes which comprise a Planetary CHAIN)
7. Super-Terrestrial Bodhisattvas (each watches over one of the seven ROOT-RACES)
8. Manushya-Buddhas (the representatives on Earth of the Hierarchy of Compassion)
9. Humanity.

When we consider the Hierarchies in respect of “form” we find very great diversity, but essentially this is illusion or MAYA (the principle of experience), since all manifestation has one source. In her SD Blavatsky explains that:

The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, and who — whether we give to them one name or another, and call them Dhyan-Chohans or Angels — are “messengers” in the sense only that they are the agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws. They vary infinitely in their respective degrees of consciousness and intelligence; and to call them all pure Spirits without any of the earthly alloy “which time is wont to prey upon” is only to indulge in poetical fancy. For each of these Beings either was, or prepares to become, a man, if not in the present, then in a past or a coming cycle (Manvantara). (SD I:274-5)

Further ramifications of this subject involve a wide range of the Ancient Wisdom teaching including ROUNDS, CHAINS, GLOBES, Outpourings,ELEMENTAL, LOGOS, MANU.


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