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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Seven Rays

This term refers to several different but related teachings in theosophy:

(1) In The Secret Doctrine, the seven rays refer to the seven chief groups of Dhyani-Chohans, which are in turn emanated from the three Logoi. Since the monads are derived from them, there are therefore seven groups of beings, including humans (SD I:573). In the Kabbalah, this is equivalent to the seven sephiroth which emanated from the upper three sephiroth in the Tree of Life.

(2) Later theosophists such as Ernest Wood and Charles W. LEADBEATER expanded this teaching on the Seven Rays, or seven classifications of human beings. The qualities of character of each group are characterized by different keynotes. The keynotes of the seven rays are as follows:

1st Ray – Will and courage
2nd Ray – Wisdom and love
3rd Ray – Truth
4th Ray – Beauty
5th Ray – Knowledge
6th Ray – Loving Service
7th Ray – Ordered activity

(3) In Hindu mythology, the Sun (i.e., Solar Logos) emanated seven rays. As Helena P. BLAVATSKY puts it, “The names of the Seven Rays — which are, Sushumna, Harikesa, Viswakarman, Viswatryarchas, Sannaddha, Sarvavasu and Swaraj — are all mystical, and each has its distinct application in a distinct state of consciousness, for occult purposes. . . . The totality of the Seven Rays spread through the Solar system constitutes, so to say, the physical Upadhi (basis) of the Ether of Science; in which Upadhi, light, heat, electricity, etc., etc., — the forces of orthodox science — correlate to produce their terrestrial effects. As psychic and spiritual effects, they emanate from, and have their origin in, the supra-solar Upadhi, in the ether of the Occultist — or Akâsa” (SD I:515 fn.).

V.H.C.

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