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Logos

(Gk.). Greek for “word.” It also means, according to its context, speech, discourse, reason, and in mathematics, balance or proportion. In religion and philosophy as well as theosophy, it denotes a deity or a principle of creation or emanation.

The word Logos has had a varied usage. The earliest use is by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus (6th century bce) who wrote of a cosmic principle called Logos that underlies all apparent diversities and unites them into one harmonious whole. Zeno and the Stoics (3rd century BCE) consider Logos to be the divine principle that governs the universe. Philo Judeaus (c. 20 bce - 50 ce), the Jewish philosopher, linked the Logos to the human consciousness by stating that the human being is a manifestation of the Logos. To him, however, Logos is not the highest, but rather an intermediate deity between God and the visible universe.

It is from this background that one will appreciate the Christian use of the term which is first found in the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word [i.e., Logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1). Further on, he states, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14) alluding now to Jesus Christ. The concept is basically Hellenistic and Jewish, and must have been a widely accepted religious view at the time when Christianity began.

It must be noted too that the concept of Logos as a principle is also said to be a manifestation of Nous or mind, analogous to the idea that before one speaks, there must have been thought prior to it. Thus, the Gnostic Basilides (2nd century ce) considered the Logos to be but an emanation from Nous, the latter of which is but the product of the unknowable God. Valentinus (2nd century) considered also Logos as one of the Aeons or divine principles, and preceded by Nous. The Neo-Platonists of the 3rd century had similar views.

Theosophical cosmogony and theogony adopts the concept of Logos in explaining the emergence of the universe. But it does so by identifying three different kinds of Logoi. The Secret Doctrine states that at the root of everything is the Absolute, of which nothing can be said. This is equivalent to Parabrahman of the Hindus, the Ain or sometimes Ain Soph of the Kabbalists. Within this Absolute is the germ of potential called the unmanifested First Logos, which is not a Being but a Be-ness. The Second Logos is the manifest-unmanifest stage, where there is the germ of differentiation between Spirit and Matter. The Third Logos is the manifested Logos, the Cosmic Ideation. From this Logos arise the septenary principles upon which the universe is founded. These seven principles are also referred to as the seven Planetary Logoi. It is only in the stage of the Third Logos that the universe starts in its manvantaric or manifest activity; prior to that the two Logoi are but states of unmanifest potencies. It is the Creative Deity from which the universe was born.

It should be noted that the term Logos is used also in a relative sense in theosophical cosmology. Thus, in the Solar System, theosophical writers also refer to the Solar Logos, as well as the First, Second and Third Logoi of the system. These are to be distinguished from the universal Logoi written about in The Secret Doctrine. In The Secret Doctrine, Helena P. BLAVATSKY extensively discusses the equivalent names and concepts in the various religions of these three Logoi. The Third or manifest Logos, for example, corresponds to the masculine Brahmš in Hinduism, while the neuter Brahman is equivalent to the First Logos. The Third Logos is also equivalent to AVALOKITE®VARA in Buddhism, ADAM KADMON and Kether in Kabbalah, DEMIURGE of the Greeks, Abatur of the Nazarene system, MAHAT and Narayan of Hinduism, and the Nous of the Gnostics.


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