Leaving the definition of religion suitably open, perhaps it might be fair to say that metaphysical religion therefore comprises those approaches to the mysteries of spirituality which evidence a devinite bias toward or preoccupation with answering at least some of the questions raised by the dimension of thought called metaphysics.
However, it should also be noted that the term metaphysical has gained a popular deUnition which might color considerations of such matters.
In the vernacular of the late twentieth century New Age ambience, the word metaphysical is used informally to signify any interest or activity associated with sometimes invisible but nonetheless cognizable non-physical dimensions and laws of the spiritual universe, as opposed to those dimensions and laws cognizable through the physical senses. In this regard, it is difUcult to draw sharp lines of distinction between what is and what is not physically cognizable.
For example, inner or subjective vision is understood by many persons to be as valid a Ueld of perception as any other. Hence, the popular usage of the word metaphysical suggests that a metaphysical religion is one that attends to or recognizes the reality of non- physical dimensions and laws and their in\uence upon spiritual experience.
One might well wonder what religion does not deal with these issues! In fact, it might be said that what deUnes a given religion is its characteristic manner of contending with just the very issues identiUed by both the classic and contemporary versions of metaphysics. Were this to be found so, the term ‘metaphysical religion‘ would be exposed as an impostor, or perhaps merely be found guilty of redundancy. The tent of inquiry into metaphysical religion would collapse, and students of its high-wire \ights of contemplation would be forced to slink homeward with tails proverbially tucked.
Yet, even though indeed it is obvious that the concerns of metaphysics ought properly to be the purview of religion, those under the canopy of today’s gathering know very well that such is not often enough the case. In fact, a line can be detected which divides what might be called ‘faith and works’ religion on one hand from what might be called metaphysical religion on the other. Though surely it is perilous to generalize in such matters, it might nonetheless be tendered that such a dividing line frequently separates those religions less concerned with the nature of extended realities (such as higher planes of consciousness, universal spiritual laws, and ways of connecting with them) from those religions more centrally concerned with these issues as part of both study and practice. Whether metaphysical religion is understood in the more classical or the more popular sense, in the consideration of spiritual approaches which concern themselves principally and centrally with extended realities, the metaphysical writings of twentieth century writer Alice A. Bailey have much to offer. Although not a religion in the usual sense, the philosophy set forth in the Bailey writings nonetheless constitutes a spiritual teaching which has been embraced by signiUcant numbers of persons worldwide.
Since publication of the Bailey books began in the 1920s, a sizeable and loyal global audience for these works has developed, making translation into European and Asian languages necessary and feasible. This audience is easily detected in the activities and publications offered by the two main organizations promoting Bailey’s work: Lucis Trust and The Seven Ray Institute. Both these organizations offer conferences and periodicals which are supported through the interest of students of the Bailey material. Further, throughout the world there are numerous smaller organizations which have been founded for the purpose of advancing concepts found in the Bailey material.
Unfortunately, it is not known precisely how many persons worldwide consider themselves to be primarily or signiUcantly guided in their spiritual lives by the Bailey writings. Lucis Trust of New York, which oversees the publication of the Bailey material in the U.S., is characteristically reluctant to provide information that might help establish the position of the Bailey studies in the world spirituality. However, a highly placed Lucis spokesperson has allowed that ‘several hundred thousand’ persons have indicated primary involvement with the Bailey material since the establishment of the Trust and the early publication of the Bailey literature in the early 1920s. To the ambiguous Ugure of ‘several hundred thousand’ must be added the number of persons Lucis Trust currently maintains on combined mailing lists, estimated by observers of the Trust to approach 100,000. Thus, since the lifetime total number of contacts made with Lucis is somewhere in ‘the hundreds of thousands,’ and therefore possibly as high as the 900,000s, this number together with that of the estimated present mailing lists suggests that perhaps one million individuals have been in\uenced to some degree by the Bailey writings since their Urst publication over seventy Uve years ago. Further substantiation for this tentative Ugure is to be found in the number of Bailey books printed in the U.S. Fort Orange Press of Albany, New York, currently the exclusive printer of the Bailey works, reports that 856,548 copies of Bailey books have been printed since that company took over printing of the Bailey literature in 1963.
Thus, whereas numbers from Lucis suggest perhaps a million persons involved in the Bailey teachings in the past three quarters of a century, publication numbers suggest that number has been approached in the last thirty Uve years alone.
In terms of sheer numbers then, it is apparent that any accounting of the world spirituality scene should include the Bailey following as a minority spiritual group. Further, with this many Bailey readers about, the likelihood that any large spiritual group or sampling will include someone cognizant of this literature should Ugure into the thinking of those who minister to such groups. And certainly it is true that Bailey’s in\uence is palpable in late twentieth century metaphysical circles, as evidenced by the number of writers and New Age leaders who claim to have been in\uenced by study of the Bailey materials. In this vein, one might mention the popular Ugures of healer Barbara Brennan (1) and astrologer Alan Oken (2) as examples. Given this growing visibility, it seems time that the Bailey teachings received serious study by the spiritual community at large.
Further, the Bailey writings deserve attention for their relation to Vedic philosophy and for their striking similarities to other well- known and treasured esoteric doctrines, such as Kabbala, Pythagoreanism, Platonism, and Gnosticism.
These considerations in and of themselves are sufUcient to establish the importance of giving notice to the Bailey teachings, but there is one other that bears mention here. A certain doyen of world spirituality, one Dell de Chant, has identiUed in the Bailey work what he perceives to be a main tap root from which has sprung the New Age Movement. (3) Given de Chant’s signiUcant estimation of the in\uence \owing from Alice Bailey’s work, it seems appropriate that her work be considered in some detail here in an organization the functioning of which owes so much to Mr. de Chant’s efforts.
Alice A. Bailey was British by birth, born in the English city of Manchester during June of 1880. (4) Life experience took her to the West Coast of the United States where, in approximately 1915, she discovered the works of Russian occult writer H.P. Blavatsky. Well known in the late 1800s, Blavatsky was the primary Ugure in the establishment of the Theosophical Society, and the author of Isis Unveiled, The Secret Doctrine, and voluminous other writings on esoteric subjects. Of importance to the New Thought community gathered here at this conference is the fact that Blavatsky’s works were studied by Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity. (5) Bailey immersed herself in The Secret Doctrine with the help of a group of then older Theosophists, some of whom had originally been associated with Blavatsky in the late 1800s. (6) Bailey spent several years studying and subsequently teaching Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine in California Theosophical circles, and then, in 1919, had her Urst experience of telepathic communication with the individual she identiUed as the Tibetan Master, Djwhal Khul. (7)
Over the course of the following thirty years, Bailey produced twenty-four volumes, eighteen of which are claimed to result entirely from sustained telepathic instruction given by Djwhal Khul, (8) the identity of whom is therefore of great importance in evaluating the content of the Bailey works. The front pages of most of the Bailey works bear a statement ostensibly signed by Djwhal Khul, the Tibetan, in which he identiUes himself as a Tibetan lama who is not only a Buddhist functionary, but also a member of a spiritual Hierarchy under the aegis of which it is his duty and prerogative to disseminate spiritual teaching. Though this teaching as it is represented in the Bailey writings includes notions common to Buddhist philosophy.
those familiar with the various schools of Buddhism will immediately detect that this teaching is not a reproduction of Buddhist doctrine in any straightforward sense. Instead, it has a distinctive character which links it with several eastern philosophies while enunciating certain notions not previously articulated elsewhere.
According to the Bailey material, Djwhal Khul worked not only with Alice Bailey, but also with H.P. Blavatsky in the production of The Secret Doctrine. (9) If statements published under Djwhal Khul’s name are to be taken at face value, there is a simple explanation for his claim of involvement with production of The Secret Doctrine. In the same context mentioned above (the front pages of most of the Bailey books), the Tibetan states that he is an assistant to the Masters Kuthumi and Morya, two members of the same spiritual hierarchy to which Djwhal Khul belongs. Documents from Blavatsky’s life reveal both the names of Kuthumi and Morya as Ugures instrumental in the production of The Secret Doctrine. (10) Thus, if Djwhal Khul functions as a co-worker with these two, it is hardly scurrilous to allow that he contributed to efforts with Blavatsky.
Though the existence of Masters capable of sustained telepathic communication such as is attributed by Bailey and Blavatsky to Djwhal Khul, Kuthumi, and Morya might justiUably be disputed, as writers Paul Johnson, Joscelyn Godwin, and others have done, it might just as easily be accepted on both metaphysical and parapsychological grounds. In fact, it is the subcategory of ontology within the Ueld of metaphysics which allows argument for the possibility of such existences. Naturally, this is the ontological position adopted by the Bailey material, which can be said to derive the possibility of the existence of entities advanced beyond humanity from a general principle asserting that evolution proceeds inUnitely along a continuum, humanity occupying only one point in that span. Echoing this metaphysical speculation is the scientiUc approach taken by parapsychological research, which in the twentieth century has shown that the capacity for remote telepathic communication, though difUcult to deliberately evoke in most people, is hardly an impossibility. Likewise, neither is it impossible that there exist those who have gone before the human herd in the development of these evolutionary skills. As many now recognize through the advances of physics and astrophysics, there is far more beyond the border of conscious cognition than can be neatly packaged in conventional deUnitions of reality. In today’s consequent mental climate, it is not as easy as it once was to dismiss the claims of those like Blavatsky and Bailey who purport to have communicated with advanced beings in non-conventional ways.
But what of the content of these communications? In the case of Alice Bailey, telepathic linkage with the entity she recognized as Djwhal Khul resulted in a metaphysical system frequently referred to as esoteric occultism. Though some might rightfully judge this philosophy as properly the content of Djwhal Khul’s thinking, esoteric occultism will be referred to in this paper under the name of his amanuensis, as it is examined under three of the four categories of metaphysical inquiry – ontology, cosmogony, and cosmology. Although neither denominated nor explicated in what Western philosophy would consider a formal or traditional way, the Bailey writings contain a deUnite ontology. Spread throughout several of the twenty four books of the Bailey corpus, this ontology is perhaps best articulated in Bailey’s A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, which was one of the Urst volumes telepathically dictated to her by the Tibetan. First published in 1925 and comprising just under 1300 pages of detailed discussion regarding the nature of existence and creation, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire appears to be the Tibetan’s most complete statement of the metaphysical system upon which his teachings are based.
In this volume, there is posited the existence of a supreme source from which all things ultimately can be said to emanate, but which in and of itself is without any qualiUcations whatsoever. (11) Existing subjectively beyond any and all differentiation, this supreme source is not directly involved with any stage or degree of the objectively manifested creation. (12) Though no name is assigned by the Tibetan to this level of being in A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, a chart included near the end of the book and attributed to Theosophical sources would appear to suggest that this ultimate source is the same as what Blavatsky calls ‘Parabrahm.’ (13) This usage of term and concept from the earlier works of Blavatsky is characteristic of the Bailey literature. Indeed, Alice Bailey freely admitted that she could never have carried out the telepathic work with the Tibetan had she not closely studied Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine, (14) considered by many to be a classic work within the Ueld of esoteric occultism.
Blavatsky’s term Parabrahm is derived linguistically from Sanskrit: para, meaning inUnite and supreme, and Brahma, the creatorÐ hence, beyond and above even Brahma. (15) Blavatsky describes Parabrahm as ‘Éthe one Life, eternal, invisible, yet Omnipresent, without beginning or end, yet periodical in its regular manifestations, between which periods reigns the dark mystery of non-Being; unconscious, yet absolute Consciousness; unrealisable, yet the one self-existing reality; truly, Ôa chaos to the sense, a Kosmos to the reason.’ (16) Additionally, Blavatsky makes it even more clear that this absolute and unknowable principle has no attributes. (17) At rest in its own true nature, Parabrahm is a thing quite different from any subsequent creative unfoldments, (18) though it contains within it the potential for the inconceivable fullness of manifestation.
In this characterization, it appears that Blavatsky’s Parabrahm bears some resemblance to the ultimate principle conceptualized by western idealistic monism and eastern neutral monism as discussed by Paul Laughlin in the society’s journal. The term ‘Parabrahm’ is also found in the Upanishads, where its meaning is the same as that given by Blavatsky. (19) More speciUcally, Blavatsky’s notion of Parabrahm closely resembles the Purusha of Sankhya philosophy. (20) That such resemblances are to be found tends to substantiate Blavatsky’s assertion that the best route through which to trace the origin of Theosophical ideas was through the ancient wisdom of India. (21) Certainly such an effort is merited in the case of Parabrahm.
Parabrahm is additionally characterized in The Secret Doctrine in the Urst of what Blavatsky calls the three fundamental propositions. The Urst of these states that there exists an ‘Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable Principle – beyond the range and reach of thoughtÉ.’ (22) The same formula is found in the Urst few pages of Bailey’s A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, where the Urst proposition is worded thus: ‘ There is one boundless Immutable Principle; one Absolute Reality which antecedes all manifested conditioned Being. It is beyond the range and reach of any human thought or expression.’ (23) Both of these passages concern the inherent nature of Parabrahm.
According to both Bailey and Blavatsky, what moves Parabrahm from complete subjectivity toward active expression is the rise of certain functions or aspects of being latent within it. These functions are termed by both writers the First Logos, Second Logos, and Third Logos. Logos is a term familiar to almost all students of religious and spiritual literatures, though the meanings attached to this term by various traditions and interpreters surely differ. Even so, many understandings of this term pivot around the original meaning of this word from the Greek language, in which Logos meant speech, word, and reason. In this context it is hard not to think of the Biblical ‘Word,’ the great vibrational impetus that came forth to ordain and sustain creation, or the Vedic akasha of similar import. (24) The Logoi of Bailey and Blavatsky are in some senses not far removed from these notions, though perhaps more metaphysical than is the characterization of this term as frequently used in Protestant Biblical theology.
In both A Treatise on Cosmic Fire and The Secret Doctrine, the three Logoi are said to arise from Parabrahm (25) and to do so in a manner which can be symbolized and explained as follows. The ultimate or absolute at rest and in resonance within its own true nature can be symbolized by a circle, which at once stands both for zero, aught, nothing, and the sum total of every possible thing and grade of consciousness. Here is Parabrahm in deep meditative beingness within itself, unaware of itself as a self, and yet containing all possibilities.
The one non-differentiated being then miraculously awakens to its own nature and existence, which state may be symbolized by a point within the circle. This rise of self recognition is simultaneously accompanied by the possibility of the existence of the not-self or the other. Hence, with this situation the Urst state of two-ness or duality is born, symbolized by a line joining the circle’s center and periphery. Implied within this condition is a third factor as well, the whole triplicity constituted of the one at the center, the other at the periphery, and the line which is the relation between. (26) In the metaphysics of both Bailey and Blavatsky, these three states and functions constitute the original esoteric occult trinity and comprise the foundational set of potencies from which all creation unfolds. (27) It is these three primal states of being which Bailey called the First, Second, and Third Logoi, (28) themselves subsequent unfoldments from the wholly non-differentiated Parabrahm, which as stated before does not enter directly into the creation of the manifested universe, but does so only indirectly through the agency of its facets, the Logoi just described. Further, the natures of these three Logoi generate what Bailey calls the three great cosmic laws – Synthesis, Attraction (which includes the Law of Periodicity), and Economy – laws which not only govern universally but also express the nature of the potencies from which they \ow. (29)
Here is an ontology which is at once a cosmogony as well, for while Parabrahm and its three aspects deUne certain of the kinds of existence held by the Bailey writings to be not only possible but real, they also offer a theory explaining the origination of all that is. It seems fair to say that the ontology posited in the Bailey literature embraces the existence of an ultimate principle which appears to transcend some popular notions of Deity. Instead of describing an ultimate Deity which watches interestedly over human affairs, the Bailey writings point to an ultimate principle (Parabrahm) which is vastly removed from the region of diversity and wholly unconcerned with microcosmic events. And yet, this ultra-cosmic principle does give rise to three cosmic functions, which Bailey characterizes as Will, Love, and Intelligence. According to Bailey, it is from these basic potencies and their interactions which ultimately issue the manifold creation as we know it. (30)
In fact, it is from these three prototypical forces that are unfolded seven creative powers, which beget the manifest creation, according to both Bailey and Blavatsky. (31) Here is certainly a doctrine of emanations and a consequent divine creative process, a notion surely reminiscent of the Vedic creation proceeding from a transcendent source which holds all things latent, the sephira of the Kabala projected from Ain Soph, the number of the Pythagoreans unfolding from the Naught, and the seven planetary spheres of the Gnostics bridging Earth and the region of the Uxed stars.
With Bailey, it is these seven powers which enter directly into the creative process, doing so through intermediary agencies at the many levels intervening between the non-differentiated Parabrahm, its three primal emissaries, and the multitude of created things to which the human mind can point as the manifested universe. Bailey terms these seven powers the seven rays, indicates that they are seven rates of vibration or types of energy which demonstrate as quality on the many levels of existence, and ultimately develops a complex system for analyzing stars, planets, time periods, civilizations, stages of mass human evolution, and even human temperament on the basis of the rays. (32) The rays are likewise alluded to with some force in Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine (33) (which preceded A Treatise on Cosmic Fire by more than thirty-Uve years) although Blavatsky’s work does not contain the same degree of speciUcity regarding the rays as does Bailey’s. Both Bailey and Blavatsky refer to these seven powers as cosmic beings in their own rights, (34) even though beings of what we would consider a highly impersonal or abstract nature. Thus, the seven ray beings represent yet another phase of the ontological possibilities recognized by the Bailey literature.
In fact, all the subsequent levels of being that bridge from the absolute to the most discreet individualized material existence represent some level of ontological relevance in the Bailey material. Hence, the entire emanative scheme of existence described in the Bailey material represents an ontological ladder, a spectrum of beingness and consciousness encompassing all that the human mind can conceive and more. With this understanding in place, it is possible to examine the cosmology presented in Bailey’s work, all the while realizing that authentic ontological relevance is implied at every level. If cosmology is a study of the universe as an orderly creation, the Bailey teachings and their earlier correlate in the work of Blavatsky may have coined the term. The ultimate vision portrayed by these metaphysical teachings reveals a geometric interweaving of forces and in\uences underlying all levels of manifestation, (35) such that the visible universe is the just the outer counterpart of an inner intricate design, grand in scope but precise in detail, overwhelming to the mind in its complexity, and yet susceptible of appreciation by the intuition. This design is, according to the Bailey material, literally created by interconnecting lines of force formed by the seven ray powers as they carry out the behest of the Will function of Deity. (36) This they do through numerous structural elements, all correlated in groups which originally emanate from the seven creative ray powers.
As the seven ray powers radiate from the three functions or aspects of Deity, each of the seven unique rates of vibration establishes a cosmic level or plane of existence (37) which comprises both states of consciousness and states of matter. The Bailey teachings refer to these as the seven planes of existence, (38) and each plane is named with either an English or Sanskrit term. These seven planes beget seven principles or sheaths of matter said to clothe beings according to their point of evolution. (39) Bailey’s enumeration and denomination of the planes and principles almost exactly duplicates the corresponding material to be found in The Secret Doctrine, (40) though some important divergences are to be noted. (41)
Among the seven planes, Bailey tells us that the plane characterized by the slowest rate of vibration (or the greatest degree of concretion) is what she calls the cosmic physical plane. It, like all the others, is further subdivided into seven subplanes, the sum total of which is the extent of possible experience for us in our region of evolution. This leaves six other grand dimensions completely beyond our current perceptual capacity, a situation perhaps appropriately suggestive of the reach of inUnity. Likewise, the seven subplanes of the cosmic physical plane provide ample room to grow, for as Bailey describes, average humanity is only aware of the lowest three of the seven subplanes. (42) These she terms the physical, emotional (or astral), and mental subplanes of the cosmic physical plane. Beyond these are the buddhic (or intuitional), atmic, monadic, and logoic. Of particular interest to New Thought would be the subplane denominated buddhic – a region of consciousness from which Bailey says the Christ consciousness emanates. It is a state of being characterized by universal, non-possessive love. (43)
The tangible human being partakes of all of these subplanes unconsciously, being only the outward and visible result of inner or invisible principles located in degrees of matter and states of consciousness normally unknown to the average human being. SpeciUcally, the Bailey writings maintain that the human being is a product of the monad, (44) a replication on a much lower level of the Will function of Deity. This monad represents a high degree of fusion and unity, and can only express itself on lower planes by projecting a ray of its essence in much the same way as does Parabrahm upon awakening.
According to Bailey, the monad is the ultimate source of origin for the individual human being. (45) Its light or essence, projected downward with intent, interacts with the matter and states of consciousness of the lower subplanes, giving rise to the higher principles or sheaths of the human being. These various sheaths are: the spiritual triad, composed of the energies of the atmic, buddhic, and mental subplanes; the soul, which Bailey calls the real human or thinker on the mental subplane (46); the astral or emotional body; and Unally the tangible physical body of which we are aware. (47) In this model of the constitution of the human, the primary factors are the monad, soul, and personality, a triplicity of fundamental importance. According to Bailey, it is the soul portion of this scheme which is characterized by a rhythmic inclination to enter physical incarnation, and which therefore maintains the essential memories of previous lives. (48)
Clearly, this is a doctrine which embraces reincarnation, as was suggested earlier in Blavatsky’s deUnition of Parabrahm, itself given to alternating periods of latency and objectivity. Both Bailey and Blavatsky apply this concept to all entities at all levels, the result being a metaphysical system which heartily embraces the notion that the entirety of the universe is subject to rhythmic appearance and disappearance. In this, Bailey and Blavatsky restate one of the central propositions of all six systems of classical Indian philosophy. (49) This view of creation and destruction as cyclic and eternal is articulated in both A Treatise on Cosmic Fire and The Secret Doctrine as the second of the three fundamental propositions. In Blavatsky’s words, eternity is ‘Éperiodically Ôthe playground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing. (50) Bailey’s exposition of the second fundamental proposition simply states, ‘There is a basic law called the Law of Periodicity,’ (51) a fundamental principle at the heart of both the writings of Blavatsky and Bailey.
The fundamental concern of these two writers with eternal cyclicity is supplemented with their speciUcation of vast time periods within which occur collective evolutionary processes. Both Blavatsky and Bailey refer to a 4,320,000,000 year evolutionary period called a kalpa. (52) This together with their general characterization of Parabrahm as capable of polarizing into the self and not-self locates both Blavatsky and Bailey in close proximity to the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism, which posits the same kalpic time measurement and characterization of the ultimate principle. (53)
An outstanding system of Indian religion (54) which derives its name from traditional belief in the revelation of its foundational scriptures in Kashmir by Shiva, (55) Kashmir Shaivism espouses a triplicity composed of God, soul, and matter, (56) a notion strikingly similar to Bailey’s three cosmic functions or aspects, which she frequently labels spirit, soul, and matter. (57) In addition, Kashmir Shaivism explains the divine creative process with a complex system of powers and functions called tattvas, (58) a system reminiscent of Bailey’s many intermediary creative agencies. Further, Kashmir Shaivism treats of the cyclic reabsorption of manifest creation in reverse order of appearance, (59) exactly as does the Bailey metaphysical system. (60) For these and other reasons, it appears that among the classical Indian philosophies, Bailey’s work may most closely resemble Kashmir Shaivism. In fact, in what my be a broad hint, Bailey opens her Cosmic Fire with an excerpt from the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, which Upanishad is one of the basic scriptures of Kashmir Shaivism, (61) itself a doctrine which places deUnite emphasis upon the periodic death and rebirth of creation.
It is this fundamental fact of periodicity which also allows the factor of time to Ugure prominently in the cosmology of Bailey’s esoteric occultism, for in the processes of time are encoded an orderly sequence of in\uences and unfoldments, Bailey tells us. This orderly sequence of in\uence arises from the seven ray powers, which are said to impart their characteristic qualities according to correspondence (62) throughout a universe already imprinted with their natures, since these ray powers are the prime creative agents within the manifested universe.
In order to understand this, it is necessary to have in mind what might be called the esoteric model of a solar system, a key component to the esoteric occult teaching propounded by Bailey. The esoteric model of a solar system posits that a star is a highly advanced conscious being manifesting through the medium of a central blaze (like our Sun) and its group of attendant planets. (63) That seems simple enough, but in this case, the number of attendant planets is far higher than what might be expected.
The esoteric doctrine instead maintains that in fact, the central star is accompanied by seven entities called Planetary Logoi, great intelligences which ensoul not just one planet apiece but a congerie of globes called a scheme. (64) A planetary scheme is constituted of seven groups of seven globes each, called chains. (65) Thus, the total number of planetary globes esoterically associated with a solar system is 7 x 7 x 7, or 343. These 343 globes are said to manifest over time in stages and in graded states of matter, ranging from a tenuous matter in the earlier globes, to the most dense in mid-sequence, to the tenuous again at the conclusion. (66) The time period during which this process is said to transpire is somewhat over 311 trillion years, (67) or over 30,000 times the life span attributed by astrophysics to an average star – a staggering difference perhaps explained by the fact that esoteric occultism posits that evolution continues in states of matter totally unknown to science. During that 311 trillion years, seven great life waves called rounds sweep through the schemes, with each round made up of seven time periods called races taking place on every one of the 343 globes. (68) In turn, each race is constituted of what are called the seven subraces. Further, each round, race, and subrace falls under the dominion of one of the seven ray powers, which in turn imparts its character to form and consciousness evolving under its in\uence. (69) Since each of the schemes, chains, and globes carries a predominant original imprint from one of the seven powers, when each ray power comes to full fruition during its period of rulership, the forms under its jurisdiction have the greatest opportunity to reach perfection. (70) InUnite combinations of ray qualities also arise, as the various ray powers interact with the schemes, chains, globes, rounds, races, and subraces of different inherent ray natures. (71)
Many of the same ideas are to be found in Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine, though in that earlier work the esoteric model of a solar system included only planetary chains and globes, with no mention of the schemes. (72) Consequently, it appears that the Bailey writings added a signiUcant component, for under Blavatsky’s scheme, a solar system would comprise a mere 7 x 7 or 49 globes. Nonetheless, the overriding impression engendered by both these conceptualizations of a solar system is the unrelenting septenary structure. To state the matter in terms of oversimpliUcation, it might be said that the esoteric occult model of a solar system hinges upon the septenary division of both space and time, with a natural correspondence arising between spatial and temporal elements dominated by the same ray powers. This vision of evolution in time and space is geometrical, symmetrical, coherent, and unnervingly orderly. Accustomed as we are to a fairly high degree of what appears to be disorder and meaninglessness, we are inclined to reject this idea as inherently too simple, though Buckminster Fuller might have begged to differ.
Indeed, why should this vision seem offensively tidy when in fact, the world of spirituality is replete with inspired Undings which tell us that the nature of existence is pattern, as evidenced by the sublime geometries of the plant kingdom, and sacred geometry with its stunning revelations, not to mention those out and out visionary experiences in which the eyes and mind are treated to a glimpse of what many have described as the energy form underlying the visible substance of creation? Was it not Pythagoras, and then Plato after him, who urged the study of ideal geometrical forms, since such forms alone expressed the real and true? Why then should an esoteric model of a solar system built on principles of number and correspondence surprise us so? It is one thing to understand this model intellectually; quite another to glimpse its outworking, for in this case, the mere intellectual grasp of the idea deludes us. It seems to present us with the appearance of a nicely constructed but somewhat na ve world conception. However, might not the Urst-hand observation of such a cosmic pattern forming, whilst energies circulate and grand designs take shape, be witness to intimations of cosmic reason and purpose? If so, this system should be forgiven for its seeming excessive simplicity.
While this component of the cosmological vision contained in the Bailey writings clearly concerns the macrocosmic dimension, the microcosmic element is equally important. Driven by the larger processes at work during the period of a solar system, the microcosmic dimension described by the Bailey teachings resembles the small, detailed portions of a fractal, a swirling spiralic image based on a fundamental pattern which is reproduced in the smallest and largest scales of the image. In other words, the microcosmic level replicates on its smaller scale the processes at work in the greater dimension. With Bailey, the microcosmic dimension encompasses numerous kingdoms, including the human, all evolving within the conUnes of a solar system.
These kingdoms, according to Bailey, represent a broad spectrum of types and evolutionary objectives. Along with the human kingdom, there exist the mineral, plant, animal, and devic or angelic evolutions, (73) these being the more readily comprehensible of the kingdoms described in Bailey’s esoteric occultism. Also identiUed are the lives inhabiting levels of matter rarely considered, such as the lives of the matter constituting the mental and other subplanes of the solar system. (74) Altogether, these graded kingdoms in their serried ranks progress under the in\uence of the ray powers as they work through the various time periods previously described.
The role of each kingdom within this process involves not just its own internal progression toward full actualization, but also the assistance of kingdoms below or behind its evolutionary status. In fact, the Bailey teachings indicate that each more highly evolved kingdom or unit within it has the natural responsibility to introduce in some way those in\uences and energies which will facilitate the upward progress of lower kingdoms or units. (75) A very relevant instance of this principle appears in Bailey’s doctrine of avatars. Avatars, she holds, are beings evolved signiUcantly beyond the human kingdom who out of their spiritual generosity and under a governing spiritual law deliberately project themselves into the region of humanity for its inspiration and upliftment, a doctrine also fully articulated by Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine. (76) According to Bailey, the inherent spiritual law which governs this process causes such occurrences to take place periodically. Hence, according to the esoteric occult philosophy, the appearance of avatars (though dramatic to humanity) is a naturally occurring event with a deUnite but unknown cyclicity.
The controversial and intriguing topic of the reappearance of the Christ is a speciUc case in point. Of the many types of avatars speciUed in the Bailey writings, some of whom have relevance for the solar system as a whole, some for a globe or planet, and some for speciUc time period or civilization on a given planet, the reappearing Christ of whom she speaks holds greatest relevance for a period of several thousand years on our planet. (77) It is of importance to note that the Christ as Bailey describes it is an entity other than the Jesus of Nazareth who became Jesus Christ. (78) Instead, Bailey’s Christ is an emissary of higher dimensions, and most deUnitely not the restored physical body of the historical personage associated with the CruciUxion and Resurrection. (79) In fact, the Bailey writings draw a critical distinction between Jesus the highly attained human being on one hand, and the Christ principle which temporarily dwelled within his body on the other, (80) a distinction also made by the early Gnostic Christians. (81)
Given this distinction as central to the nature of the Christ of which Bailey speaks, it is easy to see why the idea of the return or reappearance of the Christ is largely misunderstood. Not only this, but also frequently seized upon by those who would characterize the Bailey literature in some derogatory fashion. Fundamentalist Christians take this notion as an open invitation to label the Bailey works with three familiar digits. Meanwhile, certain Theosophists claim, with some justiUcation given Bailey’s characteristically Christian vocabulary, that her emphasis upon the return of the Christ proves that Bailey herself was no more than a dogmatic Christian bent on twisting the work of Blavatsky. No matter to some wide-eyed New Agers, who make of this notion an inspiration for any number of misty-eyed and wooly-minded pronouncements. Scholars simply look the other way, having no real basis upon which to analyze the Bailey work. The Bailey writings themselves characterize the Christ (also referred to as the Bodhisattva and Maitreya (82) as a spiritual teacher whose message of love and goodwill (83) is destined for the entire world, not exclusively for the Christian religion. (84) In fact, the Bailey writings link the reappearance of the Christ with what is referred to as the New World Religion, a spiritual outlook which rests on principles likely to be perceived as benign by most of the world’s spiritually inclined people: belief in Deity, recognition of humanity’s relationship with Deity, the principle of eternal persistence, and the continuity of divine revelation. (85) These principles, Bailey writes, will ultimately and willingly be observed in monthly festivals held at the time of the full moon, with emphasis upon the full moons correlating to the Western festival of Easter, the Eastern festival of Wesak, and the presently little known Festival of Goodwill. (86) Interestingly, there exist numerous public and private groups throughout the world which observe these festivals in simple rituals based on meditation and the use of the Great Invocation, a prayer which gives voice to the hope for widespread divine realization and world unity.
Penned by Bailey and promoted by the organization she founded, the Great Invocation has been translated into most of the world’s languages and is commonly recognized in both New Age and contemporary metaphysical circles. Bailey’s interest in international unity was paralleled by Blavatsky’s earlier emphasis on similar concerns, for Blavatsky intended that her Theosophical Society be a brotherhood of peace, love, and mutual assistance, (87) an example to all humanity of right human relations. This shared emphasis upon moving closer to world brotherhood and unity Unds its philosophical basis in the third fundamental proposition articulated in both the Proem to The Secret Doctrine (88) and A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, (89) which afUrms the identity of all souls with the Oversoul. Harking back to a central theme of the Upanishads, (90) it was a point of great importance to both authors. In these and the many other essential points previously discussed, Bailey and Blavatsky were of one mind. Likewise, their works have shared a common fate in the intellectual and academic prejudice suffered by the literatures of both these proliUc writers, an academic prejudice that has largely precluded the scholarly recognition of their contribution to world spirituality. If ‘Snake Handling by Southern Appalachian Baptists’ and the like constitute legitimate subject matter for the scholarly press, it seems indefensible that elegant metaphysical systems like those proposed by Bailey and her earlier counterpart should be ignored, especially given the contributions each has made to modern spirituality.
This contribution was partially acknowledged in a recently published reference work, World Spirituality: An Encyclopedic History of the Religious Quest. Its volume 21, entitled Modern Esoteric Spirituality, includes a fair accounting of Blavatsky’s Theosophy and its in\uence. However, there is absolutely no mention made of Alice A. Bailey, while included is the work of Rudolph Steiner, another student of Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine (91) roughly contemporaneous with Bailey. This failure to include a Ugure responsible for a large body of literature and a world-wide community of interested readers cannot but misinform readers and present a \awed picture of the landscape the editors of Modern Esoteric Spirituality intended to depict.
It seems that the multiculturalist atmosphere percolating into the world of religious studies in the late twentieth century may ultimately counteract the still prevalent tendency to reject certain lines of study. If so, perhaps more attention will be given to the works of Bailey and Blavatsky just because the literatures generated by these two writers are treasured spiritual sources for a deUnite group of persons. In this way it might be discovered that the ideas contained in these literatures represent authentic spiritual traditions in their own rights.
1 Barbara Brennan, Hands of Light. Brennan lists Alice Bailey’s Esoteric Healing in her bibliography.
2 Alan Oken, Alan Oken’s Complete Astrology, Soul-Centered Astrology. The dedications to both Oken’s books make clear his allegiance to the Bailey teachings.
3 Dell de Chant, ‘Taproots of the New: New Thought and the New Age,’ The Quest, Winter 1991, pp. 68 – 77.
4 Alice A. Bailey, The UnUnished Autobiography, p. 12.
5 James Dillet Freeman, The Story of Unity, p. 42.
6 Alice A. Bailey, The UnUnished Autobiography, p. 133. 190.
7 Alice A. Bailey, The UnUnished Autobiography, pp. 162 – 163.
8 Alice A. Bailey, The UnUnished Autobiography, pp. 164, 168; Discipleship in the New Age I, p. 780.
9 Alice A. Bailey, Initiation, Human and Solar, p. 58; Esoteric Healing, pp. 536, 565; Discipleship in the New Age II, p. 429.
10 Sylvia Cranston, H.P.B.: The Extraordinary Life and In\uence of Helena Blavatsky, Founder of the Modern Theosophical Movement, p. 294.
11 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 219, 227, 1230.
12 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 3.
13 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 1230.
14 Alice A. Bailey, The UnUnished Autobiography, pp. 214 – 215.
15 H.P. Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary, pp. 62, 248.
16 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine. Vol. 1, p. 2.
17 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 7.
18 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, pp. 14, 15, 74, 75.
19 Nikhilananda, Swami, The Upanishads, pp. 25 – 26.
20 Theos Bernard, Hindu Philosophy, pp. 67, 186.
21 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 668.
22 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 14.
23 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 3.
24 Jeanine Miller, The Vision of Cosmic Order in the Vedas, p. 80.
25 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 3; H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, pp. 4, 14 – 16.
26 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 244.
27 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 3, 628; H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, pp. 15 – 16.
28 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 3, footnote on p. 41.
29 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 42, 249, 766, 1166 – 1167, 1182.
30 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 3.
31 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 5, 233 footnote, 270, 628; H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, pp. 88, 290, 293, 573 – 574.
32 Bailey develops these concepts primarily in her Esoteric Psychology I and II.
33 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, pp.120, 290, 573, 574.
34 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 5, 270; H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, 293.
35 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 597 – 598.
36 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 430, 1184; Esoteric Astrology, p. 167.
37 For correspondences between rays and planes, see A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 586 – 587.
38 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 56, 94, 117, 118.
39 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 262 – 267.
40 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, pp. 199 – 200.
41 For further clariUcation on this point, see the excellent summary and interpretation of Blavatsky’s planes and principles in Geoffrey Barborka, The Divine Plan, pp. 164 – 168, 173 – 181.
42 This can be inferred from A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 115, 117, 937.
43 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 704; Light of the Soul, pp. 19, 271; A Treatise on White Magic, p. 35; Esoteric Psychology II, p. 285; The Externalization of the Hierarchy, p. 106; M. Temple Richmond, Sirius, pp. 61 – 63.
44 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 260, 261, 271.
46 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 352, 394, 800.
47 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 261 – 267, 500 – 502.
48 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 304, 317, 391, 508, 516, 517. 49 Theos Bernard, Hindu Philosophy, p. 5.
50 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 16.
51 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 5.
52 Bailey, who includes material from Theosophical sources throughout A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, cites Blavatsky’ s earlier work to explain these time periods. See A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 39 – 40.
53 Theos Bernard, Hindu Philosophy, p. 131.
54 Bernard, p. 16.
55 Bernard, p. 129.
56 Bernard, p. 172.
57 This theme is developed throughout many of the Bailey works. See Esoteric Psychology I and II, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, and Initiation, Human and Solar, for representative examples.
58 Bernard, p. 12 – 13, 139 – 142.
59 Bernard, p. 137.
60 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 87, 236, 740, 777
61 Bernard, p. 17.
62 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 181, 206, 299, 359, 364, 365, 432, 498, 655.
63 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 3, 5.
64 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic F ire, pp. 359, 373, 385.
65 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic F ire, pp. 366 – 367.
66 This notion is implied on p. 498 of A Treatise on Cosmic Fire.
67 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 39 – 40, 792; Geoffrey Barborka, The Divine Plan, p. 17; H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 36.
68 This theme is developed throughout A Treatise on Cosmic Fire.
69 This theme is developed throughout Esoteric Psychology I and II; see also A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 432.
70 This theme is developed throughout Esoteric Psychology I and II.
71 This theme is developed throughout Esoteric Psychology I and II.
72 Geoffrey Barborka, The Divine Plan, pp. 340, 342.
73 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 565.
74 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 550 – 946.
75 Alice A. Bailey, Initiation, Human and Solar, pp. 20 – 23.
76 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, pp. 722 – 729, 748 – 761; Geoffrey Barborka, The Divine Plan, pp. 453 – 465.
77 These several thousand years are roughly equivalent to the astrological Ages of Pisces and Aquarius. The dates for these periods are widely disputed, but may approximate 0 CE to 4000 CE Bailey associates these astrological ages with the Christ inThe Reappearance of the Christ, pp. 79 – 82.
78 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 759.
79 Alice A. Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ, pp. 5 – 14.
80 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 1193.
81 Kurt Rudolph, Gnosis, pp. 151 – 155, 339.
82 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 754.
83 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 755.
84 Alice A. Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ, p. 62.
85 Alice A. Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ, pp. 144 – 154.
86 Alice A. Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ, pp. 155 – 156.
87 Boris de Zirkoff, ed., H.P. Blavatsky Collected Works, Vol. VII, p. 248. 88 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 17.
89 Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 7.
90 Swami Nikhilananda, The Upanishads, Vol. 1, p. vii.
91 Sylvia Cranston, H.P. B., pp. 486, 525, 527 – 529.
A paper delivered to the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religions on October 24, 1998, Madeira Beach, FL, USA by Maureen Temple Richmond.