Q. I have read the article titled Understanding the Logos and feel that I now have a much clearer understanding of what the Logos actually is, according to the teachings of H. P. Blavatsky and the Masters themselves, rather than the serious distortions concocted by later “teachers.” But I see that HPB quite often refers to the First Logos, Second Logos, and Third Logos. What is meant by these terms? I thought that the Logos was only one – the One All-Ensouling Light and Life of the Universe.
A. It is true that there is really only one Logos. This is the Universal Logos, that Life Principle and Evolutionary Energy which radiates forth from the Absolute (whether you call the Absolute Brahman, Parabrahm, Adi-Buddhi, Ein-Soph, or whatever) at the beginning of every Great Cycle (Maha-Manvantara) and proceeds to become the Living Universe itself.
As we said in the other article, HPB and the Masters never once used the term “Planetary Logos” and only once did they speak of the “Solar Logos,” albeit in a completely different way from how the pseudo-Theosophists use that term. Genuine Theosophy deals with the Universal Logos, which is the “First Cause” whilst the Absolute is the “Causeless Cause” and the “Rootless Root” of all. This Universal Logos is what is also known as the Central Spiritual Sun or Great Central Sun.
Now, the issue of the three Logoi perhaps becomes clearer when we notice how they were defined by HPB in “Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge,” which, by the way, is an excellent and indispensable source of information and teaching and which clarifies many things from “The Secret Doctrine” including the Logoi, the Seven Rays, the Planetary Spirits, the nature of the Absolute Divine Principle, the Stanzas of Dzyan, time and eternity, etc., as well as having an illuminating section about dreams.
In that book she speaks of the three Logoi as being “the personified symbols of the three spiritual stages of Evolution.”
So really they are but symbols, intended to present key concepts to our minds and understanding. Let us note a few things that are said about these three Logoi:
THE FIRST LOGOS is always referred to as the Unmanifested Logos. It is symbolised as the point in the centre of the circle, the circle representing the boundless infinite Absoluteness of Parabrahm and the point marking the very beginning – or rather the re-beginning – of differentiated existence after the Great Night of the Universe (Maha-Pralaya) in which there was nothing – “neither sound nor silence” – but the undifferentiated, unconditioned, infinite, absolute Parabrahm Itself.
The First, Unmanifested, Logos is also called the highest Logos. It is said that it is out of space and time and is “latent potentiality” only. The First Logos is the “potentiality” of the Universe, whilst the Second Logos is the “potency” of the Universe. The Second emanates from the First. Being only latent, potential, and unmanifested, the First Logos is very close to the Absolute and indeed is Its direct radiation. It is not really possible to say any more about it than this. But in the teachings of Theosophy we notice that Atman, the highest Principle of the human constitution, is sometimes spoken of as corresponding to the Unmanifested Logos, whilst most of the time it is equated with the Absolute. This is not a contradiction, as may appear on the surface, but is actually a clear indication of something.
THE SECOND LOGOS is the Manifested Logos. In and of itself it is actually only “the semi-manifested” for it manifests through and as the Third Logos. In “Transactions,” HPB speaks of it as “the Universal and Intelligent Soul, Divine Ideation, combining the ideal plans and prototypes of all things in the manifested objective as well as subjective world.”
Whilst the First Logos is described as “latent potentiality,” the Second is described as “differentiated consciousness.” We are told that space and time commences with the emanation of the Second Logos from the First Logos. The Unmanifested is the potentiality; the Manifested is the potency.
It is this Logos which is the Universal Mind, spoken of in Hinduism as Mahat, which literally means “The Great.” And as the Hindu allegories show, the Divine Mind produces “seven mind-born sons” which go on to play major and important roles throughout the Universe. The synthesis of these seven – which are actually seven rays, seven powers, or seven forces – is what Theosophy calls the Third Logos.
THE THIRD LOGOS is referred to variously as the Seven Rays, the Seven Creative Powers, or the Seven Logoi. The Second Logos contains in itself the Third Logos and manifests through and as this Third Logos, as was mentioned a moment ago. If we call the First Logos latent potentiality and the Second differentiated consciousness, we can refer to the Third as the ultimate differentiation of the Second, in the form of individualised cosmic forces. From them “will proceed the innumerable series of Hierarchies.”
These “Seven” are really the seven occult forces of the Universe and which result, amongst other things, in the actualisation and objective manifestation of that which lies latent, subjective, and archetypal within the Universal Mind. In other words, they see to the fulfillment of the Plan for the construction and building of the Universe.
Q. I think I grasp the essence of this explanation. But doesn’t it seem rather abstract, metaphysical, and philosophical?
A. It does and to a large extent it is. But how can we speak of anything as truly metaphysical and majestically magnificent as the birth and evolution of the Universe in any other type of terms? To attempt to simplify or personalise or anthropomorphise it would be to obscure and desecrate it. Our great need is to begin to THINK in a metaphysical, abstract, and philosophical way which eventually results in the raising and elevating of our consciousness to a far higher and more truly spiritual level in everyday life. The Masters know that this is what we need and this is why they saw to it that “The Secret Doctrine” was largely written in such a way. Spirituality divorced from philosophy is often little more than idiocy and the Masters stated in their letters that this is the “dawn of a more spiritually intellectual cycle.” It is time for us to grow up and start making some real effort in our thinking, rather than just remaining in our present run-of-the-mill state.
Q. You mentioned what HPB said about the three Logoi actually being “the personified symbols of the three spiritual stages of Evolution.” In light of everything you’ve been saying, would it therefore be correct to say that there are not actually three distinct Logoi but rather the One Logos bringing about the evolution of the Universe through three distinct stages?
A. I believe this is correct, providing we always remember that “the One Logos bringing about the evolution of the Universe” is not any type of Being, Entity, or Divine Person but rather the Energy of Universal Life itself, responding and acting under the inherent impulse of immutable Law. Also, those “three distinct stages” are perhaps not as distinct, separate, and clearcut as our finite minds and intellects would like them to be. We often tend to like to be able to fit things into neat boxes and definite compartments but it doesn’t take much thought or consideration to realise that many things in Nature are not like this.
Q. What are the names of the three Logoi? I’m sure the Logos can have no name in reality but what are the best names to use for purposes of illustration?
A. You’re right, the Logos can have no name, just as the Absolute is necessarily nameless too. It is not actually essential to use any specific names at all. The terms “First Logos,” “Second Logos,” and “Third Logos” will suffice. But if we want to use names then we should use some of the various names given to the Logos in the different religions and philosophies of the world. As was said in the other article that you read –
“Many different names used in many different spiritual traditions may end up becoming confusing unless we keep in mind that they are almost always merely illustrative names applied to this same Logos. Just as it is Brahmā which comes forth as the Logos from the Absolute Brahman in the philosophy of the Upanishads, so it is Adam Kadmon (“Heavenly Man”) which comes forth as the Logos from Ein-Soph in the Kabbalah, and Avalokiteshvara which comes forth from Adi-Buddhi in the esotericism of Tibetan Buddhism. Some Hindus will speak of the Absolute and its Logos as Shiva and Shakti, while others will prefer to use the term Vishnu, Narayana, or Ishvara for the Logos. Others may speak of it as the Universal Kundalini or Mother of the Universe, while a true Christian Gnostic may be inclined to call it the Divine Sophia.
“What is important to remember is that these are not a collection of different beings or entities and are in fact not a being or entity at all but simply names and descriptive terms for the one Logoic Principle which ensouls and animates this entire Universe. “In Esoteric philosophy, the Logos is simply an abstract term,” writes H. P. Blavatsky.”
In Theosophy, the Unmanifested Logos is often referred to as Narayana. Narayana is another name for Vishnu in Hinduism and it can be translated as “the Spirit of Divine Ideation moving on the waters.” Do you remember in the opening of the Book of Genesis in the Bible where it talks about the “Spirit of God” moving over “the waters of the deep” before the world came into being? In the far older Hindu scriptures, we read that Narayana began to move over the infinite waters of abstract Space and that this was “the first flutter of manifestation” which resulted in the cyclic reappearance of the Universe after the Maha-Pralaya.
HPB sometimes spoke of the First Logos as Brahmā, however, and often applied the name Brahmā to the Second Logos also. So we would do well to follow her example in not attaching too much importance to names but focusing instead on the idea and concept which lies behind those names and terms.
The Seven Rays which are referred to as the Third Logos are the Seven Kumaras in Hinduism – which are the seven “mind-born Sons of Brahmā” or Sons of the Universal Mind – whilst in Buddhism they are the Seven Dhyani Buddhas, in Christianity the Seven Archangels, in Judaism the Seven Elohim, and the seven lower Sephiroth of the Kabbalah. All different names for one and the same “thing.” As the most ancient scripture known to man (the Rig Veda of Hinduism) says, “Truth is ONE, though the sages call it by many names.”
To briefly sum everything up, the three Logoi – “the personified symbols of the three spiritual stages of Evolution” – have quite a clear analogy in the three physical stages of the evolution of every human being. First of all there is the conception and the mysterious unseen process which eventually results in the first stages of formation (Unmanifested), then the gestation period where the foetus begins to take form and grow within the womb but always remaining unseen and within that womb (Semi-Manifested) and finally, thanks to the two prior stages of the process, the human being – the microcosm of the macrocosm – is born into objective manifestation (Manifested).
The concept of the Universal Logos is very ancient and certainly does not originate with the teachings of H. P. Blavatsky. But a study and comparison of ancient philosophies will show that HPB’s teachings about the Logos are a clear and accurate re-presentation of that timeless Truth. To comprehend and explore it more fully and deeply, however, it is necessary to read and study “The Secret Doctrine” and especially those chapters and pages which deal with the Logos in the sections on the universal language of mystical symbolism.
~ BlavatskyTheosophy.com ~
SOME RELATED ARTICLES: Understanding the Logos, The Seven Rays, Golden Keys to The Secret Doctrine, 12 Things Theosophy Teaches, How to successfully study the Teachings of H.P. Blavatsky, An Invitation to The Secret Doctrine, Alaya – The Universal Soul, The Masters and Madame Blavatsky and Words from The Masters about H.P. Blavatsky.