Understanding the Logos

One of the most frequently occurring terms and concepts in the teachings of Theosophy is that of the Logos.

This has been a source of confusion and misunderstanding to some students of the Esoteric Philosophy, usually due to their having been influenced by the ideas found in what can only be called pseudo-Theosophy, such as the notion of the Logos being a “He” or some sort of Being or Entity or a role reached by passing to a certain high degree of initiation.

All such notions are false, immature, and unphilosophical and have their origins not in any Ageless Wisdom but in the imagination and ignorance of their various exponents. The teachings of H.P. Blavatsky, William Quan Judge, and the Masters themselves regarding the Logos are quite different and are firmly rooted in the ancient philosophy of the real Ageless Wisdom.

Throughout the millennia, every spiritual philosophy – both East and West – has clearly taught the existence and necessity of the Logos.

The key to the understanding of this concept is found in the word “Logos” itself, which is a Greek word equating to “Speech,” “Word,” “Verbum,” and “Voice.” It is actually a Platonic term, although the concept itself predates Plato by long ages. The whole idea behind the literal meaning of the word “Logos” is that It is the EXPRESSION in manifestation of the subjective, silent, and ever concealed Absolute.

The Absolute is the One Infinite Eternal Divine Principle, the Supreme and Ultimate Reality, which is beyond all definition, description, and comprehension. It is the One Life, the One Element, the One Immutable Essence and Energy which is Existence Itself and which is itself entirely unmoved and unaffected by anything, regardless of whether the Universe is in existence at the time or not. It is the true Divine Self or Higher Self of all because It is really the one and only Reality.

The Infinite, in order to actually be infinite, cannot have anything finite about Itself whatsoever, or It would cease to be the Infinite, seeing as that word literally means “not finite in any way.” Thus it is absolute, which – in philosophical terminology – means entirely different from and unconcerned with the relative; “relative” meaning the entirety of manifested existence, yet at the same time being the source and substratum of all manifested existence.

Theosophy therefore teaches that the Infinite is forever unmanifested, unmanifestable, unconditioned, undifferentiated, and without any attributes, characteristics, form or personality of any kind. To think of or refer to It as a “He” or “She” is to negate the entire philosophy. About all that can be said about It is that It is supreme, pure, absolute Consciousness Itself. As it is absolute Consciousness, it is immeasurably beyond even the very highest and most sublime type of consciousness that we can conceive of.

To our inevitably relative perceptions, It cannot help but appear more like perfect Unconsciousness, since we cannot accurately grasp or conceive of It in any way, other than to simply know “It IS.” Likewise, being absolute Light, It cannot help but appear to us more like perfect Darkness, due to Its utterly unfathomable and infinite nature. The Infinite is Infinity Itself.

In Theosophy, the name most frequently applied to the Absolute is Parabrahm or Parabrahman, a Sanskrit Hindu term meaning “Supreme Brahman” or “Infinite Brahman.” Parabrahm and Brahman are synonyms but the term “Parabrahm” is the one used more frequently by HPB and the Masters. It is naturally acknowledged that the Absolute is nameless and unnameable in reality but nevertheless every religion of every nation has applied its own term to the Supreme Principle for sake of easier comprehension.

In esoteric Hinduism, It is Brahman or Parabrahman. In esoteric Buddhism, It is Adi-Buddha or Adi-Buddhi meaning literally “Primordial Wisdom,” while the Kabbalah uses the term Ein-Soph (also written as Ain-Soph) which literally means “The Endless Boundless No-Thing.”

The Logos, then, is the objective expression of the subjective and abstract Absolute or the Word coming forth out of the Silence. And this has to happen in order to bring the Universe into being, since the Absolute – due to the very fact of Its absoluteness – cannot bring anything into being by Itself. In fact, It is entirely unconcerned with there even being a Universe, but it is taught by the Masters that the periodical and cyclic appearance and evolution of the Universe is due to an inherent and automatically operative Law. They explain that it is as if there is a great divine clock, or what we may call with some liberty a “cosmic computer,” which is eternally wound up and which propels the Universe into manifestation and back out of manifestation over and over again, always at the right time. Theosophy maintains that there is certainly no personal “divine will” or conscious intelligence behind it all.

The Masters of the Trans-Himalayan Brotherhood have stated that they deny the existence of God and avoid using that term entirely (see the articles Belief in God is Superstition and The Impersonal Divine). HPB unequivocally re-iterated this in “The Secret Doctrine.” To think of or refer to the Absolute as “God” is to misunderstand the whole thing.

Nevertheless, despite employing that term, the opening verses of John’s Gospel in the Christian New Testament express this concept of the Absolute and the Logos quite clearly: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

These famous words, in which the exclusively Platonist Greek term “Logos” is used and which no-one can deny bear all the hallmarks of Platonism, have been purposely distorted and given new meanings by Christian theology, as have all the texts of the original New Testament.

The esoteric interpretation or explanation would be as follows…

“In the beginning of this Universe was the Logos, and the Logos was with the Absolute, and the Logos was the direct radiation from the Absolute. The same was in the beginning with the Absolute. All things in this Universe have been emanated and evolved from the Logos; and nothing has existed here except through the Logos. In the Logos was divine Life itself; and that Life is the spiritual light in man. The light of the Logos shone forth from the darkness of the Absolute; and the Absolute remained entirely unaffected and unmoved thereby, being Absoluteness Itself.”

The statement attributed to Jesus elsewhere in John’s Gospel that “No-one has seen the Father except the Son” likewise bears the distinctive hallmarks of Platonist, Neo-Platonist, and the earlier Pythagorean esotericism, although this claim will most probably be denied or doubted by most until they actually take it upon themselves to do proper and impartial research into the matter. The inference is that the Absolute has never been directly seen or perceived except by the Logos, the “first begotten of the Father.”

So, simply put, the Logos is the all-ensouling Light and Life of the Universe. It is the Living Universe itself. It is the primal radiation from the Absolute at the dawn of the Maha-Manvantara or universal life cycle. It is Light, radiating forth from the Unknown Darkness of the Absolute. It is Time, re-emerging from the infinite bosom of Eternity. It is the Anima Mundi or Universal Soul. It is Divine Ideation itself. It is Alaya. It becomes the Universal Mind.

It is at times referred to symbolically in Theosophy as the Central Spiritual Sun or Great Central Sun, which pervades and is the entire Universe, and which is comprised of the Seven Rays which are the seven occult (i.e. hidden and unknown, except to the sufficiently initiated) forces and powers within the Universe.

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 Madame Blavatsky, adding that the Logos “is no personality but the universal principle.”

The universal archaic symbol relating to the Logos was that of the circle with the dot or point in the centre. In a chapter in “The Secret Doctrine” titled “Theogony of the Creative Gods,” we read the following:

“This first, or rather ONE, principle was called “the circle of Heaven,” symbolized by the hierogram of a point within a circle or equilateral triangle, the point being the LOGOS. Thus, in the Rig Veda, wherein Brahmā is not even named, Cosmogony is preluded with the Hiranyagharba, “the Golden Egg,” and Prajapati (Brahmā later on), from whom emanate all the hierarchies of “Creators.” … This Point is the First Cause, but THAT from which it emanates, or of which, rather, it is the expression, the Logos, is passed over in silence. In its turn, the universal symbol, the point within the circle, was not yet the Architect, but the cause of that Architect; and the latter stood to it in precisely the same relation as the point itself stood to the circumference of the Circle, which cannot be defined, according to Hermes Trismegistus.”

The point within the circle has also been portrayed as the number 1 inside the O, symbolising the First Cause (the Logos) which radiates forth from the Causeless Cause (the Absolute); the Universal One radiating forth from the Eternal Zero.

As has been shown throughout this explanatory article, the definite system of esoteric philosophy embodied in Theosophy always proceeds from universals to particulars, rather than attempting to go from particulars to universals. It starts off at the start, at the definite and fixed starting point of the Absolute and then proceeds progressively downwards. This is the famous Eastern method, the deductive, known in the West as the Platonic method because of that great initiate’s insistence upon it, whereas the inductive method of particulars to universals is the Aristotelian method, which – along with Aristotle himself – is sorely and justifiably criticised by HPB and the Masters.

The Master K.H. wrote, “What a common ruse it is of your Aristoteleans! With the sleuth hound’s persistence they track an idea to the very verge of the “impassable chasm,” and then brought to bay leave the metaphysicians to take up the trail if they can, or let it be lost.” HPB said in “Isis Unveiled” that the Platonic system must triumph over the Aristotelian, for the sake of the Western world. But how many of those who call themselves Theosophists today have even the faintest understanding or knowledge of either of the two?

Let us think for a moment and consider the fact that even basic mathematics proceeds from universals to particulars, clearly indicating that this is the correct, natural, logical, and accurate way to proceed, rather than going from particulars to universals. We always start off with the 0, then the 1, and then “the many” eventually and progressively arise from the 1. It would be foolish, as well as impossible, for mathematics to start off anywhere other than the definite ultimate starting point.

Similarly, genuine Theosophy deals with the Absolute (the “Eternal Zero,” the Boundless Abstract ALL) and the Universal Logos (the 1) which radiates forth from It, rather than concerning itself with lower, later, temporary (and thus illusory) manifestations such as a so-called Planetary Logos or Solar Logos, which are the main objects of attention amongst the pseudo-Theosophists, who also say that the various Logoi have worked their way up to the position of Logos through the path of initiation.

In all the 10,000+ pages of the writings of H.P. Blavatsky, spanning over fifteen years, the term “Solar Logos” is used only once – and even that is in a very different sense to the way later teachers have used the term – and the term “Planetary Logos” not at all. Nor are such terms ever used by William Judge (see Who was William Quan Judge?) or by any of the Masters, such as the Master M. and Master K.H., whose extensive writings have been left to us and made readily available for the perusal and study of anyone sufficiently interested in knowing what the actual Masters actually teach.

Theosophy, when speaking of the Logos, is almost always speaking exclusively of the Universal Logos. “Chaos-Theos-Kosmos” is a phrase used by HPB and the Masters in one part of “The Secret Doctrine” when talking about the origins and manifestation of the Universe. Chaos – Theos – Kosmos means the Absolute – the Logos – the Manifested Universe. That is the way in which it all proceeds and progresses.

Philosophically speaking, the Greek word “Chaos” does not have the same sense in which we use that term in modern everyday speech but rather refers to the formless state of Absoluteness. “Theos” translates as “God” in English and “Kosmos” spelt with a K rather than a C refers in Theosophical teachings to the Universe, rather than just the cosmos of our solar system, although of course that is included within it.

There is of course much more that could be said on this subject and much more has been said, particularly in “The Secret Doctrine” which the Master K.H., who claimed joint authorship of that book with the Master M. and HPB, described as the “epitome of occult truths” and said was to be the source “of information and instruction for the earnest student” for many long years to come. The Secret Doctrine itself – as in the esoteric Teaching which underlies all the world’s religions – is described in that work as “the synthesis of religion, philosophy, and science”…because it is the archaic and primeval source and fountainhead of all the Truth which exists in the various religions, philosophies, and sciences of the world.

The philosophy side of Theosophy is a vital and essential part of it. The word “philosophy” literally means “Love of Wisdom” or “Love of Truth,” wisdom and truth being synonymous in olden times. The term has developed a rather negative connotation here in the West, due to the dry, dusty, soulless, and over-intellectual speculative philosophy that sprung up and then withered away here over the past few centuries.

In “Studies in The Secret Doctrine,” B.P. Wadia wrote, “During the last several centuries metaphysical philosophy has been a very useless kind of speculative hair-splitting all over Europe. The Western world has first to be trained in the idea that the philosophy of the Ancients is far from speculative and that Eastern metaphysics is a science that is highly practical. The writings of H.P.B. go to make this amply clear. In our own Theosophical Movement we have suffered through the obtuseness of many early students who failed to see the reasons for viewing, studying and examining the teachings of the Masters through H.P.B. in their true setting and perspective, viz., metaphysical and philosophical.”

Spirituality divorced from philosophy is often little more than idiocy, as has been painfully demonstrated by the Spiritualist movement and by the channelled teachings and messages and angel mania that characterise the New Age movement. But whereas such things come and go, the Ancient and Ageless Wisdom ever remains, for it is Timeless Truth and the Truth never changes. Theosophy is here for anyone and everyone who wants it. The door is open…why not walk on in and find the answers to your questions?

~ Blavatsky Theosophy Group UK ~

You may also like to read: The Three LogoiAlaya – The Universal Soul, An Invitation to The Secret Doctrine, Who wrote The Secret Doctrine?, Unity of the World’s Religions, Theosophy: The Ancient Wisdom, Original Theosophy and Later Versions, and How to successfully study the Teachings of H.P. Blavatsky.

Comments

  1. Hello, after reading Geoffrey Barborka’s book “The divine Plan,” I was curious about what he terms “The Solar Lha” or Solar Logos. Also reading in the “Secret Doctrine” vol.II, pp.29-9 “The Globe propelled onward by the Spirit of earth and his six assistants, gets all its vital forces, life and powers through the medium of the seven planetary Dhyanis from the Spirit of the Sun. They are his messengers of Light and Life. Barborka says the “Spirit of the Sun” stands for the Solar Logos. So my question is, does original Theosophy recognize a Dhyani or Lha that could be called the Solar Logos? Appreciate any thoughts, and the efforts of Blavatsky Theosophy Group UK for making more accessible Pure Theosophy.

    • Hello and thank you for your question and comments.

      It’s plausible that “the Spirit of the Sun” could be termed the “Solar Logos” if one really wanted to do so but this isn’t done anywhere in the original Theosophical teachings and literature, with the exception – as mentioned in the above article – of one very brief reference in Vol. 2 of “The Secret Doctrine.”

      There’s nowhere in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky or the Masters in which a Dhyani or any entity is described as the “Solar Logos.” One of the reasons for this is because a Logos is never a Being or Entity but a Principle…an impersonal Energy or Force.

      Having never read “The Divine Plan,” I can’t comment on it although I’ve heard some good things about it. But it’s possible, from what you say, that Geoffrey Barborka may have been a bit gratuitous with his use of certain terms.

  2. I believe you’ve confused the subjective and objective here. Should not the Absolute be the Objective, with the Logos being the Subjective? I do believe the Absolute would be all encompassing both subject and object, however, in my humble opinion I do not see how the Absolute can be subjective while the Logos is objective.

    • Thank you for your comment but with all due respect, just as you “do not see how the Absolute can be subjective while the Logos is objective” we do not see how the opposite could be the case.

      The descriptions and choice of phrases used in the article are the same as those given in the teachings of Theosophy, as one can see by referring in particular to “The Secret Doctrine” by H.P. Blavatsky, which talks at quite some length about the Logos and the Absolute.

      It’s true of course that most uses of the terms “subjective” and “objective” are relative. For example, the next highest plane above the physical plane – call it the astral – is subjective for those whose consciousness is currently operating only on the physical plane. For the latter, the physical plane is the one which is objective and all the higher planes are subjective.

      If one functions consciously on the astral plane, however, then the astral plane has now become objective for them, whilst the next higher plane is still subjective for them but not for those whose consciousness is awake and active in it…and so on and so on.

      So as regards the various planes of being, we could say that “one man’s subjective is another man’s objective.”

      But as regards the Absolute and the Logos – or, as we could say, the Absolute and ITS Logos – the very fact of the Absolute being ABSOLUTE means that It is always subjective and that in relation to It the Logos can only ever be viewed as objective. How could it be otherwise?

      As was said in the article:
      – – –
      The key to the understanding of this concept is found in the word “Logos” itself, which is a Greek word equating to “Speech,” “Word,” “Verbum,” and “Voice.” It is actually a Platonic term, although the concept itself predates Plato by long ages. The whole idea behind the literal meaning of the word “Logos” is that It is the EXPRESSION in manifestation of the subjective, silent, and ever concealed Absolute. …

      The Logos, then, is the objective expression of the subjective and abstract Absolute or the Word coming forth out of the Silence. And this has to happen in order to bring the Universe into being, since the Absolute – due to the very fact of Its absoluteness – cannot bring anything into being by Itself.
      – – –

      If we agree on the basic definitions and explanations expressed here about what the Logos is, then I’m not sure how we can disagree on the use of the terms “subjective” and “objective” in relation to it.

      If we take a microcosmic illustration of the macrocosmic reality, the words that we speak out of our own mouth could be called our own logos, using the term in its literal rather than philosophical and metaphysical sense. And who would not agree that verbally spoken and audible words are something objective? For one thing, they can be perceived and heard by others and have a direct effect on the physical plane.

      But those words are only the outer expression and manifestation of something which is WITHIN, i.e. our concealed and invisible inner thought, will, ideation, and consciousness.

      Is not this therefore subjective and the speech objective? It’s in this sense that the terms are used in the article and in Theosophy when discussing the Absolute and the Logos.

      • Thanks for the reply! I’ve read your reply and I believe we are using these terms in similar but very different ways.

        I see the terms Absolute and Relative as synonymous with Objective and Subjective, respectively. For me, objective implies the quality of being true regardless of one’s individual subjective biases or opinions. I realize this scrutiny is trivial and pales in comparison to the significance of understanding the Absolute vs. the Logos, but I see the term objective very differently. I use the term objective reality as meaning the ultimate reality. In my view, the Logos is the expression and subjective manifestation of the objective Absolute.

        For me, subjective means influenced by personal feelings, biases, or opinions; objective means NOT influenced by personal feelings biases, or opinions; impartial; unbiased; neutral.

        I see our thought as well as our speech as being subjective. For your thoughts are different than my thoughts, and I see them as two subjective views rather than objective views.

        If the Absolute is forever and eternally unchanged, how can it be considered subjective?

        However, I do understand your use of the term. I can understand what you’re saying about how those on the Astral Plane would view the Physical Plane as objective, or perhaps how those on the Mental Plane would view the Astral Plane as objective, I’m simply using the term in a different way then you are.

        I see all reality as only being subjective, with the exception of the infinite macrocosmic Absolute. For all reality requires thinker and object, Shiva and Shakti, if you will. The only reality where thinker and object are truly One would be within the Absolute, the ultimate reality!

        My head is about to explode, but I figured I would attempt to rectify the situation. We are both right. Adonai!

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