In the Secret Wisdom Teaching the term ‘plane’ is used a lot. In this contemplation shall the different planes be thematized, and then especially in relation to the constitution of man.
What is a plane? Because the term ‘plane’ is sometimes interchangingly used with the term ‘world’1 it may be tempting to think of the planes as being some sort of localities. A plane however is not a locality but is essentially a state of consciousness2 or a state of being.3
Different grades of consciousness are discerned in the Secret Wisdom Teaching which can be categorized in several ways. First of all a distinction is made between coherent (or coordinated) consciousness and incoherent (or uncoordinated) consciousness. Coherent consciousness distincts itself from incoherent consciousness in its recognition of itself as a separate identity.4 All grades of consciousness under the human are considered as incoherent. Human consciousness and all grades upwards are considered as coherent.5 Below the human consciousness we find animal, vegetable and mineral consciousness, and atomic consciousness. Above we find causal consciousness, planetary consciousness and logoic consciousness.6 ‘Human consciousness’ here refers to consciousness as a human personality where ‘causal consciousness’ refers to consciousness as a human soul.7 Planetary consciousness concerns consciousness of a planetary Logos (or planetary entity, or Heavenly Man) where Logoic consciousness concerns that of a solar Logos (or solar entity, or Grand Heavenly Man).8, 9 In still other terms are grades of consciousness lower than the human termed plainly as ‘consciousness’, is human consciousness termed as ‘self-consciousness’, planetary consciousness as ‘group consciousness’ and Logoic consciousness as ‘God consciousness’.10
Now these grades of consciousness are not static but are evolving and expanding.11 Subhuman consciousness expands towards human consciousness, human towards planetary and planetary towards solar.12 And the solar Logos on its turn works to attain to the consciousness of a cosmic Logos.13 In this evolution of one grade of consciousness to another also different subgrades can be discerned (with the progression from one of these to another being called ‘initiation’14).15
To this overview should be added that one entity carries within itself entities smaller in consciousness and that it is itself part of an entity greater in consciousness. Atoms are part of a man, men are part of a planetary Logos, planetary Logoi are part of a solar Logos and solar Logoi are part of a cosmic Logos.16
Here we shall not go into details of initiations and expansion of consciousness of the different entities. The above overview is only used to bring to the fore that the different planes as states of consciousness are related to different entities. And as we shall see is in the Secret Wisdom Teaching prime attention given to the planes related to our solar Logos because these are also the most important where the evolution of man is concerned.
In contemplating the different planes of the different entities the Law of Correspondences and the occult method shall be followed.
The Law of Correspondences, or Law of Analogy,17 dictates that everything in the universe follows analogy18 and that the principles of the greater are repeated in the smaller.19 ‘As above, so below’ is the dictum. Now what is a characteristic principle of this universe is that it is septenary,20 or sevenfold.21 So what we will find septenary in the macrocosmos we will find too septenary in the microcosmos.22 The greater sevenfold will be reflected in the smaller sevenfold. And the smaller sevenfold will correspond with the greater sevenfold. This goes for universes, solar systems, planets, humans, atoms and all left unmentioned.23 This then goes also for the planes to which the mentioned entities are related. The planes are septenary in nature and the greater sevenfold of planes reflects in the smaller sevenfold of planes (which to the greater planes are subplanes).24
Now before enumerating the different planes it should be mentioned that in doing this the occult method shall be applied. In this method the regarded subject is ever approached from the greater towards to smaller, from the whole towards the part, from the periphery towards the centre, from the universal towards the particular and from the cosmic towards the individual.25 Thus applying the occult method on the septenary planes, while adhering to the Law of Correspondences, shall we work from the greater towards the smaller septenary planes.
Recapitulating what has been contemplated so far it can be said that the planes are septenary grades of consciousness belonging to entities of different grades. These septenary grades shall in principle be similar for all grades of entities under the Law of Correspondences. Let us first, abiding to the Law of Correspondence, enumerate the septenary planes here in their difference among each other without yet relating them to any of the grades of entities. After this enumeration, following the occult method, it can be sketched how these planes manifest in relation with different grades of entities.
The first plane is the highest26 and is primarily called ‘plane adi’.27 It is also mentioned as ‘divine plane’, ‘archetypal plane’28 and ‘Logoic plane’29. The second plane is primarily called ‘monadic plane’ and is also mentioned as ‘anupadaka’. The third plane is primarily called ‘atmic plane’ and is further called ‘spiritual plane’. The fourth plane is primarily called ‘buddhic plane’ and is further called ‘intuitional plane’. The fifth is called ‘mental plane’ and is further called ‘manasic plane’, the sixth ‘astral plane’ and is further called ‘emotional plane’ or ‘kamaic plane’30 and the seventh and lowest plane is called ‘physical plane’.31, 32 Note that these planes are also, and most primarily, mentioned by their numbering as ‘first plane’, ‘second plane’, ‘third plane’, ‘fourth plane’, ‘fifth plane’, ‘sixth plane’ and ‘seventh plane’.
Now following the occult method the first sevenfold of planes (being greater in line) to mention are; ‘cosmic adi’, ‘cosmic monadic’, ‘cosmic atmic’, ‘cosmic buddhic’, ‘cosmic mental’, ‘cosmic astral’ and ‘cosmic physical’.
When continuing from these sevenfold cosmic planes to the sevenfold solar planes it should be remembered what was brought to the fore in the first paragraph. Planes are grades of consciousness related to grades of entities and a smaller entity is part of a greater entity. Thus is a smaller sevenfold of planes part of a greater sevenfold of planes, and this is seen in the relation of the seven solar planes with the seven cosmic planes. The seven solar planes are seven subplanes of the lowest cosmic plane, the cosmic physical.33 This being the case also adds names of reference to these solar planes. The first solar plane is besides with ‘solar plane adi’, ‘solar divine plane’, etcetera, also referred to with the names ‘first cosmic ether’, ‘atomic plane’ and ‘sea of fire’. The second is also called ‘second cosmic ether’, ‘sub-atomic plane’ and ‘akasha’, the third ‘third cosmic ether’ ‘super-etheric plane’ and ‘aether’, the fourth ‘fourth cosmic ether’, ‘super-gaseous plane’ and ‘air’, the fifth ‘cosmic gaseous’, ‘sub-etheric plane’ and ‘fire’, the sixth ‘cosmic liquid’ and ‘water’,34 and the seventh solar plane is also called ‘cosmic dense’, ‘dense plane’ and ‘earth’.35 These seven solar planes are also given names such as ‘first cosmic physical subplane’, ‘second cosmic physical subplane’, etcetera.
Now in line with the Law of Correspondence is the relation as sketched between the cosmic physical plane and the solar planes repeated on all planes and subplanes. The solar planes are subplanes of the cosmic physical plane. However every cosmic plane has seven subplanes. And likewise does every solar plane have seven subplanes (which from cosmic perspective would be subsubplanes). For instance the solar physical plane consists of seven solar physical subplanes which are called ‘first ether’, ‘second ether’, ‘third ether’, ‘fourth ether’, ‘gaseous’, ‘liquid’ and ‘dense’. Now the majority of men are as yet only functioning consciously on the three lowest of the solar physical subplanes; the gaseous, the liquid and the dense.36 With this explication we have a point of reference from which the other planes can be navigated (even if only theoretically).
Before proceeding with taking a wider view on the relation of men with the planes it may be useful to take a look at figure 1 where an overview is drawn of what has been contemplated in this paragraph.
Consciousness and Polarisation
Towards the end of the previous paragraph it was explicated that the majority of men are as yet only functioning consciously on the three lowest of the solar physical subplanes; the gaseous, the liquid and the dense. In the first paragraph it was also brought to the fore however that the grades of consciousness, such as that of man, are not static but are evolving and expanding. Thus is man not statically fixed on the three lowest solar physical subplanes. Even in these days there are men that have developed already etheric vision,37 and in the coming centuries it is mentioned to become as natural as is dense, liquid and gaseous vision now.38
Here a distinction needs to be made between consciousness and polarisation.39 The majority of men is today conscious on the three lower solar physical subplanes but is polarised either on the solar emotional or mental plane.40 ‘Polarisation’ here refers to the working of higher principles of an entity through its lower principles. In an astral polarised man for instance uses a man’s soul principally that man’s astral body as a vehicle.41
The above subparagraph was included to make clear that man’s consciousness is not statically fixed on the three lowest solar physical subplanes, and that likewise his polarisation is not statically fixed in his astral body, but that there is a gradual expansion upwards. This expansion upwards through the different planes can be made understandable by explicating, shortly, the different principles in man’s constitution.
Basically seven principles are found in man on six of the seven solar planes. That there are seven solar planes and that seven principles are found in man shows the presence of the Law of Correspondence, however that these seven principles are found on only six solar planes shows that this Law needs correct interpretation.
So seven principles are found in man on six solar planes. Let us enumerate the principles here with their corresponding plane. Counting conform the occult method we find as first principle the monad on the monadic plane. The second principle is atma (spiritual will) on the atmic plane. The third is buddhi (intuition) on the buddhic plane. Fourth is buddhi-manas (higher manas, abstract mind) on the mental plane. Fifth is kama-manas (lower manas, concrete mind) on the mental plane. Sixth is kama (desire, feeling) on the astral plane. And the seventh principle is that of prana (vital energy) on the physical plane.42 In this enumeration it may be noticed that the highest principle of man is not on the first and highest solar plane, but on the second. It is not found on the solar divine but on the solar monadic plane. It may also be noticed that both buddhi-manas and kama-manas are found on the mental plane. These two principles however are found on different subplanes of the solar mental plane. Buddhi-manas is found on the first subplane and kama-manas on the fifth.43
That more must be explained about the constituting principles of man on the solar manasic plane shall become clear when we take the above sketched septenary constitution together into a threefold constitution, consisting of monad, soul (or ego) and personality.44 In this threefold are the physical, kama and kama-manas constituent of the personality and are buddhi-manas, buddhi and atma this of the soul. The monad as monad completes the sevenfold constitution taken into the threefold constitution. Here it should be remarked that the monad, although one, is a threefold (in line with the Law of Correspondences), consisting of will or power, of love-wisdom and of active intelligence.45 This monad, being the highest principle in man, uses the lower principles as vehicles or as bodies of expression.46
Now these bodies through which the monad expresses itself have on the highest (or atomic) subplane of their corresponding solar plane a focal point that “serves as a nucleus for the distribution of force, for the conservation of faculty, for the assimilation of experience, and for the preservation of memory” named ‘permanent atom’.47 For kama-manas however this focal point, named ‘mental unit’, is found on the fifth subplane of the solar mental plane.48 On the third solar mental subplane still another body is found, namely the egoic body, also called ‘causal vehicle’, ‘karana sarira’ or ‘twelve-petalled lotus’.49 This regards the body of the soul.50
We shall not go deeper here into details of the constitution of man as the goal of the present contemplation was merely to give an overview of the constitution of man on the planes. This overview, as thematized in the present paragraph, is drawn in figure 2. For a deeper understanding of the constitution of man other contemplations may be undertaken.
We set out to contemplate man on the planes. For this first the planes were taken in consideration. A plane was found to be essentially a state of consciousness and as such related to an entity. Man is such an entity. In contemplating the planes the Law of Correspondences and the occult method were followed. Following thus we came to an enumeration as given in figure 1. Then, after enumerating the principles in man, could the latter be placed on their corresponding planes, resulting in an overview as drawn in figure 2.
May this overview, elucidated somewhat in this contemplation, contribute to a clearer understanding of man on the planes.
|1st Cosmic -, - Adi, Divine -, Logoic -, Archetypal -|
|2nd Cosmic -, Anupadaka, Monadic -|
|3rd Cosmic -, Atmic -, Spiritual -|
|4th Cosmic -, Buddhic -, Intuitional -|
|5th Cosmic -, Manasic -, Mental -|
|6th Cosmic -, Astral -, Kamic -, Emotional -|
|7th Cosmic -, Physical -|
|1st Cosmic Physical sub-, 1st Cosmic Ether, 1st Solar -, - Adi, Divine -, Logoic -, Archetypal -|
|2nd Cosmic Physical sub-, 2nd Cosmic Ether, 2nd Solar -, Anupadaka, Monadic -|
|3rd Cosmic Physical sub-, 3rd Cosmic Ether, 3rd Solar -, Atmic -, Spiritual -|
|4th Cosmic Physical sub-, 4th Cosmic Ether, 4th Solar -, Buddhic -, Intuitional -|
|5th Cosmic Physical sub-, Cosmic Gaseous, 5th Solar -, Manasic -, Mental -|
|6th Cosmic Physical sub-, Cosmic Liquid , 6th Solar -, Astral -, Kamic -, Emotional -|
|7th Cosmic Physical sub-, Cosmic Dense, 7th Solar -, Physical -|
|1st Solar Physical sub-, 1st Ether|
|2nd Solar Physical sub-, 2nd Ether|
|3rd Solar Physical sub-, 3rd Ether|
|4th Solar Physical sub-, 4th Ether|
|5th Solar Physical sub-, Gaseous|
|6th Solar Physical sub-, Liquid|
|7th Solar Physical sub-, Dense|