Old wisdom, new insights
By Søren Hauge and Kenneth Sørensen
It has been our intention from the start to present a modern version of the philosophy of the Seven Rays. As with many exponents of Western mindfulness, we have focused our exploration into the psychological element, choosing to omit underlying cosmological considerations. But, in a book focused on psychoenergetics, it would be reasonable to briefly cover the historical roots of the Seven Types.
The ancient wisdom traditions evolved throughout history across many cultures, with a core of teachings that have been expanded, maintained and held sacred by countless practitioners. A key aspect of these traditions is an attempt to encapsulate and understand the diverse range of types that we find expressed in humanity. Indeed, the primary focus of the Seven Types, which is an updated version of the ancient philosophy of the Seven Rays, is an attempt to explain human diversity. In modern psychology, this study of types is referred to as differential psychology.
With the ancient traditions, astrology, which examines the zodiac and its astrological signs, is both a typology and an example of profound psychological wisdom; in its esoteric form, astrology has a close association with the philosophy of the Seven Rays.
Another ancient typological system is the teaching of the four temperaments associated with the elements earth, water, air and fire. Invaluable insights can be also found in the ancient Indian understanding of the three basic forms of energy that are reflected in consciousness – the Gunas – namely tamas (inertia), rajas (motion) and sattva (rhythm).
In recent times, Carl Gustav Jung reformulated the wisdom of the four temperaments with his archetypal psychological types (sensation, intuition, thinking and feeling – each with an introverted and extroverted expression), which he presented in his book Psychological Types in 1921. An expanded version of Jung’s theory was later developed as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which describes 16 possible psychological types. Another modern attempt to understand the spectrum of human nature is the Enneagram, which was developed primarily by George Gurdjieff, Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo, and which also has references to ancient wisdom. Also in recent times, medical science has developed a typological system to categorise pathology; in the field of psychiatry, the ICD-10 and DSM-IV manuals are attempts to categorise pathological symptoms to assist in the treatment of personality disorders.
These are just a few of the numerous systems and methods for understanding the spectrum of human nature, with each of them offering valuable insights and practical tools.
Why just seven energies?
Given the variety of systems that have been proposed throughout history, why have we settled on a model that proposes we are comprised of seven basic energies, not more or less? To answer this question, it will be helpful to see how teachings about seven energies, or rays, have arisen in perhaps all cultures throughout history, with each different expression offering unique perspectives on the same spiritual wisdom1. Let’s look at some of these models of seven.
There are old Persian’s teachings about the seven Amesha Spentans which penetrate the universe and characterise all of life. These teachings have a close correspondence with the esoteric Kabbalah of the Jews, which describes the universe as a tree of ten sephirot, or names, of which the first three form a foundation out of which the other seven unfold.
In Greek mythology, Zeus takes the form of the bull Taurus that shines with “seven rays of fire”. In the Chaldean oracle of the second century, the Seven Rays are understood to be the cleansing rays of the sun Helios. In the Hindu tradition, we find teachings about the seven rishis, or seven-fold lotus. The Indian mystic Sri Aurobindo refers to the seven rays and to the seven heavenly rivers that created the universe. Hinduism also teaches us about the seven lokas (planes of existence) and the seven chakras (energy centres), as well as describing seven horses that pull the sun god Surya’s sky carriage.
In Christianity, we have the seven archangels, as well as the seven angels that gather around the throne of God to oversee creation. There are the seven deadly sins (pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth) and the seven virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope and charity/love). The Bible is filled with symbolism of the number seven: the seven days of creation, the seven-branched candlestick, the seven congregations, the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, the seven lean years and the seven plentiful years, to mention a few.
Other historical references include the seven stages of life, the seven liberal arts, the seven classical planets, the seven-part diatonic scale, the seven-day week, and the seven colours of the rainbow. Pleiades is referred to as the Seven Stars or Seven Sisters, and the seven largest stars of the Big Dipper are well-known. We have the “seven-mile boots” and seventh heaven. The cult of Mithras had seven altars and seven mysteries. The seven wonders of ancient times are another example… we could go on. These examples all serve to show that the seven-fold division is not a new invention but seems to illustrate a number and constellation that has been universally perceived to be of profound significance.
With the rise of theosophy in the late eighteenth century, the philosophy of the Seven Rays reached a wide audience. H.P. Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society, describes the rays in her book The Secret Doctrine. Later, other well-known theosophists explored the subject, but it was primarily through Alice Bailey’s extensive work that the philosophy of the Seven Rays became widespread in esoteric circles.2
You can read more about some of the esoteric pioneers in chapter one.
1 See Wikipedia for descriptions and references: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_rays
2 See literature list in Appendix.