Sevenfold Constitution of Nature and Man

BCW H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, TPH, 1950-91
DGDP The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, A.L. Conger (ed.), TUP, 2nd ed., 1997
ET The Esoteric Tradition, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1973
FEP Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1979
FSO Fountain-Source of Occultism, G. de Purucker, TUP, 1974
HPBM     H.P. Blavatsky: The Mystery, G. de Purucker, PLP, 1974
Key The Key to Theosophy, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1972 (1889)
Ocean The Ocean of Theosophy, W.Q. Judge, TUP, 1973 (1893)
OG Occult Glossary, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1996
SD Occult Glossary, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1977 (1888)
SDC Secret Doctrine Commentary: Stanzas I-IV, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1994 (1890-91)

The seven substance-principles of the human constitution:
the higher
1. spirit (atman); 2. spiritual soul (buddhi); 3. mind (manas)
the lower
4. animal desires and passions (kama); 5. life or vital principle (prana); 6. astral body (linga-sharira); 7. physical body (sthula-sharira). (see Key 92-3)

1. Atman The essential self, pure consciousness. The essential and radical power or faculty which gives us and every other entity its sentient consciousness of pure selfhood.
2. Buddhi    The faculty or spiritual organ which manifests as intuition, understanding, judgement, discrimination. It is the inseparable veil or garment of atman.
3. Manas The centre or organ of the ego-consciousness in man and in any other quasi-selfconscious entity; the seat of the ‘I am I’.
4. Kama The organ or seat of the vital psycho-electric impulses, desires, aspirations, considered in their energic aspect, and therefore the driving force in the human constitution. As every principle is sevenfold, there is a divine and spiritual kama as well as a grossly emotional kama, with all intermediate stages.
5. Prana ‘Life’, or more accurately the electromagnetic veil or ‘electrical field’ manifesting in the individual as vitality.
6.   Linga-
The astral model-body, slightly more ethereal than the physical body; the astral framework around which the physical body is built, atom for atom, and from which it develops as growth proceeds.
7. Sthula-
The physical body. Strictly speaking, it is not a real ‘principle’, but functions as the common ‘carrier’ of all the inner constitution during any lifetime on earth.
(see ET 949-50, HPBM 171-2)

Threefold division:

Spirit   The essential or spiritual self, the divine-spiritual monad, unconditionally immortal throughout the galactic maha-manvantara. The source from which flow all the lower portions of man’s constitution.
Soul Seat of the human ego, which is dual: the higher part or reincarnating ego aspires upwards and partakes of the immortality of the upper duad, while the lower part or ordinary human ego is attracted downwards and is mortal.
The physical human frame and its invisible vital-astral forces and substances. As a triadic vehicle or veil it is mortal throughout.
(see ET 958-9, HPBM 173)

‘[In the above diagram] man’s seven principles and elements are divided into three separate parts: a lowest triad, purely mortal and perishable; an intermediate duad, psychical, composite, and mostly mortal, kama-manas, the “man” proper, or “human nature”; and a higher duad, atma-buddhi, immortal, imperishable, the monad. At the death of the human being, this higher duad carries away with it all the spiritual essence, the aroma, of the lower or intermediate duad; and then the higher duad is the higher self, the reincarnating individuality, or egoic monad. Man’s ordinary consciousness in life at this stage of evolution is almost wholly in the lower or intermediate duad; when he raises his consciousness to become one with the higher duad, he becomes a mahatma, a master.’ (FEP 199-200)

Cosmic principles:

The Boundless


cosmic monad

The supreme monadic self of any cosmic hierarchy. The root from which flows forth in descending serial order all the other six principles or elements of the universe. The first or unmanifest logos.


anima mundi, cosmic aether

The seat or origin of the cosmic soul; the source of all intelligence, order, regularity, and ‘laws’ in the universe or hierarchy. The second or quasi-manifest logos.


cosmic mind

The source or centre of all monadic individualities in the hierarchy; individualized intelligence, mind, consciousness, as contrasted with the universal (no. 2). The third or ‘creative’ logos. Manifest purusha-prakriti.

4. Cosmic kama

‘Desire’ in the sense of pure impersonal universal compassion and sympathy; the source of the cosmic driving or impelling energies of the universe. The womb of fohat, considered as the motive yet intelligently guided force or forces of the hierarchical universe.


Cosmic jiva
or vitality

The cosmic psycho-electromagnetic field; the fountain and source of the cosmic vitality permeating all beings and things in the hierarchy and from which all these individuals derive their respective pranas.


Astral light,
cosmic ether

The lowest actively functioning aspect of anima mundi (no. 2). It is to the cosmic hierarchy what the model-body or linga-sharira is to the human body. It is the great reservoir which receives and stores all the effluxes and emanations of the earth (or any other globe of the hierarchy) and radiates them back, producing epidemics and diseases. The lower degrees of the kama-loka are situated in the astral light.

7.   Sthula-sharira   

The physical universe – the outward shell or body of the six more ethereal element-principles.

(see ET 952-4)

* * *

‘[W]e divide man into seven principles, but this does not mean that he has, as it were, seven skins, or entities, or souls. These principles are all aspects of one principle, and even this principle is but a temporary and periodical ray of the One eternal and infinite Flame or Fire.’ (SDC 33-4)

‘[T]he only difference between animate and inanimate objects on earth, between an animal and a human frame, is that in some the various “fires” are latent, and in others they are active. The vital fires are in all things and not an atom is devoid of them. But no animal has the three higher principles awakened in him; they are simply potential, latent, and thus non-existing.’ (SD 2:267)

‘Between man and the animal – whose Monads (or Jivas) are fundamentally identical – there is the impassible abyss of Mentality and Self-consciousness. What is human mind in its higher aspect, whence comes it, if it is not a portion of the essence – and, in some rare cases of incarnation, the very essence – of a higher Being: one from a higher and divine plane?’ (SD 2:81)

‘[Occultism] shows in man two Egos (two aspects of the same divine principle), the higher, or Individuality, and the lower, or Personality, in other words, the divine and the animal man. It is these two that during our lifetime are in incessant struggle, the one trying to gravitate heavenward, the other dragged down by its animal nature to the earth earthy.’ (BCW 12:415)

‘[We] have to admit a lower (animal), and a higher (or divine) mind in man, or what is known in Occultism as the “personal” and the “impersonal” Egos. For, between the psychic and the noetic, between the Personality and the Individuality, there exists the same abyss as between a “Jack the Ripper,” and a holy Buddha.’ (BCW 12:353)

‘To understand [the difference between individuality and personality] well, you have to first study the dual sets of “principles”: the spiritual, or those which belong to the imperishable Ego; and the material, or those principles which make up the ever-changing bodies or the series of personalities of that Ego. ...

I. Atma, the “Higher Self,” is neither your Spirit nor mine, but like sunlight shines on all. It is the universally diffused “divine principle,” and is inseparable from its one and absolute Meta-Spirit, as the sunbeam is inseparable from sunlight.
II. Buddhi (the spiritual soul) is only its vehicle. Neither each separately, nor the two collectively, are of any more use to the body of man, than sunlight and its beams are for a mass of granite buried in the earth, unless the divine Duad is assimilated by, and reflected in, some consciousness. Neither Atma nor Buddhi are ever reached by Karma, because the former is the highest aspect of Karma, its working agent of itself in one aspect, and the other is unconscious on this plane. This consciousness or mind is,
III.  Manas,* the derivation or product in a reflected form of Ahamkara, “the conception of I,” or EGO-SHIP. It is, therefore, when inseparably united to the first two, called the SPIRITUAL EGO, and Taijasi (the radiant). This is the real Individuality, or the divine man. It is this Ego which – having originally incarnated in the senseless human form animated by, but unconscious (since it had no consciousness) of, the presence in itself of the dual monad – made of that human-like form a real man. It is that Ego, that “Causal Body,” which overshadows every personality Karma forces it to incarnate into; and this Ego which is held responsible for all the sins committed through, and in, every new body or personality – the evanescent masks which hide the true Individual through the long series of rebirths. ... [I]t knows and remembers its misdeeds as well as you remember what you have done yesterday. Is it because the memory of that bundle of physical compounds called “body” does not recollect what its predecessor (the personality that was) did, that you imagine that the real Ego has forgotten them?’
  *‘MAHAT or the “Universal Mind” is the source of Manas. The latter is Mahat, i.e., mind, in man. Manas is also called Kshetrajna, “embodied Spirit,” because it is, according to our philosophy, the Manasa-putras, or “Sons of the Universal Mind,” who created, or rather produced, the thinking man, “manu,” by incarnating in the third Race mankind in our Round. It is Manas, therefore, which is the real incarnating and permanent Spiritual Ego, the INDIVIDUALITY, and our various and numberless personalities only its external masks.’ (Key 135-6)

‘Theosophists draw a clear and sharp distinction, not of essence but of quality, between personality and individuality. Personality comes from the Latin word persona, which means a mask, through which the actor, the spiritual individuality, speaks. The personality is all the lower man: all the psychical and astral and physical impulses and thoughts and tendencies ... The higher triad is the individuality; the personality is the lower quaternary. ... The personality comprises within its range all the characteristics and memories and impulses and karmic attributes of one physical life; whereas the individuality is the aeonic ego, imperishable and deathless for the period of a solar manvantara. It is the individuality through its ray or human astral-vital monad which reincarnates time after time and thus clothes itself in one personality after another personality.’ (OG 126-7)
    ‘The individuality is the spiritual-intellectual and immortal part of us; deathless, at least for the duration of the kosmic manvantara – the root, the very essence of us, the spiritual sun within, our inner god. The personality is the veil, the mask, composed of various sheaths of consciousness through which the individuality acts.’ (OG 65)

* * *

‘[T]he old Sanskrit word describes [the astral model-body] exactly – linga sharira, the design body – because it is the design or model for the physical body. This is better than “ethereal body,” as the latter might be said to be subsequent to the physical, whereas in fact the astral body precedes the material one.
    ‘The astral body is made of matter of very fine texture as compared with the visible body, and has a great tensile strength, so that it changes but little during a lifetime, while the physical alters every moment. And not only has it this immense strength, but at the same time possesses an elasticity permitting its extension to a considerable distance. It is flexible, plastic, extensible, and strong. The matter of which it is composed is electrical and magnetic in its essence, and is just what the whole world was composed of in the dim past when the processes of evolution had not yet arrived at the point of producing the material body for man. ...
    ‘The astral body is the guiding model for the physical one, and all the other kingdoms have the same astral model. Vegetables, minerals, and animals, have the ethereal double, and this theory is the only one which will answer the question how it is that the seed produces its own kind and all sentient beings bring forth their like. ...
    ‘[T]he model for the growing child in the womb is the astral body already perfect in shape before the child is born. It is on this the molecules arrange themselves until the child is complete, and the presence of the ethereal design-body will explain how the form grows into shape, how the eyes push themselves out from within to the surface of the face, and many other mysterious matters in embryology ...
    ‘The astral body has in it the real organs of the outer sense organs. In it are the sight, hearing, power to smell, and the sense of touch. It has a complete system of nerves and arteries of its own for the conveyance of the astral fluid which is to that body as our blood is to the physical. It is the real personal man. There are located the sub-conscious perception and the latent memory, which the hypnotizers of the day are dealing with and being baffled by.’ (Ocean 43-7)

‘[The kama-rupa or “desire body”] is that part of man’s inner constitution in which dwell or inhere the various desires, affections, hates, loves – in short, the various mental and psychical energies. After death it becomes the vehicle in the astral worlds of the higher principles of the man that was. But these higher principles are nevertheless scarcely conscious of the fact, because the rupture of the golden cord of life at the moment of the physical death plunges the cognizing personal entity into a merciful stupor of unconsciousness, in which stupor it remains a longer or shorter period depending upon its qualities of spirituality or materiality. ...
    ‘After death, ... there occurs what is called the second death, which is the separation of the immortal part of the second or intermediate duad from the lower portions of this duad, which lower portions remain as the kama-rupa in the etheric or higher astral spheres which are intermediate between the devachanic and the earthly spheres. In time this kama-rupa gradually fades out in its turn, its life-atoms at such dissolution passing on to their various and unceasing peregrinations.
    ‘It is this kama-rupa which legend and story in the various ancient world religions or philosophies speak of as the shade and which it has been customary in the Occident to call the spook or ghost. It is, in short, all the mortal elements of the human soul that was. The kama-rupa is an exact astral duplicate, in appearance and mannerism, of the man who died; it is his eidolon or “image.” ’ (OG 78-9)

‘The kama-rupa, which becomes the vehicle for the unconscious or quasi-conscious entity in the kama-loka, is actually forming constantly during the life of the individual ... [It] is one of the most fluidic, changeable and plastic parts of our constitution, for it undergoes modification with every passing mood, indeed with every passing thought. ...
    ‘However, after the death of the physical body there is no further change or growth of the kama-rupic form, it remaining more or less static, all modifications being of the nature of disintegration or slow decay. It is really that portion of the human constitution which is the kama-manasic-astral seat or focus of the passional, emotional, lower mental and psychic attributes ...
    ‘During life the constantly changing kama-rupa has its seat in the linga-sharira, or uses it as a vehicle; and the linga-sharira, instantly responding to the various emotional and passional movements in the kama-rupa, in its turn communicates these as impulses to the physical body, which then responds in corresponding action.
    ‘Now it is the human ego which works through the kama-rupa during incarnation, exactly as the kama-rupa works through the linga-sharira, and this last again through the body. In fact, it is correct enough to say that the personal man, which is the reflection and usually distorted radiance of the reincarnating ego or human monad, is this kama-rupa itself; because, being a collection of skandhas, the kama-rupa is the expression of the merely personal qualities of the human ego.’ (FSO 579, 664)

‘[The mayavi-rupa, “illusory body”, or “thought-body” is] a higher astral-mental form. [It] can assume all forms or any form, at the will of an Adept. ... [T]he Adept is enabled to project his consciousness in the mayavi-rupa to what would seem to the uninitiated incredible distances, while the physical body is left, as it were, intranced.’ (OG 105)

‘[The higher triad is the] imperishable spiritual ego considered as a unity. It is the reincarnating part of man’s constitution which clothes itself in each earth-life in a new personality or lower quaternary. The higher triad ... is the unity of atman, buddhi, and the higher manas ...
    ‘Another manner of considering the human constitution in its spiritual aspects is that viewed from the standpoint of consciousness, and in this latter manner the higher triad consists of the divine monad, the spiritual monad, and the higher human monad. The higher triad is often spoken of in a collective sense ... as simply the reincarnating monad, or more commonly the reincarnating ego, because this latter is rooted in the higher triad.’ (OG 59)

‘The human ego is seated in ... the intermediate duad, manas-kama. The part which is attracted below and is mortal is the lower human ego. The part which aspires upwards towards the buddhi and ultimately joins it is the higher human ego or reincarnating ego. The dregs of the human ego after the death of the human being and after the second death in the kama-loka, remain in the astral spheres as the disintegrating kama-rupa or spook.’ (OG 60)

‘The human soul, speaking generally, is the intermediate nature of man’s constitution ... Another term for [it] is the ego – a usage more popular than accurate, because the human ego is the soul of the human soul so to speak, the human soul being its vehicle. ... [T]he human soul is divided into the higher human soul, composed of the lower buddhi and the higher manas – and the self corresponding to it is the bhutatman, meaning the “self of that which has been” or the reincarnating ego – and the lower human, the lower manas and kama, and the self corresponding to it is pranatman or astral personal ego, which is mortal.’ (OG 60-1)

‘[The causal body or karana-sharira] is the veil of energy and substance surrounding the reincarnating ego. It is of a quasi-spiritual character. And it is from this karana-sharira, or causal body, that emanate or flow forth all the lower vehicles of the human constitution, such as the desire-body, and the various grades of the ethereal bodies. Actually the physical body is the lees or deposit of the energies and substances taking their origin in the karana-sharira.’ (DGDP 2:37)

‘The spiritual soul is the vehicle of the individual monad, the jivatman or spiritual ego; in the case of man’s principles it is essentially of the nature of atma-buddhi. This spiritual ego is the center or seed or root of the reincarnating ego. It is that portion of our spiritual constitution which is deathless as an individualized entity – deathless until the end of the maha-manvantara of the cosmic solar system.
    ‘The spiritual soul and the divine soul, or atman, combined, are the inner god – the inner buddha, the inner christ.’ (OG 167)

‘[The aura is an] extremely subtle and therefore invisible essence or fluid that emanates from and surrounds not only human beings and beasts, but as a matter of fact plants and minerals also. It is one of the aspects of the auric egg, and therefore the human aura partakes of all the qualities that the human constitution contains. It is at once magneto-mental and electrovital, suffused with the energies of mind and spirit – the quality in each case coming from an organ or center of the human constitution whence it flows. ... Sensitives have frequently described it in more or less vague terms as a light flowing from the eyes or the heart or the tips of the fingers or from other parts of the body. Sometimes this fluid, instead of being colorless light, manifests itself by flashing and scintillating changes of color – the color or colors in each case depending not only upon the varying moods of the human individual, but also possessing a background equivalent to the character or nature of the individual.’ (OG 14-5)

‘[The auric egg] is the source of the human aura as well as of everything else that the human septenary constitution contains. It is usually of an oviform or egg-shaped appearance ... It ranges from the divine to the astral-physical, and is the seat of all the monadic, spiritual, intellectual, mental, passional, and vital energies and faculties of the human septiform constitution. In its essence it is eternal ...’ (OG 15)
    ‘The auric egg originates in the monad which is its heart or core, and from which, when manifestation begins, it emanates forth in streams of vital effluvia. On the different planes which the auric egg traverses as a pillar of light, from the atmic to the physical, each such auric or pranic effluvium is a principle or element, commonly reckoned in man as seven in number.’ (FSO 427)

* * *

‘You must be very careful indeed not to look upon the seven principles of man, as given in our exoteric books, as meaning that they exist in seven layers or stages, each separate from all the others. ... Every principle has every other principle inherent within it ... The seven principles ... are merely seven aspects of the Cosmic Life ...’ (DGDP 2:405-6)

‘[A]ll the seven principles of man, and a fortiori, on a large scale, all the seven principles of the universe, are simply seven different manifestations or aspects or phases of a fundamental life-substance – of an entity, in short. Every human being, as also the universe, has inherent in him or in it a divine manifestation or aspect, a spiritual one, an intellectual one, a passional one, a vital one, and an astral-physical one. Now you cannot separate these into water-tight compartments because they all go inseparably together. They all interblend, intermingle, interpenetrate, interwork, and are interconnected. You cannot say that a man is just mind and feeling, and that the body he lives in is something entirely different, and that the inner god from which he springs is something absolutely different from him. He is essentially one stream of consciousness manifesting in seven different ways called principles.’ (DGDP 2:417)

‘We speak of buddhi, manas, kama, etc., as merely generalizing terms, or abstractions. The actual situation is, however, that the buddhic principle is simply the aggregate of buddhic entities with their buddhic vital auras; and it is so also as regards the other principles. ... You won’t find such a thing as buddhi per se as an entity in the universe. What we call buddhi is the aggregate of buddhic entities who are in that stage of their evolutionary growth ...
    ‘It is the armies of entities in the universe of closely similar or identic grade which make the cosmic principles.’ (DGDP 2:375)

‘The seven principles of man are a likeness or rather copy of the seven cosmic principles. They are actually the offspring or reflection of the seven cosmic principles, limited in their action in us by the workings of the law of karma, but running in their origin back into That which is beyond ...
    ‘These principles of man are reckoned as seven in the philosophy by which the human spiritual and psychical economy has been publicly explained to us in the present age. In other ages these principles or parts of man were differently reckoned – the Christian reckoned them as body, soul, and spirit, generalizing the seven under these three heads.
    ‘Some of the Indian thinkers divided man into a basic fourfold entity, others into a fivefold. The Jewish philosophy, as found in the Qabbalah which is the esoteric tradition of the Jews, teaches that man is divided into four parts: neshamah, ruah, nefesh, and guf.’ (OG 137)

‘[A]ll methods of division are somewhat arbitrary, in that one could with equal truth speak of three-principled creatures or beings, or even four- or five-principled, etc.’ (FSO 279)

‘The real esoteric seven-fold classification ... is not the seven-fold classification we have adopted.’ (SD 2:635-6)

‘In the last analysis man’s constitution is twelvefold, consisting of the seven manifest and the five unmanifest units of far superior character ...’ (FSO 564)

‘Many theosophists experience quite unnecessary difficulty in understanding why the human constitution should be at one time divided in one way and at another time divided in another way. The difficulty lies in considering these divisions as being absolute instead of relative, in other words, as representing watertight compartments instead of merely indefinite and convenient divisions.’ (OG 59)

* * *

‘There are two basic ways of viewing man: one, as being compounded of the seven cosmic elements, ... and the other, as being a composite of interacting monads or centers of consciousness working in and through ... the seven cosmic elements which give to man his seven principles. ...
    ‘[W]hat are [the] seven (or ten) principles? ... A background of divinity clothing itself in spirit, these bringing into birth the light of mind; and the light of mind, coworking with the other principles and elements thus far evolved, brought forth cosmic desire; and so on down until we reach the sthula-sharira. ...
    ‘Every mathematical point of space is a monad, a point of consciousness, because all Infinity is infinite consciousness. Therefore every point of Infinity must be a consciousness-center, a sevenfold monad, which has its atman, buddhi, manas, right on down, because the universe is built of these seven stuffs reducible to one causal stuff – spirit, consciousness, atman. [W]e must not have our minds confused with the idea that the seven principles are one thing, and the monads are something else which work through the principles as disjunct from them. ...
    ‘Every one of the seven principles or elements of a monad can represent one of the cosmic planes, and is itself sevenfold. For instance, there is an atman of the kama, a buddhi of the kama, and so forth throughout the range of element-principles or stuffs. What differentiates one man from another, or a man from a beast? The differences do not lie in their respective seven principles, because these enter and form the compound constitution of all entities, but arise from the relative degree of evolution of the individual monads. The human monad is far more evolved than is that of an animal or of a plant, or than are the highly unified monads which, due to their relative stage of development, distinguish granite from marble or sandstone.
    ‘The seven principles which compose man – atman, buddhi, manas, kama, prana, linga-sharira, sthula-sharira – are identic with those which compose our solar cosmos, man’s seven principles interblending and interacting in more or less the same fashion as the cosmic principles do. For instance, just as the astral light of our earth is its fluidic astral double, so in man the linga-sharira is the astral double of the human body; and just as the various cosmic pranas are the compound vitality of our globe, so is the compounded prana of the human constitution the element of vitality in man.’ (FSO 443-5)

‘[T]he seven principles of man, as hitherto given out in our teachings, are a very elementary and primer way of explaining man’s constitution. It is like saying that man’s physical body consists of the chemical elements: so much carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, etc. These are cosmic elements. Our seven human principles are also cosmic principles. But when we speak of the seven principles of man in a more technical way, ... we mean them to be knots or centers of consciousness; as, for instance, the divine monad or ego, the spiritual monad or ego, the human monad or ego, the animal monad or ego, the astral monad or ego, and the physical monad or ego which is the body. It is these centers of consciousness, or monads or egos, which in their aggregate really are man. Therefore, an infinitely better way of looking upon man as a sevenfold being is to consider his stream or river of consciousness as consisting of seven centers or knots, whirlpools, of consciousness, ranging from the divine to the physical. These seven centers or knots of consciousness exist and work in and through the seven cosmic elements, which latter, expressing themselves in man, we call atman, buddhi, manas, kama, and the material last three.’ (DGDP 3:246)

* * *

Monad  A spiritual entity which to us humans is indivisible; it is a divine-spiritual life-atom, but indivisible because its essential characteristic, as we humans conceive it, is homogeneity, while that of the physical atom, above which our consciousness soars, is divisible, a composite heterogeneous particle.
    ‘Monads are eternal, unitary, individual life-centers, consciousness-centers, deathless during any solar manvantara, therefore ageless, unborn, undying. Consequently, each one such – and their number is infinite – is the center of the All, for the divine or the All is That which has its center everywhere, and its circumference nowhere.
    ‘Monads are spiritual-substantial entities, self-motivated, self-impelled, self-conscious, in infinitely varying degrees, the ultimate elements of the universe. These monads engender other monads as one seed will produce multitudes of other seeds; so up from each monad springs a host of living entities in the course of illimitable time, each such monad being the fountainhead or parent, in which all others are involved, and from which they spring.
    ‘Every monad is a seed, wherein the sum total of powers appertaining to its divine origin are latent, that is to say unmanifested; and evolution consists in the growth and development of all these seeds or children monads, whereby the universal life expresses itself in innumerable beings.
    ‘As the monad descends into matter, or rather as its ray – one of other innumerable rays proceeding from it – is propelled into matter, it [produces] from itself ... on each one of the seven planes through which it passes, its various vehicles, all overshadowed by the self, the same self in you and in me, in plants and in animals, in fact in all that is and belongs to that hierarchy. This is the one self, the supreme self or paramatman of the hierarchy. It illumines and follows each individual monad and all the latter’s hosts of rays – or children monads. Each such monad is a spiritual seed from the previous manvantara, which manifests as a monad in this manvantara; and this monad through its rays throws out from itself ... all its vehicles. These vehicles are, first, the spiritual ego, the reflection or copy in miniature of the monad itself, but individualized through the manvantaric evolution, “bearing” or “carrying” as a vehicle the monadic ray. The latter cannot directly contact the lower planes, because it is of the monadic essence itself, the latter a still higher ray of the infinite Boundless composed of infinite multiplicity in unity.’ (OG 111-2)

‘[C]onsider the monad as unitary. It is a spiritual unit. Yet even the spiritual monad is actually a composite entity. It is the cosmic seed out of which the tree of cosmic life grows, its roots upwards; its branches, branchlets, twigs, leaves, fruits, below. Eventually out of such a seed come all the issues of cosmic life, and if there were but one infinitely homogeneous essence in the monad, there could not be this dispersing into the manifold, incredibly numerous, innumerable planes, beings, hierarchies of the manifested universe. The very fact that heterogeneity issues from what we call homogeneity shows that heterogeneity with all its innumerable branches was locked up in the homogeneous monadic essence, streaming through that homogeneous monadic essence as the life stream of a tree issues forth from the apparently, and to us actually, homogeneous seed. ...
    ‘Thus then, the monad to us is homogeneous. All issues forth from it, all again will be reabsorbed or withdrawn back into it when pralaya opens. But all these different individualities must have been lying latent there in order that they might issue forth therefrom. Therefore it shows us that the monad is not merely a channel, a laya-center, through which streams ... whatever there is of manifested life, but that the monad itself is an entity.’ (DGDP 1:42-3)

‘[E]very monad is a creative center, not in the sense of creating something out of nothing, but as producing forth the atoms of itself which in turn grow to be evolving entities progressing through eternity. These “monadic atoms” are not created by the parent-monad, but pre-exist in the substance of the parent-monad until their time for manifestation comes. Then they begin their existence as child-monads or elemental monadic centres.’ (DGDP 2:29)

‘Monads do not actually fully exercise their creative powers of casting forth other monads until they themselves have become more or less adult or mature.’ (DGDP 2:457)

‘The monad itself really is a composite entity despite its name which means “unit.” It is compact of, first a central Flame – a consciousness-center, which is so to say a point or atom of the Cosmic Life, deathless and ever-enduring. Next, this inner center is surrounded by garments, by veils, which are vehicles, though which it expresses itself on the lower planes.’ (DGDP 1:195)

‘[The monad is] the ultimate Self, the god within, the atman. ... This is the perpetual individual, the spiritual individuality, the indivisible part of us. The heart of the monad, its superior fountain of life and intelligence, is a divine monad, the inner god. But the word monad is used in a general way for a variety of consciousness centers in man. There is the spiritual monad, offspring of the divine monad; there is the human monad, offspring of the spiritual monad; there is the vital-astral monad, offspring of the human monad. All these together form the human constitution. ...
    ‘Now the soul, which is an aggregate entity just as a monad itself really is, is simply the clothing or the psychomental veil of a monad which is passing through that particular phase of its everlasting peregrinations through periodic time and hierarchical space. This monad’s expression on any plane is a soul. This soul, in turn, works through its own vehicle, whether an ethereal or a physical one. Mystically, the physical body itself may be called an aggregated monad of the physical plane, because it is formed of mathematical points, little lives or monads of which the soul is the Monad of monads of this particular bodily hierarchy; while the monad above the soul is again its supermonad or Monas monadum.’ (FSO 271)

‘Monadic essence has been commonly used to signify the essential or divine substance of a monad, of which the monad is an individualized expression in time and space. Hence, monadic essence is virtually equivalent to the term god, there being as many gods as there are monads. We have thus the series: gods (or monadic essence), monads, egos, souls (or vehicles) ...
    ‘Taking up next in order the term ego, we can briefly describe this highly important part of a man, on whatever plane of his constitution it may be native, as the stored-up fund of conscious evolutionary experience acquired during the continuously repetitive imbodiments of a monad in the worlds of manifestation. As an illustration, the reincarnating ego is the gatherer and the storehouse of all the spiritual and intellectual experiences gained by the human monad in its many incarnations ...
    ‘The term soul we can define as the sentient, sensitive vehicle or garment, itself of living substance, with which the ego surrounds itself during any imbodiment. Another term for soul is body – not necessarily a body of flesh, but any vehicle in and through which, and on whatever plane of the human constitution, an ego may be expressing itself. ...
    ‘Thus we have the divine-spiritual stuff or essence, itself a god, which when expressing itself as an individual on the next inferior plane we call a monad; such monad expresses itself on the plane on which it may be manifesting through its appropriate manasic garment or egoic focus which is its ego; and each such ego in its turn surrounds itself with its own pranic auras or characteristic veil of living substance and sensitive stuff, its soul.
    ‘Man being a microcosm of the macrocosm, we can by analogy understand the constitution of a universe by transferring to a cosmic scale these points of teaching concerning the constitution or auric egg of man. We then infer that a universe has its monadic essence, its cosmic monad, its cosmic ego as an individual, and likewise its cosmic soul or anima mundi.
    ‘The following two diagrams are symbolic representations of certain structural and interpenetrating parts of nature, and should not be read as exact or photographic pictures, but only as suggestive of related entities or qualities.’ (FSO 432-3)

‘ “Monad” is a generalizing term. There are divine monads and spiritual monads, intellectual monads and astral monads, even physical monads. Then following another line of degrees, there is the monad of our home-universe. There is the monad of a solar system which is its sun. There is the monad of every planet. There is the monad of every atom.’ (DGDP 2:413)

‘[E]very monad is what may be called a “creative” entity continually issuing forth from itself streams of children-monads, and ... each one of such children-monads follows its own evolutionary course until the great consummatum est of the solar universe. Thus it is that the divine monad has hosts of children-monads, each one of which is a spiritual monad or ego. ... [T]he spiritual monad or ego has as its children-monads numbers of reimbodying monads or egos which ... are contained in its constitution as the entities which reimbody themselves in the different planetary chains. ...
    ‘[E]ach such child-monad commences its career in any solar kalpa or manvantara as a super-spiritual elemental, and after passing through the innumerable myriads of imbodiments or manifestations in the various realms and planes and worlds of that universal solar system, emerges at the end of the kalpa as a self-conscious divinity.’ (DGDP 3:302-3)

‘The reach of the divine monad, which is essentially the atmic monad with its buddhic vehicle, is the galaxy; the range of the spiritual monad, the buddhi-manas, is the solar system; while the field of action of the reimbodying ego is the planetary chain; and finally, the range of the astral monad or lower quaternary ... is a single globe of a chain, our globe D for instance.’ (FSO 564)

‘[J]ust as the divine monad endures as long as the galaxy endures, so does the spiritual monad endure as long as the solar system endures ... [It then enters] paranirvana ...where it remains until the solar system, after the long solar pralaya, in its turn reappears for a new solar manvantaric period of activity ...
    ‘[The] higher ego ... lasts as long in self-conscious functional activity ... as does the planetary chain itself, and [then] ascends upwards into its nirvana, and remains in this relatively sublime condition of abstract consciousness until the chain reappears anew, ... whereupon [it] enters into self-conscious functional activity of a higher order ...’ (ET 850-1)

‘Every monadic essence, every monad, no matter where or in what period of time, is a learning entity, always advancing from the less to the more perfect. In any one cosmic manvantara it begins its evolutionary journey as an unself-conscious god-spark, passing through all the phases and experiences which that particular manvantara contains, and finishes as a fully perfected god.’ (FSO 293)

compiled by David Pratt. September 2005. Last revised October 2021.

The monad: one and many

Origin of mind

Hierarchies: worlds visible and invisible