The Ocean of Theosophy

Chapter 3:  The Earth Chain


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Chapter 3
The Earth Chain

Coming now to our Earth the view put forward by Theosophy regarding its genesis, its evolution and the evolution of the Human, Animal and other Monads, is quite different from modern ideas, and in some things contrary to accepted theories. But the theories of today are not stable. They change with each century, while the Theosophical one never alters because, in the opinion of those Elder Brothers who have caused its repromulgation and pointed to its confirmation in ancient books, it is but a statement of facts in nature. The modern theory is, on the contrary, always speculative, changeable, and continually altered.

Following the general plan outlined in preceding pages, the Earth is sevenfold. It is an entity and not a mere lump of gross matter. And being thus an entity of a septenary nature there must be six other globes which roll with it in space. This company of seven globes has been called the "Earth Chain," the "Planetary Chain." In Esoteric Buddhism this is clearly stated, but there a rather hard and fast materialistic view of it is given and the reader led to believe that the doctrine speaks of seven distinct globes, all separated from though connected with each other. One is forced to conclude that the author meant to say that the globe Earth is as distinct from the other six as Venus is from Mars.

This is not the doctrine. The earth is one of seven globes, in respect to man's consciousness only, because when he functions on one of the seven he perceives it as a distinct globe and does not see the other six. This is in perfect correspondence with man himself who has six other constituents of which only the gross body is visible to him because he is now functioning on the Earth — or the fourth globe — and his body represents the Earth. The whole seven "globes" constitute one single mass or great globe and they all interpenetrate each other. But we have to say "globe," because the ultimate shape is globular or spherical. If one relies too closely on the explanation made by Mr. Sinnett it might be supposed that the globes did not interpenetrate each other but were connected by currents or lines of magnetic force. And if too close attention is paid to the diagrams used in the Secret Doctrine to illustrate the scheme, without paying due regard to the explanations and cautions given by H. P. Blavatsky, the same error may be made. But both she and her Adept teachers say, that the seven globes of our chain are in "coadunation with each other but not in consubstantiality." (Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 166, first edition.) This is further enforced by cautions not to rely on statistics or plane surface diagrams, but to look at the metaphysical and spiritual aspect of the theory as stated in English. Thus from the very source of Mr. Sinnett's book we have the statement, that these globes are united in one mass though differing from each other in substance, and that this difference of substance is due to change of center of consciousness.

It sounds like one of the keys to this teaching is: "they all interpenetrate each other".

Could someone please help explain this statement: "that the seven globes of our chain are in "coadunation with each other but not in consubstantiality." (Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 166, first edition.)"

The metaphor of an onion really does not do the job of explaining this idea does it?  Because we are not talking about layer upon layer, but rather interpenetrating plane upon plane. Perhaps the human body could serve as an analogy.  There is a cellular level to the body, a molecular level, an atomic level all interpenetrating each other yet each level is distinct to a degree.

Grace makes a very good and important point, we are indeed not dealing with layers as in an onion.

According to Merriam-Websters dictionary: Coadunition: "the union (as of dissimilar substances) in one body or mass"

From a theosophical perspective this would be close…but no cigar!

As Grace points out, coadunition on the plane of the physical body would serve as a good analogy, because you need to observe the atomic as distinct from the molecular level and the molecular as distinct from the cellular level. We can't see all three at once on the same plane because they actually occupy different sub-planes of perception although in this case that perception is artificially enhanced by a microscope. Incidentally a proof that sub-planes are not strictly separated by physical boundaries but rather by degrees of enhanced perception within the same state of consciousness. Thus we are still perceiving subdivisions from the perspective of the same state of consciousness.

The globes of our planetary chain on the other hand take it one step further in that in order to perceive another globe - although all 7 globes are right "here" under our nose in a matter of speech - we also have to shift the state of consciousness to a different level in that more subtle senses need to be called upon and properly used. After all, our senses are also instruments of perception each with their own limitations and within the realm of a particular state of consciousness.

So is that to say that each plane has its own instruments of perception within the human constitution?  On the physical plane the five senses, the astral plane different astral senses etc.? What about for higher planes?

Yes indeed, although one might phrase it a little bit different in that we're dealing with the same senses on a different plane. in other words the lower the plane of sensory application the more limited and constrained will be the data although they are essentially the same sense organs. In fact, on the highest plane we start with one sense that contains potentially all the other senses in their noumenal condition and as we descend through the planes they becomes more and more individualized and distinct on a par with consciousness descending into matter and the vehicles becoming more dense.

See HPBs comment in the Voice of the Silence p. 12 (top), p. 18 & 20, where she applies the reverse proces as the chela moves up the antaskaranic ladder.

"Merge into one sense thy senses, if thou would'st be secure against the foe.  'Tis by that sense alone which lies concealed within the hollow of thy brain, that the steep path which leadeth to thy Master may be disclosed before they Soul's dim eyes."

What is meant by merging into one sense thy senses? Is this describing a step of meditation? A withdrawal perhaps, into a single conscious focus within the mind?

Hi Grace:

This is a very interesting question, one that I ask myself sometimes.  There is a passage in the Secret Doctrine Dialogue, page 389, that is very interesting.

Mme. Blavatsky:  ......One night here when we were talking about the first sense, which must be the is touch, everything is touch.  Taste and smell are touch, because everything must be touched in some way to produce or to put particular sense into function or vibration, or whatever you call it -into activity,.....

In the external plane of differentiation, we have seven senses but we are only familiar with five at this point; the other two are still dormant but will unfold as we evolve.  The senses are like tentacles that provide information of the objective world to the mind and every sense perceives a different aspect of matter.  Keeping in mind the idea - the One becomes the many and the many returns back to the One; in the higher planes, the senses merge back into the one sense, that of touch.  This single sense - perception embodies the functions of the five senses thus it can hear and see.  We are told that Clairvoyance is essentially inner touch.  The fusion of the five senses is not only an experience in meditation;  it is also a gradual process of unfoldment as well.   The study - on the five elements, five sense organs, and five sensations-  is a vast and deep subject. 

Good and helpful reference, Barbara.

E.L Gardner raised some interesting thoughts and questions on this topic many years ago in his pamphlet 'A Mind to Embrace to Universe.'   See:

Thank you, Peter, for the pamphlet.  I glanced through the pages but will need to think more about it.

You're welcome, Barbara - I thought the analogy of the single cell with its nucleus and nucleolus was particularly thought provoking given our approach of 'as above, so below.'

Is the one sense "Manas"?  The five senses (seven) are tools to perceive on the physical plane.  Do the senses derive their powers from Manas?

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Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on January 29, 2016 at 3:20pm

From SD I:96

The Occult claim that there are seven senses in man, as in nature, as there are seven states of consciousness, is corroborated in the same work, chapter vii., on Pratyahara (the restraint and regulation of the senses, Pranayama being that of the "vital winds" or breath). The Brahmana speaks in it "of the institution of the seven sacrificial Priests (Hotris). He says: "The nose and the eyes, and the tongue, and the skin and the ear as the fifth (or smell, sight, taste, touch and hearing), mind and understanding are the seven sacrificial priests separately stationed"; and which "dwelling in a minute space (still) do not perceive each other" on this sensuous plane, none of them except mind. For mind says: "The nose smells not without me, the eye does not take in colour, etc., etc. I am the eternal chief among all elements (i.e., senses). Without me, the senses never shine, like an empty dwelling, or like fires the flames of which are extinct. Without me, all beings, like fuel half dried and half moist, fail to apprehend qualities or objects even with the senses exerting themselves."*

This, of course, with regard only to mind on the sensuous plane. Spiritual mind (the upper portion or aspect of the impersonal MANAS) takes no cognisance of the senses in physical man. How well the ancients were acquainted with the correlation of forces and all the recently discovered phenomena of mental and physical faculties and functions, with many more mysteries also -- may be found in reading chapters vii. and viii. of this (in philosophy and mystic learning) priceless work. See the quarrel of the senses about their respective superiority and their taking the Brahman, the lord of all creatures, for their arbiter. "You are all greatest and not greatest," or superior to objects, as A. Misra says, none being independent of the other. "You are all possessed of one another's qualities. All are greatest in their own spheres and all support one another. There is one unmoving (life-wind or breath, the 'Yoga inhalation,' so called, which is the breath of the One or Higher SELF). That is the (or my) own Self, accumulated in numerous (forms)."

This Breath, Voice, Self or "Wind" (pneuma?) is the Synthesis of the Seven Senses, noumenally all minor deities and esoterically -- the septenary and the "Army of the VOICE."

At present only our 5 regular senses operate on the physical plane and their input and data is interpreted by the lower mind who is in a certain sense their synthesis.

The 2 higher senses belong to the noetic element of our being, but the 5 senses have also their occult functions on the astral plane, such as clearvoyance and clearaudience, idem dito for the other 3.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on January 31, 2016 at 7:40pm

"Is the one sense "Manas"?"

I think of it as an instrument of the mind.  The way I see it is that different planes require different grades of instruments.  We can say the workers on the physical plane are not very efficient.  They can not multi-task so right now we have five of them to give us information about the objective world.  On the finer planes, the workers are more efficient, one sense can perform multiple functions. 

Permalink Reply by Ryan Hauck on April 27, 2016 at 4:52pm

Perhaps as we ascend the sphere's (or altitudes) of consciousness, senses [perception] gives way to knowledge. 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on April 28, 2016 at 12:25pm

Perhaps we develop senses that work on that plane and enable a richer cognition of that world.  Perhaps it would be similar to going from blindness to having eyes to see on this plane.  Without eyes we cannot perceive properly.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 25, 2016 at 11:34pm

The Earth Chain of seven globes as thus defined is the direct reincarnation of a former chain of seven globes, and that former family of seven was the moon chain, the moon itself being the visible representative of the fourth globe of the old chain. When that former vast entity composed of the Moon and six others, all united in one mass, reached its limit of life it died just as any being dies. Each one of the seven sent its energies into space and gave similar life or vibration to cosmic dust — matter, — and the total cohesive force of the whole kept the seven energies together. This resulted in the evolving of the present Earth Chain of seven centers of energy or evolution combined in one mass. As the Moon was the fourth of the old series it is on the same plane of perception as the Earth, and as we are now confined in our consciousness largely to Earth we are able only to see one of the old seven — to wit: our Moon. When we are functioning on any of the other seven we will perceive in our sky the corresponding old corpse which will then be a Moon, and we will not see the present Moon. Venus, Mars, Mercury and other visible planets are all fourth-plane globes of distinct planetary masses and for that reason are visible to us, their companion six centers of energy and consciousness being invisible. All diagrams on plane surfaces will only becloud the theory because a diagram necessitates linear divisions.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on January 26, 2016 at 10:49am

The Moon is a dead planet one gathers.  Despite that condition it continues to provide significant influence over the earth in regards to tides and light.  Does this have symbolic meaning on other planes?

Permalink Reply by Daniel Caldwell on January 26, 2016 at 11:20am

Plutarch on the Moon


Here is what Plutarch writes about the moon in the context of life after death:


Plutarch on the fate of the three-fold 
human being [body (soma), soul or mind (psyche) and spirit (nous)] 
after physical death.


Man is compound [soma, psyche & nous]; and they are mistaken who
think him to be compounded of two parts only. 

For they imagine that the understanding [nous] is a part of the soul
[psyche], but they err in this no less than those who make the soul
[psyche] to be a part of the body [soma].

For the understanding [nous] as far exceeds the soul [psyche], as the
soul [psyche] is better and diviner than the body [soma]. 

Now this composition of the soul [psyche] with the understanding
[nous] makes reason; and [the composition of psyche] with the body
[soma] [makes] passion [thumos].

Of these three parts [soma, psyche & nous] conjoined and compacted
together, the earth has given the body [soma], the moon [has given]
the soul [psyche], and the SUN [has given]the understanding [nous] 
to the generation [creation] of man.

Now of the [two] deaths we die, the one [the first death, the
physical death] makes man two [psyche & nous] [instead] of three 
and the other [the second death in hades ] [makes] one [nous]
[instead] of two. 

The former [the first death] is in the region of Demeter [earth].

As for the other [second] death, it is in the moon or region of
Persephone [hades].

This [first death] suddenly and with violence plucks the soul
[psyche] from the body [soma]; but Persephone mildly and in a long
time disjoins the understanding [nous] from the soul [psyche]..

For this reason she is called Monogenes, only begotten, or rather
begetting one alone; for the better part of man [nous] becomes alone
[one] when it [nous] is separated [in Hades from psyche] by her. 

Now both the one [first death] and the other [second death] happens
thus according to nature. 

It is ordained by Fate that every soul [psyche], whether with or
without understanding [nous] , when gone out of the body [soma],
should wander for a time, though not all for the same [time], in the 
region [of hades] lying between the earth and moon .

For those that have been unjust and dissolute suffer then [in hades]
the punishment due to their offences; but the good and virtuous are
there [in hades] detained till they are purified, and have, by
expiation, purged out of them all the infections they might have
contracted from the contagion of the body [soma], living in the
mildest part of the air, called the Meadows of Hades, where they must
remain for a certain prefixed and appointed time. 

And then, as if they were returning from a wandering pilgrimage or
long exile into their [home] country, they have a taste of joy, such
as they principally receive who are initiated into Sacred Mysteries, 
mixed with admiration, and each one's proper and peculiar hope.


Abridged, edited and adapted from HPB's Isis Unveiled and The Key to


Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on January 27, 2016 at 10:21am

Thank you Daniel.  You have given me much to contemplate.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on January 29, 2016 at 3:00pm

Yes indeed Grace,

it has corresponding meanings on other planes as well, because the moon also has its 7 principles, 3 higher and 4 lower. So there are physical influences of the moon - think plants who's growth is related to moonlight; psychical influences - therefore the expression "lunatic", and even spiritual influences of which is relatively little said.

Also keep in mind that the moon is a blind for a sacred planet that is not visible at present to our consciousness.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on March 11, 2016 at 11:52pm

Next paragraph in this chapter:

The stream or mass of Egos which evolves on the seven globes of our chain is limited in number, yet the actual quantity is enormous. For though the universe is limitless and infinite, yet in any particular portion of Cosmos in which manifestation and evolution have begun there is a limit to the extent of manifestation and to the number of Egos engaged therein. And the whole number of Monads now going through evolution on our Earth Chain came over from the old seven planets or globes which I have described. Esoteric Buddhism calls this mass of Egos a "life wave," meaning the stream of Monads. It reached this planetary mass, represented to our consciousness by the central point our Earth, and began on Globe A or No. I, coming like an army or river. The first portion began on Globe A and went through a long evolution there in bodies suited to such a state of matter, and then passed on to B, and so on through the whole seven greater states of consciousness which have been called globes. When the first portion left A others streamed in and pursued the same course, the whole army proceeding with regularity round the septenary route.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on March 15, 2016 at 8:53am

Concerning the idea that the number of Egos or Monads evolving on these seven globes is both limited and enormous, what does it tell us about this particular point in evolution that such a large number of Egos are incarnated at one time: 7 billion and counting at the moment?

Permalink Reply by Peter on March 15, 2016 at 1:46pm

 Whatever else it might mean, Grace, given the amount of Egos incarnated together it would appear that it is a point in time that a great deal of karma is being acted out, particularly between nations.  Whether it is karma that is being worked through and resolved is a big question.  As I'm sure you know - it is said that the human life wave has only just turned turn upwards in the evolutionary arc that reaches down into matter and up again into spirit.  So perhaps it is a necessity that such karma will come begin to come to fruition during the beginnings of the ascending stage?

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Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on March 15, 2016 at 2:05pm

Thank you, I see your point Peter.  To get ready for the return journey humanity must clear out a lot of old laundry it does not need for the ascent.  We have to lighten the load so to speak, hence the need for a lot of karma to be played out now.

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on March 22, 2016 at 11:55pm

It must be remembered that there are no guarantees in spiritual evolution.  Incarnation in a body does not guarantee the cleansing of old karma, how we respond to the consequences of past actions can either perpetuate or delete old karma.  That is up to the choices of the incarnated being.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on April 22, 2016 at 11:33pm

Next Two paragraphs

This journey went on for four circlings round the whole, and then the whole stream or army of Egos from the old Moon Chain had arrived, and being complete, no more entered after the middle of the Fourth Round. The same circling process of these differently arrived classes goes on for seven complete Rounds of the whole seven planetary centers of consciousness, and when the seven are ended as much perfection as is possible in the immense period occupied will have been attained, and then this chain or mass of "globes" will die in its turn to give birth to still another series.

Each one of the globes is used by evolutionary law for the development of seven races, and of senses, faculties and powers appropriate to that state of matter: the experience of the whole seven globes being needed to make a perfect development. Hence we have the Rounds and Races. The Round is a circling of the seven centers of planetary consciousness; the Race the racial development on one of those seven. There are seven races for each globe, but the total of forty-nine races only makes up seven great races, the special septennate of races on each globe or planetary center composing in reality one race of seven constituents or special peculiarities of function and power.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on April 29, 2016 at 8:01am

This picture of evolution Mr. Judge is relaying here is nothing short of immense.  Imagine seeing life from this vantage point rather than from the point of view of a single lifetime.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on May 5, 2016 at 12:11am

Next Two Paragraph

As illustrating this, it is distinctly taught that on the Americas is to be evolved the new — sixth — race; and here all the races of the earth are now engaged in a great amalgamation from which will result a very highly developed sub-race, after which others will be evolved by similar processes until the new one is completed.

Between the end of any great race and the beginning of another there is a period of rest, so far as the globe is concerned, for then the stream of human Egos leaves it for another one of the chain in order to go on with further evolution of powers and faculties there. But when the last, the seventh, race has appeared and fully perfected itself, a great dissolution comes on, similar to that which I briefly described as preceding the birth of the earth's chain, and then the world disappears as a tangible thing, and so far as the human ear is concerned there is silence. This, it is said, is the root of the belief so general that the world will come to an end, that there will be a judgment-day, or that there have been universal floods or fires.

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on May 9, 2016 at 5:09pm

A pralaya.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on May 31, 2016 at 1:45pm

Next Paragraph

Taking up evolution on the Earth, it is stated that the stream of Monads begins first to work up the mass of matter in what are called elemental conditions when all is gaseous or fiery. For the ancient and true theory is that no evolution is possible without the Monad as vivifying agent. In this first stage there is no animal or vegetable. Next comes the mineral when the whole mass hardens, the Monads being all imprisoned within. Then the first Monads emerge into vegetable forms which they construct themselves, and no animals yet appear. Next the first class of Monads emerges from the vegetable and produces the animal, then the human astral and shadowy model, and we have minerals, vegetables, animals and future men, for the second and later classes are still evolving in the lower kingdoms. When the middle of the Fourth Round is reached no more Monads emerge into the human stage and will not until a new planetary mass, reincarnated from ours, is made. This is the whole process roughly given, but with many details left out, for in one of the rounds man appears before the animals. But this detail need lead to no confusion.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on June 19, 2016 at 12:35pm

Last Two Paragraphs of this Chapter

And to state it in another way. The plan comes first in the universal mind, after which the astral model or basis is made, and when that astral model is completed, the whole process is gone over so as to condense the matter, up to the middle of the Fourth Round. Subsequent to that, which is our future, the whole mass is spiritualized with full consciousness and the entire body of globes raised up to a higher plane of development. In the process of condensing above referred to there is an alteration in respect to the time of the appearance of man on the planet. But as to these details the teachers have only said, "that at the Second Round the plan varies, but the variation will not be given to this generation." Hence it is impossible for me to give it. But there is no vagueness on the point that seven great races have to evolve here on this planet, and that the entire collection of races has to go seven times round the whole series of seven globes.

Human beings did not appear here in two sexes first. The first were of no sex, then they altered into hermaphrodite, and lastly separated into male and female. And this separation into male and female for human beings was over 18,000,000 years ago. For that reason is it said, in these ancient schools, that our humanity is 18,000,000 years old and a little over.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 23, 2016 at 8:09am

18,000,000 years of human evolution is a time frame of immense proportions.  If, as HPB states in the Key to Theosophy, the average time between births is between 1500 and 2000 years that means each monad, ray of universal consciousness, human being, on this Earth Chain, has had in excess over 10,000 births.  That is a lot of experiences. What effect on the way we live our lives today does such a perspective bring?  If we are to take reincarnation seriously having that many life times is a much different perspective than what might happened in that last two or three life times. No doubt karma is generated from the first to the last.  To think in this way is to enter the purview of Sages.