The highest divinity is threefold in its nature, consisting of what are called the three Logoi in Theosophy or Anthroposophy. In esoteric Christianity these three aspects are called the Father, Word or Son, and the Holy Ghost; in ancient Indian teachings these are called Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu. See Schema FMC00.064.
The Trinity is to regarded as intertwined aspects of a threefold Unity from the maha paranirvana and paranirvana planes into the nirvana plane, (see Schema FMC00.062, and Planes or worlds of consciousness), where the threefoldedness gives rise to sevenfoldedness (see Schema FMC00.061) at the level of the Seven creative spirits and Monads.
This threefoldedness of divinity has been subject of much theological debate throughout the cultural ages, and certainly also in the roman catholic church. This is directly related to the nature of the human being and Man having a spirit, soul and body. Hence the stakes have been high as the human spirit was eradicated by the catholic church in the eight ecumenical council in Constantinopel in 869.
It is important to realize the limits of intellectual thinking with our contemporary Waking consciousness, whereby thinking is mostly about sensory perception and delineated, separate things within time and space. In the higher spiritual world, time and space as we know no longer exists. If one maps it to our experiential language, 'everything interpenetrates everywhere with everything at all times' (see also Cosmic fractal). Hence, the nature of spiritual realities at Planes or worlds of consciousness above the spirit world, such as nirvana plane or above, can not be grasped fully in its true nature with current Waking consciousness (see also God experience). There is a limit or 'ceiling' to how much sense it makes trying to grasp spiritual realities of higher dimensions, see also stages of clairvoyance. Initiates with intuitive clairvoyance have given tentative and symbolic descriptions, and these are about all one can expect at the current low level of intellectual thinking and consciousness. See description of this 'disclaimer' point in 1912-04-07-GA136 extract below.
More information about is to be found on the topic pages of The three Logoi, Creation by the three Logoi, Seven creative spirits, and IAO. This page focuses on the threefolded aspect of the highest divinity, and how that threefoldedness can be seen in downstream hierarchies and creation including Man.
- monotheism and threefolded nature of the Godhead (across history):
- ancient pagan gods (re 1905-03-23-GAXXX)
- introduction of the single Godhead:
- Judaism (re Moses, with the single godhead Jehovah)
- Islam (Mohammed with the single godhead Allah)
- historical development and disputes
- in ancient Egypt under pharaoh Ankh-en-Aton [Note: Akhenaton is also known as Echnaton, the 10th ruler of the 18th dynasty around 1350-1330 BC]. See also Daskalos who tells the story of one of his incarnations in this period.
- Julian the Apostate murdered because he wanted to re- Threefold Sun and (1921-11-06-GA211)
- the characteristics of the threefold absolute divinity or godhead
- can be denoted by omnipotence (will pleasure), omniscience (wisdom), love. Daskalos describes these characteristics as an isometric triangle in perfect balance. Note: striving for this elemental balance is also the goal of character transformation in initiation, see IIH steps 1 and 2.
- "God is pure love, not supreme wisdom, not supreme might. .. The all-encompassing attribute of the Godhead is not omnipotence, neither is it omniscience, but it is love" (1912-12-17-GA143)
- revelation of the Trinity:
- Father-Son-Spirit (mystical), Power-Effect-Being (masonic), Sulfur-Mercury-Salt (alchemical) (1909-03-03-GA266/1)
- the different fixed stars with their planetary systems are the sheaths or bodies of the all-pervading divine Trinity (1912-04-07-GA136)
- the three principles of the Trinity in Man (as a microcosm), and in the evolution of Earth and the solar system (macrocosm) (1905-06-05-GA093)
- for the Christ as the second Son principle, part of the Trinity, see: Christ Module 9: Trinity and Logoi
Schema FMC00.410 depicts the concept of divinity as per Daskalos (left, in HTS) and Bardon (Right, in IIH step 10). These characteristics of the absolute divinity are mapped to the Trinity (left) - see also the three Logoi, and to the four elements (right).
Schema FMC00.171 starts with Unity, God, the divine Primal sea from which everything arises. See more on Force substance representation
Schema FMC00.303 is a meta schema for purposes of study and contemplation
Schema FMC00.329 is a meta study schema, for an explanatory note, see IAO.
It may be useful to also include the Cosmic fractal considerations in contemplation this schema, as well as Schema FMC00.276 on Overview of solar system evolution or the more detailed Schema FMC00.413 on Old Saturn.
Lecture coverage and references
See Lecture coverage on The three logoi
discusses 'early images of God' in the third, fourth and fifth epochs.
describes the evolution from single, to dual, trinity and polytheism.
is on the Old sagas of the Gods
[Man's higher triad bodily principles, and terminology of Holy Spirit, Son and Father]
- When Man is able to control the substance of fire ether, he will be able to control all that is physical. When he is able to control the physical in Man, then he will also be able to control the rest of what is physical as well. This force is designated the Father force, or simply the ‘Father’ — everything through which a being joins with our Earth, everything by which that being can control physical matter. When a person can penetrate into the physical body with such Father forces, that is called Atma; this is how Atma can be assigned to the physical.
- The second member of [Man's] being is the etheric body, which corresponds to the Son principle, or the Logos, the ‘Word.’ The etheric body can be moved and inwardly shaped by Buddhi, set in vibration by the Son principle, just as the physical [body can be] by Atma.
- The third member is the astral body. This we cannot at first control; only very few people at present have any significant control over their astral bodies. We say a man is endowed with Manas, to the extent that man can control his astral body from within.
Man began to work on his astral body during the middle of Lemurian times. If you could have observed a man at the stage he had attained when the Lemurian Race began, that is, when he was bisexual, you would have found that his body was built from elsewhere; but in the middle of Lemurian times, Man then began to work on his astral body himself. Everything which Man weaves into himself out of his I, which he does out of duty or by command, to overcome the unwrought appetites and passions, helps to refine the astral body; when it has become completely permeated by the work of man's own I, then we can no longer call it astral body, it has become Manas.
When the whole astral body has been transformed into Manas, man can then begin to work upon his etheric body to transform it into Buddhi. What he weaves in there is nothing else than the individualised Word; Christian esotericism calls this the ‘Son’ or ‘Logos,’ and calls the astral body, when it has become Manas, the ‘Holy Spirit,’ and the physical body that has become Atma, ‘Father.’
[At World scale – the same for Earth]
What happens here on a small scale within Man happens also on a large scale in the world at large. These world secrets were carried out in the mysteries, in initiation; thereby something was done which for most human beings would ordy happen in a distant future.
Already, in the Egyptian mysteries one could only be initiated if one had worked one's way through one's entire astral body, so that the astral body could be completely managed by the I. Now such a person would stand before the initiating priest: he had no influence on his physical body, nor yet on his etheric body; but his astral body was of his own making. Now it was indicated to him how he could act on his etheric body and on his physical body. The physical body was brought into a lethargic condition — it had to remain in this state for three nights an three days — and during this time the etheric body was raised out of it. And since the initiate had become powerful in respect of the astral body, he could therefore now gain the power to act on the etheric body. He could learn to let what he had in the astral work on the etheric body. Those were the three days of the Entombment and the Resurrection in an etheric body that was completely permeated by what one calls the Holy Spirit. Such an initiate was called a man endowed with the Logos, with the ‘Word’. This ‘Word’ is nothing else than the Wisdom, Manas, which has been worked into the astral body. This wisdom can never enter the etheric body unless the astral body has first been permeated by it.
It was just the same for the Earth. Not until the whole earth had been brought this far into the astral, could such an event occur. The condition which the neophyte in the Egyptian mysteries had to be in, corresponds to this time of the Astral Globe which I have spoken of as the immediate precursor of our earth; that is the Globe of Wisdom. All wisdom was worked into it by the cosmic powers. And this transfer of wisdom into the Earth Globe itself made it possible that after the separation of sun and moon from the earth, something could again be incorporated from above, from higher spheres [into the earth] just as this happened on a small scale in the initiation.
[Beautiful passage – Legend of Dionysus (= the astral earth)]
Seven times the Astral Globe [stage] of Earth came under the rule of the Wise, after the manner of Solomon. Then the Earth clothed itself with an etheric body, and earthly matter was crystallised or formed. The ‘Word’ was laid into that; this Word is thus, as it were, entombed in earthly matter, but it must be resurrected. This is also the beautiful meaning of the myth of the God Dionysus. The Holy Wisdom of our earth's precursor is laid into all the Earth beings of our earthly world.
Take this as deeply as you are able.
[Etheric body after death]
Take the human etheric body as every human has it. If you look at it clairvoyantly it has nearly the same form as the physical body. At death Man's physical body dissolves, and the etheric body too; the physical body dissolves in the physical world, and the etheric body in the general cosmic ether. But this etheric body has been very elaborately created for man by the wisdom which first implanted it from out of the Astral Globe. This etheric body disperses after death. Only that etheric body which has been built up from within is a living body, that stays eternally. This is the etheric body of the Chela [the candidate for initiation], and that does not dissolve after death.
If you see a modern civilised Man die, you may see the etheric body for a while, but then it dissolves. With the Chela it remains. The renunciation of the spirit world [devachan] by the Chela consists in the fact that the Chela stays on the astral plane and there makes use of his etheric body. With ordinary human beings a new etheric body has to be formed at each rebirth; the ability to create a new one is attained in the spirit world. The etheric body which the Chela has built up from within will never be lost again; whereas that which is made by cosmic wisdom from elsewhere indeed dissolves itself again.
It is the same with the etheric bodies of plants and animals. What is now etheric body still, came to be built up out of cosmic forces which flowed into it out of the Astral Globe [state] of our Earth. This wisdom which you find in the astral Earth is expressed in the legend of Dionysus.
Now in the Lemurian epoch the denser [state] had to form itself. Then the Father principle had to be worked in. That is the last [principle] to take possession of our earthly matter. What has been worked in, in this way, is deeply hidden in the physical world.
- First the Holy Spirit worked itself into the astral material.
- Then the Spirit allied to the astral matter - that is the Son - worked itself into the etheric substance;
- and then came the Father, who controls physical density.
Thus the macrocosm was built up in a threefold progression: Spirit, Son and Father; and Man, as he progresses further upwards, goes from the Spirit, through the Son, to the Father. All of this takes place under guidance in the evolution of the earth.
.. the Seraphim have come into the actual direct vicinity of the highest Godhead of which we can speak at all: the Trinity, the three-fold Divinity.
Beyond the Seraphim we see the Trinity, that highest threefold Divinity of which we find mention by almost all cultures and religions — as Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, as Father, Word, and Holy Ghost.
From out [of] this highest Godhead, this most exalted Trinity, stream forth the plans for a new cosmic system.
or longer extract
The Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones are for us the highest Hierarchy among divine Beings, because they have already passed through their solar system evolution and have risen to mighty cosmic deeds of sacrifice.
Hence it is that these Beings have come into the actual direct vicinity of the highest Godhead of which we can speak at all: the Trinity, the three-fold Divinity. Beyond the Seraphim we have to see that highest Divinity of which we find mention by almost all nations as the threefold Divinity — as Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, as Father, Word, and Holy Ghost.
From out [of] this highest Godhead, this most exalted Trinity, stream forth the plans for a new cosmic system.
Glancing back at ancient Saturn we say to ourselves: before any of this ancient Saturn came into Being, the plan of it had grown within the divine threefold Unity. But the threefold Unity has need of Beings to execute its plan. These Beings must first prepare themselves for the task. The Beings who, are so to speak, nearest God Himself, who, as is beautifully expressed in Christian Western Esotericism, ‘bask in the light of God's countenance,’ are the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones. These take up the plans of a new cosmic system streaming from the divine threefold Unity. This is naturally expressed more figuratively than it really is, for we have to express in human words such sublime activities, for which, in truth, this human language has not been created. No human words exist to express such sublime activity as that, for instance, when the Seraphim, in the beginning of our solar system received the highest plans of the divine Threefold Unity containing the evolution which our solar system has to pass through, namely Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan. Seraphim is a name which for those who understand it in its true sense, even in that of ancient Hebrew Esotericism, has always signified that the task of the Seraphim was to receive from the Trinity the highest ideas and aims for a system of worlds. The Cherubim, the next lower rank of the Hierarchies, had the task of building up in wisdom the aims and ideas which they received from the higher gods. Thus the Cherubim are spirits of highest wisdom, who understood how to transpose into workable plans, the inspirations given to them by the Seraphim. And the Thrones, the third grade of the Hierarchies, counting from above, had the task — naturally very figuratively expressed. — of putting things into action, so that what had been thought out in Wisdom — these lofty cosmic thoughts which the Seraphim had received from the Gods, and which the Cherubim had pondered over, should be transformed into active reality.
Just as we look up to that which we shall only gradually attain in future earth-lives, so do these beings look up to That which towers above the nature of the hierarchies. Just as we speak of our Manas, Buddhi, Atma — or Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit and Spirit-man — so, as it were, do these beings look up from their Seraphic Principle as we out of our consciousness soul, to a Primal Spirituality. Then only have these beings something analogous to our inner spiritual life. It is extremely difficult to arouse concepts within us concerning that which exists above the hierarchies as the spiritual nature of the highest spirits themselves. Hence in course of the evolution of humanity, the various religions and world-concepts have, as we might say, forborne with a certain reverent caution to speak in concise concepts pertaining to the sense-world of what exists even above the hierarchies.
If in order to call forth such a concept as lives in the soul of the occultist when he looks up to the Seraphim, we try to grasp such means as can only be found in analogy, in considering people with a rich experience of life; we find that even in such persons nothing in their lives can in the very least help one to characterize the Trinity, which, as it were, appears above the Seraphim, as their highest being — as their Manas, Buddha and Atma.
In the course of human evolution there has unfortunately been much dispute over the cautious surmises with which the human mind has ventured to approach that which is above, in the spiritual worlds. Unfortunately, we may say; for it would be much more seemly if the human mind were not to try to describe beings of such sublimity with the concepts taken from ordinary life, nor by means of all sorts of analogies and comparisons; it would be more seemly for man to desire in deepest reverence to learn ever more fully, so that he might be able to form more approximate concepts.
The various religions of the world have tried to give approximate concepts of what is Above, in many significant and speaking ideas; ideas which, to a certain extent do gain something special, in that they reach out beyond the individual life of man in the external sense-world. Naturally, we cannot by means of such ideas describe, even approximately, these exalted beings to whom we refer, but we can, to a certain extent, call up a conception of what is inexpressible, and should be veiled in holy mystery. For one ought not to approach these matters with mere human intellectual concepts obtained from the external world.
Hence in the successive religions and conceptions of the world it was sought to characterize these things approximately and by faint indications; they drew near to what is so far above man and in its very nature mysterious, by an attempt at characterizing, or rather, by a giving of names.
The ancient Egyptians have, in their giving of names, made use of the concept of Child or Son — Father and Mother, as that which towers above individual man. Christianity endeavored in the succession of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to find a name for this Trinity. We may therefore say: “In the seventh place we should have to put the Holy Spirit, in the eighth place the Son and in the ninth the Father.” If therefore we look up to a being whose highest content disappears as in a spiritual Mystery we can say symbolically — Spirit, Son, and Father. ...
[after description of heavenly bodies in language of the hierarchies]
Each planetary system with its fixed star, which is in a sense the Commander-in-Chief under the guidance of the Cherubim, is again related to the other planetary systems to which other fixed stars belong. These systems mutually arrange their positions in space with due regard to the neighboring systems, just as individual persons agree together, deliberate with one another with regard to their common action. Just as men found a social system by virtue of this reciprocity, so is there also a reciprocity of the planetary systems. Mutual understanding prevails between one fixed star and another. By this means alone does the cosmos come into existence. That which, so to speak, the planetary systems discuss with one another in cosmic space in order to become a cosmos is regulated by those beings we call the Seraphim.
We have now, as it were, exhausted what we find in man, as far as the consciousness soul. Just as in man we ascend to his higher spirit-nature, to that which alone gives meaning to the whole system up to the consciousness soul, so if we ascend above the Seraphim we come to what we tried to describe as the Highest Trinity of Cosmic Being; we come to that which governs in the Universe as the All-pervading, Divine, Threefold Divine Life, Which creates for Itself sheaths in the different Planetary Systems.
Just as that which lives in man as Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, and Spirit-Man, (Manas, Buddhi, Atma), creates sheaths in the consciousness soul, intellectual soul, and sentient soul, astral, etheric, and physical bodies: so do the Fixed Stars of planetary systems move through space as the bodies of Divine Beings. Inasmuch as we contemplate the life of the world of Stars, we contemplate the bodies of the Gods, and finally of the Divine in general.
from the summary commentary (not by RS):
As well as love there are two other powers: might and wisdom. To these two, the concepts of magnitude and enhancement are applicable, but not to love. The all-embracing attribute of the Godhead is therefore not omnipotence, not omniscience, but love. God is supreme love, not supreme might, not supreme wisdom. The Godhead has shared these two with Ahriman and Lucifer. Wisdom and might unfold in the world, but love is a unique, Divine Impulse. The Mystery of Golgotha was fulfilled as a counterweight to the impulses of might and of wisdom. Therefore anyone who knows the mystery of love can be a Christian. Spiritual Science must include this love — otherwise it leads to egoism. The Mystery of Golgotha is a Deed of the Gods and a concern of the Gods. This Deed cannot be understood out of wisdom but only out of love. Together with selfishness, evil came into the world. It had to be so, because without the evil, man could not lay hold of the good. But through man's conquest of himself the unfolding of love has been made possible. The darkness has enabled the light to come into our ken.
lecture title: Love and its meaning in the world, excerpt A:
... Love is the creative force in the world.
Besides love there are two other powers in the world. How do they compare with love?
The one is strength, might; the second is wisdom. In regard to strength or might we can speak of degrees: weaker, stronger, or absolute might — omnipotence. The same applies to wisdom, for there are stages on the path to omniscience. It will not do to speak in the same way of degrees of love.
What is universal love, love for all beings?
In the case of love we cannot speak of enhancement as we can speak of enhancement of knowledge into omniscience or of might into omnipotence, by virtue of which we attain greater perfection of our own being. Love for a few or for many beings has nothing to do with our own perfecting. Love for everything that lives cannot be compared with omnipotence; the concept of magnitude, or of enhancement, cannot rightly be applied to love. Can the attribute of omnipotence be ascribed to the Divine Being who lives and weaves through the world? Contentions born of feeling must here be silent: were God omnipotent, he would be responsible for everything that happens and there could be no human freedom. If man can be free, then certainly there can be no Divine omnipotence.
Is the Godhead omniscient? As man's highest goal is likeness to God, our striving must be in the direction of omniscience. Is omniscience, then, the supreme treasure? If it is, a vast chasm must forever yawn between man and God. At every moment man would have to be aware of this chasm if God possessed the supreme treasure of omniscience for himself and withheld it from man. The all-encompassing attribute of the Godhead is not omnipotence, neither is it omniscience, but it is love — the attribute in respect of which no enhancement is possible. God is uttermost love, unalloyed love, is born as it were out of love, is the very substance and essence of love. God is pure love, not supreme wisdom, not supreme might. God has retained love for himself but has shared wisdom and might with Lucifer and Ahriman. He has shared wisdom with Lucifer and might with Ahriman, in order that man may become free, in order that under the influence of wisdom he may make progress.
If we try to discover the source of whatever is creative we come to love; love is the ground, the foundation of everything that lives. It is by a different impulse in evolution that beings are led to become wiser and more powerful. Progress is attained through wisdom and strength. Study of the course taken by the evolution of humanity shows us how the development of wisdom and strength is subject to change: there is progressive evolution and then the Christ Impulse which once poured into mankind through the Mystery of Golgotha. Love did not, therefore, come into the world by degrees; love streamed into mankind as a gift of the Godhead, in complete, perfect wholeness. But man can receive the Impulse into himself gradually. The Divine Impulse of love as we need it in earthly life is an Impulse that came once and forever.
True love is not capable of diminution or amplification. Its nature is quite different from that of wisdom and might. Love wakens no expectations for the future; it is payment of debts incurred in the past. And such was the Mystery of Golgotha in the world's evolution.
Now another conception too was associated with this picture of the Father God in the days of antiquity. Men said to themselves: Every' thing would be well if the earthly forces only were working upon the being of man, but this is not the case. The Moon is working in the neighbourhood of the Earth. In short, the Earth is not working alone, but together with the Moon. And with this mingling of Earth and Moon forces there was associated the idea not only of one single Godhead of the Earth but of the many subordinate gods of paganism. All the forces working upon body and blood were woven into this ancient conception of the Godhead.
this lecture cycle is called 'The mystery of the Trinity'
.. Christianity thinks of three Divinities: God the Father, living in all the phenomena of nature; God the Son, working in man's free spiritual activity; and God the Holy Spirit, who awakens in man the consciousness of having within him a spirituality that is independent of the body. Three distinct spheres are pictured. If there were not three spheres it would have to be assumed that by the same resolve this one God allows the human being to die and then wakens him to life again. If there are Three Divine Persons, death belongs to the sphere of one Godhead, passage through death and beyond to another, and the awakening in spirit to yet another. Christianity could not do otherwise than picture the spiritual Godhead in three Persons. (In three Persons: this is not understood to-day but the original meaning was that of threefoldness, the Divine manifesting in three forms.)
But to maintain this adherence to the one God is not as easy as it seems, for if such adherence is not strongly forced upon them, men readily become pagans. It is among the Jews that this tendency has been least of all in evidence. Christianity, on the other hand, tends easily in the direction of paganism. If you observe closely you will find many indications of this. Think, for example, of how ceremonies are revered in Christianity. I have told you that the Monstrance actually depicts the Sun and the Moon. The meaning of this is no longer known but men unenlightened in this respect actually pray to the Monstrance, they pray to something external. Men are easily inclined to pray to something external. And so in the course of the centuries Christianity has developed many pagan characteristics, whereas in Judaism the opposite has been the case.
The right attitude to take today is that in the times to come it will not be necessary to segregate any particular culture in order to prevent its dissipation ... but that this practice must be superseded by spiritual knowledge. The relation between the single Godhead and the multiplicity of spiritual beings will then be intelligible to men and no one people need be under the sway of subconscious impulses.
The Jews introduced what is known as Monotheism, the belief that there is but the one God.
Now because Judaism conceived only of this one God, it could make no image of the Godhead but could only grasp the Divine with the innermost forces of the soul, with the intellect. It is easy to understand that this led to an intensification of human egoism; for man becomes remote from what is around him if he sees the spiritual only in and through his own person.
Note the wordings .. the Seraphim 'have come into the actual direct vicinity' .. which sketches an upstreaming upto and into. See also the explanations on Schema FMC00.329 on IAO.
- The three Logoi
- Christ Module 9: Trinity and Logoi
- Threefold Sun
- Spiritual Hierarchies
- EDN - ICM - PSSR
- Creation by the three Logoi
- Seven creative spirits
References and further reading
- Lorenzo Ravagli: 'Die Trinität im Werk Rudolf Steiners' (2004) online here