What is a "Plane"?
The Fourth Dimension
A Hierarchy of Planes
The Seven Sub-planes of Matter
The Seven Sub-planes of Mind
The Seven SubPlanes of Spirit
What We Mean by "Spirit"
The Principle of Correspondence
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In short, the Three Great Planes may be regarded as three great groups of degrees of Life Manifestation. While the purposes of this little book do not allow us to enter into an extended discussion or explanation of the subject of these different planes, still we think it well to give a general description of the same at this point.
A "dimension", you know, is "a measure in a straight line"; "relating to measure", etc. The ordinary dimensions of space are length, breadth, and height, or perhaps length, breadth, height, thickness or circumference. But there is another dimension of "created things" or "measure in a straight line" known to occultists — and to scientists as well, although the latter have not as yet applied the term "dimension" to it — and this new dimension (which, by the way, is the much speculated-about "Fourth Dimension"), is the standard used in determining the degrees or "planes".
You will kindly remember, however, that the Three Great Planes are not actual divisions of the phenomena of the Universe, but merely arbitrary terms used by the Hermetists in order to aid in the thought and study of the various degrees and forms of universal activity and life. The atom of matter, the unit of force, the mind of man, and the being of the arch-angel are all but degrees in one scale, and all fundamentally the same, the difference being merely a matter of degree of rate of vibration — all are creations of THE ALL, and have their existence solely within the Infinite Mind of THE ALL.
The Great Physical Plane, and its Seven Minor Planes, is that division of the phenomena of the Universe which includes all that relates to physics, or material things, forces, and manifestations. It includes all forms of what we call Matter, and all forms of what we call Energy or Force. But you must remember that the Hermetic Philosophy does not recognise Matter as a "thing in itself", or as having a separate existence even in the Mind of THE ALL. The teachings are that Matter is but a form of Energy — that is, Energy at a low rate of vibrations of a certain kind. And accordingly the Hermetists classify Matter under the head of Energy, and give to it three of the Seven Minor Planes of the Great Physical Plane.
Next above the Plane of Ethereal Substance comes this Plane of Energy (A), which comprises the ordinary forms of Energy known to science, its seven sub-planes being, respectively, Heat, Light, Magnetism, Electricity, Attraction (including Gravitation, Cohesion, Chemical Affinity, etc.) and some other forms of energy indicated by scientific experiments but not as yet named or classified. The Plane of Energy (B) comprises seven planes of higher forms of energy not as yet discovered by science, but which have been called "Nature's Finer Forces" and which are brought into operation in manifestations of certain forms of mental phenomena, and by which such phenomena become possible. The Plane of Energy (C) comprises seven sub-planes of energy so highly organised that it bears many of the characteristics of "life", but which is not recognised by the minds of men on the ordinary plane of development, being available for the use of beings on the Spiritual Plane alone. Such energy is unthinkable to ordinary man, and may be considered almost as "the divine power". The beings employing this power are as "gods" compared even to the highest human types known to us.
The average mind does not generally attribute the possession of mind, soul, or life, to the Mineral kingdom, but all occultists recognise their existence and modern science is rapidly moving forward to the Hermetic viewpoint in this respect. The molecules, atoms and corpuscles have their "loves and hates", likes and dislikes, attractions and repulsions, affinities and non-affinities, etc., and some of the more daring of modern scientific minds have expressed the opinion that the desire and will, emotions and feelings of the atoms differ only in degree from those of men. We have no time or space to argue this matter here. All occultists know it to be a fact, and others are referred to some of the more recent scientific works for outside corroboration. There are the usual seven sub-divisions to this plane.
The Plane of Elemental Mind (A) comprises the state or condition and degree of mental and vital development of a class of entities unknown to the average man, but recognised by occultists. They are invisible to the ordinary senses of man, but nevertheless exist and play their part in the Drama of the Universe. Their degree of intelligence is between that of the mineral and chemical entities on the one hand, and of the entities of the plant kingdom on the other. There are seven sub-divisions to this plane also.
The Plane of Plant Mind, in its seven sub-divisions, comprises the states or conditions of the entities comprising the kingdoms of the Plant World, the vital and mental phenomena of which are fairly well understood by the average intelligent person, many new and interesting scientific works regarding "Mind and Life in Plants" having been published during the last decade. Plants have life, mind and "souls", as well as have the animals, man, and super-man.
The Plane of Elemental Mind (B), in its seven sub-divisions, comprises the states and conditions of a higher form of "elemental" or unseen entities playing their part in the general work of the Universe, the mind and life of which form a part of the scale between the Plane of Plant Mind and the Plane of Animal Mind, the entities partaking of the nature of both.
The Plane of Animal Mind, in its seven sub-divisions, comprises the states and conditions of the entities, beings, or souls animating the animal forms of life, familiar to us all. It is not necessary to go into details regarding this kingdom or plane of life, for the animal world is as familiar to us as is our own.
The Plane of Elemental Mind (C), in its seven sub-divisions, comprises those invisible entities or beings which partake of the nature of both animal and human life in a degree and in certain combinations. The highest forms are semi-human in intelligence.
The Plane of Human Mind, in its seven sub-divisions, comprises those manifestations of life and mentality which are common to Man in his various grades, degrees, and divisions. In this connection, we wish to point out the fact that the average man of today occupies but the fourth sub-division of the Plane of Human Mind, and only the most intelligent have crossed the borders of the Fifth Sub-Division. It has taken the race millions of years to reach this stage, and it will take many more years for the race to move on to the sixth and seventh sub-divisions, and beyond. But remember that there have been races before us who have passed through these degrees, and then on to higher planes. Our own race is the fifth (with stragglers from the fourth) which has set foot upon The Path. And then there are a few advanced souls of our own race who have outstripped the masses and who have passed on to the sixth and seventh sub-division, and some few still further on. The man of the Sixth Sub-Division will be "The Super-Man"; he of the Seventh will be "The Over-Man".
In our consideration of the Seven Minor Mental Planes, we have merely referred to the Three Elementary Planes in a general way. We do not wish to go into this subject in detail in this work, for it does not belong to this part of the general philosophy and teachings. But we may say this much, in order to give you a little clearer idea of the relations of these planes to the more familiar ones. The Elementary Planes bear the same relation to the Planes of Mineral, Plant, Animal and Human mentality and Life that the black keys on the piano do to the white keys. The white keys are sufficient to produce music, but there are certain scales, melodies and harmonies in which the black keys play their part and in which their presence is necessary. They are also necessary as "connecting links" of soul-condition, entity states, etc., between the several other planes, certain forms of development being attained therein — this last fact giving to the reader who can "read between the lines" a new light upon the processes of Evolution, and a new key to the secret door of the "leaps of life" between kingdom and kingdom. The great kingdoms of Elementals are fully recognised by all occultists, and the esoteric writings are full of mention of them. The readers of Bulwer-Lytton's "Zanoni" and similar tales will recognise the entities inhabiting these planes of life.
All that we can say is that the Seven Minor Planes of the Great Spiritual Plane (each Minor Plane having its seven sub-divisions) comprise Beings possessing Life, Mind and Form as far above that of Man of today as the latter is above the earth-worm, mineral, or even certain forms of Energy or Matter. The Life of those Beings so far transcends ours that we cannot even think of their details; their Minds so far transcend ours that to them we scarcely seem to "think", and our mental processes seem almost akin to material processes; the Matter of which their forms are composed is of the highest Planes of Matter, nay, some are even said to be "clothed in Pure Energy". What may be said of such Beings?
On the Seven Minor Planes of the Great Spiritual Plane exist Beings of whom we may speak as Angels, Archangels, Demi-Gods. On the lower Minor Planes dwell those great souls whom we call Masters and Adepts. Above them come the Great Hierarchies of the Angelic Hosts, unthinkable to man; and above those who may without irreverence be called "The Gods", so high in the scale of Being that their intelligence and power are akin to those attributed by the races of men to their conceptions of Deity. These Beings are beyond the highest flights of the human imagination, the word "Divine" being the only one applicable to them. Many of these Beings, as well as the Angelic Host, take the greatest interest in the Universe and play an important part in its affairs. These Unseen Divinities and Angelic Helpers extend their influence freely and powerfully in the process of Evolution and Cosmic Progress. Their occasional intervention and assistance in human affairs have led to the many legends, beliefs, religions and traditions of the race. They have super-imposed their knowledge and power upon the world again and again — all, of course, under the Law of THE ALL.
But yet, even the highest of these advanced Beings exist merely as creations of, and in, the Mind of THE ALL, and are subject to the Cosmic Processes and Universal laws. They are still Mortal. We may call them "gods" if we like, but still they are but the Elder Brethren of the Race, the advanced souls who have outstripped their brethren and who have foregone the ecstasy of Absorption by THE ALL in order to help the race on its upward journey along The Path. But they belong to the Universe and are subject to its conditions: they are mortal, and their plane is below that of Absolute Spirit.
Only the most advanced Hermetists are able to grasp the Inner Teachings regarding the state of existence and the powers manifested on the Spiritual Planes. The phenomena are so much higher than those of the Mental Planes that a confusion of ideas would surely result from any attempt to describe them. Only those whose minds have been carefully trained along the lines of the Hermetic Philosophy for years — yes, those who have brought with them from other incarnations the knowledge acquired previously — can comprehend just what is meant by the Teaching regarding these Spiritual Planes. And much of these Inner Teachings is held by the Hermetists as being too sacred, important and even dangerous for general public dissemination.
"As above, so below; as below, so above". This centuries-old Hermetic axiom embodies one of the great Principles of Universal Phenomena. As we proceed with our consideration of the remaining Principles, we shall see even more clearly the truth of the universal nature of this great Principle of Correspondence.