SECTION TWO - TEACHING ON THE ETHERIC VEHICLE - Part 1
TEACHING ON THE ETHERIC VEHICLE
I. THE NATURE OF THE ETHERIC BODY
Much that I may say here may be familiar to a certain extent, because there is a vast amount of information anent the etheric body scattered throughout my various books. It will have its value however if students can receive in a few pages a general idea and the basic concepts which underlie the teaching—or should I say, the fact? If they have the time, students would find it of profit to re-read what I said; run their eyes rapidly through the books and papers in search of the word "etheric." They will never regret it. Life itself, the training to be given in the future, the conclusions of science and a new mode of civilisation will all increasingly be focussed on this unique substance which is the true form to which all physical bodies in every kingdom in nature conform. Note that phraseology.
The attitude of occultism is, at this time, relatively negative to the fact and the nature of the etheric body. People are ready to admit its existence, but the dominant factors in their consciousness are the fact of the physical body (around whose comfort, security and care all life seems woven) and the fact of the astral or emotional nature. Not one among them, or among occult students generally, pays any attention to the etheric body, and there is a great hiatus or gap in consciousness today (only this time normally and rightly) between the personality and the Spiritual Triad. This gap will be bridged by the building of the antahkarana, and this can only be built by advanced students. There is no such planned bridge for the gap in  consciousness between the physical body and the etheric counterpart. The etheric body exists in subtle etheric matter, and factually there is no true gap; there is simply the ignoring by humanity of an aspect of the physical body which is of far more importance than is the dense physical vehicle. The consciousness of men today is physical-astral, and the factor of conditioning energies is ignored, overlooked, and—from the angle of consciousness—non-existent.
One of the main obligations of occult students today is to testify to the fact of the etheric body; modern science is already thus testifying because its researches have now landed it in the realm of energy. Electro-therapy, the growing recognition that man is electrical in nature, and the realisation that even the atom in apparently inanimate objects is a living vibrant entity substantiate this occult point of view. Generally speaking, science has preceded esotericism in its recognition of energy as a dominant factor in all form expression. Theosophists and others pride themselves on being ahead of human thinking, but such is not the case. H.P.B., an initiate of high standing, presented views ahead of science, but that does not apply to the exponents of the theosophical teaching. The fact of all manifested forms being forms of energy, and that the true human form is no exception, is the gift of science to humanity and not the gift of occultism. The demonstration that light and matter are synonymous terms is also a scientific conclusion. Esotericists have always known this, but their aggressive and foolish presentations of the truth have greatly handicapped the Hierarchy. Frequently the Masters have deplored the technique of the theosophists and other occult groups. When the new presentation of the occult teaching made its appearance through the inspired activity of H.P.B., a number (an increasing number as the years slipped by) of theosophical members presented the occult  teaching in such a manner that it travestied the true teaching and outraged the intellectual perception of the mass of enquiring and intelligent men. The teaching on the etheric body is an instance of this. H.P.B. was largely responsible, because of utilising the word "astral" to cover a mass of information anent the etheric as well as the astral. This was due to the realisation of the fact that the astral body was doomed in a few generations (relatively speaking) to disappear, and for H.P.B. in particular was already nonexistent, owing to the advanced point in evolution reached by this disciple.
Realising that the etheric body was an expression always of the dominant energy controlling mankind in any particular cycle, H.P.B. used the term "astral body" as interchangeable with the etheric body. The etheric body, in the vast majority of cases is the vehicle or the instrument of astral energy. The mass of men are still Atlantean or astral in their natures, and this means a far larger percentage than the average occultist is willing to admit. H.P.B. was, however, truthful and knew that at that time and for several hundred years afterwards (probably about three hundred years) the astral body would continue to govern the mass of human reactions and their consequent daily life expression. Hence the apparent confusion in the writings between these two "bodies."
Here is a basic statement—one that is so basic that it governs and controls all thinking anent the etheric body:
The etheric body is primarily composed of the dominant energy or energies to which the man, the group, the nation, or the world reacts in any particular time cycle or world period.
If you are to understand clearly, it is essential that I lay down certain propositions anent the etheric body which  should govern all the student's thinking; if they do not, he will be approaching the truth from the wrong angle; this, modern science does not do. The limitation of modern science is its lack of vision; the hope of modern science is that it does recognise truth when proven. Truth in all circumstances is essential and in this matter science gives a desirable lead, even though it ignores and despises occultism. Occult scientists handicap themselves either because of their presentation of the truth or because of a false humility. Both are equally bad.
There are six major propositions which govern all consideration of the etheric body, and I would like to present them to students as a first step:
1. There is nothing in the manifested universe—solar, planetary or the various kingdoms in nature—which does not possess an energy form, subtle and intangible yet substantial, which controls, governs and conditions the outer physical body. This is the etheric body.
2. This energy form—underlying the solar system, the planets and all forms within their specific rings-pass-not—is itself conditioned and governed by the dominant solar or planetary energy which ceaselessly and without break in time, creates it, changes and qualifies it. The etheric body is subject to ceaseless change. This, being true of the Macrocosm, is equally true of man, the microcosm, and—through the agency of humanity—will eventually and mysteriously prove true of all the subhuman kingdoms in nature. Of this, the animal kingdom and the vegetable kingdom are already evidences.
3. The etheric body is composed of interlocking and circulating lines of force emanating from one or  other, or from one or many, of the seven planes or areas of consciousness of our planetary Life.
4. These lines of energy and this closely interlocking system of streams of force are related to seven focal points or centres to be found within the etheric body. These centres are related, each of them, to certain types of incoming energy. When the energy reaching the etheric body is not related to a particular centre, then that centre remains quiescent and unawakened; when it is related and the centre is sensitive to its impact, then that centre becomes vibrant and receptive and develops as a controlling factor in the life of the man on the physical plane.
5. The dense physical body, composed of atoms—each with its own individual life, light and activity—is held together by and is expressive of the energies which compose the etheric body. These, as will be apparent, are of two natures:
a. The energies which form (through interlocked "lines of forceful energy") the underlying etheric body, as a whole and in relation to all physical forms. This form is qualified then by the general life and vitality of the plane on which the Dweller in the body functions, and therefore where his consciousness is normally focussed.
b. The particularised or specialised energies by which the individual (at this particular point in evolution, through the circumstances of his daily life and his heredity) chooses to govern his daily activities.
6. The etheric body has many centres of force, responsive to the manifold energies of our planetary Life, but we shall consider only the seven major  centres which respond to the inflowing energies of the seven rays. All lesser centres are conditioned by the seven major centres; this is a point which students are apt to forget. It is here that knowledge of the egoic and of the personality rays is of prime usefulness.
It can be seen, therefore, how exceedingly important this subject of energy becomes, because it controls and makes the man what he is at any given moment, and likewise indicates the plane on which he should function, and the method whereby he should govern his environment, circumstances and relationships. If this is grasped by him, it will enable him to realise that he will have to shift his whole attention from the physical or the astral planes on to the etheric levels of awareness; his objective will then be to determine what energy should control his daily expression (or energies, if he is an advanced disciple). He will realise also that as his attitude, attainment and comprehension shift to ever higher levels, his etheric body will be constantly changing and responding to the newer energies. These energies he will be will-fully bringing in; this is the right use of the word "will-full."
It is not easy for the average seer or clairvoyant to distinguish the etheric body from its environment or to isolate its particular type of energy or livingness, for the reason that its automaton, the physical body—being composed of vibrant energetic atoms—is itself in constant movement, and such movement involves a necessary radiation as a consequence; animal magnetism is an illustration of this radiation. This emanation from the dense physical body normally and naturally mingles with the energies of the etheric body, and thus only the trained seer can differentiate between the two, particularly within the physical body itself.
From one point of view the etheric body can be looked at in two ways: first, as it interpenetrates, underlies and occupies the entire physical organism and, secondly, as it extends beyond the physical form and surrounds it like an aura. According to the point in evolution will be the extent of the area which the etheric body covers beyond the outside of the physical body. It may extend for a few or many inches. It is only in this area that the vital body can be studied with relative ease, once the emanatory activity of the physical atoms is offset or allowed for.
Within the physical body, the network of the etheric body is to be found permeating every single part. It is peculiarly associated at this time with the nervous system, which is fed, nourished, controlled and galvanised by its etheric counterpart. This counterpart is present in millions of tiny streams or lines of energy, to which the Eastern occultist has given the name "nadis." These nadis are the carriers of energy. They are in fact the energy itself and carry the quality of energy from some area of consciousness in which the "dweller in the body" may happen to be focussed. This may be the astral plane or the planes of the Spiritual Triad, for none of the energies can control the physical body from any plane, no matter how high, except in this manner. According to the focus of the consciousness, the psychic state of awareness, the potency of aspiration or desire, and the point in evolution or the spiritual status, so will be the type of energy carried by the nadis, passing from them to the outer nervous system. This general proposition must be accepted, for the whole subject is as yet too intricate, and the mechanism of observation of the student too undeveloped, for me to enter into greater detail. This will suffice as an initial hypothesis upon which to work.
The amount of energy and the type of energy controlling any aspect of the nervous system is conditioned by the centre  in its immediate area. A centre is a distributing agency, in the last analysis. Even though that energy will affect the entire body, the centre most responsive to the quality and type will potently affect the nadis, and therefore the nerves, in its immediate environment.
It must always be remembered that the seven centres are not within the dense physical body. They exist only in etheric matter and in the etheric so-called aura, outside the physical body. They are closely related to the dense physical body by the network of nadis. Five of the centres are to be found in the etheric counterpart of the spinal column, and the energy passes (through large and responsive nadis) through the vertebrae of the spine and circulates then throughout the etheric body as it is interiorly active within the physical vehicle. The three head centres exist, one just above the top of the head, another just in front of the eyes and forehead, and the third at the back of the head, just above where the spinal column ends. This makes eight centres but is in reality seven, as the centre at the back of the head is not counted in the initiation process, any more than is the spleen.
The powerful effect of the inflow of energy, via the energy body, has itself automatically created these centres or these reservoirs of force, these focal points of energy, which the spiritual man must learn to use and through the means of which he can direct energy where needed. Each of these seven centres has appeared in the course of human evolution in response to energy from one or other, or from several, of the seven rays. The impact of these rays upon the etheric body, emanating as they do periodically and ceaselessly from the seven rays, is so potent that the seven areas in the etheric body become more highly sensitised than the rest of the vehicle, and these in due time develop into responsive distributing centres. The effect of these seven centres upon the physical body in due time produces a condensation or a  state of what is called "attracted response" from dense matter, and thus the seven major sets of endocrine glands slowly came into functioning activity. It must here be remembered that the whole development of the etheric body falls into two historical stages:
1. That in which the etheric energy, flowing through responsive centres and creating the endocrine glands as a consequence, gradually began to have a definite effect upon the blood stream; the energy worked through that medium solely for a very long time. This still remains true, for the life aspect of energy animates the blood, through the medium of the centres and their agents, the glands. Hence the words in the Bible that "the blood is the life."
2. As the race of men developed, and consciousness grew greater and certain great expansions took place, the centres began to extend their usefulness and to use the nadis, and thus to work upon and through the nervous system; this produced conscious and planned activity upon the physical plane, commensurate to the man's place in evolution.
Thus the incoming energy forming the etheric body created a needed etheric mechanism with its corresponding dense physical counterparts; it therefore, as will be noted from its relationship to the blood via the glands, and to the nervous system via the nadis (both through the medium of the seven centres), became the transmitter of two aspects of energy: one of which was kama-manasic (desire-lower mind) and the other atmic-buddhic (spiritual will—spiritual love) in the case of advanced humanity. Herein lies full opportunity for all, as the Law of Evolution proceeds to dominate all manifestation. What is true of the Macrocosm is true also of the microcosm.
II. THE BASIS OF NON-SEPARATENESS
The use of the creative imagination is of value here. It may not give a true picture on all points, but it will convey one great reality. The reality to which I refer is that there is no possible separateness in our manifested planetary life—or elsewhere for that matter, even beyond our planetary ring-pass-not. The concept of separateness, of individual isolation, is an illusion of the unillumined human mind. Everything—every form, every organism within all forms, all aspects of manifested life in every kingdom in nature—is intimately related each to each through the planetary etheric body (of which all etheric bodies are integral parts) which substands all that is. Little as it may mean, and useless as it may appear, the table at which you write, the flower you hold in your hand, the horse on which you ride, the man to whom you talk, are sharing with you the vast circulatory life of the planet as it streams into, through and out of every aspect of the form nature. The only differences which exist are those in consciousness, and peculiarly so in the consciousness of man and of the Black Lodge. There is only the ONE LIFE, pouring through the mass of forms which, in their sum total, constitute our planet—as we know it.
All forms are related, inter-related and interdependent; the planetary etheric body holds them together so that a cohesive, coherent, expressive Whole is presented to the eye of man, or one great unfolding consciousness to the perception of the Hierarchy. Lines of light pass from form to form. Some are bright and some are dim; some move or circulate with rapidity, others are lethargic and slow in their  interplay; some seem to circulate with facility in some particular kingdom in nature and some in another; some come from one direction and some from a different one, but all are in movement all the time; it is a constant circulation. All are passing on and into and through, and there is not one single atom in the body which is not the recipient of this living, moving energy; there is no single form that is not "kept in shape and livingness" by this determined inflow and outflow, and there is therefore no part of the body of manifestation (which is an integral part of the planetary vehicle of the Lord of the World) which is not in complex but complete touch with HIS divine intention—through the medium of HIS three major centres: Shamballa, the Hierarchy, and Humanity. In the multiplicity of the forms of which His great composite vehicle is composed, there is no need for Him to be in conscious touch. It is, however, possible, should He so desire it, but it would profit Him not, any more than it would profit you to be in conscious touch with some atom in some organ of your physical body. He works, however, through His three major centres: Shamballa, the planetary head centre; the Hierarchy, the planetary heart centre; and Humanity, the planetary throat centre. The play of the energies elsewhere (controlled from these three centres) is automatic. The objective of the circulating energies—as it appears to us when we seek to penetrate divine purpose—is to vivify all parts of His body, with the view of promoting the unfoldment of consciousness therein.
This is basically true from the angle of Shamballa "where the Will of God is known"; it is partially true of those Members of the Hierarchy Who sense the Purpose and formulate the Plan and then present it in an understandable form to the lesser initiates and disciples and aspirants. These two groups work entirely on the consciousness side, which motivates and directs (as needed) the moving,  circulating energies. This is not true of the bulk of humanity, who are conscious but only conscious within their ring-pass-not, and are therefore fundamentally separated off by their emphasis upon form as it exists in the three worlds—the dense physical levels of the cosmic physical plane. On the lowest of these levels, the outer physical form reacts and responds to the circulating energies through the medium of the etheric energy which comes from the lowest of the four levels of the etheric plane.
Gradually the consciousness within these forms reacts to the nature of the outer vehicle as it is impulsed from etheric levels, and a profoundly significant development takes place. This development—to make a wide generalisation—falls into three categories:
1. The outer form changes under the impact of the etheric energies entering in, passing through and disappearing from (ceaselessly aeon after aeon) the form. The energy that is there one minute is gone the next.
2. This ceaseless play of energy varies in time and space, and moves lethargically, rapidly or rhythmically according to the type or nature of the form through which it is at any moment passing.
3. The energy of the etheric plane changes considerably as the aeons pass away, according to the direction or the source from which it comes. The directing energy alters significantly as evolution proceeds.
Students have been apt to speak simply of the etheric body as an entire integral entity and as constituted solely of etheric substance, forgetting that the etheric body is the medium for the transfer of many types of energy. They forget the following facts:
1. That the etheric body is itself composed of four types of substance, each of which is definitely specialised and found on one or other of the etheric levels.
2. That these substances, functioning actively in any particular etheric body, create a network of channels; they produce fine tubes (if I may use so inappropriate a word) which take the general form of the dense material or tangible form with which they may be associated. This form underlies every part of the physical body and can be seen extending for a certain distance outside of the recognisable form. This etheric body is not in reality an ovoid (as the older occult books teach) but usually takes the form or general outline of the physical vehicle with which it is associated. When, however, the head centre is awakened and functioning, then the ovoid appearance is far more frequent.
3. These channels or tubes—according to the type of energy they carry—pass to certain areas of the body, via three main stations:
a. The seven major centres, of which you have heard much.
b. The twenty-one minor centres, which I outlined for you earlier. [xiii]*
c. The forty-nine focal points, scattered all over the body.
4. All these centres and focal points for the transmission of energy are connected each with each by larger channels than the mass of channels which constitute the etheric body as a whole, because many lesser channels and lines of force or energy merge and blend as they near a centre or a focal point.
5.The mass of the smaller channels or the channelling tubes of energy eventually create in all forms that layer of corresponding nerves which are not yet recognised by medical science but which are like an intermediary web or network. These relate the etheric body as a whole to the entire two-fold nervous system (cerebro-spinal and the sympathetic nervous systems) which science does recognise. It is this system underlying the nerves which is the true response apparatus and which—via the brain—telegraphs information to the mind or, via the brain and the mind, keeps the soul informed. It is this system of nadis which is used in full consciousness by the initiate who has related the Spiritual Triad and the soul-infused personality, and has therefore seen the soul-body, the causal body or the egoic lotus totally disappear, being no longer of any true importance. There is a peculiar and at present inexplicable relation between this system of nadis and the antahkarana when it is in process of creation or is created.
6. The physical body, therefore, like so much else in nature, is itself triple in design. There is:
a. The etheric body.
b. The substantial nadis.
c. The dense physical body.
These form one unit and in incarnation are inseparable.
7. The centres in their totality and the many focal points of contact found in the etheric body are responsible for the creation and preservation of the endocrine glandular system in a form either limited and inadequate, or representative of the spiritual man and entirely adequate. The nadis, in their turn,  are responsible for the creation and precipitation of the twofold nervous system. This is a point most carefully to be borne in mind and is the clue to the problem of creativity.
8. The type of the etheric substance "substanding" any form is dependent upon two factors:
a. The kingdom of nature concerned. Basically the four kingdoms draw their pranic life each from one or other of the four levels of etheric substance, counting upwards from the lowest:
1. The mineral kingdom is sustained from plane 1.
2. The vegetable kingdom is sustained from plane 2.
3. The animal kingdom is sustained from plane 3.
4. The human kingdom is sustained from plane 4.
That was the original condition; but as evolution proceeded and there was an inter-acting emanation established between all the kingdoms, this automatically changed. It was this "esoteric emanating change" which, aeons ago, produced animal-man. I give this as an illustration and a key to a great mystery.
b. Curiously enough, in the human kingdom (and only in the human kingdom) the etheric body is now composed of all four types of etheric substance. The reason for this is that eventually (when mankind is spiritually developed) each of these four planes or types of etheric substance will be responsive to the  four higher levels of the cosmic physical plane—the etheric levels, to which we give the names: the logoic level, the monadic, the atmic level and the buddhic. This will happen as a result of conscious growth and initiation.
9. It must also be remembered that the substance of which these etheric channels or channelling tubes are composed is planetary prana, the life-giving, health-giving energy of the planet itself. Through these tubes, however, may flow all or any of the possible energies—emotional, mental, egoic, manasic, buddhic or atmic, according to the point in evolution which the man concerned has reached. This always means that several energies are pouring through these tubes, unless the point in evolution is exceedingly low or unless one is dealing with a cleavage; these various energies are fused and blended together but find their own focal points in the etheric body when entering directly within the circumference of the dense physical body. Just as it can be said of the soul or of the Deity, so it can be said of the energetic or vital etheric body or entity: "Having pervaded this whole universe with a fragment of myself, I remain."
The word "prana" is almost as much misunderstood as are the words "etheric" or "astral." It is this loose connotation which is responsible for the great ignorance prevalent in occult circles.
Prana might be defined as the life-essence of every plane in the sevenfold area which we call the cosmic physical plane. It is the LIFE of the planetary Logos, reduced within limits, animating, vivifying and correlating all the seven  planes (in reality the seven subplanes of the cosmic physical plane) and all that is to be found within and upon them. The cosmic sutratma or life-thread of the planetary Logos enters His manifestation on the highest of our planes (the logoic plane) and, through the instrumentality of the informing Lives to be found in Shamballa (which, I must remind you, is not the name of a locality) is brought into contact with, or is related to, the matter of which the manifested worlds are made—formless, as on the cosmic etheric planes (our highest four planes), or tangible and objective, as on the lower three planes. The fact that we call only that tangible which we can see or touch and contact through the medium of the five senses is entirely wrong. All is regarded as belonging to the world of form which is found on the physical plane, the astral plane and the levels of the lower mind. This lower mental plane, referred to above, includes the level on which the causal body is found—the plane in which "the lotus of love is floating," as the Old Commentary puts it. All that lies above that on mental levels, and on up to the highest of the cosmic physical planes, is formless. These distinctions must be most carefully borne in mind.
There is within the human body a wonderful symbol of distinction between the higher etheric levels and the lower so-called physical levels. The diaphragm exists, separating that part of the body which contains the heart, throat and head, plus the lungs, from all the rest of the organs of the body; these are all of them of the utmost importance from the angle of LIFE, and that which is determined in the head, impulsed from the heart, sustained by the breath and expressed through the apparatus of the throat determines what the man IS.
Below the diaphragm are found organs whose use is far more objective even if of great importance; though each  of these lower organs has a life and purpose of its own, their existence and functioning is impulsed, determined and conditioned by the life and rhythm emanating from the higher part of the vehicle. This is not easy for the average man to comprehend, but any serious limitation or physical disease above the diaphragm has a compelling and serious effect on all that is found below the diaphragm. The reverse is not the case to the same extent.
This symbolises the potency and essentiality of the etheric body, both microcosmic and macrocosmic, and the macrocosmic expression of the fourfold Life conditions all living forms.
The Function of the Four Ethers
Each of the four ethers, as they are sometimes called, is intended—as far as man is concerned—to be a channel or expression of the four cosmic ethers. At present this is very far from being the case. It can only truly be so when the antahkarana is built and acts, therefore, as a direct channel for the cosmic ethers to which we have given the names of universal life, monadic intensity, divine purpose and pure reason. Ponder for a while on these types of energy and creatively imagine their effect when, in due course of time and spiritual unfoldment, they can pour unrestrictedly into and through the etheric body of a human being. At present, the etheric body is responsive to energies from:
1. The physical world. These are not principles but are the feeders and controllers of the animal appetites.
2. The astral world, determining the desires, emotions and aspirations which the man will express and go after upon the physical plane.
3. The lower mental plane, the lower mind, developing self-will, selfishness, separateness and the direction and trend of the life upon the physical plane. It is  this directive instinct which, when turned to higher matters, eventually opens the door to the higher cosmic etheric energies.
4. The soul, the principle of individualism, the reflection in the microcosm of the divine intention and—speaking symbolically—being to the entire monadic expression that which "stands at the midway point," the instrument of true sensitivity, of responsive ability, the spiritual counterpart of the solar plexus centre which is found at the midway point between that which lies above the diaphragm and that which is found below it.
When the antahkarana is constructed and the higher three are directly related to the lower three, then the soul is no longer needed. Then, reflecting this event, the four etheric levels become simply the transmitters of the energy emanating from the four cosmic etheric levels. The channel is then direct, completed and unimpeded; the etheric network of light is then of great brilliance, and all the centres in the body are awakened and functioning in unison and rhythm. Then—corresponding to the directly related Monad and Personality—the head centre, the thousand-petalled lotus, the brahmarandra, is as directly related to the centre at the base of the spine. Thus complete dualism, in place of the previous triple nature of the divine manifestation, is established:
1. Monad.......................................... Personality.
With the threefold soul no longer needed.
2. Head centre................................... Centre at base of spine.
With the intermediate five centres no longer required.
The Old Commentary says, in this connection:
"Then the three that ranked as all that was, functioning as one and controlling all the seven, no longer are. The seven who responded to the three, responding to the One, no longer hear the triple call which determined all that was. Only the two remain to show the world the beauty of the living God, the wonder of the Will-to-Good, the Love which animates the Whole. These two are One, and thus the work, completed, stands. And then the Angels sing."
III. PLANETARY AND HUMAN CENTRES
There is a factor bearing upon the etheric body to which very little reference has ever been made, the reason being that it would have been utterly useless information. Let me embody it in a tabulated statement, beginning with a few points earlier imparted but which should here be repeated for clarity and placed in proper sequence:
1. The planetary Logos works through the medium of the three major centres:
a. The Centre where the will of God is known: Shamballa.
b. The Centre where the love of God is manifest: the Hierarchy.
c. The Centre where the intelligence of God is producing the evolutionary process: Humanity.
2. The three major centres, both planetary and human, exist in etheric substance and they may or may not produce physical correspondences. All the Masters, for instance, do not work through a physical vehicle. They nevertheless have an etheric body composed of the substance of the cosmic etheric levels—buddhic, atmic, monadic and logoic levels—and these levels are the four cosmic ethers, the higher correspondence of our etheric planes; these higher levels are the four levels of the cosmic physical plane. Until They choose, at the sixth Initiation of Decision, one of the seven Paths of Ultimate Destiny, the Masters function in Their cosmic etheric bodies.
These three major energy centres are closely related to each other, and through his own individual major centres (the head, the heart and the throat)  the disciple is in relation with the three planetary centres. I would have you ponder on this statement for it has practical value.
3. The Monad, as you know, is to be found on the cosmic second etheric level, called the monadic plane. When the antahkarana has been built, then cosmic etheric substance can be slowly substituted for the ordinary and familiar etheric substance which "substands" the dense physical body of a man.
4. The ray upon which the Monad is to be found—one of the three major rays and, therefore, related to one of the three major centres—conditions:
a. The disciple's absorption into one of the three departments of hierarchical work, i.e., a first ray soul will go normally into such an Ashram as that of the Master M. in the department of the Manu; a second ray disciple will pass into a second ray Ashram such as mine (D.K.) or that of the Master K.H. and therefore into the department of the Christ; a third ray soul will be absorbed into one of the Ashrams (and there are many) functioning under the Lord of Civilisation, the Master R.
b. All who come into incarnation upon one of the Rays of Attribute—the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rays—find their way finally on to one of the three major Rays of Aspect. The changes of shifts in ray focus are made when the etheric body has in it an adequate measure of the substance of the lowest of the cosmic ethers, the buddhic substance; this is basic for all, on all the rays, for at the end of the age, when cosmic etheric substance  composes the etheric vehicles of the initiate, the three rays become the two rays, and later another absorption takes place into the second Ray of Love-Wisdom which is the ray of our present solar system.
You can see, therefore, what conditioning factors the various energies become when appropriated and used, and how their substance, or rather the presence of certain energies in the etheric body of the personality, are essential before certain initiations can be taken. The theme is too complex to be enlarged upon here, but I would ask you to consider with care the various statements I have made and then seek illumination within yourself.
The rays are the seven emanations from the "seven Spirits before the throne of God"; Their emanations come from the monadic level of awareness or from the second cosmic etheric plane. In a certain sense it could be said that these seven great and living Energies are in their totality the etheric vehicle of the planetary Logos. The evolutionary processes can equally well be stated to be those of eliminating the physical substance lying between the dense physical body and the astral sentient body, and substituting substance of the four highest planes, the four cosmic ethers. Physically speaking, it is this etheric substitution which enables a man successively to take the five initiations which make him a Master of the Wisdom.
The first initiation is purely the concern of the man's own soul, and the moment that that initiation has been taken, a measure of buddhic energy can enter and the process of transference of the higher ethers and their substitution for the lower can go forward. This, as you may well imagine, produces conflict; the personality etheric body rejects the incoming higher ether, and thus crises are produced in the initiate's life.
Progress and initiation have been presented to us mainly in terms of character-building and of service to humanity. This approach most surely also produces conflict and the personality fights the soul. But paralleling this well known conflict, another battle goes on between the ethers composing the disciple's etheric body and the downpouring higher ethers. Of this a man is not so conscious, but the battle is a very real one, affecting primarily the health of the physical body, and falls into five natural stages which we call initiations. The symbolism of the Rod of Initiation teaches us that (during the initiatory process) this Rod, directed by the Christ or by the Lord of the World, as the case may be, is used to stabilise the higher ethers within the personality by an access of applied energy which enables the initiate to retain that which is from above, in order that "as above, so below."
There are three angles from which the etheric body must be considered:
1. As the mechanism which externalises itself through the nadis, or that fine system of related lines of force which, in their turn, externalise themselves through the physical system of nerves.
2. As a transmitter of many different types of energy, coming from many different sources; these energies run through or along (both words are equally true) the lines of force which underlie the nadis. A while ago I used the word "tubes," thus inferring a network of tubes through which the transmitted energies can pour; here you have a case where words are wholly inadequate and even misleading.
3. These energies—according to their source, quality and purpose—create the seven major centres which condition the many smaller subsidiary centres  and finally externalise themselves through the seven major glands of the endocrine system.
I have said earlier that the intersecting energies in the etheric body of the planet are at this time a network of squares. When the creative process is complete and evolution has done its work, these squares will become a network of triangles. Necessarily this is a symbolic way of speaking. In the Book of Revelations which was dictated 1900 years ago by the disciple who is now known as the Master Hilarion, reference is made to the "city which stands four-square." The etheric vehicle of the planet was inherited from a former solar system, with the purpose or intention in view of its transformation into a network of triangles in this solar system. In the next one of the triplicity of solar systems (the third or last) in which the will of God works out, the etheric body will begin as a network of triangles, but this will be resolved into a network of interlinked circles or of linked rings, indicating the fulfilment of interlocking relationships. In this present system, the result of evolution, as far as the etheric body is concerned, will be the contact established between all three points of each triangle, making a ninefold contact and a ninefold flow of energy; this is consistent with the fact that nine is the number of initiation, and by the time the destined number of disciples have taken the nine possible initiations, this triangular formation of the planetary etheric body will be complete.
The idea can be conveyed symbolically by the diagram below, which pictures the triangular formation and the mode of a dual growth or progression and expansion of the network because, starting with the initial triangle, two points only are left for the processes of extension.
The initial triangle was formed by Sanat Kumara, and we call the three energies which circulate through its medium the three major Rays of Aspect. The four Rays of Attribute formed their own triangles and yet, in a paradoxical manner, they are responsible for the "squares" through which their energies at this time pass. Thus the work of transforming the inherited etheric body was begun and has proceeded ever since. In the etheric body of the human being you have a repetition of the same process in the triangle of energies created by the relationship between the Monad, the Soul, and the Personality.
The Changing Pattern of the Planetary Etheric Body
It is well-nigh impossible for man to draw or make a picture of the network of triangles and, at the same time, see them taking the circular form in their totality of the etheric body of the planetary sphere. The reason is that the whole etheric body is in constant motion and ceaseless transformation, and the energies of which it is composed are in a state of constant change and circulation.
It is wise to have in mind that it is the mechanism which changes and that this transformation of the square into the triangle has no reference whatsoever to the transmitted energies or to the various centres, except in so far that it becomes far easier for the energies to flow through the triangular formation of the etheric body than it is to flow—as is now the case—through or around a square and a network of squares.
I am quite aware that what I am here communicating may seem to you the veriest nonsense and there is, of course, no possible way in which I can prove to you the factual nature of this inter-communicating system or in which you can check and confirm what I say; but then, my brothers, you have no way as yet of ascertaining the factual existence of Sanat Kumara and yet from the very night of time His existence has been proclaimed by the Hierarchy and accepted  by millions. Every human being believes a great deal more than he can prove or the validity of which he can establish.
The centres are in reality those "crossing points" of energies where the etheric body possesses seven triangles or transformed points. From the angle of Shamballa the centres in a human being resemble a triangle with a point at the centre.
From the angle of the Hierarchy, conditions are somewhat different. You have the seven centres portrayed as lotuses, with varying numbers of petals; nevertheless there is always preserved and recognisably present a triangle, at the very heart of the lotus; always there is the triangle with its communicating point, and to this we give the name, the "jewel in the lotus." You have therefore the following symbolic presentation of the lotus, and you would do well to study it with care.
The personality of the man is conditioned by the circle, which is the emanating influence of the lotus, and an interplay is thereby set up. The lotus itself is conditioned by the soul and in its turn conditions the "sphere of influence in the aura of the lotus" thus reaching into and conditioning the personality life. The triangle is conditioned by the Spiritual Triad, when the antahkarana is built or in process of building, and in its turn first of all inspires or fires the soul, and then finally destroys it. The dot at the centre is indicative of monadic life, first of all in its lowest expression of physical life and vitality, and finally as the "point of sensitivity." Therefore we have:
1. The Point at the centre, indicative of the monadic life.
2. The related energies of the egoic lotus, conditioned by the soul.
3. The sphere of radiation, the emanating influence of the lotus, conditioning the personality.
4. The triangle of energy, conditioned by the Spiritual Triad.
The foregoing instruction on the etheric body is not long but it contains much that is relatively new and provides much food for assimilation.
IV. THE CENTRES AND THE PERSONALITY
We will now consider the centres as controlling factors in the life of the personality in the three worlds, and their relation to each other, always studying the subject from the angle of their relation to one of the three major planetary centres—Shamballa, the Hierarchy and Humanity—in connection with:
1. The Point at the Centre.
2. Related Energies.
3. Sphere of Radiation.
4. The Triangle of Energy.
The abstruseness of this theme is very great; a basic statement will, however, serve somewhat to clarify the subject; it is a statement which has seldom found expression elsewhere. Let me phrase it as simply as possible:
The centres below the diaphragm, i.e., the solar plexus centre, the sacral centre and the centre at the base of the spine, are controlled by the four ethers of the planetary physical plane; the centres above the diaphragm, i.e., the heart centre, the throat centre, the ajna centre and the head centre, are controlled by the four cosmic ethers, to which we give the names of the energies of the buddhic plane, the energies of the atmic plane, the energies of the monadic plane and the energies of the logoic plane.
This statement involves a somewhat new concept; it creates a basic relation, making possible the fact that "as above so below." Think this out. It has serious implications.
The centres below the diaphragm are—during the evolutionary process—controlled by the first, the second and the third ethers, counting from below upward; when evolution has brought the aspirant to the point of personal integration, then the energies of the highest, the etheric-atomic plane can and do control. When that takes place, then the possibility is present of the energies of the cosmic etheric planes bringing the centres above the diaphragm into full expression. This takes place upon the Path of Discipleship and the Path of Initiation. This interesting process of transference of energies is called by several names, such as "radiatory substitution," "energising at-one-ment," and "inspirational reflected light of energy." All these terms are efforts to express in somewhat inadequate words what happens when the higher energies are substituted for the lower, when the magnetic "pull" of the spiritual energies draws upward and absorbs the lower energies which are concerned primarily with the personality life, or when the reflecting light of the Spiritual Triad and of the Monadic Glory are transferred into the higher energy centres in the final vehicle used by the developed human being.