The Three Logoi as defined in Theosophy
This follows the definition of Helena Blavatsky as it’s described in blavatskytheosophy.com, a serious Theosophical site.
THE FIRST LOGOS is always referred to as the Unmanifested Logos. It is symbolised as the point in the centre of the circle, the circle representing the boundless infinite Absoluteness of Parabrahm and the point marking the very beginning – or rather the re-beginning – of differentiated existence after the Great Night of the Universe (Maha-Pralaya) in which there was nothing – “neither sound nor silence” – but the undifferentiated, unconditioned, infinite, absolute Parabrahm Itself.
The First, Unmanifested, Logos is also called the highest Logos. It is said that it is out of space and time and is “latent potentiality” only. The First Logos is the “potentiality” of the Universe, whilst the Second Logos is the “potency” of the Universe. The Second emanates from the First. Being only latent, potential, and unmanifested, the First Logos is very close to the Absolute and indeed is Its direct radiation. It is not really possible to say any more about it than this. But in the teachings of Theosophy we notice that Atman, the highest Principle of the human constitution, is sometimes spoken of as corresponding to the Unmanifested Logos, whilst most of the time it is equated with the Absolute. This is not a contradiction, as may appear on the surface, but is actually a clear indication of something.
THE SECOND LOGOS is the Manifested Logos. In and of itself it is actually only “the semi-manifested” for it manifests through and as the Third Logos. In “Transactions,” HPB speaks of it as “the Universal and Intelligent Soul, Divine Ideation, combining the ideal plans and prototypes of all things in the manifested objective as well as subjective world.”
Whilst the First Logos is described as “latent potentiality,” the Second is described as “differentiated consciousness.” We are told that space and time commences with the emanation of the Second Logos from the First Logos. The Unmanifested is the potentiality; the Manifested is the potency.
It is this Logos which is the Universal Mind, spoken of in Hinduism as Mahat, which literally means “The Great.” And as the Hindu allegories show, the Divine Mind produces “seven mind-born sons” which go on to play major and important roles throughout the Universe. The synthesis of these seven – which are actually seven rays, seven powers, or seven forces – is what Theosophy calls the Third Logos.
THE THIRD LOGOS is referred to variously as the Seven Rays, the Seven Creative Powers, or the Seven Logoi. The Second Logos contains in itself the Third Logos and manifests through and as this Third Logos, as was mentioned a moment ago. If we call the First Logos latent potentiality and the Second differentiated consciousness, we can refer to the Third as the ultimate differentiation of the Second, in the form of individualised cosmic forces. From them “will proceed the innumerable series of Hierarchies.”
These “Seven” are really the seven occult forces of the Universe and which result, amongst other things, in the actualisation and objective manifestation of that which lies latent, subjective, and archetypal within the Universal Mind. In other words, they see to the fulfillment of the Plan for the construction and building of the Universe.
“Many different names used in many different spiritual traditions may end up becoming confusing unless we keep in mind that they are almost always merely illustrative names applied to this same Logos. Just as it is Brahmā which comes forth as the Logos from the Absolute Brahman in the philosophy of the Upanishads, so it is Adam Kadmon (“Heavenly Man”) which comes forth as the Logos from Ein-Soph in the Kabbalah, and Avalokiteshvara which comes forth from Adi-Buddhi in the esotericism of Tibetan Buddhism. Some Hindus will speak of the Absolute and its Logos as Shiva and Shakti, while others will prefer to use the term Vishnu, Narayana, or Ishvara for the Logos. Others may speak of it as the Universal Kundalini or Mother of the Universe, while a true Christian Gnostic may be inclined to call it the Divine Sophia.
In Theosophy, the Unmanifested Logos is often referred to as Narayana. Narayana is another name for Vishnu in Hinduism and it can be translated as “the Spirit of Divine Ideation moving on the waters.” Do you remember in the opening of the Book of Genesis in the Bible where it talks about the “Spirit of God” moving over “the waters of the deep” before the world came into being? In the far older Hindu scriptures, we read that Narayana began to move over the infinite waters of abstract Space and that this was “the first flutter of manifestation” which resulted in the cyclic reappearance of the Universe after the Maha-Pralaya.
HPB sometimes spoke of the First Logos as Brahmā, however, and often applied the name Brahmā to the Second Logos also. So we would do well to follow her example in not attaching too much importance to names but focussing instead on the idea and concept which lies behind those names and terms.
The Seven Rays which are referred to as the Third Logos are the Seven Kumaras in Hinduism – which are the seven “mind-born Sons of Brahmā” or Sons of the Universal Mind – whilst in Buddhism they are the Seven Dhyani Buddhas, in Christianity the Seven Archangels, in Judaism the Seven Elohim, and the seven lower Sephiroth of the Kabbalah. All different names for one and the same “thing.” As the most ancient scripture known to man (the Rig Veda of Hinduism) says, “Truth is ONE, though the sages call it by many names.”
The main difference between Steiner and Blavatsky is that Steiner see these descriptions as describing actual beings and hierarchies where Blavatsky saw them as abstractions. Krishna is an example of the Second Logos, Shiva an example of the Third Logos and Brahma an example of the First Logos. Here it’s interesting to see that Brahma, First Logos, is both connected to the lowest world and the highest world, and that he really isn’t very active in the development of Earth. Krishna, who are the same as Vishnu, are the ‘I’ of the Earth, the center of the Seven Rays, the Heart Chakra of man, he is the main consciousness in the Earth development.
From The Causal Body and the Ego by Arthur E. Powell:
Taking first the manifestation of consciousness, the site of the universe having been marked out [see diagram II] :
1. the Logos Himself appears as a point within the sphere;
2. the Logos goes forth from that point in three directions to the circumference of that sphere or circle of matter;
3 the consciousness, of the Logos returns on Itself, manifesting at each point of contact with the circle one of the three fundamental aspects of consciousness, known as Will, Wisdom and Activity, as well as by other terms.
The joining of the three aspects, or phases of manifestation, at their outer points of contact with the circle, gives the basic triangle of contact with matter. This triangle, together with the three triangles formed by the lines traced by the point, yields the”divine tetractys”, sometimes called the Kosmic Quaternary.
Taking now the changes set up in Universal matter, corresponding to the manifestations of consciousness, we have, in the sphere of primordial substance, the virgin matter of space [see Diagram III ] :
1. appearing as a point irradiating the sphere of matter;
2. the point vibrating between centre and circumference, thus making the line which marks the drawing apart from spirit and matter;
3. the point, with the line revolving with it, vibrating at right angles to the former vibration, and forming the primordial Cross within the Circle.
The Cross is thus said to “proceed” from the Father [the point] and the Son [the diameter] and represents the third Logos, the creative mind,the Divine activity ready to manifest as Creator.
I have used a drawing of Steiner to show the Three Logoi in the hierarchies and in man. It’s an old diagram of European esoteric origin called the Alchemist Mountain. It’s a versatile diagram that can be used to show many aspects of man, the gods and the universe. They are the Seven Rays mentioned by Blavatsky.
The Three Logoi as defined in Anthroposophy
This is a definition by Rudolf Steiner on the three creative principles in the universe, also called the Logoi’s:
Here we have three definitions of Beings who bring about, who underlie a planetary chain. They are called the three Logoi.
1. The Third Logos produces by means of combining.
2. When out of one substance something else having new life comes into being, this is brought forth by the Second Logos.
3. Everywhere, however, where we have to do with a coming forth out of nothing, we have the First Logos.
This is why the First Logos is also often called the One who is immanent in things, the Second Logos the One who in the quiescent substance in things creates life out of the living, the Third Logos the One who combines everything existing, who puts the world together out of things.
These three Logoi always manifest in the world in and through one another.
See much more on this here: The Logos Walks the Earth
Steiner uses these symbols for the Three Logoi. He uses a tripartition for the third Logos where Theosophy uses a cross or a four partitioning.
First Logos gives the idea, Second Logos gives life and Third Logos gives the resulting form.
The combinations of the three letters a, b and c comes from:
I don’t know the author of the original drawing.
Appendix on Fohat
The Second Logos is also called Fohat, here a page from the Secret Doctrine: