Who or What is Hierarchy?

Many, perhaps most of us who believe in a God or Supreme Life, may experience despair at the sense of distance of the Divine from us mere humans. Yet contact between the Ultimate or God and humanity does take place; stepped down via a hierarchy of being[1]. This hierarchy must and does exist because of evolution, which is a necessary part of the scheme. Why does evolution provide a hierarchy? All beings evolve; they evolve in parallel with the scheme and structure of the cosmos itself. On the physical level of our planet the evolving and steadily ensouling life moves from unicellular creatures to cold-blooded animals to mammals and finally humans. Even if understood just on the Darwinian level, evolution is an obvious and necessary aspect and law. And if there is no real death, (as shown in other chapters) then continuing life and growth of humans, along with all units in the scheme, is inevitable.

           Those units of life at the upper level of evolution in any particular part of the cosmos are those working consciously to be closer to Deity, and merging into the Oneness which embraces all life (while always retaining individual consciousness). Yet there is a chain of care and responsibility. We are finally beginning to understand and act on, our own duty of care for the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. (As I type this, a Blue Tongue lizard appears on my porch, in olive green camouflage as the season has been wetter and greener than usual.)

          We know from the Teachings that we are each a part of Deity, and that we evolve to ever greater likeness and identity with Him as He[2] also evolves, and we with Him. Thus this chain of communication between the more evolved and the less is vitally necessary. Human need alone calls forth teachers from a compassionate deity. If that Supreme Consciousness is Love, how could it be otherwise? Given that we are linked to that Absolute by the Great Chain of Being, or hierarchy of lives, the upper levels of this Chain of Being also provide the structure of the inner government of the planet.[3]

The love and care of our Elders.

The aspiring seeker’s first Master is her or his own soul, yet the initiate St Paul assured us “Then shall we know even as we are known”. By whom?

          “The future holds for all who duly strive, who unselfishly serve and occultly meditate, the promise of knowing Those who already have full knowledge of the struggler. As he laboriously reiterates from day to day the arduous task of concentration and of mind control, there stand on the inner side Those Who know him, and who watch with eager sympathy the progress that he makes.” (Bailey 1950, pp. 257-8).                             We receive more than this watchful care from our elders; they actively teach and assist us~as each higher level does for those below. We are taken on for training once we reach a certain level of consciousness and can profit by this training.

          How reassuring is this tremendous fact; of the disciple’s relationship to her or his Master, and through that Master, to the Christ, the Messiah, the Maitreya, the Lord Krishna, the Imam Mahdi; all of them names in our faith traditions, for the World Teacher. We are an intimate part of a vast cosmic scheme where each apparently separate human consciousness grows into the life of the soul and the soul group,  on into increasingly vast consciousness, and is finally aware of and actively participating in, the One glorious Life.

Extract by the author from Death, Our Last Illusion: A Scientific and Spiritual Probing of Consciousness through Death, by Susan Shore, Common Ground, Urbana-Champaign, Ill., 2011, pp. 328-9. Some concepts are assumed; they have been examined in other chapters.


[1] Some of us object to the existence of hierarchies, but they occur everywhere and are necessary to the development of the whole and its parts. The family is a hierarchy with the parents at the top; the educational system is another, workplaces are another; the list goes on. Even in deliberately ‘flat’ workplaces, the hierarchy must exist if any learning on the job, or growth in tutored and exemplified relationships between colleagues is to take place. The Teal movement is an example.

[2]There is noadequate word in English for this concept; it needs to connote Being beyond any sexual identity. “That” is sometimes used, and works in some contexts, but not so well in this. Discerning readers will also note, both in this extract and the books by Alice Bailey, the exclusive language used (He and him when both sexes are meant, and which we have not fully resolved, as we have  no other pronoun for the human beyond sexual identity).

[3] See the book Externalisation of the Hierarchy by Alice A. Bailey for elucidation of this.

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