Counselling and Psychotherapy Author, Consultant in Equalities and Diversity, Counselling and Self-Awareness Trainer
A Sevefold Perspective on Addiction
One of the enduring features of the human condition is the propensity for individuals to develop habitual behaviours. A great deal of the daily routine is rooted in habit rather than free choice. The day is full of routines and activities that can follow set patterns, established over time, and leave people often going through what have become almost ritual behaviours. It leaves us spending a great deal of our time seemingly on ‘automatic pilot’. It can be a revelation to simply observe ourselves during the day and question how much of our activity is genuinely freely chosen in the moment, and how much is a behaviour based on what we have always done. Do we clean our teeth or wash our face first? What order do we dress in? Is our journey to work based on choice or on routine? Do we ever think of adjusting it, or has it become unthinkable?
Yet habit and routines are not addictions, although some people become so set in their ways that it can seem as if they have become addicted to their way of doing things, becoming unsettled and obstructive if their routine is disrupted or threatened in some way. They are, however, a step on the path towards addiction if the mind is not allowed to remain liberated from the behaviour patterns and reactions flowing from the neural pathways.
It seems reasonable to hypothesise that if all creation is governed by the interplay of Seven Ray energy (a framework proposed by AA Bailey in the last centruryin which all of creation is formed from the interplay of seven fundamental energies or qualities - see references below), then the behavioural choices and habits, and the addictions that can develop, will themselves be conditioned in some way by this sevenfold energy of life. This article will therefore explore which Ray energies may be involved in inducing particular addictive choices. From this we will see how certain addictive behaviours and substances can be seen as an expression of Ray energy. There is also the matter of the Ray make-up of the person themselves and whether this increases the likelihood of particular substance to be chosen for their effect.
The Seven Ray psychological model offers a sevenfold view of human make-up. The Seven Rays govern aspects of the person, their physical, emotional, mental, personality and Soul natures. The complex interweaving of these energies, and the focus of an individuals consciousness, ensures diversity and uniqueness of expression in each person. The Seven Rays are:
Ray One Power and Will
Ray Two Love-Wisdom
Ray Three Active Intelligence and Adaptability
Ray Four Harmony through Conflict, Beauty and Art
Ray Five Concrete Thought and Science
Ray Six Devotion and Idealism
Ray Seven Ceremonial Order and Ritual
How might we define addiction? Addiction can be broadly defined in two ways. First of all there is psychological addiction. This is where a behaviour or a substance is chosen repeatedly in order to achieve some psychological goal. This goal could be an anaesthetising effect on awareness – blotting out painful memories; it could be a ritual activity of some kind in order to give the individual confidence to face a situation, or a substance to give the person ‘dutch courage’. It could be that a familiar routine, because it is known, is chosen repeatedly in order to reduce the anxiety that may be experienced where uncertainty has to be faced. Psychological addiction is primarily about the effect of a behaviour or a substance on the thoughts and feelings of the individual.
The second type of addiction is physical or chemical addiction. This is where a substance is taken into the body repeatedly to the point that the body adjusts to its presence and if it is not present then withdrawal starts to take place. Heroin, alcohol, caffeine are examples of substances which, when taken in sufficient quantities over a period of time can leave people craving more and experiencing withdrawal, evidenced in the case of alcohol, for instance, by the shakes, sweats, feeling anxious and on edge, and in extreme cases the DTs, hallucinations and fitting which can be life-threatening.
Tranquilising or stimulating?
We can also differentiate addictive substances and behaviours into two broad categories: those that are tranquillising in their effect, and those that are stimulating. Tranquillisers suppress mental, emotional and physical functioning, stimulants stimulate functioning. In terms of the Seven Rays it is tempting to suggest that those substances and behaviours that can become addictive and which tranquillise are more likely to be governed by the 2nd 4th and 6 Rays, whilst those having a stimulant effect are more likely to be on the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th Ray line. However, this is a broad generalisation. We have to bear in mind that all substances have their own frequency and that each will therefore be linked to a particular Ray energy. Without scientifically measuring this frequency and having a knowledge of Ray frequencies, we have to rather speculate on the basis of the effects that given substances produce on the person.
So which substances will be on which line of Ray energy? The stimulants are caffeine, ecstasy, amphetamine, nicotine, each inducing activity and some degree of alertness, seemingly drawing excess energy into the body which, if the stimulant is not maintained, leads to a come down that can be quite depressing and debilitating. These substances, then, might be regarded as being connected to the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th line of energy.
The tranquillisers or suppressants are alcohol, heroin, barbiturates, cannabis and of course the clinically prescribed group of benzodiazepines such as valium, librium. lorazepam, temazepam. Each tends to suppress the functioning of the central nervous system. So these substances because they reduce activity may be viewed as being more on the 2nd, 4th and 6th Ray energy line.
Alice Bailey comments that problems arise with Ray energies when there is an excess of energy. One of the features of, for instance, people with alcohol problems, is often a profound emotional sensitivity. Alcohol is often used to suppress difficult feelings, to desensitise and it seems highly likely that this can be linked to an over-active 2nd Ray leaving people vulnerable to sensitivities within themselves.
At the same time, alcohol can also be used to suppress over-activity. Often people talk of racing thoughts, that they cannot top their brain/mind being active, and they therefore choose alcohol to slow down or stop it in order to get some relief. In this case we might regard the racing thoughts as being uncontrolled 3rd Ray governing the mind or the brain, and the soporiphic effect of the alcohol induces either a slowing down of the thoughts, or takes the person’s consciousness away from those thoughts so as not to be troubled by them.
Drugs and the Rays
This part has to be speculative. We do not know which Rays are linked to which substances, but as we have already seen, we can begin to break them down into two groups, and from their perhaps begin to think about which energies are more likely to be released into expression through which substance.
Heroin: Snorted, smoked or injected, heroin will have a sedative effect. The brain is relaxed and the heartbeat and breathing slows. Calmness is one of the key qualities that the user experiences, and a release from the anxieties of life. 2nd and 4th Rays are options for this heroin.
Cannabis: The user will feel relaxed and again experience sedative effects. A general mellowing occurs. Like heroin, cannabis could be considered to be linked to the 2nd or 4th Rays.
Amphetamine: In contrast, amphetamine will bring feelings of exhilaration, a sense of power, enhanced concentration and a reduced need for sleep or food. A general sense of well-being will prevail with greater energy present. This might be a 1st Ray drug, or 3rd Ray in relation to the energy for action that it gives people when they are ‘speeding’..
Cocaine and Crack: Similar feelings will be present, exhilaration, feelings of well being, and a sense of greater physical and mental strength. The user can experience a sense of indifference towards pain or tiredness and can become highly talkative. Perhaps with the throat centre stimulated into expression we might consider this to be a drug reflecting 3rd Ray quality.
Alcohol: This substance has the curious effect of being on the one hand a sedative, on the other it can release pent up emotions which can be angry, sad, depressed, whatever the person has within them. Alcohol it seems impacts strongly on the solar plexus and certainly opens a door on to the astral plane. It seems likely to be a 6th Ray drug which is interesting as perhaps we may find less interest in alcohol use as we move towards the Aquarian Age and a diminishing of 6th Ray influence.
Nicotine: A stimulant and the world’s favourite drug of choice. Can also be calming. If taken in a concentrated form it is deadly. Hard to know what Ray energy it is linked to. Although a stimulant many people find it calming so it could be linked to 2nd Ray energy.
Ecstasy: A relatively new drug which, like amphetamine, induces energy, a sense of well-being and an ability to keep dancing throughout the night. Could it be linked to the 7th Ray? It is strongly associated with dance and therefore with rhythmic movement which might be regarded as having a strong ritualistic element.
LSD: Hallucinations, distortions of colour and shape, even heightened self awareness, mystical and ecstatic states have been reported. It is certainly a drug that seems to take you on to the astral plane but with heightened sensitivities. Probably a combination of 4th and 6th Rays are connected to this drug.
Caffeine: A stimulant and present not only in coffee but in a lot of so-called high energy drinks. Wakes you up, gets you going, but doesn’t induce extreme states of exhilaration. Perhaps a mild 3rd Ray influence?
To add to the complexity, it is also possible that we would need to consider whether a particular drug carries a sub-ray vibration of a particular Ray energy For instance, nicotine might be seen as a 1st Ray stimulant and at the same time a 2nd Ray sedative.
We might therefore wonder when a substance is used to counteract psychological experiences whether that substance must be on a different Ray to that aspect of the body where the experiences are focused. If the substance was of a different Ray energy then it might be more likely to counteract or offset the experience in some way, however, it seems unlikely that such use would actually bring about healing in and of itself. If this is the case, then much addictive substance use which seeks to offset psychological experiences, or replace it with something else, is not healing. At best it allows the individual to self-manage a set of uncomfortable or unsatisfying psychological experiences, a technique of avoidance rather than a way of resolving the problem.
Alice Bailey makes the observation that:
The curing of disease by the third ray man would be by the use of drugs made of herbs or minerals belonging to the same ray as the patient whom he desires to relieve.
This implies clearly that where drugs are used to induce healing then those that are utilised should carry ray energy that corresponds a persons own Ray make up.
Nevertheless, there are occasions when a substance can be part of a healing process even though it allows the person to avoid psychological discomfort and may not heal of itself. For instance, someone who has suffered a loss may turn to alcohol to anaesthetise their emotional pain. The alcohol in and of itself will never remove the pain permanently unless the person keeps drinking more and more, but it can buy the person time to ride the less intense discomfort and allow them to slowly rebuild their lives. The danger, however, is that the person sees the substance as the solution and then the risk of addiction developing increases.
Some people report that different alcoholic drinks induce different moods. Could whisky be governed by one Ray energy and gin by another? Could the same be true for sherry, lager, cider and beer? If so, it could be that the effect of an excess of a particular drink would differ depending on the Ray make up of the drinker.
Addictions are not always linked to substances. They are frequently connected with behaviours, actions and routines. The truth is, there is probably nothing that a person could not get addicted to if they became psychologically reliant on it. The list of addictive behaviours seems endless and includes addiction to sex, soap operas, horror, violence, risk, sports viewing, fitness, work, internet access and surfing, shopping. There are many others, of course, because in reality any behaviour can become an addiction. Where there is an intense desire for something, not necessarily the action but more often the feeling that that given action engenders within the individual, then addiction is a possibility. The more the something is done, the more it becomes established as a habit and the harder it can become to change that habit.
There are also the compulsive behaviours where someone has to go through a ritual several times before moving on to do something else. Some people need to go through elaborate steps to get down the stairs, or rituals of checking everything is turned off several times before leaving the house. The use of the word ritual here is perhaps an indicator that 7th Ray influence could be at work. People talk in terms of rituals that they have to observe in order to cope with situations.
Excesses of Ray influence
Excess of Ray energy can and does produce situations in which people lose control. Excess of 1st Ray can lead someone on to a power trip (interesting use of the word trip in this context). Many well-intentioned leaders find this energy overwhelms them to the point that power becomes an obsessive focus. It can drive people to achieve, fuelling ambition where it is centred in the personality and the possibility that one-pointedness becomes obsessive. This, however, raises an interesting issue. One-pointedness can be seen esoterically as a valuable quality when directed towards the light or towards selfless service, however, when focused within a separative sense of personality, it can cause unbalanced emphasis and the setting up of an obsession.
Excess of 2nd Ray can cause the personality-centred individual to become obsessive towards themselves to the point of narcissism, or towards someone else for whom they experience strong feelings. It is also implicated in the state of mind called ‘the Messiah complex’ where the individual becomes obsessed with the idea of there being the Messiah, often the result of over-stimulation. 2nd Rya energy could also be linked to behaviours that induce strong feeling reactions although probably less of the short, sharp shock kind that might be more associated with Rays 4 and 6 for instance bunjee jumping, horror films, sado-masochistic experiencing..
The 3rd Ray could be a candidate for encouraging workaholism, or indeed the addiction to anything here the focus is on doing, to being busy. This can often be a defence against creating time and space for uncomfortable feelings and thoughts to break through into conscious awareness. But there is also a buzz in being busy, of being, for instance, the executive with mobile phones ringing, faxes coming through who is wheeling and dealing to achieve some goal.
The 4th Ray might bring out obsession with colour, or compulsive behaviours where every action taken has to be balanced with its opposite. It can also be seen at work in individuals who are simply addicted to conflict, to generating situations in their lives that produce arguments. This energy might also be associated with addictions that generate excitement and thrills. The person who is addicted to theme park rides of the more scary kind might be evidencing this energy, particularly rollercoasters!
Excess of 5th Ray can generate the state of mind described as "ide fixe", where a concept or idea becomes a focus for obsession. It can also contribute to addiction to study and to learning which can have a positive effect for the theoretician may need to feel driven in his or her pursuit of knowledge to make the discoveries that are sought after.
6th Ray influence is perhaps the most likely energy to induce addiction. The intense desire and devotion that this energy conveys can contribute to enhancing any other Ray addiction. For instance the 2nd Ray obsessive love where 6th Ray is also present can perhaps lie behind the stalker who obsessively follows someone and collects photos and other items about someone for whom their love has got out of control. In extreme cases, 6th Ray influence can induce fanaticism and fanatical adherence to anything which can then lead to addiction and obsession.
7the Ray influence clearly enhances the ritualistic element of addiction, however, it is also likely to be present in the person who is addicted to sex and any ritualistic act. The act of cutting may be a 7th Ray addiction, a ritualistic method of achieving a sensation in order to confirm a feeling of existence. Obsessions about orderliness may stem from this energy, where for instance set procedures are established in the workplace or the home to deal with situations that arise. We see today the growth in many areas of life the need for ‘protocols’ to be developed that will govern actions by people in response to situations, and whilst this has value it can be taken to extreme.
Increasing levels of addiction?
It is interesting to speculate on whether we are seeing more examples of addictive behaviour in society. As we move from Pisces to Aquarius we are moving through a change of energy influence. The 6th Ray of Idealism and Devotion which, as mentioned previously, can be seen as an enhancer of addictive tendencies, is passing out whilst the 7th Ray of Ceremonial Order and Ritual is coming into greater influence. As a Ray energy passes out the forms that it has stimulated tend to harden and crystallise. We can therefore expect to see a crystallising effect on these addictive behaviours that have been influenced by this energy. This can mean that the chosen behaviour becomes more rigid and set, or those devoted to the use of a particular substance more intense in their advocacy of its use.
Yet the 7th Ray can also been seen to be a factor influencing addictive behaviours. As mentioned, part of the experience of using drugs are the rituals associated, for instance, preparing the paraphernalia for heroin use, taking trouble to lay out the line of cocaine, or always drinking from a particular glass or in a favourite seat.. So with the incoming 7th Ray we can expect to see the ritualistic aspect of addiction to become more enhanced. Rolling a spliff can become a definite ritualistic behaviours with the added factor of the care and attention being taken to create exactly what is desired, providing a mix of ritual and devotion
For many people, addictive behaviours are rituals designed predictable to generate some degree of predictability in chaotic lifestyles or uncertainty about the future. As lifestyles become more uncertain we would expect to see an increase in ritualistic and therefore potentially addictive behaviours. Life is more uncertain, we do not have ‘jobs for life’ in the West these days; and without doubt the scale of poverty in our world means that for millions of people there is uncertainty about the next meal. A drug can be perceived as giving you a guaranteed effect, certainty in an uncertain world. Of course, for street drugs this is not always true because the strength and content of the substance used is uncertain, but the risk is worth taking in order to chase that desired effect.
Effect of inflowing energies
It seems reasonable to hypothesise that many of the addictive problems we see today are adaptive attempts by people to cope with the stimulation of humanity with higher energies. We read that:
Today, owing to the development of the mind in the Aryan race, certain difficulties may arise in the physical body. Their origin is not basically mental but primarily due to the fact that the mental body is the transmitter (when active and rightly aligned) of soul energy and this soul energy, pouring into the physical body, can produce certain conditions of overstimulation and difficulties connected with the nervous system.
So Ray energy from the soul can cause over stimulation which may leave the individual seeking some form of chemical intervention to offset this effect. This is a particular problem for advanced human beings.
The other response is to want more, to seek even greater stimulation, bringing the attraction of the stimulants to the fore. Alice Bailey makes the observation that:
"it is of course apparent that where there is a free flow of force through the etheric body into the dense physical body there will be less likelihood of disease or sickness. There may, however, be increased tendency to difficulties arising from overstimulation and its consequent resultsof overactivity of the nervous system, with all its attendant problems."
It is quite possible that for many young people drawn into the world of drug use, the aim is to try and reduce the stress on their overstimulated central nervous system. This will be further complicated by the Western world’s emphasis on short, highly stimulating forms of entertainment (computer games, TV programmes and films with many changes of scene and camera angle). Society seems geared up to over-stimulate and overload. So the natural response could be to try and slow things down whilst for many, if the energy flows freely, obsessive and compulsive behaviours may develop.
Alice Bailey goes on to point out that where the centres through which the energies flow "are quiescent, unawakened of only functioning partially or too slowly (as far as their vibratory rhythm is concerned), then you will have a condition of blocking. This will produce congestion in the etheric vehicle, and consequent and subsequent difficulties in the functioning of the physical body." Certain stimulant drug use may therefore be a chemical way to compensate for this, or to damage the centres in such a way that forces flow more freely, which itself can then create not only physical but mental health complications.
Risk to the disciple or aspirant
We read of the risk that the aspirant or disciple has of experiencing nervous disorders, mental imbalance and overstimulation once the centres above the diaphragm:
A human being is also predisposed to trouble if he has succeeded (as a result of a long evolutionary history) in awakening in some fashion, however slight, the centres above the diaphragm. The moment that that occurs he becomes subject, for a long cycle of lives, to difficulties connected with the heart or with the nervous system in its various branches. Frequently an advanced human being, such as an aspirant or a disciple, may have freed himself from the inherited taints, but will succumb to heart trouble, to nervous disorders, mental imbalance, and overstimulation. They are classified occasionally as the "diseases of the Mystics."
In such cases there can be a huge temptation to use drugs to offset what is being experienced. Overstimulation could produce racing thoughts, manic activity and the individual may choose to use substances to tranquillise or to bring themselves into a state of oblivion to gain some relief. Nervous disorders may include profound anxiety and panic attacks, again tranquillising drugs may be used to suppress the activity of the central nervous system. Mental imbalance could take many forms, perhaps schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, severe depression and suicidal ideation. It is well documented that many people using legal or illegal substances are doing so in order to attempt to self-medicate a mental health condition.
Doorway to astralism
Drugs can open consciousness to psychic experiences, for instance the hallucinogenic substances such as LSD and magic mushrooms. Yet psychic experience or astralism can be an effect of a wide variety of substances, heightening sensitivity towards feelings that are present and/or bringing powerful feelings into awareness in these sense of opening a doorway on to the astral plane. Alcohol can, for instance, unleash powerful feelings of sadness, anger, hopelessness, courage. With the solar plexus wide open the individual can be prey to psychic attack or to discarnate entities attaching themselves to the individual to feed of the experience of their drug use.
We read that in Light of the Soul that "the use of alcohol and of drugs can and does release the astral consciousness" and that:
five means are given whereby the psychic powers are developed and it is interesting to note that we have in these words an instance of the fact that the Yoga Sutras can still be the study and teaching manual of even such advanced aspirants as the Masters of the Wisdom. These five methods are capable of application upon all the five planes of human evolution, which include the two higher planes whereon initiates of the Mysteries function.
1. Incarnation The physical plane method.
2. Drugs The release of the astral consciousness.
3. Words of Power Creation by speech, or the method of the mental plane.
4. Intense desire The sublimation of aspiration or the method of the buddhic plane, the sphere of spiritual love.
5. Meditation The method of the atmic plane, the sphere of spiritual will.
Many trance states have been traditionally induced through the use of drugs, opening the individual into the astral world. In many communities this remains a culturally accepted norm and great reliance is placed on the words spoken or the signs given by the person in the drug-induced state. However, as a method of heightening awareness of truth, it is at best unreliable, and at worst likely to mislead. Astral impression as a method of ascertaining truth cannot be relied upon. The only application of astral sensitivity in this way might be the advanced disciple utilising the higher sub-planes of the astral plane to reflect impression from corresponding higher planes in order to release heightened vibration on to the astral plane. The less advanced, in opening up to astral impression through the use of drugs, is much more likely to experience glamour or distorted impressions received from entities clothed in the denser astral substance.
Addiction to the spiritual path?
Is this possible? Could the intense desire to tread the spiritual path encourage an addictive or obsessive edge to this pursuit? People can seem to become obsessed with spiritual ideas, teachings and gurus. 6th Ray devotion can become excessive to the point that the individual is prepared to die, to kill others, to undertake many forms of extreme behaviour in order o achieve some so-called spiritual goal. Yet much if this is not truly spiritual, but an obsession with the idea of spiritual growth or of being ‘chosen’ by some guru as special or of being worthy of ‘initiation’.
The true disciple is not obsessed with the idea of treading the spiritual path. He or she is open to learning and opportunity to serve as part of the process. Whilst a particular set of teachings may be focused on, it is not with the mind-set that regards other ideas as wrong because they are from another source. A spirit of open-mindedness is present. What may appear as obsessive behaviours to others are regarded by the disciple as necessary aspects of treading the spiritual path. However, they are not clung to desperately regardless of circumstances. Meditation may be pursued each morning, but it is not addictive, rather it is freely chosen and if necessary is not performed should other demands be present that are deserving of a response.
A behaviour becomes an addiction when the elements of reasonableness and the ability to freely choose are lost sight of, when a sense of proportion I lost and the person feels a drive to behave in a particular way with some degree of repetition. The person also needs to be polarised within the personality, dominated by the forces operating at that level of being and unable to stand as the soul in liberation of the addictive drive.
In this respect it is interesting that many people discover spiritual depth in the process of overcoming addiction. It is clear that for many people, drug use is a method of gaining some greater sense of reality. Many people working in therapy to resolve drug problems are on a path to greater self-awareness and wholeness, and "as we become more whole in ourselves, that ‘spiritual’ aspect of who we are also becomes more present".
Without doubt, the topic of the Seven Rays and addictions is one that will attract increasing attention over future decades. As the presence of the Seven Ray psychological model becomes recognised, thought and research will need to be applied to understanding addiction in terms of Ray influence. From this will develop a science whereby Seven Ray energy may be applied effectively in the process of helping people overcome addictions.
Bailey, Alice A. (1936) A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Vol. I, Esoteric Psychology I. p. 205. London and New York: Lucis Press Ltd
Bailey, Alice A. (1953) A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Vol. IV, Esoteric Healing. p. 88. London and New York: Lucis Press Ltd
Bailey, Alice A. (1953) A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Vol. IV, Esoteric Healing. p. 73. London and New York: Lucis Press Ltd
Bailey, Alice A. (1953) A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Vol. IV, Esoteric Healing. p. 74. London and New York: Lucis Press Ltd
Bailey, Alice A. (1953) A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Vol. IV, Esoteric Healing. pp. 55-6. London and New York: Lucis Press Ltd
Bailey, Alice A (1927) Light of the Soul. p.381. London and New York: Lucis Press Ltd
Bailey, Alice A (1927) Light of the Soul. p.339. London and New York: Lucis Press Ltd
Bryant-Jefferies, R. (2001) Counselling the Person Beyond the Alcohol Problem. p. 222. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Please note, this paper has been published in two parts in The Beacon. Lucis Press Ltd, London and New York, 2002, July/August and September/October issues.