Rays: 4—harmony through conflict, art

Ray 4 triangle

One of 3 rays of Attribute

aesthetic judgement, mediation, life balance, creativity, conflicts and harmonies, communication and dialogue, orientation and disorientation, stability and instability.

Quality:harmony through conflict, art
Fourth ray signs:Scorpio (Taurus, Sagittarius). Fourth ray triangle: Taurus-Scorpio-Sagittarius
Planets (inner/outer):Mercury/Moon
Colours (inner/outer):yellow/dusky cream (or Steiner’s ‘peach blossom’)
Technique:unifying, harmonising, mediating
Symbols:the square, the four directions/points of compass, midpoint of cycles.

4.1 Group effect: Synthesis (Cardinal mode)

The fourth ray works with the energies and subtle undercurrents behind the scenes of visible manifestation. As it increases in strength, these forces will become more apparent to general perception. This is also the primary conditioning ray of humanity, and its unique energy thoroughly pervades the human experience of the world. The human kingdom takes on a mediating role, poised as it is midway between the natural outer life of minerals, plants and animals, and the often incomprehensibly inclusive lives which, in occult thought, populate the layers of being beyond human experience. As mediators, we are called upon to sustain a certain amount of tension, and experience conflicts we learn to accommodate.

Most of the experiences of the collective human ‘growth process’ are set in motion by the realisation of conflicting elements and their eventual resolution or acceptance within a more inclusive framework. From the fourth ray point of view it could be said that our purpose as human beings is to identify conflicts, then contain or resolve them within our experience of life, so that a point of unifying harmony can be found between the conflicting elements.

The 90° angle of the square, poised midway between the acute and obtuse, is a fitting symbol for the position this ray holds in the general scheme.

4.1.1 Effect on groups of integrated beings (‘fifth kingdom’)

Until recently, groups working with any degree of awareness on this ray were as scarce as fourth ray souls but, as its power emerges after the start of the twenty-first century, it can be identified in an increasing variety of human activities. It is active wherever there is an effort to resolve or contain conflict; personal, national or global. Those who work this way seek points of contact between the conflicting elements, turning these into a bridge across which the two sides can communicate.

This is as true of cultural processes—where there are disharmonies between the old and the new—as it is true of conflicts of environmental interest regarding natural resources and human need. The ideal fourth ray outcome is a smooth passage between the differing elements, which leaves no noticeable continuity gap, so that as many people as possible have the opportunity to move with the change. The overall effect is to avoid the need for confrontation, and to ensure that the changes and adjustments brought about serve to unify, rather than divide.

4.1.2 Effect on groups of self-aware, integrating individuals (‘soul groups’)

During the process if harmonisation, the fourth ray can have an initially disruptive effect as it brings underlying tensions to the surface. Individuals experiencing the energy of this ray cannot afford to hide from strong sympathies and antipathies, because the ability to contain conflicting elements is key to potential resolution. Resolution is only possible when issues are aired, even if the resulting resolutions span the entire range between willing co-operation and grudging compromise.

Conflicts are always strongest when emotion lends them extra weight, and this is exactly where fourth ray skills are required most. Balance, a fair hearing, and the suspension of vested personal interests in the struggle to accept other views without judgement or favour; are all crucial to the process of harmonisation.

In other more obscure areas of activity, this ray is present in those groups (both inner and outer) who are working with the power of sound, colour and subtler physical forces: inwardly, to bring about a transformation of the actual material substance in which we live; and outwardly, to bring beauty and wonder to, say, public works that use technology in interactive artworks and displays. This transformation will enable daily life to become more transparent to more refined and subtler influences, which many people are now beginning to sense and appreciate.

4.2 Personal effect: Intensification (Fixed mode)—role in the growth of human consciousness

The fourth ray highlights those areas within us that are causing—or may cause—conflict and consequent pain. It enables us to accept, contain and harmonise those conflicts by building bridges across which those parts of ourselves that are out of sync with each other can communicate. This communication is as essential between the subconscious, conscious, and transpersonal selves, as it is between the differing facets within any one of those areas of consciousness. The ability to tolerate ambiguity and resist a ‘quick fix’ is an essential fourth ray skill.

4.2.1 In the process of alignment (Cardinal: integration of personality and soul—will)

The realisation of unity, brought about through a desire to discover and strengthen points of contact and communication between the self and others, is the prime fourth ray contribution to personal integration. The individual, having struggled to build unifying strands between the various elements of their own personality, goes on to expand this awareness by including others of similar kind; gradually becoming able to accommodate an increasingly wider range of human activity until the greater picture emerges. Generosity and sympathy arising from the surety that personal needs will be met, dedication to the chosen path, a quick intellect and incisive perception on human issues, serenity, accuracy, mental and ethical balance due to an appreciation of consequences; all these fourth ray qualities emerge with the growth of awareness.

As the emotional self reaches a state of dynamic balance, its role gradually changes to include the subtler qualities of ‘sentient response’. There develops a sense of ‘rightness’ or proportion in daily living, and the fourth ray enables us to gauge intuitively the most fitting place and time for the varying aspects, demands and needs of our complex personal and group lives. An accurate, clear-headed assessment of mood, balances of power, personal ‘colourings’, ‘flavourings’ and their sympathise and antipathies, arises from this fourth ray art of living. With this awareness comes an innate wisdom concerning the measure of human experience. When these are further related to a knowledge of correspondences and inner connections, the result is the transparent energy of mediation and harmonisation, focused through a personality in accord with inner purpose.

4.2.2 In the development of self-awareness (Fixed: emotional balance—love-wisdom)

The fourth ray brings those emotional experiences that—being so uncomfortable—highlight exactly where we might benefit most from its harmonising influence. The more advanced this process is within us, the more these feelings of conflict seem impossible to resolve. However, once resolution emerges, the greater is the resulting synthesis and sense of release when both sides are integrated within an increasingly inclusive emotional life. Occasionally, difficult inner conflicts may be submerged, leaving the individual moody and withdrawn, until they summon the courage to face the issues involved. If these are not faced, circumstances will often present an opportunity that is hard to avoid. The turbulent emotional life of the ‘temperamental artist’ is an ignorant stereotype based on this trait, based on the fact that many people utilise creativity to lessen—or even attempt escape from—the psychological pressure of conflict. The broodiness that precedes creative activity of all kinds (artistic, scientific, vocational, social…) is a product of the ability to contain the tensions that arise when energies are brought together in unfamiliar or new combinations. Hence the connection between melancholy and creativity.

The fourth ray is especially potent in emotional life. It is apparent in the swings between extremes experienced by the individual who is plumbing the depths and heights of sentient experience. There are inevitable difficulties to be faced in this area. Some people experience periods when they may give undue recognition to that which is produced by speech—becoming over-sensitive to or worried by the impact of people and surroundings—this can lead to distorted meaning and fear-based inaccuracies in perception. These feelings can range from compensatory forms of behaviour, to indulgence in obsessive passions, indolence and extravagance. If we are afraid to accept the often difficult feelings involved in the process of harmonisation, we will fail to integrate them into the whole picture painted by our transpersonal selves, which requires access to all parts of the personality. A certain fearlessness is therefore required and there may be a tendency, once fear is accepted and loses its potency, to plunge enthusiastically into difficult emotional experiences in order to hasten the process.

4.2.3 In the need for experience (Mutable: physical refinement—intelligent activity)

The main role of the fourth ray in this area is to demonstrate and encourage a sense of beauty, proportion and harmony in material life. People who work creatively in many differing fields follow this path, and all those who appreciate the creative process open themselves up to the deeper aspects of fourth ray activity. This appreciation of beauty and balance is not confined to stereotypically creative activities, and can manifest equally strongly in such diverse fields as human relations, social programmes, the caring professions, or business.

Stimulated by the fourth ray, the individual may initially yearn for beauty and balance in their personal lives and surroundings, only to find that as soon as they have they achieved this immediate goal, harmony is disrupted by the emergence of deeper inner disharmonies. Such yearning can only be satisfied if it is an extension of inner balance; and so begins the process of conscious development. People can struggle blindly with themselves, wondering what is wrong or blaming circumstace and the actions of others, while realising deep down that something has to change.

4.3 General effect: Change (Mutable mode)

There are two main effects of the fourth ray on humanity at present. The first is in the general area of human relations and the growth of bridging, mediating and conciliating organisations. The second (in conjunction with the seventh ray) involves refining the actual substance of physical matter. The latter shows itself most obviously in the development of sensitivity to subtler energies and environing forces. Intolerances to unresolved tension, to disharmonies in everyday life or, more mundanely, to pollution and even electro-magnetic fields, are evidence of this growing sensitivity.

These ‘allergies to the twenty-first century’ will hopefully be among the many emerging disharmonies that supply the motivation for a refinement and balancing of the often frantic activities of contemporary civilisation. The esoteric reason for this shift lies in the emergence of those subtler (4th subplane) ‘etheric’ levels of the physical plane that will eventually be integrated into our everyday environment. The very first signs of this are apparent in the instant global communication enabled by the internet and the aptly-named world-wide web that depends upon it.

4.3.1 Effect on average individuals

Although difficult to pinpoint in any one area of human life, this ray has a subtle but pervasive effect on all of us. Generally, it is the ray of culture and the arts, but also of opposition and conciliation. Wherever there are difficult choices and decisions to be made, the power of this ray is unconsciously invoked, highlighting the common strands that lead to resolution. At its most elementary it stimulates passionate battles of taste and culture, and is evident wherever people attempt to shape their environment to suit their idea of beauty; from maudlin kitsch and suburban consensus to the individuality of the eccentric architect or gardener.