THEOSOPHY, Vol. 84, No. 10, August, 1996
(Pages 305-307; Size: 7K)


[Article number (4) in this Department]

The following article is an example of one student's use of the Law of Correspondence and Analogy. Through its application we are enabled to discover the nature of "self" by studying its mirror -- the universe.

CERTAINLY, most of us have wondered about rainbows and thrilled to their beauty. Why do they appear and so suddenly disappear? What message are they trying to give us and why do they excite our imagination? Why the seven colors?

A lustrous rainbow against a backdrop of steel blue storm clouds is breathtaking, but when enhanced by knowledge, it comes to signify much more; the grand rhythms, the countless variations and the minute complexities of the global web of relationships among water, light and air that enclose and support the earth and all life on it. A rainbow, then, is a messenger of unity and at the same time expresses the diversity, which we may come to understand within that unity. The Law of Correspondence and Analogy will certainly help us as we ponder the significance.

But, first, let us consider that for centuries scientists and religionists alike have offered mankind theories of how and why this beautiful symmetry, named, rainbow, appears in the sky. Around 575 BC, the Greek philosopher, Anaximenes, said rainbows resulted from a mixture of sunlight and blackness of clouds. The Greek epic poems associated rainbows with the goddess Iris. In the Iliad, Homer tells how Aphrodite, wounded by Diomedes, fled Olympus along the rainbow carried by Iris. The Greek goddess Iris gives us not only the word "iris" for the colored part of the eye and a flower, but also the word "iridescence."

In 1304, a German Dominican monk named Theodoric understood that both reflection and refraction of light are needed to create a rainbow. In addition, he spoke of a secondary rainbow that occasionally appears above the main one and that this secondary reflection causes the color sequence to reverse just as a mirror reverses an image. Could this be an echo of the Theosophical teaching regarding the astral light? In the 1600s René Descartes set out to discover why rainbows were visible only at an angle of 42 degrees from the path of sunlight. He determined mathematically that when two refractions and one reflection are involved, the 42-degree angle was the path along which the least scattering, or maximum focus of the light occurred.

In 1660, Sir Issac Newton discovered the reason for the color spectrum of a rainbow while experimenting with glass prisms. Newton demonstrated that each color in the spectrum has its own optimal angle of refraction. When sunlight passes through a raindrop, refraction does not weaken the light but simply sorts it out by wavelengths, sending each color along a different path. To underscore this, Newton went on to perform a historic experiment. He used a second prism to recapture the divided colors and merge them back into white light -- thus proving that white light is a composite of all the colors of the rainbow. Theosophy explains that the "white" light is all the colors, yet the colors in themselves are not the white light unless they unite or merge back into it.

In the Light of Theosophy, the rainbow is a living messenger. It speaks to us of the seven-fold nature of the Universe and Man. Sound and color are rates of vibration, their correlation results in the "music of the spheres" -- the song of life -- the message of the rainbow. This message is expressed through seven principles, and by correspondence we note the seven notes of the musical scale, the seven sacred planets, the seven chambers of the heart, etc. Many people thought of rainbows as bridges to heaven. Theosophical students may very well see the rainbow as a befitting illustration of the bridge to Divine Wisdom. In The Path magazine we find written:

He who lives in one color of the rainbow is blind to the rest. Live in the Light diffused through the entire arc, and you will know it all.
No doubt all of us are familiar with the song which expresses these famous lyrics: "Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly ... why then oh why can't I?" It might be said that assimilation of the message of the rainbow provides the "wind beneath our wings."

"Bestride the bird of Life if thou would'st know."

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


The eyes of the virtuous are oft blinded by their very virtues. "Unselfish" is but one of opposites, while Selflessness regards not either, seeing clear between them. The selfless mother looks not to her children's wants, but to their needs. She looks not alone upon her children, but sees in hers all others for whom her sacrifice would be equal. In her own she sees members of a great universal Family, entrusted to her care, to learn through her their universal duties. And thus her sacrifice is that of knowledge. 

--From The Book of Images

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