Albert Schweitzer: a ray biography
by Peter Liefhebber


Albert Schweitzer became best known for his work as a medical missionary in Africa. In spite of almost insurmountable difficulties he established a hospital at Lambarene in then Congo, to bring health care to the local population. An exceptionally humane man, he was also an organist of extraordinary talent, a much respected theologian and philosopher, a leading authority on J. S. Bach and his music, and a writer of many profound works. Few have contributed as much in this century to healing people, not only physically but also socially and ethically.

"A man full of gentle heroic courage", was a description of him in a German newspaper. One of his friends and his biographer Jan Eigenhuis, summed up his character in the following terms: "Indomitable will-power in word and deed coupled with a profound and childlike love for all that lives." From here it is a small step to guessing the two rays which predominate in Albert Schweitzer's life: the 2nd ray of Love-Wisdom and the 1st ray of Will or Power. In the wealth of literature written about the German pastor's son there are ample indications of the influence of these energies in his every word and deed.

It might be relatively easy to recognize Schweitzer's rays because the ray qualities of 'older disciples' show more pronounced than those of less advanced humanity. In this analysis I shall attempt to illustrate how Schweitzer's life and deeds were coloured by his rays. His soul and personality fell under the influence of the 2nd ray; his mental body under the 1st ray; the 4th ray (of Harmony through conflict, or of Beauty) governed his astral body and the 3rd ray (of adaptability and creative intelligence) governed his physical body.

Before proceeding any further it may be worth pointing out that Schweitzer's rays alone could never have given him the power to achieve as much as he did in his remarkable life were it not for the combination of his ray structure and his point of evolution. The fact that he was in the phase between the second and third initiations may explain why he was so unusually talented and versatile and had gained a certain measure of control over the energies with which he had to work. The second degree initiate has proved that he has all but mastered his emotional nature. He is mentally focused and, with the approaching third initiation in view, strives to overcome the limitations of the lower mental processes and become a pure channel of soul qualities.

For the majority of humanity it is difficult enough to become aware of the fact that emotions cloud reality and should therefore be mastered. It takes an initiate of Schweitzer's stature however, to recognize even at the tender age of three and fuelled by the wisdom gleaned in previous lives the many pitfalls into which uncontrolled emotions can lead, and cause him to resolve to avoid them through self-discipline. At that age he was once stung by a wasp and, as most children would, began to scream loudly until he realized that he was making more fuss than necessary because he wanted to attract the sympathetic attention of the adults. Such an insight at such an early age can only be demonstrated by someone with an already well-developed mental body and from that time on all the events in Schweitzer's life proved this to be true.

He was still a young school boy when he came to the realization that only reason (and not changeable feelings or emotional impulse) can ever help humanity to evolve. He expressed this conviction with all the power, lack of inhibition and of subtlety of his still immature 1st-ray mind.
"The conviction that human evolution is only possible if people are governed by reason instead of being governed by their feelings and lack of thought completely dominated me and for a while I expressed this conviction with all the unpleasant intensity of passion," Schweitzer wrote about himself many years later. In practice it meant that he would immediately flare up whenever anyone, regardless of who they were, stated opinions which he considered superficial or narrow-minded. A total lack of regard or fear of the consequences of his actions had, even at that stage, become a hallmark of his behaviour an indication that in the young man's personality every trace of 2nd-ray timidity was soon to make way for the fearlessness of his 1st-ray mental body. This fear and the sentimental longing to be liked by everyone typical 2nd-ray glamours Schweitzer managed to shake off even before he left the village of Elzas where he was born.

An incident which illustrates this and the action of both rays took place when the eight-year-old Schweitzer was once persuaded by a friend to accompany him to catch birds. He did not want to go because he keenly felt any suffering, whether of man or beast, but he did not dare refuse both expressions of the 2nd ray.
"As long as I can remember I have suffered because of all the misery I saw in the world. It caused me particular pain that poor animals have to endure so much suffering and cruelty. The sight of a limping old horse being beaten with a stick haunted me for weeks."

Compassion for everything that lives together with the fearlessness inherent in the 1st ray finally helped him to overcome his fear of falling out with his friends: not only did he refuse to shoot any birds but he also frightened them away to safety. This victory over himself made him vow he would "never be afraid that anyone might think me too sentimental." And from that time on he kept his vow, not caring in the least if people mocked him for it.

A Jewish pedlar in Schweitzer's home village was the constant butt of the village youths' rough humour. Schweitzer, who had never been accepted fully by the young people of the village because he was the pastor's son, joined in at first to be 'one of the crowd' until he suddenly noticed that the man cheerfully tolerated their teasing. This patient tolerance brought out the best in Schweitzer of the 1st and 2nd rays. From that moment on he expressed his 1st ray courage by making a point of shaking hands with the pedlar in front of his friends and accompanying him to the outskirts of the village. The man's example further stimulated patience which is an attribute of the 2nd ray, helping him to overcome impatience to which the 1st-ray type is prone. "The forgiving smile of Mausche," wrote Schweitzer many years later, "even to this day prompts me to be patient when I could be tempted to give way to passion and anger."

I have described so many incidents from Schweitzer's early life because they give a clear indication of what is involved in finding a balance between the 1st and 2nd rays which, in many aspects, seem to be polar opposites until on a higher level they find a symbiosis. In less advanced disciples however they can often cause a traumatic sense of chaos and the feeling of being torn between two opposites.

The Master DK says (in Discipleship in the New Age Vol. 2) to a disciple who had a 2nd-ray soul with a 1st-ray personality:

"The 2nd ray is outgoing, inclusive, friendly and prone to attachment; the 1st ray is isolated, exclusive, antagonistic and prone to detachment. It is the conflict between these two energies brought together in one incarnation which has brought about the distorted and unhappy life conditions which have characterized you, which you recognize, and which cause you so much real distress."

Schweitzer did not suffer quite so many difficulties: in his case a 1st-ray mental body was balanced by the double 2nd rays of his soul and personality. This influence meant that the potential shortcomings of the 1st ray such as separatism, contempt for weakness, tendency to criticize, forcing his own iron will upon others would never gain ascendency in his case. On the contrary, care for the weak became part of his life task, his critical tendencies were focused on issues and never on people and, although 1st-ray types all too easily fall into the habit of imposing their will as law, Schweitzer chose to listen with tolerance to those who differed with him in their opinions and then carefully and benignly put forward his own views.

This is not the only area in which he expressed the inclusiveness of the 2nd ray: Schweitzer the Protestant theologian and parson encouraged and approved of Catholics and Protestants holding joint church services, deplored narrow-minded nationalism and advocated "that humanitarian work in the world should call on individuals in their own right rather than in their capacity as members of a particular church or nation."

Typical also of the 2nd-ray type is Schweitzer's identification of guilt as the major driving force behind his inexhaustible work in Africa, perhaps an aspect of the Messiah complex which the Master DK terms one of the vices which can arise from the energy of Love-Wisdom.

"A heavy guilt weighs upon our culture. We are not free to decide whether we want to help people elsewhere or not, we have to. Whatever good we demonstrate towards them is not charity but a penance. For each time someone is made to suffer another has to bring succour."


Schweitzer's permanent sense of his own shortcomings seems to me also typical of the 2nd-ray type. He blamed himself for every failure. "If I achieve nothing through demonstrating love it is because there is not yet enough love in me. If I am powerless in the face of insincerity and lies then my own sincerity is still at fault. If my tolerance is misunderstood or mocked then there cannot be enough tolerance within myself."

Because Schweitzer considered fine ideals which are not put into practice of little use he decided, at 21 years of age, to work and study for another nine years for his own pleasure after which he would spend the remainder of his life in service to humanity. He kept rigorously to his plan and studies, played music and worked as a pastor until he was 30 years old, after which he chose to study medicine with the aim of eventually working in Africa as a mission doctor.

As a result of his studies in theology and philosophy he produced, among other writings, a standard work on Jesus in which he brought to light an unpopular truth which he believed he had discovered: that Jesus had preached the imminent destruction of the physical world and that He had been wrong. Because Schweitzer dared to call the teachings and the life of Jesus "paradoxical" in his penetrating study (I will not dwell on its contents here) he made himself unpopular with orthodox Christians. But he was convinced that truth, which he sought all his life with his 2nd-ray predisposition and tenacity, should always be expressed even in the face of all opposition. This he did with the uncompromising courage of the 1st ray.

Schweitzer was not optimistic about the culture of his time and he assiduously sought an ethical principle which could bridge all differences between philosophical, political and social systems. He knew that what he sought would have to be very simple and he eventually found his key to a true ethical philosophy in "reverence for all that lives."

It may be of interest to note that Schweitzer also adopted the formula: "I am life that lives within life that wants to live." Here his 2nd-ray ability to identify with all that lives is coupled with the experience arising from his 1st-ray mental realization that the phenomenon of life is connected with, or flows forth from, the Will to Live of the Universal Life Force. Schweitzer even defined the influence of the 1st ray in both aspects; creative and destructive.
"Man who has become conscious of the Universal Will to Live within himself realizes that he also lives in a world where the creative will can also work as destructive will," he wrote. However, he saw no point in directly trying to contact the Will to Live or 'The Absolute'." There is no state of total being, only one of Unending Being in unending manifestation.... Where in some way or another my life consecrates itself to another life and in so doing my finite will to live merges with the Everlasting Will in which all life is unified." Put more simply: one only experiences and serves God by serving others. Hence Schweitzer's idea that reverence for other life besides one's own is nothing less than reverence for the life within the self for basically they are one.

Schweitzer's reasoning was therefore: "It is not out of goodness towards others that I am gentle, peace-loving, long-suffering and friendly but because in this way I ultimately sustain my deepest self." On the basis of this insight (again synthetic and therefore characteristic of both the 1st and 2nd rays) Schweitzer solves the seeming paradox between the striving for self-perfection and working ethically in the world: the former is achieved through the latter.

As Schweitzer practised this truth with indomitable will power during a life of unremitting service, he may be seen as a living example of the positive and fertile fusion of the 1st and 2nd rays of which the Master DK (in Discipleship Vol. 2) says: "The 1st and 2nd rays work closely together; love and will are closely identified on the higher levels of consciousness and service; the two basic energies in reality constitute one great expression of divine planning and purpose." "It is astonishing how power and love can be so closely allied in one heart," wrote Eigenhuis about his friend.

Although Schweitzer advocated the supremacy of mind over emotions, he was not caught in a web of dry intellectualism. In his case, knowledge had been transmuted into wisdom and he opposed any non-ethical form of science which limited itself to defining only the outer realms of physical matter. When he spoke of thinking he very definitely included intuition and the will as part of that process. This marks him yet again as a second degree initiate living almost entirely under the influence of his soul. "Reason is not dry intellect which suppresses the multiform expressions of our soul lives, it is the sum total of all the functions of the spirit in lively concert. Through the medium of our reason, our knowledge and our will hold that mysterious dialogue with one another which defines our spiritual being."

Schweitzer also demonstrated his tendency to synthesize by closing the gap between knowledge and mysticism. "Reasoned thought seems unjustly to stop when it encounters mysticism," he found, "whilst mysticism seems to reject reason. And yet both of these seemingly conflicting opposites belong together." By subordinating knowledge and mysticism to practical and moral action Schweitzer proved himself to be an occultist in the true sense of the word a person who called on governments to stimulate independent thinking amongst their peoples instead of suppressing it; someone who, without actually using the word, was a fervent advocate of the principle of sharing and who defined culture as "progress, physical and spiritual progress on the part of the individual and the community."

Schweitzer weighed even the use of rightfully acquired possessions or qualities in himself against the need to share which to him was the logical consequence of "reverence for life" wherein the 1st- and 2nd-ray influences blend so harmoniously. "What the law and public opinion allows me to have becomes a problem because a reverence for life forces me to think first of others and to wonder whether I have the right to pick all the fruits within my reach." He therefore considered "the greatest possible material freedom for as many people as possible" to be a prerequisite of a culture.

This discussion of Schweitzer's ray equipment has so far been confined to the 1st and 2nd rays. There are many more examples in the volumes of literature written about him, of 1st-ray characteristics such as his heroic courage, qualities of leadership, his broad-mindedness and his decisive behaviour. Or of 2nd-ray qualities such as his simplicity, his love of teaching (in his preaching), choosing not to criticize others, the absence in his nature of sarcasm and his endless patience. He carried his maxim "reverence for life" to such extremes that even in the African bush when hammering pylons into the ground he would first check to make sure that no ants, beatles or other insects would be destroyed by his doing so which to anyone who does not have a 2nd ray seems rather sentimental.

A brief word about Schweitzer's other rays. This doctor from Lambarene, who played the organ and piano whenever and wherever he could, was one of the greatest musicians of his time and critics acclaimed him as "an artist gifted with God's Grace". No wonder, with a 4th-ray astral body, the ray of harmony through conflict and of beauty, and a 4th-ray sub-ray personality. Besides this, both his mental and physical bodies were influenced by the 7th ray of Ceremonial Magic and ordered rhythm and it is this influence which gave his music its widely admired "sonorous structure and architectural clarity of line." This 7th ray energy (I also discovered a reference to his talent for systematization) will undoubtedly have helped to give him a talent for organization and the physical stamina which he all too often taxed to the utmost. Should we not also look for a trace of the 6th ray in view of his idealism? Indeed, the sub-ray of his emotional body was galvanized by its energy. Now that his sub-rays have been enumerated, let me digress for a moment to mention Schweitzer's unusually powerful affinity with Bach's music. This great composer and initiate, like Schweitzer, had a 2nd-ray soul and a 3rd-ray physical body and Bach's major rays were the same as Schweitzer's sub-rays.

Schweitzer also possessed a subtle and well-developed intuition of which the following is one of many examples: In 1929, when he built a house in the Minster valley, he made provisions in the design and positioning of the house for the firing line of the bombs which he expected in the next world war.

Schweitzer's 2nd-ray personality galvanized by his 2nd-ray soul gave him great personal magnetism. It attracted the good and transmuted, rather than repelled, the negative. No-one remained untouched by his magnetism as is illustrated in a report by the journalist Robert Jungk in a description of Schweitzer's meeting with the world press. In 1940 he was already being hailed as "a modern saint", wrote Jungk, "all the more reason for the many reporters from various countries to regard him with as much scepticism as curiosity." This reserve did not last long.

"Schweitzer had only been among us for a short while and already the 20-30 journalists in the room began in a subtle way to feel as if they were a family. How that came about remains a mystery to me to this day. Schweitzer could not speak English and most of the journalists could not understand his broadly accented French dialect. I do not even remember what Schweitzer replied to our questions I was too overwhelmed by this unexpected contact with strangers, who were normally blasť because of the work they did, suddenly feeling united in brotherhood with one another and with the subject of their visit."

For further information about the seven rays please refer to the Alice Bailey books (published by the Lucis Trust) and the Share International special issue on the rays (Vol. 2, No. 12/Vol. 3, No. 1).


"Humanitarian work should call on the people as such and not on their capacity as members of any particular church or nation." 

Albert Schweitzer


The Seven Rays: a general view, by Benjamin Creme
An introduction to the seven rays of energy which condition all people, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

 


The Seven Rays: A General View

Mahatma Gandi: a ray biography, by Peter Liefhebber

Collection of Esoteric Articles      Who is Maitreya?  


"Until we extend the circle of our compassion to all living things,
we will not ourselves find peace." Dr. Albert Schweitzer 


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