Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy by G. de Purucker

Copyright © 1979 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.


Chapter Twenty-Two

The Hierarchy of Compassion. The Incarnation of the Manasaputras.

Know that the stream of superhuman knowledge and the Deva-Wisdom thou hast won, must, from thyself, the channel of Alaya, be poured forth into another bed.

Know, O Narjol [Naljor], thou of the Secret Path, its pure fresh waters must be used to sweeter make the Ocean's bitter waves — that mighty sea of sorrow formed of the tears of men.

Now bend thy head and listen well, O Bodhisattva — Compassion speaks and saith: "Can there be bliss when all that lives must suffer? Shalt thou be saved and hear the whole world cry?" — The Voice of the Silence, pp. 67, 71

IN OPENING our study this evening let us read from The Secret Doctrine, volume II, pages 281-2:

As the "coats of skin" of men thickened, and they fell more and more into physical sin, the intercourse between physical and ethereal divine man was stopped. The veil of matter between the two planes became too dense for even the inner man to penetrate. The mysteries of Heaven and Earth, revealed to the Third Race by their celestial teachers in the days of their purity, became a great focus of light, the rays from which became necessarily weakened as they were diffused and shed upon an uncongenial, because too material soil. With the masses they degenerated into Sorcery, taking later on the shape of exoteric religions, of idolatry full of superstitions, and man-, or hero-worship. Alone a handful of primitive men — in whom the spark of divine Wisdom burnt bright, and only strengthened in its intensity as it got dimmer and dimmer with every age in those who turned it to bad purposes — remained the elect custodians of the Mysteries revealed to mankind by the divine Teachers. There were those among them, who remained in their Kumaric condition from the beginning; and tradition whispers, what the secret teachings affirm, namely, that these Elect were the germ of a Hierarchy which never died since that period: —

"The inner man of the first * * * only changes his body from time to time; he is ever the same, knowing neither rest nor Nirvana, spurning Devachan and remaining constantly on Earth for the salvation of mankind. . . ." "Out of the seven virgin-men (Kumara) four sacrificed themselves for the sins of the world and the instruction of the ignorant, to remain till the end of the present Manvantara. Though unseen, they are ever present. When people say of one of them, "He is dead"; behold, he is alive and under another form. These are the Head, the Heart, the Soul, and the Seed of undying knowledge. . ."

. . . Higher than the "Four" is only ONE on Earth as in Heavens — that still more mysterious and solitary Being described in Book I.

— the Wondrous Being of whom we have spoken before.

Plunging then directly into our study, let us first ask ourselves one question. Whither are we as a race, as men, as thinking entities, traveling, in what direction? The ancient wisdom tells us that we are traveling inwards, not up, not down, not to right or to left, not forward or backward, but inwards, leaving the realms of matter, taking them with us in fact by spiritualizing the inferior coatings: traveling inwards on that path which began with our descent (if you like the term) into matter, into manifestation, and henceforward raising matter towards spirit, its real source or root, following the path which we ourselves inwardly are, and marching inwards, ever more inwardly, until at the consummation of all things we shall attain a goal, an end, even more supernal than that which we left in commencing our peregrination downwards into experience.

The next thought that occurs is: Are our higher natures separate from ourselves, paradoxical as it may sound? Are they ourselves? What are they? We all know, as students, the teachings concerning the seven principles of man; but when we stop to ask ourselves what are these seven principles really — do they form a unity, or is each one of them an entity in itself? — then we enter upon very difficult subjects indeed. Let us say first that the four lower principles are borrowed or rather, perhaps, evolved out of ourselves in combination with elements drawn from the common storehouse of nature, as man takes into his body for his nutrition his food formed of atoms, yet each one of those atoms in itself is the vehicle of a monad, manifesting in that sphere or plane of life. But our three higher principles are each one a separate entity but conjoined into an inseparable unity during the manvantaric cycle. And we see the reason why this is so in studying the seventh of the seven treasuries of wisdom, which seventh is the supreme key of all the other six.

We begin to form some conception of what lies before us in this study: how unity becomes multiplicity and how multiplicity resolves itself back into unity. Note first the difference between one, unity, and union. Union is an assemblage of things straitly united together; unity is an assemblage of things but with a common head or source, the summit of a hierarchy, for instance; whereas one is a monad, an individual, and therefore indivisible. Now we are a union in our four lower principles; we are a unity in our three higher principles, our upper triad; and we are one in the three highest, the highest triad, so called for easy comprehension.

The three principles forming the upper triad exist each on its own plane, and we feel their influence, because we are in spiritual rapport with them. Nevertheless each one exists on its own plane in consciousness and power. We know of each only what we have so far evolved; all we know, for instance, of the third principle (counting from the top), the manas, is what we have so far assimilated of it in this fourth round. It will not be fully developed until the end of the next round. What we call our manas is a generalizing term for the reincarnating ego — I am now speaking of the higher manas.

Turning a moment to a collateral subject, we must realize that all our consciousness, i.e., the consciousness of the ordinary man, pertains to this our present plane, but that there are innumerable other planes of the kosmos surrounding us, interpenetrating us, and of these other planes each has its own entities, its own beings, thinking and unthinking, as our plane has, each class appropriate to its own sphere or plane, and that our very earth interpenetrates them as they interpenetrate us, and that the reason we do not see their habitations and them, and their dwellings, and the lower creatures living there, is because our senses are not yet fitted to cognize them, have not been evolved or trained to know them or see them, for our physical senses have but a very limited perception of things. But there indeed they are. Some of these planes belong to our own hierarchy, and some do not. Those which do not, belong to other hierarchies each having its own series of planes or worlds. As in a chord of music each note may be distinctly heard, each being separate from the other, but together they form a chord, a musical harmony, so it is with these planes. It is, if you like, all a matter of differing vibrations, this word being used here in its scientific sense. If the vibrations are such that our senses can cognize them, we see them then, or hear them, or touch them, or taste them, or smell them, as sense perceptions; and if our senses are incognizant of them, we know nothing of them. Yet they are there!

Similarly with our three higher principles, the upper triad. The ego exists with its own consciousness, and its own forces, and its own dwelling which is a "soul," and we feel its effects, we feel its flux, which to us is an influx; and similarly with the buddhic principle, and with the atmic ray. We say that the atman is universal, and so it is; but it belongs (so far as we are concerned in our present stage in evolution) to the fourth kosmic plane, though it is our seventh principle.

What I am trying to say is that the destiny of man is to raise his focus of consciousness from the lower to the higher; and with each step that he makes upwards, or more properly inwards, he finds a new world, with its own inhabitants, as said above, with its own conditions and "laws," with the "habitations" of its inhabitants. And following the ancient axiom of the Hermetists, "As above, so below," we can see the perfect truth, the perfect fidelity to fact, in stating that these various planes or rather worlds — some of which are immensely higher than ours, some only a little higher, some immensely lower than ours, some only a little lower — that each one of these planes or worlds, I repeat, has its own life and thinking beings, its own trees, and its own stones, and its own storms, and its own fire, its own inhabitants, and its own animals, and all the rest of the manifold and various things and entities, similar to but not identical with the beings we see around us on our plane. Think of the vastness of the spaces of consciousness and being which this thought brings home to us, the illimitability of life, its utter and perfect endlessness, promising endless evolution before us, as there have been endless experiences and evolution behind us! The reflection is an ennobling one.

Now the summit of every hierarchy, as so often said, is one: and may be considered as one in three or three in one, a philosophical conception of the ancients whence the Christians got their dogma of the Trinity. This is the uppermost triad. Next comes a unity of what we call our upper triad, three separate principles per se, yet bound together in a compact unity in the seventh or highest principle, the atman, which is the self, the "universal selfhood," not our ego, but that feeling or consciousness of selfhood which is the same in you and in me and in every human being, and even in all the inferior beings of the hierarchy, yea, even in those of the beast kingdom under us, and dimly perceptible even in the plant world, and which is latent even in the minerals. This is the pure cognition, the abstract idea of self. It differs not at all throughout the hierarchy, except in degree of self-recognition. When you say self, you mean the same thing that I do; but when you say myself, I am I and not another, that is the consciousness of your ego, and it is not the same as when I say I am I. When this ego is raised from the lower planes to the higher, it comes naturally in touch with higher things. From the inferior consciousness we become by evolution conscious of ourself as a man, or self-conscious; and from the man we become a Buddha or a Christ, reaching full expanded self-consciousness. And there are thereafter other planes still higher than this, of which we now say no more. Finally, the four lowest principles form a union, nonpermanent, transitory, and dissoluble at death.

Remember that these planes or worlds extend as such in both directions, inwards and outwards — one reaching ever into greater superiority to us, from our standpoint; and the other direction going downwards or, as it is sometimes expressed, along the path of the left hand.

Now let us read another extract, as our next subject, from The Secret Doctrine, volume I, page 572:

Esoterically the teaching differs: The divine, purely Adi-Buddhic monad manifests as the universal Buddhi (the Maha-buddhi or Mahat in Hindu philosophies) the spiritual, omniscient and omnipotent root of divine intelligence, the highest anima mundi or the Logos. This descends "like a flame spreading from the eternal Fire, immoveable, without increase or decrease, ever the same to the end" of the cycle of existence, and becomes universal life on the Mundane Plane. From this Plane of conscious Life shoot out, like seven fiery tongues, the Sons of Light (the logoi of Life); then the Dhyani-Buddhas of contemplation: the concrete forms of their formless Fathers — the Seven Sons of Light, still themselves, to whom may be applied the Brahmanical mystic phrase: "Thou art 'THAT' — Brahm." It is from these Dhyani-Buddhas that emanate their chhayas (Shadows) the Bodhisattvas of the celestial realms, the prototypes of the super-terrestrial Bodhisattvas, and of the terrestrial Buddhas, and finally of men. The "Seven Sons of Light" are also called "Stars."

Sublime beyond ordinary human comprehension are the truths of life and the mysteries of being! We are taught that there exists a Hierarchy of Compassion, which H. P. Blavatsky sometimes called the Hierarchy of Mercy or of Pity. This is the light-side of nature as contrasted with its matter-side or shadow-side, its night-side. It is from this Hierarchy of Compassion that came those semidivine entities about the middle period of the third root-race of this round, and incarnated in the semiconscious, quasi-senseless men of that period, those advanced entities otherwise known as the solar Lhas, as the Tibetans call them, the solar spirits, who were the men of a former kalpa who during the third root-race thus sacrificed themselves in order to give us intellectual light; incarnating in those senseless psychophysical shells in order to awaken into a divine flame of egoity and self-consciousness the sleeping egos which we then were. They are ourselves because belonging to the same spirit-ray that we do; yet we, more strictly speaking, were those half-unconscious, half-awakened egos whom they touched with the divine fire of their own being. This our "awakening" was called by H. P. Blavatsky the incarnation of the manasaputras, or "sons of mind" or light. Had that incarnation not taken place, we indeed should have continued our evolution by merely "natural" causes, but it would have been slow almost beyond comprehension, almost interminable; but that act of self-sacrifice, through their immense pity, their immense love, though, indeed, acting under karmic impulse, awakened the divine fire in our own selves, gave us light and comprehension and understanding. So from that time we ourselves became the "Sons of the Gods"; the faculty of self-consciousness in us was awakened, our eyes were opened, responsibility became ours, and our feet were set then definitely upon the path, that inner path, quiet, leading inwards back to our spiritual home.

In speaking of initiations at our last meeting, you remember it was pointed out that initiation is in fact a quickening process, but it is also something else; it is a copy, an endeavor to copy, what was done by the incarnation of those lords of understanding, sons of light. It is an attempt to stimulate, to awaken into activity, the inner spiritual self, to enliven us more quickly, to enable us to see and understand, saving those who successfully pass through the tests aeons and aeons of suffering and strife and, noblest of all, enabling those whose minds have become enlightened, themselves to do the same for their brothers who are less progressed than they.

Why is it that from the very beginning all the Teachers who have appeared among men continually teach us the duty as well as the need of self-control, and of pity and of compassion and of spiritual understanding? Why? Because these things verily are the keys, these are the open sesames, these are the things which unlock the portals, not merely to let in the light, but when the light is seen, to give it again to others, for who is the man who would not follow it?

Let us write down the following names, cited in the above extract from The Secret Doctrine, and reduce them to hierarchical form so that they will more easily remain in the memory;

  1. Adi-buddhi.
  2. The second is maha-buddhi, which is in fact mahat. It is likewise the First Logos, adopting the Greek method of nomenclature.
  3. The third is universal light which is also life, also called in the Sanskrit, divine matter, divine nature, daiviprakriti; the Second Logos.
  4. The sons of light, called the logoi of life, the Third Logos.
  5. The dhyani-buddhas, the buddhas of contemplation or
  6. meditation.
  7. The celestial bodhisattvas, a Sanskrit word meaning "he whose nature is essentially celestial wisdom or bodhi."
  8. The superterrestrial or superhuman bodhisattvas.
  9. The manushya-buddhas, or the human buddhas.
  10. Men.

This is the Hierarchy of Compassion, emanating or evolving from the supernal regions, and they are the flowers of the evolutionary course; and these regions themselves form the first (or the tenth) or the root, if you like, of the Hierarchy of Compassion, counting upwards or downwards.

Now the essential aim of this hierarchy, the whole purpose and strife, if you like the word, of evolution, is to raise the corruptible into incorruptibility, to raise imperfection to perfection, to raise the mortal so that it shall put on immortality or, in other words, to raise the personal man to be the individual man, to make of the human a divine being. The average man has of course not yet reached that sublime stage, and hence, as was pointed out before, there is no abiding principle whatsoever in personal man, because he is composed only of the five lower principles; and when we say personal man we mean the man of this period, of this epoch, the evolving entity of the present time, the person. But overshadowing this person, incarnating in this person (if we can use the term incarnating) there is the divine flame, there is the divine seed, there is the constant impulse from the god within, telling us always "Come up higher, come to me; be the path and walk it; I am the way, the truth, and the life" — in the heart of each one of us. It is there; and as soon as the personal man consciously allies himself with this divine spark, he becomes thereby impersonal and immortal in his inner consciousness and therefore incorruptible, at least until the end of this maha-kalpa; and then his sublime destiny is to enter into that ineffable nirvana where he will remain in indescribable bliss and universal understanding until the next kalpa begins, whence be starts out anew but on a far more elevated plane. He starts out as a leader of that new humanity. He then finds it his turn to become one of that band or company or body of sons of mind or light, himself in his turn to endow with self-consciousness and future spiritual immortality the semiconscious beings of that cycle to come.

Bodhisattva: this is a keyword. You will remember it was pointed out at a former study that the dhyani-buddhas, who are fifth in the enumeration of this Hierarchy of Compassion, these lords of contemplation, are seven in number, and each one of them has governance or rather has the overseeing of one of our rounds. (Remember that there are seven rounds in a kalpa.) He is its head, the constant stimulator behind that force in nature which we feel always within us. That "force" is the divine urge, as philosophers might call it. It is not, however, yet truly divine; because noble, great, as these spiritual beings truly are, they have not yet reached the summit of their own hierarchy; but their great work is what we may call the divine urge, the push, behind the evolutionary process. Further, each of these dhyani-buddhas in himself is a hierarchy, just as we pointed out that every atom is a hierarchy, every man is a hierarchy and, indeed, every entity is a hierarchy of greater or of inferior degree, because everything that is composite is necessarily divisible into degrees of spiritual and intellectual excellence.

How else could the evolving beings learn? If man existed in nothing but the pristine purity of his divine essence, what would there be for him to learn, how could he learn? Each one of these dhyanis has, or gives birth to, so to say, or emanates or evolves from himself, seven "sons," called celestial bodhisattvas, and each celestial bodhisattva has charge of one of the globes of our planetary chain, so that not only each planetary round, but each globe also has its spiritual head. It is a hierarchy in that sense again, as well.

Furthermore, let us take our earth, the fourth globe, as a further example. The celestial bodhisattva of our globe in his turn gives birth to seven superhuman bodhisattvas, and these superhuman bodhisattvas or superterrestrial bodhisattvas have, each one, charge of one race of the seven root-races in each round and give birth by a wonderful process, which we shall shortly describe, to seven human buddhas — each one, each superhuman bodhisattva, to a race-buddha. A bodhisattva, as explained exoterically, means one who in another incarnation or in a few more incarnations will become a buddha. That is true, but it is an exoteric teaching, that is to say, it is incomplete, and therefore misleading. A bodhisattva from the standpoint of our occult teachings, our esoteric teachings, is more than that. When a man, a human being, has reached the point where his ego becomes conscious, fully so, of its inner divinity, becomes clothed with the buddhic ray; where, so to say, the personal man has put on the garments of inner immortality in actuality, on this earth, here and now, that man is a bodhisattva. His higher principles have nearly reached nirvana. When they do so finally, such a man is a buddha, a human buddha, a manushya-buddha. Obviously, if such a bodhisattva were to reincarnate, in the next incarnation or in a very few future incarnations thereafter, he would be a manushya-buddha. A buddha, in the esoteric teaching, is one whose higher principles can learn nothing more; they have reached nirvana and remain there; but the spiritually awakened personal man, the bodhisattva, the person made semidivine, to use popular language, instead of choosing his reward in the nirvana of a less degree, remains on earth out of pity and compassion for inferior beings, and becomes what is called a nirmanakaya. A nirmanakaya is a bodhisattva, a personal man made semidivine. He clothes himself in a nirmanakayic vesture. The nirmanakaya, you will remember, is one who is a complete, thinking, spiritual entity, minus the physical body only.

Let us take an example of how this works. Remember, please, apropos of our subject, that we are studying the nature of the Wondrous Being only incidentally at present, as being an illustration truly sublime of the seventh treasury of wisdom, the atma-vidya, the knowledge of self. Now let us take our illustration. Some time after Gautama Buddha died, there was born in the south of India a man who made a great mark in the Indian world thereafter. His name was Sankaracharya. Acharya is a Sanskrit word meaning "teacher" or "master"; and the name of the man himself was Sankara; the two words joined together make Sankaracharya, "Sankara the teacher," as the Hindu Vedantists of the Adwaita or nondualistic school put it. Now here again is a very interesting thing, briefly alluded to before. Sankaracharya was an avatara, which means an incarnation of a "god," and yet he stood less high than the Buddha (Gautama) who had preceded him, although the latter was a man. How shall we explain that wonder? Easily. The Buddha Gautama became a buddha through his own efforts, throughout innumerable ages; whereas Sankaracharya was in one mystical sense what may truly be called an illusion from the standpoint of esoteric manhood. Sankara was a man, there was a physical body, there was the great spiritual essence within; but there had been no previous Sankaracharya. Sankaracharya per se, spiritually, was a divine ray. The atman and the buddhi, born in the body of this Brahmana, were there, also the kama, the prana, the astral model-body, and the physical body — but no illuminated personal ego; and in order that that avatara at that time in history might do its work, the bodhisattva of the Buddha entered into that body and gave it light, provided the illuminating ego, thus repeating the aeon-old mystery of self-sacrifice, taking on the "sins" (or karmic heritage from parents) such as they may have been, if any, of that body, thus giving the chance for that divine ray, that avatara, to work in the world: providing the vehicle through which the divine ray might manifest to and in the world of man.

That is the secret of an avatara; but not every bodhisattva is necessarily the vehicle of an avatara, for the avataras come at particular and specified periods. Buddhas also come at particular and specified periods, but leave behind them a bodhisattva, their ego, their illuminated thinking part, the nirmanakaya, devoted to the work of saving the race, for of such is the conscious part of the Hierarchy of Compassion on our globe.

This was one of the ancient Mystery-teachings in the old Mystery Schools.

But that is not all there is to this true and wondrous mystery. This same bodhisattva, we are taught, also provided some centuries later the conscious vehicle, the egoic power, in the person called Jesus, in Palestine. These are subjects, however, which we cannot go into more deeply tonight. They are only an illustration how this Hierarchy of Compassion works on earth in its sublime overseeing and protective work of and for the human race.

We turn now to some questions which have been handed in, five of them in number which, before we close this evening, we shall read and do our best to answer. I mention this now before continuing our subject, because the very theme upon which we have touched in connection with the Buddha Gautama and Jesus is mentioned in these questions, questions which all of us probably have asked ourselves, and have hunted for answers to them.

We have now gained some idea of what we mean by self-knowledge, of our unity with all, of how our individuality was born, as it were, of heaven and of earth: the inner divine ray and the lower personal man, the latter raised upwards until he becomes one with that divine ray, thus becoming a fit and purified vehicle for it. We have also seen that the study of the Wondrous Being is a most sublime illustration of the exalted spiritual state to which we should attain, and shall attain, run we successfully the race.

Now let us go a little farther in our thought in connection with this Wondrous Being. We have seen that he or it is both — as H. P. Blavatsky said, using popular language — of heaven and of earth. His roots are the dhyani-buddha of this round, and the ray reaches him as a man through the celestial bodhisattva emanated by the dhyani-buddha, and also through the superterrestrial or superhuman bodhisattva in ultimate charge of our root-race. The Wondrous Being is here considered in his (or its) racial aspect. Note well, however, that there is also a Wondrous Being for our globe; also one for the entire planetary chain, etc.

There is a tradition, and our Teachers tell us that it is a tradition founded on truth, that even unto this day there exists in Central Asia a certain mystical and mysterious land, or district if you like. It is called Sambhala. This is a word known in Sanskrit literature, but because the sayings and legends regarding it are connected with what our self-sufficient European Sanskritists and Orientalists call "pagan superstition" and the "love of the Orientals for imagery," and so forth, our European scholars say that it is a myth. Blind men! It is an actual district on earth, in a certain part of Tibetan territory, and has been for ages the subject of much mystical speculation, and remains so to this day. It is the "home" of our exalted Teachers. It is likewise the "home" of the Wondrous Being considered as man, or in his racial aspect. This Wondrous Being incarnates himself from age to age at will and at pleasure, but never leaves the duty he has taken upon himself, nor will he ever drop it until his work is done. He is the spiritual bond and link of the various bodhisattvas and buddhas of the Hierarchy of Compassion with superior worlds and with us and the lower beings of our round. This land of Sambhala is described as a place of great beauty, surrounded by a high range of mountains. It is said that no human eye will ever see it unless permitted to see it. It is said that to this land of Sambhala go those who are "called" there, sometimes to return and sometimes to remain; and that there, supreme over all the Masters, reigns the human aspect of this Wondrous Being, the Great Initiator, the Great Sacrifice.

These are the teachings; and it is further said that from this land, spiritually, continually, and also in actual physical shape at cyclical critical periods, go forth Masters into the world. Can any thoughtful and spiritual mind read H. P. Blavatsky's story and history, what she says and what she did, without reading between the lines and behind the words? Have we ever taken it into our hearts how much it meant for her, and to her, when she spoke of her "going home"? Have we ever considered what might have been incarnate in that woman-body? The saviors take up bodies, sometimes, in this manner, as they please from age to age, and sex itself matters little, though usually man-bodies are selected. Such physical body-instruments as are most appropriate for the work to be accomplished are the ones chosen.

We are further told that these four kumras of whom we have read this evening — "higher than the 'Four' is only ONE" — are spiritually and originally the four celestial bodhisattvas of the four globes of our round, and by correspondence of the four completed root-races of our earth, higher than whom there is none on earth except this ONE. Let us take these wonderful teachings into our hearts and make them a part of us! There is infinite beauty in them, hope unspeakable; there is spiritual life, there is intellectual health.

What is the matter with men's minds? Does not every one of us know that the average human being won't take truth when he sees it, unless it accord with his preconceptions? And why is this? Because his mind is so full of and so confused with his own brain-mind ideas, with his own opinions, which he thinks are so much superior to anything that comes to him from any other source, especially if from an impersonal source. We are all in the same mental condition; we are all cursed with these molds of mind which blind us. Every one of us, in different degrees, doubtless, some less than others; but we are all cursed with it by our own will, and all we need to do is to exercise our will and break these molds of mind, in order to let in the light, and the spiritual life, and the understanding, yea, and holy compassion. What keeps all these out of our minds and hearts as an active force except these molds of mind? "Give up your life if ye would find it."

Sometimes men may accuse you and say that you are atheists because you do not believe in a personal God. Let me read just here what a great Greek thinker said on that subject when he was accused of "atheism." And let me say, before reading: atheist meant among the Greeks one who did not accept the gods of the multitude, the mythologic gods of the State. It was no such term of opprobrium and hatred as it has become under the Christian theological dispensation. It meant rather, "You are a radical!" — not much if anything more. But the Christians have turned that perfectly legitimate word — which meant one who accepted not the gods of the State — into an expression of hatred, signifying moral degradation. Remember that the Christians themselves were called atheists by the pagans, simply because they did not accept the mythologic gods of the State; and the Christians, when they became powerful, retaliated in kind, and called the pagans atheists, because they refused to accept the Jewish-Christian God, Jehovah.

But what said Epicurus, called by later ages than his own an atheist, and a sensationalist, and possibly by every other evil-sounding epithet which men in hatred can heap upon one whom they dislike? "The gods are, yet they are not what the multitude imagine them to be. The man who denies the existence of the gods worshiped by the multitude is neither an infidel nor an atheist; but he who thinks the gods are what the multitude hold, is an atheist and impious."

Now our time for this evening is drawing to a close. We take up the questions above spoken of. These questions may have occurred, doubtless have occurred, to each one of us; and perhaps we have searched for answers. I will give them as if they had been asked from the floor here:

I understood you to say in the Thursday meeting, one week ago, that Jesus and Apollonius were nirmanakayas. In Isis Unveiled, volume II, page 159, H. P. B. says that while Jesus and others were united to their spirits permanently, Apollonius and others of his class were so united only at intervals. I should think a nirmanakaya would be permanently united to his spirit, when working on this earth.

This question has been largely answered by what we have already explained to be the meaning of a bodhisattva. A nirmanakaya is a state assumed by or entered into by a bodhisattva. When that state is ended the nirmanakaya ends. Kaya means "body," "vehicle." Therefore, Sankaracharya, Krishna, Lao-tse, Jesus, were avataras in differing degrees. There was a divine ray which came at the cyclic time of each such incarnation, and the connecting link, the flame of mind, was provided in each such case by a member of the Hierarchy of Compassion. But these avataras were not all equally great. Apollonius, while not an avatara, was a nirmanakaya — a bodhisattva. As said before, the bodhisattva stands actually, in the Hierarchy of Compassion, higher than an avatara, in the same way as a man who has gained divinity through his own efforts, and remains behind in the world of men out of compassion for it, and in order to help it spiritually, really stands higher than the devas or gods in their crystallized cold purity.

Jesus, and others such as Krishna and Lao-tse, were united to their spirits permanently. Obviously this means not the physical bodies of those great men, but that the particular atma-buddhic ray which was called on earth Jesus, or Krishna, or Lao-tse, informed men who naturally were always united to their spirits, though each manifested through a bodhisattva-nirmanakaya. They could be nothing else. They could not be an avatara through a being inferior to a bodhisattva. Apollonius and the Bodhisattva Gautama and others of his noble type, were not permanently allied to their spirits, or rather were not merely, solely, atma-buddhic rays, because they were men made perfect through experience: personal men become semidivine, and actually, as said, such a being stands far higher than a spiritual ray or monad per se, because such as the bodhisattvas are the fine flowers of evolution.

Next question:

At one Thursday evening meeting, it was declared that the words of the Sermon on the Mount were not the words of Jesus, but gatherings of ancient wisdom compiled by some later writer. I don't understand just how in Katherine Tingley's addresses, etc., this Sermon and Jesus are always placed together as one being the author of the other. I got the impression at this meeting that Jesus was merely an Initiate Jew, but not nearly of such grand stature as to command the adoration of all Christians. However, perhaps I did not hear correctly.

Our question is here framed in a most careful manner. In the first place, then, it is not to be said, and it was not said, that the Sermon on the Mount was not the logia or "words" of Jesus. What was said, inadequately doubtless on account of the shortness of time, was that the Sermon on the Mount, as we now have it in the New Testament, was in all probability composed in much the same manner as the four canonical Gospels were composed. Doubtless it is based on the logia and sayings of the Master, Jesus. Unquestionably a man, Jesus, lived. Unquestionably he had a school. Unquestionably he had his disciples. Unquestionably he taught them and his sayings were treasured by his disciples; but, as time went on, much was forgotten, and they were revised and edited, and we now have them in the form in which they appear in the New Testament. This was rendered easy enough by the fact that a good deal in those writings was on matters of more or less common philosophical, or even esoteric, knowledge, more or less current in the thought of the day, and it required but little skill to weave together these ideas into a more or less logical whole. The very fact that the well-known contradictions and incongruities in the four Gospels, when compared, prove various redactions by different writers shows that they were compiled from differing bases of theory. For the theosophist, certain expressions used therein show him that the esotericism of Syria played a large part in their compilation, as was natural enough. Jesus taught universal truths; his half-instructed followers misunderstood much. Those expressions and terms were used in the Mystery Schools of the eastern Mediterranean world of that period, but do not belong to our School; and as Jesus certainly belonged to our School, the presumption is, as said, that his sayings had been "touched up" and with extraneous matter formed into the four Gospels. Somebody or rather somebodies doubtless thought the scattered sayings of the Teacher could be improved upon — made "more clear and easy."

Such seems to be the fate of nearly all great teachings. There is absolutely no preventive of it except the faithful hearts of men and women who stand to the death for the pure teachings of the one who gave them light and an awakened inner life. Let us never forget it!

Our questioner was correct in the impression he received that Jesus was stated to be an Initiate Syrian — a Jew if you like. We speak now of Jesus the man; but I do not think that we ever said that he should command, in any circumstances, the "adoration" of the Christians or of anybody else, because such worship is a thing precisely forbidden to all followers of the truth — impersonal and ineffable. That idea is a misunderstanding of our meaning by the questioner.

Here is another question:

Another perplexing thing to me is the many different ways in which the 7, 9, and 10 principles of man and the universe are enumerated. In Instructions Nos. I and II by H. P. Blavatsky, it is said that atman is not really a principle of man at all, but that the auric envelope makes up the seventh. Yet in our esoteric meetings, atman is often spoken of as belonging to man. The esoteric and exoteric enumeration of these principles differs, and often manas is called but one principle, then again divided into two and the lower manas joined with the kama principle, etc.

These well-taken points, of course, are something that each one must solve for himself, by studying the literature which we already have, so ably written by our older students. Of necessity the seven principles are subject to different methods of enumeration, because each method of enumeration or presentation in diagrammatic or paradigmatic form merely shows another vista of the truth, shows another facet or way of looking at the one jewel. So a man, if he were in India, who desired to study that wonderful monument of beauty, the Taj Mahal, would not merely look at it from the front and then go away, but would go inside and study it in detail; and go to the back of it, and to the right and to the left, thus seeing all sides of it, meanwhile gathering all information possible from authorities. In much the same way the seven principles, or the ten, are subject to different methods of presentation. As a matter of fact, atman is put as the seventh principle, because it is the permanent root of our being; but if we knew the kama principle were that root, then it should be called the seventh, or rather the first or highest, as being the root of our being; or the manas, under similar conditions, should be called the seventh. The atman is put as the first or highest because the seven principles of man are considered in a generalizing way, and the atman or self being the root or the highest element of being is considered as one of the seven principles, though in reality it is a universal principle.

Our fourth question shows how deeply our questioner has thought:

The doctrine of cycles, and the exact number of years the human race will take in one manvantara or a Day and Night of Brahma to reach the 7th race and 7th round, taken in conjunction with the doctrine of free will, always somewhat puzzles me. Why does not man's free will and failures continually keep upsetting the exact number of years it takes him to reach to certain future rounds and races? In Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic, Katherine Tingley says that humanity has passed the worst point, the crucial point, in its evolution, and that no powers in heaven and hell can stay its progress, but yet she keeps on talking to humanity as if it were on the brink of destruction.

In the first place, in the large sweep of things, taking the seven rounds as a kalpa or as a whole, and even more strongly so as regards the solar kalpa, that is, the cycle of the solar system, the exact number of years of even a human's many incarnations is definite and set, in much the same way as the number of turns (or days and nights) which our globe, the earth, makes in one year, or one revolution around the sun. In other words, the number of days is set and determined in a year, or the number of days in a lunar cycle or month. But while that is so in the general sweep of things, the doctrine of free will which man has is a very real truth, and man's failures or successes do work to retard or to hasten the number of a human being's incarnations, for instance — which briefly covers the question our questioner has asked.

The total number is set; but just as the bodies of the solar system, the planets, as is known to astronomers, sometimes due to their perturbations are occasionally a little behind or a little ahead in time, nevertheless in the long run they "arrive on time," as if they were endowed with consciousness, and had to arrive at the goal at the time when the hour is set therefor. So man's free will can alter the course or time periods of his incarnations, but not their number. In any round, in any root-race, he can change them in that respect, but he will have to pay for it by karmic retribution, for a reaction sets in; and there will be an adverse current running the other way. Shall we say, finally, that man has no free will because he is bound to a globe which he cannot voluntarily leave? Of course not, although he is, nolens volens, carried around the sun by our globe's annual course. There is much more that might be said to clarify this point, but it is too strictly esoteric to speak of here.

As regards Katherine Tingley's words, permit me to point out that our questioner has quoted her exactly, as far as the sense goes. It is a fact that we have passed the worst point, the crucial point, in our evolution. It was the middle of the fourth race of this fourth round. Things could not have been worse from the spiritual viewpoint in our entire manvantara. It was the midmost or lowest point of several cycles. We, as a racial body, passed through it successfully, but many, many entities fell and took the downward path. "But yet she keeps on talking to humanity as if we were on the brink of destruction" — do not you know that even in this fifth root-race we have not yet reached the middle point of the fourth primary subrace thereof — its middle and therefore dangerous point? And that the great racial catastrophe due for our fifth root-race has therefore not yet come upon us? As H. P. Blavatsky pointed out in 1887 or 1888, the great tidal waves and earthquakes occurring in the last few thousand years seem to be premonitions of what a few more thousands of years will bring upon us with augmented force.

The last question is:

The names given to the Absolute in its different manifestations are confusing to me (or perhaps just hard to remember). In Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms man's higher self is called Iswara, in the Bhagavad-Gita, Purusha; again it is often called atman. In Chapter viii of the Bhagavad-Gita the names adhyatman, adhibhuta, adhidaivata, adhiyajnia, brahman, and so forth, are all used with very subtle differences of meanings.

They are; but the meanings are also explained in the first part of Bhagavad-Gita, chapter 8. We may here point out that even as in the arrangements of the seven principles in the various books, these names are attempts to show other or different views of the one thing.

In conclusion, we will translate these five Sanskrit names: adhyatman means the "original atman or self," equivalent to Paramatman, or supreme atman, the highest of the hierarchy. Adhibhuta means that supreme thing, or the higher egoic principle or "original element," in us coming over from other manvantaras; it is, so to say, the incarnating essence of the element. Adhidaivata means "more divine," the highest part of all from the serial standpoint, the hierarchical standpoint, considering various stages. Adhiyajna means the greater, the "superior sacrifice."

Krishna in the high spiritual sense was the greater sacrifice, the primal sacrifice, the first initiator on the part of the Hierarchy of Compassion, a sacrifice through pure love and compassion, than which, in men, there is nothing more sublime, because it makes us as one of the gods. Brahman, the last word, is, as we all know, a Sanskrit word of which the essential root means "expansion"; it is that part of the celestial economy which first initiates manifestation, the expansion of the One into the many.


Chapter 23

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