The Seven Jewels of Wisdom and the Seven Stages of Initiation

By Scott J. Osterhage

Gde Purucker spoke myriad times throughout his life to diverse groups of people, but his mission was always clear: a universal brotherhood, composed of all sentient beings, whose daily practice is the truest altruism. Much of his work revolved around illuminating the teachings which H. P. Blavatsky set out for humanity in her writings, often hidden under seeming contradictions, circuitous windings, blinds, and veiled language. Many students need a hand to free themselves from these webs. G. de Purucker helps wonderfully when he explains, defines, and simply throws the light of knowledge on her teachings.

In this process of clarification, G. de Purucker outlined what he termed the "seven jewels of wisdom." Briefly they are as follows, stated in his own words:

The ancient wisdom tells us that there are seven doctrinal keys to wisdom and future initiations. . . . These seven keys we may call sapta-ratnani, the "seven jewels" or "gems," or "treasures," and they are as follows. First, that operation of nature — using nature in the sense of the absolute, total aggregation of all that is, inside and outside, . . . everywhere — which in man manifests as reimbodiment, or reincarnation, can be briefly expressed as the change of his vehicle or body when his inner state or condition changes; for by the operations of nature he is finally called to gravitate towards, or must go to, another state or condition and place. This is called death, but it is another form of life. — Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, pp. 188-9

The second key is karma, the doctrine of action and reaction.

Karma is in no sense of the word fatalism on the one hand, nor what is popularly known as chance, on the other hand. It is essentially a doctrine of free will, for naturally the entity which initiates a movement or action — spiritual, mental, psychological, physical, or other — is responsible thereafter in the shape of consequences and effects that flow therefrom, and sooner or later recoil upon the actor or prime mover.
Since everything is interlocked and interlinked and interblended with everything else, and no thing and no being can live unto itself alone, other entities are of necessity, in smaller or larger degree, affected by the causes or motions initiated by any individual entity; but such effects or consequences on entities, other than the prime mover, are only indirectly a morally compelling power, in the true sense of the word moral. — Occult Glossary, pp. 82-3

The third jewel is

the doctrine of interpenetrating beings or existences, otherwise called the doctrine of hierarchies, which are also inseparable and universally interpenetrating planes or spheres. Everything exists in everything else. There are, in strict truth, no absolute divisions anywhere, neither high nor low, neither within nor without, neither right nor wrong, nor up nor down. Fundamentally, there is naught but an eternal Is and an eternal Now. As the ancient Stoics said so finely, "Everything interpenetrates everything else." The very atmosphere we breathe, for instance, is vibrant and living with the multitudinous lives; the monadic essences or lives are in the air we breathe, in our bones, in our blood, in our flesh, in everything. Think of it, then; let your thought go free, release yourself inwardly. Let your imagination carry you into the wonders that these keys open up to our minds. Conscientious study of the ancient wisdom and a pure and unselfish life will be your unfailing guides.
The fourth key is the doctrine of swabhava, the doctrine of the essential characteristic of any entity, of any spiritual radical; the doctrine also of self-generation or self-becoming in manifestation, thus affirming one's responsibility in and for oneself. This is the most abstruse, the most mystic, of the four keys, hitherto mentioned, for actually it is the key to the other three keys. — Fundamentals, p. 189

The fifth jewel, evolution or unfolding of latent potentials from within, "is the key to self-conscious being and existence, . . . for the entire aim, method, and operation of universal being is the raising of the inferior to the superior; and this great work cannot ever be achieved by following the 'path for oneself,' . . ." (ibid.).

The sixth jewel is the doctrine expressed here also by two compound words of contrasted sense: first amrita-yana, a Sanskrit word meaning "immortality-vehicle," "carriage or bearer, or rather path, of immortality," and referring to the individual man; and the other word is pratyeka-yana, a Sanskrit word meaning (in paraphrase) the "path of each one for himself." It is impossible to translate this latter compound word into English by a single word. Both the idea and the vocable do not exist in English. It may perhaps be approached by the theosophic idea latent in the word personality; and the mysterious relation of individuality to personality is included in these two compound catchwords or technical terms; and therefrom hangs an entire doctrine or department of thought of the wonderful philosophy of occultism, the esoteric doctrine, . . .
Now, the last or the seventh jewel, counting upwards, is called atma-vidya, literally meaning the "knowledge of the self"; this compound is only a catchword as are the others, but it imbodies and hides a doctrine which is truly sublime. . . .
. . . the main and essential meaning of this wondrous doctrine, running all through it, is this, which is its keynote: how the One becomes the many; and this is the most difficult problem that the human spirit has ever attempted to solve. — Ibid., pp. 193-5

G. de Purucker also gave as seven the stages of initiation. In this connection, H. P. Blavatsky, in her small but potent book The Voice of the Silence, listed seven keys to the seven portals or stages of initiation:

These Portals lead the aspirant across the waters on "to the other shore." Each Portal hath a golden key that openeth its gate; and these keys are: —
1. Dana, the key of charity and love immortal.
2. Sila, the key of Harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action.
3. Kshanti, patience sweet, that nought can ruffle.
4. Viraga, indifference to pleasure and to pain, illusion conquered, truth alone perceived.
5. Virya, the dauntless energy that fights its way to the supernal Truth, out of the mire of lies terrestrial.
6. Dhyana, whose golden gate once opened leads the Narjol [Naljor, Adept] toward the realm of Sat [reality, truth] eternal and its ceaseless contemplation.
7. Prajna, the key to which makes of a man a God, creating him a Bodhisattva, son of the Dhyanis.
Such to the Portals are the golden keys. — Part 3, pp. 47-8

Let us take these seven keys to the stages of initiation given by HPB and reconcile them with G. de Purucker's seven jewels, which he tells us "represent in doctrinal form the seven stages of initiation" (Fundamentals, p. 258). First we have the concepts of reincarnation and of that love which inheres in the ancient concept of charity. As spiritual beings, we live many times, growing and learning from our experience. Our personality in each of our earth-lives is like one of many pearls strung on the thread of our imperishable individuality. One reason we reincarnate is to learn the lessons life has to teach us, no matter how long it takes. The supreme lesson at the heart of the teachings of all the sages and seers has always been love — that undying love for all sentient beings which is realization that All is One.

Karma and harmony are the next two. The universal law of cause and effect acts to restore harmony and allows us to learn from always meeting the results of our choices. Each of us is responsible for our fate and character, through our acts and thoughts the sole creators of our present and future. Karma is not in the least retributive as commonly understood, but is the restoration of universal equilibrium. Karma is that law which restores harmony throughout the vast spheres of Being.

Next we have hierarchies and patience. As it is above, so it is below, among the many interblending states and beings that form our living universe. Everything from the subatomic to the supergalactic is at its heart an evolving center of consciousness. Our individual path through this great hierarchy or ladder of life is one that does not stop with this lifetime. Countless eons comprise our journey through the various stages, and therefore we learn the lesson of patience. There is no hurry, as we are always in the middle of Duration. Nature does not move by jumps and starts, and we are part of that eternal construct. Fourth, we have individuality and the dissolution of illusion. Each being is the expression of its unique selfhood, and its present status is the result of eons of self-development. All evolution comes forth from within the individual, from the innate urge of its inner divinity to express itself. During our journey of self-discovery we have accreted around us many interpenetrating principles which are not in themselves the undying portion of us, but which allow us to express and learn about our world. Our task is to move beyond and within these forms — beyond the illusory aspects of life, and into that which is permanent, based on the underlying divine aspects of the cosmos.

Evolution and energy are our next two ideas. Nature expresses itself through duality and rhythmic pulsation, so that every entity evolves forth its inner potentials through endless cycles of activity and rest. We are propelled by an inner impulse which is identical with the heart of the universe. Its forward thrust is evident when we see the great spiral galaxies in the night sky. The forward action of the whole beats constantly in our breast, impelling us on and through our lives. Our will for self-directed evolution drives us ever onward in our quest to become a lasting force for good.

The two paths and the contemplation of Sat come sixth. The age-old struggle between selfishness and altruism, the constant choices we each must make in our daily life, and our aspirations between caring most about ourselves or centering our attention on others' welfare, comprise the two paths. When we realize that Sat — the one eternal and absolute Reality and Truth — is the heart of the universe, we long for its realization in realms of illusion, and for the bringing of our minds and lives in line with this essence of nature. As HPB suggested: "Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance" (The Voice of the Silence, p. 24).

Lastly, we have self-knowledge and prajna, "the making of man a god." The ancient phrase "Know thyself!" instantly comes to mind. We can attain all knowledge through self-knowledge since at the core of our being is the one transcendent Cause, the root of all. Every part mirrors the whole, containing all its capacities in potential, so that both looking outside us and looking within eventually achieve the same goal.

This brief correlation of these two sevenfold groups shows how, working as a system of thought or framework for growth, the jewels of G. de Purucker arise naturally. He goes on to explain that

They are, really, a short synopsis in the form of philosophical principles — these seven jewels — of all possible human knowledge; and it depends upon each one of us how much of that knowledge we can understand.
You probably also have noticed that not one of these jewels can be fully understood if considered alone. They complement each other and explain each other. Every one of them is explained by the other six; each one of them explains the other six and complements them. Please do not imagine for a moment that they are separate and distinct compartments of knowledge in the materialistic sense. There is but one knowledge, one truth, as there is but one life, and one ultimate being; but . . . these seven jewels, are different facets, so to say, of that truth, different pillars, to change the figure, in the temple of divine wisdom. — Fundamentals, pp. 271-2

When we reach the fourth level of initiation, we strive to identify with our individuality within. As a pivot point between the three steps below and the three above, G. de Purucker offers this remark, the last sentence of which comprises a lifetime of study and reflection in itself:

The first three initiations, or stages or degrees in initiation, are composed of teachings. With the fourth degree, there begins another method. What is this method?
It is one of the fundamental teachings of occultism that nothing can be truly known which is not experienced, lived through. As a matter of fact, we all know this, as it is common experience. One of the so-called laws of our being, one of the fundamental conditions of our human nature is this, that thoroughly to know a thing, thoroughly to enter into it, thoroughly to understand it, you must be it, you must become it. You cannot tread the Path until you become and are that Path. — Ibid., p. 258

(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2000; copyright © 2000 Theosophical University Press)


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