G. de P. — Are there any communications this evening?
Secretary — Yes.
G. de P. — Please read.
Secretary — "Dear G. de P. and Teacher: All through the study and preparation of the symposium on the Buddha, we felt that there was an inner meaning underlying the whole life of the Buddha, and several points definitely suggested themselves to us as being distinctly esoteric.
"Would you be willing to devote a KTMG meeting to the esoteric interpretation of the exoteric life of the Buddha?
"Those words which you spoke at the close of our meeting on last Sunday evening urged us to ask you this because we believed that they were the key to all knowledge. Knowing also that you have so often spoken of the splendor of the Buddha's character, and have held him up to us as a supreme example, we felt that if we knew more of the meaning of his life it would help us to understand our later teachers; and also, we felt that your interpretation would help us to make the buddhic splendor even more real.
"A Group of your Students."
G. de P. — This is a beautiful communication. We shall devote a part of the evening to it. I don't think that it would be fair, however, to give all our evening's time to this one subject. There are other reasons too, which strike me immediately as making it inadvisable to say too much regarding the life on earth, as a man, of one who has been rightly and properly called the light of the world.
He was one of the two buddhas of our present fifth root-race. He took human form, that is to say, incarnated in the body of a boy-child, according to our own esoteric records, in the year 643 BC, in a town in the foothills of the Himalayas, commonly known in the ancient Buddhist records as Kapilavastu. His father was an Indian raja, his mother was an Indian princess, the daughter of an Indian raja. The name of the clan, as Occidental scholars use the word, in which he was born was the Sakya clan, and this word Sakya accounts for the title that was in later years frequently given to him, Sakya-muni, the muni of the Sakyas: muni being a Sanskrit word which means sage or recluse. His father's name, according to the exoteric legends, was Suddhodana. This is a Sanskrit word which means "pure water," or "pure flow." The name of his mother was Maya, or sometimes Mayadevi, meaning "illusion." The child that was born to him was called Rahula, his son. His wife's name was Yasodhara, also a Sanskrit name which might be translated as "holder of glory" or "of splendor."
All these names, as is obvious, immediately suggest that the entire exoteric story of the Buddha was a symbolic one, showing him to have been born of a mother called Illusion and a male parent called Pure Wave, in other words Pure Inspiration, which is the food of the mind; his wife's name being Bearer of Splendor would signify some great spiritual quality that he possessed and which surrounded him. And yet, as far as I know, these names were the actual names of the individuals in question, and really pertained to his parents and to his wife. I do not know of any reason to regard the general exoteric story of his birth as being wholly symbolic. Every Sanskrit scholar in European countries knows by heart the beautiful, tender, and touching story of the Lord Buddha. As it has come down to us, there is much of legend about it, of course, but every part of these legendary accounts has a basis of esoteric fact.
His son, Rahula, was an unusual man, but yet was a fourth-round man; whereas the Lord Buddha himself was a sixth rounder, which means that he had preceded the general evolution of humanity in this fourth round by two rounds — he had run ahead by two rounds of the general evolutionary status of the majority of mankind today. And this was actually so. His inner constitution had through the ages past ascended through the entire planetary chain, time and time again, imbodying itself on each globe of our planetary chain, so that at the time when this great soul was last born as a man, as Siddhartha of Kapilavastu, the intermediate part of his constitution, or his human part, was in actual fact a sixth rounder. He was then as all mankind will be in the sixth round of the seven rounds which comprise the entire cycle of the planetary manvantara.
The Buddha did not teach anything new invented by himself. He taught merely the wisdom of the gods, the secrets and hid mysteries of the sanctuary, known to a few initiated Brahmanas of his own time, but by them very carefully hid away from the majority of mankind, according to the ancient traditions which had been followed faithfully since the middle point of the fourth root-race. He brought some of these secrets out, and incorporated them in his magnificent philosophy; and these secrets thus form the basic elements of his teachings known in modern times as Buddhism. It has been said of Gautama the Buddha that he was the very incarnation of wisdom and love, and this statement is true.
He was, in fact, not merely overshadowed by, but was the actual manifesting vehicle of his own divine inner being, his own inner god. That inner god manifested through the human intermediate part, and even through the physical vehicle, so that his very presence irradiated wisdom, love, compassion, and peace, and the inner buddhic splendor. He also was a human being of great and outstanding physical beauty, far, far, superior to what human beings usually call a very handsome man. He was tall. He was majestic in deportment. He had all the attributes of sublime manhood through which shone the divinity within.
You all know the story how even as a child he manifested transcendent powers, and there is a substantial basis of fact in this story. Being a sixth rounder, even in childhood he was what in modern times would be called a genius, but a genius on all lines, not merely on one line like some of these curious children who are occasionally born as musical prodigies, or as mathematical prodigies, or what not; but in all lines of human development interiorly he showed forth the transcendent powers of the inner divinity. That is the basis of the exoteric story that even as a little boy he confounded all his teachers, confounded the masters of wisdom of his time. He seemed to know everything without having studied, and it was largely true.
There are very, very, very few sixth rounders. They are so few indeed, that their appearance comes only at long intervals, and they are all of buddhic standing; not necessarily all buddhas, because the buddhas are sixth rounders in the seventh or last degree or stage of the sixth round, but there are other sixth rounders not so high, who do, at rare, rare intervals appear. There are also such human beings as fifth rounders who are by no means so spiritually elevated, so intellectually sublime, as the sixth rounders are; but these fifth rounders are fairly frequent occurrences even in our fourth round. They come fairly frequently in time and they are the outstanding geniuses of the human race, the really great men, the high and noble spiritual teachers, the founders of religions and of great world philosophies. As a matter of fact, an advanced fifth rounder is what you would call a mahatma, a Master, an advanced one. Even among the mahatmas, seventh-degree sixth rounders are rare. There are some who are in the earlier stages of the sixth-round period; but the Lord Buddha was one who might be called a sixth rounder in the seventh or last stage of the sixth round, therefore almost a god incarnate in flesh.
There are also fifth rounders who are in the early stages of fifth-round development, and these are what would probably be called superior or very exceptional men and women of a much higher spiritual and intellectual type than the majority of men are who belong, of course, to the fourth round.
You all know the story how his parents, alarmed at the signs of amazing wisdom and intellectual power that he manifested, and warned by the wise men of the time who lived more or less in the spiritual life and light, and hence could foresee, tried to hold him to the family life, tried to prevent his inner nature being aroused by the sorrow and sadness of the world. All these exoteric stories are based on grounds of actual fact, although the exoteric stories are more or less embroidered. But the time finally came when the Buddha within the young man began to show itself clearly; and when that happened, then the awakening came to him even as a young man, after his son Rahula was born. He left his home, went into the Himalayas, tried this discipline and tried that, investigated all things, seeking wisdom, seeking the greater light, withdrawing more and more into his own inner being, being more and more irradiated by the divine splendor and the brilliance of the divinity within; until one day he sat himself down under the Bo tree as it is called, the Bodhi tree — which means the tree of wisdom, so called because there he became the full-blown buddha.
It was prophesied of him in his childhood by the wise men of the time, and prophesied very truly, that he would either become a buddha shaking the world, shaking the hearts of men, with his teachings — or a Chakravarti. A Chakravarti means one who "turns the wheel," and is used of the great world-kings — world conquerors is the way in which the warlike Occidental is accustomed to explain the term. But all these Chakravartis are good men, great men, ethically speaking, not mere world conquerors driven by ambition and the hunger to control and to possess.
Under the Bodhi tree, at that eventful time, the inner buddha entered into the consciousness of the outer human being, and the Buddha thenceforth was manifest. Thereafter he set forth on his wanderings, on his pilgrimage over India, teaching, gathering disciples, but always teaching, teaching, teaching. He taught the esoteric wisdom, then held closely secret by the few Brahmanas of his time who knew it. He taught it, explained it, developed it, set it forth, and those who were great enough to receive this, and who surrounded him as his chosen pupils, became the arhats, a Sanskrit word which means the "Worthies," that is, the chosen disciples who surrounded the teacher, and who became the depositaries of his great and sublime system in so far as he was able to communicate it to them.
So the years passed. The stir that he made in the land was great. Pupils flocked to him from every quarter. His name spread far and wide. He performed works of wonder, of human kindliness. He taught the gospel of love and compassion and pity; of love without bounds, infinite, taking the universe within the compass of its reach. He taught the essential oneness, the spiritual-divine oneness, of all things with each other, the spiritual-divine oneness of the human being with the spiritual universe. He sent out his disciples two by two all over India, and told them to go farther afield, which in many cases they did then and in times afterwards to come.
When he was eighty years old and his hair was white, the legend states that he lay himself down one day, and his last words, according to the Buddhist scriptures, were: "My Brethren, all things are composite. Work out your own salvation with diligence." Then he passed into nirvana: passed through all the stages of consciousness from the human stage up to the highest spiritual stage, descended the ladder of consciousness again, and opened his eyes, and looked around. A second time he ascended the steps of consciousness to divinity and descended the steps again, opened his eyes and looked upon his disciples who were surrounding him. The third time he ascended all the steps of consciousness to divinity and as the exoteric legends put it, the Blessed One expired.
Our own esoteric records are different. This, as just described, was what truly happened when he died in the physical body, but that occurred twenty years after his attainment of nirvana at eighty years, so that the Lord Buddha lived to be one hundred years old as a man, and physically died in his hundredth year, having attained the nirvana in his eightieth year.
Now as he was born in 643 BC following the Occidental Christian chronology, he therefore physically died in 543; and it was in 563 therefore that he attained the nirvana. Among these facts lies the mistake that the Southern School of Buddhism makes in confusing the nirvana of the Lord Buddha, which he entered into at eighty years, with the actual passing, or throwing off I should say, of the physical vehicle — his death.
For twenty years after his nirvana, he lived, but retired from the sight of men, teaching only a few of his chosen arhats. In other words — and I am going to speak plainly — he went to the Himalayas, he went to Sambhala where he is Chief. You have heard me speak of Sambhala before. At the time when he cast off the physical body he remained — and still remains — as a nirmanakaya, more exactly as the buddha of the fifth race, or rather still more accurately to speak, as one of the two buddhas of the fifth race — the first one. This buddha is at present the spiritual head of the Great White Lodge. He remains as a nirmanakaya still, known to and in constant conference with the mahatmas and chohans. He is therefore our own supreme Head, and it is he who can truly be called the Silent Watcher of our fifth root-race. Not the Silent Watcher of the planet, but of our fifth root-race.
Bear these few facts in mind, which I have tried to outline to you as briefly as I can in order not to take up too much time. You will immediately see why the mahatmas, in The Mahatma Letters published by Brother Trevor Barker, frequently speak of "our Lord," meaning the Lord Sanggyas, which is the title given to the Lord Buddha in Tibet, and why they speak of him also as our Chief. This is also the esoteric reason why the name of Mr. Sinnett's first book was called Esoteric Buddhism, a name actually chosen by the teachers themselves, and used by H. P. Blavatsky, because that name involved a literal truth.
The esoteric-exoteric religion which the Lord Buddha taught while he labored in the body among men on earth, and called Buddhism, is the outer form of the ancient wisdom-religion of mankind. Therefore it has been the greatest and the noblest of all the exoteric religions of historical times, and it is the least degenerated even today. Furthermore, this title, Esoteric Buddhism, was a true title. There is an esoteric Buddhism, and anyone who knows the facts can simply laugh quietly when the wiseacres of the Occident who think that they know everything about Buddhism quote the exoteric scriptures of Buddhism, and even words of the Lord Buddha himself, and say that there was no esoteric school of the Buddha. There most certainly was, but it was truly esoteric, and therefore it is not known today. I wonder what these Occidental scholars think. If it were truly esoteric, it stands to reason that they would not know anything about it from the exoteric scriptures.
Those of you who are students of theosophy will see the logical, absolutely logical, necessity of an esoteric teaching, of an esoteric school wherein the deeper teachings are given: the profounder, broader, larger secrets of the universe and of man's constitution, which cannot be given out publicly because they cannot be understood without at least some real esoteric training.
When HPB spoke in later years in her Secret Doctrine about the mistake that was made in the name of Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism, it was a very wise and clever thing that she did. Every word that she wrote was true, yet it was a deliberate pulling of the wool over the eyes of those who thought they knew so much, that it blinded them and thus they could not see the truth. I have used the same policy myself. When I find that an esoteric teaching is being argued about, or mocked at, or misconstrued, then instead of trying to remedy the situation by denying it, or explaining it, I say something like this: "Why yes, of course, this is the way to look at it," apparently but not really agreeing with the proud brain-minds who cannot because they will not see. It is an ancient rule in our School that when a teaching is misunderstood or is in danger of being abused, then it must be veiled. This is a wise thing to do. When HPB said that if Mr. Sinnett had only called his book Esoteric Bodhism, or Esoteric Budhism, meaning "Esoteric Wisdom," it would have rightly expressed the teachings of the Masters, as far as it went, she made a true statement. Nevertheless, the title first given to the book was right, for it was indeed the esoteric teaching of the Lord Buddha which was in the background of the Masters' minds when they gave to Mr. Sinnett the knowledge that he received. It was in very truth Esoteric Buddhism.
Colonel Olcott took pansil, a Pali term meaning the five vows of Buddhism, in other words became a Buddhist. He did it in Ceylon, and more or less at the same time our own beloved HPB took pansil, the five vows, and became an exoteric Buddhist. For reasons of their own they did this; and yet in her Key to Theosophy and elsewhere HPB says very plainly that theosophy is not Buddhism. It is not Brahmanism. It is not Christianity. It is not Taoism. It is not Confucianism. It is not the ancient religion of the Magi, or Zoroastrianism; nor the religion of the ancient Egyptians. Of course not, because it is the heart of them all. It is not any exoteric religion in particular, but is the esoteric wisdom behind them all. Therefore it actually is Buddhism, Brahmanism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism. It is all these, but not any one of them in particular.
Do you see the clever way in which these matters must sometimes be told to an uninstructed and unenlightened public? You must be subtle in your minds, subtle in presentation of facts, but never untruthful. That is against the Law. Always tell the truth, but don't tell the whole truth. Sometimes it is advisable to tell the truth in a way which will not give the inner secrets out. But never tell an untruth. Sometimes it is wise to withdraw a teaching, and the way that is done is by covering it up with some later explanation. The latter explanation is perfectly true, but it is like veiling the first explanation, which was the deeper and the truer one. You understand?
Many Voices — Yes, certainly.
G. de P. — That is constantly done, and it is in this way that some of the most esoteric teachings of the ancient wisdom have been at times withdrawn from the world. The brain-minds of those who hear take the later explanation as being the greater light, instead of being the smaller light, and thus they deliberately pass by the greater light. Men forget.
Now even the Lord Buddha with his godlike wisdom and his godlike love made minor mistakes in his life. In his spiritual yearning to give to men truth, light, love, peace, on several occasions he went rather too far, opened the doors a little too widely — and there is always danger in this, great psychical and spiritual danger. Therefore he later did what his predecessors, the buddhas of the other root-races, did in similar cases, and probably what the buddhas of the sixth and seventh root-races may do. In order to correct what he had done in his boundless love for mankind, he provided, he became, he was, the intermediate part of the avatara Sankaracharya. Sankaracharya lived about half a century, as I recollect the dates, after the Buddha dropped the physical vehicle.
An avatara you will remember is a divine being, enlightening or overshadowing the Buddha's intermediate part or human soul, and this combination was born in a physical body. The teachings of Sankaracharya were on the whole just such as to correct that small excess of esoteric wisdom, which the Buddha in his boundless pity and love for mankind had given out. Sankaracharya taught the Advaita-Vedanta, that part of the Vedanta system in India which is called the Advaita, the non-dualistic Vedanta; and in its essentials it is so much like Buddhism that frequently Buddhists are called by their enemies Vedantists in disguise, and the Advaita-Vedantists are frequently called by their enemies Buddhists in disguise.
Some hundreds of years later than Sankaracharya there was born in Palestine a boy-child. This also was an avatara. A god had been waiting to manifest in the human sphere of consciousness, and the Lord Buddha as a nirmanakaya gave his human soul, so to speak, to provide the intermediate part, so that this divine principle or this god, could manifest on earth. This intermediate principle with its divine companion then incarnated in this boy-body. It requires a buddha, or at least one in most respects as lofty as a buddha, to enable a divine being to manifest in human form. This is an avatara; and this second avatara in later centuries was called Jesus the Christ.
Our Lord still remains as the Chief in Sambhala and exists as a nirmanakaya. He is still watching over the spiritual destinies of our own fifth root-race, because he is the first buddha of the two who are to come in our fifth root-race. The second buddha will not come until the end of our fifth root-race, which will be many many hundreds of thousands of years yet; millions of years as a matter of fact, some three and a half or four million years yet will our own fifth root-race endure on earth. But at the present time, at about the midpoint of our own fifth root-race, the seeds are being dropped into fifth-race soil, which seeds will grow into the beginnings of the sixth root-race. And it was the Lord Buddha who inaugurated this dropping of seed for the sixth root-race. That is one of the duties of the first buddha of any root-race.
There are many more mysteries, truly wonderful, that might be told about the Buddha Sanggyas as the Tibetans call him. You have heard of course about the reincarnations of the living buddhas in Tibet. This does not mean that the nirmanakaya, Gautama the Buddha, is the spiritual principle which passes from Teshu Lama to Teshu Lama, or Dalai Lama to Dalai Lama, or the really scores of instances in Tibet of the passing of a living buddha to a new body. That is not the idea involved in this reincarnation of the living buddhas. The idea is based on the following fact: that in addition to the buddha, the two buddhas of any root-race, there are other high and loftily spiritual human beings, who are not buddhas, but on the way to buddhahood. These are called bodhisattvas, a Sanskrit word which means "of the essence of bodhi," wisdom, the word bodhi, coming from the same Sanskrit root from which the word buddha comes. Now these bodhisattvas exist in various grades or degrees of spiritual advancement. There are some who are very high, some not so high, and some still not so high, of an inferior grade, but nevertheless they are all very greatly evolved spiritual human beings, and all are entitled to the name bodhisattva. They are all of them chelas of the racial buddha then in command of the spiritual forces of that race. Therefore in the present instance these bodhisattvas are disciples of the Holy One, the Blessed One, whom the world calls Gautama the Buddha.
These reincarnations of the living buddhas in Tibet are an actual fact. In the instances where they actually occur, these unusual men, when the time comes or when they wish to pass from the body in which they are living and working and teaching at the time to some other body, they can do so. It may be that the passage is to the body of a little child, then born or shortly to be born, or it may be that the passage is to the body of a young man, or to an adult even. But they can do it at will. The old body is simply dropped, dies, as men say; and all the rest of the constitution of that individual passes corporeally over into the new physical body.
Are there any questions that anyone would like to ask on this subject before we pass to something else?
Student — May I ask a little more about Christianity and its relation to Buddhism, as it, Christianity, came out into the world?
G. de P. — Yes. The original teachings of the avatara whom men in later times called Jesus, or Jesus Christ, were in all essential principles precisely the same as Buddhism, which is merely saying that the essential principles of both are the gupta-vidya of antiquity, the wisdom-teaching, the wisdom-religion, of the past ages. But the teaching and mission of Jesus very shortly proved to be a failure. This had to come.
The cyclic time for the avatara had come. He then appeared, but everything was working against the spiritual forces for which the avatara opened the way. The cycles of civilization were running downwards in every direction, in spiritual and psychological respects especially, and within less than one hundred years after the disappearance of the avatara Jesus, the body of teachings that Jesus had left behind, had degenerated. His disciples failed in practically every instance. In many cases they became ambitious for personal prominence and power. They allowed their judgment and their love for humanity to be distorted and twisted from what they thought was a good motive in order merely to make converts, to gain mere adherents. They thus also obscured and even changed the original teachings. They made them what they thought would be more simple and more easily understood. They took in a lot of extraneous material, this extraneous material having been in its origin spiritual teachings but then degenerated; and they incorporated this with the sublime teachings of the founder. Books were written, easy books, and conceived in a quasi-mythological and mystical style in order to make them more easily understood. These were the originals of the Gospels. They took some of the teachings of the Mystery-schools, perfectly true and beautiful and spiritual, and wove around the figure of the man, of the avatara, of the man-avatara Jesus, whom already they were beginning to forget, all these extraneous things, these mystery-teachings, both in doctrine and in ritual. Thus they succeeded in their perfectly honorable but very shortsighted desire to make their religion more easily comprehensible. They succeeded, I say, in making a purely exoteric religion. I wonder if my meaning is clear to you?
Many Voices — Yes.
G. de P. — This process was continued through several hundred years, so that the real inner illumination having been forgotten there remained only these mystical teachings, these quasi-esoteric, quasi-exoteric teachings, early imbodied in the Christian scriptures, especially in what were later called the Gospels.
There were perhaps scores of Gospels written, but finally only four prevailed as canonical — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Presumably these prevailed because they were the most popular and the most dignified. To these four Gospels were added certain other writings of very early adherents to the Christian faith, and to these writings were given the names of some of Jesus' own earliest disciples or followers as authors. Such were the Acts of Paul, and his Epistles to the Romans, and to the Ephesians and to the Philippians and to the Galatians, and so forth; also the Epistle of James. Finally there was added on to the assemblage of scriptures or writings thus gathered together what was called the Apocalypse, a Qabbalistic writing which had become a favorite among some mystically minded people of the time. What became later the Christian scriptural canon was probably finally established at or about the time of the first Nicaean Council.
At that time Christianity had practically become a dogmatic faith, as exoteric as it is today, and in fact more exoteric in a way than it is today. The Roman Empire, as the contemporary historians tell us, was then filled with the noise of religious squabbles, every sect fighting every other sect, bishops and delegates to religious councils or conventions continuously running hither and yon all over the Empire. As they had the right, at least in somewhat later times, to use the posts of the Empire, which in those days were saddle horses and carriages, even the imperial officials began to complain loudly that the business of the Empire could no longer be carried on efficiently because messengers of State were prevented from using the posts on account of the hordes of bishops and their satellites and the deacons who were running all over the place, chasing each other from Council to Council. These times offered a perfect phantasmagoria of religious thought and distempered enthusiasm.
Student — Is it permissible for us to know a little more of the nature of these seeds that are being prepared or will be strewn into the soil at the midtime of our root-race?
G. de P. — Yes. It is a very difficult subject to explain, but I will try to do so — difficult to explain because the thoughts are so unusual. It means first that certain human beings are being worked on, as far as karma will permit this to be done, in order to form a nucleus of more spiritually-minded human beings than the average men. This does not mean that these human beings are especially favored, because, of course, karma cannot be interfered with; and, as a matter of fact, it is really only those who are karmically ready for this increase in spiritual growth, who are worked upon by our Head and his helpers. It means that even in our present fifth root-race there are certain human beings who have advanced a little farther along the pathway of spiritual evolution than others have, and these are being carefully watched over and guided as the ages pass. When they are found as individuals in any one lifetime, when a touch of the buddhic splendor is seen, they are then watched over and guided as far as it is possible to do so. They are inspired to do better, to improve, to grow, as far as their karma permits. They receive especial instructions, especial training.
This is usually utterly unknown to those who receive these blessings. Nevertheless, these are the human seeds in preparation for the beginning of the sixth root-race. They will be and actually are the pioneers of the sixth root-race. And among these seeds there are always to be found a rare few, still more advanced than these special human seeds are, the rare few who are in the van of the others, and it is these who become chelas. Do you understand the idea now?
Many Voices — Yes.
G. de P. — Therefore it is part of the work of the first buddha of any root race to inaugurate this labor of preparing the human seed for the succeeding root-race. That is a part of his great duty. The first buddha of the two of any root-race comes at about the middle point of his root-race, passing on the light that he communicates to receptive minds, which in turn hand on that light from hand to hand, from mind to mind, from soul to soul. Thus are men spiritually guided, and the races of the future builded in their beginnings. This sowing or preparation takes place all over the world. But it is in the Americas both North and South, and especially in the North for a reason I have already explained to you, that these human seeds are most carefully watched and cultivated. It is true, however, that the first subrace of the sixth root-race will not only have its home in the northern part of the American continent, but this first subrace of the sixth root-race will also be born on the western coast — not necessarily in California, but all along the Pacific coast of the two Americas.
Are there any more questions on this topic, or shall we pass to some other theme?
Student — Did I understand from what you have just said that there was no deliberate intention of deceiving people in compiling the Christian scriptures, but that there was simply a confusion and ignorance?
G. de P. — That is more or less true. There may have been a few cases of deliberate deception. Personally I happen to think that there were such cases in which deliberate deceit was used, but this was undoubtedly due to the influence of the Brothers of the Shadow. But this very ignorance of which you speak, and also this very excess of kindliness of the earliest Christians, as well as their excess of unregulated enthusiasm, were used as fertile fields of action by the Brothers of the Shadow, who can work powerfully when the times are ripe for so doing. It was ignorance, and enthusiasm unguided by wisdom, which brought about the degeneration of Christianity within a hundred years after the disappearance of Jesus the avatara. Nevertheless his work had been done. There was enough of his influence and teaching left to provide a spiritual pabulum for the obscured minds of the European peoples during the Dark Ages — sufficient to provide a small focus of light, however dimly that light burned. Such Dark Ages needed a relatively obscure religious thought. A greater light would not have been accepted, because it would not have been understood. Do you understand now?
Student — Yes, thank you.
Student — I should like very much to know something about the cycles that made such a tragedy in human history possible as the failure of the work of an avatara. It must have been a strange concatenation of causes that brought about those cycles of religion.
G. de P. — It was. It was the kali yuga — events occurring more or less at the beginning of the kali yuga. The history of a race includes the history of a rise, a culmination in brilliance and power, and then a fall. It is the same with any nation of men, the same with any people, the same indeed with any individual human being. It is the same with us all so far as our bodies are concerned: birth, growth, vigor, normal life, activity, growth in brain-power, reaching a culmination of physical strength and mental energy, and then a gradual weakening, and finally decay and death. Such is nature's law. The avatara Jesus came at a time when the cycles — not only one but a gathering together as it were of four or five different cycles — were on the downward arc, running down. It was not his fault. That is not the way in which to look at the matter. He came at a time of a downwards-running cycle in order to sow some seeds at least of spiritual light, preceding a time which was going to be spiritually dark.
Indeed, there is usually more than one effort made by the teachers in such cases, so that in case one fail entirely there will be help from some other source. In the case of the Mediterranean peoples who were to pass on their light to the European peoples of the north and west, look to the history of Mithraism which ran Christianity close so far as power and influence went, so close, indeed, that it was only by a fluke of chance that Christianity prevailed over Mithraism.
Shortly before Mithraism fell, due to causes innate in its own system, it almost succeeded in becoming the state religion of the Roman Empire, for it was then accepted by the great, accepted by the armies of the Empire, accepted by the entire officialdom of the Empire. And Mithraism — shall I tell you why it failed?
Many Voices — Yes.
G. de P. — It was somewhat higher than Christianity, somewhat more spiritual, a good deal more esoteric; and as the cycles were running downwards, and running downwards fast, it finally lost its grip — and lost it very quickly once disintegration had begun — on the hearts and minds of the people. Mithraism one hundred years before it fell had almost grasped the dignity of being the official religion of the Roman Empire. It was Christianity with its more easy-going and more accommodating spirit, with its simpler teachings and weaker principles of thought and conduct — but which teachings and principles nevertheless happened to be more appropriate to the time and the environment, the circumstances, than Mithraism was — it was Christianity which, on account of these causes, finally prevailed.
Student — Would it be right to say that the breaking up that happened to the Theosophical Society was an event in human nature and in times similar to the event that happened to Christianity? Is there any similarity between the two?
G. de P. — There is a similarity. This similarity exists in the fact of the breaking into different bodies, into different sects — because there actually are sects in the theosophical movement today. We have to face the truth. We must keep theosophy pure, broad, deep, generous, and ourselves be great-hearted and forgiving in our work. We must do Masters' work!
But there is this difference in the parallel which you have drawn between Christianity and the modern theosophical movement. In our own theosophical movement, comprising all these various Theosophical Societies today, the break-up into these various Societies was deliberately engineered. Why? Because the teachers knew that if certain ones were not called out, called apart — I mean certain ones who could be depended upon — they would be swallowed up, lost, in the welter of religious and psychical superstition which had already begun to invade the theosophical movement before Judge died. Do you understand me?
Many Voices — Yes.
Student — In The Ocean of Theosophy Mr. Judge speaks of the Buddha as an avatara. Was this because he was actually the vehicle of his own inner god?
G. de P. — Of the Buddha as an avatara? Yours is a very difficult question to answer. The Buddha technically was not an avatara, and yet in a certain sense he was. Here is the explanation, if I can only make it clear to you. The Buddha per se is a spiritual principle, a ray from the Silent Watcher of the planet. This ray is from what is called the celestial buddha. When this ray illumines a great and noble human being with all his seven principles, who is born on earth as a man, you have the manushya-buddha, or human buddha. Such was the case with Siddhartha, Gautama the Buddha. He was born a man, although a sixth-round man. But this ray, this buddhic ray, illumined him in much the same fashion as the manasaputras entered and illumined the undeveloped manases of the third race, and inspired them. So, very much after this fashion did this ray from the Silent Watcher illumine Sakyamuni, and in this sense this ray became incarnate in the man. Do you understand?
Many Voices — Yes.
G. de P. — In principle it is the same process that makes technically an avatara. Therefore in that sense the Buddha was an avatara, but made so by a ray from the celestial buddha; whereas strictly speaking, technically speaking, an avatara is a divine being shining through the Buddha's intermediate psychological apparatus, which incarnates for that direct purpose in what will become when born a human infant. Do you see the difference? An avatara, therefore, is not a complete septenary human being born as men are.
An avatara has no past karma, never was born before, never will be born again. It is, as I have tried to describe it to you, like a brilliant flame passing over the horizon, enlightening the earth for a time and then vanishing. An avatara has no previous karma, has no future karma, never was born before, cannot be born again. In other words, an avatara is a supreme act of white magic done in order to bring divine influences and light to earth at certain cyclic times. Do you understand?
Many Voices — Yes.
Student — It has exercised my mind a great deal. I refer to the subject of the avataras of Vishnu. According to the Indian teaching, Vishnu reincarnated as the Boar, the Dwarf, the Tortoise, and also the other avataras — many times, and will come again. Is not Vishnu a god? Did not the gods have a past and evolve in some past manvantara? I thought perhaps you were speaking now of evolution in this manvantara. The problem is very difficult with that succession of avataras.
G. de P. — Your question is not very clear, but I think I understand you.
Student — You say that the ray flashed down. You said that once before, and I have been thinking of it a great deal in connection with the recurring avataras of Vishnu.
G. de P. — I think I see your point more clearly now. I have been speaking in general of an individual who on earth is an avatara. But the god part of the avatara of course has a past; the god also has an infinite future, just as he has had an infinite past; so also has had the buddha. But that particular act of sublime white magic, which produces this peculiar and temporary composition on earth which is called an avatara, is this flash of spiritual light on earth. Do you now understand me?
Student — Yes.
G. de P. — It is like a chemist bringing together certain chemical elements in order to produce a certain brilliant flame. That flame has no existence as an entity, either before or after its production. It comes and is gone. But Vishnu is a divine power, a god if you like, one of the three fundamental divinities of the solar system, originating in the heart of the solar system or the sun, and at certain epochs this divine power sends a ray from itself to manifest as one or more of these avataras that you have spoken of. Certainly the god part of the avatara has a past, a present, and a future, just as any other monadic center or entity has.
Student — There were stories printed a few years ago about living buddhas in some of the tribes of Central Asia. And apparently the stories were more or less garbled for sensational purposes, and it appeared that some of those tribes and some of those living buddhas were not of a very high order, but were magicians who belonged to the warlike tribes or others who were not of a high order. Now of course those accounts were presumably quite untrustworthy. Can you throw any light on it? Are there those who are not genuine buddhas, but are yet magicians, who use the names of living buddhas? Or are there not?
G. de P. — I do not know to what you refer, but here, I think, is the answer to your question, which I believe I understand.
In the first place the whole matter is complicated. Occidentals don't understand the principles governing the existence of the living buddhas. They take every instance which they suppose to be a living buddha according to the usual idea, and rather ironically give to these false living buddhas the name of living buddhas, because they have heard of such things in Tibet. Do you understand, thus far?
Student — Yes.
G. de P. — In the second place, it is possible that savage and barbarous tribes adopt the title, adopt the name living buddhas, and apply this name to entities who are not truly such at all. If and when this is done the doers simply steal — try to steal — the thunder of Jove. Do you understand that?
Student — Yes.
G. de P. — The third point is — and please be very careful how you allude to this — that there are what you may perhaps call buddhas of the Brothers of the Shadow. They are not real buddhas, but they occupy in the ranks of the Brothers of the Shadow the same rank that the true buddhas occupy in the ranks of the Brothers of Light, of the Sons of the Sun. Do you understand?
Many Voices — Yes.
G. de P. — Now just to which one of these three things the instances you allude to belong I could not answer without studying the instance; and I really do not know to what cases you allude.
Student — What you have said answers what I asked — the general idea of the principles involved.
G. de P. — All right, then.
Student — May I go on to another subject? I find considerable difficulty in finding an analogy between the seven principles of man and the seven globes, for this reason: I understand that the first globe evolved from entities from itself the second globe; and so on to the seventh, the fourth of that series being the lowest in matter; and then on the ascending arc getting more ethereal until the seventh is more ethereal than the first. Is that correct?
G. de P. — If I understand you, yes, it is generally correct, but requires some important modifications.
Student — But it seems that in the case of man, each succeeding vehicle is more gross until finally the last vehicle is the physical body, which is the grossest of all. There does not seem to be a parallel. Perhaps it is only a limited understanding on my part.
G. de P. — You are quite right. There is not a parallel in the way you have put it, but you are quite wrong in so putting it. The physical body is not the grossest of the human principles. It is a mere composite. It is a cadaver, a living machine, a collection of chemical atoms. The grossest principle in the human constitution is the fourth, which is the most material, the most essentially personalized, if you can use that word. In itself it is not evil, not any more than matter itself is evil. But it is the least spiritual. It is the fourth principle in us which is the seat of crime, of sin, of distorted views, of evil doing — it is not the body which is a mere limb of the constitution. The body is a garment, totally — no, that is not right — but practically totally unconscious as an entity. It is a mere composite. It is not really even a principle, but a temporary gathering together of atoms in order to manifest certain energies and powers in the human constitution.
There was a time when the entities, the monadic entities, who are now human beings, had no physical bodies at all, and in future days we shall have no physical bodies. We shall have vehicles indeed, but they will be vehicles of light, shining like the sun, literally, or irradiating light like an electric bulb. Clothed in light we then shall be. I repeat, the physical body is not the grossest of the human principles. It is the fourth principle which is the grossest.
Student — Which principle is it that corresponds to globe G?
G. de P. — The last globe?
Student — Yes.
G. de P. — Well, you cannot make an exact correspondence between seven material things and the seven principles of the human being. All the globes are bodies, all the globes are vehicles, temporary composites. Do you understand that? But each globe in addition has its own six principles, therefore its own septenary constitution. You could not say that atman is globe A or the first, and globe G is the physical body. There is the problem that disturbed you when first you spoke. Remember then that all the seven globes are bodies, representing each one the lowest, but not the grossest; the lowest because it is the body of a septenary constitution called a globe.
You have thus the forty-nine substance-principles in the planetary chain, and they are sometimes spoken of as the forty-nine fires, because even physical matter, out of which our bodies and our gross globe are built, is essentially fire, light, life — concreted light, solar light. Granite, diamond, gold, silver, copper, wood, grass, trees, flesh: all is concreted light, solar light, energy, energy-substance, force. Do you understand me?
Student — Yes, thank you. If we could see these seven globes all together, would they appear to make a geometrical figure, combined in their positions, or is such a thing impossible?
G. de P. — You are probing rather deeply. I may answer by simply saying this, that the common chain-like representation of the seven globes as given in our books is correct symbolically. The seven globes are actually scattered about. Therefore they do not form a geometrical figure in the sense that you imply, and they are certainly not a "collar" of globes, like a collar of pearls or of diamonds. Do you understand me?
Student — Yes, I certainly did not think of them in that way.
G. de P. — Yet that is the way in which they are represented in our books. It is a perfectly good way of so representing them because it shows the fourth or lowest globe on the lowest plane, two globes on the next higher plane, two globes on the next higher, and two globes on the highest plane. Each pair of globes in the above outline is on a cosmic plane. Consequently all the seven globes are on the four lowest cosmic planes. Don't forget this. It is an important thing to remember.
Student — I am so anxious to ask you this, but perhaps it is out of place. Something has been puzzling me this last month, and you have just said something that shed a little light on it, about force being in everything.
I have been so often where there are great mountains and rocks, and have been very much impressed with the forms that they presented. I wish you could tell what there is behind these forms. I could not help but look at them and study them; and every time when I went there, I felt that I must almost pay obeisance to them. There was one in particular. I want to ask you if there are the same causes behind all these manifestations. It does not seem possible, for some are horribly ugly and others are beautiful.
G. de P. — Do you mean rock conformations that look like human faces?
Student — Well, those also. You see the edge of the rock would form the faces, and it was actually as though one had taken a pencil, or a knife, or a chisel, and worked the faces out. There was "Uncle Sam" just as plain as could be, and that great Half-dome in the Yosemite. And there was a face of a beautiful girl looking up. And then, off to the right was a face, not entire, but it startled me, and I could not help thinking it might be that of a holy man. The great folds of drapery came over his head, and beautiful flowers; and the nose and eyes and forehead were very clear although the lower part of the face was not there. And then off to the side there was something similar to the face of the Leader KT with her cape on.
G. de P. — You want to know what caused all this?
Student — I want to know whether there was anything behind it, or whether I was just foolish in feeling that reverence.
G. de P. — Not at all. It was not foolishness. What caused them is wind, rain, cold, heat, the handiwork of nature's forces; and the way in which these forces work is governed by the pictures in the astral light. These forces can work only in that way. Then when one like yourself comes along with an artistic temperament, with a devotional turn of mind, you immediately catch these outlines, and to a certain extent your own soul paints the pictures with the help of these skeleton backgrounds. Do you see what I mean?
Student — Yes, but they were there.
G. de P. — Of course. Have you ever looked at a pansy and seen as I have — I am sure you must have seen it too — the outline of a human face in the flower?
Student — Oh, yes.
G. de P. — Sometimes it is striking. And you can see the outline of a human face in the moon. It is the pictures in the astral light which nature reproduces in her physical handiwork. Our very bodies are shaped after the pictures implanted in the astral by the thoughts of past ages. Nature is a conscious entity. She is not dead. She is a living entity, a vast conglomerate of substances and forces, working according to karmic impulses. The delicate tracery that we saw on the screen last night when Professor Hujer was lecturing — did you see them, the crystals? They were beautiful, those pictures of the snowflakes. And they reminded me oddly enough of nothing so much as the sparkling decorations that are worn by European diplomats! They looked like the diamond-studded decorations on the breasts of these men! But how much more beautiful was this handiwork of nature, in the perfect symmetry, and in the marvelous geometric patterns, what one might call the marvelous artistic invention reproducing such beautiful outlines. It was delightful to me. I have also seen gnarled trees which look just like faces, goblin-faces, human faces, faces of angels almost. It was partly nature's handiwork and partly my own thought.
Student — There were also some very ugly faces that I saw.
G. de P. — Yes, indeed. And your soul was repelled by these ugly things, of course.
Student — Then there was a conscious chiseling, actually conscious?
G. de P. — The chiseling of the elementals. You can hardly call it self-conscious, but rather quasi-conscious.
Student — Thank you very much.
Student — In the Orphic Hymns it is said that the immortals called the moon Selene, and the mortals Mene. Can you throw some light on that?
G. de P. — That reminds me of something else in the mystical Orphic writings. It was not uncommon for Greek mystics such as the Orphics to speak of the gods as giving names to certain things, and human beings as giving other names to the same things. The ancient Hindus had the same thought. This refers to certain secrets of esoteric teaching. There were passwords, openly uttered, suggesting to men that one word was the keynote to a certain mystery connected with the moon, and the other word was suggestive of some other hid thing or secret connected with the moon. The word immortal does not refer necessarily to the gods, but to the immortal part of one's own constitution. Do you understand that?
Student — Yes. I have another question on the Orphic Hymns. In the Hymn to the sun they called the sun the eternal source of light:
With thy right hand the source of morning light,
And with thy left the father of the night.
Proclus (in Theol. Plat., lib. 6, p. 380) says that those who are skilled in divine concerns attribute two hands to the sun, denominating one the right hand, the other the left. Can you throw light on that?
G. de P. — Yes. I will try to answer it briefly, although it is an exceedingly mystical passage in the ancient Greek mythology which you ask me about. All ancient mystics spoke of the right hand in connection with light, and of the left hand in connection with darkness. Or what comes to the same thing, the right hand signifies spirit and the left hand signifies matter. We must remember that the Sun is continuously pouring forth two kinds of energies, one light which nevertheless is an ethereal form of substance. The other kind is a much grosser form, and has often been called the heavy solar vitality, grosser than light and yet tremendously important for the feeding of the bodies of his planetary family. Light also signifies the spirit and the intellect; whereas the left-hand action of the Sun, so to speak, here signifies the solar effulgence of the vital essence building up and feeding and stimulating the lower quaternary of his solar family. This is the essence of the idea, and I hope that my few remarks will have made the matter more clear to you.
I will answer one or two questions, and then we will close for this evening.
Student — I would like to ask if you can tell us a little about skandhas, and what happens to them between incarnations, and where they are?
G. de P. — Do you refer to the skandhas in general?
Student — Yes.
G. de P. — The skandhas are of two main kinds: spiritual and those which are unspiritual — material in other words. The skandhas are the attributes, whether of a human being, or it may be of a god, because the gods have skandhas of their own sublime kind; but let us take the case of a human being. The rules remain the same. These attributes are manifested when the forces of the monadic essence build up the human entity. Then these skandhas collect and form the human being. When the reverse current sets in, and the forces hitherto flowing outward into manifestation as a human being are called back to their fountain-head, or when the ebb tide sets in if you understand me, then the forms which these skandhas builded up break and go to pieces, and the skandhas themselves are gathered back into the bosom of the monadic essence where they remain in latency — just as the human soul is, which is a bundle of skandhas as a matter of fact — around a secondary monadic center of its own. These skandhas remain dormant in the bosom of the monadic essence — in the bosom of the reincarnating ego, to be more particular, which is sleeping in the monadic essence — until the time for the next incarnation on earth takes place. Then they flow forth again and build up the new human being. But as these skandhas are the attributes of the human being that was, therefore the new human being, thus coming into existence again, is a virtual reduplication of the human being that was. Is not that clear?
Many Voices — Yes.
G. de P. — So that the new man on earth, the new reincarnation, almost is, actually is in fact, the same old man, and yet a new man. New, because it is a new gathering together of the skandhas, and yet the man is the same, with the single exception that these skandhas, each one of them, is modified, they are all modified, by the experiences of each life: by the use of the willpower and of the intelligence flowing forth from the higher part of the human being, and by all the spiritual energies which more or less modify these attributes or skandhas. Is the answer responsive to your question?
Student — Yes, thank you.
* * *
August 30, 1932
G. de P. — I would like to add a few words to the matter that you have heard read tonight concerning the so-called minor mistakes that Gautama the Buddha made, which were corrected, according to the statement, by the avatara Sankaracharya. This has especial reference to our Lord's teaching concerning the composite nature of man: that man is a composite or compounded entity, and that at death the man is ended with the exception of his karma which passes into new vehicles, into new bodies. This teaching is absolutely true, because, as you know, the karma of a man is the man himself. There is no such thing as karma outside of the entity which makes the karma and carries it from life to life and produces new karma, that is, new lower selves. But this sublime teaching, so illuminating when properly understood, was insufficiently developed by our Lord, and he was misunderstood by later generations to mean that there is no principle of any kind in man which perpetually endures. It should be obvious that if the karma of the man endures, there must be something in which this karma inheres, and this is the man himself, because the man and his karma are one.
When Sankaracharya came and taught, it was really the Buddha who taught through him. It was Sankaracharya who developed the so-called nondualistic or Advaita form of the Vedanta the teaching that there is no difference in essence between man and the spirit of the universe: the two are one, not two. Hence the term Advaita, or nondualistic. This teaching corrected immediately the misunderstanding based on the Buddha's former teaching that there was no principle or element in man which perpetually endured. The Buddha had indeed taught that there is a spiritual universe filled full with entities in infinitely varying grades of development; but the teaching imbodied in this doctrine, that these entities in the universe were fundamentally and essentially one, had not been understood, and the teaching of Sankaracharya corrected this misunderstanding, because Sankaracharya amplified and explained the Lord Buddha's previous doctrine. Do you get the idea?
Many Voices — Yes.
G. de P. — Before we close, I want to say that on account of our leaving on our extended lecture tour, including the temporary transference of our TS and ES Headquarters' staffs to England, I shall be very busy indeed in preparing for this event, and hence this meeting will be the last of our gatherings at which I shall be present with you until I return.
I have felt, when meeting you here, and on each and every occasion when we have gathered together, that there has been a unity of spirit, a meeting of hearts and of minds, which is beautiful beyond words to express. Do not forget this during my absence. When you attend these gatherings, come with your heart and mind open and at peace. Leave at the threshold of this Temple — for every ES meeting place becomes a Temple for the time being — I say, leave at this threshold all your worldly cares and worries and personal feelings. Enter this room and bathe spiritually in the beautiful atmosphere that you can make for yourselves here. My last words to you are: "Keep the link unbroken." Do not forget this.