Past, Present, Future | Encapsulation | Astral Light, Anima Mundi, Akasa | More About After-Death Consciousness | Rounds: Inner and Outer | Pratyekas Become Avataras in New Chain | Bodhisattvahood
G. de P. — Let us recollect a wonderful old phrase of occultism which is not empty of meaning, but filled with significance. It is: the past, the present, and the future are, each one and together as a group, illusions. They are but aspects of the eternal now. Therefore the past and the present and the future are one, and merely seem different because we live in the time-illusion sphere.
Take the case of a man. From his atman to his sthula-sarira or physical body there is but a mass of life fluids of the fundamental jiva expressing itself as the different pranas on the different planes or in the different principles. Now these different planes or principles have each one its own time sense, its own time illusion, its own past, present, and future; so that although something may be in the working out on the physical plane, the time of the physical plane — the past, present and future — is but a portion, a very small portion, an infinitesimal portion, of the time illusion on the higher planes. So also in the body part of the human constitution. Yet it is all contained in the auric egg, otherwise in the life of the constitution of a man.
Now the astral light in which are past, present, and future, is nothing but the life-stuff of a hierarchy, whatever it happens to be — a planet, a solar system, a galaxy — for there is an astral light for each.
Take the case of the action of will. This is a manifestation of life. We presently live largely in the kama-manasic part of our constitution, for through evolution we have arrived at that point. Yet our will is not native of the kama-manas part of us, but descends to us directly from the atman. Therefore it obeys a law which permits it to act on the kama-manasic part of us, but yet to have a large degree of its action from because native to the atmic part of us. Therefore, while our will is enchained, imprisoned, bound, by our present karmic destiny in the kama-manasic part of us, it can at any instant through exercising the spiritual prerogatives of its atmic svabhava say yes, or say no, or change its course of action instantaneously. It cannot do it with utter freedom because it is self-enchained, an act deliberately enchaining itself in the kama-manasic part. But it can always rise into the higher parts of itself and make that higher part operative here sooner or later if it will. Thus we have the divine gift of free will largely bound and enchained by our own kama-manasic perversities, but of which we can free ourselves if we exercise that same will in deliberate choice. In other words, we have the principle of free will, the power of choice, but very few of us ever exercise it.
Thus the astral light is the entire jiva of a hierarchy, whether of a planet, a solar system, or of a galaxy; just as in a man his entire jiva, the entire life of his auric egg, of his constitution, is his astral light. I use the words astral light in a very general sense here, and do so for purposes of graphic illustration of a point. Yet, speaking with stricter accuracy, the astral light should rather be called the lower and intermediate parts of the jiva, the higher portions of the jiva really being akasa. Thus again we see that akasa at its summit and for the parts immediately below the summit, and the astral light from the intermediate down to the bottom, form the entire jiva or indeed also the auric egg of any entity. It is so in the solar system, where the akasa of that solar system is the divine and spiritual and intellectual parts of it, condensing and concreting into the lower quaternary which is the astral light of that solar system. The same rule applied on a still smaller scale to a planet, say to our earth, gives us the picture for these last bodies.
Think of the acorn producing the oak, every acorn holding within itself the potentialities of the whole oak tree. The early scientists of Europe, basing their thoughts on much of the Christian teaching, which in turn got distorted reflections from pagan philosophers, stated that in Mother Eve, in the Garden of Eden, in her womb were lying latent the seeds of all her posterity up to the present time. They called this the doctrine of encapsulation: that all future posterity, as it were, lay in capsules in the womb of Mother Eve. Now this is a greatly distorted conception — I cannot call it an intuition — a greatly distorted idea prevalent in medieval Europe, partly held by the theologians, partly taken over by the scientists from the ancient pagan Mystery doctrine, that out of the One comes the many, that from the single germ a nation can be born if circumstances are right.
Of course we know that the whole story of the Garden of Eden and the Adam and Eve of the Jewish scriptures is an esoteric allegory; but you may meet this word encapsulation if your reading ever takes you into study and investigations along that line, and you may wonder as to what the doctrine really was. Later scientists, who lost even the feeble glimmer that the medievalists had from pagan philosophers, hit all they were worth at this doctrine and called it a perfectly ridiculous medieval superstition. But what the pagan philosophers really had meant was that the past, present, and future, as a whole line of entities, are contained in any one single seed or germ at any time. That the past, present, and future are locked up there.
Man is thus a microcosm in very truth. If we were able by some wonderful cosmic magic to isolate a man and allow him to pursue his destiny in isolation through life after life after life after life until the manvantara ended; and there were none to begin the next manvantara except this isolated one individual, do you know that coming down into manifestation as the inaugurator, initiator, and evolver of the world, that one single man from the seeds of lives locked up in him even now, would produce ten classes of monads? Out of him would flow all the families of beings, all the races of beings. From him would come the three elemental kingdoms, the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom, the human kingdom and the three dhyani-chohanic kingdoms. From him — to take a more particular illustration which will carry our thought back to the second root-race — would spring all the mammalia from the life-germs that would fall from him at that similar time in that new world. From him would grow as from eggs or seeds new animal stocks of all various kinds, and other new kinds not yet brought forth from the womb of destiny into manifested life.
Connect this up with what I tried in my Theosophy and Modern Science [Republished as Man in Evolution] to point out that from the human races sprang not only the mammalia, but all the lower creatures under the mammalia, such as the reptiles and the birds, the fishes and even the insects and worms — all ultimately sprang from mankind, the human life-wave, in previous rounds. The same may be said of the vegetation, the same of the mineral and of the elemental kingdoms.
In the same way the dhyani-chohanic stocks gave birth to man — alluded to by the Greeks in the ancient phrase: men are the children of the gods. Man is but a human manifestation of his own inner god, belonging to the family of the god monads. What marvelously intricate and fascinating pictures of life the theosophist is privileged to have: intricate because of our feeble brain-minds; actually simple in the majestic energies based on nature's fundamental one law, one structure, one life, one cosmic mind!
I ask you: "What is the summit of the astral light, and what is its nether pole?" The astral light is certainly not only a bundle of conditions, but it also has place.
Now then, the astral light really is the dregs of the pillar of life extending from the highest cosmic plane to the lowest. Never mind on which particular cosmic plane our present globe is in which we are at present. I do not want to confuse the thought. But not only does each globe of a planetary chain have its own astral light, or its own linga-sarira — if you want to use that word, although linga-sarira belongs really to man and the beasts and plants and perhaps the stones — and not only does our solar system have its own astral light, but likewise every celestial body anywhere, stars, comets, nebulae, each one has its own astral light. It may also be said that our entire galaxy has its own galactic linga-sarira or astral light, on the principle again of the greater including the less; much in the same way as a man's body contains all the cells, the cells all the molecules, the molecules all the atoms, and the atoms all the electrons that all together as a unit go to compose his body.
Now this pillar of life, or pillar of light, extending from divinity to grossest substance in our solar system, is divisible for us humans into three main portions, something like the spirit, soul and body of a man. Technically, the nether pole or body of the earth is the astral light; its soul is the anima mundi or "world soul"; its summit, or spirit, is the akasa, or what the Buddhists call alaya, meaning the "imperishable, the "indissoluble," from a — not, laya — dissolving. Another name for it in Hinduism or Brahmanism would be paramatman. Thus alaya, paramatman, and akasa are practically the same. The topmost portion of the astral light blends into the lowest portion of the anima mundi; the topmost portion of the anima mundi blends into the lowest portion of the spirit or the akasa. The procession of descent is: first, akasa, then anima mundi, then the nether part or astral light (or the linga-sarira of our globe), and last the globe itself.
Moreover, another fact has to be kept in mind. The akasa stretches down into and permeates the anima mundi; again the akasa with the anima mundi as a combination in their turn stretch down through and permeate all the astral light, so that the astral light is actually not only ensouled, but is inspirited. The anima mundi is inspirited by the spirit of akasa and rests upon and in its body the astral light; whereas the spirit is the flaming fire, undilute, true, pure, at the top or summit of the column.
It is true that the linga-sarira in its coarsest parts coalesces and becomes one with the finer parts of the physical body; just so with the earth's astral light. There are places universally over the earth and around it where the astral light becomes indistinguishable from the more ethereal parts of the physical earth. You ask why it was that the Mysteries were sometimes held in caves and crypts, when the astral currents are so much more vile and confused near the center of the earth? Let me remind you that caves can hardly be called near the center of the earth. A cave, in fact, on a mountaintop would be above sea level.
When sensitives or seers while awake on this plane catch glimpses of the astral light, or of the earth's astral body, it seems to them to be self-luminous because it shines with a starry kind of luminosity; but actually it is merely because it is matter higher than our physical matter which makes it look luminous to us. If one had the eyes to see from one of the planes of the anima mundi, neither the astral light nor the linga-sarira of the man would shine, would look luminous, but would appear bodylike, cloudy, dull. It is very hard to describe these things.
The Medievalists referred to these temporary glimpses of the earth's linga-sarira they could catch, as astral, "starry," not because the astral light was star-stuff, not at all; but precisely because those glimpses resembled the faint wisps of luminosity seen in the night sky, in the closer nebulae, or cometary matter. Astral light phenomena are actually far from being starry; and the physical phenomenon of luminescence: fluorescence, and what is called the phosphorescence of decay and sheen on the ocean waves, and similar things, are mainly due to physical chemical action, and are in no sense astral light phenomena.
Remember the function played by the astral light as regards the earth only, and then think of the human constitution, and ask yourself: are there no interrelations, intercirculations, intercommunications among the seven principles of man or his seven monads, exactly as there are the circulations and intercirculations and intercommunications between the alaya, the anima mundi and the astral light? There are. Think it over.
Please remember that nirvana, devachan, kama-loka, and avichi, are all conditions of consciousness, and it does not matter two pins where that consciousness is because the locality, if an entity is in a state of consciousness, cannot affect that state at all. A man may be in nirvana although he be living upon the planet Mara, which to us human beings is like a hell. A man living on one of the higher planetary chains of our own solar system may be in a kama-loka in that chain, or in the avichi belonging to that particular globe of that chain. Each chain has its own globes, each globe has its own inhabitants, these inhabitants are in a certain specific evolutionary stage. Being in this specific evolutionary stage they will have conditions of consciousness corresponding to it, so that what we call nirvana, devachan, the so-called conditions in kama-loka and the avichi are not absolute, each one identical for all possible planes of the universe, but are all relative. As should be obvious, the nirvana of one living on the highest cosmic plane is incomparably higher than the nirvana of one living on the lowest cosmic plane, and exactly so for any other state of consciousness, whether of devachan, kama-loka, or avichi, which can be repetitively reproduced on higher or lower planes.
To revert to us human beings: when we speak of the devachan as being spiritual — highly spiritual, I venture to enter a caveat, a word of warning. I know I myself have used that identical phrase and have regretted it. It is true in a vague way, but it is the conditions of the nirvana, when we come right down to brass tacks, which are spiritual. The conditions in the devachan are mental. Mind you, I am not saying high or low, or intermediate. I leave that for your own intuition to determine. It is easy. The entity in the kama-loka is in the kama-manasic state, the lower mentality manas, with emotions, feelings, what not; and likewise the same is to be said for the conditions of consciousness of entities in the avichi. Spirituality for the nirvani; high mentality, a spiritualized mentality, for the devachani; emotional and lower mentality for one in kama-loka; and intense mental suffering and emotional stress and storm for the one in the avichi.
Live a life striving towards the gods, your death will be peaceful, your kama-loka will be nil, because no kama-lokic seeds have come into your life. Your devachan will be relatively high and very short, or very long, depending upon your karma, depending upon the longing of your heart.
In connection with all these thoughts, there are exceptions, there are things to remember, which would change individual cases. Take for instance a chela. Now if we did not know of the teaching, we would say: Oh, a chela, a very lofty man or woman — surely that means a long, long, long devachan of rest and happiness and peace; won't it be beautiful for him when he dies! But you see that is not what the chela wants. He is striving to reduce his devachan. He is striving to become spiritualized rather than merely loftily intellectualized, he is striving to come back to earth to help. His heart is filled not with kama-lokic instincts, nor with devachanic instincts, nor even with nirvanic instincts which he resigns. But his whole being is filled with the love of everything around him. He wants to come back, he wants to help, he wants to give himself. His whole being is spiritualized. The result is that in him there is very little of the making of the devachani. Do you follow the psychological thought there?
Now a baby of course has no devachan, for obvious reasons. It has not had thought and feeling enough to make a devachan. But likewise a baby has no nirvana, and it has no kama-loka, no avichi, for the same reason. But a grown man can easily be in a devachanic state because he is cultivating it while living, and here is still another aspect of the teaching, he may actually have cut his devachan short, and have in his auric egg a psychological urge or impulse to go back to the devachan and rest like a most tired man rising from his bed before his body is fully recuperated. At the least temptation he wants to sit back in his chair and relax and go to sleep. So from a number of causes men can be in the devachan while imbodied.
If you live a life which is productive of a devachan, you are going to get it because that is in your stream of consciousness, that is you. That seems so simple. If you live a life while in the body which is passionate — and passion means many things, please remember: anger, hatred, detestation, and prejudice, etc. — you are simply building for yourself a vivid kama-loka. Inevitably, because it is yourself; and when you die you simply carry on as yourself. All the other details of the teaching about the various bodies, and the throwing off of the kama-rupa, and all that, are merely the exoteric fringe of the teaching. The real teaching lies in understanding the fact that man is a stream or center of consciousness undergoing various phases, and that he can control these phases, or become subject to them. He can master them, or become enslaved to them. If he master them finally he becomes a mahatma. If he becomes enslaved to them, he becomes a slave to his lower self. That is all. And you are going to get exactly, precisely nothing else but exactly and precisely what the sum total of your thoughts and feelings during life has been.
Let us take the case of the good man who is beginning to lose the love of himself, who is beginning to take an interest in others, in the stars, and in the sun, and in the beauties of nature. He is becoming impersonal. This cuts the root of that which produces devachan. Impersonality. Probably his death will be as peaceful as the dropping of a leaf from a tree. He won't know when he dies. There will be no kama-loka. There has not been anything in his life to produce a kama-loka; the Second Death will come almost — we cannot say immediately, it depends upon the individual — but quite soon relatively speaking, and he won't realize that it has taken place. The kama-rupa will just drop away, and being of high astral substance will disintegrate quickly. Then the entity simply passes right through the lower devachanic regions; it is not attracted by them as there is not anything of the lower devachan in his being. He simply rises right up to higher levels of the devachan, perhaps even touches the fringes or enters into the nirvana-condition.
And so the time comes when a man is imbodied in life after life till his evolution is so far progressed that he passes beyond the devachan. He does not need it as there is not the need for rest and recuperation. The ego is not tired, it is not weary, there has been nothing in the past life to produce the devachan, he is a mahatma, in the highest conditions a buddha, and can enter the nirvana even when alive, and rest there.
Thus spirituality is the mark of the nirvani; high or spiritualized intellectuality is the mark of the devachani; emotional enslavement particularly if connected with instability, and mental enslavement, one's likes and dislikes, hatreds and loves, are the typical seeds producing the kama-loka. Whereas the avichi stands in a class by itself again.
The average man and woman is entirely too weak to enter the avichi — fortunately. The avichi, as states of consciousness (for the avichi comprises many states), is entered or undergone by those beings who are more or less high in spiritual wickedness, in other words, men and women with high native talents who deliberately prostituted these to the use of evil. That produces the avichi. A true individual in the avichi is beyond all ordinary human temptations, ordinary human passions. He is above them, or below them. I hardly know how to phrase it. They do not touch him, they are too gross. The avichi is a kind of inverted spirituality. One belonging there has no love for life on earth, no more so than has the typical nirvani. His love, his hope, his life, is in a desperate alliance with evil, if you can conceive of this thing. Human beings can be in certain of the higher states of avichi, which means for us the feebler states, while imbodied. I have seen men and women in an avichi state. They had no realization of it. They were perfectly convinced that they were doing just the right thing; and yet they had chosen with deliberation at that time to do an evil thing because they liked it. They liked the evil for its own sake. They did not want to hurt anybody. But evil itself attracted them. I wonder if you understand this. There are human beings like that.
Please remember with regard to this matter of rounds the following facts: first, the seven globes of the twelve are for convenience called the manifest globes or the globes of the rupa worlds, and the five upper globes are called arupa, not because they have no form, but to us in our present cognitional development they seem formless much in the same way as a thought is formless to us, and yet we know that thoughts are beings of form and that each thought imbodies an elemental.
Now then, no round of the seven begins with globe A of the seven and ends with globe G of the seven, according to the exoteric teaching. That is correct as far as it goes. Every round whatsoever begins with the first or topmost globe, runs through all the globes of the descending arc to our earth or globe D, then ascends through all the globes of the ascending arc until the first is reached again, which we can call the first or the twelfth.
The next thought to remember is that before the first of what are called by HPB the seven rounds, there are three elementary rounds. I myself wonder if that is a good word to give to these rounds; but I do not know a better. They are the rounds in which the elemental activities needed for the beginnings of the formation of the globes take place. This makes ten rounds. Then counting after this way, there are two rounds after the ten, making the twelve or closing out rounds before the chain dies; as the moon had died. Thus there are actually twelve rounds. The main or the most important to us at present are the seven manifest rounds, as we may call them; therefore particularly selected by HPB in her Secret Doctrine, as being exoteric teaching: but exoteric only because it was openly printed and published. Before she gave it out it had been for centuries esoteric.
The third thing to remember about rounds is that there are inner and outer rounds, and these inner and outer rounds respectively have two meanings: the pathways or round-circulations followed by monads not only at death, but in sleep and during initiation, both inner and outer, of which you have already studied and know at least something. The other significance of the terms inner rounds and outer rounds is this: that when the seven (or twelve) rounds of the life-waves of a chain have been run and are ended, there is always a certain number amongst the twelve classes of monads who then will graduate from the earth-chain, and in due course of time will take their next step to some other chain and begin in this sense an outer round for these graduated classes.
Remember, the inner rounds we call the rounds of life-waves from globe A to globe G if you follow the septenary system, or globe one back to globe one or globe twelve if you follow the duodenary system. Thus the inner rounds are the rounds taking place along the globes of the chain, our own as an instance. The outer rounds are the peregrinations or pilgrimages of the same monads, when the time comes, to the other sacred chains of the solar system.
Thus, as you see, it is always wise to check yourself when you say: "I know that; I have studied that; I have got it." You are bound to find that what you think you have got is but an entrance into a chamber of knowledge out of which you may look through translucent windows into still larger vistas of wonder; and that this chamber of knowledge possesses doors, one of entrance and one of exit through which you will pass into still more wonderful habitations — in this chain or into other globes, as the case may be.
There are many mansions of life in the Father's kingdom, and each such mansion is a septenary chain. That is one interpretation of that Christian saying.
You will therefore notice that it is not only certain classes which thus graduate from earth, but in fact it is the destiny of all the monadic classes to discover some day that they are not earth's children. But we stay during a seven or twelve round period in the earth-chain, as one stays in a mansion of life for a time; or in a hotel for a certain period and then moves elsewhere.
Those classes which have graduated from earth will run practically identical rounds, as far as systems or planes go, on the next planetary chain; and when that is ended and they have graduated from that, they will move on to the next. Finally in some far distant manvantara they will find themselves on this planetary chain again; but by that time the earth's planetary chain will have evolved to something far higher than what it is now. And the monads will have evolved from within themselves faculties and powers, attributes and instincts, and an inner development which will fit them for the new mansions here on earth.
The pratyekas do play the part of avataras in the succeeding chain-imbodiment, and this is solely due to their spirituality, which in time will verge towards unselfish spirituality rather than the pratyeka self-absorption in individual personal attainment.
We must remember the pratyekas are nevertheless buddhas of a kind, they are high spiritual beings as compared with us; but they are buddhas, and consequently they certainly will, all of them, belong to the ranks of the dhyanis in the next chain-imbodiment. But on account of the intrinsically spiritually selfish attitude they had on the moon-chain, when they reach the earth-chain their karma will force or oblige them to follow correspondential courses of action in this new chain. Theirs being a course of spiritual action they will take a leading part in the awakening of mind, in the avataric functioning on the different globes.
We should always keep in mind that all these different states of consciousness are karmic after all, and being karmic they have to follow karmic lines of retribution or of recompense.
With this first point clearly understood, we pass to the next: the distinction between buddhas of compassion and pratyeka buddhas does not lie in the fact of either being awakened spiritually and intellectually, because both classes are; but it lies in the fact that the buddhas of compassion are older souls, whose spirituality is of a diviner or loftier type than that of the pratyeka buddhas. To put it plainly, the pratyeka buddhas have awakened the buddha in them, but it is in the lower parts of the buddha-septenate that their spirituality is awakened; whereas the buddhas of compassion have awakened, or rather have raised themselves to live in the higher parts of the buddha-septenate. Thus, we can say that a pratyeka buddha lives in the kama of his buddhi, or in the kama-manas of his buddhi; whereas the buddha of compassion lives in the buddhi-buddhi parts of his buddhi.
In the new chain-imbodiment, the pratyekas do awaken the sympathy in their nature. They suffer themselves, and being highly spiritual they are quickly led to see that the only way to abate that suffering and to gain peace is along the road of compassion; and it is a fact that what were the pratyeka buddhas in past times shall become the buddhas of compassion in after times. Because they had that latent power within them to change, they are called buddhas.
That is it exactly. That also is what makes the fifth rounder or the sixth rounder, except that the sixth rounder at present is an exceedingly rare case, and even so high that he becomes such now by virtue of what the Master in The Mahatma Letters calls a mystery. It consists in a special help given to them by the Brotherhood of Compassion. The very highest of that brotherhood help them to become buddhas. Isn't that a remarkable situation?
When a bodhisattva, entitled to nirvanic bliss, renounces this last, and instead of entering nirvana as a full-blown buddha remains behind to help and serve all: this is called the Great Sacrifice. Entitled to buddhahood and to the nirvanic wisdom and bliss, buddhahood shines on his forehead like the light of eternity. But he renounces this glorious privilege and remains as a bodhisattva, his heart, his mind, buddhalike in type, but retaining his humanhood in order that the links with the army trailing behind him and needing help shall not be broken.
It is a beautiful and sublime doctrine when it is properly understood, and it is the ideal of all chelaship to attain not so much buddhahood as bodhisattvahood.
A bodhisattva is one who lives in the buddhic principle in its lower parts. A buddha is one who has been living in the buddhi principle, he who has raised himself by choice or has been impelled from necessity to rise into the atman, into the atman alone with its sheath of buddhi, and this is the dharmakaya, nirvana.
In India you will find that those expert in these philosophic thoughts will say that entering nirvana means the impossibility of return. It is correct and incorrect. Correct for the manvantara in which the entering of the nirvana occurs, incorrect as regards the succeeding, or the next after the next succeeding manvantara, depending upon the seeds of karma.
Now then, a pratyeka buddha is one who has set his whole being on the yearning, the longing, the intense desire of achieving final culmination of these in entering nirvana: from being individualized, becoming universalized. No individual can be universal. The terms are contradictory. When the lower part which is the basis of individuality, when the lower part of the upper triad is outgrown or abandoned, then the dharmakaya is entered, the universality of life is entered, and you have Buddhahood and nirvana. The Buddhists say Buddha, the Brahmanists say nirvani. We use both terms according to our convenience and our desire to describe this or that phase of world thought.
The buddha of compassion is one who for many incarnations has refused the nirvana, buddhahood, has refused the universal life, from love for all that lives, from a desire to aid the world. His kaya is either the nirmanakaya or the sambhogakaya.
Now when this particular bodhisattva finally reaches the point where karma imperatively demands a change, and there is no help for it, he must obey the karmic mandate. Then he too must die to the manifested worlds and become a buddha; but because all previous imbodiments for ages have been bodhisattva imbodiments, we call such a buddha a buddha of compassion.
When the pratyeka buddha reissues forth from the nirvana when the future time comes, he does so as a learner, a high learner, but a learner. When a buddha of compassion reissues forth, he does so no longer as a pratyeka buddha learner, but already as a Master of Life.
The thought I wish to impress upon you here is this: the pratyeka buddha is rightly called by the Tibetans not a teacher, for to be a teacher he must remain in the world after he has attained buddhahood, and the bodhisattvahood is the graded rank below that of buddha. The next step means buddhahood, and those who become pratyeka buddhas always pass beyond the bodhisattva state for the buddha state. Those who are bodhisattvas of compassion life after life, as long as nature permits it, reimbody in the sambhogakaya, more commonly in the nirmanakaya, and remain bodhisattvas of compassion.
Now you see why amongst us and in the Mahayana system of Northern Buddhism such loving reverence is given to the bodhisattvas. Indeed, so strong is this human feeling of compassionate love for these friends of all that live, that even the buddhas in the popular estimation are less loved than are the bodhisattvas.
It is like the gods: the gods are revered, deeply respected, but not loved as are these great teachers, the bodhisattvas. They still have elements of humanity in them, of human perfect self-sacrifice for others. These indeed are the immemorial friends of all that live. The buddhas would be, were they amongst us. But there is no such thing as a living buddha imbodied in flesh, except so called by courtesy. The buddha is a nirvani; he cannot be a buddha unless he enters the nirvana, for then he is fully buddha, awakened, universal. The courses of cosmic thought and cosmic love are thenceforth his as long as he remains in nirvana. These are renounced by the bodhisattva who re-enters the world with its limitations. He refuses the buddhahood of nirvana, and accepts the limitations and the sacrifices of all that his spirit holds most dear and holy in order to help others. These bodhisattvas often by compliment, by affectionate devotion, are called compassion buddhas, but strictly speaking they are bodhisattvas of compassion.
Now the reason that some of these bodhisattvas in time are obliged by karmic law to leave the planes of manifestation as above hinted is because of the fact that their entire constitution can stand the strain no more. They absolutely need the nirvana, and nature demands that they take it: the analogue of those who refuse the devachan among the chelas as long as they can up to the time that nature demands rest, then they enter the devachan. You have been taught that teaching.
That is why the Tibetans say that the pratyeka buddhas are not teachers. That is why they say that the buddhas of compassion — actually the bodhisattvas of compassion — are the teachers. For the love for mankind and for all that lives (even the beasts, the plants, the stones) in the heart of the bodhisattvas drives them to teach all who have ears to hear. They are teachers. This is what we call the hierarchy of light, the sons of light.
But even in the nirvana the pratyeka buddha cannot ascend as high in consciousness as the buddha of compassion ascends. If rather arbitrarily perhaps we wish to describe this graphically, we can say that the pratyeka buddha ascends in the atman to the prana-atman, maybe also to the kama-atman, whereas the buddha of compassion ascends to the manas-atman, possibly even to the buddhi-atman. Ascending into the atman-atman means annihilation for our universe, which means that that entity has reached the point where karma demands rising into the hierarchy above. So wonderful is nature, similar in structure throughout, one law, one life, one love, one dharma or duty for all who have ears to hear. What is in the great is in the small. If you wish to know the great, study the small with the greatness in yourself. What is above is mirrored in what is below. All that is below is a reflection of what is above.
Tat tvam asi — THAT THOU ART.