The Dialogues of G. de Purucker

Supplement to KTMG Papers: Four

The Buddhas | Conception and Birth | More About the Buddhas | The KTMG Teachings | The Three Kayas | The Gods Cast No Shadows | The Esoteric Becomes Exoteric | Charge, Pledge | Fidelity: Unity of Spirit | Pratyeka and Compassion Buddhas | Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya | Eclipses | Spiritual Selfishness

London, England, November 24, 1932

The Buddhas

G. de P. — The deeper teachings concerning the buddhas, whether called pratyekas or those of compassion, are so subtle and difficult to understand, that it is small wonder that the minds of our students often are confused. But I have been wondering while sitting here and listening whether an illustration derived from the physical realm may not be a little helpful. It is an analogy, as it were.

Take, then, the case of Father Sun: here we have material splendor, glory unspeakable, streaming out into kosmic Space through what are to us human beings almost interminable periods of time; and yet this glory which we see is material, it is physical. But through this glory, back of it, behind it and working through it, there is a divine and intellectual essence, a spiritual and intellectual light, a spiritual and intellectual vitality. Suppose then, taking this analogy from our own physical sphere, that we say that the pratyeka buddhas are similar in this instance to the devas, or quasi-divinities, who are the guardians and rulers of the physical splendor working through a sun, and giving to the sun its material light, its material splendor. They are ethereal beings as compared with ordinary physical matter. Yet through these beings, and back of them, behind them, is the spiritual-intellectual heart of Father Sun, the ineffable divinity working through them as his, or shall I say, as its, agents. It is somewhat in this way that the buddhas of compassion belonging to the Order of Compassion manage to work through one aspect of the vegetative side of spiritual nature which is the pratyeka buddha in its higher part.

It would be quite erroneous to suppose that the sun is composed of a divinity without intermediary agents forming and working through what we call the sun. The sun that we sense is merely a physical globe, or vehicle, expressing the combined energies and influences of the solar god, the solar divinity, as manifesting through his or its agents on this and on higher intermediate planes, where are the less evolved devas, the devas of the vegetative side. In exactly the same way the gods, the celestial buddhas, the dhyani-buddhas who are the heads of our own holy order, the Order of Compassion, work on a smaller scale through the pratyeka buddhas as their quasi-unconscious agents, as the agents of the vegetative side, so to speak, of the Hierarchy of Compassion or Light.

Or again, take the case of a human being, of Gautama the Buddha himself. Gautama was the human vehicle of a dhyani-buddha, or celestial buddha; and yet Gautama the Buddha had to work through the human ego called Siddhartha, prince of Kapilavastu, and this human ego again had to work through the various classes of elementals composing the lower or vegetative side of the constitution of the Buddha Gautama. Thus we have the celestial buddha working through the human buddha, which was working through the ordinary human ego, which last was born in a physical body composed of elementals of various classes all belonging to the vegetative or unevolved side of the indwelling spiritual being. The idea is a series of ascending links, a ladder of increasing sublimity as its rungs ascend upwards. Just as a human body is composed of life-atoms, every one a learning and evolving entity advancing slowly on its upward path, and every one having at its own heart of hearts its own individual monad, which is an imprisoned divinity, just so does every dhyani-buddha or celestial buddha or buddha of compassion have to work through inferior beings, among whom are buddhas of inferior grade. Such is the idea.

These pratyeka buddhas are spiritually selfish individuals when compared with the dhyani-buddhas, or celestial buddhas of compassion. But nevertheless, see how high even the pratyeka buddhas stand! They are in some respects actually the channels through which reach us men streams of spiritual influence from higher beings still, which streams pass through the pratyeka buddhas and backwards along the pathway that they have trodden and have advanced forwards upon.

Our human ego is a spiritually selfish thing as contrasted with our spiritual ego; and I go so far as to say that even our spiritual ego, although to us a god, is a spiritually selfish thing in the strict etymological sense of the word when compared with the divine ego working through it. It is all a very complex and subtle idea, and this fact has been intuitively grasped or guessed at by our students, as is shown by the questions asked by them. The reason that the pratyeka buddhas after a time cease to advance during any manvantara and come to a standstill in their forward march, is because they have reached the limits of their powers for that manvantara; but when the new manvantara comes, they will then begin to stride forwards again. It is strangely and fascinatingly interesting how nature repeats herself on all planes.

You will remember the teaching with regard to the seven rounds of our own planetary chain, and how the door into the human kingdom closed at the middle of the fourth round, or, more strictly speaking, in what we call the fourth root-race of this fourth round of this globe. Those who had not entered the human kingdom by that time cannot now enter it during the remainder of the present kalpa, or planetary manvantara, but must wait until the new planetary chain-manvantara comes, and then their chance will come again. But nevertheless, there these beings are in nature, furnishing with others like them the vegetative part of nature through which we as human beings and those more advanced than we, are working, for we are now making use of them as channels and aids, just as the human ego makes use of the life-atoms of his lower vehicles and even of his physical body.

I make this explanation: it must not be thought that the pratyeka buddhas are treated unjustly by nature, or that there is anything arbitrary about the fact that when they once reach the limits of pratyeka buddhahood they cannot advance farther in any one manvantara. The entire situation is all due to natural law, and to very just and impartial causes. It is precisely like saying that such and such a man has reached the utmost limits of his capacity, or of his ability, at such and such a time, and cannot do more until he has evolved more forth from within himself where the seeds of all growth are.

Conception and Birth

I would like to add a few observations regarding the moon which may perhaps be helpful to the companions here. You may remember in a much misunderstood passage of The Secret Doctrine that HPB says in a footnote, I believe — I am repeating the substance only of her remarks — that one of these days she hoped it would come to pass that our astronomers teach esoteric astrology and the laws of the sun, moon, and planets governing human conception and birth. She hoped that this would come to pass not only for the well-being of the mothers but of the children themselves. Not only should the conception of a child take place while the moon is waxing, or, best of all, at a time shortly before the moon is full, but also conception should occur in the spring of the year between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, or say Easter. This would mean that the best period for conception would be between the months of January and the equinoctial lunation of March-April. As a matter of fact, the Greeks had a month corresponding more or less accurately to our January, which they called Gamelion, or "the month of marriages," showing how well they originally understood these esoteric mysteries.

I would like to add, furthermore, because it is something that our students should know, that the marriage relation is a very sacred one, and in ancient times the conception of a child was a religious ceremony, a ceremonial rite, a religious rite, which was undertaken with a chastened heart and with a full sense of the responsibility of the act. We moderns have wandered far from the ancient wisdom in these respects.

Conception of a child when the moon is waning, or especially at about the time of new moon, or during the latter part of the year, and particularly when the two wrong conditions combine, and if done by one of our own students possessing this knowledge, is equivalent to an act of black magic, for it is a direct violation of the knowledge gained and of the forces of nature which are then active. In the spring of the year everything is beginning to expand, to bud, to bloom, to express itself outwardly; and the conception of a child should follow the same natural course as the burgeoning of the trees and the warming of the earth, and furthermore, as said, it should take place when the moon is waxing, growing — let us say in the second quarter.


November 25, 1941

More About the Buddhas

There are two kinds of buddhas, the buddha of compassion and the pratyeka, and what is the difference? Every human being, indeed every animal, every plant, every atom, every celestial body, has likewise its own buddha, call it the inner god, call it the dhyan-chohan, ranking in each case according to the individual which is its vehicle. This means that each one of you, that I, that every other human being, that every other entity anywhere, is a buddha within in its higher parts. Therefore to become a buddha in our human life and sphere and action is to come into self-conscious union with the buddha within. This is what Gautama Siddhartha achieved, and thereby became buddha to the world.

Now then, in the case of a buddha of compassion, no matter what the degree of rank or of spiritual sublimity such buddha of compassion may have attained or may be, the part of the entity achieving buddhahood passes into nirvana, or becomes dharmakaya. And you know the teaching regarding the trikaya, the three kayas or so-called vehicles, bodies. The intermediate part of this same entity becomes bodhisattva, a Christ to use the Western term, a christos, which is sambhogakaya, the buddha of "participation" between the buddha above and the human below. The remaining third, after death, becomes nirmanakaya.

When buddhahood is attained either for the first time or again after having been buddha before, or several times before — when in the present life buddhahood is achieved, the higher part of the man enters or becomes dharma, dharmakaya, and interests itself no more in human affairs, for no more can it do so. It has ascended out of all the magnetic attractions of human affairs, of human concerns. But in the case of a buddha of compassion it leaves behind its bodhisattva who, as long as the man remains alive on earth, is sambhogakaya; but when the man dies becomes nirmanakaya in order to remain as an influence as an individual for the purpose of helping men and indeed all that lives. This was the case with the Buddha Gautama. Such is a buddha of compassion. He leaves behind him his representative, his agent, his soul, and in this sense, the soul or ego is in touch with human affairs, although the spirit has become dharmakaya. The bodhisattva becomes nirmanakaya, an active individual man or being, the soul of the former buddha or former man if you wish, and thus works as a nirmanakaya in beneficence and immense love on earth for the remainder of the manvantara, whatever that manvantara may be.

This bodhisattva, according to the exoteric statements of the Orient which are true, in order himself to become buddha, has but one more step to make (as Siddhartha made that step) to become buddha. But he refuses this, preferring rather to remain the vehicle of the buddha become dharmakaya in nirvana, and thus keep the links unbroken, than himself to achieve buddhahood and thus himself from bodhisattva nirmanakaya become buddha or dharmakaya, to enter nirvana and to know earth and its affairs no more.

You see now why and how it is that the bodhisattva doctrine is so beloved of all Buddhists or Orientals who understand it, or of all Occidentals who understand it. The immense sublime humanity of the conception is what appeals to us humans — this grand man, the bodhisattva, demi-god if you wish, half-buddha and half-human, remaining on earth in limitless pity to work forever in utter self-abnegation for all others. The fact is so sublime that it appeals to everything that is noblest in us, and indeed to even the more human portions of us, for it means that there is a leader, a guide, a teacher, a compassionate helper forever, that is for the manvantara.

Now a pratyeka buddha is one who achieving buddhahood enters nirvana with all his constitution, leaving naught behind. No bodhisattva remains, for the bodhisattva, for the soul, is indrawn, withdrawn, upwards into the spirit and sinks into a lower nirvana; whereas the spirit enters dharmakaya or the higher nirvana. Naught is left behind, except as it were the sheen of the spiritual entity who has thus attained, the fading glory of a spiritual power which has left earth in its entirety, leaving something, indeed. Nevertheless even this something, the spiritual glow, in time fades out from earth.

Do you see the distinction between the buddha of pity or compassion and the pratyeka buddha? And that is the choice that each one of us someday, somewhen, will make, must make, for it is in our future evolutionary destiny.

In this connection it is of truly fascinating interest to turn for a moment to the extremely profound Mahayana Buddhism as taught by the Yellow Caps in Tibet, which teaching is to those who can see it and understand it full of a deep occultism, and to compare this Mahayana teaching with what I have just been stating concerning the achievement of buddhahood by which the higher part of the man enters or becomes dharmakaya, enters nirvana, and therefore becomes buddha, leaving the intermediate part of the man behind as a bodhisattva — speaking here of course of the buddhas of compassion.

If we turn to the Tibetan teaching of the two buddhas revered by high and low, great and small, occultly instructed or ignorant layman, among the Tibetan people, these two buddhas being Amitabha, the buddha of "immeasurable light," and the Buddha Avalokitesvara, the buddha whose being and functions "are seen from below," we immediately comprehend that the Tibetan viewpoint, as thus even publicly explained, is cosmic. The human analog in the case of the adept achieving buddhahood is the following: in the human or buddha line, the adept's atman entering dharmakaya corresponds to the Tibetan Amitabha Buddha, both being of "immeasurable light"; whereas the bodhisattva or intermediate part of the adept on the verge of buddhahood, yet not accepting buddhahood, corresponds with the Tibetan cosmic Avalokitesvara. The meaning surely is clear to all. In the human case, the man's higher principles entering dharmakaya or nirvana pass out of all human consciousness or cognition and become immeasurable light because becoming at one with the atman of the man, like the Amitabha Buddha of the Tibetan cosmic scheme. The bodhisattva of the man remains behind out of pity in order to work for all that lives, corresponding exactly to the Tibetan cosmic conception of Avalokitesvara — both entities whether of the man, whether of the cosmic line, remaining behind in order to labor in the manifested spheres for the toiling pilgrims who have not yet achieved "liberation." The analogy is close and exact. Indeed it is an identity, albeit in the one case the scale is cosmic, and in the other case the scale is human, an adept's constitution.

I will merely add in conclusion, that I think our study tonight from beginning to end has been one of the most beautiful, helpful, and profitable that this group has ever had. I have this feeling strongly. Evidently there is an influence present here.


May 26, 1942

The KTMG Teachings

Consider the great advances that we all have made since those early times when this group was first started, cast a look backwards over those past years, and see how you have grown inwardly, not only in understanding but in a richer, deeper feeling for your fellowmen. In my judgment there is nothing nobler in human life, nothing that can give you greater happiness and peace than this feeling. I will add just here that I am now in process, or shall be as soon as we move and I can catch my breath, I am in process with the help of certain devoted students, of recasting the KTMG teachings into a series of booklets. This itself is a great work, and will take months and months of preparation. Then we shall have them printed and then distributed. All extraneous purely elementary matter will be dropped. The nobler questions, I mean those showing the deeper penetration will be kept, and it is my intention to enlarge, greatly enlarge, what we already have studied now for some 12 years, is it not? I think so.

The Three Kayas

A monad which becomes buddha simply re-enters its own monadhood; or to speak in the technical language of the Mahayana Buddhist philosophy, the buddha is that spiritual part of the man which enters into or becomes dharmakaya; and herein lies the reason why the exotericists of the Orient say that once a buddha there is no return, which is true for that manvantara, but not true for eternity. The nirmanakaya is the part of the man which remains on earth, or in its atmosphere as nirmanakaya, and in most cases participating in the glory of the part which has become a buddha, and therefore not only is such a man nirmanakaya but sambhogakaya. Thus, the human soul of the buddha remains behind as nirmanakaya for the duration of a period, depending largely upon the choice of that human soul of the buddha. It may be for the remainder of the fifth round, it may be for the remainder of the fourth round on this globe. It all depends upon the individual.

The sixth round at its end will produce many buddhas, for in the sixth round buddhi will be developed, and re-entering buddhi means becoming buddha, the roots being the same, and the conceptions identic.

Now, it is my own opinion that the Buddha Gautama, to use the title ordinarily given to him, will be a nirmanakaya for the duration or period of our fifth race, and during the sixth and seventh will perform his part in aiding the spiritual and intellectual training and advancement of the humanity of those two following races. It is my opinion that the human portion, what is now the Bodhisattva Gautama, in the sixth round will become full buddha. There will then be during the seventh round the still remaining portion of that entity becoming bodhisattva for those two rounds. If you cast your thought back and remember that the monads are eternal, there must have been many buddhas emanating from that catenation or chain of monads in previous manvantaras. Remember I have often spoken of a human being as being a stream of consciousness, beginning or rather arising in divinity, and therefore unending, and as it were marked at different places called monads. Take our own consciousness as an example of the many monads in us, every one of those in time will become a buddha, just as the bodhisattva of Gautama, that which was left behind when the spiritual part became buddha, in its proper time will become a buddha.

Now at the end of the seventh round, the teaching is that all mankind which will have passed successfully the very important moment of choice at the middle of the fifth or next round, during the seventh round and at its end will become buddhas, in fact dhyani-chohans.

The Gods Cast No Shadows

The Hindus say, and very truly, that the gods when appearing to men cast no shadows, nor do they wink the eye — two typically human physical characteristics of heavy matter. I wonder if you get the idea behind this. And along that line, and much more spiritual in conception, was the statement of other peoples that in the sanctum sanctorum or the holy of holies of whatever nation or religion it may be, the presence of the divine, or of the presiding or protecting divinity, was seen as a splendor infilling the chamber. It may interest you to know that I have seen that myself. No presence as we understand a body, but just a glory, a light, a splendor; and it is significant when we recollect our teachings that even our own physical bodies in the distant, distant, distant future will be ovoid or egg-shaped spheres of light, as our eyes would observe them now. To us they would be arupa, but merely by comparison with our own rupa world. Just here let me remind you again of the old Hindu saying that the gods cast no shadows, nor do they wink the eye. You know that statement is worth brooding over a bit.

The Esoteric Becomes Exoteric

A great number of what we now call our exoteric theosophical doctrines were in the times of Greece and Rome parts of the teachings of the Mysteries. HPB herself alludes to this fact. Portions of these then secret, and now published, doctrines leaked out, seeped out into the outer world, and were seized upon by intuitive minds and developed into the different systems of philosophy, as in the Stoic philosophy for instance. Of course, I can see very clearly that the time will probably come when what we now call esoteric we shall publish broadcast, because the time will have come to do so. But that does not mean that anyone of you is entitled to break his oath of secrecy. It is not for me to say when. It is for Those who know more than anyone of us here. But I can feel that it is coming. Then still deeper teachings will be given to us, replacing those which have been broadcast into the outer world.

Charge, Pledge

Here is something that I have been trying to hammer home into your consciousness for years. You often hear initiates spoken of in the Greek and Roman writings. Among those writers it meant those who had passed through the Mysteries of either Eleusis or Samothrace; and in the later days of those two countries such induction into the esoteric teachings of that time was called initiation, and it was. But it was not anything — oh, please take this carefully — like what we have been studying here amongst ourselves. The whole purpose of the ES is in the nature of a plea to you all to recognize that it is your duty — no longer a privilege — to live what you profess, which means to take the positive attitude inside, without any egoism or swelled-headedness whatsoever. If you become egoistic or proud, if pride finds a place in your heart that is a sure sign you have not got it — the realization that you have taken pledges which on your honor and in the presence of the god within you have sworn to fulfill.

Now if you can do that, I mean do it fully, can't you imagine, can't you see how it would change your lives, not only glorify them, but make you actual leaders among your fellow human beings. When I say leaders I mean leaders, spiritual ones, not creatures of power, or seekers for place, but leadership in spirituality, which means self-abnegation for the common good. And oh, what a beautiful thing this is, and how strengthening and ennobling.

Now every one of you is in that situation, and if you have not awakened to it, or realized it, it is your own fault. If you have realized it, it will cast a glory into your lives, and I mean this, every word of it. Just try to grasp the idea: "I have been accepted, I am pledged, I am the repository of knowledge so secret that it has been hid from the majority of mankind for millennia, thousands and thousands of years." If you can get this idea and get the consequences in your hearts and souls, you will automatically become leaders of men, because your whole inner being will be stimulated, awakened, stirred up, a new force will appear through you.

I want you all to be leaders, every one of you should aspire to be such — a leader, a spiritual one.

Fidelity: Unity of Spirit

To the spirit there is neither time nor place as the man understands it; and when Headquarters leaves Point Loma, it leaves theosophical and dear companions who can have Headquarters and the Leader at every meeting, if you wish it so, because it is so. The reason is that spirit is universal. Our bodies are localized, they will be gone, but the spirit will be present. And while I know that to millions of people the bodies are more tangible and more real, because they think they are more real than is the spirit, you will never be happy as long as you dwell under that illusion. Believe me, a man can sit in his armchair, and with the spirit pass in full consciousness to any part of the earth, or even beyond, to other planes and to other planets, even to the sun.

Now, those of course are adepts who can do that, but there is no human being who is deprived of the power of doing the same thing in relative degree. No human being is deprived of the faculty of understanding — our Leader has gone, Headquarters has gone, but they are here, for our hearts are one, our spirits are one, and you can make that just as real as a guide in life as you can tonight. I hope you will not take these words as merely consolatory. They are facts; and that is what is taking place in our Work all over the world today. Think how privileged we have been here in San Diego to assemble together so many hundreds of times on different occasions; while all our other National Sections and lodges and members-at-large who never see the Leader from year's end to year's end, who never in all their lives have a chance to come to Headquarters, they keep the link unbroken, because they have come to realize that the spirit has no bounds or frontiers. If you have never found that out, you are just to be pitied. You have not had an experience that is marvelous; and anyone of you can have it. I might use the word vision. Imagine it, and keep on imagining it, and it will be a reality by and by. Vision it. That is the way greatness is achieved. It is not achieved by sitting down and dreaming about it, but visioning greatness, visioning reality. Keep on visioning it, and by and by that process of continuity, that application, will bring greatness into your lives. There is the whole secret of occultism, the way the mahatmas are made, or developed or born; and by dwelling on low things is the way evil men and women are developed and born. The same rule holds good. If a man keeps dwelling on low things, he gradually sinks to low things; because you keep thinking and dreaming and imagining about them. You soon begin to do them. It is the same rule.

Now there you have all the secret of occult training, all the secret of initiation. Vision, imagine yourself as being grand. Now no one but an idiot would think that I am suggesting to you to become egoists. If you do, you have not got it at all. Thus imagine yourself as a bodhisattva, having thoughts and having feelings and doing deeds of unimaginable beauty and beneficence, and keep imagining that. Do you realize that that continued practice of the only true yoga there is will bring bodhisattvahood into your lives, changing over, re-forming and conforming your lives unto bodhisattvahood? That is the way the buddhas are born, the Christs are born, and that is the whole purpose of the training in the ES cycle of study and life. Figurate yourself as the noblest you can conceive. Keep on figurating that. And if you become egoistic, it just means that you have not caught it yet. It is just the opposite. Egoism is just the precise polar antithesis of what I am talking about. Have you caught the thought?

But there have been on the other hand, and we have been told it clearly, there have been betrayals. I think the theosophical movement has been singularly happy in the fidelity of its adherents in these respects. We have had exceptions, but I know the case of a member who once belonged to this group, and who at the time was almost fanatically devoted to it, but later on through reasons of his own — I think a temporary obscuration of a part of his character — had a change of view. But even this person never, so far as I know, breathed one word of what he had been taught under the oath of secrecy. And that is very creditable to a person who must have suffered from a sharp attack of pledge fever, keeping the head enough not to let his own honor down. That already is a lot.

I take this opportunity to say to you all dear Companions of San Diego, and the different lodges of the neighborhood, how much we Headquarters workers owe to you also. Your fidelity, your unfailing devotion, the feeling — I speak for myself now — the thought that not only our Headquarters workers but your Leader and friend can rely upon you to the end — I doubt if any one of you dear ones really understand how much that means to me. And while this is the last meeting that we shall hold of this group in this way, in this building, and on Point Loma probably, I want you — and these are my last words — to hold together forever. As long as life lasts and beyond I want you to be like the old story told of chelaship, which is so true, to be like the bundle of sticks which when bound together in unity cannot be broken. But if the bond of unity which ties these sticks together be broken, the individual sticks can be snapped, disintegration will set in and the work of years will be lost. I do hope and pray and I feel it will be so, that the departure of our Headquarters workers from the physical neighborhood of you companions whom we have loved and you who have loved us will be no symbol and no entering wedge of a lessening of your enthusiasm. Let it be just the contrary. We leave you behind with theosophical lines laid down here after many years of common work together. I want you to increase the influence of theosophy in your neighborhood. Make it an even greater spiritual and intellectual influence. Remember that 125 miles away, as Headquarters will be, is nothing. And furthermore, visitors from Headquarters may be able to come down and renew those personal touches of physical companionship which I do realize must mean a lot to you here. Oh, I do hope you get these thoughts.

Dear Companions, may the blessing and the peace be with you. Good night all!


Covina, California, July 28, 1942

Pratyeka and Compassion Buddhas

I have often wondered why there is so much confusion with regard to the pratyeka buddhas. It may arise from the fact that the common feeling in the Orient is that they are immersed or merged in a species of spiritual selfish bliss, and hence are called the Solitary Ones. Now, on the other hand, they are buddhas, and it is impossible to be a buddha unless one has attained buddhahood, as seems obvious. To attain buddhahood, as you now already know, you must have merged the soul into the spirit, the ego into nirvana, and thus have cut off — which is what nirvana means, "blown out" of these spheres into the higher — all links connecting you, if you are pratyeka buddhas, with all the worlds trailing along behind, with the world of humanity, these weary and footsore pilgrims of the ages.

It is for this reason, as I have repeatedly explained, that the pratyeka buddhas are described in the popular terms of the Orient as the selfish Solitaries because they enter the utter bliss of nirvana for themselves alone, and leave the suffering multitudes behind without their guidance.

Now, on the other hand, those egos or monads which reach nirvana and enter it with their spirits, with the atman-buddhi if you wish, but who nevertheless have forged links of pity and love still holding them to the world behind and beneath them, with the pitiful multitudes who have not yet become buddhas, these individuals are called buddhas of compassion. They have attained buddhahood in the highest portions of their constitution, but have not wholly immersed themselves in nirvana, and therefore are still capable of guiding and leading and comforting and helping all beneath them. Now the portions of the buddha of compassion in the complex constitution of a human being which do not enter nirvana, these lower but nevertheless very high spiritual parts of the buddha's constitution, which remain in our world in fact and truth, are given the name of bodhisattvas. This is a very difficult pneumatological and psychological mystery. Take again the example of Gautama the Buddha. When Siddhartha, which was the Buddha's individual name, entered nirvana, it meant that the highest portions of his constitution became buddha, fully "awakened," which can only happen when a man's highest portions become dharmakaya, meaning the imbodiment of "cosmic law," therefore universal. But the next lower part of the buddha's constitution, what you might call the personal ego, remained behind as bodhisattva — a Sanskrit word meaning one filled with the spirit of wisdom and love: buddhi. Thus Gautama as Buddha died when he entered into nirvana, died to the world, at 80 years of age. But the same man in his lower portions lived on for 20 years more in his physical body and spiritual-psychological part of his constitution as the bodhisattva, and the Bodhisattva Gautama died when his body attained 100 years.

For some reason this teaching, which is really simple and can be easily proved to ourselves if we take the trouble to analyze our own constitution, our own aspiration, and so forth, has seemed to present almost insuperable difficulties to Occidental students, and I have often wondered why. Isn't it a simple thing? If man is composed, following the Christian idea, of spirit, soul, and body, isn't it a simple thing to see and understand that the spirit enters nirvana or dharmakaya, and that man therefore in the dharmakaya part of himself becomes buddha; that the soul of that man, the bodhisattva, does not enter nirvana, but remains alive on earth as long as the body lives as bodhisattva; and when the body dies that bodhisattva becomes nirmanakaya? That is precisely what Gautama the Buddha did, who is the buddha of our own fifth root-race, and a buddha of compassion.

You see there the distinction between a pratyeka and a compassion buddha. The pratyeka so longs for things of the spirit, for the utter bliss, wisdom, happiness, the power that he can attain when his spirit enters dharmakaya or nirvana and cuts all links with the lower world, that he cannot resist the temptation to enter the spirit, enter dharmakaya. As he does this because he himself utterly longs for that bliss and wisdom, he is spoken of in popular parlance as a selfish solitary, solitary because he is alone in his bliss, selfish because he thought alone of his own bliss and of himself.

Now the bodhisattvas of the buddhas of compassion see the nirvana before them, know that their own spirit has entered dharmakaya or nirvana, has become buddha, and yet themselves then and there make the vow to refuse nirvana — this is only one more step before becoming buddha — and remain behind in the world in order to help the suffering multitudes trailing along behind them. In the long course of ages their recompense is correspondingly splendid; for they in time, because of that impersonal love for all things which is one of the very first attributes of the Logos, of cosmic spirit, universality, because of that very choice to be universal rather than centered upon one's own bliss, in time they enter the outer realms of paranirvana — a nirvana higher than any pratyeka buddha was ever enabled to attain.

There is a very profound and beautiful teaching which involves a truly esoteric wonder: it is in regard to the very similar thing on lower planes that happens between a devachani, one in the devachan, and those on earth who loved the devachani very truly when the individual was on earth as an imbodied man or woman or child. While the devachani is not conscious of the ascending and beautiful love of those left behind on earth, they who feel this strong impersonal love for those who have passed on can reach the devachan with their love, and as it were enter into spiritual communion. A similarity of vibration is all that there is to it, so that the ones who truly love their dead may be with them in thought and in feeling, even though they are still alive on earth.

In proportion as the love is more personal, the more difficult is it for the love to reach into the spheres of spirit. But if the love is impersonal, nothing can hinder the wings of that love rising into the devachan, instinctual with the magnetism of love coming into synchrony of vibration with the one in the devachan. Those who have experienced this know how true it is. But the devachani's rest is not interfered with by this. There is the distinction.

Now the bodhisattva of the buddha is fully conscious, has full knowledge that his higher part has become buddha, has entered dharmakaya, has entered nirvana, and the bodhisattva is capable and in fact constantly does keep in intimate synchrony, that is identity of spiritual feeling and thought, with the buddha. The buddha is likewise, although now a nirvani, conscious and responds, not as bodies do, but with sympathy and understanding as vibrations can do, and as words often fail to do. The reason of this is that the bodhisattva already is so high spiritually that it is but one more step for the bodhisattva himself to become buddha.

Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya

Frequent reference has been made to one or another of what we call the trikaya: dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya. Now every one of these three kayas is involved in this question of the buddhahood, of the buddhas of compassion. What part plays the dharmakaya? What part plays the sambhogakaya? What part plays the nirmanakaya? All three are involved in the status or choice of every buddha.

You will err greatly if you attempt to separate any one of these three, if you attempt to divorce nirmanakaya from sambhogakaya or from dharmakaya. They are always united. That is why they are called trikaya in a single Sanskrit compound. They can be separated in a sense, that is a man knowing how so to do can live strongly in the dharmakaya or in the sambhogakaya or in the nirmanakaya, by an effort of his will and his aspiration, if he so desires. But the other two kayas are never for an instant abandoned or asleep. Do get that thought very clear. Never forget the other points of teaching. Man or any other entity is a stream of consciousness, the stream at its source is dharmakaya, cosmic law, cosmic justice — dharma means the cosmic universality, cosmic law which obviously is universal and not restricted. Sambhogakaya means the vehicle of participation. Try to forget bodies because your thought will become more difficult. You will think of frontiers: how big a body, what type of a body, a thick body, a thin body, a short body, and thus your mind will be on details of form. Sambhogakaya means a thought vehicle and a feeling vehicle. When your consciousness becomes universal, you are in that vehicle of thought and feeling — dharma, universal. Sambhogakaya meaning participation, sharing, communicating, is that vehicle of thought and feeling lower than dharmakaya which is nirvana or the buddha, and yet higher than the nirmanakaya which is essentially the glorified personal man.

Thus we have the cosmic thought-feeling or dharmakaya, the thought-feeling intermediate or sambhogakaya, participating with that above, yet also participating with the one below or nirmanakaya. Hence sambhogakaya is in a sense a unifier, the union, the antaskarana, participating in the dharmakaya and linked also with the nirmanakaya, therefore participating below and above. This corresponds to the human soul, as dharmakaya corresponds to the human spirit.

Then we have the nirmanakaya in which the bodhisattva finds its lowest vehicle, the nirmanakaya being the full complete man minus the physical body and the gross animal vitality, and of course minus the linga-sarira too.

Now then, you see that all these three, the trikaya, are in every one of us. When we live wholly in the dharmakaya, and as it were rise by the sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya and find rest and oblivion in the dharmakaya, then we are pratyeka buddhas. We leave nothing behind, there is no participation in the lower worlds. We selfishly isolate ourselves in the utter glory of pure spirit and hence become pratyeka buddhas.

When we live in the sambhogakaya and manifest at the same time in the nirmanakaya, our highest principle is dharmakaya or buddha or nirvani, as in the case of the Buddha-Siddhartha. Gautama was buddha in the dharmakaya; Gautama was bodhisattva in the sambhogakaya, linking dharmakaya with nirmanakaya — the lowest vehicle contacting these planes of human life for the purpose of enabling the bodhisattva to live and work in the world. Isn't that thought simple and isn't it clear and isn't it inexpressibly beautiful?

Is there any communication between the dharmakaya and the nirmanakaya? We have our answer because the bodhisattva is centered in the sambhogakaya, the "communication" vehicle, the participation, the sharing vehicle, and living as a nirmanakaya invisible to men but nevertheless perhaps for that very reason all the more powerful in the bodhisattva's work.


Covina, California, August 25, 1942


It is contrary to every rule of the archaic occult school for an esoteric gathering to be held during an eclipse, or indeed during any other of the several great phenomena of nature. Among such phenomena we can reckon earthquakes and very severe electric storms. Invariably our esoteric or occult meetings immediately close should any or all of these phenomena begin, although of course where great adepts are concerned, and earthquakes, eclipses, severe electrical storms are foreseen, no occult or esoteric meetings are even begun.

So strongly held was this rule, and so commonly understood amongst the ancients, that it is a matter of recorded history that even in the midst of most important human affairs, such as congresses, or meetings of the heads of states, or the founding of a city or what not, even during battles on land or naval engagements at sea, at the first sign of an earthquake, at the first sign of an eclipse, or even the coming of a heavy electrical storm, everything stopped instantly because, to phrase it in the exoteric language of those ancient days, the gods were angered with men at the moment. Greek and Roman historians, as well as those of other nations, have recorded several cases where an earthquake or an eclipse put an instant stop to military engagements or battles, and not infrequently ended the war, because it was thought that the gods were displeased with what men were doing and gave warning of their displeasure in such manner.

This sounds quaint to the modern man, whose mind has been so colored by scientific theory or speculation that he utterly fails to realize that all nature is knitted together in an absolute web of destiny. The ancients were wiser for they knew that earthquakes "don't just happen," that eclipses don't just happen, nor electrical storms, or any other of the serious phenomena of nature. The absolute unity of nature, including men, as well as the earth's electrical and seismic movements, and the movements of the sun and planets, were to the ancients all different movements of one common nature of which every part responds and calls to every other part. So that when men were fighting on land or on sea, or engaged in important deliberations, and then Nature takes a hand in other parts of the web producing an earthquake or an eclipse or a severe electric storm, or even an unusual chilling of the atmosphere or a sudden heat pocket — all these things to the ancients were significant of the unity of life. The idea that they just happened would have been dismissed not merely with wonder but with contempt. Which attitude is the more truly scientific, that of the modern who sees no fundamental webbing of event with event, no fundamental unity with nature, and who thinks that things "just happen"; or that of the ancients and of many moderns even today who look upon nature as one and uniform, every part electrically connected with every other, human beings included, so that what one part did affected most intimately and perhaps powerfully every other greater or smaller part of nature?

Spiritual Selfishness

There is no difficulty whatsoever in understanding spiritual selfishness if you will keep in mind all the various phases of the teaching that we have received. In other words, remember everything about it before you allow your mind to set or to crystallize into any one channel. A channel immediately puts a frontier to your horizon, and you don't see what is over the ridge, the top of the channel in which you are going.

Now then, self originates in the atman so far as we humans are concerned. The atman is identical with the paramatman; the former is monadic so far as humans are concerned, the other is cosmic. Essentially they are the same. Now then, an intense spiritual longing followed by corresponding action looking to achievement to have the self sink into the utter bliss of atmic felicity, or paramatmic consciousness, is the mark of the pratyeka buddha. As this yearning concerns that individual monad alone longing for universality, and giving up its own atmic individuality in order to attain it even temporarily, this is concentration of attention upon self, and therefore logically, etymologically, and actually it is spiritual self-ishness. The word selfishness in spiritual things obviously should not be construed to mean the selfishness of material things. That is where the slip in the reasoning of most people comes, and that is where therefore we look for the cause of the confusion.

Now then, to be buddha, whether pratyeka or of compassion, one must become dharmakaya, which is equivalent to saying one must enter nirvana. To enter nirvana, to become dharmakaya, means that from the instant this glorious achievement is accomplished, all communication, contact or touch with everything beneath it in the hierarchical scale of values or on the ladder of life is broken; and hence it is said the nirvani is blown out, nir-vana, "out-blown." His monad is extinguished in these material planes, much as the flame of a candle is blown out on this plane.

Now such is the spiritual self-ishness of the pratyeka buddha — buddha because dharmakaya has been achieved, meaning the vesture of consciousness which has become one with paramatman, or the atman if you wish. All contact with everything else than it has been severed or broken. Hence such a nirvani has been called in the intuitive interpretation of even the exoteric Orient a spiritual solitary, a rhinoceros, a quaint term but descriptive because it is graphic.

The aim of the buddha of compassion is also to attain nirvana, dharmakaya, because otherwise there is no buddhahood — buddhahood meaning entrance into cosmic universality of consciousness which is nirvana, when the dewdrop slips into the shining sea and becomes one with the All. But here lies the distinction, and it is a very important one. The buddha of compassion leaves behind him in attaining dharmakaya or nirvana, a bodhisattva, another monad in his constitution, which bodhisattva, remains either in sambhogakaya or nirmanakaya. This is a buddha of compassion, a technical phrase comprehending more than merely the suggestion of the attainment of buddhahood. Such was the case of Gautama Sakyamuni, our Lord Buddha, and many other buddhas of past ages and manvantaras.

Thus we see what spiritual selfishness is: it means union with divinity brought about by the individual's own effort, yearning for spirituality and spiritual bliss for its own egoity. This means buddhahood, and yet it means pratyekahood, unless the buddha leave behind a bodhisattva to carry on the work of the buddha just become, in the buddha's place. Mark also the meaning of the Sanskrit compound pratyeka, and you will see that our theosophical interpretation as first given by HPB in The Voice of the Silence is absolutely correct, even in exoteric understanding. Prati, "for" or "towards"; eka, "one," meaning the individual's own self. Everything for myself, everything towards myself, so that I may become a buddha. Of course the pratyeka buddha likewise leaves behind him a wonderful aroma, a spiritual atmosphere of blessing, which is benign and holy and pure because he has attained buddhahood. It is like the saints in the Christian Church. They have made of the attainment of pratyeka buddhahood, which they call sainthood, one of the noblest of their aspirations because they have lost the occult or esoteric key that such action is the very essence of spiritual selfishness. They have lost the other and nobler part of this teaching: that the attainment of buddhahood is sublime, provided that the bodhisattva is left behind to carry on the work of the man become buddha. Isn't that clear?

I see no difficulty whatsoever in understanding what spiritual selfishness is, because obviously if it were the gross animal or physical or personal selfishness of the lower man it is not spiritual, and therefore that is not spiritual selfishness. Spiritual selfishness means the yearning to attain spiritual life for oneself, no matter what happens to the rest of the world.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition