The Theosophical Forum – July 1938


Buddhism and Theosophy

Could you give a little explanation of the difference between Theosophy and Buddhism as it is generally taught today amongst the masses? 

G. de P. — That is a good question, and one I like, because if I were not a Theosophist, I most emphatically would have accepted the doctrines of the Lord Gautama, the Buddha, as the most humane, the most philosophic, the most generous, the most princely, not only in their attitude towards men, but in the effect they produce upon men.

The difference is that between the mother and a very lovely daughter. The sublime mother is Theosophy, the lovely daughter is Buddhism. I would say that even as Buddhism is practised today, some 2500 years after the passing of its great Founder, even today it is the most theosophical of all the religions existent, the most generous, the most tender in its understanding of human problems; and in its dealing with them, without a vestige of anything that is harsh, unkind, or colored by hatred in any form. It has no doctrine of arbitrary punishment. Its doctrine of retribution based on cosmic law or karman, is retribution infinitely just. The evil that ye do will live after you, and ye yourselves the doers of it will meet it one day, and until ye undo the evil that ye have wrought it will abide — wonderfully logical, satisfying, and comforting.

Just see how this takes hold of the human heart. The true Buddhist says of his injurer: "He has injured me terribly. I pity him. I desire no revenge. That would be but adding my might to the evil that is wrought, for some day the evil that he wrought upon me will fall, helpless man, upon him, and in addition he will have the evil that that evil-doing wrought in his own character. A double evil. I, his victim in this life, will receive recompense, double the recompense of the wrong, the injury, done unto me, because I shall have retributive compensation for the wrong, and because I do not in my turn hit back at my injurer, I have the increments of strength of character thus growing out of the injury wrought upon me, which is a double good to myself, who have suffered. I have the recompense in my own soul, that I know how to be patient and strike not, hit not back."

Divinity breathes through that. It is the very heart of pity, of compassion. And that is pure Theosophy. In other words, Buddhism is but a lovely daughter of a still more lovely mother. Christianity is its daughter, Brahmanism is its daughter, Taoism, all the religions of India, Persia, China, Egypt, of ancient Europe, and of the Americas. They all sprang from this one source, our God-Wisdom, as we call it, kept in the Guardianship of the Mahatmans, greatly evolved men. But I think that Buddhism is the loveliest of the daughters, because the truest. Fidelity has crowned her. Justice has followed her footsteps.

The Purpose of the Pyramids

What was the real purpose of the building of the Pyramids? — S. H. W.

H. T. E. — When speaking of the pyramids, reference is usually to those of Egypt and chiefly to the Great Pyramid of Cheops. All these Pyramids, whether in Egypt, Central America, or elsewhere, are records constructed for the preservation of sacred knowledge through the dark ages, to be available to posterity. The Mighty Ones perform their great works and leave everlasting monuments; under their supervision the great pyramids were built, when Dhruva was at his lowest culmination and the Pleiades looked over his head. Pyramids are part of the various stone monuments erected by those Initiates who journeyed to many lands for that purpose.

In seeking to explain the meaning of these records we are faced with the difficulty of interpreting an ancient science into terms of modern ideas. The science of those days was a comprehensive whole, which has become decomposed into sundered fragments, which seem to us to be unrelated to each other. The single purpose in the minds of the builders seems to us like a number of different purposes, competing with one another in the minds of various antiquarians. Were the pyramids initiation chambers? Were they records of astronomical data, or of mathematical truths, or of standards of measurement? They were all of these, and perhaps they could not be any one without being the others also. When the candidate passed through the processes of initiation he enacted in his own person the selfsame processes which occur in Kosmos; hence the size, shape, and orientation of the passages and chambers signify at once Kosmic and human mysteries. A profound lore of numbers and measures and their relation to the Kosmic plan enabled or impelled their architects to build their records according to these forgotten mathematical principles. Many investigators have discovered fragments of this lore, but have not succeeded in reconstructing the whole out of the fragments. Each is prone to fix on his own particular fragment and worry it to death, often cooking his figures and running into extravagances, the while he censures his rivals for committing the selfsame fault. The angle between a side of the base and the slant height is in the neighborhood of 51° 50', and within the limits of difference of only three minutes of arc we obtain three remarkable results: (1) the periphery of the base is times the height; (2) the cosine of this angle is .618 . . ., the ratio of the Divine Section; (3) the ratio of the slant height to a side of the base is that of the ten-month lunar year to the solar year. If a certain cubit is used as unit, the side of the base gives the number of days in the solar year. Certain of our measures, usually believed to be arbitrary and modern, are thought by some to be based on kosmic facts and to be preserved in the Great Pyramid. Ralston Skinner and Piazzi Smyth are much quoted in The Secret Doctrine in reference to the symbology of names, numbers, and measures. That the decimal notation was used is shown by the fact that certain significant numbers are derived from each other by permutation of the digits, which would not hold good in any other scale or system of notation. The orientation shows the four cardinal points and symbolizes the four Elements.

As to the age of the Great Pyramid, it is hinted by H. P. Blavatsky to be at least three precessional cycles, which is about 78,000 years; the evidence for which is explained in The Secret Doctrine, II, 432.

Puzzles in Evolution

According to Biology the lower animals and plants are in some cases so much alike as to be separated only by an arbitrary classification. If evolving souls manifest first in plant forms, then in animal forms, we are forced to the conclusion that a one-celled animal houses a more evolved soul than an apple-tree or a redwood which contains many cells. — H. M.

L. G. P. — In your question you have pointed out certain similarities between some forms of plants and animals, especially those forms representative of the lowest grades of these two main classes of entities, or kingdoms. So far as I have been able to understand, we are not to think of evolving souls as passing from kingdom to kingdom as you might "cut across" from one highway to another on a trip south. Think rather of each kingdom as existing for a purpose, i.e., in order to provide the means for a certain class of entity to pursue its pathway right through, and thus help to bring that kingdom to its fine flowering, let us say, before the time is ripe for the monads composing that kingdom to advance and form the basis for a higher kingdom. Such changes will not be made until the dawn of a new planetary manvantara. We should remember moreover that all of the forms, whether of the animal or the vegetable kingdom are on the physical plane, and that for a stream of entities to pass into, or form a kingdom, it must do so by a process of "precipitation" from astral forms into physical encasements. It is just those elementary forms of life in any kingdom that are closest to the "precipitation-point" that are so similar to one another. The same holds true regarding the human kingdom, but in this latter case, there are no visible remains which would instance the condition of mankind when he was cell-like, during the first Root-Race in this Round. Such records of the early condition of humanity are in the astral light, and are therefore unseen. Could you see them, you might well exclaim "How like a one-celled animal, or one-celled plant!" But you would realize that you had under observation a relic of long-forgotten humanity. Therefore, I would not consider your diagram with its arrows representing the progress of a monad from one grade of plant-evolution springing over to a corresponding grade in the beast-evolution, and then back again into the vegetable kingdom and so on, as being the correct one to use. Think rather of each kingdom as providing the means for its evolving members to work out fully and completely the destiny of that kingdom, which, obviously, is the bringing into activity all of the characteristics peculiar and appropriate to that kingdom, and which characteristics are still partially latent within those evolving monads that make up those great life-waves which we call the Kingdoms of Nature.

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