In the ancient occult literature of Hindustan frequent mention is made of avesa, (1) a technical and mystic word signifying the power possessed by initiates, whether of the white or of the black schools, to enter into the body of another, and to occupy and use it. The power of so doing is of course neither good nor bad in itself, but becomes beneficent or maleficent according to the manner in which this magical ability is used or misused.
On the rare occasions when an adept of the right-hand path, or a white magician, uses this power for the purpose of employing the body of another, he never in any circumstances whatsoever overpowers or destroys or evilly affects the will or the life or the body of the other. Rather he brings his own psychological and pranic characteristics into synchronous and sympathetic vibration with those of the one whose vehicle he so uses; and in this manner the psychological apparatus and vitality and body of the individual thus used are in no sense injured but, if anything, actually refined.
The black magician, or adept of the left-hand path, on the contrary, invariably overpowers or enslaves the will and the psychological apparatus and the pranas of the one whose vehicle is so used, and always to the lasting detriment and injury of his victim. Furthermore, the white adept without exception has the willing consent or acquiescence of the one who thus loans him his vehicle; whereas the black magician rarely ever gains such consent, and, even should such unwilling consent be forced, the effects are always bad.
One very important point should be mentioned here, for it explains a certain mystery connected with H.P.B., and indeed with any other chela who at times may loan himself or herself — i.e. the lower parts of the constitution — for use by the intelligence and will of the chela's teacher. This important point is that because the adept synchronizes his swabhava or individual characteristics with those of the chela in this instance, the natural effect of this is that almost infallibly the adept's own characteristics or style of writing or manner of speech are to a large extent modified by and become closely similar to those of the chela whose vehicle he is using. We thus see the chela, in giving his teacher's words, unconsciously and automatically influencing his teacher's style and characteristics by his own.
As an illustration: at those times when H.P.B. loaned her psychological apparatus and lower principles to the use of her teacher, he accommodated or synchronized his own mental and psychological characteristics to hers in order not to injure hers; in fact, he raised and clarified them for the time being. Yet the result was, that when the objectives in view were produced — whether it was a letter or a writing or whatever — it all sounded or looked like H.P.B.'s own, but immensely improved, clarified — very much as H.P.B.'s own higher self would have expressed itself had it then been working free and unfettered through the H.P.B. human apparatus.
Now by the use of the avesa power, many very strange and astounding things can happen and have happened in the occult history of philosophical and religious movements. Indeed, the magicians of ancient days could animate statues; and this accounts for the fairly large number of literary records and legends about statues of the gods or of heroes having been caused to wink, or nod the head, or even to speak. The occult rationale of this marvel lies in the fact that all matter, such as wood and stone, is composed of molecular and electronic particles which, although usually held in equilibrium, are nevertheless perfectly fluid when considered as aggregates of electrons and atoms and molecules moving with vertiginous speed. Thus when the all-powerful will and intelligence of the adept are thrown into the electric fluid controlling these molecular and electronic movements, such movements can be, at the will of the operator, changed to bring about a moving of portions of the hitherto 'inanimate' body — such portions being rendered for the time plastic.
This fact also accounts for the so-called moving stones of ancient story, or for the statues of the gods moving and speaking over possibly quite long periods of time. Of course this magical feat could be stopped by destroying the material object thus 'enchanted,' for such destruction obviously meant the rupture of the molecular cohesion of the object when it was broken or reduced to powder or burned — with the material object destroyed, the magic itself perforce ceased, there being then no material vehicle for the magical energy to work through (cf. "Animated Statues" by H.P.B., The Theosophist, Nov. 1886).
In the degenerate days of Atlantis the misuse of avesa was very prevalent, the black magicians being notorious for the wicked practices and frauds worked by them upon the humble, thoughtless, and often trusting multitudes.
Both the white and the black schools of the Atlantean race used this power to 'produce,' among other things, automatic or self-moving entities, and indeed these were as common as modern machinery is today. As an instance, H.P.B., quoting in The Secret Doctrine (II, 427, footnote) from an ancient manuscript, speaks of the Atlantean sorcerers employing some specially produced automata as servants, doing the heavy and humble work; and of other automata, who were really 'animated machines,' employed as guardians on the one hand, or warners of danger on the other hand, very much as modern science has learned to understand and to use the thermometer, the barometer, the photoelectric cell, etc.
All these automata were soulless in the human and proper sense of this word, for they had neither conscience nor integral mind, being merely machines animated by magic to do particular duties or to perform certain important scientific functions. Plato mentions in one of his famous Dialogues the existence and employment of such automata by the inhabitants of the island of Poseidonis, a portion of old Atlantis.
The process by which the adept brings his will and intelligence to bear by making exteriorizations from himself is, as said, called Hpho-wa, a term likewise covering the projection of the mayavi-rupa by the adept. There are many ways in which this power, which can be as terribly evil as it can be divinely beneficent, can be employed.
Among the commandments of Tsong-Kha-pa there is one that enjoins the Rahats (Arhats) to make an attempt to enlighten the world, including the "white barbarians," every century, at a certain specified period of the cycle. Up to the present day none of these attempts has been very successful. Failure has followed failure. Have we to explain the fact by the light of a certain prophecy? It is said that up to the time when Pban-chhen-rin-po-chhe (the Great jewel of Wisdom) condescends to be reborn in the land of the P'helings (Westerners), and appearing as the Spiritual Conqueror (Chom-den-da), destroys the errors and ignorance of the ages, it will be of little use to try to uproot the misconceptions of P'heling-pa (Europe): her sons will listen to no one. Another prophecy declares that the Secret Doctrine shall remain in all its purity in Bhod-yul (Tibet), only to the day that it is kept free from foreign invasion. The very visits of Western natives, however friendly, would be baneful to the Tibetan populations. This is the true key to Tibetan exclusiveness. — From papers left by H.P.B. and published after her death as 'S.D. III.'
Because of the fact that H.P.B. made so many allusions in the course of her writings to Tibet and to the Lamaistic hierarchy there, and to the so-called incarnations of the Buddha, etc., I write the following to serve as a warning against confusing the teachings of exoteric Tibetan Buddhism and Lamaism with the esotericism of the wisdom-religion.
The succession of the Lamaistic hierarchy since the time of Tsong-kha-pa in the fourteenth century is a real one, the principle of which is comprised in that deeper Buddhism which is really esoteric Buddhism. (2) As is fairly generally known, the Tashi Lama and the Dalai Lama are the two heads of the Tibetan state. (3) Neither one is a reincarnation of the Bodhisattva Sakyamuni; but the succession beginning with Tsong-kha-pa is a transmission of a 'ray' in each case of the line of Tashi Lamas derivative from the spiritual Maha-guru whom H.P.B. called the Silent Watcher of this globe. There is an important distinction to be drawn between successive reincarnations of Gautama and the successive imbodiments of rays from an identic source in the Hierarchy of Compassion.
It is indeed a transmission in serial line of a ray from the Buddha: but the Buddha in this instance is not the Bodhisattva Gautama, but the dhyani-buddha of whom the Bodhisattva Gautama himself was an incarnated ray — and the noblest and most complete since the beginning of our fifth root-race.
Now, even the Tibetans, with the possible exception of the Tashi and Dalai Lamas themselves, look upon this transmission in succession as being repeated reincarnations of Gautama the Buddha. But this is erroneous; and it is just the point where the confusion occurs. The higher members of the Tibetan hierarchy, including the Khutukhtus, are as well acquainted with the esoteric facts in this matter as was H.P.B. This has been the case up to the present, and there seems no reasonable doubt that the succession will go on until human vehicles are found to be too imperfect to carry on this line. In former ages an identic succession of true teachers existed in other parts of the world, and this was the basis for the mysterious stories current in the ancient literatures telling of hierarchies of initiates continued through the ages because of being linked with the Maha-guru.
Making certain allowances for the exaggerations of fancy and the mistakes of past Tibetan philosophical history, and having the esoteric keys in mind, it is not too much to say that at least the higher and more philosophical teachings of even exoteric Lamaism are as near an approach to an exoteric presentation of some of the doctrines of archaic theosophical occultism as can be found on the earth today.
The Dalai Lama is considered to be the executive official head of the Tibetan hierarchy, and the Tashi Lama to be the main teacher and repository of the mystic secrets of Tibetan Buddhism. Furthermore, the Dalai Lama is supposed to be the tulku or human imbodiment of certain of the characteristics of Avalokitesvara, the merciful Governor of the World; whereas the Tashi Lama is supposed to be the tulku of the dhyani-buddha Amitabha — 'boundless wisdom.' The Tashi Lama and the Dalai Lama are copies, in the esoteric and exoteric government of the Buddhists of Tibet, of what is actually the form of spiritual government in operation at Sambhala.
Now both Avalokitesvara and Amitabha (Tibetan: Chenrezi and O-pa me, respectively) are cosmic entities or powers, Avalokitesvara really being the entitative buddhi of cosmic kama or boundless love and compassion, whereas Amitabha is the cosmic dhyani-buddha or cosmic essence representing the wisdom or intelligence of the solar universe.
Exoteric Lamaism speaks commonly of five dhyani-buddhas to which various names are given; esoterically there are of course seven or even ten; and these dhyani-buddhas are both cosmic entities and the rays or reflections of these cosmic originals which manifest in man as monads. Now the main monadic essences or 'buddhas' in the human constitution as well as in the constitution of the cosmos, are the following: Adi-buddha, Amitabha-buddha, Avalokitesvara, Amitayus.
Adi-buddha, (4) meaning Original Primordial Buddha, corresponds from one angle of vision to the First or unmanifest Logos.
Amitabha, meaning Unbounded Light or Unlimited Glory, corresponds to the Second or manifest-unmanifest Logos, and thus also to Alaya. It is from the bosom of Amitabha that radiate forth those spiritual-intellectual rays or monads which in the Brahmanical system are often called kumaras, agnishwattas, and manasaputras.
Avalokitesvara (5) corresponds to the Third or manifest Logos. In exoteric Tibetan Lamaism it is often called Padmapani, meaning lotus-bearer or even lotus-born; but in esotericism, Padmapani is a name given to the spiritual-intellectual power radiating from Avalokitesvara, the Third Logos.
Amitayus signifies Unlimited Life or Boundless Vitality, with distinct reference to that part of the cosmic hierarchy of our solar system which manifests itself throughout as intelligent, unifying, and all-encompassing vitality issuing from the heart of the sun.
The key to the mystery of the intricate and much misunderstood doctrine of the 'incarnations of the Buddha' in Tibet lies in this: every human being contains within himself, as formative parts of his constitution, a ray from every one of the seven or ten cosmic essences of and in the solar universe; so that, for example, his higher manas is a ray from the cosmic Amitabha and the spiritual and divine part of his kama is a ray from the cosmic Avalokitesvara.
Thus these incarnations are not the actual reimbodiments of the Buddha called Gautama (who himself was a ray from the cosmic Amitabha, which ray worked through his own inner dhyani-buddha, itself this ray from the cosmic Amitabha). But when they occur in fact and not merely in theory, these Lamaistic incarnations are in very truth instances of men who, because of high evolutionary advancement and occult training, manifest at least some portion of one or another of the dhyani-buddhas within and belonging to each such man. For this reason the Tibetans regard the Tashi and Dalai Lamas as tulkus respectively of Amitabha and of Avalokitesvara. This also applies to the cases of minor incarnations of the 'living Buddhas,' as European travelers call them when referring to the many instances of Lamaistic story showing that this or that individual is 'an incarnation of the Buddha.' It simply means that these minor lamas are claimed to be — let us hope they actually are — 'incarnations' of one or of another dhyani-buddha.
The truth is that all these references to dhyani-buddhas so common in Tibetan religion and mythology, are either to cosmic entities or, more often, to the spiritual monad in man; and because human beings themselves belong as individuals by their evolutionary swabhava to one or to another of these cosmic essences, therefore a 'living Buddha' is said to be an incarnation either of Amitabha, or of Avalokitesvara, or again of Amitayus, etc. From this it is clear that such 'incarnations' are by no means limited to the chief official Lamas of Tibet, but can take place in minor instances; yet only when the individuals are genuinely initiated and highly evolved. Such high initiates, however, are exceedingly rare. One of these was the great Tibetan religious and philosophical reformer Tsong-kha-pa, who purified the degenerate Buddhism of his time and founded what is now known as the Gelukpa sect, often called the Yellow Caps, the official ecclesiastical and dominant power in the Tibetan hierarchy.
Every man on earth has different monads in his constitution, each one of which the Tibetan philosophy calls a dhyani-buddha; and each such dhyani-buddha manifests through an effulgence from itself, which is its human or manushya-buddha. Very few human beings are sufficiently evolved as yet to express even the human buddha within themselves; when they do so, one of those grand figures appears, such as Gautama Sakyamuni. There are of course minor buddhas who are the bodhisattvas, and I may say here that the bodhisattva doctrine in occultism is fully as important as are the teachings concerning the buddhas. It is the glorious line of bodhisattvas appearing frequently through the ages who largely form the noble Brotherhood of nirmanakayas of which the Brotherhood of adepts is partly composed, and of which the Buddha Gautama in his more human or bodhisattva aspect is a member.
Thus, every human being, containing or being in his higher parts a dhyani-buddha, has or is likewise a manushya-buddha and hence has the potentiality of becoming an active bodhisattva among men; and all initiations are directed to the point of raising men into bodhisattvahood for the benefit of the world and everything that is.
Tibetan Lamaism is the only representative at present on earth of a system which, throughout human history, oral or written, has been in existence in every land and among every race of people. Recorded history is usually silent, or very nearly so, about these ancient systems of philosophical and religious thinking and their schools of philosophy and training, because these were largely kept secret from the populace, very much as the existence of the Brotherhood of the mahatmas was almost unknown until H.P.B. brought it to the attention of mankind and received the guerdon of martyrdom for her self-denying sacrifice.
Any such system when operative in purity is, so to say, an extension on earth of the spiritual-psychological Hierarchy of Compassion, which we may call the spiritual banyan of our planetary chain with its overseeing Silent Watcher.
We thus see that Tibetan Lamaism contains noteworthy elements of occult truth, mixed with a great deal of sheer exotericism both in thought and in practice; and on the fringes of the Tibetan plateau Lamaism has again sunk almost to the level at which Tsong-kha-pa found it when the degenerate Buddhism of his time had largely fallen into sorcery and black magic due to the infiltration into it of the native Bhon practices.
In Tibet the people as a general rule are still spiritually unspoiled, although exceedingly crude in many ways; and thus they have preserved some of the teachings of the archaic wisdom, however exotericized they have become. But precisely what takes place in Tibet, and is recognized as incarnations in human beings of spiritual rays from cosmic sources working through their own seven principles, can occur — and indeed has occurred — in other parts of the world whenever human vehicles, through occult training and spiritual purity, are fit and ready to receive. (6)
In former ages, such knowledge was common to humanity, but it has been absolutely forgotten in the West. The Druids had more or less the same teaching; it exists even today in rather vague form among the Druses of the Lebanon of Syria. It was as well known in ancient Persia among the Zoroastrians as it was in Egypt. Many Greek mystics taught the same, as for instance in the Neoplatonic philosophy, and Greek history often records the fact that this or that man had been inspired by Apollo or by Mercury, or that one or another woman had been infilled with the virtue of Juno or Venus. In India this tradition is a commonplace, the greatest examples of such spiritual cosmic ray imbodiments being the avataras.
What has taken place in the past is but significant of what will take place in the future; so the present, which is but a dividing line between past and future, must likewise know instances of spiritual imbodiments. (7)
Every "Round" brings about a new development and even an entire change in the mental, psychic, spiritual and physical constitution of man, all these principles evoluting on an ever ascending scale. Thence it follows that those persons who, like Confucius and Plato, belonged psychically, mentally and spiritually to the higher planes of evolution, were in our Fourth Round as the average man will be in the Fifth Round, whose mankind is destined to find itself, on this scale of Evolution, immensely higher than is our present humanity. Similarly Gautama Buddha — wisdom incarnate — was still higher and greater than all the men we have mentioned, who are called Fifth Rounders, while Buddha and Sankaracharya are termed Sixth Rounders, allegorically. Thence again the concealed wisdom of the remark, pronounced at the time "evasive" — that "a few drops of rain do not make the Monsoon, though they presage it." — The Secret Doctrine, I, 162
Ever since the existence of the Brotherhood of adepts and masters came to the attention of the Western world, particularly after the publication of some of their letters in the 1880s, students have been puzzled by some of their references to fifth and sixth rounders. The theme has already been dealt with in an earlier chapter, but in order to clarify it still further, the following remarks are added.
A fifth rounder is one who has already attained the state of consciousness which the average member of the human race will attain during the fifth round on this earth. A sixth rounder is one who has reached the state of consciousness which the average human being will attain during the sixth round. The human life-wave, with its many grades of evolutional unfolding manifesting in the various types of humanity, is not alone and single, but in reality is but one of the ten families of life-waves that are making the rounds of our earth planetary chain. For instance, there are hosts upon hosts of entities preceding us in evolutionary progression, the forerunners, and there are likewise hosts upon hosts following in our wake, the trailers.
On our planetary chain there are other families of entities, not only presently on earth but on the other six globes, so that we humans, the beasts, the vegetables, the minerals, and the elementals, are not the only hosts on this chain as it now is.
When all the seven or ten hierarchies finally reach globe G during the first round, they gather on that globe all together, it being the last globe of the manifest seven; and here they all finish the first round simultaneously before the interplanetary nirvana begins.
Starting with the second round, all the lines of evolution or activity now having been laid, and nothing having to be instituted from the ground up, the progress of the life-waves is relatively faster for those which are the most evolved. The effect of this is that some smaller hosts of monads, and individuals too, run through their evolutionary course much more rapidly, and thus precede the general body of the seven evolving hierarchies. This is why we have fifth rounders now among us, although we as a human host are in our fourth round.
When our life-wave shall have moved on to globe E the sishtas of the human kingdom will be the highest or next to the highest representatives of their life-wave. They will be really fifth rounders, with a very few sixth rounders appearing among them at long intervals of time. This means that they are not called upon to make, then and there, what is for our human life-wave its fifth round because they have already made it, through their character and quality as forerunners: they have outrun the bulk of their life-wave. Exactly the same observations apply to the sixth rounders, who are the buddhas. These sixth rounders — those whose spirituality is so high, and whose innate capacity acquired through long aeons of experience is so great that they go ahead even of the fifth rounders — are very, very few in number. Gautama the Buddha is said to have been the only fully developed sixth rounder in recorded history.
Now how is this inner evolution achieved? Obviously, in every collection or group of entities, there are some who are behind; then the intermediate majority, and finally some who are ahead. These last are the elder souls, those who have strived the hardest and conquered most of self, for true self-knowledge comes from intelligent self-control in every thought and act. When death occurs, these forerunners follow the same course that all excarnate entities do, only they do so self-consciously. They perform an individual round of their own through the planetary chain, first by ascending along the luminous arc until they reach the highest globe; then after a relatively long nirvanic rest they descend through the globes of the descending arc until they again reach globe D or our earth; and because they have thus made a round ahead of the life-wave, they are fifth rounders when they return to our globe.
They progress through experiences gained on the different planes of the other globes and by having in each of those globes various imbodiments; and these experiences are built into the fabric of the soul as character. It is a continuous and natural inner growth, which is none other than an ever-greater manifestation of the monad, the inner god. In other words, on these other globes these peregrinating monads undergo self-conscious experiences, instead of being, as is usual with reincarnating egos, enwrapped for the entire period between earth lives in a long devachan. From this it should be clear that the evolutional development of the fifth and sixth rounders is not achieved solely by training, initiation or self-study during incarnations on this globe D. However indispensable all these methods are, it would be utterly impossible to become a genuine fifth or sixth rounder in these ways alone.
A sixth rounder is one who, in advance of the human life-wave, has evoked into operation the buddhi or sixth principle within him, because it is in the sixth round that buddhi will receive its evolution; while the fifth rounder is one who has awakened into more or less full expression the fifth principle within himself, the manas. We humans, being in the middle of the fourth round, are still in process of evolving our fourth principle, kama.
The sixth rounders are so few that we may state definitely that a true sixth rounder is always a buddha, or one equivalent to a buddha. The whole being of the man is filled with the glory of the god within him. However, there are many fifth rounders among us even today, but they are not by any means all on the same level of fifth-round unfoldment: there are the advanced ones, those less advanced, and those who have just become fifth rounders. If these peregrinating souls are so far advanced that they can find the spiritual, intellectual and psychical strength within themselves, they continue without interruption the process of self-conscious imbodiments on the other globes for one round more, and thus when they reach earth again they do so as sixth rounders.
It may be of interest to quote the following passage from one of K.H.'s letters written in answer to a question of A. P. Sinnett's as to whether a fifth-round man, if he "devoted himself to occultism and became an adept, would . . . escape further earthly incarnations?"
No; if we except Buddha — a sixth round being, as he had run so successfully the race in his previous incarnations as to outrun even his predecessors. But then such a man is to be found in a billion of human creatures. He differed from other men as much in his physical appearance as in spirituality and knowledge. Yet even he escaped further reincarnations but on this earth; and, when the last of the sixth round men of the third ring is gone out of this earth, the Great Teacher will have to get reincarnated on the next planet. Only, and since He sacrificed Nirvanic bliss and Rest for the salvation of his fellow creatures He will be re-born in the highest — the seventh ring of the upper planet. Till then He will overshadow every decimillennium (let us rather say and add "has overshadowed already" a chosen individual who generally overturned the destinies of nations. See Isis, Vol. I, pp. 34 and 35 last and first para. on the pages). — The Mahatma Letters, p. 117
As far as known the human race has not as yet produced a seventh rounder, a forerunner ahead by three rounds of the general life-wave. The majority of the mahatmas are either very far advanced fifth rounders, or hovering on the line of passing into sixth roundership; their chelas are fifth rounders less advanced.
The forerunning monads — in addition to passing in more or less self-conscious reimbodiment after death through the other globes of our planetary chain, and thus attaining fifth roundership — were already, when leaving the moon chain, evolutionally more advanced than the majority of their fellows. During the course of their rounds on our present earth chain, and beginning even during the third round, these forerunning reimbodying egos began to feel so strongly the working within them of spiritual and intellectual qualities and faculties, that they left, as it were, the vast flock of the egos in the human life-wave, and took imbodiment on the different globes of the chain in advance of the mass of egos. This precedence in evolutionary status is then kept even when the bulk of the human life-wave in its turn reaches its fourth round, so that these forerunners may actually be by that time in their fifth round, and in a few cases even in their sixth round.
Writing on this subject in 1882, K.H. made the following explanation:
The scheme with its septenary details would be incomprehensible to man had he not the power as the higher Adepts have proved of prematurely developing his 6th and 7th senses — those which will be the natural endowment of all in the corresponding rounds. Our Lord Buddha — a 6th r. man — would not have appeared in our epoch, great as were his accumulated merits in previous rebirths but for a mystery. . . .
And now as man when completing his seventh ring upon A has but begun his first on Z and as A dies when he leaves it for B, etc., and as he must also remain in the inter-cyclic sphere after Z, as he has between every two planets, until the impulse again thrills the chain, clearly no one can be more than one round ahead of his kind. And Buddha only forms an exception by virtue of the mystery. We have fifth round men among us because we are in the latter half of our septenary earth ring. In the first half this could not have happened. The countless myriads of our fourth round humanity who have outrun us and completed their seven rings on Z, have had time to pass their inter-cyclic period begin their new round and work on to globe D (ours). But how can there be men of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 7th rounds? We represent the first three and the sixth can only come at rare intervals and prematurely like Buddhas (only under prepared conditions) and that the last-named the seventh are not yet evolved! — The Mahatma Letters, pp. 96-7
Speaking generally, the "mystery" means that these rarest few, destined to become sixth rounders even in the fourth round, are aided and individually guided by certain dhyani-chohanic beings who not only foster these forerunning egos, and protect them, but do so even when those egos undergo the various initiations through which they must pass. This mystery imbodies the further fact that these forerunners are helped to make full and self-conscious imbodiment on each one of the globes of our planetary chain, thus enabling them to gather the experiences that the bulk of the fourth rounders can attain only when the main life-wave reaches these different globes.
Now bend thy head and listen well, O Bodhisattva — Compassion speaks and saith: "Can there be bliss when all that lives must suffer? Shalt thou be saved and hear the whole world cry?" — The Voice of the Silence, p. 71
There are certain beings whose love is so all-encompassing, whose self-abnegation is so great, whose sense of unity with the One is so relatively complete, that at a certain period of their evolution they turn back on the path and become beneficent forces in the spiritual and intellectual life of humanity, sacrificing their own advancement for aeons upon aeons to come, and enduring what is to them little less than a living hell, in order to help by remaining as a spiritual fire in the atmosphere of a planet or of a solar system. These are the Buddhas of Compassion.
All nature bows in reverence and awe before them; for they stand higher than the gods whom otherwise they would have joined and gone beyond.
The Great Ones of the earth live for the world, in it but not of it, linked with it by their own act of mighty compassion; and they will enter no permanent nirvana until humanity, through the natural course of evolution, shall have progressed to the point of no longer needing the spiritual stimulation that is given by the Buddhas of Compassion.
Greater love hath no man than that he give up his life for his brother. But when the Buddha of Compassion gives up everything that he is, gives up all individual advancement, in order to go back into the murk of the physical sphere to help and save humanity, there indeed is divinity itself at work!
The Pratyeka Buddha, on the other hand, is one who strives after and achieves buddhahood for himself. He raises himself to the spiritual realms of his own inner being where he enwraps himself, not heeding the call to return and help mankind. He is a very pure and holy individual; otherwise he could not possibly reach nirvana. But he is so completely absorbed in the beauty and glory and wonder of the spiritual spheres, that that very beauty is like a veil which beclouds his eyes and dims his memory of the struggling hosts of beings behind him. Though exalted, the Pratyeka Buddha does not rank with the unutterable sublimity of the Buddha of Compassion.
The Buddha of Pity puts all that lives before himself in the measure of importance; the Pratyeka, the Buddha 'for self alone,' puts himself before all that lives. Both are on the right-hand path; but the one lives for the world, and the other lives for himself in the world for the purpose of gaining individual nirvana.
If we were to perform a deed of mercy solely in order to stifle something within or to be more at peace with ourselves, then in the last analysis this would be selfish; it would exemplify just what a Pratyeka Buddha is. Yearning for self-advancement is spiritual selfishness. No one who has ever felt stirring in his heart a self-forgetful glow of pity, of universal love, the instinct of self-sacrifice for others, could ever conceive that all this is a moving of the soul based upon mere self-interest. The ideas are as utterly apart as the two poles.
The Pratyeka Buddhas and the Buddhas of Compassion in a certain sense may be likened to the old fable of the tortoise and the hare. The Pratyekas are like the hare; they leap forward into the future and win for themselves a glorious place in the spheres. But the Buddhas of Compassion remain behind in order to accomplish the noblest work that it is given even unto the gods to do — to lead the army of those less evolved than they: to lead them to the Light, to the Great Peace; and although their individual progress seems slower than that of the Pratyekas, nevertheless the time will come when the Buddhas of Compassion will pass beyond the Pratyekas, who will be found crystallized in their spiritual purity and, for the time being, unable to advance farther.
But, because the Buddhas of Compassion have renounced the personal self for the Self of the universe, the very heart of the universe is active within them and thus their progress will actually be accelerated. When, in the far distant aeons of the future, the Pratyekas emerge from their nirvanic state, they will have to begin a new path of evolution as learners, whereas the Buddhas of Compassion will already by then be far ahead of them.
Do the Buddhas of Compassion have no joy in their work? Indeed they do, for their hearts are at peace, knowing they are allied with the gods, and that through them flows the stream of illumination from the Silent Watcher. They are the Great Helpers, helping always whenever karma permits, which means the karma of the individual, whether it be a human being or a race.
Each one of us is an unexpressed buddha, even now. It is our higher self, and as we conquer in the battle with self — for that is our only impediment, strange paradox, because it is the pathway we must tread — as we conquer the self in order to become the greater self, we approach with every step nearer and nearer to the 'sleeping' buddha within. And yet truly it is not the buddha which is 'asleep'; it is we who are sleeping on the bed of matter, dreaming evil dreams brought about by our passions, egoism and selfishness — making thick and heavy veils of personality around the buddha within.
H.P.B. has called the Buddhas of Compassion the very incarnation of wisdom and love, the two greatest elements in the universe: wisdom, which is supreme vision, knowledge from recollections of eternities past, and utter acquiescence in and forming part of nature's laws; and love, impersonal and majestic, leading to the sacrifice of self even when on the very threshold of nirvana.
It may be at first very confusing to hear about so many gods, dhyani-chohans, buddhas, bodhisattvas, and what not. But it need not be so if we remove the old idea from our minds that the gods are one family of beings, and men are some other and quite distinct family. We are children of the gods, literally, embryo gods; and the gods who now are, were once men. What the dhyani-buddhas are to the dhyani-bodhisattvas, the human buddhas are on this plane to the human bodhisattvas. The rule is the same.
Every dhyani-buddha or 'buddha of contemplation' has his mind-born sons, so to speak, his spiritual offspring, who are the dhyani-bodhisattvas. Let me illustrate: when a teacher arouses the soul in a man and leads him to a greater, nobler life, that now understanding man is then a bodhisattva of his teacher. The teacher has transplanted a portion of his own life-essence, a part of his own mind, into the life of the disciple, thereby awakening within him the manasaputric fires. This is what the dhyani-buddhas do to other high entities on their own plane; they have their pupils in whom they arouse the bodhisattvic faculty, the buddhic splendor, thus bringing about the coming into being of the dhyani-bodhisattvas, and, later, the human or manushya-buddhas.
Similarly so on the human plane: when the manushya-buddhas find fit disciples, they inspire them, infill them with holy spiritual and intellectual fire, so that when these pupils themselves are relatively complete in spirituality, they become manushya-bodhisattvas, on their way to becoming manushya-buddhas. And this is so because the buddha-light is awakened within them; each one feels the god within himself, and from that moment he knows neither pause nor rest until he too attains human buddhahood.
Concerning the various kinds of buddhas: one common procedure and structure runs throughout, so that if we understand the nature and function of one class of buddhas, we shall understand in outline the entire range of the teaching. For instance, every round is under the governance of a dhyani-buddha who is divisible into seven 'children,' making the maha-buddhas of the seven globes. Each one of such maha-buddhas is again divisible into seven 'children,' making the racial buddhas.
Of the two buddhas appearing in every root-race — one towards the beginning and the other towards the middle or the end, depending upon circumstances — one of them is particularly devoted to the root-race as a race. The same buddhic influence, however, working through the especial racial buddha, manifests itself in quite a large number of bodhisattvas, all belonging to the same race, who may be called minor buddhas; and these appear at periodic intervals during the race. Gautama the Buddha was such a bodhisattva in and through whom the racial buddha manifested its transcendent power. These bodhisattvas usually are also the individuals who appear at the beginning of every so-called Messianic cycle, which averages some 2,160 years.
The buddha who appears about the middle or towards the end of a race is the particular buddha of the following root-race, who thus appears a little ahead of his own time in order to guide, in collaboration with the racial buddha himself, the end of the race towards coalescing and connecting with the succeeding root-race.
In all the ancient religions possessing an esoteric (8) or mystical side, there are teachings or suggestions centering on the one thought that somewhere in the world there exists a spiritual energy or intelligence, who is mankind's guardian and friend. He is often alluded to as the Chief of the adept-seers of the ages, who is intimately connected with the spiritual principles which guide and inspirit the universe. H.P.B. speaks of this mysterious individual as the Great Initiator.
Now, to refer to this individual as Gautama the Buddha would in a sense be quite correct, because the spiritual influence of the Great Initiator was there; and yet, to look upon this individual merely as a human being is to wander wide from the truth. His ray, a part of his intelligence, on certain occasions, rare and far between in a great root-race, appears as a buddha in a human body. But the buddha is not the mere physical man, who is only the outward garment and the channel through whom the light and the teaching come. The real buddha is an inner entity (though not exactly the spiritual entity within each man), which serves as a channel through which stream the influences, the will power, the intelligence, of some being still more sublime — the Great Initiator.
Gautama the Buddha was a man. He is at present a nirmanakaya. The higher ego of the entity which last manifested itself as Gautama the Buddha works through this nirmanakaya; and this higher ego is the Buddha, the transmitter of the spiritual intelligence of the Great Initiator.
It is to Gautama the Buddha, thus considered, and the power working through him, that the teachers of H.P.B. referred when they used phrases such as "He to whom we owe allegiance," "He whose word is our Law." As one of the two racial Buddhas of our fifth root-race — the second Buddha being Maitreya, still to come millions of years hence — he will continue to watch over and protect this root-race. He is the origin, the founder, of every great spiritual religious or philosophical movement begun at any time during our root-race. It is he who is the Chief of all the adepts, the Lord, the Chohan; and it is before him, and in his presence, that the seventh and greatest initiation of all takes place." (9)
On account of his connection with the avatara Jesus, the Buddha was closely associated with the founding of Christianity. Through infinite compassion, he lent himself to the work of the avatara Jesus, thereby linking himself inevitably and forever with the karma that flowed forth from it; but that does not mean that all the evil that has been wrought, and such good as has been done, by Christians and the Church since the passing of Jesus, fall with dead weight upon Gautama the Buddha. This would simply be voicing the old theological and utterly mistaken interpretation of the doctrine of vicarious atonement. The karmic law will call to account the evil workers themselves.
This is what is meant: Gautama the Buddha, the noblest sage who has lived within millions of years, even he, with his godlike wisdom, made minor mistakes in his life. In his spiritual yearning to give truth, light, love and peace to men, on several occasions he opened the doors a little too widely. Therein lies always a great psychical and spiritual danger. In order to correct what he had overdone, he became the intermediate part of the avatara Jesus (just as he had some hundreds of years earlier provided the intermediate part of the avatara Sankaracharya), thereby to a certain extent rectifying what he, Gautama the Buddha, in his boundless love for mankind, had done.
In Gautama Sakyamuni, as a man, there were several different elements functioning: (a) the ordinary individual who was a great and splendid man; (b) inspiring him was the incarnate bodhisattva, although the manasaputric essence, belonging to that grand human being as a monad per se, had not yet been fully awakened; (c) enlightening this bodhisattva within Gautama was the buddha; and (d) inspiring and enlightening that buddha — a spiritual flame working through the bodhisattva in the man — was the dhyani-buddha of our round, working of course through the dhyani-bodhisattva of this globe D.
All this may seem very complicated, but it really is not. We have, first, a spiritually evolved human being in whom the native manasaputric essence was partially awakened, thus providing a field of consciousness for its individualization as the incarnate bodhisattva. Then the monadic essence working through this incarnate bodhisattva was individualized as the buddha, these elements forming the various monadic centers mainly active in Sakyamuni. In addition to this, and because the incarnate bodhisattva allowed the ray from the inner buddha to manifest itself, there was the reception even into the human consciousness of the still more spiritual ray from the fourth-round dhyani-buddha, in its turn traveling to the human buddha by means of the globe dhyani-bodhisattva.
This dhyani-buddha might be described as the 'outside' spiritual influence working through the human buddha; and the buddha and the bodhisattva and the partially awakened manasaputric essence form the triad in the constitution of Gautama Sakyamuni acting to produce the manushya-buddha.
When Gautama, whose personal name was Siddhartha, left his home, according to the beautiful story, and went out in search of light, in order to attain human buddhahood for the sake of the "salvation of gods and men," he brought first into relatively full activity the bodhisattva within himself. The ordinary man, grand as he was, nevertheless was utterly subordinated to the bodhisattva within him, which could then manifest and express its noble faculties, enlightened by the buddhic ray. Yet this becoming at one with his inner buddha was still not enough for the purpose in mind, because this particular human incarnation of the man called Siddhartha was to be the vehicle of the minor racial buddha, who would watch over our fifth root-race. In the exoteric literatures of Buddhism it is stated that every human or manushya-buddha, such as was Gautama, is the counterpart on earth of a celestial buddha, its spiritual-divine origin. It is the celestial buddha, the dhyani-buddha, who sends forth from himself the ray, the energy, the spirituality, the will, the intelligence, all of which, manifesting through the spiritual-human vehicle, produce the manushya-buddha.
It is also the Buddha who, during his entire administration which lasts from the beginning of the fifth root-race until the Maitreya-buddha succeeds him, helps to bring about the appearance of an avatara at certain cyclical periods. The reason for this is that a divinity requires a psychological apparatus as pure and strong as that of a buddha for its manifestation. In fact, the energy emanating from a divinity would probably wreck the psychological apparatus of an average mahatma, although he is far above the general run of mankind. There are great mysteries involved in this question of buddhahood.
Even in physical appearance, when the Lord Buddha manifested as Gautama, he was very different from other men. Not only did he radiate kindness, love, disciplined strength, peace, and brilliant intellectuality, but, it is said, he was almost unhumanly handsome and looked like a god; and yet his son, born before buddhahood was consciously attained, was but a fourth rounder, although a good and noble man. Rahula was his name.
The incarnation of a buddha is not a descent from devachan as is the case with ordinary men. Every human being is a compounded entity. There is a god in him, a spiritual ego, a human ego, an animal nature, and the physical body which expresses as best it can the bundle of energies surging through and from within the auric egg. Now each of these elements is itself a learning entity on its upward way. The self-consciousness, the sense of egoity, is there; but above that is the sense of cosmic unity, which is the atmosphere and consciousness of the inner god, a celestial buddha. Hence, as there are in a man a celestial buddha, a human buddha, a human soul working through an animal body, it is apparent that many strange things may take place if circumstances are right, and that the conditions of incarnation of a buddha must de facto be very different indeed from the reincarnation of an ordinary man. And so it was in the case of Sakyamuni.
The Prince Siddhartha of Kapilavastu, who later became the physical vehicle of a buddha, was a spiritually evolved human being, and therefore a fit vehicle to express the higher element in his nature, the manushya-buddha, itself the vehicle of the celestial buddha — the loftiest part of such an exalted constitution. Hence the man was born, passed through all the usual phases, but because he was overshadowed by the buddhic splendor, he was a wonder-child. He married. Rahula was born. A little later came the first inner light of dazzling splendor. Understanding began to come to the human part of this compounded entity, and then the manushya-buddha took control. The human thereafter was subordinated to the spiritual; and Prince Siddhartha left his home and became a wanderer — which merely means that he withdrew from the world, so that the human part of him might be trained to become a fully conscious channel for the manifestation of the manushya-buddha within.
So it was that finally, after striving in self-imposed discipline and spiritual yearning and inner conquest, under the sacred Bodhi tree, the wisdom-tree, the full illumination came, as the legend runs, and the manushya-bodhisattva called Gautama Sakyamuni attained buddhahood. This incarnate bodhisattva became the willing and perfect psychospiritual instrument through which his inner buddha could express itself. When the buddha-state had been attained, we find the buddha working through the bodhisattva, which itself works through the awakened man; thus exemplifying the activity of the three higher monads in a human constitution: to wit, the spiritual, the bodhisattva or manasaputra, and the evolved human. And this is exactly what each one of us someday will have the lofty privilege and joy of becoming — provided that we run the race successfully.
Until eighty years of age the Buddha lived and taught: initiated, helped, comforted, inspired. When the body which had served him so well became feeble with the passing of the years, the Buddha 'died' — according to the exoteric teaching. (10)
The truth of the matter is that at that time the buddha within Gautama Sakyamuni entered into the nirvanic condition, leaving the bodhisattva still active and working through the aged physical frame. Nirvana, in this case, really meant that the celestial buddha entered into its native cosmic realms, its work for the time being ended, and left behind the human illuminated by the manushya-buddha splendor, the inner buddha. The buddha-part of him had 'died' for the world, i.e. had done its work and had passed into the nirvana, therein to await its succeeding task at the end of this fifth root-race, when that same buddha-spirit will again enlighten a new bodhisattva-man.
For twenty years after the nirvana was attained, Gautama the Buddha lived among his initiates, and taught and initiated; and at the age of one hundred, his body finally died. The body was cast off, and the entire entity as a manushya-buddha remained as a nirmanakaya, (11) and so lives today, the channel, the vehicle, through which pour energies deriving from the spiritual center of our solar system. Hence he is the channel of the Great Initiator, the guardian and protector of every great world religion or world philosophy founded during our fifth root-race, and will continue so to be and to act until the Buddha-Maitreya comes in the course of the cycling ages.
The difference between this great sage and ordinary men is that in Sakyamuni the higher parts of his constitution were more or less fully working through the 'man,' at least as fully as is possible for any human being who is a sixth rounder. When he had undergone his sixth sublime initiation, from that moment as a 'man' he 'died,' but continued to live on. In other words, he taught after this episode for twenty years in and through the initiated and therefore glorified human part of his constitution; but no man can undergo the sixth initiation, which is the time of the Great Renunciation — much less the seventh — and 'return' to the world of men as he was before. (12)
The meaning therefore is that the higher part of his constitution, to wit, the human ego within him, had now re-become a buddha and had entered a nirvana; but the lower part of his human or intermediate nature still functioned on earth as a glorious bodhisattva — in this grand and beautiful fact we see the meaning of many exoteric Buddhist statements that a buddha leaves a bodhisattva behind in order to carry on the work. So then, to be a buddha means that one's highest part is in the nirvana, and that one's higher human part, which is buddhi-manasic, lives on as a teacher, as a bodhisattva-nirmanakaya. Then there is the physical body with its vital-astral apparatus which finally dies.
Now Sakyamuni, upon attaining buddhahood at and during his sixth initiation, re-entered a nirvana. This could be otherwise phrased by saying that the spiritual monad within him entered or became a dharmakaya, whose consciousness is nirvanic and too pure and loftily spiritual to permit any contact with our gross spheres of life and matter. All the remainder of the constitution of the Buddha then and there, after such initiation, chose to enter the nirmanakaya condition; while that part of Sakyamuni's constitution which was intermediate between the spiritual monad and the higher portions of the human ego, went into abeyance as the sambhogakaya, i.e. non-manifesting because not 'chosen.'
The important point of teaching here is that certain highly spiritual human beings who undergo successfully the sixth initiation choose the sambhogakaya instead of the nirmanakaya, as for instance the Pratyeka Buddhas, for in their case the highest part of their constitution becomes the dharmakaya, all the higher intermediate portions become the sambhogakaya; the nirmanakaya 'choice' is not made, and thus in their isolation these pure but spiritually selfish individuals lose all contact with the world and its forces, and all desire to help those less advanced.
After the Buddha's physical death at the ripe old age of one hundred years, the bodhisattva, who was really the now enlightened Siddhartha, remained, as said, in the earth's atmosphere as a nirmanakaya, that is to say, a complete but glorified man in the full possession of all faculties, characteristics and principles of his constitution, except the physical body, with the linga-sarira and grosser pranas.
The expression 'in the earth's atmosphere' is correct as far as it goes, but it is incomplete. One could state the situation with even greater accuracy by saying that the bodhisattva as a nirmanakaya withdrew from ordinary physical contact with men and the earth and its affairs, but maintained intimate and watchful and overseeing relations with them from inner planes — the bodhisattva-nirmanakaya, formerly known on earth as Sakyamuni, being a resident of that extremely mysterious part of the earth's surface, protected and guarded against outer intrusion, wherein are found some of the greatest members of the occult Brotherhood, Sambhala.
Sambhala is the secret home of the great Brotherhood of mahatmas and their chiefs, from which center at certain times in the history of our fifth root-race come forth mandates for spiritual and intellectual work among men. It is an actual district in a mystical region of the earth known to none but those whose training calls them there, and is described as a place of great beauty, surrounded by a range of the majestic Himalaya mountains. No force engendered by human genius can penetrate into this spiritual center, for it is protected by akasic barriers. From the end of the fourth root-race of mankind it has been held inviolate against aggression of any kind. Many have endeavored unsuccessfully to identify this mystical locality with some known modern district or town. In the Puranas and elsewhere it is stated that out of Sambhala will appear the Kalki-avatara of the future. (13)
It is precisely because the Buddha-Gautama was the Buddha destined to appear in our fifth root-race, that his destiny and duties are closely linked with our present root-race until its end; and thus he remains in mysterious seclusion in Sambhala, yet, as the chief of the Brotherhood of adepts, in constant spiritual and intellectual and psychical touch with mankind.
This center is karmically one of the earth's destined spots for the future. It is significant that one of the arteries, so to speak, of the earth's fountain of life passes through or under it. In this connection, H.P.B. in The Secret Doctrine (II, 400) quotes from the Commentaries on the Book of Dzyan, as follows:
It [the water of life] gets purified (on its return) to her heart — which beats under the foot of the sacred Shambalah, which then (in the beginnings) was not yet born. For it is in the belt of man's dwelling (the earth) that lies concealed the life and health of all that lives and breathes.
Then she comments in a footnote:
It is the blood of the earth, the electro-magnetic current, which circulates through all the arteries; and which is said to be found stored in the "navel" of the earth.
Furthermore, Sambhala has two aspects to it: the spiritual and the geographical.
It has been said that the spiritual home of our race is primarily in the sun, and in the foregoing I have referred to that sacred inaccessible district of Tibet as the central home of the masters. Now there is a third spiritual home, an intermediate locality, between the sun and the Tibetan Sambhala. Allusions to this third and most holy spot on earth may be found in all the great exoteric religions, and this spot is the summit of what in the Hindu Puranas is called Sveta-dvipa, Mount Meru or Sumeru. It is the north pole of the earth, so chosen not for its geographical qualities, if such there be, but on account of its astronomical position. Of this region H.P.B. wrote in The Secret Doctrine (II, 6):
This "Sacred Land" . . . is stated never to have shared the fate of the other continents; because it is the only one whose destiny it is to last from the beginning to the end of the Manvantara throughout each Round. It is the cradle of the first man and the dwelling of the last divine mortal, chosen as a Sishta for the future seed of humanity. Of this mysterious and sacred land very little can be said, except, perhaps, according to a poetical expression in one of the Commentaries, that the "pole-star has its watchful eye upon it, from the dawn to the close of the twilight of 'a day' of the GREAT BREATH."
Thus the stages or 'floors' of mankind's spiritual home are three: the ground floor is the beautiful and mysterious region of Sambhala; the next is the mystical north pole, geographically identical with the north pole of the earth, but mystically quite different; and the highest floor is the sun. On these floors live three separate classes of entities, with all of which the human race is in strait spiritual and intellectual union. From manhood we pass to mahatmahood, from mahatmahood we pass to quasi-divinity, and from quasi-divinity we become gods.
Life itself is a sublime adventure, a constant series of veils, beyond which the pilgrim passes, the one after the other. And each evolutionary initiation is a revelation in the sense of an unveiling, although strangely enough this means a re-veiling. And why? Because every time we receive a new light we are temporarily blinded by it, the increase in knowledge blinds us for the time being to all that is still higher. And we have to live through the new revelation until we learn that it is a re-veiling, and then we pass on to a higher revelation.
On the other hand, there is revelation in the sense of un-veiling, and this is initiation. Initiation is, in very truth, inspiration, and all the light side of nature is eternally at work in unveiling, in giving to ready souls, human and other, help and light, in fostering aspiration in the heart and leading on life's pilgrims towards ever-increasing vistas of grandeur.
Both revelation and independent research exist: there is individual progress, including spiritual, intellectual and psychological discovery; and there are also revealings in the sense of unveilings, and these are all either initiations or inspirations. Initiation is a short method of attaining light and evolutionary development, and therefore is it so difficult. But it is sublime.
The result of the higher grades of initiation, when successfully achieved, is that the divine or spiritual parts of the initiant are temporarily identified with his own individual egoic character or mind — his ego. This really takes place first in the fifth initiation, characterized as that is by the special attributes of man's manasic nature, the manasaputra within him. High adepts who have passed at least the fifth and probably the sixth initiation know and feel and realize the constant and living presence within themselves of the god within; and in different countries, in moments of internal ecstasy, they address this inner divinity by name. Some have called it Father, others call it Father-Fire, Father-Flame, Father-Spirit, or Father in Heaven; but always Father, because the spirit within us is the ultimate essence and origin and therefore the source of our being.
Consider what immense dignity and grandeur this fact gives to human life. It means that every human being is a feeble expression of a deific entity, and that he can become self-consciously at one with this inner god — which is his inmost self — in proportion as he becomes, by willing it, incorporated in such an identity.
The adept, for instance, who has achieved at least once this supernal union, thereby achieves a communion thereafter virtually at will. The lower sort of adepts, who nevertheless have attained somewhat of this grade, feel or sense this, their inmost being, as some other, but yet mysteriously identic; and in moments of danger or stress of any kind, by an effort of the will they rise into communion, and therefore union, with the inner divinity, calling upon it and drawing from it power. The higher grade of adepts sense or feel the unity perfectly, no longer as an exteriorization, as it were, of the individual's self, but as the individual's inmost Self.
This is the inner Buddha or Christ within the man. The identic experience may be had by any high adept, and in a smaller degree by any normal human being. It is a wonderful thought to feel that we have this perennial and inexhaustible source of spiritual and intellectual light and strength within us, unto which we may appeal, upon which we may draw, if only we rise unto it. This likewise in a sense is the essence of the avatara-doctrine in its anupapadaka-aspect. This is the real thing to be achieved in initiation.
The way of growth is not a difficult way. It is called 'a steep and thorny path,' but is so only to the selfish, acquisitive, passional lower man. The way of the spirit is the way of light, of peace, of hope; it is the way to the sun. It is a glorious feeling that we hold our destiny in our hands, being of divine origin, and that at the heart of each one of us lives a god, and that we can climb the mystic ladder of life higher and higher, forever extending the range of our consciousness and the sphere of our activities from a planet to a solar system, and from a solar system to a galaxy, and from a galaxy to a universe, and from a universe to other combinations of universes, increasing ever endlessly in expanding consciousness, power, wisdom and love.
When moments of trial or difficulty come upon us and we turn inwards and rise along that mystic inner ladder, that flaming column of splendor within us, we become transfigured then for the time being; and if we can achieve this union, all that we do will be perfectly done, and we shall be virtually infallible in our judgment.
I have often felt that if I did nothing else for the rest of my days on earth but teach this doctrine in its many forms — turning it, fashioning it, so as to appeal to different minds — I would be doing more than if I taught details of occult philosophy for the same length of time, choosing many different manners of doing so. It is the basic doctrine of esoteric theosophy; the fundamental identity of the human being in his spirit with the spiritual hierarch of the universe.
1. A Sanskrit compound formed of the preposition a, meaning approach or towards, and of the verbal root vis, signifying, to enter, to pervade, and hence to possess. The root vis has another form vish, of almost identic meaning, and from this comes the name Vishnu, the second divinity of the Hindu Trimurti. (return to text)
2. There is even today, and it has been so since the time of Gautama the Buddha himself, an esoteric line of teaching in Buddhism, despite what may have been said, even by H.P.B. herself, partly to conceal the truth and partly to reveal it. This esoteric Buddhism is no different in any essential respect from the esoteric teaching lying in the background of every great religious or philosophical system, and therefore it is identic with the theosophia of the archaic ages. It was precisely this archaic theosophia which H.P.B. had in mind when she referred to the occult meaning of the different Buddhist doctrines. Both The Secret Doctrine and The Voice of the Silence contain innumerable references to this secret wisdom, her Voice especially being replete with teachings as well as names belonging distinctly to the esotericism of the Buddhist philosophy. (return to text)
3. Dalai Lama is a compound term of Tibetan origin — dalai, being a corruption of ta-le, signifying ocean or sea, and lama carrying the meaning of superior — meaning the Superior Ocean or Ocean of Majesty, the word majesty having a spiritual as well as an official significance. Ocean or sea, according to H.P.B. (The Secret Doctrine, II, 502), has reference to the 'sea of knowledge' which has been traditionally cherished, and which remained for ages where now stretches the Gobi or Shamo desert. Dalai Lama is the official title used mainly by Chinese and Mongols in connection with the highest dignitary of the Gedun Dubpa Monastery of Lha-ssa, the city of the Lhas, the sacred city of Tibet. The Tibetans refer to this chief official as Gyal-wa Rim-po-che, the Most Excellent Sovereign.
The Tashi Lama is the highest dignitary of the Tashi-lhunpo Monastery at Shigatse, and bears the title of Pan-chen Rim-po-che, the Most Excellent Jewel Teacher; Tibetan tradition places the Tashi Lama as being spiritually higher in inner rank than the Dalai Lama. (return to text)
4. In esoteric Tibetan Lamaism, Adi-buddha is likewise called Vajradhara (Tib. Dorje-chang) and Vajrasattwa (Tib. Dorje-sempa). Vajra is a Sanskrit word having various meanings such as diamond, thunderbolt, and indeed anything which in mystical thought partakes of the nature of durability, utmost clarity, immense power and impersonality; and hence it is to this that H.P.B. refers when she speaks of the Diamond Soul. Dhara means possessor or holder; and sattwa, of the essence of. (Cf. The Voice of the Silence, p. 83) (return to text)
5. This word is usually mistranslated by Orientalists as 'the down-looking Lord,' probably because exoteric northern Buddhism generally speaks of Avalokitesvara and its rays as the Great Lord of Pity. Such translation, while giving the idea of the characteristics and functions of Avalokitesvara, nevertheless sins not only against Sanskrit grammar, but against the intrinsic significance of the Buddhist philosophy. The name is a compound: ava, below or down; lokita is the past participle passive from the verbal root lok, to contemplate, to view, to be aware of, and thus signifies seen or manifest; while isvara means lord. Hence Avalokitesvara, when properly rendered and understood means, 'the Lord who is seen below' — i.e. the manifest appearance (or appearances) of the spiritual energy of the Third Logos working in our world, and showing itself as harmony, regularity, order, compassion, etc. (return to text)
6. The words shaberon, khubilkhan, khutukhtu, etc., found in Isis Unveiled and elsewhere, are in common usage in Mongolia, and even in other parts of Asia, such as Siberia. Their meaning varies and the words are often wrongly applied to mere sorcerers or spiritistic mediums. As originally used in Tibet, these and other similar terms referred to minor cases of incarnations; and some hundreds of years ago, and perhaps in a very few cases even at the present time, could properly designate genuine initiates. (return to text)
7. See the following articles by H.P.B.: "Lamas and Druses," The Theosophist, June 1881; "Reincarnations in Tibet," The Theosophist, March 1882; and "Zoroastrianism in the Light of Occult Philosophy," The Theosophist, June and July, 1883. (return to text)
8. Every Orientalist knows that after the passing of the Buddha there gradually arose a number of schools which after one or two centuries became grouped under two main heads of philosophical thought: the Hinayana and the Mahayana. The different Mahayana schools of northern Buddhism are all highly philosophic, but the mystical element predominates. In the Hinayana system of southern Asia, the technical philosophical element is dominant, but to those who know how to read its writings the rather closely veiled mystical thought and even esoteric wisdom in them become apparent enough. It has been stated by the greatest of the Mahayana teachers that the Hinayana represents the 'eye doctrine' of the Lord Buddha, whereas the Mahayana system and its writings comprise the esoteric teachings originally given by the Buddha to his arhats and later elaborated by them and their descendants, and hence these teachings are called his 'heart doctrine' — mystically signifying the hid essence of the Buddha's inner thought.
Both these schools, however, have more or less crystallized into formalisms. Certain branches of the Mahayana school have become largely intermixed with tantrika ideas and symbols, and the followers of two or three of these sects actually teach to a certain extent the magic of the 'left hand.' Thus if we desire to gain a clear picture of the fullness of the Buddha's teaching, in so far as it has reached our own times, we should conjoin the mystical esotericism of the original Mahayana with the teaching of the Hinayana, the former elucidating the latter.
There were a number of really great men who initially built up the structure of the Mahayana system considered as a whole; they were high initiates who gave out as much of the genuinely esoteric Buddhism as they could in the times in which they taught, or as they were allowed to do by the Mahachohan whose representatives for this special work they were. Two such were Nagarjuna and Aryasangha, generally looked upon today by adherents of the Mahayana as having been bodhisattvas.
Nagarjuna was the founder of the Madhyamika school — meaning the Middle Way; whereas Aryasangha, the one who was a direct disciple of Gautama the Buddha himself, was the founder of the original or primitive Yogachara school. Now both these schools as they now exist contain a large amount of tantrika teaching, and therefore have greatly degenerated. The student may be interested to read what H.P.B. says in her Theosophical Glossary under the head, "Aryasangha."
The Sanskrit terms Mahayana and Hinayana mean, respectively, great vehicle or path, and defective vehicle or path, yana having the double significance of vehicle, and way or manner of going. Maha means great; but the idea in the word hina, defective, is not that of error but of a partial explanation only. This is precisely what the Mahayanists say: that the Hinayana system is true as far as it goes, but that it is defective or imperfect because incomplete. In one way of looking at the matter, one may say that the Hinayana is the exoteric or incomplete teaching of the Buddha Gautama, while the inner or secret meaning of the Mahayana is the full or complete teaching that the Buddha gave to his arhats and chosen disciples.
So large a part of H.P.B.'s writings contains frequent allusions to them, especially to the Mahayana, that it has not been uncommon for many to imagine that theosophy is a kind of esoteric Buddhism only, instead of being the ancient cosmic wisdom of the gods, of which the teachings of Gautama the Buddha are but an interpretation. I might add that, while H.P.B. was a formal Buddhist herself for reasons of her own, she was not in her teachings a Buddhist in the sectarian sense of the word. (return to text)
9. Many of the greatest figures in ancient Hindu mythology and history are stated to have been 'born' in either the Surya-vansa or the Chandra-vansa, meaning respectively 'solar race' and 'lunar race.' Now these 'races' are two family lineages, the Surya-vansa being a line of kshattriyas originally springing from Ikshwaku, son of the Manu Vaivaswata, who was son of Vivaswat the sun; and the other line, the Chandra-vansa, originally claiming descent from the moon, itself descended from the Rishi Atri. The great epic figure Rama was born in the Surya-vansa; and Krishna as well as the Buddha Gautama were born in the Chandra-vansa. [Most authorities state that Buddha Gautama was of solar lineage.]
The only point of importance in this somewhat sectarian mythological system is that these two 'races' really represent two different schools of archaic esotericism. The teaching which characterized the solar race was conservative, enfolding the wisdom of past ages and applying this without any noteworthy modifications to the conditions of the current period; whereas that of the Chandra-vansa was rather a carving out of 'newer' methods, in addition to the holding of the wisdom of ancient times. The moon in this connection is not the moon of sorcery and black magic, but is a reference to the mystical fact that every neophyte, in his progress along his path, must cultivate and raise the 'lunar element' in himself to become at one with the inner god; in other words, to evolve the human monad into becoming its own divine monad. (return to text)
10. Certain passages in the Maha-Paranirvana-Sutra briefly give a very important teaching regarding death, by applying the process by which it takes place to the passing on of the Buddha-Gautama himself, as a type-figure. They speak of this process as the 'ascent' of the Buddha's consciousness through several planes, and of its 'descent' again, and this three times in succession. Now physical death takes place in all human beings in exactly the same fashion, although in the case of the great sages this is modified by their high spiritual standing.
The higher portions of the human constitution do not break away from the physical body with one single wrench of the golden cord, but this is preceded by a rising of the consciousness into the higher planes of man's constitution, a momentary pause there, then a descent till the consciousness reanimates the physical brain for a few seconds, and at this instant the eyes may open for a moment or two. Then the consciousness ascends once more and, after another brief pause, is again drawn back into the entangling attractions of the astral and physical worlds, and again perhaps for a fleeting instant the physical brain becomes momentarily conscious. Then for a third time the consciousness ascends, but more strongly now, and after another short interval it descends again, but very weakly this time, the consciousness perhaps registering a feeble contact with the physical plane; and after a very brief span, unconsciousness, complete and utter, supervenes: the golden cord of vitality is snapped, and the inner man is free. The ante-mortem panorama immediately precedes the period of the first ascent. (return to text)
11. A nirmanakaya can live in any vehicle that he may choose to form by his will and thought; and similarly he has the power and the wisdom to choose the inner plane or planes on which to live. In all cases, however, the 'body' of the nirmanakaya is formed from his own auric egg; that is, the process of forming such thought- and will-body amounts to a temporary thickening by kriyasakti of the outer layers of the adept's auric egg; such 'body' being formed to correspond in quality and attribute with the inner plane that is chosen as the 'world' in which the nirmanakaya dwells.
Every nirmanakaya is a mahatma, minus the lower triad; but not every mahatma is a nirmanakaya. There are mahatmas who are incarnated; and, obviously, because living in the physical-astral-vital vehicle, they are not nirmanakayas. Some of the mahatmas of the lower degrees have not yet reached the point in their evolution where they find it advantageous to their sublime work to drop the lower triad of their constitution and to live as nirmanakayas. (return to text)
12. In order to understand the esoteric meaning of what the nirvana of Gautama the Buddha really was, we must remember that there are nirvanas of different kinds and of different grades of sublimity. In renouncing nirvana, the choice was made by the human part, the bodhisattva on its way to becoming a buddha in the future. But the highest part of the Buddha must enter nirvana, it cannot recede; it has gone beyond the point of spiritual existence where a choice to remain behind is possible. This explains the exoteric teaching that the Buddha enters nirvana from which there is no return for the highest part that does enter nirvana; whereas the real teaching is that the human soul of the Buddha, the bodhisattva, is the part which makes the great renunciation and turns back in the spirit of compassion to help all that lives. (return to text)
13. In the Vishnu-Purana the reference to Sambhala is as follows:
When the practices taught by the Vedas and the institutes of law shall nearly have ceased, and the close of the Kali age shall be nigh, a portion of that divine being who exists, of his own spiritual nature, in the character of Brahma, and who is the beginning and the end, and who comprehends all things, shall descend upon earth: he will be born in the family of Vishnuyasas, — an eminent Brahman of Sambhala village, — as Kalki, endowed with the eight superhuman faculties. By his irresistible might he will destroy all the Mlechchhas and thieves, and all whose minds are devoted to iniquity. He will, then, reestablish righteousness upon earth; and the minds of those who live at the end of the Kali age shall be awakened, and shall be as pellucid as crystal. The men who are, thus, changed by virtue of that peculiar time shall be as the seeds of human beings, and shall give birth to a race who shall follow the laws of the Krita age (or age of purity). As it is said: "When the sun and moon, and (the lunar asterism) Tishya, and the planet Jupiter are in one mansion, the Krita age shall return." — Book IV, Ch. xxiv, pp. 228-9 (H. H. Wilson's translation) (return to text)