Universal Brotherhood – April 1898




These vestures are; Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Dharmakaya, robe sublime.

The Shangna robe, (2) 'tis true, can purchase light eternal. The Shangna robe alone gives the Nirvana of destruction; it .stops rebirth, but, (O Lanoo, it also kills — compassion. No longer can the perfect Buddhas, who don the Dharmakaya glory, help man's salvation. Alas! shall Selves be sacrificed to Self; mankind, unto the weal of units?

Know, O beginner, this is the Open Path, the way to selfish bliss, shunned by the Bodhisattvas of the "Secret Heart," the Buddhas of Compassion.

To live to benefit mankind is the first step. To practice the six glorious virtues (3) is the second.

To don Nirmanakaya's humble robe is to forego eternal bliss for Self to help on man's salvation. To reach Nirvana's bliss but to renounce it, is the supreme, the final step — the highest on Renunciation's Path.

Know, O Disciple, this is the Secret Path, selected by the Buddhas of Perfection, who sacrificed the Self to weaker Selves.

Yet, if the "Doctrine of the Heart" is too high-winged for thee, if thou needest help thyself and fearest to offer help to others — then, thou of timid heart, be warned in time: remain content with the "Eye Doctrine" of the Law. Hope still. For if the "Secret Path" is unattainable this "day," it is within thy reach "tomorrow." (4) Learn that no efforts, not the smallest — whether in right or wrong direction — can vanish from the world of causes. E'en wasted smoke remains not traceless. "A harsh word uttered in past lives is not destroyed, but ever comes again." (5) The pepper plant will not give birth to roses, nor the sweet jessamine's silver star to thorn or thistle turn.

Thou canst create this "day" thy chances for thy "morrow." In the "Great Journey," (6) causes sown each hour bear each its harvest of effects, for rigid Justice rules the World. With mighty sweep of never-erring action, it brings to mortals lives of weal or woe, the karmic progeny of all our former thoughts and deeds.

Take then as much as merit hath in store for thee, O thou of patient heart. Be of good cheer and rest content with fate. Such is thy Karma, the Karma of the cycle of thy births, the destiny of those who, in their pain and sorrows are born along with thee, rejoice and weep from life to life, chained to thy previous actions.

Act them for them "today," and they will act for thee "tomorrow."

Tis from the bud of Renunciation of the Self, that springeth the sweet fruit of final Liberation.

To perish doomed is he, who out of fear of Mara refrains from helping man, lest he should act for Self. The pilgrim who would cool his weary limbs in running waters, yet dares not plunge for terror of the stream, risks to succumb from heat. Inaction based on selfish fear can bear but evil fruit.

The selfish devotee lives to no purpose. The man who does not go through his appointed work in life — has lived in vain.

Follow the wheel of life; follow the wheel of duty to race and kin, to friend and foe, and close thy mind to pleasures as to pain. Exhaust the law of karmic retribution. Gain Siddhis for thy future birth.

If Sun thou canst not be, then be the humble planet. Aye, if thou art debarred from flaming like the noon-day Sun upon the snow-capped mount of purity eternal, then choose, O Neophyte, a humbler course.

Point out the "Way" — however dimly, and lost among the host — as does the evening star to those who tread their path in darkness.

Behold Migmar, (7) as in his crimson veils his "Eye" sweeps over slumbering Earth. Behold the fiery aura of the "Hand" of Lhagpa (8) extended in protecting love over the heads of his ascetics. Both are now servants to Nyima (9) (10) left in his absence silent watches in the night. Yet both in Kalpas past were bright Nyimas, and may in future "Days" again become two Suns. Such are the falls and rises of the Karmic Law in nature.

Be, O Lanoo, like them. Give light and comfort to the toiling pilgrim, and seek out him who knows still less than thou; who in his wretched desolation sits starving for the bread of Wisdom and the bread which feeds the shadow, without a Teacher, hope, or consolation, and — let him hear the Law.

Tell him, O Candidate, that he who makes of pride and self-regard bond-maidens to devotion; that he who, cleaving to existence, still lays his patience and submission to the Law as a sweet flower at the feet of Shakya-Thub-pa, (11) becomes a Srotapatti (12) in this birth. The Siddhis of perfection may loom far, far away; but the first step is taken, the stream is entered, and he may gain the eye-sight of the mountain eagle, the hearing of the timid doe.

Tell him, O Aspirant, that true devotion may bring him back the knowledge, that knowledge which was his in former births. The deva-sight and deva-hearing are not obtained in one short birth.


1. "The Voice of the Silence and other Chosen Fragments from the Book of Golden Precepts for the daily use of Lanoos (disciples) translated and annotated by H. P. B." Published by The Theosophical Publishing Company, 144 Madison Avenue, New York. (return to text)

2. The Shangna robe, from Shangnavesu of Rajagriha, the third great Arhat or "Patriarch," as the Orientalists called the hierarchy of the thirty-three Arhats who spread Buddhism. "Shangna robe" means, metaphorically, the acquirement of Wisdom with which the Nirvana of destruction (of personality)is entered. Literally, the "initiation robe" of the Neophytes. Edkins states that this "grass cloth" was brought to China from Tibet in the Tong Dynasty. "When an Arhan is born this plant is found growing in a clean spot," says the Chinese, as also the Tibetan legend. (return to text)

3. "To practice the Paramita Path" means to become a Yogi with a view of becoming an ascetic. (return to text)

4. "Tomorrow" means the following rebirth or reincarnation. (return to text)

5. Precepts of the Prasanga School. (return to text)

6. "Great Journey," or the whole complete cycles of existences in one "Round." (return to text)

7. Mars. (return to text)

8. Mercury. (return to text)

9. The Sun. (return to text)

10. Nyima, the Sun in Tibetan Astrology. Migmar or Mars is symbolized by an "Eye," and Lhagpa or Mercury by a "Hand." (return to text)

11. Buddha. (return to text)

12. Srotapatti or "he who enters in the stream" of Nirvana, unless he reaches the goal owing to some exceptional reasons, can rarely attain Nirvana in one birth. Usually a Chela is said to begin the ascending effort in one life and end or reach it only in his seventh succeeding birth. (return to text)

Universal Brotherhood