THEOSOPHY, Vol. 53, No. 12, October, 1965
(Pages 368-373)
THEOSOPHY, Vol. 74, No. 11, September, 1986
(Pages 331-337)
(Size: 19K)

THE BUDDHIST DOCTRINE(1)

If we try, as Krishna directs, to find the divine in everything, we will soon learn not to judge by appearances.
--WILLIAM Q. JUDGE
WHEN we use the term Buddhists, we do not mean to imply by it either the exoteric Buddhism instituted by the followers of Gautama Buddha, or the modern Buddhistic religion, but the secret philosophy of Sakyamuni, which in its essence is certainly identical with the ancient Wisdom-Religion of the sanctuary, the pre-Vedic Brahmanism. Neither Buddha, Pythagoras, Orpheus, Socrates, nor even Jesus, left behind them any writings. The esoteric teachings of Buddha were the Gupta Vidya (secret knowledge) of the ancient Brahmins, the key to which their modern successors have, with few exceptions, completely lost. And this Vidya has passed into what is now known as the inner teachings of the Mahayana school of Northern Buddhism.

In fact, Buddhism in the present age, cannot be justly judged by one or the other of its exoteric popular forms. Real Buddhism can be appreciated only by blending the philosophy of the Southern Church and the metaphysics of the Northern Schools. If one seems too iconoclastic and stern, and the other too metaphysical and transcendental, even to being overgrown with the weeds of Indian exotericism -- many of the gods of its Pantheon having been transplanted under new names to Tibetan soil -- it is entirely due to the popular expression of Buddhism in both Churches. The Hindu Reformer limited his public teachings to the purely moral and physiological aspect of the Wisdom-Religion, to Ethics and MAN alone. Things "unseen and incorporeal," the mystery of Being outside our terrestrial sphere, the great Teacher left entirely untouched in his public lectures, reserving the hidden Truths for a select circle of his Arhats.

Time and imagination made short work of the purity and philosophy of these teachings, once that they were transplanted from the secret and sacred circle of the Arhats, during the course of their work of proselytism, into a soil less prepared for metaphysical conceptions than India; i.e., once they were transferred into China, Japan, Siam, and Burma. How the pristine purity of these grand revelations was dealt with may be seen in studying some of the so-called "esoteric" Buddhist schools of antiquity in their modern garb, not only in China and other Buddhist countries in general, but even in not a few schools in Tibet, left to the care of uninitiated Lamas and Mongolian innovators.

One great distinction between Theosophy and exoteric Buddhism is that the latter, represented by the Southern Church [Theravada], entirely denies (a) the existence of any Deity, and (b) any conscious post-mortem life, or even any self-conscious surviving individuality in man. Such at least is the teaching of the Siamese sect, not considered the purest form of exoteric Buddhism. And it is so, if we refer only to Buddha's public teachings. The schools of the Northern Buddhist Church, established in those countries to which his initiated Arhats retired after the Master's death, teach all that is now called Theosophical doctrines, because they form part of the knowledge of the initiates -- thus proving how the truth has been sacrificed to the dead-letter by the too-zealous orthodoxy of Southern Buddhism. But how much grander and more noble, more philosophical and scientific, even in its dead-letter, is this teaching than that of any other Church or religion.

"The one Universal Light, which to Man is Darkness, is ever existent," says the Chaldean "Book of Numbers." From it proceeds periodically the ENERGY, which is reflected in the "Deep" or Chaos, the storehouse of future worlds, and, once awakened, stirs up and fructifies the latent Forces, which are the ever present eternal potentialities in it. Then awake anew the Brahmas and Buddhas -- the co-eternal Forces -- and a new Universe springs into being. ... The doctrine of God being the Universal Mind diffused through all things, underlies all ancient philosophies. The Buddhist tenets which can never be better comprehended than when studying Pythagorean philosophy -- its faithful reflection -- are derived from this source as well as the Brahmanical religion and early Christianity. Archaic Occultism would remain incomprehensible to all, if it were rendered otherwise than through the more familiar channels of Buddhism and Hinduism. For the former is the emanation of the latter; and both are the children of one mother -- ancient Lemuro-Atlantean Wisdom.

It is by the spirit of the teachings of both Buddha and Pythagoras that we can so easily recognize the identity of their doctrines. The all-pervading universal soul, the Anima Mundi, is Nirvana; and Buddha, as a generic name, is the anthropomorphized monad of Pythagoras. When resting in Nirvana, the final bliss, Buddha is the silent MONAD, dwelling in darkness and silence. He is also the formless Brahm, the sublime but unknowable Deity, which pervades invisibly the whole Universe. Whenever It is manifested, desiring to impress itself upon humanity in a shape intelligent to our intellect, whether we call it an avatar, or a King Messiah, or a permutation of Divine Spirit, Logos, Christos, it is all one and the same thing. In each case it is the "Father," who is in the Son, and the Son in "the Father." The immortal spirit overshadows the mortal man. It enters into him, and pervading his whole being, makes of him a god, who descends into his earthly tabernacle. Every man may become a Buddha, says the doctrine.

In the esoteric, and even exoteric Buddhism of the North, Adi Buddha, the One unknown, without beginning or end, identical with Parabrahm and Ain-Soph, emits a bright ray from its darkness. This is the Logos (the first), or Vajradhara, the Supreme Buddha. As the Lord of all Mysteries he cannot manifest, but sends into the world of manifestation his heart -- the "diamond heart," Vajrasattva. This is the second logos of creation, from whom emanate the seven Dhyani Buddhas, called the Anupadaka, "the parentless." These Buddhas are the primeval monads from the world of incorporeal being, the Arupa world, wherein the Intelligences (on that plane only) have neither shape nor name, in the exoteric system, but have their distinct seven names in esoteric philosophy. These Dhyani Buddhas emanate, or create from themselves, by virtue of Dhyana, celestial Selves -- the superhuman Bodhisattvas. These incarnating at the beginning of every human cycle on earth as mortal men, become occasionally, owing to their personal merit, Bodhisattvas among the Sons of Humanity, after which they may re-appear as Manushi (human) Buddhas. The Anupadaka (or Dhyani Buddhas) are thus identical with the Brahmanical Manasaputra, "mind-born sons" -- whether of Brahma or either of the other two Trimurtian Hypostases, hence identical also with the Rishis and Prajapatis.

As the reader is supposed not to be acquainted with the Dhyani-Buddhas, it is as well to say at once that, according to the Orientalists, there are five Dhyanis who are the "celestial" Buddhas, of whom the human Buddhas are the manifestations in the world of form and matter. Esoterically, however, the Dhyani-Buddhas are seven, of whom five only have hitherto manifested, and two are to come in the sixth and seventh Root-races. They are, so to speak, the eternal prototypes of the Buddhas who appear on this earth, each of whom has his particular divine prototype. So, for instance, Amitabha is the Dhyani-Buddha of Gautama Sakyamuni, manifesting through him whenever this great Soul incarnates on earth as He did in Tzon-kha-pa [who was] the first and greatest Reformer who founded the "Yellow-Caps," Gyalugpas. He was born in the year 1355 A.D. in Amdo, and was the Avatar of Amitabha, the celestial name of Gautama Buddha.

The term Anupadaka, "parentless," or without progenitors, is a mystical designation having several meanings in the philosophy. By this name celestial beings, the Dhyan-Chohans or Dhyani-Buddhas, are generally meant. But as these correspond mystically to the human Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, known as the "Manushi (or human) Buddhas," the latter are also designated "Anupadaka," once that their whole personality is merged in their compound sixth and seventh principles -- or Atma-Buddhi, and that they have become "diamond-souled" (Vajrasattvas), the full Mahatmas. The mystery in the hierarchy of the Anupadaka is great, its apex being the universal Spirit-Soul, and the lower rung the Manushi-Buddha; and even every Soul-endowed man is an Anupadaka in a latent state.

As the synthesis of the seven Dhyani-Buddhas, Avalokiteswara was the first Buddha (the Logos), so Amitabha is the inner "God" of Gautama, who, in China, is called Amita(-Buddha). They are, as Mr. Rhys Davids correctly states, "the glorious counterparts in the mystic world, free from the debasing conditions of this material life" of every earthly mortal Buddha -- the liberated Manushi-Buddhas appointed to govern the Earth in this Round. They are the "Buddhas of Contemplation," and are all Anupadaka (parentless), i.e., self-born of divine essence. The exoteric teaching which says that every Dhyani-Buddha has the faculty of creating from himself, an equally celestial son -- a Dhyani-Bodhisattva -- who, after the decease of the Manushi (human) Buddha, has to carry out the work of the latter, rests on the fact that owing to the highest initiation performed by one overshadowed by the "Spirit of Buddha" a candidate becomes virtually a Bodhisattva, created such by the High Initiator.

As to Gautama's being one of the true and undeniable SAVIOURS of the World, suffice it to say that the most rabid orthodox missionary, unless he is hopelessly insane, or has not the least regard for historical truth, cannot find one smallest accusation against the life and personal character of the "Buddha." Without any claim to divinity, allowing his followers to fall into atheism rather than into the degrading superstition of deva or idol-worship, his walk in life is from beginning to the end, holy and divine. During the forty-five years of his mission, it is as blameless and pure as that of a god -- or as the latter should be. He is a perfect example of a divine, godly man. He reached Buddhaship -- i.e., complete enlightenment -- entirely by his own merit and owing to his own individual exertions, no god being supposed to have any personal merit in the exercise of goodness and holiness. His is the only absolutely bloodless religion among all the existing religions: tolerant and liberal, teaching universal compassion and charity, love and self-sacrifice, poverty and contentment with one's lot, whatever it may be. No persecutions, and enforcement of faith by fire and sword, have ever disgraced it. No thunder-and-lightning-vomiting god has interfered with its chaste commandments; and if the simple, human philosophical code of daily life left to us by the greatest Man-Reformer ever known, should ever come to be adopted by mankind at large, then indeed an era of bliss and peace would dawn on humanity.

To become a Buddha one has to reach a complete detachment from all that is evanescent and finite, and live while yet on Earth in the immortal and everlasting alone, in a supreme state of holiness. To become a Buddha one has to break through the bondage of sense and personality; to acquire a complete perception of the REAL SELF and learn not to separate it from all other selves; to learn by experience the utter unreality of all phenomena of the visible Kosmos foremost of all. When the spiritual entity breaks loose for ever from every particle of matter, then only it enters upon the eternal and unchanging Nirvana. He exists in spirit, in nothing; as a form, a shape, a semblance, he is completely annihilated, and thus will die no more, for spirit alone is no Maya, but the only REALITY in an illusionary universe of ever-passing forms. Esoteric teachings claim that Buddha renounced Nirvana and gave up the Dharmakaya vesture to remain a "Buddha of Compassion" within the reach of the miseries of this world. And the religious philosophy he left to it has produced for over 2,000 years generations of good and unselfish men.

Every Orientalist and Pundit knows by heart the story of Gautama, the Buddha, the most perfect of mortal men that the world has ever seen, but none of them seem to suspect the esoteric meaning underlying his prenatal biography, i.e., the significance of the popular story. The Lalitavistara tells the tale, but abstains from hinting at the truth. The 5,000 Jatakas, or the events of former births (re-incarnations) are taken literally instead of esoterically. Gautama, the Buddha, would not have been a mortal man, had he not passed through hundreds and thousands of births previous to his last. Yet the detailed account of these, and the statement that during them he worked his way up through every stage of transmigration from the lowest animate and inanimate atom and insect, up to the highest -- or man, -- contains simply the well-known occult aphorism, "a stone becomes a plant, a plant an animal, and an animal a man." Every human being who has ever existed has passed through the same evolution. But the hidden symbolism in the sequence of these rebirths (jatakas) contains a perfect history of the evolution on this earth, pre and post human, and is a scientific exposition of natural facts. One truth not veiled but bare and open is found in their nomenclature, viz., that as soon as Gautama had reached the human form he began exhibiting in every personality the utmost unselfishness, self-sacrifice and charity. The name "Gautama" means -- "on earth (gau) the most victorious (tama)."

The ethics of Theosophy are identical with those taught by Buddha, being the soul of the Wisdom-Religion, and once the common property of the initiates of all nations. But Buddha was the first to embody these lofty ethics in his public teachings, and to make them the foundation and the very essence of his public system. It is herein that lies the immense difference between the exoteric Buddhism and every other religion. For while in other religions ritualism and dogma hold the first and most important place, in Buddhism it is the ethics which have always been the most insisted upon. Christianity becomes every day more a religion of pure emotionalism; the root philosophy of both Adwaita and Buddhist scholars is identical, and both have the same respect for animal life, for both believe that every creature on earth, however small and humble, "is an immortal portion of the immortal matter" -- for matter with them has quite another significance than it has with either Christian or materialist -- and that every creature is subject to Karma.


COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:

THOSE WITH CLEAR VISION

Always they come -- the ones with the vision, the faith, the profound understanding of what makes men human and keeps them so. Always they remind us that we must not only tolerate one another's differences, we must treasure them; for out of these differences come the unpredictable, the new idea, the bright dream, the strange and wondrous gift. When times grow dark, when we persecute or hide away from others because of our fears, these few turn the lights on again with their words. Whether they speak in the name of religion, science, or common decency, their concern causes miracles to happen: men begin to lose their fear, they find things to do, they discover within themselves potentialities they did not know they possessed; and, making use of them, they move the human race up a little -- a few inches, at least -- to a higher level of feeling and doing, learning and becoming.

Whatever lies ahead in the human future is there because men -- yesterday, today, a thousand or ten thousand years ago -- have had a vision of what our world can become and shared their vision with us. It is a good thing to remember that never have all the lights gone out, no matter how confused and bewildered an age we live in. Always there have been those whose vision stayed clear. 


--LILLIAN SMITH

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