THEOSOPHY, Vol. 43, No. 3, January, 1955
(Pages 122-128; Size: 20K)
THE REAL TIBET
ALTHOUGH is is clearly emphasized in the theosophical philosophy that the Lodge of Masters of Wisdom embraces all nations and races in its efforts, and that he who looks in one quarter will not find Them, many students have nevertheless come to think of the country of Tibet as the seat of their activities. This is perhaps a forgivable conclusion, owing to the many hints in H. P. Blavatsky's books of the existence of a fraternity of perfected men "beyond the Himalayas," among whom were her Teachers. Such students, then, are naturally concerned over the present occupation of Tibet by Communist China. Perhaps, also, they wonder why books like Heinrich Harrer's Seven Years in Tibet, and Lowell Thomas, Jr.'s Out of This World to Forbidden Tibet, breathe not a word about these teachers.
Have the adepts been obliged to withdraw, just as in past ages it was necessary to leave other vital centers of work? The remainder of this article collates statements from the writings of Mme. Blavatsky which may cause one to question seriously whether the real, occult Tibet has ever been known to the mass of Tibetans themselves, to say nothing of explorers from East or West. In a broad sense, the "real Tibet" might include other regions in Central Asia besides the territory presently known by that name. The indefinite expression "beyond the Himalayas" may so suggest. In The Secret Doctrine, H.P.B. refers to the members of "several esoteric schools -- the seat of which is beyond the Himalayas, and whose ramifications may be found in China, Japan, India, Tibet, and even in Syria, besides South America." Other collated statements follow:
* * * *
Tradition says, and the records of the Great Book (the Book of Dzyan) explain, that long before the days of Ad-am where now are found but salt lakes and desolate barren deserts, there was a vast inland sea, which extended over Middle Asia, north of the proud Himalayan range and its western prolongation. An island, which for its unparalleled beauty had no rival in the world, was inhabited by the last remnant of the race which preceded ours. Their (Lemuria's) elect, had taken shelter on the sacred Island (now the "fabled" Shamballah). There was no communication with the fair island by sea, but subterranean passages, known only to the chiefs, communicated with it in all directions. The "Island," according to belief, exists to the present hour; now, as an oasis surrounded by the dreadful wilderness of the great Desert, the Gobi -- whose sands "no foot hath crossed in the memory of man."
What is claimed is simply the fact that the wisdom imparted by the "Divine Ones" to the adepts of the early Fourth Race, has remained in all its pristine purity in a certain Brotherhood. The said School or Fraternity being closely connected with a certain island of an inland sea, believed in by both Hindus and Buddhists, but called "mythical" by geographers and Orientalists, the less one talks of it, the wiser he will be.
With respect to the traditions concerning this island, and apart from the (to them) historical records of this preserved in the Chinese and Tibetan Sacred Books: the legend is alive to this day among the people of Tibet. The fair Island is no more, but the country where it once bloomed remains there still, and the spot is well known to some of the "great teachers of the snowy mountains," however much convulsed and changed its topography by the awful cataclysm. Every seventh year, these teachers are believed to assemble in SCHAM-CHA-LO, the "happy land." According to the general belief it is situated in the northwest of Tibet. Some place it within the unexplored central regions, inaccessible even to the fearless nomadic tribes; others hem it in between the range of the Gangdisri Mountains and the northern edge of the Gobi Desert, South and North, and the more populated regions of Khoondooz and Kashmir, of the Gya-Pheling (British India), and China, West and East, which affords to the curious mind a pretty large latitude to locate it in. Others still place it between Namur Nur and the Kuen-Lun Mountains -- but one and all firmly believe in Scham-bhala, and speak of it as a fertile, fairy-like land, once an island, now an oasis of incomparable beauty, the place of meeting of the inheritors of the esoteric wisdom of the god-like inhabitants of the legendary Island.
One has to look into and study well the Chinese sacred and historical records. From Lao-tze down to Hiouen-Thsang their literature is filled with allusions and references to that island and the wisdom of the Himalayan adepts. In the Catena of Buddhist Scriptures from the Chinese by the Rev. Samuel Beal, there is a chapter which our opponents ought to read. When coming to the sentence which reads: "That which relates to the one garment (seamless) worn by the GREAT TEACHERS OF THE SNOWY MOUNTAINS, the school of the Haimavatas," the European translator places after the last sentence a sign of interrogation, as well he may. The statistics of the school of the "Haimavatas" or of our Himalayan Brotherhood, are not to be found in the General Census Records of India.
The gigantic, unbroken wall of the mountains that hem in the whole table-land of Tibet, from the upper course of the river Khuan-Khé down to the Kara-Korum hills, witnessed a civilization during millenniums of years, and would have strange secrets to tell mankind. The Eastern and Central portions of those regions -- the Nan-Schayn and the Altyne-taga -- were once upon a time covered with cities that could well vie with Babylon. A whole geological period has swept over the land since those cities breathed their last, as the mounds of shifting sand, and the sterile and now dead soil of the immense central plains of the basin of Tarim testify. The borderlands alone are superficially known to the traveller. Within those table-lands of sand there is water, and fresh oases are found blooming there, wherein no European foot has ever yet ventured, or trodden the now treacherous soil. Among those verdant oases there are some which are entirely inaccessible even to the native profane traveller. Hurricanes may "tear up the sands and sweep whole plains away," they are powerless to destroy that which is beyond their reach. Built deep in the bowels of the earth, the subterranean stores are secure; and as their entrances are concealed in such oases, there is little fear that anyone should discover them, even should several armies invade the sandy wastes where--"Not a pool, not a bush, not a house is seen,Tibet or Ti-Boutta, will yield, etymologically, the words Ti, which is the equivalent for God in Chinese, and Buddha, or wisdom: the land, then, of the Wisdom-Deity, or of the incarnations of Wisdom. The country called "Si-dzang" by the Chinese, and Tibet by Western geographers, is mentioned in the oldest books preserved in the province of Fo-kien (the chief headquarters of the aborigines of China) -- as the great seat of occult learning in the archaic ages. According to these records, it was inhabited by the "Teachers of Light," the "Sons of Wisdom" and the "Brothers of the Sun." The Emperor Yu the "Great" (2207 B.C.), a pious mystic, is credited with having obtained his occult wisdom and the system of theocracy established by him from Si-dzang. And, when we remember that the Vedas came -- agreeably to all traditions -- from the Mânasasarovara Lake in Tibet, and the Brahmins themselves from the far North, we are justified in looking on the esoteric doctrines of every people who once had or still has it -- as having proceeded from one and the same source: and, to thus call it the Universal WISDOM Religion. "Seek for the LOST WORD among the hierophants of Tartary, China and Tibet," was the advice of Swedenborg, the seer.
And the mountain-range forms a rugged screen
Round the parch'd flats of the dry, dry, desert...."
Even to this day do the Okhals [chiefs of the Druses of Mt. Lebanon] travel every seventh year through Bussora and Persia into Tartary and Tibet to the very west of China and return at the expiration of the eleventh year, bringing fresh orders from "El Hamma." Even so late as during the days when Freemasonry, and Secret Societies of Mystics flourished unimpeded in Russia, i.e., at the end of the last and the beginning of the present century [nineteenth], more than one Russian Mystic travelled to Tibet via the Ural mountains in search of knowledge and initiation in the unknown crypts of Central Asia.
After learning the whole of the Brahmanical wisdom in the Rahasya or the Upanishads, and finding that the teachings differed little, if at all, from those of the "Teachers of Life" inhabiting the snowy ranges of the Himalaya, [Gautama, the Buddha,] the Disciple of the Brahmins, feeling indignant because the sacred wisdom was thus withheld from all but the Brahmins, determined to save the whole world by popularizing it. It is well ascertained that Buddhist Arhats began their religious exodus [from India] for the purpose of propagating the new faith beyond Kashmir and the Himalayas, as early as the year 300 before our era. Esoteric Buddhism had begun superseding the ancient popular rites [in Tibet] ever since the time when the Brahmins of India, getting again the upper hand over Asoka's Buddhism, were silently preparing to oppose it, an opposition which culminated in their finally and entirely driving the new faith out of the country. The Arhat initiates had to drop out of the country one by one and seek safety beyond the Himalayas. Thus, though popular Buddhism did not spread in Tibet before the seventh century, the Buddhist initiates of the mysteries and esoteric system of the Aryan Twice-born, leaving their motherland, India, sought refuge with the pre-Buddhistic ascetics; those who had the Good Doctrine, even before the days of Shâkya-Muni. These ascetics had dwelt beyond the Himalayan ranges from time immemorial. They are the direct successors of those Aryan sages who, instead of accompanying their Brahman brothers in the prehistorical emigration from Lake Mânasasarovara across the Snowy Range into the hot plains of the Seven Rivers, had preferred to remain in their inaccessible and unknown fastnesses.
The Brotherhood of Abhayagiri [in Ceylon] called themselves the disciples of Kâtyâyana, the favorite Chela of Gautama, the Buddha. Tradition says that owing to bigoted intolerance and persecution, they left Ceylon and passed beyond the Himalayas, where they have remained ever since. This philosophical school was regarded as heretical, as the ascetics studied the doctrines of both the "greater" and the "smaller" vehicles -- or the Mahâyâna and the Hînayâna systems and Triyâna or the three successive degrees of Yoga; just as a certain Brotherhood does now beyond the Himalayas. This proves that the "disciples of Kâtyâyana" were and are as unsectarian as their humble admirers the Theosophists are now. This was the most mystical of all the schools, and renowned for the number of Arhats it produced.
Tsong-kha-pa, a famous Tibetan reformer of the fourteenth century, who introduced a purified Buddhism into his country, was a great Adept who, being unable to witness any longer the desecration of Buddhist philosophy by the false priests who made of it a marketable commodity, put a forcible stop thereto. He is the founder of the Gelukpa ("yellow cap") Sect, and of the mystic Brotherhood connected with its chiefs. Since the reform produced by Tsong-kha-pa, many abuses have again crept into the theocracy of the land.
Time and human 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 Burmah. 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. It was from the ninth to the fifteenth centuries that modern Lamaism evolved its ritual and popular religion, which serves the Hobilgans and Shaberons as a blind, even against the curiosity of the average Chinaman and Tibetan. The "Shaberons" are one degree lower [than the Hobilgans]. They are the initiates of the great wisdom or Buddh Esoteric religion.
The lofty system of the early Yogâchârya school of pure Buddhism is neither northern nor southern, but absolutely esoteric. Both in Western and Eastern Tibet, as in every other place where Buddhism predominates, there are two distinct religions -- the secret philosophy and the popular religion. The former is that of the followers of the doctrine of the sect of the Sutrântika. They closely adhere to the spirit of Buddha's original teachings which show the necessity of intuitional perception, and all deductions therefrom. They do not proclaim their views nor allow them to be made public. A correct analysis of any religion viewed but from its popular aspect, becomes impossible -- least of all Lamaism, or esoteric Buddhism as disfigured by the untutored imaginative fervour of the populace. Max Müller says:-- "The most important element of the Buddhist reform has always been its social and moral code, not its metaphysical theories. That moral code, taken by itself is one of the most perfect which the world has ever known; and it was this blessing that the introduction of Buddhism brought into Tibet." The "blessing" has remained and spread all over the country, there being no kinder, purer-minded, more simple or sin-fearing nation than the Tibetans. But yet, for all that, the popular Lamaism, when compared with the real esoteric, or Arahat Buddhism of Tibet offers a contrast as great as the snow trodden along a road in the valley, to the pure and undefiled mass which glitters on the top of a high mountain peak.
Unfortunately, Orientalists knowing next to nothing of the true state of affairs in Tibet, confuse the Choichong, of the Gurmakhayas Lamasery (Lhassa) -- the Initiated Esotericists, with the Charlatans and Dugpas (sorcerers) of the Bhon sects. Schlagintweit says in his Buddhism in Tibet, "my brothers never saw a Lama Choichong." This is but natural. Neither the Choichong, nor the Kubilkhan overrun the country. There is a mysterious community of religionists, of which nothing, or next to nothing, is known by outsiders: we mean that fraternity of Tibetan Lamaists, known as the Brotherhood of Khe-lang, who mix but little with the rest. Even Cosmo de Koros, who passed several years with the Lamas learned hardly more of the religion of these Chakravartins (wheelturners) than what they chose to let him know of their exoteric rites; and of the Khe-langs, he learned positively nothing.
"In the book known as the Avatamsaka Sûtra ... it is stated that 'Because from the beginning, all sentient creatures have confused the truth, and embraced the false; therefore has there come into existence a hidden knowledge called Alaya Vijnâna.' 'Who is in the possession of the true hidden knowledge?' 'The great teachers of the Snowy Mountain,' is the response in The Book of Law. The Snowy Mountain is the 'mountain a hundred and sixty thousand leagues high.' Let us see what this means. The last three ciphers being simply left out, we have a hundred and sixty leagues; a Tibetan league is nearly five miles; this gives us seven hundred and eighty miles from a certain holy spot, by a distinct road to the west....
"Every description of localities is figurative in our system(1); every name and word is purposely veiled; and a student, before he is given any further instruction, has to study the mode of deciphering, and then of comprehending and learning the equivalent secret term or synonym for nearly every word of our religious language. The Egyptian enchorial or hieratic system is child's play to the deciphering of our sacred puzzles. Even in those volumes to which the masses have access, every sentence has a dual meaning, one intended for the unlearned, and the other for those who have received the key to the records. ... No doubt but that the Chinese and Tibetan Scriptures, so-called, the standard works of China and Japan, some written by our most learned scholars, many of whom -- as uninitiated though sincere and pious men -- commented upon what they never rightly understood, contain a mass of mythological and legendary matter more fit for nursery folklore than an exposition of the Wisdom Religion as preached by the world's Saviour. But none of these are to be found in the canon; and, though preserved in most of the Lamasery libraries, they are read and implicitly believed in only by the credulous and pious whose simplicity forbids them ever stepping across the threshold of reality."
RECALLING THE ORIGINAL AIM
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ONE (1) FOOTNOTE LISTED BELOW:
(1) H.P.B. has been quoting from the words of a learned Tibetan friend and correspondent.
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