Category Archives: Buddhism

Fundamental Buddhist Beliefs

Buddhist Temple

The following text is of the fourteen items of belief which have been accepted as fundamental principles in both the Southern and Northern sections of Buddhism, by authoritative committees to whom they were submitted by me personally…… [ – H. S. Olcott (1881) ]
I. Buddhists are taught to show the same tolerance, forbearance, and brotherly love to all men, without distinction; and an unswerving kindness towards the members of the animal kingdom.

II. The universe was evolved, not created; and it functions according to law, not according to the caprice of any God.

III. The truths upon which Buddhism is founded are natural. They have, we believe, been taught in successive kalpas, or world-periods, by certain illuminated beings called BUDDHAS, the name BUDDHA meaning “Enlightened”.

IV. The fourth Teacher in the present kalpa was Sakya Muni, or Gautama Buddha, who was born in a royal family in India about 2,500 years ago. He is an historical personage and his name was Siddhartha Gautama.

V. Sakya Muni taught that ignorance produces desire, unsatisfied desire is the cause of rebirth, and rebirth, the cause of sorrow. To get rid of sorrow, therefore, it is necessary to escape rebirth; to escape rebirth, it is necessary to extinguish desire; and to extinguish desire, it is necessary to destroy ignorance.

VI. Ignorance fosters the belief that rebirth is a necessary thing. When ignorance is destroyed the worthlessness of every such rebirth, considered as an end in itself, is perceived, as well as the paramount need of adopting a course of life by which the necessity for such repeated rebirths can be abolished. Ignorance also begets the illusive and illogical idea that there is only one existence for man, and the other illusion that this one life is followed by states of unchangeable pleasure or torment.

VII. The dispersion of all this ignorance can be attained by the persevering practice of an all-embracing altruism in conduct, development of intelligence, wisdom in thought, and destruction of desire for the lower personal pleasures.

VIII. The desire to live being the cause of rebirth, when that is extinguished rebirths cease and the perfected individual attains by meditation that highest state of peace called Nirvana.

IX. Sakya Muni taught that ignorance can be dispelled and sorrow removed by the knowledge of the four Noble Truths, namely:
1. The miseries of existence;
2. The cause productive of misery, which is the desire ever renewed of satisfying oneself without being able ever to secure that end;
3. The destruction of that desire, or the estranging of oneself from it;
4. The means of obtaining this destruction of desire. The means which he pointed out is called the Noble Eightfold Path, viz.: Right Belief; Right Thought; Right Speech; Right Action; Right Means of Livelihood; Right Exertion; Right Remembrance; Right Meditation.

X. Right Meditation leads to spiritual enlightenment, or the development of that Buddha-like faculty which is latent in every man.

XI. The essence of Buddhism, as summed up by the Tathagatha (Buddha) himself, is:
To cease from all sin,
To get virtue,
To purify the heart.

XII. The universe is subject to a natural causation known as “Karma”. The merits and demerits of a being in past existences determine his condition in the present one. Each man, therefore, has prepared the causes of the effects which he now experiences.

XIII. The obstacles to the attainment of good karma may be removed by the observance of the following precepts, which are embraced in the moral code of Buddhism, namely: (1) Kill not; (2) Steal not; (3) Indulge in no forbidden sexual pleasure; (4) Lie not; (5) Take no intoxicating or stupefying drug or liquor. Five other precepts which need not be here enumerated should be observed by those who would attain, more quickly than the average layman, the release from misery and rebirth.

XIV. Buddhism discourages superstitious credulity. Gautama Buddha taught it to be the duty of a parent to have his child educated in science and literature. He also taught that no one should believe what is spoken by any sage, written in any book, or affirmed by tradition, unless it accords with reason.

Drafted as a common platform upon which all Buddhists can agree.

– H. S. Olcott, P.T.S. (from Appendix of “The Buddhist Catechism”)

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Voluntary Action vs. Compulsion

charity

 

Militarily things seem pretty much the same today as 73 years ago – only not so much so. The inner laws of Nature, however, are still exactly the same.
[1944]

Two thousand Allied bombers drop hundreds of tons of flaming death on German cities. The four great powers meet at Dumbarton Oaks to agree on means for maintaining peace in the world. Eight thousand Japanese exterminated on Pelieliu Island. Thousands of tons of food supplies and clothing distributed to the war indigent in Italy, France and Greece.

Those, and similar contrasting newspaper headlines, run through the mind, as wending a somewhat weary way from the great city, the peace and quiet of the wayside is gratefully received. What does it all mean? This destroying with one hand and constructing and helping with the other.

The answer to all problems can be found by a communing with Nature, as long as we do not qualify it by placing that word HUMAN before it. Nature requires a rather close observation at times. So it is that we can note that all growth, whether vegetable or animal, all evolution or change of form, seems to be controlled by two great laws. One is Voluntary Action and the other is Compulsion.

It does not seem to matter much which law is allowed to hold its sway, the results seem to be the same. However, we note that the law of Compulsion is generally accompanied by sufferings, while that of Voluntary Action always seems to be a joyous affair.

Another thing to be noted is that whenever Voluntary Action is spurned, the very effects of such spurning is what produces the manifestations of Compulsion. An entity partakes of too much food, repudiating self-control, voluntarily exercised. Such nausea is produced that COMPULSION causes abstinence, until balance is once more restored. Therefore, the Law of Compulsion is not enforced by exterior forces, but merely produced by the throwing aside of the Divine Law of Voluntary Action.

In Nature, if it be studied with the Seeing Eye, it will be found that the Mineral Kingdom is ruled by the Law of Compulsion alone. In the Vegetable Kingdom, Voluntary Action makes its appearance, but faintly. Many botanical species have appeared and disappeared on account of it, but the Vegetable Kingdom, as a whole, has wonderfully progressed, since the days of the primitive fungi and gigantic tree ferns.

In the Animal Kingdom, Voluntary Action becomes more perceptible, as locomotion, the ability to change position has entered the life picture. Pity the poor plant, over-shadowed by the growing tree: it cannot move over into the sunshine, but has to make the best of it. Partly by Voluntary Action, partly by Compulsion, many a plant has grown into a tree that has overshadowed the tree that almost snuffed it out of existence. Sometimes, it is itself snuffed out of existence. In the Human Kingdom, having locomotion, as well as self-conscious mind, the Law of Voluntary action becomes supreme, the Law of Compulsion only lurks in the shadows of man’s creation, ready with its whip-lash to drive him onward and upward, if he will not move on his own intiative.

Now read again the first paragraph, and see if you can reconcile the conflicting actions, in the light of the Law of Compulsion, acting through the man-made destruction, compelling man to do what he should have done voluntarily.

Moral: Man advances, willy-nilly. With joy in his heart, voluntarily, or under the whip-lash of the Law of Compulsion.
And that’s just simple Theosophy.

– The Wayfarer [Maj. Hubert S. Turner]

– From “Thoughts by the Wayside,” Theosophia, Nov.-Dec., 1944

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Ambition vs. Attainment

2ambition

                                             – G. C. LeGros

“Oh, not the men of pomp and guile,
The crafty and the bold,
The haughty men who never smile,
And men who live for gold;
But broken men with hands that bleed
And souls by anguish rent . . . . ”

On the first page of Light on the Path we read the number one rule for disciples – “Kill out ambition.” The Adept-author explains that “Ambition is the first curse: the great tempter of the man who is rising above his fellows. It is the simplest form of looking for reward. Men of intelligence and power are led away from their higher possibilities by it continually. Yet it is a necessary teacher. Its results turn to dust and ashes in the mouth; like death and estrangement it shows the man at last that to work for self is to work for disappointment.”

Ambition may even persist in the life of the occultists “…who fancies he has removed his interest from self, but who has in reality only enlarged the limits of experience and desire, and transferred his interest to the things which concern his larger span of life.” We see this everywhere – “astral projection,” “psychic powers,” “third-eye clairvoyance,” “hypnotic control over others, ” etc.  Ambition is a hydra-headed thing.

In another book – Fragments of Life and Thought – the same Adept points out that “…not until the man has triumphed again and again in one incarnation after another, not until success has become tedious to him, and the high places of the earth all seem low and poor to him, is he beginning to be ready to go beyond it. And only so can it be killed out. “Man must go on struggling for earthly prizes until he reaches the point “…where the excelling of his fellows becomes suddenly and forever contemptible in his eyes, beneath the dignity and greatness of his soul, and then he will kill out ambition and cast it from him as a weed of earth. He will perceive that the strength which he has developed must be used, not in order to excel, but in the endeavor to attain.”

Attainment is different from Ambition because the latter fires one with a passion to out-distance all others striving for the same goal. The ambitious man is by necessity personal, jealous, envious, and ruthless – in other words, a menace to the world because he sows discord. To realize his aims he will stop at nothing save that which imperils his own preservation. And sometimes he will risk even that, like Shakespeare’s soldier “… seeking the bubble reputation even in the cannon’s mouth.”

Attainment, on the other hand, is a reaching out from self to SELF, from the finite to the Infinite, from the conditioned to the Unconditioned. The man who attains finds no rivals at his side, no single prize waiting at the end of the race. He moves in Eternity, where there is room for all.

Ambition is the effort of man to add to himself some coveted fragment of Earth, hoping thereby to exalt and increase his stature before others; but Attainment is the giving of oneself to the Whole.

A good example is the poet who wins first prize in an important contest. At the reception which follows, he receives honor and praise, and for a little hour feels as a god among men. But he also looks upon the faces of other poets who had competed and lost. They regard him as a thief, a usurper of the prize they sought, and which, in their opinion, they deserve.

He also thinks of next year’s contest, and wonders if he will win again, or only receive honorable mention, or no mention at all. Instead of rejoicing in his triumph, he finds himself under a cloud of apprehension. Victory is not the splendid thing he had envisioned.

Looking back, he sees that writing the poem was Attainment; but competing and winning the prize was Ambition. In the joy of creating something beautiful, he reached out of himself into the starry spaces where the Gods of Glory sing, and where, for a moment, he was one with their song.

But winning the prize and humbling his rivals, was an earthly thing that compressed his soul, and imprisoned him in a little world made by the littleness of men, where Ambition is king, demanding its terrible price.

The poet should sing as a bird sings – not for reward, but to Attain, to reach out from self to Infinity. The poet can be taken as a symbol of all men because everyone strives to express what he is – what is in him – either to win something from the world that may be added unto himself, or to give something of himself to the world. Each man is, by nature, either a taker or a giver.

The taker, following the path of Ambition, loses with every step because he violates the Supreme Order of the Universe, which is Duty, Service, and Cooperation. The giver, following the path of Attainment, wins with every step because he acts in keeping with the Harmony of the Whole, thereby enriching himself, because he is the Universe.

Attainment is the foundation of the Ultimate Discipline of Life. “Work as those work who are ambitious.” Make the utmost of the life that is yours; but seek no personal victories which, once realized, crush those around you. Regard men not as rivals, but as fellow pilgrims walking beside you on the Eternal Highway. Help them to attain with you, to become whole with you, and all the treasures of the Universe will be yours!

(from “Messiah”)

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The Last Theocracy

2-tulku

[This was written about 30 years ago, but the situation is the same and worse in Tibet as it was in 1950, with monasteries now being monitored with spy-cameras, and the Chinese bulldozing a Tibetan settlement and monastery of Larung Gar last summer. See: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-36863888?SThisFB    Let’s hope the U.S.’s new administration will have more backbone in challenging the biggest murderer of human rights in the world.]

In what was to be the beginning of one of the periodic madnesses that grip parts or all the globe, in the spring of 1950 Tibet was invaded by China after China’s declaration that it intended to free Tibet from “the influence of foreign imperialists” (there being six westerners in Tibet at the time) It was to prove the total destruction of the base of exoteric Mahayana Buddhism, which has near identical doctrines to that of Theosophy. The invasion was to directly and indirectly result in the death of some one million Tibetans and to make refugees of 100,000 others including the Dalai Lama.

Before China’s attempted “modernization” of Tibet, it was the home of some 3,000 Buddhist monasteries and 200,000 monks. By 1984 these vast numbers had shrunk to a remaining or rebuilt 45 monasteries housing some 1,400 monks. For years any practice of religion was forbidden in Tibet, but in the last ten years under a new Chinese administration some of these strictures have been loosen. Partially this change in policy is due to the value of Buddhism as a tourist attraction. While the superficial ceremonial practice of Buddhism is allowed, any serious scholastic study of its scriptures is forbidden.

Most the destruction of monasteries occurred during the chaos of China’s “Cultural Revolution” in the 1960’s. Some monasteries were taken apart brick by brick while most were dynamited or shelled with field artillery – although the walls of most were too thick to be totally destroyed. The process was to first take an inventory of all valuables. Gold and silver artifacts were taken in truck convoys to China to be melted into bullion. Manuscripts were either burned on the spot or sent for use as shoe padding and toilet paper. Clay images were pulverized and recast for the specific purpose of making public lavatories. At the central temple in the capital at Lhasa, sacred manuscripts kept bonfires burning for five days. Monasteries not totally destroyed were used for granaries, barracks or offices. The temple at Lhasa was renamed “Guest House #5” and used for government offices and its courtyards for keeping pigs.

Monks were either killed or shipped with other Tibetans to work camps such as that at Golomo to build railroads, Tsala Ka to mine borax, or Kongpo for Timbering. At Golomo, which is at 10,000 foot elevation and has six months of winter with gale force winds much of the time, large numbers died almost immediately from exposure and starvation. One account claims that 1,400 of 1,700 prisoners held at Drepang monastery died of starvation from November 1960 to June 1961. Tibetan’s homes were arbitrarily seized and all their possessions sold. During this period Tibet’s agricultural production actually increased, but nearly all the harvest, except that kept for Chinese troops, was shipped to China. to offset its own famine. While famine was previously unknown in Tibet, formerly prosperous peasants were reduced to stealing scraps from the Chinese pigs, picking horse offal for undigested grain, and feeding their own blood mixed with tsampa to their starving children. Fare at the work camps, when there was any, was typically barley husks mixed with sawdust or ulcer-producing tree bark.

Monks and Lamas were special objects of Chinese persecution. Lamas, formerly heads of monasteries, were lashed through the streets of Lhasa with heavy statues of Buddha strapped to their backs. Monks and nuns were forced to copulate in public or branded with irons. There were crucifixions. Monks and nuns were forced to marry while other Tibetans were sterilized in large numbers. One of Tibet’s highest Lamas, the Panchen Lama, was publicly beaten in his trial for “crimes against the state” – chiefly his support of the Dalai Lama. His aged tutor was sent to Golomo where he shortly died and the Panchen himself was imprisoned for fourteen years, and released in 1978 for political reasons. [After the Panchen Lama died, the Chinese kidnapped his recognized child-reincarnation, and substituted their own state-sponsored reincarnation.] It is still illegal today to even have a picture of the Dalai Lama. NBC recently reported an arrest for having the Lama’s picture on a T-shirt.

In China’s “development” of Tibet, the provinces of Gansu and Amdo were transformed into what a 1979 Time magazine article calls a “vast sea of prison camps” with up to ten million Tibetan and Chinese prisoners – a “black hole … from which little information ever reached the outside world.” By 1978 China’s largest nuclear weapons factory was located at Nagchuka 165 miles north of Lhasa. Whole mountain ranges have been denuded of timber. Tibet’s vast herds of wild ass were machine-gunned, her snow leopards, himalayan monkeys and wild yaks have become nearly if not extinct and her formerly endless flocks of ducks and geese have disappeared. Sixty western scientists were allowed to visit Tibet in 1980 and according to their account there is not a large wild animal to be seen anywhere and only a few birds in Tibet’s now sterile landscape.

In short, there has been nothing worse in Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Gulag, or under the Khymer Regime in Cambodia than what has occurred in Tibet under the Chinese. There is no outcry in the West, however, over this great atrocity or even sparse public knowledge. It is good politics to be friends with China and its billion people, while Tibet is important neither economically nor militarily and Buddhism matters very little in the political grist mills of the world. Our country, which prides itself for its stand on worldwide human rights, has chosen expediency and officially recognizes China’s claim to right of sovereignty over Tibet.

What was to befall Tibet was perhaps foreseen by the thirteenth Dalai Lama when he wrote in 1932 a year before his death:

“It may happen that here, in the center of Tibet, religion and government will be attacked both from without and from within. Unless we can guard our own country, it will now happen that the Dalai and Panchen Lamas, the Father and Son, and all the revered holders of the Faith,, will disappear and become nameless. Monks and their monasteries will be destroyed. The rule of law will be weakened. The lands and property of government officials will be seized. They themselves will be forced to serve their enemies or wander the country like beggars. All beings will be sunk in great hardship and overpowering fear; the days and nights will drag on slowly in suffering.”

While the present Dalai Lama has become a world ambassador in his never ending efforts to gain independence for Tibet, his attitude is also objective and philosophic. “There are many prophecies which indicate that I will be the last Dalai Lama. The world is changing so dramatically, that there may no longer be a need for the lineage.” Elsewhere he has stated that “the very aggregates of a human mind and body have, as their actual nature, suffering. They serve as a basis for suffering, and as long as one has them one is susceptible to suffering. From a deep point of view, while we Tibetans don’t have our independence and are living in someone else’s country, we are subject to a certain type of suffering, but when we return to Tibet and gain our independence, then there will be other types of suffering. So, you see, this is just the way it is. You might think that I’m pessimistic, but I am not. This is Buddhist realism. This is how, through Buddhist teaching and advice, we handle situations. These sorts of thoughts make one stronger, more active.”

Sources:
In Exile from the Land of Snows, John F. Avedon, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1984
The Making of Modern Tibet, A. Tom Grunfeld, M.E. Sharp Inc., Armonk, NY, 1987

(from Protogonos, Winter 1987-8)

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A Short Christmas Parable

homeless

From the New York Herald, about Christmas, 1878:

An aged man, presiding at a public meeting, said he would avail himself of the opportunity to relate a vision he had witnessed on the previous night.

“He thought he was standing in the pulpit of the most gorgeous and magnificent cathedral he had ever seen. Before him was the priest or pastor of the church, and beside him stood an angel with a tablet and pencil in hand, whose mission it was to make record of every act of worship or prayer that transpired in his presence and ascended as an acceptable offering to the throne of God. Every pew was filled with richly-attired worshippers of either sex. The most sublime music that ever fell on his enraptured ear filled the air with melody. All the beautiful ritualistic Church services, including a surpassingly eloquent sermon from the gifted minister, had in turn transpired, and yet the recording angel made no entry in his tablet! The congregation were at length dismissed by the pastor with a lengthy and beautifully-worded prayer, followed by a benediction, and yet the angel made no sign!

“Attended still by the angel, the speaker left the door of the church in rear of the richly-attired congregation. A poor, tattered castaway stood in the gutter beside the curbstone, with her pale, famished hand extended, silently pleading for alms. As the richly-attired worshippers from the church passed by, they shrank from the poor Magdalen, the ladies withdrawing aside their silken, jewel-bedecked robes, lest they should be polluted by her touch.

“Just then an intoxicated sailor came reeling down the sidewalk on the other side. When he got opposite the poor forsaken girl, he staggered across the street to where she stood, and, taking a few pennies from his pocket, he thrust them into her hand, accompanied with the adjuration, ‘Here, you poor forsaken cuss, take this!’ A celestial radiance now lighted up the face of the recording angel, who instantly entered the sailor’s act of sympathy and charity in his tablet, and departed with it as a sweet sacrifice to God.”

– from “The Theosophist,” Dec, 1879, “Christmas Then and Christmas Now,” by H. P. Blavatsky

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Theosophy and Death

the-tunnel

Most of us when the time comes will have a “natural” death from old age in our beds, or from illness complications the result of age, or keel over on the back patio from a heart attack or something such. For loved ones it is sore loss and great grief, but at least in Theosophical teachings, those dying are unaware of loss and are subject to the kind hand of Nature in relief of hardships and compensation after death for the heartbreaks and sufferings of the past life. It is all part of the cyclic processes of Nature – day and night, Spring and Winter, waking and sleeping, physical Life and Death, to be repeated again ultimately in a new incarnation among friends left behind. The following is a general outline of what happens at natural death according to Blavatsky Theosophy.

(1) At the death of the body, the brain or at least mental process continue for a short time in a review of scenes and details of the previous life. (This is often reported in people having a near-death experience.)

In the Theosophical system Human objective and subjective Nature is divided into seven aspects or principles, from the first principle, the physical body (sthula-sairira) to the seventh principle, an individual aspect of the Universal spirit of all – Atman. The physical body begins to immediately decay at death, and along with it the second and third principles also begin to disintegrate – the astral or pattern body (which is what is sometimes reported as a spook or ghost) and the 3rd principle or individual aspect of Nature’s Life-energy or Prana.

After sloughing off the most physical aspects of our nature, we have left our desire-nature (Kama), our mental-nature (Manas) and our spiritual or universal nature (Buddhi and Atman. Buddhi is an individual aspect of Universality, Atman, or the Absolute, Brahman, the Godhead, or whatever name is used.)

(2) After physical death the Theosophical teaching is that in our subjective nature (which is really another form of matter objective in its own sphere) – we enter the Kama-loka, or “desire-realm”, and a process starts of the separation of the higher and lower parts of our subjective nature from the last life-time. This might last from a few hours to a few years. The mind principle or Manas becomes duel in this process. The lower mind in its cruder aspects identifies with Kama or desire, forming the “shell” or Kama-manas bereft of any spiritual aspects and directed toward the earth-earthly of the past life. This gradually disintegrates unless unlucky enough to be attracted to a medium. All one’s spiritual aspects – unselfish love for family or others, unfulfilled higher aspirations, – say, maybe to study music and be a musician, or impulses of charity, or perhaps love of objective study of science, and maybe wisdom gleaned from the last life – these coalesce in what Theosophy calls the Monad, or the “Reincarnating Ego” – and it is this that goes on to the next stage of what the Tibetans call the “Bardo” or “between death and rebirth.”

(3) The next stage for the “reincarnating ego” or Human Soul between lives described by Theosophical teachings (and echoed in many of the world’s ancient religious and philosophic literature) is the Deva-chan, which in Sanscrit means loosely “land of the gods.” It is a dream-world* of sorts and a self-made paradise in which one is rapt in fulfillment of all one’s unfulfilled aspirations of the past life, filled with one’s friends perhaps and lost loved ones – whatever is in most need of by the Soul experiencing it. Perhaps also there is an incorporation of lessons from the past life. It may last a short time to thousands of year, depending on the degree of spiritual nature of the person’s last lifetime, yet there is no more experience of the passage of time than there is experienced in the dreams of a night’s sleep. When the person becomes fulfilled on this side of his nature in Deva-chan, attraction toward earth life begins again to arise, eventually resulting in rebirth, and the forming of a new personality. The new person is formed by the attraction of the “skandhas” or tendencies and character belonging to oneself from the previous life, and we continue a new cycle in our evolutionary journey.
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– M.R.J.

* While Deva-chan is called a “dream” it is as real as it can be, as nightly dreams are experienced as real, and a needed purpose is being fulfilled. Eastern religions say that our world is Maya, or a mental illusion, and a relative world is the only possibility for Individual experience of any nature. In the “One,” or the Absolute, or Godhead there are no parts, so to speak, or individuals to have experience.

In Theosophical teachings we are held to be part of our “Higher Self” or a Manasaputra, or perhaps “Guardian Angel” in another tradition. During Deva-chan we are at one spiritually with this Higher Self or Manasaputra in whatever world it lives in, and rapt in our own Deva-chanic experiences.

One might ask when reading this “How can men know such things? – isn’t it just speculation and a bunch of air-castles!” By saying that men, or some men, _can’t_ know such things as what happens after death, one is also claiming omniscience in knowing human limits. “Upon the shoulders of a million men, Buddha entered the Gates of Gold” I believe is in a Mabel Collins book, which means Buddha built on the discoveries of a million searchers before himself.

A large portion of the world’s population believes in Evolution, for ages in the East based on Religious propositions and reincarnation, and more recently in the west based scientifically on the observed gradually developing complexity of life. We assume that man is the top of the pyramid of evolution of plant, animal, humans, but in this billions of years of Earth and the Universe there is no guarantee that there aren’t evolved forms of life higher than humans, that may keep hidden for their own reasons (and perhaps for us). Cultures are full of myths of gods, heroes, and god-kings, and if such superiorly evolved beings exist we might consider they have had a hand in the nursery education of humanity, and the origins of philosophy.

References:

“After Death – What?,” Leoline Wright http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gdpmanu/death/death-1.htm

“The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett,” edited by Trevor Barker
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Did I Meet a Mahatma?

guru

– by “Ion of Delphi”

(from “The Theosophical Path,” Dec., 1929)
In the early days of the Theosophical Society I was residing in India. H. P. Blavatsky was there, and I was caught in the general curiosity aroused by her wonderful personality, becom­ing interested in the philosophy she propounded, and in the existence of the Mahatmas, those wonderful men liv­ing in the fastnesses of the Himalayas and beyond.

I had the means and the leisure to indulge a hobby for botany and geo­logy, so, keeping my purpose strictly to myself, I determined, while osten­sibly following my scientific tastes, to spend a considerable time in those parts of the mountains where rumor indicated the presence of some of those great men.

In six successive seasons I had gained much valuable information in the line of my hobby, but no knowledge what­ever of the whereabouts of the Mahatmas. The seventh year I deter­mined would be my last – and it was, in an unexpected way. The hotel in which I was staying caught fire one evening while I was but a short dis­tance away, and in rushing back to my room in an endeavor to save my valu­able manuscripts and specimens, I stumbled upon a Hindu servant lying overcome by the heat and the smoke. I managed to get him out of the build­ing, but by that time my only chance for saving my property had gone, and I had to stand by in grim resignation and witness the ruin of my loved labor of many years.

As I stood watching, my resolve definitely took shape that I would abandon my hope of finding the Ma­hatmas. I stayed at the house of a friend that night, and rose very early next morning with the full intention of completing my arrangements for departure. As I stepped outside, a Hin­du, whom I knew well as an employee in the local bank, seemed to be wait­ing for me. He greeted me respect­fully; and then his next words made my heart leap and thump in my breast:

“I am directed to say that you may come and meet one of the Great Lodge if such is still your wish. If you will come immediately, everything you need for the journey is provided at the edge of the town, and your friend within the house will be duly informed of your ab­sence and safety.”

The first impulse of caution brought the question into my mind: “How am I to know whether — ?” Before I had time to finish the unspoken question the messenger said: “One must trust intuition in these matters.” I started and stared at him silently.

. . . . After several hours of travel we were still on ground quite familiar to me. “Indeed,” I thought, “it would be difficult to find any unfamiliar place within a day’s journey of my last head­quarters.” But as we traversed a tor­tuous path along a rocky spur, a blind­ing rainstorm descended suddenly upon us. Still we pressed on, and in half an hour it had ceased. “Where are we now?” was my first thought as the sun became visible by glimpses. “Are we going back the way we came? The sun is on my right instead of on my left as before.” But we were on totally unfamiliar ground. I tried to get my bearing by the higher peaks, but the clouds had gathered there.

My pride was piqued. I grew weary and irritable, and in spite of all my efforts to the contrary and against my better judgment, all the pettiness possible to human nature seemed to rise in me and distort the simplest happen­ings. “What can be the matter with me?” I pondered as we continued; and I was so self-absorbed in my mental turmoil that it was startling to come suddenly upon a wonderfully pleasant spot, well shaded, and with comfortable buildings of the bungalow type here and there in appropriate places. Several young men, quiet and studious-looking, were to be seen engaged in various duties. “Effeminate!” was my terse and critical estimate of them.

We entered one of the houses, and I was invited to rest. “It would be well,” said the one who brought me food and a change of clothing, “not to leave the house just now. In an hour one will come who will guide you.” I thanked him, but with a mental reservation, made no promises. I recall with shame even now that in half an hour I had left the house and proceeded to wander along in the shade of the trees.

Apparently there was no one about to hinder me, and I walked along with the deliberate intention of seeing all there was to be seen, presently, in a beautiful glade, coming upon an im­mense boulder standing alone. Going closer to examine it, I found set upon the face of it, at a height of about nine feet, a large bronze plaque. It was perhaps eighteen inches wide and more than that in height, oval-shaped, and with a design that I could not easily make out. Standing at an appropriate distance, I concentrated my attention upon deciphering it.

I became conscious of a vague un­easiness. What was it the plaque re­minded me of? Yes, I remembered: it was the time when a sudden turn of fortune had brought me my wealth. There had been a choice as to whether I should enjoy it for myself or — . But confound it! what had that to do with my present purpose – I intended to know what design was on the plaque.

But whatever the figures or charac­ters were, they eluded me. What was the matter with my eyes: now the plaque seemed to be moving! Yes, it had changed into a living, glowing heart. Grand organ music flowed from it, inexpressibly sad. It beat upon me; it weighed me down; the woe of the world was in it; the deep, questioning sorrow of millions; the weary sobbing of misunderstood children; this and more, and still more; until I sank upon my knees, and was pressed backward upon the ground, gasping, and with an unsupportable weight upon my heart. Heavier and heavier it became, until the great boulder itself seemed to be bearing upon it, and I cried out in agony.

And then I saw one of the young men, whom earlier in the day I had dubbed effeminate, step between me and the plaque, facing it and standing there steadily. Gradually the weight lifted from me; but I lay without pow­er to move. Someone took me by the arm, and a quiet voice said, “Come, my son!” I arose trembling, and with the assistance of a venerable old man, went back to the house. When, with the tenderest of care, he had placed me in a comfortable chair, I was so over­wrought that I burst into a sobbing that I tried in vain to control.

Presently the old man said: “For whom are those tears? For yourself or for — ?” The unfinished question called forth something stronger in me, and in a little while I grew silent, – and then, inwardly in some manner, more silent, and yet more silent – until my consciousness merged into some vast quietness of being in which the old man and I seemed to converse wordlessly. And from that I passed into a deep slumber.

Next morning, as I stepped from the house, the preparation for my depar­ture was before me. I knew without a word being spoken that I was to return. It was just. The old man bade me a kindly farewell, and I was too de­pressed to do other than thank him for what kindness had been shown me. He replied: “One who considers a human life of more value than his beloved la­bor of many years is worthy of regard.”

As I turned to go, an idea occurred to me, and I said: “Perhaps, after all, I have met a Mahatma.”

He answered gravely: “Is that so very important? Is it not of far more value that you have come by a greater knowledge of yourself? And if I should say to you I am a Mahatma, would that make me one, either in your eyes or in the eyes of the Great Law? And if I should say I am not one, could that alter the facts of being?”

“I think I see your meaning,” I said. “One who has sufficient insight to recognise a Mahatma does not need to ask that question.”

He smiled and said, “To see that truth is better than to see a Mahatma.” I returned, haunted by a desperate sense of failure, but with an intense resolve to make my life tell in the help­ing of my fellows.

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