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* MASTER K.H. ON THE ONE LIFE, THE ONE LAW, THE ONE ELEMENT *
“Like Blavatsky herself, her direct Teachers appear to be particularly Buddhist, even if their entire ‘Brotherhood’ is not.” – Richard Taylor
“Their forefathers have driven away the followers of the only true philosophy upon earth away from India and now, it is not for the latter to come to them but to them to come to us if they want us. Which of them is ready to become a Buddhist, a Nastika [atheist or non-theist] as they call us? None. Those who have believed and followed us have had their reward.” – Master Morya – The Mahatma Letters, Letter No. CXXXIV
“Even exoteric Buddhism is the surest path to lead men toward the one esoteric truth.” – The Maha Chohan – 1881 Letter
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Before beginning her public mission and founding the Theosophical Society, Madame Blavatsky spent two years living with the Masters near Shigatse, Tibet. The Masters Morya and Koot Hoomi, although from India and Kashmir respectively and not Tibetan, were affiliated with the Tashi Lhunpo monastery (a Gelugpa Buddhist monastery) at Shigatse and with its Head, the Panchen Lama. The Gelugpas are the “yellow hat” order of Tibetan Buddhism and it is to this order that the Dalai Lama belongs.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, the Mahatmas or Masters of the Wisdom are not as “philosophically inclusive” as many think and with good reason…if we sincerely believe and have evidence that there is a way which is the most effective and enduringly beneficial for humanity then it stands to reason that we should hold that up as being the highest, truest, and best way to go. The Masters of the Trans-Himalayan Brotherhood, about whom so much is said and who are held in such high regard by Theosophists and by students of the Alice Bailey and Agni Yoga teachings, are strictly Tibetan Buddhists, holding to the tenets of esoteric Buddhism rather than the exoteric and public version of Buddhism. This fact was well known and never in dispute amongst Theosophists until later leaders such as C.W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant attempted to westernise and Christianise the movement, promptly spelling its downfall.
Despite being Buddhists and repeatedly referring to themselves and to Blavatsky as such in the Mahatma Letters, the Masters have also stated that the Advaita Vedanta (non-duality, universal oneness) philosophy of Hinduism is the truest and greatest of all the publicly known religious philosophies. They say that pure esoteric Buddhism is in essence the same as pure Advaita Vedanta and vice versa. We call them “Masters of The Wisdom” because they belong to and represent that hidden esoteric Brotherhood which holds the Ancient and Ageless Wisdom, the answers to the questions and mysteries of life, the esoteric teaching which underlies all of the world’s religions…the Gupta Vidya…“Hidden Wisdom” or “Secret Doctrine” in other words. Although this esoteric philosophy transcends all religions – “There is no religion higher than Truth” being the motto of the Theosophical movement – the two Masters who were most prominently behind the Theosophical movement and who worked the most closely with Madame Blavatsky believed implicitly that esoteric Buddhism was the highest representation of that philosophy, which they believed contains the answers and solutions to the world’s problems and the keys to bringing about universal brotherhood.
“Whither can we turn to trace these theosophic ideas to their very root – better than to old Indian wisdom? We say it again: archaic Occultism would remain incomprehensible to all, if it were rendered otherwise than through the channels of Buddhism and Hinduism. For the former is the emanation of the latter; and both are children of one mother – ancient Lemuro-Atlantean Wisdom.” – HPB (Helena Petrovna Blavatsky) – The Secret Doctrine
It is well known that Buddhism has always been a nontheistic religion and that no Buddhist believes in God. As Madame Blavatsky wrote when describing the Lord Gautama’s process of enlightenment, “Gautama Buddha, after his initiation into the mysteries by the old Brahmin, His Guru, renouncing gods, Devas and personal deity, feeling that the path to salvation lay not in vainglorious dogmas, and the recognition of a deity outside of oneself, renounced every form of theism and – became Buddha, the one enlightened.” (Collected Writings, Volume 4)
In one of the Mahatma Letters (No. X), the Master Koot Hoomi writes, “Ignorance created Gods and cunning took advantage of the opportunity…the sum of human misery will never be diminished unto that day when the better portion of humanity destroys in the name of Truth, morality, and universal charity, the altars of their false gods…We deny the existence of a thinking conscious God, on the grounds that such a God must either be conditioned, limited and subject to change, therefore not infinite, or (2) if he is represented to us as an eternal unchangeable and independent being, with not a particle of matter in him, then we answer that it is no being but an immutable blind principle, a law…Neither our philosophy nor ourselves believe in a God, least of all in one whose pronoun necessitates a capital H…Our doctrine knows no compromises. It either affirms or denies, for it never teaches but that which it knows to be the truth. Therefore, we deny God both as philosophers and as Buddhists. We know there are planetary and other spiritual lives, and we know there is in our system no such thing as God, either personal or impersonal. Parabrahm is not a God, but absolute immutable law…If people are willing to accept and to regard as ‘God’ our ONE LIFE immutable and unconscious in its eternity they may do so and thus keep to one more gigantic misnomer…We are not Adwaitees [followers of the Advaita Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism], but our teaching respecting the one life is identical with that of the Adwaitee with regard to Parabrahm. And no true philosophically brained Adwaitee will ever call himself an agnostic, for he knows that he is Parabrahm and identical in every respect with the universal life and soul – the macrocosm is the microcosm and he knows that there is no God apart from himself, no creator as no being. Having found Gnosis we cannot turn our backs on it and become agnostics.”
When one of the early English Theosophists was preparing to publish an article upholding the idea of God, the Master Koot Hoomi emphatically wrote, “I will have H.P.B. or Djual Khool deny the whole thing; as I cannot permit our sacred philosophy to be so disfigured. He says that people will not accept the whole truth; that unless we humour them with a hope that there may be a ‘loving Father and creator of all in heaven’ our philosophy will be rejected a priori. In such a case the less such idiots hear of our doctrines the better for both. If they do not want the whole truth and nothing but the truth, they are welcome. But never will they find us – (at any rate) – compromising with, and pandering to public prejudices.”
In light of all that, what DO the Masters actually believe about that which they call the “ONE LIFE immutable and unconscious in its eternity”? If it can’t even be considered as being an impersonal God then what is it?
Here are the words of the Master Koot Hoomi on what he terms the One Life, the One Law, the One Element.
“To comprehend my answers you will have first of all to view the eternal Essence, the Swabavat not as a compound element you call spirit-matter, but as the one element for which the English has no name. It is both passive and active, pure Spirit Essence in its absoluteness and repose; pure matter in its finite and conditioned state.”
“We recognise but one element in Nature (whether spiritual or physical) outside which there can be no Nature since it is Nature itself, and which as the Akasha pervades our solar system every atom being part of itself pervades throughout space and is space in fact… consequently spirit and matter are one, being but a differentiation of states not essences.” (from Letter No. XI)
The capitalised term “Nature” used in esoteric teachings refers not to nature in the sense of fields, rivers, flowers, and trees etc. but to the sum-total of EVERYTHING visible and invisible…the infinite Universe in other words. The Master’s statement that “spirit and matter are one” is echoed by HPB in her own writings, where she describes matter as crystallised spirit and spirit as rarefied matter. Spirit and matter are not different essences but simply different states of the same Essence…the ONE ESSENCE…which is Nature Itself, Space Itself.
“The great difficulty in grasping the idea in the above process lies in the liability to form more or less incomplete mental conceptions of the working of the one element, of its inevitable presence in every imponderable atom, and its subsequent ceaseless and almost illimitable multiplication of new centres of activity without affecting in the least its own original quantity.”
“The force there, is not transformed into something else as I have already shown in my letter, but with each development of a new centre of activity from within itself multiplies ad infinitum without ever losing a particle of its nature in quantity or quality.”
“Nor can it well be called force since the latter is but the attribute of Yin Sin (Yin Sin or the one ‘Form of existence’ also Adi-Buddhi or Dharmakaya the mystic, universally diffused essence) when manifesting in the phenomenal world of senses namely only your old acquaintance Fohat… The initiated Brahmin calls it (Yin Sin and Fohat) Brahman and Shakti when manifesting as that force. We will perhaps be nearer correct to call it infinite life and the source of all life visible and invisible, an essence inexhaustible ever present, in short Swabhavat. (S. in its universal application, Fohat when manifesting throughout our phenomenal world or rather the visible universe hence in its limitations). It is pravritti when active, nirvritti when passive. Call it the Shakti of Parabrahm, if you like, and say with the Adwaitees that Parabrahm plus Maya becomes Ishvara the creative principle – a power commonly called God which disappears and dies with the rest when pralaya comes. Or you may hold with the northern Buddhist philosophers and call it Adi-Buddhi the all-pervading supreme and absolute intelligence with its periodically manifesting Divinity – ‘Avalokiteshvara.’”
“How then can we doubt that a mineral contains in it a spark of the One as everything else in this objective nature does?” (from Letter No. XV)
When the “ONE FORM OF EXISTENCE”, “the mystic, universally diffused essence,” manifests in the phenomenal world, it does so as Fohat. So we can describe it as…
* Svabhavat or Yin Sin in its universal, unconditioned, unmanifested state
* Fohat in its manifested, conditioned state in the visible phenomenal universe
* Adibuddha in its universal, unconditioned, unmanifested state
* Avalokiteshvara in its manifested, conditioned state in the visible phenomenal universe
* Parabrahm or Brahman in its universal, unconditioned, unmanifested state
* Shakti in its manifested, conditioned state in the visible phenomenal universe
The word “Shakti” literally means “Energy” or “Force” and is synonymous with the term “Fohat” used by the Masters and HPB. In the teachings of Hinduism, Shakti (the manifested, conditioned form of the unmanifested absolute Brahman) is also often called Maya, meaning “illusion”…illusion because temporary, finite, and subject to change and it possesses these qualities simply because it is manifested. The term “Bright Space, son of Dark Space” in the Stanzas from the Secret Book of Dzyan perhaps refers to this. Elsewhere in the Mahatma Letters we are reminded that for Theists (those who believe in God), Shakti is the breath or power or energy of a conscious Deity whereas for Buddhists it is “the eternal energy of an eternal, unconscious Law.” But it’s important that we remember that they are both ONE and THE SAME, being simply different states of the ONE ESSENCE.
Many people today are familiar with the Shiva-Shakti concept. While many interpret and understand it in more or less a literal or anthropomorphic way, the Masters use “Shiva” as another name for Nature, the One Essence, the one form of Existence. In Letter No. XXXI the Master K.H. says that “the adept sees and feels and lives in the very source of all fundamental truths – the Universal Spiritual Essence of Nature, SHIVA the Creator, the Destroyer, and the Regenerator. As Spiritualists today have degraded ‘Spirit,’ so have the Hindus degraded Nature by their anthropomorphistic conceptions of it. Nature alone can incarnate the Spirit of limitless contemplation.” In the teachings of Theosophy, there is no place for anthropomorphic deities and it is repeatedly stated that anthropomorphisation is degradation of the Spiritual and Divine. The direst consequences have followed from the personalisation and anthropomorphisation of divine principles and the history of religion is an undeniable and tragic testament to that. Nothing of any enduring worth or value is ever achieved or accomplished by doing do. In some of her final teachings to her inner group of esoteric students, Madame Blavatsky also uses the word Shiva in the same way, saying that Shiva is the four-faced Brahma: Creator, Preserver, Destroyer, Regenerator.
“The vegetable and animal kingdoms which at the end of the minor manvantara had reached only a partial development are not destroyed. Their life or vital entities, call some of them nati if you will – find also their corresponding night and rest – they also have a Nirvana of their own. And why should they not, these foetal and infant entities. They are all like ourselves begotten of the one element….As we have our Dhyan Chohans so have they in their several kingdoms elemental guardians and are as well taken care of in the mass as is humanity in the mass. The one element not only fills space and is space, but interpenetrates every atom of cosmic matter.” (from Letter No. XV)
“It [the mystery of life] can never be grasped so long as it is studied separately and apart from universal life. To solve the great problem one has to become an occultist; to analyze and experience with it personally, in all its phases, as life on earth, life beyond the limit of physical death, mineral, vegetable, animal and spiritual life; life in conjunction with concrete matter as well as life present in the imponderable atom. Let them try and examine, or analyze life apart from organism, and what remains of it? Simply a mode of motion; which unless our doctrine of the all-Pervading, infinite, omnipresent Life is accepted – though it be accepted on no better terms than a hypothesis only a little more reasonable than their scientific hypotheses which are all absurd – has to remain unsolved. Shall they object? Well, we will answer them by using their own weapons. We will say that it is, and will remain, forever demonstrated that since motion is all-pervading and absolute rest inconceivable, that under whatever form or mask motion may appear, whether as light, heat, magnetism, chemical affinity or electricity – all these must be but phases of One and the same universal omnipotent Force, a Proteus they bow to, as the Great ‘Unknown’ – and we, simply call the ‘One Life’ the ‘One Law’ and the ‘One Element.’” (from Letter No. XXIIIb)
The Masters and Madame Blavatsky were well aware that as soon as someone begins to use the term “God” they instantly lose all credibility in the eyes of the intelligentsia and one of the main practical objectives of the Theosophical movement was to reach and influence members of the intelligentsia and highly educated individuals with the esoteric spiritual philosophy. The aim was that the New Age be brought about through the work of spiritually minded intellectuals, rather than uneducated zealots and so great care was taken to ensure that the teachings could not be misunderstood or misinterpreted as upholding the idea of a God. Theosophy did begin to show faint signs of starting to succeed in this regard, with even Thomas Edison becoming a Theosophist and being known to be under the protection of the Master Morya. A previously critical journalist described the Theosophical book “Esoteric Buddhism” – which was primarily based on some of the teachings from the Mahatma Letters before the letters themselves were actually published – as “marvelous, even in this day of scientific research…‘Esoteric Buddhism’ itself is enough to set the intellectual world in commotion. It is the most philosophical method of explaining life, death and eternity yet made known, even whether we like it or not.”
But sadly, with the Society coming under the leadership and influence, after HPB’s passing, of certain individuals who were unable to entirely break away from their Christian conditioning, the term “God” and even the idea of a semi-personal God swiftly entered and flooded the Theosophical teachings and as one observer wryly commented, “It then became just yet another type of religion.”
“This perpetual motion is the only eternal and uncreated Deity we are able to recognise.”
“We recognise but one law in the Universe, the law of harmony, of perfect EQUILIBRIUM.”
“The conception of matter and spirit as entirely distinct, and both eternal could certainly never have entered my head, however little I may know of them, for it is one of the elementary and fundamental doctrines of Occultism that the two are one, and are distinct but in their respective manifestations, and only in the limited perceptions of the world of senses. Far from ‘lacking philosophical breadth’ then, our doctrines show, but one principle in nature, – spirit-matter or matter-spirit, the third the ultimate Absolute or the quintessence of the two, – if I may be allowed to use an erroneous term in the present application – losing itself beyond the view and spiritual perceptions of even the ‘Gods’ or Planetary Spirits. This third principle say the Vedantic Philosophers – is the only reality, everything else being Maya, as none of the Protean manifestations of spirit-matter or Purusha and Prakriti have ever been regarded in any other light than that of temporary delusions of the senses.” (from Letter No. XXII)
“…our very ancient theory that every phenomenon being but the effect of the diversified motions of what we call Akasha there was, in fact, but one element, the causative Principle of all.” (from Letter No. XXIIIb)
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This repeated teaching of the One Life, the One Law, and the One Element has its source in a very esoteric Tibetan Buddhist text called the Ratna-Gotra-Vibhaga, which HPB referred to as the “Secret Book of Maitreya” as it is considered by some to have been written by the coming Maitreya Buddha. (For some further information about this book, please see “The Secret Book of Dzyan” article at http://secretdoctrine.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/the-secret-book-of-dzyan/) In the Ratna-Gotra-Vibhaga, the One Element or One Essence is called “Dhatu” which is the key term in the book. It says that when Dhatu is obscured it is called Tathagata-garbha and when unobscured is Dharma-kaya.
The ONE LIFE corresponds to TATHAGATA-GARBHA.
The ONE LAW corresponds to DHARMA-KAYA.
The ONE ELEMENT corresponds to DHATU.
Some have wondered how the Masters Morya and Koot Hoomi can be Buddhists when they speak elsewhere about us all being the Self, the Atman, which are Hindu terms and categorically repudiated in Buddhism which denies that there is any Self. They are esoteric Buddhists, following the esoteric teachings that Gautama Buddha gave only to his chosen initiates or Arhats and which have largely been kept secret ever since under the guardianship of an ongoing Brotherhood of Initiates, and it may surprise some people to know that there are in fact certain Buddhist scriptures which endorse the teaching about the Atman and which also interpret it in the light of this teaching about the One Life, One Law, and One Element.
“The Atman is the Tathagatagarbha. All beings possess a Buddha Nature: this is what the Atman is.” – from the Maha-parinirvana-sutra
To most Buddhists, these three terms – Tathagata-garbha, Dharma-kaya, and Dhatu – refer to the absolute emptiness of all things and not to any absolute substratum. To the Masters of the Wisdom, however, they do refer to an ABSOLUTE SUBSTRATUM…the Absolute Itself…which is empty of everything but Itself.
According to the written teachings of the Master Koot Hoomi, this One Essence, this One Life, this One Element, is Perpetual Motion, Nature Itself, Space Itself and it is implied further in Letter No. XV that it is Fire, “the eternal light.” The One Element – the ONE and ONLY – is “the causative Principle of all” and it IS all. It “not only fills Space and is Space, but interpenetrates every atom of cosmic matter.” And this is also the esoteric teaching of the Advaita Vedanta form of Hinduism, where the term Brahman or Parabrahm is used to describe “the all-pervading, infinite, omnipresent Life.” In her book “The Key to Theosophy,” HPB even says “The Parabrahm of the Vedantins is the only Deity we accept and believe in.” Many Hindus also refer to Parabrahm or Brahman as “God”, however, and this is what the Masters dislike, as they understandably feel that this can easily lead to misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what is actually meant. Being Buddhists, they prefer to use the Buddhist terminology of the “One Element”…that which is neither Spirit nor Matter, these two being merely different states of the indescribable, undefinable ONE.
In the autumn of 1997, a small fragment of paper containing Tibetan writing was found inside the envelope of one of the Mahatma Letters, which are now housed in the British Library in London but were previously in the Oriental Section of the British Museum. The letter had of course been removed from its envelope when it was originally received by its recipient, back in 1882, but this fragment had apparently remained unnoticed all that time. Interestingly enough, this Tibetan writing – whether written by the Master K.H. himself or one of his chelas, Djwhal Khul perhaps – was verse 21 from the first chapter of the Ratna-gotra-vibhaga. Translated into English, it reads as follows…
“The only refuge for him who aspires to true perfection is Buddha alone.”
By MW, June 2012
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