“REINCARNATIONS” OF BUDDHA
Every section in the chapter on “Dezhin Shegpa”* (Tathâgata) in the Commentaries represents one year of that great Philosopher’s life, in its dual aspect of public and private teacher, the two being contrasted and commented upon. It shows the Sage reaching Buddhahood through a long course of study, meditation, and Initiations, as any other Adept would have to do, not one rung of the ladder up to the arduous “Path of Perfection” being missed. The Bodhisattva became a Buddha and a Nirvânî through personal effort and merit, after having had to undergo all the hardships of every other neophyte—not by virtue of a divine birth, as thought by some. It was only the reaching of Nirvâna while still living in the body and on this earth that was due to His having been in previous births high on the “Path of Dzyan” (knowledge, wisdom). Mental or intellectual gifts and abstract knowledge follow an Initiate in his new birth, but he has to acquire phenomenal powers anew, passing through all the successive stages. He has to acquire Rinchen-na-dun (“the seven precious gifts”)† one after the other. During the period of meditation no worldly phenomena on the physical plane must be allowed to enter into his mind or cross his thoughts. Zhine-lhag thong (Sanskrit: Samatha-vipashyanâ, religious abstract meditation) will develop in him most wonderful faculties independently of himself. The four degrees of contemplation, or Sam-tan (Sanskrit: Dhyâna), once acquired, everything becomes easy. For, once
* Literally, “he who walks [or follows] in the way [or path] of his predecessors.”
† I.J. Schmidt, in Ssanang-Ssetzen Chungtaidschi, p. 471, and Schlagintweit, in Buddhism in Tibet, p. 53, accept these precious things literally, enumerating them as “the wheel, the precious stone, the royal consort, the best treasurer, the best horse, the elephant, the best leader.” After this one can little wonder if “besides a Dhyâni-Buddhi and a Dhyâni-Bodhisattva” each human Buddha is furnished with “a female companion, a Sakti”—when in truth “Sakti” is simply the Soul-power, the psychic energy of the God as of the Adept. The “royal consort,” the third of the “seven precious gifts,” very likely led the learned Orientalist into this ludicrous error.
that man has entirely got rid of the idea of individuality, merging his Self in the Universal Self, becoming, so to say, the bar of steel to which the properties inherent in the loadstone (Âdi-Buddha, or Anima Mundi) are imparted, powers hitherto dormant in him are awakened, mysteries in invisible Nature are unveiled, and, becoming a Thong-lam-pa (a Seer), he becomes a Dhyâni-Buddha. Every Zung (Dhâranî, a mystic word or mantra) of the Lokottaradharma (the highest world of causes) will be known to him.
Thus, after His outward death, twenty years later, Tathâgata in His immense love and “pitiful mercy” for erring and ignorant humanity, refused Parinirvâna* in order that He might continue to help men.
Says a Commentary:
Having reached the Path of Deliverance [Thar-lam] from transmigration, one cannot perform Tulpa† any longer, for to become a Parinirvânî is to close the circle of the Septenary Ku-Sum.‡ He has merged his borrowed Dorjesempa [Vajrasattva] into the Universal and become one with it.
Vajradhara, also Vajrasattva (Tibetan: Dorjechang and Dorjedzin, or Dorjesempa), is the regent or President of all the Dhyâni-Chohans or Dhyâni-Buddhas, the highest, the Supreme Buddha; personal, yet never manifested objectively; the
* A Bodhisattva can reach Nirvâna and live, as Buddha did, and after death he can either refuse objective reincarnation or accept and use it at his convenience for the benefit of mankind whom he can instruct in various ways while he remains in the Devachanic regions within the attraction of our earth. But having once reached Parinirvâna or “Nirvâna without remains”—the highest Dharmakâya condition, in which state he remains entirely outside of every earthly condition—he will return no more until the commencement of a new Manvantara, since he has crossed beyond the cycle of births.
† Tulpa is the voluntary incarnation of an Adept into a living body, whether of an adult, child or new-born babe. [Tulpa is the magical process; Tulku is the result; although they are often used interchangeably.]
‡ Ku-sum is the triple form [trikâya] of the Nirvâna state and its respective duration in the “cycle of Non-Being.” The number seven here refers to the seven Rounds of our septenary System. [Cf. p. 392 fn. on triple form.]
“Supreme Conqueror,” the “Lord of all Mysteries,” the “One without Beginning or End”—in short, the Logos of Buddhism. For, as Vajrasattva, He is simply the Tsovo (Chief) of the Dhyâni-Buddhas or Dhyâni-Chohans, and the Supreme Intelligence in the Second World; while as Vajradhara (Dorjechang), He is all that which was enumerated above. “These two are one, and yet two,” and over them is “Chang, the Supreme Unmanifested and Universal Wisdom that has no name.” As two in one, He (They) is the Power that subdued and conquered Evil from the beginning, allowing it to reign only over willing subjects on earth, and having no power over those who despise and hate it. Esoterically the allegory is easily understood; exoterically Vajradhara (Vajrasattva) is the God to whom all the evil spirits swore that they would not impede the propagation of the Good Law (Buddhism), and before whom all the demons tremble. Therefore, we say this dual personage has the same role assigned to it in canonical and dogmatic Tibetan Buddhism as have Jehovah and the Archangel Mikael, the Metatron of the Jewish Kabalists. This is easily shown. Mikael is “the angel of the face of God,” or he who represents his Master. “My face shall go with thee” (in English, “presence”), before the Israelites, says God to Moses (Exodus xxxiii, 14). “The angel of my presence” (Hebrew: “of my face”) (Isaiah lxiii, 9), etc. The Roman Catholics identify Christ with Mikael, who is also his ferouer, or “face” mystically. This is precisely the position of Vajradhara, or Vajrasattva, in Northern Buddhism. For the latter, in His Higher Self as Vajradhara (Dorjechang), is never manifested, except to the seven Dhyâni-Chohans, the primeval Builders. Esoterically, it is the Spirit of the “Seven” collectively, their seventh principle, or Âtman. Exoterically, any amount of fables may be found in Kâla-Chakra, the most important work in the Gyut division of the Kanjur, the division of mystic knowledge.* Dorjechang (wisdom) Vajradhara, is said to live in the second Arûpa World, which connects him with Metatron, in the first world of pure
* [See The Books of Kiu-te . . . . . by David Reigle. San Diego, Wizards Bookshelf, 1983. Cf. p. 422 & fn. of this text.—Compiler.]
Spirits, the Briatic world of the Kabalists, who call this angel El-Shaddai, the Omnipotent and Mighty One. Metatron is in Greek –((,8@H (Messenger), or the Great Teacher. Mikael fights Satan, the Dragon, and conquers him and his Angels. Vajrasattva, who is one with Vajrapâni, the Subduer of the Evil Spirits, conquers Râhu, the Great Dragon who is always trying to devour the sun and moon (eclipses). “War in Heaven” in the Christian legend is based upon the bad angels having discovered the secrets (magical wisdom) of the good ones (Enoch), and the mystery of the “Tree of Life.” Let anyone read simply the exoteric accounts in the Hindu and Buddhist Pantheons-the latter version being taken from the former—and he will find both resting on the same primeval, archaic allegory from the Secret Doctrine. In the exoteric texts (Hindu and Buddhist), the Gods churn the ocean to extract from it the Water of Life—Amrita—or the Elixir of Knowledge. In both the Dragon steals some of this, and is exiled from heaven by Vishnu, or Vajradhara, or the chief God, whatever may be his name. We find the same in the Book of Enoch, and it is poetized in St. John’s Revelation. And now the allegory, with all its fanciful ornamentations, has become a dogma!
As will be found mentioned later, the Tibetan Lamaseries contain many secret and semi-secret volumes, detailing the lives of great Sages. Many of the statements in them are purposely confused, and in others the reader becomes bewildered, unless a clue be given him, by the use of one name to cover many individuals who follow the same line of teaching. Thus there is a succession of “living Buddhas,” and the name Buddha is given to teacher after teacher. Emil Schlagintweit writes:
Thus, to each human Buddha belongs a Dhyâni-Buddha, and a Dhyâni-Bodhisattva, and the unlimited number of the former also involves an equally unlimited number of the latter.*
* Buddhism in Tibet. . . . p. 52, [London, Susil Gupta, 1968.] This same generic use of a name is found among Hindus with that of amkarâchârya, to take but one instance. All His successors bear his name, but are not reincarnations of Him. So with the “Buddhas.”
It is stated that at the age of thirty-three, Samkarâchârya, tired of his mortal body, “put it off” in the cave he had entered, and that the Bodhisattva, that served as his lower personality, was freed
With the burden of a sin upon him which he had not committed.
At the same time it is added:
At whatever age one puts off his outward body by free will, at that age will he be made to die a violent death against his will in his next rebirth.
Now, Karma could have no hold on “Mahâ Samkara” (as Samkara is called in the secret work), as he had, as Avatâra, no Ego of his own, but a Bodhisattva—a willing sacrificial victim. Neither had the latter any responsibility for the deed, whether sinful or otherwise. Therefore we do not see the point, since Karma cannot act unjustly. There is some terrible mystery involved in all this story, one that no uninitiated intellect can ever unravel. Still, there it is, suggesting the natural query, “Who, then, was punished by Karma?” and leaving it to be answered.
A few centuries later Buddha tried one more incarnation, it is said, in ****, and again, fifty years subsequent to the death of this Adept, in one whose name is given as Tiani-Tsang.* No details, no further information or explanation is given. It is simply stated that the last Buddha had to work out the remains of his Karma, which none of the Gods themselves can escape, forced as he was to bury still deeper certain mysteries half revealed by him—hence misinterpreted. The words used would stand when translated:
Born fifty-two years too early as Shramana Gautama, the son of King Zastang; then retiring fifty-seven years too soon as Maha Shankara, who got tired of his outward form. This wilful act aroused and attracted King Karma, who killed the new form of * * * at thirty-three,‡ the age of the
* King Suddhodana.
† There are several names marked simply by asterisks.
‡ Samkarâchârya died also at thirty-two years of age, or rather disappeared from the sight of his disciples, as the legend goes.
body that was put off. [At whatever age one puts off his outward body by free will, at that age will he be made to die in his next incarnation against his will—Commentary.] He died in his next (body) at thirty-two and a little over, and again in his next at eighty—a Mâyâ, and at one hundred, in reality. The Bodhisattva chose Tiani-Tsang,* then again the Sugata became Tsong-kha-pa, who became thus Dezhin-Shegpa [Tathâgata—”one who follows in the way and manner of his predecessors”]. The Blessed One could do good to his generation as * * * but none to posterity, and so as Tiani-Tsang he became incarnated only for the “remains” [of his precedent Karma, as we understand it]. The Seven Waysand the Four Truths were once more hidden out of sight. The Merciful One confined since then his attention and fatherly care to the heart of Bodyul, the nursery grounds of the seeds of truth. The blessed “remains” since then have overshadowed and rested in many a holy body of human Bodhisattvas.
No further information is given, least of all are there any details or explanations to be found in the secret volume. All is darkness and mystery in it, for it is evidently written but for those who are already instructed. Several flaming red asterisks are placed instead of names, and the few facts given are abruptly broken off. The key of the riddle is left to the intuition of the disciple, unless the “direct followers” of Gautama the Buddha—”those who are to be denied by His Church for the next cycle”—and of Samkarâchârya, are pleased to add more.
The final section gives a kind of summary of the seventy sections—covering seventy-three years of Buddha’s life†—from which the last paragraph is summarized as follows:
Emerging from —— the most excellent seat of the three secrets [Sang-Sum], the Master of incomparable mercy, after having performed on all the anchorites the rite of —— , and each of these having been cut
* Does “Tiani-Tsang” stand for Apollonius of Tyana? This is a simple surmise. Some things in the life of that Adept would seem to tally with the hypothesis—others to go against it.
† According to Esoteric teaching Buddha lived one hundred years in reality, though having reached Nirvâna in his eightieth year he was regarded as one dead to the world of the living. See article “Sâkya Muni’s Place in History” in Five Years of Theosophy, pp. 365-88. [See also B.C.W., Vol. V, pp. 241-59.]
off,* perceived through [the power of] Hlun-Chub† what was his next duty. The Most-Illustrious meditated and asked himself whether this would help [the future] generations. What they needed was the sight of Mâyâ in a body of illusion. Which? . . . The great conqueror of pains and sorrows arose and proceeded back to his birthplace. There Sugata was welcomed by the few, for they did not know Shramana Gautama. “Shâkya [the Mighty] is in Nirvâna. . . He has given the Science to the Shuddhas [Shudra,] “ said they of Damze Yul [the country of Brâhmans: India] . . . . It was for that, born of pity, that the All-Glorious One had to retire to ——, and then appear [karmically] as Mahâ Shankara; and out of pity as ——, and again as ——, and again as Tsong-kha-pa. For, he who chooses in humiliation must go down, and he who loves not allows Karma to raise him.‡
This passage is confessedly obscure and written for the few. It is not lawful to say any more, for the time has not yet come when nations are prepared to hear the whole truth. The old religions are full of mysteries, and to demonstrate some of them would surely lead to an explosion of hatred, followed, perhaps, by bloodshed and worse. It will be sufficient to know that while
* It is a secret rite, pertaining to high Initiation, and has the same significance as the one to which Clement of Alexandria alludes when he speaks of “the token of recognition being in common with us, as by cutting off Christ” (Strom., 13). Schlagintweit wonders what it may be. “The typical representation of a hermit.” he says, “is always that of a man with long, uncut hair and beard. . . . A rite very often selected, though I am unable to state for what reason, is that of Chod (‘to cut’ or ‘to destroy’) the meaning of which is anxiously kept a profound secret by the Lamas.” (Buddhism in Tibet, p. 163.)
† Hlun-Chub is the divining spirit in man, the highest degree of seership.
‡ The secret meaning of this sentence is that Karma exercises its sway over the Adept as much as over any other man; “Gods” can escape it as little as simple mortals. The Adept who, having reached the Path and won His Dharmakâya—the Nirvâna from which there is no return until the new grand Kalpa—prefers to use His right of choosing a condition inferior to that which belongs to Him, but that will leave him free to return whenever he thinks it advisable and under whatever personality He may select, must be prepared to take all the chances of failure—possibly—and a lower condition than was His lot—for a certainty—as it is an occult law. Karma alone is absolute justice and infallible in its selections. He who uses his rights with it (Karma) must bear the consequences—if any. Thus Buddha’s first reincarnation was produced by Karma—and it led Him higher than ever; the two following were “out of pity” and * * *
Gautama Buddha is merged in Nirvâna ever since his death, Gautama Sâkyamuni may have had to reincarnate—this dual inner personality being one of the greatest mysteries of Esoteric psychism.
“The seat of the three secrets” refers to a place inhabited by high Initiates and their disciples. The “secrets” are the three mystic powers known as Gopa, Yaœodhara, and Utpala Varnâ, that Csomo de Körös mistook for Buddha’s three wives, as other Orientalists have mistaken Sakti (Yoga power) personified by a female deity for His wife; or the Draupadî—also a spiritual power—for the wife in common of the five brothers Pând ava.