Is Theosophy Authentic?

Franklin Merrell-Wolff

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Part V

(b)The question as to whether Theosophy and Buddhism agree or diverge in their attitudes on theism is very easily an answered. They both teach a nontheistic doctrine. That this is true of Buddhism is well known; that it is also true of Theosophy can be confirmed by several references, but for a clear statement on this point we shall simply quote from the tenth letter of The Mahatma Letters:

Neither our philosophy nor ourselves believe in God, least of all in one whose pronoun necessitates a capital H. . . . 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, and Iswara is the effect of Avidya and Maya, Ignorance based upon the great illusion.

Such are the words of one of the two men who were most responsible for the Theosophical Movement and its teachings, though acting behind the scenes. Repeated confirmation of this view is to be found throughout the literature. There are statements in which the terms “God” and “gods” appear but they are definitely not to be taken in the theistic sense.

However, Theosophy does teach that there are developed beings, so far transcending man that the ignorant may very well think of them as gods. Yet such are ex-men, and belong to a higher and humanly inconceivable order of evolution. They are said to have much to do with the government of worlds and lokas. In The Secret Doctrine and The Mahatma Letters they are commonly called “Dhyan Chohans,” though other names are also given. A hierarchy of intelligences is definitely affirmed. But this in itself does not imply a divergence from the teaching found in some Buddhist sutras.

So far as the writer knows, the term “Dhyan Chohan” does not exist in the available translations of exoteric Buddhist sutras, but there are other terms that may be equivalent. The Mahatma Letters confirms this in the three following quotations.

In letter No. XVI (100) we find the following:

The Deva-Chan, or land of “Sukhavati,” is allegorically described by our Lord Buddha himself. What he said may be found in the Shan-Mun-yi-Tung. Says Tathagata: “Many thousand myriads of Systems of worlds beyond this (ours) there is a region of Bliss called Sukhavati—This region is encircled with seven rows of railings, seven rows of vast curtains, seven rows of waving trees; this holy abode of Arhats is governed by the Tathagatas (Dhyan Chohans) and is possessed by the Bodhisatvas. It hath seven precious lakes, in the midst of which flow crystalline waters having “seven and one” properties, or distinctive qualities (the seven principles emanating from the ONE). This, 0 Sariputra is the “Deva-Chan.” It is divine Udambara flower casts a root in the shadow of every earth, and blossoms for all those who reach it. Those born in the blessed region are truly felicitous, there are no more griefs or sorrows in that cycle for them. . . . Myriads of Spirits resort there for rest and then return to their own regions. Again, O Sariputra, in that land of joy many who are born in it are Avaivartyas.

Again, from the same letter (102): “Everything is so harmoniously adjusted in nature—especially in the subjective world, that no mistake can ever be committed by the Tathagatas—Dhyan Chohans—who guide the impulses.”

Finally, also in the same letter (108): “Every such ‘world’ within the Sphere of Effects has a Tathagata, or ‘Dhyan Chohan’, to protect and watch over, not to interfere with it.”

Here the identification of the Dhyan Chohans with the Tathagatas is unambiguous. Thus the Dhyan Chohans are as little to be viewed as “God” in the theistic sense as are the Tathagatas. Also it is clear that in Theosophical usage the conception of Parabrahman is not to be viewed in the theistic sense. So we must conclude that there is no discrepancy between Theosophy and Buddhism as to their respective views with respect to a theistic “God.” The writer would like to add a question suggested by the above quotations. Is Sukhavati the same as the “Buddha Lands”?

(c) The third point raised concerns the nature of Ultimate Reality. The correspondent points out that Theosophy teaches Svabhava, which suggests a substantive character, while the Buddhism of the Orientalists teaches Svabhava-shunyata (all things are empty in their self-nature), which suggests a radical positivism and, indeed, to many minds, absolute annihilation. Here we face what is probably the most abstruse and difficult feature of both teachings, and the derivation of a clear conception of what is meant by either teaching is by no means easy. However, some facts are definite and easily understood.

First of all, it should be noted that while in some sense there is substantial agreement among Buddhist sects on the doctrine of anatman, there is great divergence in the treatment of Ultimate Reality. McGovern says (53), “On no point is the diversity of Buddhist philosophy so exemplified as on that of its various theories of the nature of Ultimate Reality.” As a consequence, we cannot contrast traditional Buddhism as a totality with Theosophical teaching with respect to this point. To show a contrast one must pick the teaching of particular sects or schools or particular sutras. All that is then shown is at most that there is a contradiction between Theo­sophical teaching and that of the sect or school chosen. To go further and say that the contradiction is between Theosophy and Buddhism as such implies the prior judgment that the given sect or school is identical with authentic Buddhism, while all adverse Buddhist teachings in other sects or schools are in error and apocryphal. Certainly, unless such a judgment is adequately documented, it is arbitrary. A clear and concise picture of the differences between five of the schools of Buddhism is formulated by McGovern, so perhaps the simplest course would be to quote from him. He gives the following summary (54-55):

1. Primitive Buddhism, or psychological agnosticism, for which no attempt is made to explore the recesses of the noumenal world, and no theories concerning ultimate realities are postulated.

2. Hinayana Buddhism teaches a materialistic realism, that the universe consists of a certain small number of elements, uncreated, that enter into combination in accordance with causal law, unconnected with any supernatural law giver.

3. The Madhyamika School of Mahayana broke up these elements into components parts, and stated that there is only a fluid, fluctuating stream of life, and that therefore all seemingly unchanging phenomena have only a conceptual existence.

4. The Yogachara School of Mahayana called this stream of life Essence of Mind or the Alaya Vijnana, which is no less fluid or devoid of eternal particularity. The evolution of this Essence of Mind brings about the phenomenal universe.

5. Chinese and Japanese Mahayana (especially the Tendai and Kegon sects) has developed the theory of the Absolute latent in the foregoing conceptions, and states that the Bhutatathata is both the Norm and Pure form.

Assuming that the foregoing is a substantially correct representation of the Orientalist’s view of Buddhism, a brief discussion of the five theories may be of profit to us.

1.The primitive Buddhism would seem to be closer to the actual public teaching of Gautama Buddha Himself. It is said that He taught publicly only a practical or ethical doctrine and was silent upon metaphysical questions, since discussion of these would be only confusing for those who we re not prepared. But there is also a tradition that He gave further teachings to His qualified disciples, and the claim is made by proponents of the Mahayana that their metaphysical teachings are derived from these. These contentions imply that we did have an esoteric doctrine as is maintained by Theosophy. In any case, in this instance, it is impossible to predicate a contradiction between Buddhism and Theosophy.

2. There is doubtless a greater or lesser incompatibility between Hinayana materialistic realism and Theosophy. An extensive study of Theosophy gradually brings out the fact that it is neither realistic nor idealistic but occupies a sort of middle position and is capable of accommodating itself to both views. However, it is inconceivable that its teachings would ever suggest to anyone a nihilistic materialism, while Hinayana Buddhism seemed to be such to Rhys Davids.

3. The Madhyamika teaching, as given above, suggests much the view of Vitalism, in Western philosophic classifications. Especially can one see a similarity to the views of Schopenhauer, who posited the Will as the ontological principle while the Idea constituted the basis of the phenomenal. Schopenhauer expressly stated that the Will is essen­tially identical with Life, the latter being the Will manifested. As for Theosophy, one of his terms for the all-in-all is “The One Life,” as is shown, for instance, in the following quotation from The Mahatma Letters (129), “We call it ‘Immortal’ but the one Life in its universal collectivity and entire or Absolute Abstraction; that which has neither beginning nor end, nor any break in its continuity.” Thus, to this extent, at least, there is no disagreement between the teachings of the Madhyamika school and Theosophy.

4. The Yogachara School, in viewing the stream of life as the Alaya Vijnana accentuates different facet from the preceding. “Alaya Vijnana” is commonly translated “essence of mind,” but McGovern suggests “Receptacle Consciousness.” Since “Alaya” means literally “home” or “seat,” it readily suggests the meaning of “Basis” or “Root.” Hence we would just as well call it “Root Consciousness,” with the same meaning as “Absolute Consciousness.” The shift in accentuation is from “Life” to “Consciousness.” This suggests a certain similarity to the Hegelian philosophy. “Absolute Consciousness” is one of the terms employed for designating the Ultimate Reality. This is documented by the following quotations from The Secret Doctrine:

It (the Ultimate Reality) is the ONE LIFE, eternal, invisible, yet omnipresent, without beginning or end, yet periodical in its regular manifestations—between which periods reigns the dark mystery of Non-Being; unconscious, yet absolute Consciousness, unrealizable; yet the one self-existing reality; truly, “a Chaos to the sense, a Kosmos to the Reason.” (Secret Doctrine, 3rd ed., Vol. I, 32.)
Parabrahman, the One Reality, the absolute, is the field of Absolute Consciousness, i.e., that Essence which is out of all relation to conditioned existence, and of which conscious existence is a conditioned symbol. But once we pass in thought from this (to us) Absolute Negation, duality supervenes in the contrast of Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter, Subject and Object. (Secret Doctrine, 3rd ed., Vol. I, 43.)
There are “Seven Paths” or “Ways” to the “Bliss” of Non-Existence, which is absolute Being, Existence and Consciousness. (Secret Doctrine, 3rd ed., Vol. I, 70.)
In the Occult teachings the Unknown and Unknowable Mover, of the Self-Existing, is the Absolute Divine Essence. And thus being Absolute Consciousness, and Absolute Motion—to the limited senses of those who describe this indescribable—it is unconsciousness and immovableness. (Secret Doctrine, 3rd ed., Vol. I, 86.)

It would appear from these quotations that there is no contradiction between Theosophy and the primary teaching or the Yogachara School as given above.

5. The conception or the Tendai and Kegon sects that the Absolute, or Bhutatathata is both Supreme Idea and the fundamental essence or all life appears as something of a synthesis of the two foregoing views. It approximates the view of von Hartmann, who really synthesized Hegel and Schopenhauer. From what is already written it should be clear that this view does not suggest a contradiction with Theosophy.

The doctrine of the “Shunyata” (Voidness, Emptiness, Nothingness) is characteristic of the Mahayana, according to McGovern, and is particularly developed in the “Shraddhotpada Shastra,” believed to have been written by Ashvaghosa. It is said that this shastra is viewed as orthodoxy by all branches or the Mahayana. In this teaching the Absolute is said to have two phases, the Unmanifest and the manifest. The Shunya conception occur in the detailed explanation of the Unmanifest phase. We quote McGovern's condensed statement of this.

The UNMANIFESTED PHASE is the Ideal World; the underlying unity; the quintessence of all being. It is the eternal sameness under all apparent difference. Owing to our subjective activity (men) we build up a vision of a discrete, particularized universe, but in reality the essence of things ever remains one, void of particularity. Being absolute it is not nameable or explicable. It cannot be rendered in any form of language. It is without the range of perception. It may be termed Shunya or the Void, because it is not a fixed or limited entity; but a perpetual becoming, void of self-existent component parts. It may likewise be termed Ashunya, the FULL or the Existent, because when confused subjectivity has been destroyed we perceive the pure soul manifestation itself as eternal, permanent, immutable, and completely comprising all things that are pure. (Secret Doctrine, 3rd ed., Vol. I, 62.)

The important point to note in this quotation is that the Ultimate is viewed as both Shunya and Ashunya, or both Void and Full. It all depends upon the perspective. In this connection the attention is directed to the phrase “this (to us) Absolute Negation” in the second quotation from The Secret Doctrine (33). The development of the conception of the Ultimate Reality as absolute negation is nothing more nor less than the Shunya doctrine. The impression of apparent contradiction can be derived from the sutras that develop the Shunyata Doctrine with exclusive emphasis, but it is evidently an error to view this sort of statement as comprising the full meaning of the Mahayana. On the whole, Theosophy emphasizes the positive view and so, if there is a difference on this point, it is one or emphasis rather than of essence.

From the statement of pedagogical considerations it is very questionable whether emphasis on the Shunya aspect would help to advance the acceptance of the Dharma by activistic Western individuals.

Summing up—the Theosophic teaching of Svabhavat, the One Element from whence proceeds both Spirit and Matter, both Subject and Object, is not in principle incompatible with Buddhist teaching in the Mahayana form, although it may be incompatible with the Hinayana.

Part VI

(d) On the question or whether or not Buddha taught an esoteric doctrine it is not necessary to say much. It may be that some sects deny an esoteric teaching, particularly among the Hinayanas. But one can find plenty of evidence of an esoteric tradition among the Mahayana schools, and so the Theosophical contention is not negated by Buddhism as a whole, at the very least. The story of Buddha’s maintaining silence when the monk Vacchagotta asked his questions simply implies that there was a teaching that was not given out generally. It has been said that Buddha did lift the veil of secrecy to some extent, but He by no means tore it down completely. The whole point of an esoteric teaching is founded on the difference in ethical character and developed understanding of different human beings. What is food for one may be poison for another.

To be sure, the correctness of the thesis that there is an esoteric doctrine that constitutes the heart of the Buddha’s teaching, as well as that of the Vedanta and of all the great religions, is not itself proof that Theosophy is derived from that source. In the nature of the case, objective proof to the uninitiated is impossible. At best, a presumption may be built, and each individual must decide for himself whether the presumption of truth developed is sufficiently strong to make the test with his life. This test may bring an incommunicable assurance, but in these matters certainty cannot be attained by he who is fearful of daring.

(e)1.   On the problem of phenomena associated with the person of H . P. Blavatsky, we are dependent as to the question of fact upon the testimony of individuals who in few or no instances are still among the living in this world. On the question of possibility of such phenomena, a presumptive attitude may be derived from both the philosophy of Theosophy and of Buddhism. Both affirm the possibility of supernormal phenomena, of which the general philosophical rationale is easily understandable, however difficult it may be to understand the specific pro­cesses and to master the art. From the general thesis “nothing exists save as it is seen of the mind,” it is easy to see how, in principle, conscious voluntaristic production of effects in nature and the psyche is a possibility, once the general thesis is assumed or known to be true. The actual production given instances of phenomena could be valuable as a partial confirmation of the philosophy, or for the purpose of breaking down adverse skepticism in minds that were sincere and honest.

As to the actuality of the phenomena in question, the writer has nothing to offer on his own authority. There is the record and the published testimony, and the reader is referred to this as a basis for forming an independent evaluation and judgment.

As to the Coloumb affair and the Society for Psychic Research (SPR) report, the data has been collected, analyzed, and competently evaluated in a work called The Theosophical Movement (E.P. Dutton, 1925), and any student who wishes to reach a just and honest understanding should read this. The following quotation from this source strikes at the core of this matter. (See The Theosophical Movement, 91.)

In no one thing, perhaps, is the weakness of the S.P.R. investigation more fatally self-betraying than in the motives they assign to account for the long continued combination and deliberate deception instigated and carried out by Madame Blavatsky. That anyone, let alone a woman, should for ten or more years make endless personal sacrifice of effort, time, money, health and reputation on three continents, merely to deceive those who trusted her, with no possible benefit to herself; should succeed in so deceiving so many of the most intelligent men and women of many races that they were convinced of the reality of her powers, her teachings, her mission as well as her phenomena, only to be unmasked by a boy of twenty-three who, by interviewing some of the witnesses and hearing their stories, is able infallibly to see what they could not see, is able to suspect what they could find no oc­casion for suspecting, is able to detect a sufficient motive for inspiring H. P. B. to the most monumental career of chicanery in all history—this is what one has to swallow in order to attach credibility to the elaborate tissue of conjecture and suspicion woven by Mr. Hodgson to offset the solid weight of testimony that the phenomena were genuine.

“No crime without a motive.” What then was the motive attributed by Mr. Hodgson and the Committee to make credible their conclusion that she was “one of the most accomplished, ingenious, and interesting impostors in history?” SHE WAS A RUSSIAN SPY, AND HER MOTIVE WAS TO DESTROY BRITISH RULE IN INDIA!

As a matter of fact, one who has studied the whole question without prejudice is forced to the conclusion that the pro­cedure of the SPR was incompetent and unjust and the motive of the members of the Committee suspect.

2., 3. & 4. The point has been raised that if the au­thors of The Mahatma Letters were Buddhists, as the writers themselves affirm they are, then there should have been material from sources not reached by Orientalists. In one instance of a translation, it is pointed out that it is really a paraphrase of Beal’s Catena of Buddhist Scripture, the ap­parent suggestion of the correspondent being that the Letters were a fabrication or a hoax. The writer fails to see how there is much force in this line of reasoning. Thus there is nothing surprising that if two individuals independently translate from the same source that the results should be similar, but not identical, for the source is the same. Further, the writers of the Letters are, by hypothesis at least, masters of the inner essence of Buddhism and thus speak from out themselves what they know, rather than merely recite and copy.

It should always be borne in mind that these Letters were written to individuals and not for publication and general dissemination. There may be a question as to whether the pub­lication of the Letters was just to either the writers or re­cipients, but to judge the Letters out of context of the spe­cific problems of the time and the purpose for which they were written is less than just. However, since The Mahatma Letters have in fact been published it would seem to be our duty to evaluate them by the inherent worth of their content.

The correspondent writes, “My general impression of the letters is that they are gossipy and argumentative with a little philosophy, which had been better stated in a hundred other purely ‘exoteric’ books.” It is presumed that anybody has a right to his general impressions. The writer too has his general impression. Let us oppose impression to impression, since such matters cannot be argued objectively. His impression is: The Letters reveal the activity of intelligences that in sheer range and depth have been surpassed by none in the whole range of literature with which he is acquainted; intelligences abreast of Western science and philosophies of the day, masters of the intricacies of the Oriental philosophies and religions, and of something far more profound, which man in the world cannot measure. Beyond this he has an impression of a selfless compassion and a pa­tience rarely exemplified in human history. Finally, he has an impression of power combined with majesty in the best sense.

To be sure, the Letters are fragmentary, for reasons adequately explained. In part they deal with intimate personal problems of the time that were the concern of the recipients and the writers. The ideas are patiently argued so as to convince, rather than compel, those to whom they were sent. They reveal none of the spirit of categorical ex-cathedra dogmatism so characteristic of the religious and political dictator, and that, in the opinion or the writer, is one of their outstanding merits.

After twenty-three years of acquaintance with these Letters, the writer finds them an unexhausted source of knowledge and wisdom, of more worth than the total of all exoteric Vedanta and Buddhist literature that he has read. So much for testimony, which is, admittedly not objective argument.

5.   The question of the use of terms in a different sense by Theosophy as contrasted to Buddhism, in the form available to Orientalists, proves nothing as to the authenticity of Theosophy. If once we grant the thesis that formulated Theosophy is derived from an enduring esoteric wisdom that, among other things, is identical with the hidden meaning of Gautama Buddha, then the fact that basic terms are interpreted in different ways is not only not surprising, but to be expected. The one all-im­portant question is: “Is Theosophy what it claims to be?”

An objective and definitive answer to this question is imposs­ible on exoteric grounds alone. A presumption one way or the other can be built, but that is all. To go beyond this, one must be willing to gamble his life in faith, though prior test­ing in every way that is possible is not only everyone’s right, but is perfectly proper.

6.    The correspondent writes: “Theosophy, far from revealing a more esoteric side of Mahayana Buddhism, does not rise to an elementary understanding of the publicly taught doctrines.” So! How is anyone to decide this unless he is an Initiate? Among the early contributors to The Theosophist were high Buddhists who quite competently gave expositions of Buddhist teaching. But how is one to form a judgment on this matter? There are many Mahayana sects, Chinese, Japanese, and Tibetan and an enormous canon. Theosophy does not claim to be an exposition of all of this. There is not a doubt in the world that one can find sutras that build a different picture of the Mahayana Buddhism from that found in Theosophical teachings. But how shall it be decided which picture is authentic?

 7. It is affirmed that Hindu and Buddhist terms are “mangled” and “jumbled,” and that the whole forms a “labyrinth of ill di­gested concepts.” Well, no doubt there is some indigestion, but who is it who has the stomach trouble, the writer or the reader of The Secret Doctrine? But seriously, there is an intermixed use of Hindu and Buddhist terms and, it might be added, Cabbal­istic terms as well. But in what way is this surprising?

Let us recall the primary thesis of Theosophy that it is a formulation of a portion of the Esoteric Doctrine COMMON to the great re­ligions and philosophies. Assuming the truth of this thesis, does it not follow that traces of the Doctrine will be found in the different systems? Naturally we would expect identity of conception underlying different terms and different approaches and organizations. Let us not forget that Theosophy aims at in­tegration rather than an exclusive approval of one preferred extant system. It does not say that one must become a member of such and such a Buddhist or Vedantist sect, or he is hope­lessly lost. Rather it says: “Clear the conceptions of the systems to which you are oriented of false and extraneous growths and then you will find revealed a facet of ultimate Truth. But remember that this is equally true of the outwardly different Systems to which some of your brothers belong.”

By learning to see identity of meaning in seemingly quite different terms, progress is made toward unity and brotherhood. The effect would be quite different if it were said that everyone must become Buddhist, or everyone must become a Vedantist, or Cabbalist in the exclusive and separative sense. That spirit is definitely alien to Theosophy.

The plaint is often made by the reader of The Secret Doctrine that it uses so many words for the same thing and departs so often from the line of pure teaching into side-excursions, that the total effect is that of confusion. The writer can sympathize with this feeling and he admits that he would have found a clear-cut line more comfortable. But he who would find gold must go to nature and delve for it in the forms in which nature has provided it, and this is seldom upon a “silver plat­ter.”

Now, the ultimate Doctrine is half revealed and half concealed, and to understand it at all the student must work. He is spared long years or sitting cross-legged in a sealed-up cave, but he must use his mind and have patience. He must overcome prejudice. Thus it may be more natural for one to speak of Archangels, but he might learn to accept the fact that when others say “Elohim,” “Kumara,” “Dhyan Chohan,” “Dhyana Buddha,” “Ahi,” or “Tathagata,” they mean, knowingly or not, with greater or less understanding, the same thing.

The extensive side-excursions one finds in The Secret Doctrine are not intended to increase confusion, but mainly to build up presumptive evidence, not only to support, but also to render more acceptable the primary thesis. To be sure, the excursion that helps one may not help another, and vice versa, but the announced purpose is to help all, as far as may be, and not mere­ly a preferred few. Further, the central doctrine is largely in the form of fragments and hints, partly because there were reasons why all could not be given explicitly, and also partly because the student must earn the right to understanding by work.

Part of The Secret Doctrine is obsolete today because a cross-sectional view of Western science now is different when compared with what it was in 1888. As a result, quite an amount of the polemical material would no longer be needed or would have to be changed as to form. The writer is convinced that the positive help or support from science today would be far greater, but all this involves no change in the meaning of the central Doctrine.

Some temperaments object to the lengthy arguments that run all through the basic Theosophic literature. They would have preferred definite categorical pronouncements. But on this point the announced policy of the real founders was definite and for reason. Bare assertion of conceptions, no matter how true they may be, implies upon the part of the reader blind acceptance or rejection, and injects the spirit of authoritarianism. The found­ers were emphatically opposed to this. To be sure, there are individuals who need little more than bare statements to awaken the “Inner Eye,” but the Theosophical writings are not aimed at these who need little or no help at all. For the rest, the policy was to build as convincing a case as possible, leaving the student free to decide, in the light of the presented evidence and reason, what appeared true to his uncoerced con­sciousness. To many, the writer among them, this attitude constitutes one of the strongest appeals of Theosophical literature.

8. & 9. These two points are really interconnected and so will be handled together. There can be no question but that one can receive the impression from much of Mahayana literature that the labor toward the salvation of all creatures is a perennial task, rather than a passing crisis. On the other hand, Theosophical literature does emphasize certain critical junctures such as the present, which is said to be the cycle or transition between the first 5000 years of Kali Yuga and a subsequent period. But this hardly involves any contradiction, since logically both standpoints could be valid. A perennial condition could, quite conceivably, have critical phases. But this matter becomes considerably less simple when it is borne in mind that Theosophical teaching does give the impression of accentuation of the activistic factor while both Buddhism and Hinduism strike one as more oriented to quietism. In its deeper ramifications the ultimate question becomes: Does Enlightenment imply the permanent transcendence of the activistic or evolutionary process, or does it have some interconnection with this process?

In its exoteric form, both the Vedanta and Buddhism give the impression that the whole meaning of Liberation or Enlightenment is the correction of error. The correction of the error leads to transcendence of the World-field and all dualistic consciousness in essentially the same way that a dream is destroyed by awakening. Thus to the awakened consciousness there is no more activity in the sense of an evolutionary process. In contrast, Theosophy views the active phase as fundamental as the inactive or unmanifested phase. Enlightenment has the val­ue of New Birth before which lie both active and passive possibilities. To be Enlightened is to be an Adept, and no one is an Adept in the Theosophical sense who is not Enlightened. There are seven degrees of Enlightenment and the full Buddha is one who has culminated all these seven steps. A full Adept is the same thing as a full Buddha, and the Tathagata is the same thing as a Dhyan Chohan, a guiding Intelligence in Nature.

It is easy to see that Theosophy implies an Enlightenment such that the resultant consciousness is a sort of fusion of the unmanifested with the manifested aspects, or of nondualistic into dualistic consciousness. In this state the error or delusion is destroyed, but action, including evolution, and quietude both remain. There is the refusal to accept the private enjoyment of the Bliss of Nirvana, while including the meaning of continued effort in the direction of redemption of all creatures, as well

as other and even more fundamental values—values that would still remain although all creatures

were finally redeemed.

The writer does not mean to suggest that the inner meaning of both the Vedanta and Buddhism is at variance with Theosophy in the above respect. There may be inner agreement, and, indeed, this seems very likely. But the other impression does exist and there is literature that at least seems to confirm it. It is with respect to this latter impression that a contradiction exists.

As a matter of strict logic neither action nor inaction can be predicated of a non-dual Reality, and it is thus as close to the active phase as to the inactive.

There can be no doubt that the appeal of the active or inactive phases appeals differently to individuals and races of different temperaments. One may prefer inactive contemplation while the other prefers activity. But such preference has no force as a determinant of the nature of ultimate Reality. Western man is, on the whole, activistic while Eastern man is more largely quietistic, but neither is therefore more right or righteous than the other.

We have been comparing doctrines that, as the Oriental would say, exist in terms of name and form, as indeed that is all that is possible to be compared and discussed. All three, Theosophy, Vedanta, and Buddhism, agree in saying that the ultimately true Dharma or Theosophia transcends all name and form, all possibility or definition in any way. For this, to relative consciousness, appears exclusively as Absolute Negation, or That of which nothing whatsoever can be predicated in the private sense. Before THIS, all beings whatsoever, high or low, must stand SILENT in the face of utter MYSTERY.