Should Theosophists get involved with Tibetan Buddhism?

Theosophy and Tibetan Buddhism

As anyone who has studied both the writings and teachings of H.P. Blavatsky and the hundreds of letters written by her Adept Teachers of the Trans-Himalayan Brotherhood will have unmistakably seen and noticed, the Masters and their Brotherhood and Esoteric School have a definite and close connection with both Tibet and Buddhism.

HPB and the Masters distinctly asserted that they themselves were Buddhists and devoted followers of Gautama Buddha and the esoteric teachings, doctrines, and philosophy which he imparted in secret to his chosen Arhats.

One may thus sometimes find the Masters and their Teaching referred to in the original Theosophical literature as “the Arhat Esoteric School” and “the Arhat Esoteric Philosophy.”

This quite naturally sometimes leads students of Theosophy to begin to look into the complex, colourful, and confusing world of Tibetan Buddhism and to wonder how and where Theosophy links and connects together with it. Some Theosophists have even become actively involved with the practice and promotion of Tibetan Buddhism, naively believing that this somehow brings them closer to the Masters.

Let us look at a few important facts:

The Mahayana Buddhism of Tibet has two aspects to it…the Sutra teachings and the Tantra teachings, which are also known respectively as the Paramitayana and the Vajrayana. It’s often said that the spiritual aspirant must become properly developed and established in the Bodhisattva ideal and the Bodhisattva Path of perpetually practising the Paramitas (the “glorious virtues” or “transcendental perfections”) before entering upon training and practice in Vajrayana, literally meaning the “Diamond Way.”

In general Tibetan Buddhism, the term “Esoteric Buddhism” equates specifically to the Vajrayana teachings and practices.

All the schools of Tibetan Buddhism, from the Gelugpa through to the Nyingmapa, have their own system of Vajrayana. And all of them, including even the Gelugpas, include specific elements and practices of sexual tantra, which according to HPB and the Masters is the very worst type of black magic. It certainly has nothing to do with genuine Buddhism or with Buddha himself.

Some Theosophists find it hard to believe that the Gelugpa school, founded by Tsong Kha-pa, teaches sexual tantric practices but this is a fact which anyone can prove for themselves, although it doesn’t mean that Tsong Kha-pa himself taught or endorsed such things when founding the Gelugpas – literally “Models of Virtue” or “Virtuous Ones” – in the 14th century.

The writings of the Dalai Lama and of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (founder of the New Kadampa Tradition) should probably be considered as the most authoritative contemporary books for the Gelugpa teachings and they make no secret of the sexual side of it and indeed openly endorse it, albeit advising practitioners to refrain from sexual tantra until they have reached a certain stage of inner development and received the necessary “empowerments” from a Guru Lama.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s book “Essence of Vajrayana” is probably the most clear and concise book available in English today on the Gelugpa Vajrayana teachings. The very essence and nature of almost all its contents is distinctly antithetical to the essence and nature of Theosophy. It would undoubtedly be black magic – and “pseudo-Buddhism” – to follow and apply such teachings. Amongst other things we would be wise to compare the constant emphasis on Dakinis in Vajrayana Buddhism with what HPB says about them.

But there is a real “Diamond Way,” a true Vajrayana, and “The Voice of the Silence” – translated by HPB from “The Book of the Golden Precepts” – indicates to us the path and practice of this. It’s no coincidence that “The Voice of the Silence” is filled with “Vajra-” references and diamond words. And it’s made clear throughout that book and the rest of HPB’s teachings that the real Buddhism – that which the Masters recognise and adhere to – is that of the secret and esoteric Yogacharya School of “pure Buddhism.”

What’s often referred to as the “Trans-Himalayan Esoteric School” is in fact the Esoteric Yogacharya School, which has its geographical base and centre in the Trans-Himalayan region. We have said something on this subject in the article Alaya – The Universal Soul. In the “Theosophical Glossary” – which contains quite a lot of Yogacharya references – HPB says that the Spiritual Chief of the Yogacharya School is known as the Vajracharya, “the Supreme Master of the Vajra” or diamond.

We will not find any proper or definite links between popular Vajrayana Buddhism and Theosophy. The real link is with the Esoteric Yogacharya School, founded by the original Aryasanga who had been a direct disciple and Arhat of Gautama Buddha, not the exoteric Yogacharya School established some time later by an individual who HPB calls “the pseudo-Aryasangha.”

And she says that “none of the genuine Yogacharya books have ever been made public or marketable”…nor will they ever.

In “A Few More Misconceptions Corrected,” she writes, “Esoteric Schools would cease to be worthy of their name were their literature and doctrines to become the property of even their profane co-religionists – still less of the Western public. This is simple common-sense and logic.”

And what of the Kalachakra system and teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, which are said to be closely linked with the mysterious land of Shambhala and which are so increasingly heard of and referred to nowadays?

It seems that the real Kalachakra system and teachings are closely connected with the Masters and Initiates of the Trans-Himalayan Brotherhood and Esoteric School and vice versa.

In “The Mystery of Buddha,” which was initially intended to be published as part of “The Secret Doctrine,” HPB specifically states and explains that “What is given here is taken from the secret portions of Dus Kyi Khorlo (Kala Chakra, in Sanskrit, or the “Wheel of Time,” or duration).”

Again, she talks about the Kalachakra, called “Dus Kyi Khorlo” in Tibetan, saying:

“. . . the “Dus-kyi Khorlo,” or Tibetan Mysticism. A system as old as man, known in India and practised before Europe had become a continent, “was first known,” we are told, only nine or ten centuries ago. The text of its books in its present form may have “originated” even later, for there are numerous such texts that have been tampered with by sects to suit the fancies of each. But who has read the original book on Dus-Kyi Khorlo, re-written by Tsong-Kha-pa, with his Commentaries? … this grand Reformer burnt every book on Sorcery on which he could lay his hands in 1387 … he has left a whole library of his own works – not a tenth part of which has ever been made known.”

Where she says “we are told” in the above quote, she’s referring to the misguided and inaccurate assertions of the Orientalists and other Western scholars who considered themselves to be experts on these things.

And in “The Voice of the Silence,” in the section titled “The Two Paths” (p. 32, Theosophy Company edition), the question is asked: “Would’st thou become a Yogi of “Time’s Circle”?”

“Time’s Circle,” “Circle of Time,” “Wheel of Time”…these are merely English translations of the Sanskrit word “Kalachakra.” The spiritual aspirant who follows the Path presented in “The Voice of the Silence” is on his or her way to becoming a true Kalachakra Yogi.

And interestingly enough, an American Tibetologist called David Reigle – author of “Blavatsky’s Secret Books” – has found very conclusive evidence that the Secret Book of Dzyan (whose archaic stanzas on Cosmogenesis and Anthropogenesis form the basis of HPB’s master work “The Secret Doctrine”) is in fact the Mula Kalachakra Tantra, also called the Kalachakra Mulatantra, which is the purely esoteric and now lost (i.e. “lost” to all except the suitably initiated) original basis of the publicly known Kalachakra teachings, which have been popularised by the present Dalai Lama.

Hence there is no need and very little value for Theosophists to be attempting to find their way into the world of Tibetan Buddhism. Everything we need and more has already been made freely available to us by the Masters in the vast teachings of their Messenger H.P. Blavatsky, called by them their “Direct Agent,” and her colleague and co-founder of the Theosophical Movement William Q. Judge.

Why don’t we devote ourselves to the earnest study, application, and promulgation of this instead?

For a more in-depth study of these subjects, please see the new article Gelugpas, Tantra, & Theosophy: Resolving a Complex Puzzle.

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SOME RELATED ARTICLES: Theosophy and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Alaya – The Universal Soul, The Great Tsong Kha-pa, The Letter from the Maha Chohan, What is a Chohan?, The Two Paths, Maitreya in the Light of Real Theosophy, Misconceptions about Buddhism, The Four Noble Truths, Buddha Nature, Is Theosophy Hinduism, Buddhism, or Something Else?, Theosophy: The Ancient Wisdom, The Closing Cycle, 12 Things Theosophy Teaches, Praise for H.P. Blavatsky and Theosophy, Responding to Lies about H.P. Blavatsky, Words from The Masters about H.P. Blavatsky, The Masters and Madame Blavatsky, Who are you, Madame Blavatsky?, Who was William Quan Judge?, The Whitewashing of Black Magic, and To those Theosophists who distrust “The Mahatma Letters”.

One thought on “Should Theosophists get involved with Tibetan Buddhism?

  1. While it’s true that there may be sexual content written into existing tantra text, within the actual writings of Psong ka pa, and such as Santideva and those which are referenced by the Dalai Lama and Geoffrey Hopkins, tantra is rightly defined as “continuam” and there no sexual references to be found. This is important because there are practical teachings in such texts by Hopkins (Meditation on Emptiness, for example ), which are most useful to the theosophical student, when read along with The Voice of the Silence. One must study with eyes open and pierce through dogma, white seeing theosophical thought as the basis for all true philosophy.

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