There is a very interesting series of writings by H.P. Blavatsky which deal with what she calls the “Mystery of Buddha.” However, these were not published until several years after she had passed away, when they were included in the misleadingly titled “Third Volume” of “The Secret Doctrine” which had been assembled by Annie Besant.
More can be read about this in the article titled The “Third Volume” of The Secret Doctrine.
Upon reading the information and facts in that article, it becomes apparent why we cannot discountenance the possibility of these writings having been altered or tampered with in some way by Besant prior to publication. Nevertheless, since the topic is of interest to many, an explanatory summary of what is contained in those particular writings is attempted below.
It should be added that it is not specifically stated by HPB that Gautama had reincarnated in Jesus and Apollonius of Tyana but although their actual names are unmentioned, every detail that is mentioned regarding these particular incarnations shows very clearly that these are the individuals referred to.
As she says in a footnote, “The students of Esoteric Philosophy see in the Nazarene Sage a Bodhisattva with the spirit of Buddha Himself in Him.”
As for Gautama’s reincarnations in Adi Shankaracharya and Tsong Kha-pa, these are stated specifically, both here and in numerous Theosophical writings published during HPB’s lifetime, as well as in the letters of the Masters.
We would be unwise to think that the full and complete Mystery of the Buddha has been revealed and disclosed. It hasn’t and indeed the veil has only been lifted very tentatively and to a small degree. But as HPB said in “The Key to Theosophy” – “An ounce of gold is worth a ton of dust.”
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A Buddha is a type of Avatar but in the case of a Buddha the process of manifestation and appearance on Earth is somewhat different than for the majority of Avatars.
When the time comes – once in each Epoch, each Root Race in other words – for a BUDDHA to manifest, one of the Seven Dhyani Buddhas or Seven Celestial Lords (and which one it is is predetermined by Cyclic Law) creates through the power of Dhyana (mystic meditation) a Bodhisattva, which we could think of in terms of being a direct “Spiritual Son,” emanated from the Dhyani Buddha.
This Bodhisattva has the mission to incarnate directly in a physical body on Earth and to then remain behind on Earth, after the death of the human body, to continue the work of the Buddha until the Buddha of the succeeding Root Race appears, many thousands of years later.
The remaining Bodhisattva, lingering invisibly as a type of Nirmanakaya (one who has reached to Nirvana but renounced it in order to remain behind to help humanity), may himself occasionally incarnate in (but not as) other individuals when necessary and when decreed by the Law of Karma.
“The esoteric school teaches that Gautama Buddha … is a Nirmanakaya, higher than whom on account of the great renunciation and sacrifice to mankind there is none known,” says HPB in her explanation to a passage in “The Voice of the Silence.”
In Aryasangha’s “Uttara Tantra” or “Ratnagotravibhaga” – a Mahayana Buddhist scripture held in high regard by the Masters (see Buddha Nature or Self and Non-Self in Buddhism and Theosophy) – Gautama Buddha is spoken of as “The Supreme Nirmanakaya.” The Masters have written that he is the patron of all the Adepts.
In the case of the Buddha of this Fifth Root Race (the Aryan or Indo-Caucasian Root Race) the Dhyani Buddha is Amitabha Buddha – whose name means “Infinite Light” – and the Bodhisattva brought forth by his Dhyana manifested on Earth 2,600 years ago in the form of Siddhartha Gautama.
Through his own efforts and trials during the first part of his life as well as in previous lifetimes, the human man Gautama assimilated and united himself completely and perfectly with the Bodhisattva and thus also with the Dhyani Buddha and so became enlightened and a human Buddha in his own right.
Since that incarnation, the “Gautama-Bodhisattva-Nirmanakaya” has incarnated himself more than once, firstly around 50 years after the death of the physical body of Gautama, as Adi Shankaracharya, the founder of the Advaita Vedanta system of Hinduism. This was necessary in order to tie up some “karmic loose ends” of Gautama. More could be said about this but this is not the place or time to do so. Shankaracharya (or “Maha Shankara” as the Initiates and Masters call him) chose to put off his body by his own free will at the age of 33 whereas in fact he was meant to have lived for 90 years.
A few hundred years later, out of compassion and the needs of suffering humanity, the Gautama-Bodhisattva-Nirmanakaya appeared in the form of the man Jehoshua, sometimes known as Yeshua or more popularly as Jesus, who himself had to die a violent death at the age of 33, due to the above, for such is the Law.
Around 50 years after that, in order to tie up some “karmic loose ends” from the Jesus incarnation, the Bodhisattva appeared in the body of Apollonius of Tyana, who is referred to in the secret esoteric books of the Trans-Himalayan Brotherhood as Tiani-Tsang.
And about 1,300 years later he incarnated himself in Tsong Kha-pa, the great reformer of Tibetan Buddhism and founder of the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) branch of that religion, also the founder of the Tibetan Esoteric School of the Trans-Himalayan Brotherhood and one of whose closest disciples became the first Dalai Lama, who founded Tashilhunpo Monastery at Shigatse, a place of which all students of Theosophy know the importance.
There have been other and lesser instances of the Gautama-Bodhisattva-Nirmanakaya’s direct involvement with humanity, when a sufficiently great need arose. We can see that his work often revolves around radical reformation and the re-establishment of universal divine Truth.
The next Buddha – many thousands of years from now, appearing at the end of the Kali Yuga and looked for in Hinduism as the Kalki Avatar – will be Maitreya, viewed in exoteric Tibetan Buddhism as the Bodhisattvic manifestation on Earth of the Dhyani Buddha Amoghasiddhi.
The Master K.H. and the Master M. have written that Gautama Buddha was the greatest and holiest man that ever lived and describe him as having attained to “the highest form of adeptship man can hope for on our planet.”
In regard to Tsong Kha-pa, HPB wrote that “The records preserved in the Gon-pa, the chief lamasery of Tashilhunpo, show that Sang-gyas [a Tibetan name for Buddha] left the regions of the “Western Paradise” to incarnate Himself in Tsong-kha-pa, in consequence of the great degradations into which His [Gautama Buddha’s] secret doctrines had fallen.”
The “Western Paradise” is in fact a place on this globe – albeit shrouded in mystery and inaccessible to all but the suitably initiated few – known as SHAMBALLA. And writing elsewhere about the Lord Gautama, she tells us:
“It is maintained that this Adept of Adepts lives to this day in his spiritual entity as a mysterious, unseen, yet overpowering presence among the Brotherhood of Shamballa, beyond, far beyond, the snowy-capped Himalayas.”
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SOME RELATED ARTICLES: Buddha Nature, The Great Tsong Kha-pa, The Life & Times of Adi Shankaracharya, Maitreya in the Light of Real Theosophy, Blavatsky and Buddhism, Misconceptions about Buddhism, Alaya – The Universal Soul, The Four Noble Truths, The Letter from the Maha Chohan, The Two Paths, Self and Non-Self in Buddhism and Theosophy, The Secret Book of Dzyan, and “The Voice of the Silence” – An Authentic Buddhist Text.