The Science of the Paramitas

“That the MASTERS do in proportion to their respective temperaments and stages of Bodhisatvic development possess such Paramitas, constitutes their right to our reverence as our Teachers. It should be the aim of each and all of us to strive with all the intensity of our natures to follow and imitate Them. . . . Try to realize that progress is made step by step, and each step gained by heroic effort. Withdrawal means despair or timidity. . . . Conquered passions, like slain tigers, can no longer turn and rend you. Be hopeful then, not despairing. With each morning’s awakening try to live through the day in harmony with the Higher Self. ‘Try’ is the battle-cry taught by the teacher to each pupil. Naught else is expected of you. One who does his best does all that can be asked. There is a moment when even a Buddha ceases to be a sinning mortal and takes his first step toward Buddhahood. The . . . Paramitas (virtues) are not for priests and yogis alone, as said, but stand for models for us all to strive after – and neither priest nor yogi, Chela nor Mahatma, ever attained all at once. . . . The idea that sinners and not saints are expected to enter the Path is emphatically stated in the Voice of the Silence.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “She Being Dead Yet Speaketh” article)

In The Two Paths, which is one of the most popular articles on this site, we explained:

Some seek eternal divine bliss and complete liberation and emancipation from this world of suffering and its seemingly endless wheel of birth, death, and rebirth. Their aim is to become totally and literally remerged and reabsorbed in that infinite Source from which they came. Quite understandably, they wish to escape forever from conditioned and material existence. Some of them are actively striving and diligently working towards this great goal, whilst others merely keep it in mind and hope to somehow reach it someday.

Almost the whole of the Hindu religion is focused in this direction, as is the system of Theravada Buddhism.

This path is called the Path of Liberation. It leads to Nirvana, to Moksha, to Mukti, to Brahman. It lifts one out of Samsara – the sea of suffering, the ocean of conditioned existence – and into Nirvana, the infinite ocean of unconditioned non-existence, which is Absolute Existence itself, “the vanishing point of differentiated matter.” One rebecomes the Divine Allness.

But then there is the other path, a path which seems unappealing and uninviting to the majority. The few who tread this path do so because they have come to realise the selfishness of the other.

How can they enter joyfully and triumphantly into Nirvana and leave the teeming masses of poor, suffering, ignorant humanity behind? How can they jump into the ocean of bliss when they know full well that their fellow souls are trapped and helplessly sinking in the swamp of pain and despair?

To do so would not be an act of compassion. It would not be an expression of love. It would not be a recognition of the Oneness and Unity of all life. To the perceptions of those who walk this path, the first path cannot appear otherwise than as a refined and sublimated form of selfishness. Those who tread this path also aspire towards the greatest heights of inner advancement, progress, and unfoldment, but not in any way for their own sake.

They wish only to be of the utmost possible help and service to humanity. They have already decided that when at last their efforts bring them to the very threshold of Nirvana, they will turn their back upon it and renounce the Great Prize. And for what reason? So that they may choose to be consciously reincarnated over and over again, as long as all life continues, in order to help and serve mankind.

This path is called the Path of Renunciation. It lifts one above Samsara but not beyond it. It is also known as the Bodhisattva Path and is one of the central and defining themes of Mahayana Buddhism, especially the Buddhism of Tibet.

The uttermost extent of self-sacrifice for the sake of all humankind . . . where is the man or woman who will attempt to deny that this is the noblest, loftiest, most selfless, most compassionate, and most truly spiritual ideal in existence?

This Bodhisattva Path or Nirmanakaya Path (the two are essentially synonymous) is the Path recommended, encouraged, and promoted, by Theosophy. It is the underlying and constant heartbeat of all the Theosophical teachings, so that even the most seemingly theoretical and intellectually metaphysical always have compassion and altruism at their base.

But when Theosophy talks about this, it does not restate or rehash what Mahayana Buddhism says about it. There are undoubtedly numerous similarities and crossovers but there are also many differences, some of them quite major.

The system of philosophy, doctrine, and ethics, which H. P. Blavatsky gave to the world and named “Theosophy” is said to have been taught to her by initiated and advanced members of Buddha’s own genuine Esoteric School, headquartered in the Trans-Himalayan regions. Her Teachers are sometimes called the Masters of Wisdom, the Mahatmas, the Adepts, and the Brothers.

“The Voice of the Silence” – the book in which the Path to compassionate enlightenment is described and poetically outlined – has had its genuineness affirmed by both a recent Panchen Lama and the current Dalai Lama, as can be read in “The Voice of the Silence” – An Authentic Buddhist Text. HPB stated that she translated it from an esoteric and still publicly unknown text known as the Book of the Golden Precepts which is meant for the “daily use” of those who are Lanoos or chelas or disciples of the Masters and those who earnestly and seriously aspire to become such.

The nature and the processes of chelaship have been elaborated upon in our article Chelas and Chelaship.

Theravada Buddhism denies that there is such a thing as a Bodhisattva Path but it nonetheless recommends the practising of ten Paramitas, Paramitas being virtues or perfections. Mahayana Buddhism says that the Bodhisattva Path consists of bodhichitta (the wish “to live to benefit mankind” as “The Voice of the Silence” expresses it) and the perpetual practice of six Paramitas: Dana (giving), Shila (moral discipline), Kshanti (patience), Virya (effort), Dhyana (concentration), Prajna (wisdom).

In the Trans-Himalayan Esoteric School of pure Buddhism, it is revealed that there are seven Paramitas, the fourth and therefore central one – Viraga or Vairagya (dispassion) – being missed out of the enumeration of the Paramitas by the publicly known forms of Buddhism. But “The Voice of the Silence” also occasionally mentions ten Paramitas, implying that there are an additional three beyond the seven of which it specifically speaks.

In Antahkarana – The Path it was said that “Each of the seven is much more than a commonplace virtue but an actual gateway of initiation. To tread this “Path” successfully takes multiple lifetimes of consistent determined effort and will; at least seven such incarnations.”

That article is worth reading, as it explains how these Seven Portals on the Path are really the seven divisions or stages in the Antahkarana (the path, bridge, or connecting link, between the Lower Manas and Higher Manas, our lower personal ego and Higher Impersonal Ego) leading up to its very summit, where one re-becomes the god, the divine entity, the Individuality, which one truly is.

Having said all that, the aim of this present article is to share the following words from B. P. Wadia, the esteemed student of Theosophy and influential worker for the United Lodge of Theosophists.

The ULT is a worldwide Theosophical association founded by Robert Crosbie and dedicated solely to the study, promulgation, and application, of the original Theosophical teachings; not any of the various altered versions that arose after the passing of H. P. Blavatsky and her closest colleague William Q. Judge, but only the Theosophy which they presented to the world under the inspiration and instruction of the Mahatmas.

These quotations are not likely to mean much or be of particular interest to those who have never carefully read and studied “The Voice of the Silence” but for those who have (and the number is growing, as more people discover genuine Theosophy and learn that the genuine Theosophical Movement still exists to this day) and especially for those who do actively read, study, and reflect on it, they are likely to be illuminating.

Some of the points made here by Mr Wadia are natural deductions based on the law of correspondence and analogy, such as the reference to the way the Seven Globes of the Earth Chain are displayed in HPB’s master work “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 200. This diagram can be seen in the article The Seven Planes if one does not already have a copy of “The Secret Doctrine.” Vol. 2, p. 574, of “The Secret Doctrine” also explains that a septenary is always manifested from a threefold root.

A few other aspects are mildly implied, but not directly stated or strongly insinuated, to be further knowledge of Theosophy or the Esoteric Philosophy than what has been published in the Theosophical books; for example, where he writes in a private letter – only published after his passing – that Kshanti and Virya “are known as the daughter and the son” of Vairagya. Who knows them by these terms? It is not in the recorded Theosophical literature but if one familiarises oneself with certain important details about Mr Wadia’s life, such as what has been related in The Occult Life of B. P. Wadia, it can be deduced that he was himself quite an advanced chela or disciple of the Trans-Himalayan Adepts.

However, his words should not be viewed as bearing the same “authority” as those of H. P. Blavatsky and William Judge, and so the following is shared solely for the interest and consideration of keen students, who can make of it whatever they will.

B. P. WADIA ON THE PARAMITAS

(see the diagram below for clarification)

“What is true of Dana is equally true of Shila and of Kshanti; these form a triad, for love creates harmony, and without patience, harmony cannot be created. The balanced offspring, whether a word or an act, a poem or a picture, has for its father love and for its mother patience. When the child is created, its nature of perfection makes it a masterpiece, and there is Bliss “for ever after.”

“Similarly, the last three paramitas, Virya, Dhyana and Prajna, form a triad. When, with dauntless energy, the father pursues contemplation, the result is Prajna – full spiritual perception.

“Between the two triads is the paramita of Viraga (Vairagya) without which neither can Maya-Illusion be conquered nor can Truth-Sat be perceived. Detachment, dispassion, indifference, is, in more than one sense, the most important of the virtues.” (“Studies in The Voice of the Silence” p. 17)

“Patience is a sublime virtue. This Paramita, on the downward arc, is the highest for men and women who have not yet any conception of the higher life. But the patience which cultivates Virya – for Kshanti and Virya form a pair – is the higher patience and both are the progeny (they are known as the daughter and the son) of dispassion – Vairagya.”

“The Dhyana Paramita should not be confused with the exercises in meditation [i.e. because Dhyana is generally the Sanskrit word for meditative concentration, such as in Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms]. This virtue of Ceaseless Contemplation of Metta-Compassion-Mercy is the result of Vairagya and Kshanti-Virya. Dhyana is one of the pair, the other being Shila. Study Dhyana and Shila as a pair, one supporting and improving the other in us.”

“Real Prajna is Compassion Absolute. There are seven states of Prajna and correspondingly seven of Compassion Absolute. Reread pp. 75-76 [p. 69-70 in original 1889 edition] of the Voice and note what creates Compassion Absolute. It stands at the Gate of the Inner Path of Renunciation. Dana corresponds to Globe A in evolution. It starts there, but the important real starter is Globe D. In the middle of the Fourth Round and on the Fourth Globe real human evolution commences.”

“There are seven states of Prajna; consciousness perceives matter at seven levels, the highest of which is the above-mentioned Unconscious, i.e., the Universal Consciousness which is non-self-conscious. These cosmic ultimates are good to dwell upon when Vairagya is to be unfolded.”

“The practice of Prajna at our level means, does it not, improving and elevating our present power of perception? The highest perception is the development of the seventh Paramita, which implies the sight of Paramarthasatya – Altruistic Truth or Compassionate Wisdom. Make clean and clear your sight, we are told. . . . Prajna’s development begins with the unfoldment of Dana; and also Dhyana’s development shows in our harmony in words and works – Shila. Vairagya provides the key; are we dispassionate and desireless? It is hourly watching of ourselves, and the lower nature is powerful in its demands and imperious to boot!”

“A real Yogi – a united one – is of course an altruist. One cannot, in verity, exercise Divine Virtues without a prior living to benefit mankind.

“The seven Divine Virties are the stuff of which Masters’ Personalities are made. Their great Detachment, Their profound Seclusion, Their grand Compassion (the mother of the seven Paramitas) all point to Vairagya. Men say: “Why do not the Masters do something? Why do They permit inequalities? etc.” Well, They are Divine Vairagis.

“The Ten Transcendental Paramitas include the three corresponding to the three planes beyond the seven principles; see the diagram on p. 200 of the S.D., Vol. 1, and read what is said about the three higher planes beyond the Planetary Chain. Man in the Earth Chain is a seven-principled being, but in reality he has to become a perfect number 10. The Three Hypostases of the First Fundamental are the metaphysical aspects of the three higher or Transcendental Paramitas.

“The Paramitas are human, universal and divine – personal morality, egoic morality and Monadic morality. Consider this; herein is practical occultism.” (“Extracts from Unpublished Letters,” published posthumously in “The Theosophical Movement” magazine)

If interested to know more, we invite you to also read The REAL Esoteric Buddhism as it may answer many questions and also visit the Articles page and read through those that are listed under “THE MASTERS” and “SPIRITUAL LIVING AND PRACTICE.” You can also join the Original Theosophy Facebook Group for study and discussion with others of the original teachings of Theosophy.

“Ere thou canst settle in Dnyan Marga and call it thine, thy Soul has to become as the ripe mango fruit: as soft and sweet as its bright golden pulp for others’ woes, as hard as that fruit’s stone for thine own throes and sorrows, O Conquerer of Weal and Woe. . . . When thou hast reached that state, the Portals that thou hast to conquer on the Path fling open wide their gates to let thee pass, and Nature’s strongest mights possess no power to stay thy course. Thou wilt be master of the sevenfold Path: but not till then, O candidate for trials passing speech.”

“Now bend thy head and listen well, O Bodhisattva – Compassion speaks and saith: “Can there be bliss when all that lives must suffer? Shalt thou be saved and hear the whole world cry?” Now thou hast heard that which was said. Thou shalt attain the seventh step and cross the gate of final knowledge but only to wed woe – if thou would’st be Tathagata, follow upon thy predecessor’s steps, remain unselfish till the endless end.” (“The Voice of the Silence” p. 60-61, 71, 1889 edition, republished in 2017 by Theosophy Company of London, UK)

~ BlavatskyTheosophy.com ~