The text is MODERNISED FROM THE FIRST EDITION of 1889 (later editions often have variations).
THE  NOTES are collected or written by Y0UR COMPANION - Muriel Daw
H.P.B.'s own wording in her notes are in ITALIC PRINT.

Fragment III
THE SEVEN  PORTALS

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    1     “Master, the choice is made, I thirst for Wisdom.  Now have you rent the veil before the secret Path and taught the Greater Vehicle.92 Your servant here is ready for your guidance.”

 

 

92  Great Vehicle: Mahāyāna [Skt] Literally Mahā - Great; yāna - Vehicle. The Northern School of Buddhism. Many individual Mahāyāna Schools are found in Tibet, Manchuria, China, Korea and Japan. They all have the Sanskrit language in common, and also the local tongue. Many of these Schools are esoteric. See Note B
    Although Mahāyāna is usually used in the sense of  ‘Universal, Supreme Vehicle,’ it is sometimes used as the ‘Great Vehicle’ in contradistinction to the Hīnayāna or ‘Small Vehicle.’  In this connection the bodhisattva of the Mahāyāna who strives for the enlightenment of others is contrasted with the arhat of the Hīnayāna who works for self-enlightenment.
As it is impossible for true wisdom not to be compassionate and for true compassion to be unwise, it seems that arguments about this difference must be regarded in the light of skilful means.

 

2     It is well, Disciple.  Prepare yourself, for you must travel on alone.  The Teacher can but point the way. The Path is one for all, the means to reach the goal must vary with the Pilgrims.

 

3     Which will you choose, O you of dauntless heart? The exoteric four-fold Meditation of “eye Doctrine,”93  or thread your way through the six Transcendental Perfections,94 the noble gates of virtue leading to Enlightenment and to Insight, the seventh step of Wisdom?

 

93  Four-fold Meditation of the “Eye Doctrine”: Samtan [Tibetan] Samtāna [Skt]   Continuous train of thought.  Meditation.
   The training for the exoteric School iincludes 4-fold progressive levels of meditation in order to attain Arhatship. These are very clearly described in the scriptures of the Pāli Canon.  For full details see VISUDHIMAGGA by Buddhaghosha  [In English: THE PATH OF PURITY].

 

94  Six Transcendental Perfections of the Heart Doctrine: Pāramitā  [Skt]  Perfections which have ‘Gone Beyond’ all sense of personal self: Giving, Morality, Acceptance, Vigour, Rapt Meditation and  Insight Wisdom.
   These form the first section of training for the would-be bodhisattva of the esoteric schools.  In fact, they are the qualities of the True Self.

 

 

4     The rugged Path of four-fold Meditation winds on uphill. Thrice great is he who climbs the lofty top.

 

5     The Perfection heights are crossed by a still steeper path. You have to fight your way through seven portals,95  seven strongholds held by cruel crafty Powers — passions incarnate.

 

95  Seven Portals: These correspond to the Six Transcendental Perfections listed above, with the addition of PASSIONLESSNESS in the centre.

 

6     Be of good cheer, Disciple; bear in mind the golden rule.  Once you have passed the gate of Streamwinner,96  once you have really gained the stream flowing to Nirvana in this or any future life, you have but seven other births before you, O you of adamantine Will. 

 

96  Streamwinner:  First stage on the Way of the Arhat. See Note B The way of the Arhat

 

7     Look onward!  What do you see before your eyes, O aspirant to god-like Wisdom?

 

8     “The cloak of darkness is upon the deep of matter; within its folds I struggle. Beneath my gaze it deepens, Lord; it is dispelled beneath the waving of your hand. A shadow moves, creeping like the stretching serpent coils .  . .  It grows, swells out and disappears in darkness.”

 

9     It is the shadow of yourself outside the Path, cast on the darkness of your sins.

 

10     “Yes, Lord; I see the PATH; its foot in mire, its summits lost in the glorious light of Nirvana.  And now I see the ever narrowing Portals on the hard and thorny way to the Omniscience of a Buddha.”97

 

97  Omniscience of a Buddha: Jñāna  [Skt] The All-knowledge of a Buddha. The Tenth Transcendental Perfection, which is not dealt with in The Seven Portals, but clearly shows the ultimate Goal.  See note C (10)

 

11     You see well, Disciple.  These Portals lead the aspirant across the waters on “to the other shore.”98  Each Portal has a golden key that opens its gate; and these keys are:—

 

98  ‘To the other shore’: This is synonymous with attaining Nirvana, by reaching the far side of the river of all sufferings.

 

12     1. GIVING,99 the key of generosity and love immortal.

 

99  Giving: Dāna  [Skt] Giving or Generosity. The First Transcendental Perfection.  There are traditionally four forms: [1] The Giving of material goods; [2] The Gift of Teaching; [3] The Giving of Fear­less­ness; [4] The Giving away of oneself. The very moment we take this idea of ‘Giving away myself’ as a practical proposition, is associated with what we have called the Thought of Enlightenment. One is, in fact, taking the first step on the path to Buddha­hood, however many lives may be necessary. See note C (1)

 

13     2.   MORALITY,100 the key of Harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action.

 

100  Morality: Sīla  [Skt]   Keeping the Buddhist Precepts.  See note C (2)

 

14     3.   ACCEPTANCE,101 patience sweet, that nought can ruffle.

 

101  Acceptance: Kshānti [Skt] Patient Acceptance. The Third Transcendental Perfection.   See note C (3)

 

15     4.   PASSIONLESSNESS,102 indifference to pleasure and to pain, illusion conquered, truth alone perceived.

 

102  Passionlessness: Virāga  [Skt]  Indifference to worldly objects; freedom from passion;  the fading away of greed. This Fourth Portal is placed as perfect balance in the midst of the 6 Transcendental Perfections

 

16     5.  VIGOUR,103 the dauntless energy that fights its way to the supernal truth out of the mire of lies terrestrial.

 

103  Vigour: Vīrya  [Skt]  Valour, power, potency, virility. Ability to perform heroic spiritual deeds.  The Fourth Transcendental Perfection.  See note C (4)

 

17     6.   RAPT MEDITATION,104 whose golden gate once opened leads the Adept toward the realm of eternal Truth and its ceaseless contemplation.

 

104  Rapt Meditation: Dhyāna  [Skt] A state of serene, rapt contemplation attained by meditation. The First Transcendental Perfection. Corruptions of this word became Ch‘an in Chinese and Zen in Japanese, therefore the Zen School literally means: The Meditation School.
In Tibet, Dhyāna became Dzyan  [pronounced ‘Jahn’ ]  therefore:  ‘The Stanzas of Dzyan’  in The Secret Doctrine.   See note C (5)

 

18     7.  INSIGHT WISDOM,105  the key to which makes of a man a god, creating him a Bodhisattva, son of the innate Meditation Buddhas.106

 

105  Insight Wisdom: Prajñā  [Skt] The Wisdom of Insight which arises from Rapt Meditation. The Sixth Transcendental Perfection.
This is wisdom, not in the sense of logical views, but immediate, direct, intuitive knowledge.  See note C (6)   

 

106  Innate Meditation Buddhas:  Dhyāni-Buddhas  [Skt]  Archetypal Buddhas, whom we can contact only through meditation. Their ‘sons’ or reflexes are Archetypal Bodhisattvas. All of these archetypal qualities are innate within us, and can be discerned by the True Self, but only when the personality has been overcome.

 

19     Such to the Portals are the golden keys.

 

20     Before you can approach the last, O weaver of your freedom, you have to master these Perfections — the virtues transcendental six and ten in number107 — along the weary Path.

 

107  Virtues transcendental six and ten in number: The 6 and 10 Pāramitās  [Skt]  Transcendental Perfections.
The fact that there are Four More beyond the first Six Pāramitās is a very important point.  See Note C

 

21     For, O Disciple!  Before you were made fit to meet your Teacher face to face, your MASTER light to light, what were you told?

 

22     Before you can approach the foremost gate you must learn to part your body from your mind, to dissipate the physical, and to live in the eternal. For this, you have to live and breathe in all, as all that you perceive breathes in you; to feel yourself abiding in all things, all things in SELF.

 

23     You shall not let your senses make a playground of your mind.

 

24     You shall not separate your being from BEING, and the rest, but merge the Ocean in the drop, the drop within the Ocean.

 

25     So shall you be in full accord with all that lives; bear love to men as though they were your brother-pupils, disciples of one Teacher, the sons of one sweet mother.

 

26     Of teachers there are many; the MASTER-SOUL, is one, the Fundamental Consciousness,108 the Universal Soul.  Live in that MASTER as ITS ray in you. Live in your fellows as they live in It.

 

108  Fundamental Consciousness:  Ālaya  [Skt]  The totality of Consciousness  of which we are all a part. It includes the personal consciousness as well as the Cosmic Consciousness. 

 

27     Before you stand on the threshold of the Path; before you cross the foremost Gate, you must merge the two into the One and sacrifice the personal to self impersonal; making that sacrifice irrevocable.109

 

109  Making that sacrifice irrevocable: Antaskarana  [Skt]  The lower mind belonging to the personality. That mind which we are told to slay on the very first page of the First Fragment. See note D

 

28     You must be prepared to answer Dharma, the stern law, whose voice will ask you at your first, at your initial step:

 

29     “Have you complied with all the rules, O you of lofty hopes?

 

30     “Have you attuned your heart and mind to the great mind and heart of all mankind?  For the heart of him ‘who would enter the stream’ must thrill in response to every sigh and thought of all that lives and breathes.”

 

31     Disciples may be likened to the strings of the soul-echoing lute;mankind, unto its sounding board; the hand that sweeps it to the tuneful breath of the GREAT WORLD-SOUL.  The string that fails to answer beneath the Master’s touch in dulcet harmony with all the others, breaks — and is cast away. So the collective minds of Disciples. They have to be attuned to the Master’s mind — one with the Over-Soul — or, break away.

 

32     Thus do the “Brothers of the Shadow” — the murderers of their Souls, the dreaded Bön magicians.110

 

110  Bön magicians: Indigenous Shamans of Tibet are deeply versed in sorcery, and one of the ‘Red-Cap’ Schools [the Nyingmapa] still keeps many of their rituals.  However, there are two other ‘Red-Cap’ Schools: the Kagyupa who, like the ‘Yellow-Cap’ Gelugpa, have purified themselves from the old black magic, and the Sakyapa, who are only partially reformed. See note B

 

33     Have you attuned your being to Humanity’s great pain, O candidate for light?

 

34     You have?  .  .  .  You may enter. Yet, before you set foot upon the dreary Path of Sorrow, it is well you should first learn the pitfalls on your way.

.       .       .       .       .       .       .      .       .

 

35     Armed with the key of Generosity, of love and tender mercy, you are secure before the gate of Giving, the gate that stands at the entrance of the PATH.

 

36     Behold, O happy Pilgrim!  The portal that faces you is high and wide, seems easy of access.  The road that leads through it is straight and smooth and green.  It is like a sunny glade in the dark forest depths, a spot on earth mirrored from the western paradise.111 There, nightingales of hope and birds of radiant plumage sing perched in green bowers, chanting success to fearless Pilgrims.  They sing of Bodhisattvas’ virtues five,112 the fivefold source of enlightened power, and of the seven steps in Knowledge.113

 

111  Western paradise: The paradise of Amitābha. Each archetypal Dhyāni-Buddha lives in a Pure Land. Amitābha is the Buddha of Compassion, therefore rebirth in a lotus within his Western Pure Land [or Paradise] is the object of much constant and faithful meditation, especially in Devotional ‘Pure Land’ Schools. See note B
    It is popularly thought that this rebirth, although impermanent, will be in a realm of Pure Light and Awareness and therefore conducive to later enlightenment.
Nevertheless, the truth reveals that the innate Meditation Buddha Amitābha must be fully awakened here and now in the compassionate paradise of our own hearts, in order to inspire the wisdom of compassion which illuminates everyday life.

 

112  5 Bodhisattva virtues: The attributes of the five archetypal bodhisattvas which are innate within all beings: 
   The Volition, or Will, of Maitreya.
   The Compassion of Avalokitesvara.
   The Wisdom of Mañjusri.
   The Motive, or Vow, of Samantabhadra.
   The Clear-Seeing Adamantine Quality of Vajrasattva. See note 91

 

113  7 steps in Knowledge:  Knowledge gained on the Path of the 7 Portals.

 

37     Pass on!  For you have brought the key; you are secure.

 

38     And to the second gate the way is verdant too. But it is steep and winds up hill; yes, to its rocky top.  Grey mists will over-hang its rough and stony height, and all be dark beyond.  As on he goes, the song of hope sounds more feeble in the pilgrim’s heart. The thrill of doubt is now upon him; his step grows less steady.

 

39     Beware of this, O candidate!  Beware of fear that spreads, like the black and soundless wings of midnight bat, between the moonlight of your Soul and your great goal that looms in the distance far away.

 

40     Fear, O disciple, kills the will and stays all action. If lacking in the virtue of Morality, — the pilgrim trips, and Karmic pebbles bruise his feet along the rocky path.

 

41     Be of sure foot, O candidate.  In the essence of Acceptance bathe your Soul; for now you approach the portal of that name, the gate of fortitude and patience.

 

42     Close not your eyes, nor lose your diamond centredness;114 the Tempter’s arrows ever smite the man who has not reached Passionlessness.

 

114  Diamond centredness: Dorje [Tib] or Vajra [Skt] The adamantine quality of Vajrasattva, the innate True Self. See note 91

 

43     Beware of trembling.  Beneath the breath of fear the key of Acceptance grows rusty:  the rusty key refuses to unlock.

 

44     The more you advance, the more pitfalls your feet will meet. The path that leads on is lighted by one fire — the light of daring, burning in the heart. The more one dares, the more he shall obtain.  The more he fears, the more that light shall pale — and that alone can guide. For, just as the lingering sunbeam shining on the top of a tall mountain is followed by black night when it fades, so is heart-light. When it goes out, a dark and threatening shadow will fall from your own heart upon the path, and root your feet in terror to the spot.

 

45     Beware, disciple, of that deadly shade.  No light that shines from Spirit can dispel the darkness of the nether Soul, unless all selfish thought has fled from it, and the pilgrim can say:  “I have renounced this passing frame; I have destroyed the cause;115 therefore the shadows cast can, as effects, no longer be.” For now the last great fight, the final war between the Higher and the Lower Self, has taken place. Behold the very battlefield is now engulfed in the great war, and is no more.

 

115  I have destroyed the cause:This is reminiscent of the Second and Third Noble Truths see note A - 4 Noble Truths — if we know the cause of fear [or any other form of suffering], we can remove it.
The present Dalai Lama has said “The sense of I, myself, and the sense of fear are like the front and back of this hand.  Without one, the other cannot exist.”

 

46     But once you have passed the gate of Acceptance, the third step is taken.  Your body is your slave.  Now, for the fourth prepare, the Portal of temptations116 which ensnare the inner man.

 

116  Portal of temptations:  The Gate of Passionlessness.

 

47     Before you can approach that goal, before your hand is lifted to upraise the fourth gate’s latch, you must have mustered all the mental changes in your Self and slain the army of the thought sensations that, subtle and insidious, creep unasked within the Soul’s bright shrine.

 

48     If you would not be slain by them, then you must make harmless your own creations, the children of your thoughts, unseen, impalpable, that swarm round human­kind, the progeny and heirs to man and his terrestrial spoils.  You must study the voidness of the seeming full, the fullness of the seeming void,117 O fearless Aspirant, look deep within the well of your own heart, and answer:  Do you know the powers of Self, O perceiver of external shadows?

 

117  Voidness of the seeming full, the fullness of the seeming void: This is a quotation from THE HEART SŪTRA, which is a key scripture for all Buddhist Esoteric Schools. It comes from the many PrajñāPāramitā writings of the Mādhyamika School which illuminate our work on the Sixth Pāramitā, Prajñā.  For details of this Perfection, which is identical with the Seventh Portal. See note C (6)

 

49     If you do not — then you are lost.

 

50     For, on the fourth Path, the lightest breeze of passion or desire will stir the steady light upon the pure white walls of Soul. The smallest wave of longing or regret for worldly illusions, along the path that lies between your Spirit and your self,118 any sensation which arouses the feeling of ‘I and mine’ — a thought as fleeting as the lightning flash will make you forfeit your three prizes — the prizes you have won.

 

118  The path that lies between your Spirit and your self: Antaskarana  [Skt] The Lower Mind.  See note 109

 

51     For know that the ETERNAL knows no change.

 

52     “Forsake the eight dire miseries119 for evermore.  Otherwise, you will never come to wisdom, nor yet to liberation,” says the Lord Buddha.120

 

119  Eight dire miseries: Things listed by the Buddha in his First Sermon as causing suffering to all beings. These are: 
Birth; decay; sickness; death; to be conjoined with things which we dislike; to be separated from things we like; not to get what we want; and to get that which we do not want.

 

120  Lord Buddha:  Tathāgata  [Skt]  ‘He Who Has Thus Come,’  the title of a Buddha.  This was the title used by the followers of Sākyamuni, and also the term he used when referring to himself. 
It refers to that aspect of Buddhahood which is beyond time and space. It neither comes from anywhere nor goes to anywhere.Tathāgata also means ‘He who has become aware of things as they really are.’

 

53     Stern and exacting is the virtue of Passionlessness.  If you would master its path, you must keep your mind and your perceptions far freer than before from killing action.121

 

121  Killing action:  All action which is performed without the quality of Passionlessness.
“This ‘killing action’ refers to the dangerous activity of the Lower Mind [Skt. Kāma Manas] which is constantly at work creating images that distract and seduce the aspirant. In the Bhagavad Gita,III, the question ‘Action or Inaction?’ is very fully discussed, and Krishna advises Arjuna at v.9 to ‘perform action for its own sake, free from attachment,’  i.e. without becoming personally involved.”   [Note by Alice Cleather]

 

54     You must saturate yourself with pure Cosmic Consciousness,122 become as one with Nature’s Soul-Thought.  At one with it you are invincible; in separation, you become the playground of separateness and relativity,123 origin of all the world’s delusions.

 

122  Cosmic Consciousness: Ālaya  [Skt]  That which is all-existent before, during and after manifestation, and to it sentient beings have access in meditation.

See note D

 

123  Separateness and relativity: Samvriti [Skt]  Conventional, relative truth, conforming to worldly convention. This is called the Lower Truth because all separate things exist only on a relative level and have no absolute being in themselves.
This is in contrast with Paramārtha [Skt]  The highest or whole truth, true state of the case, reality.  This truth is shown very clearly in THE HEART SŪTRA, mentioned in note 117

 

55     All is impermanent in man except the pure bright essence of Cosmic Consciousness.  Man is its crystal ray; a beam of light immaculate within, a form of clay material upon the lower surface. That beam is your life-guide and your true Self, the Watcher and the silent Thinker, the victim of your lower Self.  Your Soul cannot be hurt except through your erring body; control and master both, and you are safe when crossing to the nearing “Gate of Balance.”

 

56     Be of good cheer, O daring pilgrim “to the other shore.” Heed not the whisperings of Temptation’s hosts; wave off the tempters, those ill-natured elemental spirits of jealousy who dwell in endless space.

 

57     Hold firm!  You are nearing the middle portal, the gate of Woe, with its ten thousand snares.

 

58     Have mastery over your thoughts, O striver for perfection, if you would cross its threshold.

 

59     Have mastery over your Soul, O seeker after eternal truths, if you would reach the goal.

 

60     Centre your Soul-gaze on the One Pure Light,124 the Light that is free from affection, and use your golden key.   .    .    .    .    .    .   .    .

 

124  One Pure Light: Verses 46 to 61 have been describing the hard struggle on the Path to the Gate of Passionlessness. The Buddha taught They blow us hither and thither so that we find no basis in which to rest. These winds are: Gain and Loss,  Fame and Dishonour, Praise and Blame, Pleasure and Pain. While we pay attention to our feelings about these Eight Winds, our attention is located in the Lower Self. Only beyond these pairs of opposites is the Oneness of the Pure Light which enables us to centre in the Higher Self. The immense shifts in levels of awareness are perhaps indicated by the lines of dots separating verses 60, 61, and 62.

 

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     .    .

 

61     The dreary task is done, your labour nearly over.  The wide abyss that gaped to swallow you is almost spanned.  .    .    .    .    .    .

 

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     .    .

 

62     Now you have crossed the moat that circles round the gate of human passions.  Now you have conquered the Tempter and his furious host.

 

63     You have removed pollution from your heart and bled out all impure desire. But, O you glorious combatant, your task is not yet done. Build high, Disciple, the wall that shall protect the island of the True Self, the dam that will protect your mind from pride and satisfaction at thoughts of the great feat achieved.

 

64     A sense of pride would mar the work. Yes, build it strong, lest the fierce rushing, battling waves of the great Ocean of Worldly Illusion swallow up the pilgrim and the isle — yes, even when the victory’s achieved.

 

65     Your True Self is like a deer, your thoughts the hounds that weary and pursue his progress to the stream of Life.  Woe to the deer that is overtaken by the barking fiends before he reach the Vale of Refuge — Rapt Meditation,125 “path of pure knowledge” named.

 

125  Rapt Meditation: The equanimity gained by strengthening the quality of Passionlessness gives a first taste of the fruits of Transcendent Rapt Meditation and inspires the disciple to generate great Vigour in order to consummate this Perfection.  See note C (5)

 

66     Before you can settle in the Way of Rapt Meditation and call it yours, your Soul must become like the ripe mango fruit:  as soft and sweet as its bright golden pulp for others’ woes, as hard as that fruit’s stone for your own throes and sorrows, O conqueror of Weal and Woe.

 

67     Harden your Soul against the snares of Self; deserve for it the name of “Diamond-Soul.”126

 

126  “Diamond-Soul”: Vajrasattva, the True Self, who has many names and titles, according to which function he is performing. See note 56
As Vajrasattva [or Vajra essence], he is truly Self-Nature or the nature of the True Self.
In the aspect of Vajrapāni [or Vajra-handed], he wields the Vajra as a sceptre.


In the aspect of Vajradhāra [or Holder of the Vajras], he holds the mystic Vajras of Body, Speech and Mind of the Cosmos. Now he is a reflex of the Ādi-Buddha.
As H.P.B. says in her footnote: “Diamond-Soul” or Vajradhāra who presides over the Dhyāni-Buddhas. This title will be earned only when the innate Dhyāni-Buddhas and their Bodhisattva sons have replaced the self-centred energies of the personality. There is a traditional mandala expressing this experience:

 

Mandala

 

68     For, as the diamond buried deep within the throbbing heart of earth can never mirror back the earthly lights, so are your mind and Soul; plunged in Rapt Meditation, these must mirror nought of worldly illusion.

 

69     When you have reached that state, the Portals you must conquer on the Path fling open wide their gates to let you pass, and Nature’s strongest mights possess no power to stay your course.  You will be master of the sevenfold Path: but not till then, O candidate for trials beyond speech.

 

70     Till then, a task far harder still awaits you:  you must feel yourself ALL-THOUGHT, and yet exile all thoughts from your Soul.

 

71     You must reach that fixity of mind in which no breeze, however strong, can waft an earthly thought within. Thus purified, the shrine must  be empty of all action, sound, or earthly light;  even as a butterfly overtaken by frost falls lifeless at the threshold — so must all earthly thoughts fall dead before the temple.

 

72     Behold it written:

 

73     “Before the gold flame can burn with steady light, the lamp must stand well guarded in a spot free from all wind.”127  Exposed to shifting breeze, the jet will flicker and the quivering flame cast deceptive shades, dark and ever-changing, on the Soul’s white shrine.

 

127  Quotation from BHAGAVAD-GITA:  THE SONG OF GOD.

 

74     And then, O pursuer of the truth, your Mind-Soul will become as a mad elephant, that rages in the jungle. Mistaking forest trees for living foes, he perishes in his attempts to kill the ever-shifting shadows dancing on the wall of sunlit rocks.

 

75     Beware, lest in the care of Self your Soul should lose her foothold on the soil of divine knowledge.

 

76     Beware, lest in forgetting SELF, your Soul lose control over its trembling mind, and thus forfeit the due fruition of its conquests.

 

77     Beware of change!  For change is your great enemy.  This change will fight you off, and throw you back, out of the Path you tread, deep into viscous swamps of doubt.

 

78     Prepare, and be forewarned in time. If you have tried and failed, O dauntless fighter, do not lose courage:  fight on and to the charge return again, and yet again.

 

79     The fearless warrior,128 his precious life-blood oozing from his wide and gaping wounds, will still attack the foe, drive him out of his stronghold and vanquish him, before he himself expires. Act then, all of you who fail and suffer, act like him; and from the stronghold of your Soul, chase all your foes away — ambition, anger, hatred, even to the shadow of desire129 — but even if you fail . .

Vigour:Virya

128  The fearless warrior: The disciple who practises Vigour — Vīrya  [Skt].
The symbol for one who is on the Path of the Perfection beyond Vigour is a lance with a flaming point. 
Having passed the previous Gate in verse 62, the aspirant is given a brief foretaste of Rapt Meditation in order to spur him towards enlightenment in verse 69.  This gives him courage for the fight described in verses 70-80.  See note C (4)

 

129  Ambition, anger, hatred, desire: These, as shown in the mandala, See note 126 must be fought so that the energies normally wasted in such passions may be conquered and transmuted into the equivalent Bodhisattva qualities

 

80     Remember, you that fight for man’s liberation,130 each failure is success, and each sincere attempt wins its reward in time. The holy seeds that sprout and grow unseen in the disciple’s soul, their stalks wax strong at each new trial, they bend like reeds but never break, nor can they ever be lost.   But when the hour has struck they blossom forth.

 

130  You that fight for man’s liberation:  A reminder that one is not fighting for oneself, but that the Vow means an eternal struggle to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.

 

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     .    .

 

81     But if you came prepared, then have no fear.

 

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     .    .


82     Henceforth your way is clear right through thegate of VIGOUR, the fifth one of the Seven Portals.  You are now on the way that leads to the haven of Rapt Meditation,131 the sixth, the Insight Portal.

Dhyana

131  The way that leads to the haven of Rapt Meditation:  Dhyāna   [Skt]

 

This is the symbol for one who is on the Path of the Perfection beyond Rapt Meditation.  See note C (5)

 

 

83     The gate of Rapt Meditation is like an alabaster vase, white and transparent;  within there burns a steady golden fire, the flame of Insight Wisdom that radiates from Universal Self.

 

84     You are that vase.132

Vase

132  You are that vase: —                        

One of the Eight Sacred Tibetan Emblems 

 

85     You have estranged yourself from objects of the senses, travelled on the “Path of seeing,” on the “Path of hearing,” and stand in the light of Knowledge. You have now reached the state of complete indifference to either pleasure or pain.

 

86     O Adept you are safe.

 

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     .    .

 

87     Know, Conqueror of Sins, that once a ‘Streamwinner’133 has crossed the seventh Path, all Nature thrills with joyous awe and feels subdued. The silver star now twinkles out the news to the night-blossoms; the streamlet ripples out the tale to the pebbles; dark ocean-waves will roar it to the surf-bound rocks; scent-laden breezes sing it to the vales, and stately pines mysteriously whisper: “A Master has arisen, a Master of the Eon.”

 

133  ‘Streamwinner’:  Sowanee [Srotāpatti] is one who practises Sowan [Tib], the first path in Dhyāna.  See note B ‘The Way of the Arhat,’

 

88     He stands now like a white pillar to the west, upon whose face the rising Sun of Mind Eternal pours forth its first most glorious waves. His mind, like a becalmed and boundless ocean, spreads out in shoreless space. He holds life and death in his strong hand.

 

89     Yes, he is mighty.  The living power made free in him, that power which is HIMSELF, can raise the tabernacle of illusion high above the gods.134  Now he shall surely reach his great reward!

 

134  The Gods:  Brahmā is the Creator God, the Chief God of the Indian pantheon.   Buddhism acknowledges no original creator, but Brahmā [together with Indra, the old warrior god of Vedic times] has now an important role in various Scriptures as a protector of Buddhism.

 

90     Shall he not use the gifts which it confers for his own rest and bliss, his well-earned weal and glory — he, the subduer of the great Delusion?

 

91     No, O candidate for Nature’s hidden lore!  If one would follow in the steps of the holy Buddha, those gifts and powers are not for Self.

 

92     Would you thus dam the waters born on Mount Sumeru? 135   Shall you divert the stream for your own sake, or send it back to its prime source along the crests of cycles?

 

135  Sumeru  [Skt]:  Mount Meru, the great archetypal mountain of the Gods.  The centre of the universe; the centre of all-being.

 

93     If you would have that stream of hard-earned knowledge, of Wisdom heaven-born, remain sweet running waters, you should not leave it to become a stagnant pond.

 

94     Know, if of Amitabha, the “Boundless Age,” you would become co-worker, then you must shed the light acquired, like to the two Bodhisattvas,136 upon the span of all three worlds, terrestrial, astral and spiritual.

 

136  Like to the two Bodhisattvas:  The archetypal Buddha Amitābha  [Skt] [‘Boundless Light’] is the embodiment of compassion and is frequently portrayed with two assistant Bodhisattvas — Avalokitesvara on his right and Mahāsthāmaprāpta on his left:
   Avalokitesvara  [Skt];  Kwan-shi-yin or Kwan-yin [Ch];  Guanshiyin  [Modern Chinese].
   The spiritual son of Dhyāni-Buddha Amitābha, therefore the active aspect of Discriminative Compassion.  He is ‘The Lord who Looks Down From on High,’ and knows where help is needed and how to give it, using many skilful means to assist sentient beings towards enlightenment. 
   Mahāsthāmaprāpta  [Skt]; Tashishi  [or Taishishi] [Tib]; Dai-Seishi [Ch].
   The Bodhisattva ‘He who has attained great strength.’   He is thought of as representing the Wisdom of Buddha Amitābha.
What in fact are such archetypal Bodhisattvas? They are bridges  between us and the Dhyāni-Buddhas. When we meditate on them, we know them to be real beings — they are not only subjective projections, because when we have a loving respect for them, they can show us things we did not previously know;  neither are they beings which float about in the heavens in some objective outward manner. Perhaps we might call them omni-jective.They are beings which are through and through; they pervade; they are rays of colour of the One Universal Light. They exist, but without a physical base they cannot be conceived; they cannot manifest. Without psychic energy they have no medium in which to vibrate.   So, here and now, if we wish to ‘become co-workers,’ we have a job to do.  Avalokita cannot love beings except through our hearts, and for helping he needs our hands. Unless we give the strength, ‘He who has attained great strength’ cannot give his wisdom.

 

95     Know that the stream of superhuman knowledge and the divine wisdom you have won, must, from yourself, the channel of cosmic consciousness,137 be poured forth into another bed.

 

137  Cosmic consciousness:  Ālaya   [Skt]  See note D

 

96     Know, O Adept, you of the Secret Path, its pure fresh waters must be used to make sweeter the Ocean’s bitter waves — that mighty sea of sorrow formed of the tears of men.

 

97     Alas! when once you have become like the fixed star in highest heaven, that bright celestial orb must shine from out the spatial depths for all — save for itself;  give light to all, but take from none.

 

98     Alas! when once you have become like the pure snow in mountain vales, cold and unfeeling to the touch, warm and protective to the seed that sleeps deep beneath — it is now that snow which must receive the biting frost, the northern blasts, thus shielding from their sharp and cruel tooth the earth that holds the promised harvest, the harvest that will feed the hungry.

 

99     Self-doomed to live through future ages, unthanked and unperceived by men; wedged as a stone with countless other stones which form the “Guardian Wall,”138 such is your future if you pass the seventh gate.  Built by the hands of many Masters of Compassion, raised by their tortures, cemented by their blood, it shields mankind, since man is man, protecting it from further and far greater misery and sorrow.

 

138  The “Guardian Wall” or the “Wall of Protection.”  It is taught that the accumulated efforts of long generations of Yogis, Saints and Adepts, especially of the Nirmānakāyas — have created, so to say, a wall of protection around mankind, which wall shields mankind invisibly from still worse evils.

 

100     Moreover man sees it not, will not perceive it, nor will he heed the word of Wisdom . . .  for he knows it not.

 

101     But you have heard it, you know all, O you of eager guileless Soul . . .  and you must choose.  Then listen yet again.

 

102     On the Path of the ‘Streamwinner’ you are secure.  Yes, on that Path where naught but darkness meets the weary pilgrim, where torn by thorns the hands drip blood, the feet are cut by sharp unyielding flints, and the Tempter wields his strongest arms — there lies a great reward immediately beyond.

 

103     Calm and unmoved the Pilgrim glides up the stream leading to Nirvana.  He knows that the more his feet will bleed, the whiter will himself be washed.  He knows well that after seven short and fleeting births Nirvana will be his . . .

 

104     Such is the Meditation Path,139 the haven of the Yogi, the blessed goal that all those who have ‘entered the stream’ crave.

 

139  Meditation Path [The Path of the ‘Streamwinner’]:  In the Buddha’s first Sermon he told how he himself had meditated on the Truth of this Path, and said:
“There arose in me vision, insight, understanding;
There arose in me wisdom;  there arose in me light.”

 

105     Not so when he has crossed and won the Noble Wisdom Path.

 

106     There defilements are destroyed for ever, the roots of greed torn out.  But stay, Disciple . . . Yet one word.  Can you destroy divine COMPASSION?  Compassion is no attribute. It is the Law of LAWS — eternal Harmony, the SELF of Cosmic Consciousness; a shoreless universal essence, the light of everlasting Right, and fitness of all things, the law of love eternal.

 

107     The more you become at one with it, your being melted in its BEING, the more your Soul unites with that which IS, the more you will become COMPASSION ABSOLUTE.

 

108     Such is the Noble Path, Path of the Buddhas of perfection.

 

109     Moreover, what mean the sacred scrolls which make you say:

 

110     “OM  I do not believe that all Sages take the sweet fruition of the Nirvanic Path.”

 

111     “OM  I do not believe that all Buddhas140  enter Nirvana.”

 

140  All Buddhas: In this context ‘All Buddhas’ is a title meaning ‘All Enlightened Ones.’

 

112     “Yes;  on the Noble Path you are no more a ‘Streamwinner,’ you are a Bodhisattva.141 The stream is crossed.  It is true you have a right to Nirvana; but the Body of Merit is greater than that of one in Nirvana, and greater still is an Incarnation who helps all living beings — the Bodhisattva.

 

141  The Bodhisattva: The fundamental definition is ‘One who has taken the Vow to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.’ 
   There is a fairly comprehensive note on ‘The Bodhisattva’ in Fragment II note 86, which deals with two forms, the human and the archetypal; but here in verse 112 we meet another.
   This is the one who knows that, as Nāgārjuna said:
      There is no difference at all between Nirvana and Samsāra.
      There is no difference between Samsāra and Nirvana.
      What makes the limit of Nirvana is also the limit of Samsāra.
   With the fully awakened compassionate heart of a Buddha centred in Nirvana, he looks outward into the relative world using his Skilful Means as a Bodhisattva to help all living beings.  Sometimes men call him a Buddha, sometimes a Bodhisattva — both are true.

 

113     Now bend your head and listen well, O Bodhisattva — Compassion speaks and says:  “Can there be bliss when all that lives must suffer?  Shall you be saved and hear the whole world cry?

 

114    Now you have heard that which was said.

 

115     You shall attain the seventh step and cross the gate of final knowledge but only to wed woe — if you would be a Buddha, follow upon your predecessor’s steps, remain unselfish till the endless end.

 

116     You are enlightened142 — Choose your way.

 

142   You are enlightened. A Fully Enlightened One, a Buddha has a three-fold body:
   1]  The Body of Incarnation: Nirmānakāya  [Skt]  This is the Emanation Body of a fully enlightened being;  the physical form of a Buddha as it appears to ordinary beings; the Body-of-Form of all Buddhas. 
   2] The Body of Merit: Sāmbhogakāya   [Skt] This is the Great Enjoyment Body of the Buddha representing the fruit of the lengthy accumulation of merit and understanding. It is a Divine Body, manifesting only in the pure form; it is a ‘celestial body’ invisible to common eyes, and can be seen only by advanced Bodhisattvas.  This body bears the 32 major and 80 minor marks of the Buddha: lines on his hands and feet depicting a wheel, golden skin, trunk like a lion, hairs each curling clock-wise, and so forth;  it is depicted with ornaments of gold, and is frequently portrayed in pictures and statues.

   3] The Body of Truth of the Buddha: Dharmakāya (Skt) This is the Body of Infinite Spiritual Potentiality knowable solely by realisation; the root of all experience of oneness. The Body which is the universe. This is the Buddha-Mind which expresses its message through the Enjoyment Body, and manifests itself in various forms of Incarnation Body for the sake of men who cannot yet approach the formless True Body of Buddhahood. See note 69.

 

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117     Behold, the mellow light that floods the Eastern sky.  In signs of praise both heaven and earth unite.  And from the four-fold manifested Powers a chant of love arises, both from the flaming Fire and flowing Water, and from sweet-smelling Earth and rushing Wind.

 

118     Hark! . . . from the deep unfathomable vortex of that golden light in which the Victor bathes, ALL NATURE'S wordless voice in thousand tones arises to proclaim:

 

119     JOY UNTO YOU, O MEN OF THIS WORLD OF SORROW.

 

120     A PILGRIM HAS RETURNED BACK “FROM THE OTHER SHORE.”

 

121     A NEW ENLIGHTENED ONE IS BORN . . . 

 

Peace to all beings.

 

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