NOTE C — SIX AND FOUR MORE
This experience of Insight Wisdom at the end of Fragment III is radiantly described. It is a peak experience and gives the first taste of what Full Awakening might mean. However, it needs grounding; this is by no means the end of the Path.
Followers of the Way of the Bodhisattva all train in Six Qualities of the True Self, the Qualities beyond Personality.
In public all Mahayana teachers give only these first Six Perfections to their pupils, because, unless Insight Wisdom is attained, no further information is understandable. Madame Blavatsky behaves completely traditionally in this. However, in verse 20 of The Seven Portals, she also mentions “the virtues transcendental six and ten in number;” and one naturally wonders whether she trained any individual members of her Esoteric Group in the further Four Perfections which are necessary.
Six Transcendental Perfections — Pāramitās [Skt]
1] The Perfection Beyond Giving — Dāna [Skt]
This Perfection Beyond Giving, does not mean ‘me giving to you,’ or ‘you giving to me,’ but what the True Self can give. That is what this training is about, getting self–centredness out of the way so that the True Self can play his own part. He knows that we are not separate, that all are part of one whole; but, after all, whose hands has he to give with? Only ours. See note 99
How does Perfect Giving differ from ordinary giving? We are told that in Perfect Giving there is no giver, no gift, and no receiver.
Perhaps it is like this: When your throat is thirsty, your hand does not think “I’ll offer it some water.” It simply lifts the glass. The lips do not say “Thank you;” it is quite unnecessary.
When we are all members, one of another, then emotions, thoughts, and self–separateness have no place — just the simple Perfection of Giving.
The symbol of this Perfection is Liquorice Root — a sweet herb which is medicinal.
2] The Perfection Beyond Moral Precepts — Sīla [Skt]
Buddhist Precepts are unlike Christian Commandments, in that there is no idea of God saying: “Thou Shalt Not.” These Precepts are simply rules of training.
Buddhists accept Five Precepts, plus any others they feel might be helpful.
The first is: I Undertake The Rule of Training of Harmlessness.
At first one simply accepts this as not killing; but as we continue to train ourselves Harmlessness begins to cover quite small actions — even such as closing a door quietly. Also, of course, it includes harmlessness to oneself: ‘I am neither more nor less important than anyone else, and must be dealt with impartially.’
Next: I Undertake The Rule of Training not to take what is not given.
This is not the equivalent of ‘thou shalt not steal.’
The other Three Precepts concern purification of body, speech, and mind:
Purification of the Body: Remember there is no list of ‘thou–shalt–nots.’ We must each accept our own karmic responsibility for all actions of body, sexual or otherwise, and train ourselves in bodily purification.
Then Purification of Speech: This includes purification of mental speech — all that inner chattering!
Then, the most difficult, Purification of the Mind.
Obviously it is necessary to be abstemious in any use of drink or drugs; but how much deeper must it go? Is it all right to read a detective story to relax at bed–time? Or is it drugging the mind with unnecessary thoughts? There is no set rule — guarding the precepts is each person’s separate responsibility.
* * * * *
In the early stages of these Moral Precepts, as in the early stages of Giving, these virtues mainly affect relationships between ourselves and others; but, as we work to try and allow them to become Perfect Giving and Perfect Precepts, a new quality emerges:
In ordinary giving: “I give this gift to you.”
In Perfect Giving: No giver, no gift, no receiver — just the rightness of natural human giving.
In ordinary moral precepts: “I will train myself in moral behaviour.”
In Perfect Moral Precepts: No ‘I’, no training, no ‘myself’ to be trained, no morality/immorality — just the rightness of natural human behaviour.
[Note that this rightness of true human behaviour is very different from the rightness of animal behaviour, whether or not in a human body. That, in its ignorant unthinking of consequence, is bound to the karmic wheel.]
When the ego has been tamed and trained to get out of the way, then Purity is present. Purity has a transparent quality, and therefore the transparent behaviour of the True Self is able to take over. Right behaviour is trackless, timeless, and in harmony with all other right behaviour.
You will have noticed that the first pair of Perfections relates to the body and outward behaviour. While they are developing, greed diminishes, and a sense of purity and space prevails.
This seems to make space within us; but, as yet, we do not know for what. We only accept that it seems there is something to be known, and that this something is essentially more important than anything which exists outside us.
Because the emblem at this stage is the Three–Fold Jewel [representing Buddha, Dharma, and Sacred Community] one’s standard of behaviour is that of a person in the constant presence of the Buddha. No energy need be frittered away on “what should I do?” One simply does whatever presents itself.
This is the way of Undertaking the Perfection of the Precepts, always remembering that they are Precepts, not commandments. One trains oneself. The aspirant will practise all the Perfections to the best of his ability, but will specialise in Precepts. Continuing in this way, the Path will unfold.
3] The Perfection Beyond Patient Acceptance — Kshānti [Skt]
Patient Acceptance means total acceptance of everything which happens to us and around us; all the suffering of life as it is. Can we, like Marcus Aurelius, accept that everything that happens, happens right?
It means completely ridding ourselves of any such ideas as: “Why should it happen to me?” “Why are there wars?” Such questions as these are of no practical use.
This is the point where we must stop thinking: “I know better than the universe.” It is worse than useless to think: “Life should be like this” … “People should do so–and–so.” Life is as it is: each person is as he is. To think someone should be otherwise is just pasting up a picture that I happen to prefer; but am I so lacking in humility as to think the whole universe is out of step rather than me? Yes, unfortunately, sometimes I am! But — it is no use saying “I should be more tolerant,” because I am not. It is far more useful to try and accept myself as I am, rather than to make artificial standards. The idea of ‘should’ leads us into so much trouble.
The Way of the True Self is to accept, to forgive, and to be tolerant. The True Self knows that the Universe is as it is. All living beings have their existence on and through other living beings, and the miraculous interdiffusion of many these hierarchies of beings is quite beyond our understanding at this stage. It becomes us to show a little natural humility and accept that we do not know cosmic answers. Our training is to accept full responsibility for the way in which we re–act to each event, and to start recognising our own part in causing events to happen. There is no such person as ‘they’ who do anything. We do it.
Yet, paradoxically enough, once we accept that ‘I’ [my greedy ego] can never understand cosmic events; when we have undergone long, painful self–training; when the True Self is allowed to reflect in the mirror of his transparency and illumination arises — then, surprisingly, even cosmic trends start to become clear. [The symbol of this Perfection is the Mirror.]
It takes many lives to study these Perfections, let alone to meditate and try to practise such a way of action in daily life. The more we accept life itself as a gift, and the shaping of it as the result of our previous actions, the more pity is aroused for beings who cannot understand. Then we make an even greater effort to practise this Acceptance amongst all the other Perfections as the Path continues to unfold.
4] The Perfection Beyond Vigour — Vīrya [Skt]
While practising the Perfection of Patient Acceptance our pity is aroused for beings who understand less and are therefore shut up in the prison of birth and death. Then arises Great Vigour, and the bodhisattva redoubles his search for Truth and for skilful ways in which to help mankind.
The Feminine, receptive quality of the stage of Patient Acceptance is balanced by a masculinity in the Perfection of Vigour, for the bodhisattva needs strength and determination. All sense of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ must be burnt away. The symbol for this Transcendent Perfection is a Lance with a Flaming Point and, at this stage of constant mindfulness and energetic cultivation of Vigour, a Glowing Wisdom arises in the bodhisattva with which he begins to burn away all desires and passions.
Do not think that vigour and determination can give the religious experience of meditation, but, as Krishnamurti says, it sets the scene in which a space can more easily be found.
The Perfection of Vigour includes sincerity and mindfulness of fundamental principles during ordinary, everyday activities. The aspirant will practise all Perfections to the best of his ability, but will specialise in Vigour; continuing in this way, the Path will unfold.
5] The Perfection Beyond Rapt Meditation — Dhyāna [Skt]
The Perfection of Rapt Meditation together with the Perfection of Wisdom Insight form an inseparable pair.
This fifth Perfection is a single–pointed Rapt Meditation; a Virtue of Omnipotent Devotion which is capable of invoking a vision of the Heart. Only from this still centre can arise the true Wisdom of Insight; sometimes it takes the form of a tiny flicker of: “Oh, yes, of course!” such as we often experience; sometimes it is a twinkle, a flashing spark, or even one of the rare and wonderful experiences which take place like sheet lightning.
The symbol of this Perfection is the Hands in Meditation Position. Each person who sincerely meditates experiences true insights over and over again, ever deeper in quality, but the taste remains the same. These insights lead to an ever–increasing awareness of unity, and to a feeling of the relative unimportance of all seemingly separate things.
6] The Perfection Beyond Insight Wisdom — Prajñā [Skt]
This Perfection follows the Perfection of Rapt Meditation, it is the thorough penetration into a problem and the absorbing of everything related to it. It begins with little things: perhaps you are reading a book and something suddenly flashes; you may look for the place again and not find it, but for a second, you knew. Something happened outside time and space, and for a flash the True Self looked out through your eyes. That is why the brain cannot register what has happened.
There are many flickers of Insight at all levels, including ours.
At lower levels the Wisdom of Insight, following Rapt Meditation, gives sudden insight into a phrase or thought [not the words, but what the words mean — word and meaning conjoin]. The symbol for this stage is a Double-edged Sword which cuts right through all false ideas. At the highest stage under the Bodhi Tree, this Perfection of Wisdom Insight will be transformed into omniscience.
Between these stages are many levels, many spirals of the Path during which all of the Perfections are practised over and over again. Each time one arrives at this level, the Sixth, it is possible to attain a glimpse of Reality. Reality, of course, endures unchangingly, but our glimpses vary in keeping with individual capacity.
We need to pass the great gulf between ‘self–centred’ and ‘not self–centred,’ and reach the point where Perfection of Insight shows us that all hearts are reflections of the Heart of the True Self, as well as the Heart of the Cosmos itself. Just because of this identity and inter–diffusion, when one person has either a tiny sparkle or a great searing vision, a catalytic change in the heart affects the whole universe.
The True Self never departs from its own nature. It always has been, is, and will be the spiritual REALITY of our essential being.
Insight shows the emptiness of all conceptual positions and taken–for–granted ideas. It shows the transparency of each relative thing, and solidity gives way to a sense of wonder.
The Middle Way of Buddhism, esoterically speaking, is the Way of the Heart: when there are no edges or obstacles, then the heart abides nowhere, and is free.
— BEYOND THE SIX ARE FOUR MORE —
Insight Wisdom, when achieved, opens out into a different dimension, and then into four more Perfections which must also be fostered and trained.
7] The Perfection Beyond Skilful Means — Upāya [Skt]
Skilful Means is the expression of the Bodhisattva’s love for all beings, and has two aspects.
The inner aspect of Skilful Means requires us to develop the new insight. Now I know that indeed nothing is separate, I see that I stand in my own shadow. My true nature is that of the Higher Self, but egoistic greed, hatred and stupidity lie between us; therefore, I cannot live up to the vision of the heart in everyday life, and must skilfully learn means of purifying the personality so that body, heart, speech and action become more in correspondence with the True Self.
The outer aspect of Skilful Means is that, by virtue of the Vow, whatever has been learned, when the time is ripe, must be passed on. How is it possible to pass on knowledge of the heart which cannot be put into words? Impossible as the task is, it must be attempted. To live the truth is the only answer; but until we can aspire to that, at a low level one might call the outer aspect ‘Teaching Aids.’
The Inner and Outer aspects of Skilful Means can never be truly separated, because the more we try to teach, the more we cannot help but learn. Wisdom and Compassion are freely convertible. The symbol of this Perfection is the Noose.
8] The Perfection Beyond the Vow — Pranidhāna [Skt]
The Eighth Stage is a very Great Virtue — The Vow. Now the transcendent motive of being is constantly refined, re–assessed and renewed.
What kind of Vow did the young, would–be bodhisattva make in the beginning? Perhaps something like: ‘I will do my best to attain enlightenment for the salvation of every living being;’ but now, in the ever–changing dimensions of spiritual insight, the world is seen with new eyes and — there are no other beings to save. All is One.
Here lies the greatest paradox of all. The true Bodhisattva knows that there are no separate parts of the whole, and at the same time he expends his utmost being, life after life, ensuring that each separate part gradually gains deeper and deeper awareness of the light.
Bodhisattvas who complete this stage are irreversible. Nothing can ever stop one who holds the Vow centred in his heart, and now the Vow is the heart; the great acceptance has taken place. This stage marks the point of No Return.
The symbol of this Perfection is the Water-Filter [or Sifter].
9] The Perfection Beyond Power [or Force of Purpose] — Bala [Skt]
Here the Bodhisattva must create all needful attributes for fulfilling the Vow. He will recognise the Ten Great Perfections as Universal Forces, and by touching the well–spring of Living Origin he will acquire true Authority and Creativity. This is the Power which puts aside karma, defilements, conceit and indolence. It brings about the tranquillity essential for enlightenment. The Symbol here is the Lion-Cub, ready to develop into a full-grown Lion and emit the roar of the Dharma.
10] The Perfection Beyond Cognition of Enlightenment — Jñāna [Skt]
This Transcendent Cognition is the undying knowledge, the enlightenment of a Buddha. We cannot imagine what the beyondness or Perfection of that might represent!
Young bodhisattvas, at the early stage of Acceptance, know that there is something to know. The Bodhisattva at the stage of Insight knows. Now arises the man who has known. Experience is rooted within him, and the whole of his living being displays it. Each word and action is in itself the whole truth, leaving no karmic trace behind. When he demonstrates the Law, all living beings, great and small, are nourished, and the fruit of this stage is known as ‘Dharma-Meghā’ — attainment of the fertilising powers of the Rain-Cloud of the Law, and therefore he holds as his Symbol the Book of the Dharma.
NOTE D — CONSCIOUSNESS
In order to understand The Voice of the Silence it is helpful to consider the views of ‘Mind’ and ‘Consciousness’ which originated in the Yogācāra School, and are still held by all Buddhist Esoteric Schools. Discernment of levels of Consciousness is essential to spiritual training.
The 8 Cognitions and 5 Wisdoms of the Yogācāra School
1 - 5: That which is cognised by the 5 Senses.
This awareness, by meditation, can be turned over into the Wisdom of Perfect Action. [Motivates action and non-action of Behaviour.]
6: That which is cognised by the intellectual card-indexing brain.
This awareness includes the sense cognitions, and compares them with memories. This is the Conscious Mind, to which belongs time. It is the ordinary, rational, relative mind which normally plans future action based on these cognitions. It knows something is making these plans and conceives Manas as the Ego.
This awareness, by meditation, can be turned over into the Wisdom of Profound Observation and Discrimination. [Gives understanding of past, present & future, including world trends.]
7: That which is cognised by the ego-sense or will: Mind or Manas.
Manas has no being of its own; it is simply the union — a position between the ordinary individual view-point and the Universal Consciousness.
This awareness functions in two ways, outer and inner:
1] When turned outwards it is the seat of intellectual operations and emotions [all that forms the human personality]. It is then the consciousness of the brain, and may be termed the ego or individual ‘self.’ The Lower Mind.
2] When turned inwards it is the intuitive mind, or spiritual consciousness. It is then conscious of Ālaya, the wholeness, and may be termed the SELF, or the True Self which has the adamantine universal quality of Truth. The Higher Mind.
Manas in its outward aspect is, of course, invaluable for everyday living, and must be cherished and trained accordingly. However, in order to profit fully by the inner aspect which leads to enlightenment, we must remember that “The Self of Matter and the Self of Spirit can never meet.”
The great Zen teacher, Daisetz Suzuki, tells us:
“Manas has no own-being, no body of its own nor marks by which it can be differentiated. It belongs to both sides.
Universal Mind is its cause and support, but it is evolved along with the notion of an ego and what belongs to it and upon which it reflects.”
This awareness is related to what Dr Carl Jung terms ‘the Personal Unconscious.’ When this is perfectly understood it can be turned over by meditation into the Wisdom of Equality. [When choosing falls away.]
8: That which is cognised by Ālaya.
This is the Fundamental Universal Consciousness, which is all-existent before, during and after manifestation, and to it sentient beings have access in meditation.
Ālaya means the “store-house,” implying that this consciousness is the reservoir preserving the potential psychic energy resulting from all ideas, memories, and desires. It holds all primordial forms, the archetypes, the seeds or germs of all things. It is also the fundamental cause of both samsāra and nirvana.
This awareness may relate to what Jung terms ‘The Unconscious.’ By meditation it can be turned over into the Wisdom of the Great Mirror. This reflects the Dharma-Realm Wisdom of the Centre:
The Centre is symbolised by crossed vajras.
It represents the warp and woof which every universe rests upon.
Wherever akasha prevails, consciousness pervades.
Wherever consciousness pervades, the Dharmakaya pervades.
In that state is enlightenment gained.
NOTE E — ORIGINS
Basic Mahayana Thought
In early times there were two main streams of thought in the Mahayana. All modern Esoteric Schools of Buddhism are soundly based in both. They are not in essence contradictory: one gives the Principle and the other the Practice.
Mādhyamika School — ‘The Middle Way School.’
A school founded about 150 AD by Nāgārjuna and Āryadeva. It taught: All that can be thought about and known is relative and ‘void,’ it cannot be relied on, it is not ‘Being–in–itself.’ Only when all thoughts, wordiness and relativity are cleared away, can the Dharma reveal itself.
Although this School disappeared from India after 1000 AD, its leading ideas have survived up to the present day in the Vedanta system, into which they were incorporated by Gaudapada and Sankara, its founders.
Yogācāra School — ‘The Yoga School.’
A school founded about 400 A.D. by Asanga and Vasubandhu. It described the Absolute as ‘Buddha-Mind,’ or as ‘Mind,’ ‘Thought’ or ‘Consciousness.’ This might be called a metaphysical Idealism according to which consciousness creates its objects out of its own inner potentialities. Mind can, however, exist quite by itself without any object. This School also elaborated formulations of how Mind works, and some of these practical aids are well worth studying. [See ‘Consciousness,’ Note D on pages 52-53.]
Origin of Esoteric Schools
The original Esoteric School of Buddhism was founded in South India by Tantric Nāgārjuna of the ‘Ārya School’ [Yogācāra], probably around the middle of the 7th century. It was based on the MahāVairocana Sūtra, and became very famous as it steadily spread:
Northwards — overland to the great Buddhist University of Nālanda; later it reached primitive Nepal and Tibet, thereby becoming contaminated by the local Bön Shamanism.
Westwards — over the ocean to China, reaching it in 719 AD at the height of the Tang Dynasty civilisation. The Chinese were already familiar with other Buddhist Schools, and treated the new teaching with great respect. Two generations later this purer teaching of the Esoteric School passed to Japan. It is there known as ‘Shingon,’ and can be studied free of the sexual ‘yab-yum’ connotations and other ‘left-handed’ Tantra of Tibet.
ORIGIN OF THE TEXT
The Voice of the Silence is undoubtedly a true teaching of the Esoteric School, as confirmed by the 9th Panchen [or Tashi] Lama and the present Dalai Lama.
However, the source is possibly older than Tibetan.
Madame Blavatsky wrote to her sister, Mme de Zhelihovsky, in February 1890:
“The Voice of the Silence, tiny book though it is, is simply becoming the Theosophists’ bible. They are grand aphorisms, indeed.
I may say so, because you know I did not invent them. I only translated them from Telugu, the oldest South-Indian dialect. There are 3 treatises, about morals and the moral principles of the Mongolian and Dravidian mysteries……”
About 250 miles from Adyar, Madras, in Southern India are the ancient ruins of Nāgārjunakonda, where the ancient Tantric School of Nāgārjuna was founded. Telugu, one of the five great Dravidian languages, is spoken in both of these areas.