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THE TEMPLE OF SOLOMON
THE KING

IV.

THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH

In place of producing a dissolution of the individual Âtman in the universal Âtman, the method of Buddha produced a submersion of Karma in the bournless ocean of Nibbâna.

In Chapter I of Book II of "The Questions of King Milinda" Nâgasena lays down that he who escapes rebirth does so through Wisdom (Paññâ) and Reasoning (Yonisomanasikâra) and by other "good Qualities." The Reason grasps the object and Wisdom cuts it off, whilst the good qualities seem to be the united action of these two, thus we get Good Conduct (Sîlam), Faith (Saddhâ), Perseverance (Viriyam), Mindfulness (Sati) and Meditation (Samâdhi), all of which rather than being separate states are but qualities of the one state of Meditation at various stages in that state of Samâdhi which Nâgasena calls "the leader" ... "All good qualities have meditation as their chief, then incline to it, lead up towards it, are as so many slopes up the side of the mountain of meditation."223 Just a Yama, Niyama, Prânâyama, Pratyâhâra, Dhâranâ and Dhyâna are of Samâdhi. Further Nâgasena says "Cultivate in yourselves O Bhikkhus, the habit of meditation. He who is established therein knows things as they really are."224

Under Faith, is classed Tranquillization (Sampasâdana) and {142} Aspiration (Sampakkhandana). Under Perseverance, the rendering of Support tension (Paggaha). Under Mindfulness, Repetition (Apilâpana) and "keeping up" (Upaganhana). Under Good Conduct, the whole of the Royal Road from Aspirant to Arahat The five Mortal Powers (Indriyabalâin); The seven Conditions of Arahatship (Bogghangâ); The Path, readiness of memory, (Satipatthâna); The four kinds of Right Exertion (Sammappadhâna); The four Stages of Ecstasy (Ghâna); The eight forms of spiritual Emancipation (Vimokhâ); The four modes of Self-Concentration (Samâdhi);225 The eight states of Intense contemplation (Samâpatti).

It would be waste of time to compare the above states with the states of the Hindu Yoga, or enumerate other similarities which exist by the score, but one point we must not overlook, and that is The Noble Eightfold Path, which contains the very essence of Gotama’s teaching, as he said:

There is a Middle Path, O monks, the Two Extremes avoiding, by the Tathâgata attained: a Path which makes for Insight and gives Understanding, which leads to Peace of Mind, to the Higher Wisdom, to the Great Awakening, to Nibbâna!226

Let us now examine these eight truths.227 The first is:

I. Right Comprehension or Right Views.

Right comprehension is the first practical step in carrying {143} out the Four Noble Truths, that is in the understanding of the Three Characteristics the three fundamental principles of Buddhism. Besides representing Malkuth, the four Noble Truths (viewed in an elementary manner) represent the four lower Sephiroth Malkuth, Yesod, Hod and Netzach, the state of Right Views carrying with its attainment a transcendency over all wrong views, that is to say all crude and unskilful views, all dogmas, assertions, all doubts, which are as unfertile as the elements are when uncombined, by applying to them what we have termed elsewhere the Pyrrhonic Serpent of Selection.

The attainment of Right Views is arrived at in three successive steps. (1) The Aspirant contemplates the ills of life; (2) he meditates upon them; (3) by strenuous will power he commences to strip the mind of the Cause of sorrow, namely Change.

During this stage a series of humiliations must be undergone, and, not only must the Nephesch be conquered, but also the lower states of the Ruach, until the illumination of the Second Noble Truth of the Eightfold Path shatter the step of Right Views which the Aspirant is standing upon just as the fire of God consumed the Elemental Pyramid the Tower of the Taro. Having attained to mastery over Right Comprehension the aspirant begins to see things not as they are but in their right proportions. His views become balanced, he enters Tiphareth, the Solar Plexus, "He sees naked facts behind the garments of hypotheses in which men have clothed them, and by which they have become obscured; and he perceives that behind the changing and conflicting opinions of men there are {144} permanent principles which constitute the eternal Reality in the Cosmic Order."228

In Tiphareth the aspirant attains to no less a state than that of conversation with his Holy Guardian Angel, his Jechidah, "The permanent principle behind the conflicting opinions." Once Right comprehension has been attained to, he has discovered a Master who will never desert him until he become one with him.

II. Right Resolutions or Right Aspirations.

Having perceived the changing nature of all things, even of men’s minds, and having acquired that glorified vision by which he can distinguish between the permanent and the impermanent, he aspires to the attainment of a perfect knowledge of that which is beyond change and sorrow, and resolves that he will, by strenuous effort,229 reach to the peace beyond; to where his heart may find rest, his mind become steadfast, untroubled, and serene.230

At this stage the Bodhi Satva of Work commences to revolve within the heart of the aspirant and to break up the harmony of the elements only to attune his aspirations for a time to a discord nobler than all harmony, and eventually to that Peace which passeth Understanding.

III. Right Speech.

Right Speech is a furthering of Right Aspirations. It consists of a discipline wherein a man not only converses with his Holy Guardian Angel, but outwardly and inwardly lives up to His holy conversation, turning his whole life into {145} one stupendous magical exercise to enter that Silence which is beyond all thought. IV. "Right Acts or Right Conduct." Having become obedient to his Holy Guardian Angel (the aspirant’s Spiritual Guru) or to the Universal Law as the Buddhist prefers to call it, man naturally enters the state of Right Conduct, which brings with it supernormal or magical powers. Self is now put aside from action as well as from speech, and the striver only progresses by a stupendous courage and endurance. The canonical Buddhists however strenuously deny the value of these magical powers, Iddhis or Siddhis, and attribute the purification of the striver, the attainment of the state of "stainless deeds," to the great love wherein he must now enshrine all things. In detail the differences between Buddhism and the Yoga are verbal; in essence, man, at this stage, becomes the lover of the World, and love is the wand of the Magician, that wand which conquers and subdues, vivifies, fructifies and replenishes the worlds, and like the Caduceus of Hermes it is formed of two twining snakes.

V. Right Livelihood.

Up to this stage man has been but a disciple to his Holy Guardian Angel, but now he grows to be his equal, and in the flesh becomes a flame-shod Adept whose white feet are not soiled by the dust and mud of earth. He has gained perfect control over his body and his mind; and not only are his speech and actions right, but his very life is right, in fact his actions have become a Temple wherein he can at will {146} withdraw himself to pray. He has become a priest unto himself his own Guardian, he may administer to himself the holy sacrament of God in Truth and in Right, he has become Exempt from the shackles of Earth. He is the Supreme Man, one step more he enters the Sanctuary of God and becomes one with the Brotherhood of Light.

Up to this stage progress has meant Work, work terrible and Titanic, one great striving after union which roughly may be compared to the five methods of Yoga.

From this fifth stage work gives place to knowledge, Qabalistically the aspirant enters Daäth.

VI. Right Effort. Man is now Master of Virtue and Vice and no longer their slave, servant, enemy or friend. The LVX has descended upon him, and just as the dew of the moon within the Sahasâra Chakkra falling upon the two-petaled Ajna-lotus causes the leaves to open out, so now does this celestial light lift him out and beyond the world, as wings lift a bird from the fields of earth, encompassing him, extending to his right hand and to his left like the wings of the Solar Globe which shut out from the ruby ball the twin serpents which twine beneath it.231

... Having purified himself, he understands the perfect life; being a doer of Holiness, he is a knower of Holiness; having practised Truth, he has become accomplished in the knowledge of Truth. He perceives the working of the inner Law of things, and is loving, wise, enlightened. And being loving, wise and (147) enlightened, he does everything with a wise purpose, in the full knowledge of what he is doing, and what he will accomplish. He wastes no drachm of energy, but dies everything with calm directness of purpose, and with penetrating intelligence. This is the stage of Masterly Power in which effort is freed from strife and error, and perfect tranquility of mind is maintained under all circumstances. He who has reached it, accomplishes everything upon which he sets his mind.232

VII. Right Thought.

So filled with Understanding is he now that he becomes, as it were, the actual mind of the universe, nothing remains uncomprehended; he comes face to face with his goal, he sees HIMSELF as one who gazes into a mirror.

VIII. Right Meditation, or the Right State of a Peaceful Mind.

The glass vanishes and with it the reflection, the illusion of Mara or of Mâyâ. He is Reality! He is Truth! He is Âtman! He is God. Then Reality vanishes. Truth vanishes. Âtman vanishes. God vanishes. He himself vanishes. He is past; he is present; he is future. He is here, he is there. He is everything. he is nowhere. He is nothing. he is blessed, he has attained to the Great Deliverance. He IS; he IS NOT. He is one with Nibbâna.233 {148-149}

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Index | The Hermit | The Agnostic Position | The Vedanta | Attainment By Yoga | The Yogas | The Constitution of the Human Organism | The Chakkras | The Doctrines of Buddhism | The Noble Eightfold Path | The Writings of Truth

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX

223 "The Questions of King Milinda," ii, 1, 7, 9, 13.

224 Ibid., 13.

225 It will be noticed that this is the third sense in which this hard-working word is employed.

226 The Sutta of the Foundation of the Kingdom of Truth.

227 [We respect the following noble attempt to rewrite Buddhism in the Universal Cipher, not unaware that the flatulent Buddhists of to-day will eructate their cacodylic protests. An orthodox Buddhist account is to be found in "The Sword of Song," by A. Crowley, article "Science and Buddhism."—ED.]

228 "The Noble Eightfold Path," by James Allen, in "Buddhism," vol. i, No. 2, p. 213. A most illuminating essay on this difficult subject.

229 The same as the "inflamed by prayer" of Abramelin.

230 Ibid., p. 213.

231 The two serpents and central rod of the Caduceus are in Yoga represented by the Ida, Pingala and Sushumnâ. The wings closed, to the Ajna-lotus; open and displaying the solar disk, to the Sahasâra Chakkra.

232 Ibid., p. 216.

233 Another and perhaps a more comprehensive way of attributing the Noble Eightfold Path to the Tree of Life is as follows: The first and second steps Right Comprehension and Right Resolution, may from their purging nature fitly be compared to Yama and Niyama and also to the Earthly and Lunar natures of Malkuth and Yesod. The third and fourth Right Speech and Right Action, in their yearning and striving are by nature as unbalanced as Hod and Netzach which are represented by Fire and Water and by Mercury and Venus respectively. Then comes the fifth stage of poise Right Livelihood; this is also a stage of exemption from worldly motion, and a stage which brings all below it to a finality and which may be compared to Tiphereth in its solar Aspect or to the Manipura Chakkra. The sixth and seventh stages Right Effort and Right Thought, are stages of "definitely directed power" closely related to Geburah and Chesed Mars and Jupiter. And then finally comes the eighth stage Right Meditation, again a summary of the three stages below it, which may be compared as the Three Supernals or the Sahasâra Chakkra. [Compare with the essay "Science and Buddhism" in the "Sword of Song" by A. Crowley, and the writings of Ananda Metteya. Here are then three men who have worked both severally and collectively, who yet apparently hold irreconcilable views as to what Buddhism is. What better proof is needed of the fact that all intellectual study ultimates in mental chaos?]