Fragments from the Book of the Golden Precepts
The Two Paths
1. And now, O Teacher of Compassion, point thou the way to other men. Behold, all those who knocking for admission, await [sic] in ignorance and darkness, to see the gate of the Sweet Law flung open!
This begins with the word “And,” rather as if it were a sequel to “The Voice of the Silence.” It should not be assumed that this is the case. However, assuming that the first Fragment explains the Path as far as Master of the Temple, it is legitimate to regard this second Fragment, so called, as the further instruction; for the Master of the Temple must leave his personal progress to attend to that of other people, a task from which, I am bound to add, even the most patient of Masters feels at times a tendency to revolt!
2. The voice of the Candidates:
Shalt not thou, Master of thine own Mercy, reveal the doctrine of the Heart? Shalt thou refuse to lead thy Servants unto the Path of Liberation?
One is compelled to remark a certain flavour of sentimentality in the exposition of the “Heart doctrine,” perhaps due to the increasing age and weight of the Authoress. The real reason of the compassion (so-called) of the Master is a perfectly practical and sensible one. It has nothing to do with the beautiful verses, “It is only the sorrows of others Cast their shadows over me.” The Master has learnt the first noble truth: “Everything is sorrow,” and he has learnt that there is no such thing as separate existence. Existence is one. He knows these things as facts, just as he knows that two and two make four. Consequently, although he has found the way of escape for that fraction of consciousness which he once called “I,” and although he knows that not only that consciousness, but all other consciousnesses, are but part of an illusion, yet he feels that his own task is not accomplished while there remains any fragment of consciousness thus unemancipated from illusion. Here we get into very deep metaphysical difficulties, but that cannot be helped, for the Master of the Temple knows that any statement, however simple, involves metaphysical difficulties which are not only difficult, but insoluble. On the plane of which Reason is Lord, all antinomies are irreconcilable. It is impossible for any one below the grade of Magister Templi even to begin to comprehend the resolution of them. This fragment of the imaginary “Book of the Golden Precepts” must be studied without ever losing sight of this fact.
3. Quoth the Teacher:
The Paths are two; the great Perfections three; six are the Virtues that transform the body into the Tree of Knowledge.
The “Tree of Knowledge” is of course another euphemism, the “Dragon Tree” representing the uniting of the straight and the curved. A further description of the Tree under which Gautama sat and attained emancipation is unfit for this elementary comment. Aum Mani Padme Hum.
4. Who shall approach them?
Who shall first enter them?
Who shall first hear the doctrine of two Paths in one, the truth unveiled about the Secret Heart? The Law which, shunning learning, teaches Wisdom, reveals a tale of woe.
This expression “two Paths in one” is intended to convey a hint that this fragment has a much deeper meaning than is apparent. The key should again be sought in Alchemy.
5. Alas, alas, that all men should possess Alaya, be one with the great Soul, and that possessing it, Alaya should so little avail them!
6. Behold how like the moon, reflected in the tranquil waves, Alaya is reflected by the small and by the great, is mirrored in the tiniest atoms, yet fails to reach the heart of all. Alas, that so few men should profit by the gift, the priceless boon of learning truth, the right perception of existing things, the Knowledge of the non existent!
This is indeed a serious metaphysical complaint. The solution of it is not to be found in reason.
7. Saith the Pupil:
O Teacher, what shall I do to reach to Wisdom?
O Wise one, what, to gain perfection?
8. Search for the Paths. But, O Lanoo, be of clean heart before thou startest on thy journey. Before thou takest thy first step learn to discern the real from the false, the ever-fleeting from the everlasting. Learn above all to separate Head-learning from Soul-Wisdom, the “Eye” from the “Heart” doctrine.
The Authoress of these treatises is a little exacting in the number of things that you have to do before you take your first step, most of them being things which more nearly resemble the difficulties of the last step. But by learning to distinguish the “real from the false” is only meant a sort of elementary discernment between things that are worth having and those that are not worth having, and, of course, the perception will alter with advance in knowledge. By “Head-learning” is meant the contents of the Ruach (mind) or manahs. Chiah is subconsciousness in its best sense, that subliminal which is sublime. The “Eye” doctrine then means the exoteric, the “Heart” doctrine the esoteric. Of course, in a more secret doctrine still, there is an Eye Doctrine which transcends the Heart Doctrine as that transcends this lesser Eye Doctrine.
9. Yea, ignorance is like unto a closed and airless vessel; the soul a bird shut up within. It warbles not, nor can it stir a feather; but the songster mute and torpid sits, and of exhaustion dies.
The Soul, ātman, despite its possession of the attributes omni science, omnipotence, omnipresence, etc., is entirely bound and blindfolded by ignorance. The metaphysical puzzle to which this gives rise cannot be discussed here—it is insoluble by reason, though one may call attention to the inherent incommensurability of a postulated absolute with an observed relative.
10. But even ignorance is better than Head-learning with no Soul-wisdom to illuminate and guide it.
The word “better” is used rather sentimentally, for, as “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” so it is better to be a madman than an idiot. There is always a chance of putting wrong right. As, however, the disease of the age is intellectualism, this lesson is well to teach. Numerous sermons on this point will be found in many of the writings of Frater Perdurabo.
11. The seeds of Wisdom cannot sprout and grow in airless space. To live and reap experience the mind needs breadth and depth and points to draw it towards the Diamond Soul. Seek not those points in māyä’s realm; but soar beyond illusions, search the eternal and the changeless SAT, mistrusting fancy’s false suggestions.
Compare what is said in Book 4, Part II, about the Sword. In the last part of the verse the adjuration is somewhat obvious, and it must be remembered that with progress the realm of Maya constantly expands as that of sat diminishes. In orthodox Buddhism this process continues indefinitely. There is also the resolution SAT = ASAT.
12. For mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects. It needs the gentle breezes of Soul-Wisdom to brush away the dust of our illusions. Seek, O Beginner, to blend thy Mind and Soul.
The charge is to eliminate rubbish from the Mind, and teaches that Soul-wisdom is the selective agent. But these Fragments will be most shamefully misinterpreted if a trace of sentimentality is allowed to creep in. “Soul-wisdom” does not mean “piety” and “nobility” and similar conceptions, which only flourish where truth is permanently lost, as in England. Soul-wisdom here means the Will. You should eliminate from your mind anything which does not subserve your real purpose. It was, however, said in verse 11 that the “mind needs breadth,” and this also is true, but if all the facts known to the Thinker are properly coordinated and connected causally, and by necessity, the ideal mind will be attained, for although complex it will be unified. And if the summit of its pyramid be the Soul, the injunction in this verse 12 to the Beginner will be properly observed.
13. Shun ignorance, and likewise shun illusion. Avert thy face from world deceptions; mistrust thy senses, they are false. But within thy body—the shrine of thy sensations—seek in the Impersonal for the “eternal man”; and having sought him out, look inward: thou art Buddha.
“Shun ignorance”: Keep on acquiring facts.
“Shun illusion”: Refer every fact to the ultimate reality. “Interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with your Soul.”
“Mistrust thy senses”: Avoid superficial judgment of the facts which they present to you.
The last paragraph gives too succinct a statement of the facts. The attainment of the knowledge of the Holy Guardian Angel is only the “next step.” It does not imply Buddhahood by any means.
14. Shun praise, O Devotee. Praise leads to self-delusion. Thy body is not self, thy SELF is in itself without a body, and either praise or blame affects it not.
Pride is an expansion of the Ego, and the Ego must be destroyed. Pride is its protective sheath, and hence exceptionally dangerous, but this is a mystical truth concerning the inner life. The Adept is anything but a “creeping Jesus.”
15. Self-gratulation, O disciple, is like unto a lofty tower, up which a haughty fool has climbed. Thereon he sits in prideful solitude and unperceived by any but himself.
Develops this: but, this treatise being for beginners as well as for the more advanced, a sensible commonplace reason is given for avoiding pride, in that it defeats its own object.
16. False learning is rejected by the Wise, and scattered to the Winds by the good Law. Its wheel revolves for all, the humble and the proud. The “Doctrine of the Eye” is for the crowd, the “Doctrine of the Heart” for the elect. The first repeat in pride: “Behold, I know,” the last, they who in humbleness have garnered, low confess, “thus have I heard.”
Continues the subject, but adds a further Word to discriminate from Daäth (knowledge) in favour of Binah (understanding).
17. “Great Sifter” is the name of the “Heart Doctrine,” O disciple.
This explains the “Heart Doctrine” as a process of continual elimination which refers both to the aspirants and to the thoughts.
18. The wheel of the good Law moves swiftly on. It grinds by night and day. The worthless husks it drives from out the golden grain, the refuse from the flour. The hand of karma guides the wheel; the revolutions mark the beatings of the karmic heart.
The subject of elimination is here further developed. The favourite Eastern image of the Wheel of the Good Law is difficult to Western minds, and the whole metaphor appears to us somewhat confused.
19. True knowledge is the flour, false learning is the husk. If thou would’st eat the bread of Wisdom, thy flour thou hast to knead with Amrita’s clear waters. But if thou kneadest husks with māyā’s dew, thou canst create but food for the black doves of death, the birds of birth, decay and sorrow.
“Amrita” means not only Immortality, but is the technical name of the Divine force which descends upon man, but which is burnt up by his tendencies, by the forces which make him what he is. It is also a certain Elixir which is the Menstruum of Harpocrates.
Amrita here is best interpreted thus, for it is in opposition to “māyā.” To interpret illusion is to make confusion more confused.
20. If thou art told that to become Arhan thou hast to cease to love all beings—tell them they lie.
Here begins an instruction against Asceticism, which has always been the stumbling block most dreaded by the wise. “Christ” said that John the Baptist came neither eating nor drinking, and the people called him mad. He himself came eating and drinking; and they called him a gluttonous man and a wine bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. The Adept does what he likes, or rather what he wills, and allows nothing to interfere with it, but because he is ascetic in the sense that he has no appetite for the stale stupidities which fools call pleasure, people expect him to refuse things both natural and necessary. Some people are so hypocritical that they claim their dislikes as virtue, and so the poor, weedy, unhealthy degenerate who cannot smoke because his heart is out of order, and cannot drink because his brain is too weak to stand it, or perhaps because his doctor has forbidden him to do either for the next two years, the man who is afraid of life, afraid to do anything lest some result should follow, is acclaimed as the best and greatest of mankind.
It is very amusing in England to watch the snobbishness, particularly of the middle classes, and their absurd aping of their betters, while the cream of the jest is that the morality to which the middle classes cling does not exist in good society. Those who have Master Souls refuse to be bound by anything but their own wills. They may refrain from certain actions because their main purpose would be interfered with, just as a man refrains from smoking if he is training for a boat-race; and those in whom cunning is stronger than self-respect sometimes dupe the populace by ostentatiously refraining from certain actions, while, however, they perform them in private. Especially of recent years, some Adepts have thought it wise either to refrain or to pretend to refrain from various things in order to increase their influence. This is a great folly. What is most necessary to demonstrate is that the Adept is not less but more than a man. It is better to hit your enemy and be falsely accused of malice, than to refrain from hitting him and be falsely accused of cowardice.
21. If thou art told that to gain liberation thou hast to hate thy mother and disregard thy son; to disavow thy father and call him “householder”; for man and beast all pity to renounce—tell them their tongue is false.
This verse explains that the Adept has no business to break up his domestic circumstances. The Rosicrucian Doctrine that the Adept should be a man of the world, is much nobler than that of the hermit. If the Ascetic Doctrine is carried to its logical conclusion, a stone is holier than Buddha himself. Read, however, “Liber CLVI.” (See The Equinox, also Book 4, part III, appendix vii
22. Thus teach the Tirthikas, the unbelievers.
It is a little difficult to justify the epithet “unbeliever”—it seems to me that on the contrary they are the believers. Scepticism is sword and shield to the wise man.
But by scepticism one does not mean the sneering infidelity of a Bolingbroke, or the gutter-snipe agnosticism of a Harry Boulter, which are crude remedies against a very vulgar colic.
23. If thou art taught that sin is born of action and bliss of absolute inaction, then tell them that they err. Non-permanence of human action, deliverance of mind from thralldom by the cessation of sin and faults, are not for “deva Egos.” Thus saith the “Doctrine of the Heart.”
This Doctrine is further developed. The term “deva Egos” is again obscure. The verse teaches that one should not be afraid to act. Action must be fought by reaction, and tyranny will never be overthrown by slavish submission to it. Cowardice is conquered by a course of exposing oneself unnecessarily to danger. The desire of the flesh has ever grown stronger for ascetics, as they endeavored to combat it by abstinence, and when with old age their functions are atrophied, they proclaim vaingloriously “I have conquered.” The way to conquer any desire is to under stand it, and freedom consists in the ability to decide whether or no you will perform any given action. The Adept should always be ready to abide by the toss of a coin, and remain absolutely indifferent as to whether it falls head or tail.
24. The Dharma (Law) of the “Eye” is the embodiment of the external, and the non-existing.
By “non-existing” is meant the lower Asat. The word is used on other occasions to mean an Asat which is higher than, and beyond, Sat.
25. The Dharma of the “Heart” is the embodiment of Bodhi, the Permanent and Everlasting.
“Bodhi” implies the root “Light” in its highest sense of L.V.X. But, even in Hindu Theory, παντα ρει.
26. The Lamp burns bright when wick and oil are clean. To make them clean a cleaner is required. The flame feels not the process of the cleaning. “The branches of the tree are shaken by the wind; the trunk remains unmoved.”
This verse again refers to the process of selection and elimination already described. The aspiration must be considered as unaf fected by this process except in so far as it becomes brighter and clearer in consequence of it. The last sentence seems again to refer to this question of asceticism. The Adept is not affected by his actions.
27. Both action and inaction may find room in thee; thy body agitated, thy mind tranquil, thy Soul as limpid as a mountain lake.
This repeats the same lesson. The Adept may plunge into the work of the world, and undertake his daily duties and pleasures exactly as another man would do, but he is not moved by them as the other man is.
28. Wouldst thou become a yogin of “Time’s Circle”?
Then, O Lanoo:
29. Believe thou not that sitting in dark forests, in proud seclusion and apart from men; believe thou not that life on roots and plants, that thirst assuaged with snow from the great Range—believe thou not, O Devotee, that this will lead thee to the goal of final liberation.
30. Think not that breaking bone, that rending flesh and muscle, unites thee to thy “silent Self.” Think not, that when the sins of thy gross form are conquered, O Victim of thy Shadows, thy duty is accomplished by nature and by man.
Once again the ascetic life is forbidden. It is moreover shown to be a delusion that the ascetic life assists liberation. The ascetic thinks that by reducing himself to the condition of a vegetable he is advanced upon the path of Evolution. It is not so. Minerals have no inherent power of motion save intramolecularly. Plants grow and move, though but little. Animals are free to move o every direction, and space itself is no hindrance to the higher principles of man. Advance is in the direction of more continuous and more untiring energy.
31. The blessed ones have scorned to do so. The Lion of the Law, the Lord of Mercy, perceiving the true cause of human woe, immediately forsook the sweet but selfish rest of quiet wilds. From Aranyani He became the Teacher of mankind. After Julai had entered the Nirvana, He preached on mount and plain, and held discourses in the cities, to devas, men and gods.
Reference is here made to the attainment of the Buddha. It was only after he had abandoned the Ascetic Life that he attained, and so far from manifesting that attainment by non-action, he created a revolution in India by attacking the Caste system, and by preaching his law created a karma so violent that even today its primary force is still active. The present “Buddha,” the Master Therion, is doing a similar, but even greater work, by His proclamation: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
32. Sow kindly acts and thou shalt reap their fruition. Inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin.
Thus saith the Sage.
This continues the diatribe against non-action, and points out that the Ascetic is entirely deluded when he supposes that doing nothing has no effect. To refuse to save life is murder.
33. Shalt thou abstain from action? Not so shall gain thy soul her freedom. To reach Nirvana one must reach Self-Knowledge, and Self-Knowledge is of loving deeds the child.
Continues the subject. The basis of knowledge is experience.
34. Have patience, Candidate, as one who fears no failure, courts no success. Fix thy Soul’s gaze upon the star whose ray thou art, the flaming star that shines within the lightless depths of ever-being, the boundless fields of the Unknown.
The Candidate is exhorted to patience and one-pointedness, and, further to an indifference to the result which comes of true confidence that that result will follow. Cf. Liber CCXX 1:44: “For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”
35. Have perseverance as one who doth for evermore endure. Thy shadows live and vanish; that which in thee shall live for ever, that which in thee knows, for it is knowledge, is not of fleeting life; it is the Man that was, that is, and will be, for whom the hour shall never strike.
Compare Lévi’s aphorism, “The Magician should work as though he had omnipotence at his command and eternity at his disposal.” Do not imagine that it matters whether you finish the task in this life or not. Go on quietly and steadily, unmoved by anything whatever.
36. If thou would’st reap sweet peace and rest, Disciple, sow with the seeds of merit the fields of future harvests. Accept the woes of birth.
Accept the Laws of Nature and work with them. Do not be always trying to take short cuts. Do not complain, and do not be afraid of the length of the Path. This treatise being for beginners, reward is offered. And—it is really worthwhile. One may find oneself in the Office of a Buddha.
- Yea, cried the Holy One, and from Thy spark will I the Lord kindle a great light; I will burn through the great city in the old and desolate land; I will cleanse it from its great impurity.
- And thou, O prophet, shalt see these things, and thou shalt heed them not.
- Now is the Pillar established in the Void; now is Asi fulfilled of Asar; now is Hoor let down into the Animal Soul of Things like a fiery star that falleth upon the darkness of the earth.
- Through the midnight thou art dropt, O my child, my conqueror, my sword-girt captain, O Hoor! and they shall find thee as a black gnarl’d glittering stone, and they shall worship thee.
37. Step out from sunlight into shade, to make more room for others. The tears that water the parched soil of pain and sorrow, bring forth the blossoms and the fruits of karmic retribution. Out of the furnace of man’s life and its black smoke, winged flames arise, flames purified, that soaring onward, ‘neath the karmic eye, weave in the end the fabric glorified of the three vestures of the Path.
Now the discourse turns to the question of the origin of Evil. The alchemical theory is here set forth. The first matter of the work is not so worthy as the elixir, and it must pass through the state of the Black Dragon to attain thereto.
38. These vestures are: Nirmānakāya, Sambhogkāya, Dharmakāya, robe Sublime.
The Nirmanakaya body is the “Body of Light” as described in Book 4, Part III. But it is to be considered as having been developed to the highest point possible that is compatible with incarnation.
The Sambhogkaya has “three perfections” added, so-called. These would prevent incarnation.
The Dharmakaya body is what may be described as the final sublimation of an individual. It is a bodiless flame on the point of mingling with the infinite flame. A description of the state of one who is in this body is given in “The Hermit of Æsopus Island.”
Such is a rough account of these “robes” according to Mme. Blavatsky. She further adds that the Dharmakaya body has to be renounced by anyone who wants to help humanity. Now, helping humanity is a very nice thing for those who like it, and no doubt those who do so deserve well of their fellows. But there is no reason whatever for imagining that to help humanity is the only kind of work worth doing in this universe. The feeling o desire to do so is a limitation and a drag just as bad as any other and it is not at ah necessary to make all this fuss about Initiator and ah the rest of it. The universe is exceedingly elastic, especially for those who are themselves elastic. Therefore, though o. course one cannot remember humanity when one is wearing the Dharmakaya body, one can hang the Dharamakaya body in one’s magical wardrobe, with a few camphor-balls to keep the moths out, and put it on from time to time when feeling in need of refreshment. In fact, one who is helping humanity is constantly in need of a wash and brush-up from time to time. There i5 nothing quite so contaminating as humanity, especially Theosophists, as Mme. Blavatsky herself discovered. But the best of all illustrations is death, in which ah things unessential to progress are burned up. The plan is much better than that of the Elixir of Life. It is perfectly ah right to use this Elixir for energy and youth, but despite all, impressions keep on cluttering up the mind, and once in a while it is certainly a splendid thing for everybody to have the Spring Cleaning of death.
With regard to one’s purpose in doing anything at ahi, it depends on the nature of one’s Star. Blavatsky was horribly hampered by the Trance of Sorrow. She could see nothing else in the world but helping humanity. She takes no notice whatever of the question of progress through other planets.
Geocentricity is a very pathetic and amusingly childish characteristic of the older schools. They are always talking about the ten thousand worlds, but it is only a figure of speech. They do not believe in them as actual realities. It is one of the regular Oriental tricks to exaggerate all sorts of things in order to impress other people with one’s knowledge, and then to forget altogether to weld this particular piece of information on to the wheel of the Law. Consequently, ah Blavatsky’s talk about the sublimity of the Nirmanakaya body is no more than the speech of a politician who is thanking a famous general for having done some of his dirty work for him.
39. The Shangna robe, ‘tis true, can purchase hight eternal. The Shangna robe alone gives the Nirvāna of destruction; it stops rebirth, but, O Lanoo, it also kills—compassion. No longer can the perfect Buddhas, who don the Dharmakāya glory, help man’s salvation. Alas! shall SELVES be sacrificed to Self, mankind, unto the weal of Units?
The sum of misery is diminished only in a minute degree by the attainment of a pratyeka-buddha. The tremendous energy acquired is used to accomplish the miracle of destruction. If the keystone of an arch is taken away the other stones are not promoted to a higher place. They fall. [A Pratykeka-Buddha is one who attains emancipation for himself alone.—Ed.]
(“Nirvana of destruction”! Nirvana means ‘cessation’. What messy English!)
40. Know, O beginner, this is the Open PATH, the way to selfish bliss, shunned by the Bodhisattvas of the “Secret Heart,” the Buddhas of Compassion.
The words “selfish bliss” must not be taken in a literal sense. It is exceedingly difficult to discuss this question. The Occidental mind finds it difficult even to attach any meaning to the conditions of Nirvāna. Partly it is the fault of language, partly it is due to the fact that the condition of Arhan is quite beyond thought. He is beyond the Abyss, and there a thing is only true in so far as it is self-contradictory. The Arhan has no self to be blissful. It is much simpler to consider it on the lines given in my commentary to the last verse.
41. To live to benefit mankind is the first step. To practice the six glorious virtues is the second.
42. To don Nirmānakāya’s humble robe is to forego eternal bliss for Self, to help on man’s salvation. To reach Nirvana’s bliss but to renounce it, is the supreme, the final step—the highest on Renunciation’s Path.
All this about Gautama Buddha having renounced Nirvana is apparently all a pure invention of Mme. Blavatsky, and has no authority in the Buddhist canon. The Buddha is referred to, again and again, as having “passed away by that kind of passing away which heaves nothing whatever behind.”1 The account of his doing this is given in the Maha-Parinibbāna Sutta; and it was the contention of the Theosophists that this “great, sublime, Nibbāna story” was something peculiar to Gautama Buddha. They began to talk about Parinibbana, super-Nibbana, as if there were some way of subtracting one from one which would leave a higher, superior kind of a nothing, or as if there were some way of blowing out a candle which would heave Moses in a much more Egyptian darkness than we ever supposed when we were children.
This is not science. This is not business. This is American Sunday journalism. The Hindu and the American are very much alike in this innocence, this naïveté which demands fairy stories with ever bigger giants. They cannot bear the idea of anything being complete and done with. So, they are always talking in superlatives, and are hard put to it when the facts catch up with them, and they have to invent new superlatives. Instead of saying that there are bricks of various sizes, and specifying those sizes, they have a brick, and a super-brick, and “one” brick, and “some” brick; and when they have got to the end, they chase through the dictionary for some other epithet to brick, which shall excite the sense of wonder at the magnificent progress and super-progress—I present the American nation with this word— which is supposed to have been made. Probably the whole thing is a bluff without a single fact behind it. Almost the whole of the Hindu psychology is an example of this kind of journalism. They are not content with the supreme God. The other man wishes to show off by having a supreme God than that, and when a third man comes along and finds them disputing, it is up to him to invent a supremest super-God.
It is simply ridiculous to try to add to the definition of Nibbāna by this invention of Parinibbana, and only talkers busy themselves with these fantastic speculations. The serious student minds his own business, which is the business in hand. The President of a Corporation does not pay his bookkeeper to make a statement of the countless billions of profit to be made in some future year. It requires no great ability to string a row of zeros after a significant figure until the ink runs out. What is wanted is the actual balance of the week.
The reader is most strongly urged nor to permit himself to indulge in fantastic flights of thought, which are the poison of the mind, because they represent an attempt to run away from reality, a dispersion of energy and a corruption of moral strength. His business is, firstly, to know himself; secondly, to order and control himself; thirdly, to develop himself on sound organic lines little by little. The rest is only leather and Prunella.
There is, however, a sense in which the service of humanity is necessary to the completeness of the Adept. He is nor to fly away too far.
Some remarks on this course are given in the note to the next verse.
The student is also advised to rake note of the conditions of membership of the A∴ A∴.
43. Know, O Disciple, this is the Secret PATH, selected by the Buddhas of Perfection, who sacrificed THE SELF to weaker Selves.
This is a statement of the conditions of performing the Alchemical operation indicated in the injunction “Coagula.” In “Solvé” the Adept aspires upward. He casts off everything that he has is. But after reaching the supreme triad, he aspires downward. He keeps on adding to all that he has or is, but after another manner.
This part of our treatise is loathsomely sentimental twaddle what America (God bless her!) calls “sob-stuff.” When tipsy old ladies become maudlin, it is time to go.
44. Yet, if the “Doctrine of the Heart” is too high-winged for thee. If thou need’st help thyself and fearest to offer help to others,—then, thou of timid heart, be warned in time: remain content with the “Eye Doctrine” of the Law. Hope still. For if the “Secret Path” is unattainable this “day,” it is within thy reach “tomorrow.” Learn that no efforts, not the smallest—whether in right or wrong direction—can vanish from the world of causes. E’en wasted smoke remains not traceless. “A harsh word uttered in past lives is not destroyed, but ever comes again.” The pepper plant will not give birth to roses, nor the sweet jessamine’s silver star to thorn or thistle turn.
Behold what is written for a Parable in the “Great Law”:
- Let not the failure and the pain turn aside the worshippers. The foundations of the pyramid were hewn in the living rock ere sunset; did the king weep at dawn that the crown of the pyramid was yet unquarried in the distant land?
- There was also an humming-bird that spake unto the horned cerastes, and prayed him for poison. And the great snake of Khem the Holy One, the royal Uræus serpent, answered him and said:
- I sailed over the sky of Nu in the car called Millions-of-Years, and I saw not any creature upon Seb that was equal to me. The venom of my fang is the inheritance of my father, and of my father's father; and how shall I give it unto thee? Live thou and thy children as I and my fathers have lived, even unto an hundred millions of generations, and it may be that the mercy of the Mighty Ones may bestow upon thy children a drop of the poison of eld.
- Then the humming-bird was afflicted in his spirit, and he flew unto the flowers, and it was as if naught had been spoken between them. Yet in a little while a serpent struck him that he died.
- But an Ibis that meditated upon the bank of Nile the beautiful god listened and heard. And he laid aside his Ibis ways, and became as a serpent, saying Peradventure in an hundred millions of millions of generations of my children, they shall attain to a drop of the poison of the fang of the Exalted One.
- And behold! ere the moon waxed thrice he became an Uræus serpent, and the poison of the fang was established in him
45. Thou canst create this “day” thy chances for the “to-morrow.” In the “Great Journey,” causes sown each hour bear each its harvest of effects, for rigid Justice rules the World. With mighty sweep of never-erring action, it brings to mortals lives of weal or woe, the Karmic progeny of all our former thoughts and deeds.
46. Take them as much as merit hath in store for thee, O thou of patient heart. Be of good cheer and rest content with fate. Such is thy Karma, the Karma of the cycle of thy births, the destiny of those who, in their pain and sorrow, are born along with thee, rejoice and weep from life to life, chained to thy previous actions.
47. Act then for them “to-day,” and they will act for thee “to-morrow.”
These verses confirm what was said above with regard to perseverance. Every cause has its effect. There is no waste. There is no evasion.
48. ’Tis from the bud of Renunciation of the Self, that springeth the sweet fruit of final Liberation.
This is again obscure, as the word “Self” means so many things, and though many kinds of type have been employed to spell it, clear definitions of what each type indicates are lacking. It is here, however, the doctrine of the Two Paths which is taught. On reaching the highest grade of the Second Order, that of Exempt Adept, there are two Paths open, the right hand and the left. These are described at length in Liber 418, and we must refer the Student to that book. But the main point is that on the right hand path, stripping self, the Adept becomes Nemo, the Master of the Temple, and returns across the abyss, or rather is flung forth, and appears in the Heaven of Jupiter—or sphere of another planet—as a morning Star or an evening Star to bring light to them that dwell upon the earth. On the left hand Path, the Adept, wishing to keep all that he has, shuts himself up in a Tower of Silence, there to suffer the progressively degrading agony of slow dispersion. For on the right hand Path the Master of the Temple is—momentarily—after a fashion—at rest. His intellectual and physical forces are acting in the world, but his blood is in the Cup of Babalon, a draught to awaken the Eld of the All-Father, and all that remains of him is a little pile of dust which only waits the moment when it shall be burnt to ashes.
49. To perish doomed is he, who out of fear of Māra refrains from helping man, lest he should act for Self. The pilgrim who would cool his weary limbs in running water, yet dares not plunge for terror of the stream risks to succumb from heat. Inaction based on selfish fear can bear but evil fruit.
A further warning against the doctrine of inaction. It is extraordinary how the Author insists again and against on this point. Orthodox Buddhism ostensibly teaches that creation of any Karma whatever merely perpetuates “Sorrow.”
50. The selfish devotee lives to no purpose. The man who does not go through his appointed work in life—has lived in vain.
This verse repeats the lesson yet once more. It is another way of saying: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
51. Follow the wheel of life; follow the wheel of duty to race and kin, to friend and foe, and close thy mind to pleasures as to pain. Exhaust the law of Karmic retribution. Gain Siddhis for thy future birth.
This again states the same thing, urges the aspirant to live his life fully on every plane, preserving, it is true, an indifference to all that he does, but only the inner indifference of contempt, not the outer indifference of atrophy. Madame Blavatsky herself smoked like a volcano, drank like a fish, swore like a trooper, loved like a Cleopatra. She was right. Read the Taoist instructions to this effect.
52. If Sun thou canst not be, then be the humble planet. Aye, if thou art debarred from flaming like the noonday Sun upon the snow-capped mount of purity eternal, then choose, O Neophyte, a humbler course.
There are a great many people who are not only without marked capacity, but are obviously without any capacity at all, for attainment even on a very modest scale. The question then arises as to whether they can “be any good.” Unless they are made to do something, they are likely to slip back rather than to make progress. Fortunately, there is a way through which they can make sure of acquiring the capacity in their next incarnation. This way is Karma Yoga: devotion through work to the Work.
53. Point out the “Way”—however dimly, and lost among the host—as does the evening star to those who tread their path in darkness.
The principal method of Karma Yoga indicated is the preaching of the Good Law. Of course it will be understood that anyone thus unfortunately situated cannot understand the Law, but the Law is of such virtue that this is not a fatal disadvantage. See Liber CCC.
54. Behold Migmar, (Mars) as in his crimson veils his “Eye” sweeps over slumbering Earth. Behold the fiery aura of the “Hand” of Lhagpa (Mercury) extended in protecting love over the heads of his ascetics. Both are now servants to Nyima, (the Sun) left in his absence silent watchers in the night. Yet both in Kalpas past were bright Nyimas, and may in future “Days” again become two Suns. Such are the falls and rises of the karmic Law in nature.
The astronomy of the Author of this book is not equal to her poetic prose. Mercury can hardly be said to have a fiery aura, or to be a silent watcher in the night. Nor is it easy to attach any meaning to the statement that Mars and Mercury were once Suns. The theories of transmigration of personality involved are a little difficult!
55. Be, O Lanoo, like them. Give light and comfort to the toiling pilgrim, and seek out him who knows still less than thou; who in his wretched desolation sits starving for the bread of Wisdom and the bread which feeds the shadow, without a Teacher, hope or consolation, and— let him hear the Law.
This charge is very important to all Students of whatever grade. Everyone’s first duty is to himself, and to his progress in the Path; but his second duty, which presses the first hard, is to give assistance to those not so advanced.
56. Tell him, O Candidate, that he who makes of pride and self-regard bond-maidens to devotion; that he, who cleaving to existence, still lays his patience and submission to the Law, as a sweet flower at the feet of Shākya-Thub-pa, becomes a Sirotāpatti in this birth. The Siddhis of perfection may loom far, far away; but the first step is taken, the stream is entered, and he may gain the eye-sight of the mountain eagle, the hearing of the timid doe.
It seems rather a bold assertion that Sirotpatti is so easily attained, and I know of no Canonical Buddhist authority for this statement. (A Srotapatti becomes an Arahat in seven more incarnations. “Siddhis”—magic powers.)
57. Tell him, O Aspirant, that true devotion may bring him back the knowledge, that knowledge which was his in former births. The deva-sight and deva-hearing are not obtained in one short birth.
The promise in this verse is less difficult to believe. By true devotion is meant a devotion which does not depend upon its object. The highest kind of love asks for no return. It is however misleading to say that “deva-sight and deva-hearing are not obtained in one short birth,” as that appears to mean that unless you are born with them you can never acquire them, which is certainly untrue. It is open to any one to say to any one who has acquired them, that he must have acquired them in a previous existence, but a more stupid argument can hardly be imagined. It is an ex cathedrā statement, and it begs the question, and it contains the same fallacy as is committed by those who suppose that an uncreated God can explain an uncreated Universe.
58. Be humble, if thou would’st attain to Wisdom.
By humility is meant the humility of the scientific man.
59. Be humbler still, when Wisdom thou hast mastered.
This is merely a paraphrase of Sir Isaac Newton’s remark about the child picking up shells.
60. Be like the Ocean which receives all streams and rivers. The Ocean’s mighty calm remains unmoved; it feels them not.
This verse has many possible interpretations, but its main meaning is that you should accept the universe without being affected by it.
61. Restrain by thy Divine thy lower Self
“Divine” refers to Tiphareth. (See The Equinox)
62. Restrain by the Eternal the Divine.
“Eternal” refers to Kether. In these two verses the Path is explained in language almost Qabalistic.
63. Aye, great is he, who is the slayer of desire.
By “desire” is again meant “tendency” in the technical Buddhist sense. The Law of Gravitation is the most universal example of such a tendency.
64. Still greater he, in whom the Self Divine has slain the very knowledge of desire.
This verse refers to a stage in which the Master has got entirely beyond the Law of cause and effect. The words “Self Divine” are somewhat misleading in view of the sense in which they have been used previously.
65. Guard thou the Lower lest it soil the Higher.
The Student is told to “guard” the lower, that is to say he should protect and strengthen it in every possible way, never allowing it to grow disproportionately or to overstep its boundaries.
66. The way to final freedom is within thy SELF.
In this verse we find the “SELF” identified with the Universe.
67. That way begins and ends outside of Self.
The Ego, i.e. that which is opposed by the non-Ego, has to be destroyed.
68. Unpraised by men and humble is the mother of all rivers, in Tirthika’s proud sight; empty the human form though filled with amrta’s sweet waters, in the sight of fools. Withal, the birthplace of the sacred rivers is the sacred land, and he who Wisdom hath, is honoured by all men.
This verse appears to employ a local metaphor, and as Madame Blavatsky had never visited Tibet, the metaphor is obscure, and the geography doubtful.
69. Arhans and Sages of the boundless Vision are rare as is the blossom of the udumbara tree. Arhans are born at midnight hour, together with the sacred plant of nine and seven stalks, the holy flower that opens and blooms in darkness, out of the pure dew and on the frozen bed of snow-capped heights, heights that are trodden by no sinful foot.
We find the talented Author again in difficulties, this time with Botany. By the “boundless Vision” is not meant the stupid Siddhi, but one of the forms of Samadhi, perhaps that upon the snake Ananta, the great green snake that bounds the Universe.
70. No Arhan, O Lanoo, becomes one in that birth when for the first time the Soul begins to long for final liberation. Yet, O thou anxious one, no warrior volunteering fight in the fierce strife between the living and the dead, not one recruit can ever be refused the right to enter on the Path that leads toward the field of Battle.
For either he shall win, or he shall fall.
It is most important that the Master should not reject any pupil. As it is written in Liber Legis, “He must teach; but he may make severe the ordeals.” Compare also the l3th Æthyr, in Liber 418, where it is shown that Nemo has no means of deciding which of his flowers is the really important one, although assured that all will one day bloom.
71. Yea, if he conquers, Nirvāna shall be his. Before he casts his shadow off his mortal coil, that pregnant cause of anguish and illimitable pain—in him will men a great and holy Buddha honour.
The words “mortal coil” suggest Stratford-on-Avon rather than Lhasa. The meaning of the verse is a little obscure. It is that the conqueror will be recognized as a Buddha sooner or later. This is not true, but does not matter. My God! if one wanted “recognition” from “men”! Help!
72. And if he falls, e’en then he does not fall in vain; the enemies he slew in the last battle will not return to life in the next birth that will be his.
Further encouragement to proceed; for although you do not attain everything, yet the enemies you have conquered will not again attack you. In point of fact this is hardly true. The conquest must be very complete for it to be so; but they certainly recur with very diminished intensity. Similar is the gradual immunization of man to syphilis, which was a rapidly fatal disease when fresh. Now we all have it in our blood, and are protected (to some extent, at least) against the ladies.
73. But if thou would’st Nirvāna reach, or cast the prize away, let not the fruit of action and inaction be thy motive, thou of dauntless heart.
This verse is again very obscure, from overloading. The “fruit” and the “prize” both refer to Nirvāna.
74. Know that the bodhisattva who Liberation changes for Renunciation to don the miseries of “Secret Life,” is called, “thrice Honoured,” O thou candidate for woe throughout the cycles.
This verse must not be interpreted as offering the inducement of the title of “thrice Honoured” to a bodhisattva. It is a mere eloquent appeal to the Candidate. This about woe is awful. It suggests a landlady in Dickens who ‘as seen better days.
75. The PATH is one, Disciple, yet in the end, twofold. Marked are its stages by four and seven Portals. At one end—bliss immediate, and at the other—bliss deferred. Both are of merit the reward; the choice is thine.
The “four and seven Portals” refer, the first to the four stages ending in Arhat, the second to the Portals referred to in the third Fragment.
76. The One becomes the two, the Open and the Secret. The first one leadeth to the goal, the second, to Self Immolation.
The obvious meaning of the verse is the one to take. However, I must again warn the reader against supposing that “Self-Immolation” has anything to do with Sir Philip Sidney, or the Sati of the brahmin’s widow.
77. When to the Permanent is sacrificed the Mutable, the prize is thine: the drop returneth whence it came. The Open PATH leads to the changeless change—Nirvāna, the glorious state of Absoluteness, the Bliss past human thought
78. Thus, the first Path is LIBERATION.
79. But Path the Second is—RENUNCIATION, and therefore called the “Path of Woe.”
There is far too much emotionalism in this part of the treatise, though perhaps this is the fault of the language; but the attitude of contemplating the sorrow of the Universe eternally is unmanly and unscientific. In the practical attempt to aid suffering, the consciousness of that suffering is lost. With regard to the doctrine of karma, argument is nugatory. In one sense karma cannot be interfered with, even to the smallest extent, in any way, and therefore ah action is not truly cause, but effect. In another sense Zoroaster is right when he says “Theurgists, fall not so low as to be ranked among the herd that are in subjection to fate.” Even if the will be not free, it must be considered as free, or the word loses its meaning. There is, however, a much deeper teaching in this matter.
80. That Secret Path leads the Arhan to mental woe unspeakable; woe for the living Dead, and helpless pity for the men of karmic sorrow, the fruit of Karma Sages dare not still.
Mental woe unspeakable—Rats! If we were to take all this au grand sérieux, we should have to class H. P. B. with Sacher Masoch. She does not seem to have any idea of what an arhat is, as soon as she plunges into one of these orgies of moral flagellation! Long before one becomes an arhat, one has completely cured the mind. One knows that it is contradiction and illusion. One has passed by the Abyss, and reached Reality. Now, although one is flung forth again across the Abyss, as explained in Liber CDXVII, and undergoes quite normal mental experiences, yet they are no longer taken seriously, for they have not the power to delude. There is no question of Sages daring to still the fruit of karma. I do not quite know how one would set about stilling a fruit, by the way. But the more sage one is, the less one wants to interfere with law. There is a special comment upon this point in Liber Aleph. Most of the pleasures in life, and most of the education in life, are given by superable obstacles. Sport, including love, depends on the overcoming of artificial or imaginary resistances. Golf has been defined as trying to knock a little ball into a hole with a set of instruments very ill-adapted for the purpose. In Chess one is bound by purely arbitrary rules. The most successful courtesans are those who have the most tricks in their bags. I will not argue that this complexity is better than the Way of the Tao. It is probably a perversion of taste, a spiritual caviar. But as the poet says:
It may seem to you strange:
The fact is—I like it!
81. For it is written: “teach to eschew all causes; the ripple of effect, as the great tidal wave, thou shalt let run its course.”
This verse apparently contradicts completely the long philippic against inaction, for the Object of those who counsel non-action is to prevent any inward cause arising, so that when the old causes have worked this out there is nothing left. But this is quite unphilosophical, for every effect as soon as it occurs becomes a new cause, and it is always equal to its cause. There is no waste or dissipation. If you take an atom of hydrogen and combine it with one hundred thousand other atoms in turn, it still remains hydrogen, and it has not lost any of its qualities.
The harmony of the doctrines of Action and Non-Action is to be found in The Way of the Tao. One should do what is perfectly natural to one; but this can only be done when one’s conscious ness is merged in the Universal or Phallic Consciousness.
82. The “Open Way,” no sooner hast thou reached its goal, will lead thee to reject the bodhisattvic body and make thee enter the thrice glorious state of Dharmakāya which is oblivion of the World and men for ever.
The collocation called “I” is dissolved. One “goes out” like the flame of a candle. But I must remark that the final clause is again painfully geocentric.
83. The “Secret Way” leads also to Parinirvānic bliss—but at the close of Kalpas without number; Nirvānas gained and lost from boundless pity and compassion for the world of deluded mortals.
This is quite contrary to Buddhist teaching. Buddha certainly had “Parinirvāna,” if there be such a thing, though, as Nirvāna means “Annihilation” and Parinirvāna “complete Annihilation,” it requires a mmd more metaphysical than mine to distinguish between these. It is quite certain that Buddha did not require any old Kalpas to get there, and to suppose that Buddha is still about, watching over the world, degrades him to a common Deity, and is in fiat contradiction to the statements in the Maha-Parinibbana Sutta, where Buddha gravely explains that he is passing away by that kind of passing away which leaves nothing what ever behind, and compares his death to the extinction of a lamp. Canonical Buddhism is certainly the only thing upon which we can rely as a guide to the teachings of the Buddha, if there ever was a Buddha. But we are in no wise bound to accept such teachings blindly, however great our personal reverence for the teacher.
84. But it is said: “The last shall be the greatest.” Samyak Sambuddha, the Teacher of Perfection, gave up his SELF for the salvation of the World, by stopping at the threshold of Nirvāna—the pure state.
Here is further metaphysical difficulty. One kind of nothing, by taking its pleasures sadly, becomes an altogether superior kind of nothing.
It is with no hope of personal advancement that the Masters teach. Personal advancement has ceased to have any meaning long before one becomes a Master. Nor do they teach because they are such Nice Kind People. Masters are like Dogs, which “bark and bite, for ‘tis their nature to.” We want no credit, no thanks; we are sick of you; only, we have to go on.
This verse is, one must suppose, an attempt to put things into the kind of language that would be understood by beginners. Compare Chapter Thirteen of The Book of Lies, where it explains how one is induced to follow the Path by false pretences. Compare also the story of the Dolphin and the Prophet in “Liber LXV”:
- Behold! the Abyss of the Great Deep. Therein is a mighty dolphin, lashing his sides with the force of the waves.
- There is also an harper of gold, playing infinite tunes.
- Then the dolphin delighted therein, and put off his body, and became a bird.
- The harper also laid aside his harp, and played infinite tunes upon the Pan-pipe.
- Then the bird desired exceedingly this bliss, and laying down its wings became a faun of the forest.
- The harper also laid down his Pan-pipe, and with the human voice sang his infinite tunes.
- Then the faun was enraptured, and followed far; at last the harper was silent, and the faun became Pan in the midst of the primal forest of Eternity.
- Thou canst not charm the dolphin with silence, O my prophet!
85. Thou hast the knowledge now concerning the two Ways. Thy time will come for choice, O thou of eager Soul, when thou hast reached the end and passed the seven Portals. Thy mind is clear. No more art thou entangled in delusive thoughts, for thou hast learned all. Unveiled stands truth and looks thee sternly in the face. She says: “Sweet are the fruits of Rest and Liberation for the sake of Self, but sweeter still the fruits of long and bitter duty. Aye, Renunciation for the sake of others, of suffering fellow men.”
86. He, who becomes Pratyeka-Buddha, makes his obeisance but to his Self. The bodhisattva who has won the battle, who holds the prize within his palm, yet says in his divine compassion:
87. “For others’ sake this great reward I yield” accomplishes the greater Renunciation.
A SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD is he.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Here again we are told of the sweetness of the fruits. But even in the beginning the Magician has had to work entirely regardless of any fruits, and his principal method has been to reject any that may come his way. Again all this about the “sake of others” and “suffering fellow-men,” is the kind of sentimental balder dash that assures one that this book was intended to reach the English and not the Tibetan public. The sense of separateness from others has been weeded out from the consciousness long, long ago. The Buddha who accomplishes the greater Renunciation is a Saviour of the World—it is the dogginess of a dog that makes it doggy. It is not the virtue of a dog to be doggy. A dog does not become doggy by the renunciation of non-dogginess. It is quite true that you and I value one kind of a Buddha more than another kind of a Buddha, but the Universe is not framed in accordance with what you and I like. As Zoroaster says: “The progression of the Stars was not generated for your sake,” and there are times when a Dhamma-Buddha reflects on the fact that he is no more and no less than any other thing, and wishes he were dead. That is to say, that kind of a Dhamma-Buddha in whom such thoughts necessarily arise, thinks so; but this of course does not happen, because it is not in the nature of a Dhamma-Buddha to think anything of the sort, and he even knows too much to think that it would be rather natural if there were some kinds of Dhamma-Buddha who did think something of the kind. But he is assuredly quite indifferent to the praise and blame of the “suffering fellow-men.” He does not want their gratitude. We will now close this painful subject.
88. Behold! The goal of bliss and the long Path of Woe are at the furthest end. Thou canst choose either, O aspirant to Sorrow, throughout the coming cycles!
Om Vajrapani Hum.
With this eloquent passage the Fragment closes. It may be remarked that the statement “thou canst choose” is altogether opposed to that form of the theory of determinism which is orthodox Buddhism. However, the question of Free Will has been discussed in a previous Note.
OM VAJRAPANI HUM.—Vajrapani was some kind of a universal deity in a previous Manvantara who took an oath:
Ere the Cycle rush to utter darkness,
Work I so that every living being
Pass beyond this constant chain of causes.
If I fail, may all my being shatter
Into millions of far-whirling pieces!
He failed, of course, and blew up accordingly; hence the Stars.