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Opis ebooka Esoteric Buddhism - A.P. Sinnett

CONTENTSPrefaceCHAPTER I - Esoteric Teachers Nature of the Present Exposition - Seclusion of Eastern Knowledge - The Arhats and their Attributes - The Mahatmas - Occultists generally - Isolated Mystics - Inferior Yogis - Occult Training - The Great Purpose -Its Incidental Consequences - Present ConcessionsCHAPTER II - The Constitution of Man Esoteric Cosmogony - Where to Begin - Working back from Man to Universe - Analysis of Man - The Seven PrinciplesCHAPTER III -The Planetary Chain Esoteric Views of Evolution - The Chain of Globes - Progress of Man round them - The Spiral Advance - Original Evolution of the Globes - The Lower KingdomsCHAPTER IV -The World Periods Uniformity of Nature- Rounds and Races - The Septenary Law - Objective and Subjective Lives - Total Incarnations - Former Races on Earth - Periodic Cataclysms - Atlantis - Lemuria - The Cyclic LawCHAPTER V - Devachan Spiritual Destinies of the Ego - Karma - Division of the Principles of Death - Progress of the Higher Duad - Existence in Devachan - Subjective Progress - Avitchi - Earthly Connection with Devachan - Devachanic PeriodsCHAPTER VI - Kama Loca The Astral Shell - Its Habitat - Its Nature - Surviving Impulses - Elementals - Mediums and Shells - Accidents and Suicides - Lost PersonalitiesCHAPTER VII - The Human Tide-Wave Progress of the Main Wave - Obscurations - Twilight and Dawn of Evolution - Our Neighbouring Planets - Gradations of Spirituality - Prematurely Developed Egos - Intervals of Re-IncarnationCHAPTER VIII - The Progress of Humanity The Choice of Good or Evil - The Second Half of Evolution - The Decisive Turning-point - Spirituality and Intellect - The Survival of the Fittest - The Sixth Sense - Development of the Principles in their Order - The Subsidence of the Unfit - Provision for All - The Exceptional Cases - Their Scientific Explanation - Justice Satisfied - The Destiny of Failures - Human Evolution Reviewed Esoteric Buddhism by A.P. SinnettCHAPTER IX -Buddha The Esoteric Buddha - Re-Incarnations of Adepts - Buddha’s Incarnation - The Seven Buddhas of the Great Races - Avalokiteshwara - Addi Buddha - Adeptship in Buddha’s Time - Sankaracharya - Vedantin Doctrines - Tsong-kapa - Occult Reforms in TibetCHAPTER X - Nirvana Its Remoteness - Preceding Gradations - Partial Nirvana - The Threshold of Nirvana - Nirvana - Para Nirvana - Buddha and Nirvana - Nirvana attained by Adepts - General Progress towards Nirvana - Conditions of its Attainment - Spirituality and Religion - The Pursuit of TruthCHAPTER XI - The Universe The Days and Night of Brahma - The Various Manvantaras and Pralayas - The Solar System - The Universal Pralaya - Recommencement of Evolution - “Creation” - The Great First Cause - The Eternal Cyclic ProcessCHAPTER XII - The Doctrine Reviewed Correspondences of the Esoteric Doctrine with Visible Nature - Free Will and Predestination - The Origin of Evil - Geology, Biology, and the Esoteric Teaching - Buddhism and Scholarship - The Origins of all Things - The Doctrine as Distorted - The Ultimate Dissolutions of Consciousness - Transmigration - The Soul and the Spirit - Personality and Individuality - Karma Esoteric Buddhism by A.P. SinnettAppendix

Opinie o ebooku Esoteric Buddhism - A.P. Sinnett

Fragment ebooka Esoteric Buddhism - A.P. Sinnett

Esoteric Buddhism

A.P. Sinnett

First digital edition 2017 by Gianluca Ruffini

CONTENTS

Preface

CHAPTER I - Esoteric Teachers Nature of the Present Exposition - Seclusion of Eastern Knowledge - The Arhats and their Attributes - The Mahatmas - Occultists generally - Isolated Mystics - Inferior Yogis - Occult Training - The Great Purpose -Its Incidental Consequences - Present Concessions

CHAPTER II - The Constitution of Man Esoteric Cosmogony - Where to Begin - Working back from Man to Universe - Analysis of Man - The Seven Principles

CHAPTER III -The Planetary Chain Esoteric Views of Evolution - The Chain of Globes - Progress of Man round them - The Spiral Advance - Original Evolution of the Globes - The Lower Kingdoms

CHAPTER IV -The World Periods Uniformity of Nature- Rounds and Races - The Septenary Law - Objective and Subjective Lives - Total Incarnations - Former Races on Earth - Periodic Cataclysms - Atlantis - Lemuria - The Cyclic Law

CHAPTER V - Devachan Spiritual Destinies of the Ego - Karma - Division of the Principles of Death - Progress of the Higher Duad - Existence in Devachan - Subjective Progress - Avitchi - Earthly Connection with Devachan - Devachanic Periods

CHAPTER VI - Kama Loca The Astral Shell - Its Habitat - Its Nature - Surviving Impulses - Elementals - Mediums and Shells - Accidents and Suicides - Lost Personalities

CHAPTER VII - The Human Tide-Wave Progress of the Main Wave - Obscurations - Twilight and Dawn of Evolution - Our Neighbouring Planets - Gradations of Spirituality - Prematurely Developed Egos - Intervals of Re-Incarnation

CHAPTER VIII - The Progress of Humanity The Choice of Good or Evil - The Second Half of Evolution - The Decisive Turning-point - Spirituality and Intellect - The Survival of the Fittest - The Sixth Sense - Development of the Principles in their Order - The Subsidence of the Unfit - Provision for All - The Exceptional Cases - Their Scientific Explanation - Justice Satisfied - The Destiny of Failures - Human Evolution Reviewed Esoteric Buddhism by A.P. Sinnett

CHAPTER IX -Buddha The Esoteric Buddha - Re-Incarnations of Adepts - Buddha’s Incarnation - The Seven Buddhas of the Great Races - Avalokiteshwara - Addi Buddha - Adeptship in Buddha’s Time - Sankaracharya - Vedantin Doctrines - Tsong-kapa - Occult Reforms in Tibet

CHAPTER X - Nirvana Its Remoteness - Preceding Gradations - Partial Nirvana - The Threshold of Nirvana - Nirvana - Para Nirvana - Buddha and Nirvana - Nirvana attained by Adepts - General Progress towards Nirvana - Conditions of its Attainment - Spirituality and Religion - The Pursuit of Truth

CHAPTER XI - The Universe The Days and Night of Brahma - The Various Manvantaras and Pralayas - The Solar System - The Universal Pralaya - Recommencement of Evolution - “Creation” - The Great First Cause - The Eternal Cyclic Process

CHAPTER XII - The Doctrine Reviewed Correspondences of the Esoteric Doctrine with Visible Nature - Free Will and Predestination - The Origin of Evil - Geology, Biology, and the Esoteric Teaching - Buddhism and Scholarship - The Origins of all Things - The Doctrine as Distorted - The Ultimate Dissolutions of Consciousness - Transmigration - The Soul and the Spirit - Personality and Individuality - Karma Esoteric Buddhism by A.P. Sinnett

Appendix

Preface

THE teachings embodied in the present volume let in a flood of light on questions connected with Buddhist doctrine which have deeply perplexed previous writers on the religion, and offer the world for the first time a practical clue to the meaning of almost all ancient religious symbolism. More than this, the esoteric doctrine, when properly understood, will be found to advance an overpowering claim on the attention of earnest thinkers. Its tenets are not presented to us as the invention of any founder or prophet. Its testimony is based on no written scriptures. Its views of Nature have been evolved by the researches of an immense succession of investigators, qualified for their task by the possession of spiritual faculties and perceptions of a higher order than those belonging to ordinary humanity. In the course of ages the block of knowledge thus accumulated, concerning the origin of the world and of man and the ultimate destinies of our race - concerning also the nature of other worlds and states of existence differing from those of our present life - checked and examined at every point, verified in all directions, and constantly under examination throughout, has come to be looked on by its custodians as constituting the absolute truth concerning spiritual things, the actual state of the facts regarding vast regions of vital activity lying beyond this earthly existence. European philosophy, whether concerned with religion or pure metaphysics, has so long been used to a sense of insecurity in speculations outrunning the limits of physical experiment, that absolute truth about spiritual things is hardly recognized any longer by prudent thinkers as a reasonable object of pursuit; but different habits of thought have been acquired in Asia. The secret doctrine which, to a considerable extent, I am now enabled to expound, is regarded not only by all its adherents, but by vast numbers who have never expected to know more of it than that such a doctrine exists, as a mine of entirely trustworthy knowledge from which all religions and philosophies have derived whatever they possess of truth, and with which every religion must coincide if it claims to be a mode of expression for truth. This is a bold claim indeed, but I venture to announce the following exposition as one of immense importance to the world, because I believe that claim can be substantiated. I do not say that within the compass of this volume the authenticity of the esoteric doctrine can be proved. Such proof cannot be given by any process of argument; only through the development in each inquirer for himself of the faculties required for the direct observation of Nature along the lines indicated. But his prima facie conclusion may be determined by the extent to which the views of Nature about to be unfolded, may recommend themselves to his mind, and by the reasons which exist for trusting the powers of observation of those by whom they are communicated. Will it be supposed that the very magnitude of the claim now made on behalf of the esoteric doctrine, lifts the present statement out of the region of inquiry to which its title refers - inquiry as to the real inner meaning of the definite and specific religion called Buddhism? The fact is, however, that esoteric Buddhism, though by no means divorced from the associations of exoteric Buddhism, must not be conceived to constitute a mere imperium in imperio - a central school of culture in the vortex of the Buddhist world. In proportion as Buddhism retreats into the inner penetralia of its faith, these are found to merge into the inner penetralia of other faiths. The cosmic conceptions, and the knowledge of Nature on which Buddhism not merely rests, but which constitute esoteric Buddhism, equally constitute esoteric Brahmanism. And the esoteric doctrine is thus regarded by those of all creeds who are “enlightened” (in the Buddhist sense) as the absolute truth concerning Nature, Man, the origin of the Universe, and the destinies toward which its inhabitants are tending. At the same time, exoteric Buddhism has remained in closer union with the esoteric doctrine than any other popular religion. An exposition of the inner knowledge, addressed to English readers in the present day, will thus associate itself irresistibly with familiar outlines of Buddhist teaching. It will certainly impart to these a living meaning they generally seem to be without, but all the more on this account may the esoteric doctrine be most conveniently studied in its Buddhist aspect: one, moreover, which has been so strongly impressed upon it since the time of Gautama Buddha that though the essence of the doctrine dates back to a far more remote antiquity, the Buddhist colouring has now permeated its whole substance. That which I am about to put before the reader is esoteric Buddhism, and for European students approaching it for the first time, any other designation would be a misnomer. The statement I have to make must be considered in its entirety before the reader will be able to comprehend why initiates in the esoteric doctrine regard the concession involved in the present disclosures of the general outlines of this doctrine as one of startling magnitude. One explanation of this feeling, however, may be readily seen to spring from the extreme sacredness that has always been attached by their ancient guardians to the inner vital truths of Nature. Hitherto this sacredness has always prescribed their absolute concealment from the profane herd. And so far as that policy of concealment, - the tradition of countless ages, - is now being given up, the new departure which the appearance of this volume signalizes will be contemplated with surprise and regret by a great many initiated disciples. The surrender to criticism which may sometimes perhaps be clumsy and irreverent, of doctrines which have hitherto been regarded by such persons as too majestic in their import to be talked of at all except under circumstances of befitting solemnity, will seem to them a terrible profanation of the great mysteries. From the European point of view it would be unreasonable to expect that such a book as this can be exempt from the usual rough-and-tumble treatment of new ideas. And special convictions or common-place bigotry may sometimes render such treatment in the present case peculiarly inimical. But all that, though a matter of course to European exponents of the doctrine like myself, will seem very grievous and disgusting to its earlier and more regular representatives. They will appeal sadly to the wisdom of the time-honoured rule which, in the old symbolical way, forbade the initiates from casting pearls before swine. Happily, as I think, the rule has not been allowed to operate any longer to the prejudice of those who, while still far from being initiated, in the occult sense of the term, will probably have become, by sheer force of modern culture, qualified to appreciate the concession. Part of the information contained in the following pages was first thrown out in a fragmentary form in the Theosophist, a monthly magazine, published at Madras, by the leaders of the Theosophical Society. As almost all the articles referred to have been my own writing, I have not hesitated to weld parts of them, when this course has been convenient, into the present volume. A certain advantage is gained by thus showing how the separate pieces of the mosaic as first presented to public notice, drop naturally into their places in the (comparatively) finished pavement. The doctrine or system now disclosed in its broad outlines has been so jealously guarded hitherto, that no mere literary researches, though they might have curry-combed all India, could have brought to light any morsel of the information thus revealed. It is given out to the world at last by the free grace of those in whose keeping it has hitherto lain. Nothing could ever have extorted from them its very first letter. It is only after a perusal of the present explanations that their position generally, as regards their present disclosures or their previous reticence can be criticized or even comprehended. The views of Nature now put forward are altogether unfamiliar to European thinkers; the policy of the graduates in esoteric knowledge, which has grown out of their long intimacy with these views must be considered in connection with the peculiar bearings of the doctrine itself. As for the circumstances under which these revelations were first foreshadowed in the Theosophist, and are now rounded off and expanded as my readers will perceive, it is enough for the moment to say, that the Theosophical Society, through my connection with which the materials dealt with in this volume have come into my hands, owes its establishment to certain persons who are among the custodians of esoteric science. The information poured out at last for the benefit of all who are ripe to receive it, has been destined for communication to the world through the Theosophical Society since the foundation of that body, and later circumstances only have indicated myself as the agent through whom the communication could be conveniently made. Let me add, that I do not regard myself as the sole exponent for the outer world, at this crisis, of esoteric truth. These teachings are the outcome, as regards philosophical knowledge, of the relations with the outer world which have been established by the custodians of esoteric truth through me. And it is only regarding the acts and intentions of those esoteric teachers who have chosen to work through me, that I can have any certain knowledge. But, in different ways, some other writers seem to be engaged in expounding for the benefit of the world - and, as I believe, in accordance with a great plan, of which this volume is a part - the same truths, in different aspects, that I am commissioned to unfold. Probably the great activity at present of literary speculation dealing with problems that overstep the range of physical knowledge, may also be in some way provoked by that policy, on the part of the great custodians of esoteric truth, of which my own book is certainly one manifestation. Again, the ardour now shown in “Psychical Research,” by the very distinguished, highly gifted, and cultivated men, who lead the society in London devoted to that object, is, to my inner convictions - knowing as I do something of the way the spiritual aspirations of the world are silently influenced by those whose work lies in that department of Nature - the obvious fruit of efforts, parallel to those with which I am more immediately concerned. It only remains for me to disclaim, on behalf of the treatise which ensues, any pretension to high finish as regards the language in which it is cast. Longer familiarity with the vast and complicated scheme of cosmogony disclosed, will no doubt suggest improvements in the phraseology employed to expound it. Two years ago, neither I, nor any other European living, knew the alphabet of the science here for the first time put into a scientific shape - or subject at all events to an attempt in that direction - the science of Spiritual Causes and their Effects, of Super-physical Consciousness, of Cosmical Evolution. Though ideas had begun to offer themselves to the world in more or less embarrassing disguise of mystic symbology, no attempt had ever been made by any esoteric teacher, two years back, to put the doctrine forward in its plain abstract purity. As my own instruction progressed on those lines, I have had to coin phrases and suggest English words as equivalents for the ideas which were presented to my mind. I am by no means convinced that in all cases I have coined the best possible phrases and hit on the most neatly expressive words. For example, at the threshold of the subject we come upon the necessity of giving some name to the various elements or attributes of which the complete human creature is made up. “Element” would be an impossible word to use, on account of the confusion that would arise from its use in other significations; and the least objectionable on the whole seemed to me “principle,” though to an ear trained in the niceties of metaphysical expression this word will have a very unsatisfactory sound in some of its present applications. Quite possibly, therefore, in process of time the Western nomenclature of the esoteric doctrine may be greatly developed in advance of that I have provisionally constructed. The Oriental nomenclature is far more elaborate, but metaphysical Sanskrit seems to be painfully embarrassing to a translator - the fault, my Indian friends assure me, not of Sanskrit, but of the language in which they are now required to express the Sanskrit ideal. Eventually we may find that, with the help of a little borrowing from familiar Greek quarries, English may prove more receptive of the new doctrine - or rather, of the primeval doctrine as newly disclosed - than has been supposed in the East.

CHAPTER I Esoteric Teachers

THE information contained in the following pages is no collection of inferences deduced from study. I am bringing to my readers knowledge which I have obtained by favour rather than by effort. It will not be found the less valuable on that account; I venture, on the contrary, to declare that it will be found of incalculably greater value, easily as I have obtained it, than any results in a similar direction which I could possibly have procured by ordinary methods of research, even had I possessed, in the highest degree, that which I make no claim to possess at all - Oriental scholarship. Every one who has been concerned with Indian literature, and still more, any one who in India has taken interest in talking with cultivated Natives on philosophical subjects will be aware of a general conviction existing in the East that there are men living who know a great deal more about philosophy in the highest acceptation of the word - the science, the true knowledge of spiritual things, - than can be found recorded in any books. In Europe the notion of secrecy as applied to science is so repulsive to the prevailing instinct, that the first inclination of European thinkers is to deny the existence of that which they so much dislike. But circumstances have fully assured me during my residence in India that the conviction just referred to is perfectly well founded, and I have been privileged at last to receive a very considerable mass of instruction in the hitherto secret knowledge over which Oriental philosophers have brooded silently till now; instruction which has hitherto been only imparted to sympathetic students, prepared themselves to migrate into the camp of secrecy. Their teachers have been more than content that all other inquirers should be left in doubt as to whether there was anything of importance to learn at their hands. With quite as much antipathy at starting as any one could have entertained to the old Oriental policy in regard to knowledge, I came, nevertheless, to perceive that the old Oriental knowledge itself was a very real and important possession. It may be excusable to regard the high grapes as sour so long as they are quite out of reach, but it would be foolish to persist in that opinion if a tall friend hands down a bunch and one finds them sweet. For reasons that will appear as the present explanations proceed, the very considerable block of hitherto secret teaching this volume contains, has been conveyed to me, not only without conditions of the usual kind, but to the express end that I might convey it in my turn to the world at large. Without the light of hitherto secret Oriental knowledge, it is impossible by any study of its published literature - English or Sanskrit - for students of even the most scholarly qualifications, to reach a comprehension of the inner doctrines and real meaning of any Oriental religion. This assertion conveys no reproach to the sympathetic, learned, and industrious writers of great ability who have studied Oriental religions generally, and Buddhism especially, in their external aspects. Buddhism, above all, is a religion which has enjoyed a dual existence from the very beginning of its introduction to the world. The real inner meaning of its doctrines has been kept back from uninitiated students, while the outer teachings have merely presented the multitude with a code of moral lessons and a veiled, symbolical literature, hinting at the existence of knowledge in the background. This secret knowledge, in reality, long antedated the passage through earth-life of Gautama Buddha. Brahmin philosophy, in ages before Buddha, embodied the identical doctrine which may now be described as Esoteric Buddhism. Its outlines had indeed been blurred; its scientific form partially confused; but the general body of knowledge was already in possession of a select few before Buddha came to deal with it. Buddha, however, undertook the task of revising and refreshing the esoteric science of the inner circle of initiates, as well as the morality of the outer world. The circumstances under which this work was done, have been wholly misunderstood, nor would a straightforward explanation thereof be intelligible without explanations, which must first be furnished by a survey of the esoteric science itself. From Buddha’s time till now the esoteric science referred to has been jealously guarded as a precious heritage belonging exclusively to regularly initiated members of mysteriously organized associations. These, so far as Buddhism is concerned, are the Arahats, or more properly Arhats, referred to in Buddhist literature. They are the initiates who tread the “fourth path of holiness,” spoken of in esoteric Buddhist writings. Mr Rhys Davids, referring to a multiplicity of original texts and Sanskrit authorities, says - “One might fill pages with the awe-struck and ecstatic praise which is lavished in Buddhist writings on this condition of mind, the fruit of the fourth path, the state of an Arahat, of a man made perfect according to the Buddhist faith.” And then making a series of running quotations from Sanskrit authorities, he says - “To him who has finished the path and passed beyond sorrow, who has freed himself on all sides, thrown away every fetter, there is no more fever or grief....For such there are no more births....they are in the enjoyment of Nirvana. Their old karma is exhausted, no new karma is being produced; their hearts are free from the longing after future life, and no new yearnings springing up within them, they, the wise are extinguished like a lamp.” These passages, and all like them, convey to European readers, at all events, an entirely false idea as to what sort of person an Arhat really is, as to the life he leads while on earth, and what he anticipates later on. But the elucidation of such points may be postponed for the moment. Some further passages from exoteric treatises may first be selected to show what an Arhat is generally supposed to be. Mr Rhys Davids, speaking of Jhana and Samadhi - the belief that it was possible by intense selfabsorption to attain supernatural faculties and powers - goes on to say - “So far as I am aware, no instance is recorded of any one, not either a member of the order, or a Brahmin ascetic, acquiring these powers. A Buddha always possessed them; whether Arahats as such, could work the particular miracles in question, and whether of mendicants, only Arahats or only Asekhas could do so, is at present not clear.” Very little in the sources of information on the subject that have hitherto been explored will be found clear. But I am now merely endeavouring to show that Buddhist literature teems with allusions to the greatness and powers of the Arhats. For more intimate knowledge concerning them, special circumstances must furnish us with the required explanations. Mr Arthur Lillie, in “Buddha and Early Buddhism,” tells us - “Six supernatural faculties were expected of the ascetic before he could claim the grade of Arhat. They are constantly alluded to in the Sutras as the six supernatural faculties, usually without further specification . . . .Man has a body composed of the four elements . . . . in this transitory body his intelligence is enchained, the ascetic finding himself thus confused, directs his mind to the creation of the Manas. He represents to himself, in thought, another body created from this material body - a body with a form, members, and organs. This body, in relation to the material body, is like the sword and the scabbard; or a serpent issuing from a basket in which it is confined. The ascetic then, purified and perfected, begins to practise supernatural faculties. He finds himself able to pass through material obstacles, walls, ramparts &c; he is able to throw his phantasmal appearance into many places at once . . . . he can leave this world and even reach the heaven of Brahma himself . . . . He acquires the power of hearing the sounds of the unseen world as distinctly as those of the phenomenal world - more distinctly in point of fact. Also by the power of Manas he is able to read the most secret thoughts of others, and to tell their characters.” And so on with illustrations. Mr Lillie has not quite accurately divined the nature of the truth lying behind this popular version of the facts; but it is hardly necessary to quote more to show that the powers of the Arhats and their insight into spiritual things are respected by the world of Buddhism most profoundly, even though the Arhats themselves have been singularly indisposed to favour the world with autobiographies or scientific accounts of “the six supernatural powers.” A few sentences from Mr. Hoey’s recent translation of Dr Oldenberg’s “Budda: his Life, his Doctrine, his Order,” may fall conveniently into this place, and then we may pass on. We read: - “Buddhist proverbial philosophy attributes in innumerable passages the possession of Nirvana to the saint who still treads the earth: ‘The disciple who has put off lust and desire, rich in wisdom, has here on earth attained deliverance from death, the rest, the Nirvana, the eternal state. He who has escaped from the trackless hard mazes of the Sansara, who has crossed over and reached the shore, self-absorbed, without stumbling and without doubt, who has delivered himself from the earthly and attained Nirvana, him I call a true Brahmin.’ If the saint will even now put an end to his state of being he can do so, but the majority stand fast until Nature has reached her goal; of such may those words be said which are put in the mouth of the most prominent of Buddha’s disciples, ‘I long not for death; I long not for life; I wait till mine hour come, like a servant who awaiteth his reward.’ “ A multiplication of such quotations would merely involve the repetition in various forms of exoteric conceptions concerning the Arhats. Like every fact or thought in Buddhism, the Arhat has two aspects, that in which he is presented to the world at large, and that in which he lives, moves, and has his being. In the popular estimation he is a saint waiting for a spiritual reward of the kind the populace can understand - a wonder-worker meanwhile by favour of supernatural agencies. In reality he is the longtried and proved-worthy custodian of the deepest and innermost philosophy of the one fundamental religion which Buddha refreshed and restored, and a student of natural science standing in the very foremost front of human knowledge, in regard not merely to the mysteries of spirit, but to the material constitution of the world as well. Arhat is a Buddhist designation. That which is more familiar in India, where the attributes of Arhatship are not necessarily associated with professions of Buddhism, is Mahatma. With stories about the Mahatmas, India is saturated. The older Mahatmas are generally spoken of as Rishis; but the terms are interchangeable, and I have heard the title Rishi applied to men now living. All the attributes of the Arhats mentioned in Buddhist writings are described with no less reverence in Indian literature, as those of the Mahatmas, and this volume might be readily filled with translations of vernacular books, giving accounts of miraculous achievements by such of them as are known to history and tradition by name. In reality, the Arhats and the Mahatmas are the same men. At that level of spiritual exaltation, supreme knowledge of the esoteric doctrine blends all original sectarian distinctions. By whatever name such illuminati may be called, they are the adepts of occult knowledge, sometimes spoken of in India now as the Brothers, and the custodians of the spiritual science which has been handed down to them by their predecessors. We may search both ancient and modern literature in vain, however, for any systematic explanation of their doctrine or science. A good deal of this is dimly set forth in occult writing; but very little of this is of the least use to readers who take up the subject without previous knowledge acquired independently of books. It is under favour of direct instruction from one of their number that I am now enabled to attempt an outline of the Mahatmas’ teaching, and it is in the same way that I have picked up what I know concerning the organization to which most of them, and the greatest, in the present day belong. All over the world there are occultists of various degrees of eminence, and occult fraternities even, which have a great deal in common with the leading fraternity now established in Tibet. But all my inquiries into the subject have convinced me that the Tibetan Brotherhood is incomparably the highest of such associations, and regarded as such by all other associations - worthy of being looked upon themselves as really “enlightened” in the occult sense of the term. There are, it is true, many isolated mystics in India who are altogether self-taught and unconnected with occult bodies. Many of these will explain that they themselves attain to higher pinnacles of spiritual enlightenment than the Brothers of Tibet, or any other people on earth. But the examination of such claims in all cases I have encountered, would, I think, lead any impartial outsider, however little qualified himself by personal development to be a judge of occult enlightenment, to the conclusion that they are altogether unfounded. I know one native of India, for example, a man of European education, holding a high appointment under Government, of good station in society, most elevated character, and enjoying unusual respect with such Europeans as are concerned with him in official life, who will only accord to the Brothers of Tibet a second place in the world of spiritual enlightenment. The first place he regards as occupied by one person, now in this world no longer - his own occult master in life - whom he resolutely asserts to have been in incarnation of the Supreme Being. His own (my friend’s) inner senses were so awakened by this Master, that the visions of his entranced state, into which he can still throw himself at will, are to him the only spiritual region in which he can feel interested. Convinced that the Supreme Being was his personal instructor from the beginning, and continues so still in the subjective state, he is naturally inaccessible to suggestions that his impressions may be distorted by reason of his own misdirected psychological development. Again, the highly cultivated devotees, to be met with occasionally in India, who build up a conception of Nature, the universe, and God, entirely on a metaphysical basis, and who have evolved their systems by sheer force of transcendental thinking, will take some established system of philosophy as its groundwork, and amplify on this to an extent which only an Oriental metaphysician could dream of. They win disciples who put implicit faith in them, and found their little school which flourishes for a time within its own limits; but speculative philosophy of such a kind is rather occupation for the mind than knowledge. Such “Masters,” by comparison with the organized adepts of the highest brotherhood, are like rowing-boats compared with ocean steamships - helpful conveyances on their own native lake or river, but not craft to whose protection you can trust yourself on a world-wide voyage of exploration over the sea. Descending lower again in the scale, we find India dotted all over with Yogis and Fakirs, in all stages of self-development, from that of dirty savages, but little elevated above the gipsy fortune-tellers of an English racecourse, to men whose seclusion a stranger will find it very difficult to penetrate, and whose abnormal faculties and powers need only be seen or experienced to shatter the incredulity of the most contented representative of modern Western scepticism. Careless inquirers are very apt to confound such persons with the great adepts of whom they may vaguely hear. Concerning the real adepts, meanwhile, I cannot at present venture on any account of what the Tibetan organization is like, as regards its highest ruling authorities. Those Mahatmas themselves, of whom some more or less adequate conception may, perhaps, be formed by readers who will follow me patiently to the end, are subordinate by several degrees to the chief of all. Let us deal rather with the earlier conditions of occult training, which can more easily be grasped. The level of elevation which constitutes a man - what the outer world calls a Mahatma or “Brother” - is only attained after prolonged and weary probation, and anxious ordeals of really terrible severity. One may find people who have spent twenty or thirty years or more, in blameless and arduous devotion to the life-task on which they have entered, and are still in the earlier degrees of chelaship, still looking up to the heights of adeptship as far above their heads. And at whatever age a boy or man dedicates himself to the occult career, he dedicates himself to it, be it remembered, without any reservations and for life. The task he undertakes is the development in himself of a great many faculties and attributes which are so utterly dormant in ordinary mankind, that their very existence is unsuspected - the possibility of their development denied. And these faculties and attributes must be developed by the chela himself, with very little, if any, help, beyond guidance and direction from his master. “The adept.” says an occult aphorism, “becomes: he is not made.” One may illustrate this point by reference to a very common-place physical exercise. Every man living, having the ordinary use of his limbs, is qualified to swim. But put those who, as the common phrase goes, cannot swim, into deep water, and they will struggle and be drowned. The mere way to move the limbs is no mystery; but unless the swimmer in moving them has a full belief that such movement will produce the required result, the required result is not produced. In this case, we are dealing with mechanical forces merely, but the same principle runs up into dealings with subtler forces. Very much further than people generally imagine will mere “confidence” carry the occult neophyte. How many European readers, who would be quite incredulous if told of some results which occult chelas in the most incipient stages of their training have to accomplish by sheer force of confidence, hear constantly in church nevertheless, the familiar Biblical assurances of the power which resides in faith, and let the words pass by like the wind, leaving no impression. The great end and purpose of adeptship is the achievement of spiritual development, the nature of which is only veiled and disguised by the common phrases of exoteric language. That the adept seeks to unite his soul with God, that he may thereby pass into Nirvana, is a statement that conveys no definite meaning to the ordinary reader, and the more he examines it with the help of ordinary books and methods, the less likely will he be to realize the nature of the process contemplated, or of the condition desired. It will be necessary to deal first with the esoteric conception of Nature, and the origin and destinies of Man, which differ widely from theological conceptions, before an explanation of the aim which the adept pursues can become intelligible. Meanwhile, however, it is desirable, at the very outset, to disabuse the reader of one misconception in regard to the objects of adeptship that he may very likely have framed. The development of those spiritual faculties, whose culture has to do with the highest objects of the occult life, gives rise, as it progresses, to a great deal of incidental knowledge, having to do with the physical laws of Nature not yet generally understood. This knowledge, and the practical art of manipulating certain obscure forces of Nature, which it brings in its train, invest an adept, and even an adept’s pupils, at a comparatively early stage of their education, with very extraordinary powers, the application of which to matters of daily life will sometimes produce results that seem altogether miraculous; and, from the ordinary point of view, the acquisition of apparently miraculous power is such a stupendous achievement, that people are sometimes apt to fancy that the adept’s object in seeking the knowledge he attains has been to invest himself with these coveted powers. It would be as reasonable to say of any great patriot of military history that his object in becoming a soldier had been to wear a gay uniform and impress the imagination of the nursemaids. The Oriental method of cultivating knowledge has always differed diametrically from that pursued in the West during the growth of modern science. Whilst Europe has investigated Nature as publicly as possible, every step being discussed with the utmost freedom, and every fresh fact acquired, circulated at once for the benefit of all, Asiatic science has been studied secretly and its conquests jealously guarded. I need not as yet attempt either criticism or defence of its methods. But at all events these methods have been relaxed to some extent in my own case, and, as already stated, it is with the full consent of my teachers that I now follow the bent of my own inclinations as a European, and communicate what I have learned to all who may be willing to receive it. Later on it will be seen how the departure from the ordinary rules of occult study embodied in the concessions now made, falls naturally into its place in the whole scheme of occult philosophy. The approaches to that philosophy have always been open, in one sense, to all. Vaguely throughout the world in various ways has been diffused the idea that some process of study which men here and there did actually follow, might lead to the acquisition of a higher kind of knowledge than that taught to mankind at large in books or by public religious preachers. The East, as pointed out, has always been more than vaguely impressed with this belief, but even in the West the whole block of symbolical literature relating to astrology, alchemy, and mysticism generally has fermented in European society, carrying to some few peculiarly receptive and qualified minds the conviction that behind all this superficially meaningless nonsense great truths lay concealed. For such persons eccentric study has sometimes revealed hidden passages leading to the grandest imaginable realms of enlightenment. But till now, in all such cases, in accordance with the law of those schools, the neophyte no sooner forced his way into the region of mystery than he was bound over to the most inviolable secrecy as to everything connected with his entrance and further progress there. In Asia in the same way, the “chela,” or pupil of occultism, no sooner became a chela than he ceased to be a witness on behalf of the reality of occult knowledge. I have been astonished to find, since my own connection with the subject, how numerous such chelas are. But it is impossible to imagine any human act more improbable than the unauthorized revelation by any such chela, to persons in the outer world, that he is one, and so the great esoteric school of philosophy successfully guards its seclusion. In a former book, “The Occult World,” I have given a full and straightforward narrative of the circumstances under which I came in contact with the gifted and deeply instructed men from whom I have since obtained the teaching this volume contains. I need not repeat the story. I now come forward prepared to deal with the subject in a new way. The existence of occult adepts, and the importance of their acquirements, may be established along two different lines of argument: firstly, by means of external evidence, - the testimony of qualified witnesses, the manifestation by or through persons connected with adepts, of abnormal faculties affording more than a presumption of abnormally enlarged knowledge; secondly, by the presentation of such a considerable portion of this knowledge as may convey intrinsic assurances of its own value. My first book proceeded by the former method; I now approach the more formidable task of working on the latter. Annotations