Reading circle (A.P.Sinnett - Esoteric Buddhism)

Discussion on literature other than by the Star of Azazel.
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Kenazis
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Re: Reading circle (A.P.Sinnett - Esoteric Buddhism)

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ESOTERIC BUDDHISM by A.P. Sinnett

CHAPTER I – ESOTERIC TEACHERS

A.P. Sinnett starts the chapter by explaining that this book is not deduced from study and effort, but is obtained by favour. What Sinnett means by this, is that he has received the knowledge contained in the book from the wise teachers who possess esoteric secrets previously unknown to uninitiated people. Also the book’s title “esoteric Buddhism” is explained. Sinnett tells that Buddhism has from the start enjoyed dual existence where exoteric Buddhism has contained the moral teaching generally known as Buddhism (as oriental religion) and esoteric Buddhism has been only taught to initiated in secrecy.

According to Sinnett, Arahats/Arhats are the initiated keepers of the secret teachings. Next Sinnett quotes couple of different authors who explain what kind of powers these Highly spiritually evolved Arhats have, before explaining his own vision about the subject (or the knowledge he has received). Arhat in popular estimation is saint, a wonder-worker who is waiting for spiritual reward. In reality he is custodian of the deepest philosophy which Buddha refreshed and restored, student of natural science standing in the very foremost front of human knowledge.

Arhat is name in Buddhism for the adept of occult knowledge, and in India these same adepts are called Mahatmas. Sinnett mentions that highest wisdom are held by the Tibetan adepts (I think Sinnett is talking about Vajrayana buddhist/buddhism being highest even he doesn’t mention Vajrayana. At least in this chapter). Sinnett mentions also Yogis and Fakirs of India that are in lower level with their occult knowledge and evolution.

According to Sinnett, each Mahatma is not only a human ego in very exalted state, but also belongs to some specific department in the great economy of the nature. Every adept must belong to one of the seven great types of adeptship (Sinnett says that he’s pretty sure that there’s a correspondence between these seven great types of adeptship and seven principles of man, but he doesn’t speculate it more). Sinnett moves forward and mentions the five great Chohans (Superior Mahatmas) that presides over the whole body of the adept fraternity. Sinnett mentions also the sixth Chohan above these five and speculates that there might be even seventh Chocan above the six.
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Re: Reading circle (A.P.Sinnett - Esoteric Buddhism)

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Kenazis wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 10:02 pm
the wise teachers who possess esoteric secrets previously unknown to uninitiated people


The emphasis of the "occult science" attitude of the theosophists is clear in several occasions.

Preface to the Original Edition, xiii-xiv wrote: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.
Preface to the Annotated Edition, vi wrote:Spiritual truths, if they are truths, may evidently be dealt with in a no less scientific spirit than chemical reactions.


The interesting thing in this kind of theosophy is that the different types of occultism are not in any way distinguished from each other, and so it seems that producing some minor occult trick and receiving a major metaphysical conclusion or ethical attitude are similarly "no less scientific... than chemical reactions". Luckily, there is that word "spirit" in the middle of this idea, and it of course can be taken as the key. The scientific spirit is therefore the attitude of extreme honesty (as opposed to faith, for example).

At the end of the Preface to the Original Edition Sinnett mentions that it was he who first coined the term "principle", about the constitution elements of man & nature, which we still use in the Star of Azazel.

* * *

I have often presented my idea that the most physical body (sthûla sharîra) is only like a cloth for the true inner, energetical body (linga sharîra), which is like a detritus piled on it by our common atavistic karma. Other occult writers present another view however: Steiner (whom Ervast read and followed in many aspects, like in this one) teaches that the most physical principle is the oldest one, while the etheric linga sharîra is newer. A buddhic text (unnamed by Sinnett) quoted in chapter I presents a similar thought:

Esoteric Buddhism, 5-6 wrote: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.


It is clear from many different points that linga sharîra (instead of e.g. mayavi rupa) is meant here. The contradiction may of may not be seeming.

* * *

Kenazis wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 10:02 pm
Sinnett mentions that highest wisdom are held by the Tibetan adepts


In p 10-11 Sinnett speaks a bit about this brotherhood of adepts, which is not exhaustive but has outside of it those who think that they have reached great heights but are not as advanced. "Such "Masters," by comparison of 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 those whose protection your can trust yourself on a world-wide voyage of exploration over the sea." Sinnett's organized Mahatmas working at that time in Tibet is what I have spoken of as the central or center lodge. It is aware of all even though not all are aware of it.

* * *

Since our time, the 21st century, seems to struggle mostly with the (âtmic) consistence of effort, which means to be able to sacrifice for a long time without vacillation, I would also like to once again quote Sinnett's description of the process in which the adept is made:

Esoteric Buddhism, 11 wrote: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.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Re: Reading circle (A.P.Sinnett - Esoteric Buddhism)

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CHAPTER II – THE CONSTITUTION OF MAN

In this short chapter, Sinnett first discusses the scientific method of the West and compares it to the different method of East, the latter being: ""So and so is fact; here is the key of knowledge; now go and see for yourself." (p.24). The rest of the chapter is about the seven principles of man. Sinnett points out (in the footnote on page 25) that the nomenclature differs slightly from the constitution of the principles given before in the Theosophist. Likewise the seven principles given later by Blavatsky in her Esoteric Instructions differs from this, and the principle structure of the Star of Azazel differs from them. Anyhow, anyone familiar with these different models may notice that the difference is in the different emphases of philosophical and pragmatic approaches, not in the constitution itself. Sinnett gives the seven principles as this (p.26):

1. The Body: Rupa.
2. Vitality: Prana, or Jiva.
3. Astral Body: Linga sharira.
4. Animal Soul: Kama Rupa.
5. Human Soul: Manas.
6. Spiritual Soul: Buddhi.
7. Spirit: Atma.

1. The Body: Rupa.
In the later theosophical nomenclature "rupa" is more commonly known as sthûla sharîra, the name not mentioned here. This physical body of man is not in the Star of Azazel's list of principles. (SoA's schema adds to the six kâma manas, the not-spiritual intelligence, which herein is seen partly in kama rupa & partly in manas.)

2. Vitality: Prana, or Jiva.
The use of prâna or life-force is consistent enough in the different systems, even though it is not strictly speaking a principle separable from the bodies it animates. In the Star of Azazel's schematics, often given in a form of a six-pointed star or a hieroglyphic key, vitality i.e. prana is at the center, forming a nexus between the spiritual and the material worlds. Of this principle, Sinnett writes:

Esoteric Buddhism, 27 wrote:it cannot be separated from any given particle or mass of this, except by instantaneous translation to some other particle or mass.
Esoteric Buddhism, 28 wrote:Bury the body in the earth and its jiva will attach itself to the vegetation which springs above, or the lower animal forms which evolve from its substance. Burn the body, and indestructible jiva flies back none the less instantaneously to the body of the planet itself from which it was originally borrowed, entering into some new combination as its affinities may determine.

So we see that jiva/prâna is the vital principle which many modern people too see as the "soul" which, at the moment of death, starts its transmigration through nature, making them once again one with biological life. But from the theosophical viewpoint, this is only one minor part of one's life post mortem.

3. Astral Body: Linga sharira.
Once again we face the familiar problem of the nomenclature which is contradictory from the very beginning. After explaining the meaning of linga sharîra as the etheric double body of physical man, Sinnett admits that the word "astral body" has been used before in the meaning of the body as "fully inhabited by its higher principles, which can migrate to any distance from the physical body", but herein another use for the same term is meant, for linga sharira cannot be seen far from its physical counterpart.

4. Animal Soul: Kama Rupa.
On page 30, Sinnett tells that kama rupa belongs to man's higher nature, but it seems quite clear that he only means that kama rupa is not physical (like principles 1 and 3) nor immediately bound to physical principles (like 2). Even though the Sanskrit (Sanscrit, as Sinnett spells) name means "The Body of Desire", the better translation might be "The Vehicle of Will". Here we are in the very important discussion about the difference and seeming sameness between one's desire and (true) will, a discussion that every occultist – particularly in our own new age – should carefully, carefully think upon. And keep thinking and sublimating endlessly, for that is the major part of the occult work itself.

Esoteric Buddhism, 30 wrote:the kama rupa is the animal soul, the highest developed principle of the brute creation


5. Human Soul: Manas.
Sinnett tells that the manas principle is "the seat of reason and memory".
Esoteric Buddhism, 31 wrote:It is a portion of this principle, animated by the fourth, which is really projected to distant places by an adept, when he makes an appearance in what is commonly called his astral body.


I.e. Blavatsky's "mayavi rupa", the illusionary, projected apparition, but which still holds the adept's (but not formally untrained person's) personal mind. (In my childhood home of Karelian Finland, this phenomenon of "Etiäinen" was often seen and discussed, when someone was seen at the spot before he actually physically arrived there. "Etiäinen" might be crudely translated as "a beforer" or "a far-being".)

6. Spiritual Soul: Buddhi.
As was usual in the theosophical literature, not actual characteristics are not applied to buddhi. It is simply one's spiritual vehicle between the other high principles of âtma and manas. In the Star of Azazel's system, the perception of unity, in the other words love (most of all universal love), is seen as an attribute of buddhi.

Esoteric Buddhism, 31 wrote:Sometimes it has been said, we do not possess any sixth principle, we merely have germs of a sixth principle. It has also been said, the sixth principle is not in us; it hovers over us; it is a something that the highest aspirations of our nature must work up towards.

When we look at the world as it is, we certainly see that in many if not most human beings, universal love is something not yet born, but only something that can come to be. If buddhi would have been awakened as a principle, the culture as it nowadays is – all our violence toward human and animal beings and the "survival of the fittest" i.e. crudest and most selfish – would be impossible, and it would (and will) change to something completely different.

7. Spirit: Atma.
Atma, which Blavatsky did not consider to be esoterically a principle (she used it as a principle in her exoterical schema), penetrates all and is everything. As we know from Upanishadic literature, it is close to the idea of Absolute God, which also is in human beings, as our link to the cosmic whole, its innermost energetical and supraconscious principle.

Esoteric Buddhism, 32 wrote:In the animal the one life is concentrated in the kama rupa. In man it begins to penetrate the fifth principle as well. In perfected man it penetrates the sixth, and when it penetrates the seventh, man ceases to be man, and attains a wholly superior condition of existence.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Re: Reading circle (A.P.Sinnett - Esoteric Buddhism)

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CHAPTER III – PLANETARY CHAIN

This chapter starts with the notion that Darwinian theory of evolution is an independent discovery of a portion of the vast natural truth. Occultist however know how to explain the evolution without degrading the highest principles of man.

Another difference with scientific theory (Darwinian in this case) and esoteric doctrine is that esoteric doctrine doesn’t separate its religion and science in own compartments, but these two (science and religion) are tightly blend.

The evolution of man is not process that is carried out only in this planet, in this globe. All evolutionary processes of this planet are linked with the evolutionary processes of several other planets. Earth is merely a link in the chain of many worlds. This system of world is circuit that every spiritual entity must go through, also this is the case with the evolution of man. Earth is the place of equilibrium when we are speaking of spirit and matter. While this sounds to be the case of highly evolved, it is almost the opposite (or at best the middle point), because every point in the chain of evolution where the spirit is more “dominant” than matter is more evolved.

Above mentioned straightforward explanation would be complete if the evolutionary chain was linear and the evolution would be going from absolute matter to absolute spirit. But, the evolution in this chain is cyclic and the first step is most immaterial with the last step (knowing the concepts of involution and evolution might be helpful here). So, the evolution of man happens not in straight linear or cyclical fashion, but in spiral form.

A.P. Sinnett (as Blavatsky. And perhaps all theosophists of the time?) thinks that the Darwinian theory of evolution of man is wrong at their view that ape slowly evolves to man. Ape is the earlier being that evolves, but the form doesn’t change slowly towards man. Spiritual monad travels between the worlds and waits to be born as the next incarnation when it has fulfilled the earlier stage.
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Re: Reading circle (A.P.Sinnett - Esoteric Buddhism)

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The subject of the planetary chain is one subject which has always left me uninterested in the old theosophy. It was discussed to surprising depth by Koot Hoomi (when asked about by Sinnett) and Blavatsky, so it is one of the actually first theosophical teachings & should therefore be interesting, but it is so weird an amalgam of totally vague and at the same time exceptionally detailed doctrines that it fails to hold my interest, for it seems to hold no connection to any practical ethics, psychology, metaphysical, philosophical or magical practice. It is like some humongous astrolabe of occult geography looming distantly behind the other doctrines, but huge only by its apparent size, not meaning. I always assumed that it is present (given in the books) only because the students of that period asked questions that were quite scientific (or let's say pseudo-scientific) in nature, and "too" exact answers were presented in order to confuse the schema which was not supposed to be given in full. Page after page is given about these globes A, B, C, &c. in different books without clearly pointing out what they actually try to present. Not different planets, but not the principles of the planets either: they are somehow the different ages of the planets going through the corresponding principles (from complete spirit to matter and then to spirit again). Now this would be understandable and also usable when we think about the cyclical (or spiral) processes of emanation & remanation, but then – like in this chapter – are added endless extra information about how the monads go through several cycles on some globe before going to next globe, and then again these half- or perhaps wholly un-digested ideas are corrected and said to be presented in a mistaken way before, and so on. Would this be an Old Testament story, I would see here like an invisible finger pointing to some special mystery, solvable only by hard study accompanied by a good share of intuition & abstract thinking. But to include such specialist information into a brief basic treatise like Esoteric Buddhism is simply an oversight from the author's part, in my opinion.

Some other thoughts:

It was interesting to note than in the part where Sinnett discusses the Darwinist mistake (pages 45 to 47 in my edition) he indicates that the occult archetypes are actually quite distinct – separate – forms, only briefly connected to each other by special currents of "missing links". I had never thought it like that, but more in a flowing way, where (the material representations of) the archetypical forms are more or less lines drawn on water, emphases rather than absolutes. At the end of the chapter III of Polyharmonia I used a similar water symbol of the work of emanation that Sinnett uses here, but in my model the water pours from the mould to another naturally, after it has completely filled the previous mould. The water is therefore always the same, and the process of falling from one mould to another is quite natural and may very well be present for a long time. The difference is very small but reveals a difference in paradigmatic thinking.

One last thing. I love this one:

Esoteric Buddhism, p.49 wrote:the ghosts of minerals


(Sinnett speaks of the emanation process where the monads occupy mineral bodies in some early worlds which have not been as dense as ours.)
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Re: Reading circle (A.P.Sinnett - Esoteric Buddhism)

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I received my copy on Friday, so time to start catching up! Enjoying these discussions very much so far.
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Re: Reading circle (A.P.Sinnett - Esoteric Buddhism)

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Silvaeon wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 5:44 am
I received my copy on Friday, so time to start catching up! Enjoying these discussions very much so far.
Hop in!
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Re: Reading circle (A.P.Sinnett - Esoteric Buddhism)

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My feelings about planetary chain are similar than yours. Never clearly understood the point or relevance of those. And partly because of that, that theme never got my interest.

Hah, the ghosts of minerals was something that got me thinking too. Chose not to write about them, this information is too esoteric for man to handle.
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Re: Reading circle (A.P.Sinnett - Esoteric Buddhism)

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CHAPTER IV – THE WORLD PERIODS

In this chapter Sinnett talks a bit about the "rounds", then a lot about the "races", and at the end of the chapter there are more and more verbatim quotes from Koot Hoomi regarding the detailed information about ancient human cultures (mostly "Atlantis").

So, once again to the astrolabe – the concept of "rounds". Blavatsky later explained Sinnett's presentation in her Secret Doctrine, with a diagram. Because our round is the fourth of seven total (EB p.60), it is the middle point where emanation from the spirits has reached its densest, lowest form. All the other worlds, I mean rounds, are higher and less dense, since the first three are on the descending arch above as, and the three that will come are on the ascending arch above us. But how Sinnett explains these things is a mess, and without aid from Blavatsky this would be quite hard to grasp.

Onwards to the races. In each world, I mean round, the human monad must work its way through seven races. These are the so-called root races. Every one of the seven (root) races give birth to seven subdivisional races, which in turn give birth to seven branch races each (p.61) – these are the names chosen by Sinnett. Theosophy teaches that the our fourth round is in its period of fifth (root) race (p.60), although the majority of its people still belong to the remnants of the fourth race (p.70). About the branch races of the fifth root race, the most spiritually gifted are the Aryan Asiatics (the 1st branch race of the 5th root race), and the most physically intellectual are "the white conquerors" (the last [till now, I take: i.e. the 5th] branch race of the fifth root race) – as we are ironically titled by Koot Hoomi. (p.70)

Every one of the seven root blossoms on a different place on the planet's surface, and the theosophical doctrine teaches that each of these great and long living races (practically humankinds of that era) perish gradually with similarly occurring geological catastrophes. Thus the original glory days of the fourth root race occurred on the lost continent ("Atlantis") in Miocene age (p.72). Our present fifth root race humanity has been born one million years ago (p.60).

Sinnett quotes Koot Hoomi about the 1st & 2nd root races for not being "savages", but forming not a civilization either (p.68). (They were definitely different beings compared to ours.) Blavatsky states later (in the Secret Doctrine) that the humankind as we can understand the concept was formed 18 million years ago, when the third root race separated to two sexes, but that is not mentioned here.

Then a pair of thought-provoking quotes, touching the topics of evil & magic:

Koot Hoomi in Esoteric Buddhism, p.74 wrote:When your race, the fifth, will have reached its zenith of physical intellectuality, and developed its highest civilization (remember the difference we make between material and spiritual civilizations), unable to go any higher in its own cycle, its progress towards absolute evil will be arrested (as its predecessors, the Lemurians and the Atlanteans, the men of the third and fourth races, were arrested in their progress towards the same) by one of such cataclysmic changes, its great civilization destroyed, and all the sub-races of that race will be found going down their respective cycles, after a short period of glory and learning.

Koot Hoomi in Esoteric Buddhism, p.75 wrote:The worldly men of science in that ["Atlantean"] race had learned the secrets of the disintegration and reintegration of matter, which few but practical spiritualists as yet know to be possible, and of control over the elementals, by means of which that and other even more portentous phenomena can be produced. Such powers in the hands of persons willing to use them for merely selfish and unscrupulous ends must not only be productive of social disaster, but also for the persons who hold them, of progress in the direction of that evilly spiritual exaltation which is far more terrible result than suffering and inconvenience in this world.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Re: Reading circle (A.P.Sinnett - Esoteric Buddhism)

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Alright, all caught up.

A couple quick things so far: I find it really interesting to see how the conception of the 7 principles has evolved over time, from what Sinnett presents here, to a little later theosophy, and to what we use in the SoA. I enjoyed reading about this very much.

Definitely some thought-provoking quotes from Koot Hoomi in that last chapter, which of course feel very relevant to the times we find ourselves in.

Even though I didn't get much of Sinnett's own voice from reading the Mahatma Letters (as it was mostly KH and Morya writing), I had enough of a sense of it I suppose, and it's nice to read his own voice now. It almost feels like hearing from an old friend again, and this is quite enjoyable so far. A nice counterpoint to the incredibly dense Blavatsky :)
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