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Atman, Parabrahm & so on

Dec 17, 2001 02:54 PM
by Peter Merriott

JERRY: I don't think you are being difficult. And I agree that if we
Theosophists reify such "entities" and think of them as real independent
beings, then Theosophy and Buddhism have nothing in common. But G de
Purucker says that there are no ends to evolution, and so what appears to us
at any one point along the Path to be an "absolute" (ie a "real" entity or
thing) is, at a later point of development along the Path, seen to be
relative to yet something higher and grander, which also later will be seen
to be relative, and so on without conceivable end.<<<

Yes, I can see what you are trying to say. My own suggestion would be that
people go and have a look for themselves at what Purucker actually says and
ask themselves whether it agrees with the Madhaymaka viewpoint, as you
suggest it does. Purucker writes about pemanently evolving entities. The
phase of manifestation they are passing through may be temporary and
therefore relative, for example, animal stage, human stage, Gods, Cosmic
Entities, yet he regards them as 'permanently' evolving entities nontheless.
He says that each entity learns through evolution to be able to manifest
more and more of its innate spiritual potential. It is this ability to
manifest its potential that defines the kind of entity it is during any
phase of manifestation. Yes, each entity may be part of a larger entity &
so on, but according to Purucker, these same entities, of whatever level, go
on and on and on for ever in their evolutionary growth. They may have a
rest in Nirvana and Paranirvana, but only to continue their ever expanding
growth as "entities" in the next Manvantara.

"Every manifesting entity in the universe is a consciousness or monad. Thus
our sun is a solar monad, a divine being in its highest parts; similarly
every planetary chain is an individual, an entity of less spiritual
magnitude than a sun, but a cosmic individual nontheless. Every atom is
likewise during its manifestation an imbodied individual - a god at its
heart, a life-atom in the intermediate part of its constitution, a chemical
atom in its body." (Purucker, Fountain Source, p 117)

JERRY: He also says that all 7 principles change and therefore are not
permanent (and Peter, he includes Atma as one of the seven).<<<

Purucker believes that ATMAN is an Entity and that it evolves. Whereas HPB
says ATMAN is "no-entity" and that "Atma neither progresses, forgets, nor
remembers" and "it is of course an absurdity to talk of the 'development' of
a Monad . . . It stands to reason that a MONAD cannot either progress or
develop, or even be affected by the changes of states it passes through."

JERRY: If we believe that the indivisible Monad (not atma-buddhi which is
maya) is permanent, then we can agree with the Mind Only School.<<<

Please explain how the Mind Only School believes in an indivisible Monad.

<<<<To use an analogy [to understand the Great Breath, Motion], a musical
note is a kind of motion yet it remains the same note/vibration. It is not
the motion that makes it impermanent, rather it is the motion/vibration that
makes the note what it is. It is the lack of energy to sustain it which
causes it to die out. If the energy was perpetual the motion and hence the
note would continue for ever despite the fact that it was Motion. >>>

JERRY: Sound vibrations are associated with samsara, the four lower planes.
Tibetans are pretty unanimous in saying that sound is maya and impermanent,
and this idea can be found in many of their logical debates. Each "musical
note" is a separate thing, clearly defined and distinct from all of the
other notes, and this whole sense of separate distinctiveness is maya. I
agree that a musical note doesn't change. Nor do ideas (which is what Plato
taught). But they are mayavic in the sense of their seeming to have
independent existence. Musical notes and ideas have no independent
existence. Music needs ears (or some kind of listener) and ideas need mind
(or some kind of thinker), or else what are they?<<<

It was just an analogy. Just treat it as such.

<<<<<We might also consider the following:
"Its [Parabrahm's] one absolute attribute, which is ITSELF, eternal
ceaseless Motion, is called in esoteric parlence the GREAT BREATH, which is
the perpetual motion of the universe, in the sense of limitless, ever
present SPACE." (SD I 2)>>>>

JERRY: The key word in the above quote is "attribute." Logically, one
cannot have any attributes with an indivisible ineffable Divinity, but she
is not speaking scientifically or logically or literally here. In the above,
she is talking about Motion as an emanation or manifestation or effect of
Parabhraman. And the same can be said for Space.<<<

I shall put what I think are the "key words" in HPB's statement in capitals:

"Its [Parabrahm's] one absolute attribute, WHICH IS ITSELF, eternal
ceaseless Motion.."

So she is not talking about something which is an emanation or an effect.
"WHICH IS ITSELF" means 'this is its own nature'.

We find similar statements about the Buddha Nature and Dharmakaya in the
Shentong School of Buddhism, eg in the Uttaratantrashastra and
Srimalidevisimhananda Sutra. They maintain that the qualities and attibutes
of Buddha Nature are its own essence, not something separate from it. Here
is what a contemporary Shentong Master writes:

"The element, Tathagatagarbha, is empty of contingent (stains) that are
separable, since they are not of its essence, but not empty of the Buddha
qualities that are not separable, since they are its own essence. . . These
qualities are the essence of the non-conceptual Wisdom Mind. They are not
divisible from its essence as if the minds essence were one thing and they
were another. If they were like that they would have been shown to be empty
of own nature by Madhyamaka reasoning. . . . The Buddha qualities are not
compounded or conditioned qualities which arise, stay and perish. They
exist primordially."
(Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness: Ven. Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso

The same with Parabrahm and the GREAT BREATH, which is both Motion and

<<<Shall we say that Parabrahm is impermanent because its one attribute
"which is ITSELF" is eternal ceaseless motion? I don't think so.>>>

JERRY: Agreed, Parabrahman is permanent. But again, we are not talking
logically here.<<<

Well, its good to see that you can acknowledge that fundamental truths can
be stated and recognised without them having to be logical.

<<<I would have thought that your car and toothbrush are not emanations from
the Absolute, as such, but the Mineral Monad(s) passing through that kingdom
of nature are. I would say that it is because ATMAN is in everything from
the lowest to the highest Spiritual Entities ("it is OF all the planes")
that we can say that at the heart of each and every being is Parabrahm. >>>

JERRY: Actually, I agree with you here.<<<

OK, Thanks,


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