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Jerry Schueler's Comments to BAG's Part 3

Jan 12, 2003 07:54 PM
by D. H. Caldwell " <>

Below are some comments to BAG's Summary and Reply, Part 3:

<<<Also Krishna-Vishnu is called Sunyata and Nirvana in the 
Mahabharata Sahasranama (1000 Names), which is where the Buddhist 
doctrines of emptiness come from.>>>

No, I can't agree with this one. The same Sanskrit words do not 
necessarily mean the same in Hinduism and Buddhism, and the Buddhist 
doctrine of emptiness never came from Hinduism, but is directly in 
opposition to Hindu theism.

<<<<BA G > Here HPB states her doctrine of the ONE BEING. This is 
clearly NOT any Theravadin Buddhist teaching, and is even MORE 
personal than the Mayavadi Avaita Vedantists. >>>

The Theosophical doctrine of one reality or Beness does NOT 
imply "one being" in the sense of one single living being. Blavatsky 
was not clear if there are infinite nondual Monads that are exactly 
alike or if there is just one, but however we choose to look at it 
does not allow for a "ONE BEING" in the sense implied by BAG. 
Theosophy has no personal God.

<<<[Farthling:] This Being is the ABSOLUTE in its primary 
manifestation. Being absolute, there is nothing outside of it. It is 

BA G >This positivism is completely un-Theravadin Buddhist. >>>

Here Farthling is continuing with Blavatsky's blind of an "ABSOLUTE" 
as if such a thing could possibly exist. I agree that the statement is
un-Theravadin, but Blavatsky was also un-Theravadin; she was a 
Mahayanist. Mahayana Buddhism teaches that both matter and spirit, 
both samsara and nirvana are maya. No school of Buddhism teaches 
an "absolute" as such and Blavatsky always means the word in a 
relative sense.

<<<Variety and personhood in this mayavic realm is a reflection of 
real variety and personhood in the Absolute. However in the realm of 
Maha Maya (here) the illusion of separation predominates, whereas in 
the Param Dhama the Yoga Maya of communion predominates. >>>

This may be the Hindu definition of maya, but is not the Buddhist 
view. There are two main Buddhist views of maya: (1) Middle Way - the 
superimposition by manas of suchness onto dependent arisings, and (2) 
Mind Only - the separation of self from not-self. According to 
Tzongkhapa, the former must be understood first and then the latter 
can be understood; the former being a stepping stone to the latter.

<<<This saha / suffering realm of variegatedness is a temporary 
experience of birth, death, disease and old age, but the Absolute 
realm of variegatedness is one of sat, chit and ananda, ETERNAL 
Mahayana mantra which indicates that we can go beyond, beyond to the 
Great Beyond. >>>

Yes, but when we "go beyond" the self disappears, and there is no 
longer a "personal consciousness" which in fact is one of the five 

<<< in their 'theosophy' to T Buddhist questions of 
dependent arising...>>>

No, the doctrine of dependent arisings is Mahayana. Samsara is a 
conditional reality of dependent arisings, while nirvana is an 
ultimate reality of emptiness, and the two are fundamentally one.

<<<In the Great Bhakti Traditions the highest Truth of Godhead's love 
and grace, which is available for all jivatmas, is not an occult or 
secret doctrine reserved for the understanding of an elite group of 
advanced jnanis. It is poured-out on all humanity and God's 
messengers are sent with its all-inclusive message of good news to 
all peoples, the young and weak, the unprivileged and uneducated, the 
vastly-learned and wise, saints and sinners, the mighty, the perfect, 
the sick and defective and 'retarded' alike. >>>

You could change "Bhakti" to "Christian" and "jivatmas" to "souls" 
and one would think this a Christian message. The problem 
with "Godhead's love and grace" is that its expression is so lacking 
in our world. Christianity also struggles with the problem of how 
such a loving God can stand by and let such inhumanity continue 
through the ages. In short, the above ignores karma. And as far as I 
know, Theosophy is open to all too. I do not believe that Theosophy 
is elitist, an idea that comes from misunderstanding the meaning of
the word "esoteric."

<<<Theosophy without God posits the saint-like help of the Mahatmas 
or those Beings of the Nirmanyakaya. But the Nirmanyakaya or 
Sambhogya Kaya of the Bodhisattvas is not originally the last station 
before annihilation in a void Dharmakaya !>>>

Again, BAG misunderstands and so misrepresents Buddhism. Dharmakaya 
is not a void. The term void is an older translation of sunyata, 
which today is translated as emptiness. What is something empty of? 
According to Tzongkhapa, emptiness means empty of inherent existence 
or permanence. All conditional reality is empty of inherent existence 
and thus it constantly changes. Dharmakaya is, in fact, permanent and 
unchanging, and so is not empty or void and is qualified as suchness 
rather than emptiness. 

<<<Restoring the positive personalism of Pure Land Buddhism will be 
both a great reclamation and a great advancement for humankind.>>>

Perhaps, but it is not Theosophy. 

<<<Without devotion to HRIH / Amitabha-Lokeshvara (Krishna-Vishnu) 
voidist 'Buddhism' will forever remain a small-way school for self-
loathing, life and world-rejecting skeptics and cynics who can 
imaging nothing better than answering the problem of suffering by 
annihilating the sufferers. >>>

This statement so obviously misrepresents Buddhism as to defy my 
imagination. I read stuff like this back in the 50s and 60s by non-
Buddhist scholars, but I would have thought that such 
misrepresentations would have been cleared up by now. Let me just say 
that the underlying assumptions of this nasty statement are not 
Theosophical, and exist only in the minds of non-Buddhists.

<<<If there is no person who suffers, why bother to address the issue 
of suffering in the first place ? Why seek 'enlightenment' or perform 
acts of mercy ? Why is there Karma if there is no Atma? What / who is 
corrected or improved by karma-driven rebirth ? The non-sense 
explanations devised by the no-self an-atmist Buddhists and illusory-
self Mayavadi Hindus will always be doctrines subscribed to by a 
comparatively few esotericists and elite occultists who cannot stand 
to associate themselves with the spiritual common folk who have mere 
common sense. The T Buddhists, Mayavadis and Theosophists all have 
thought systems which lack a reasonable concept of origin for WHAT
IS. >>>

Here BAG demonstrates his ignorance of the Buddhist Doctrine of Two 
Truths(actually, if Buddhism really taught things like BAG says, I 
would dislike it too, but he is misprepresenting Buddhist teachings). 
There is a conditional reality and an ultimate reality. The "person 
who suffers" has a conditional reality. Karma and the skandhas exist 
conditonally, and so what need is there for atma? However, Blavatsky 
allows for atma as a conditional reality, but she acknowledges that 
it is collective and not individual. People devise doctrines and 
models and belief systems as a way to explain their experiences. If 
one's experiences did not jive with one's belief system, then the 
belief system would be thrown out. We have many belief systems, 
because we all interpret our experiences differently. When I raise my 
consciousness to spiritual realms, for example, I do not encounter 
God, nor Krishna, nor Siva, nor any Godhead nor do I have 
any "personal" experiences at all, etc. I encounter my own naked
and unadorned mind which is completely at one with the universe. How 
can I be expected to accept some deity, if I have never experienced 
it? And why should I? The Pure Land interpretation of "reality" is no 
better or worse than any other. The Theosophical model, based on the 
Esoteric Tradition, allows for all worldviews and sees them as our 
own interpretations of our experiences.

<<<BA G >For the Theosophists the cosmos IS periodically, but has no 
origin. For the T Buddhists IT ISN'T, so there is no question of an 
origin. For the Mayavadis the absolute IS, but being devoid of any 
variety, qualities or personality, it is only an energy-like SAT, not 
Chit or Ananda, and is without beginning or end, such concepts being 
only part of the maya or illusion of self-consciousness. >>>

Theosophy agrees here with Mahayana Buddhism, which sees the 
manifested cosmos as a beginningless and endless conditional reality. 
But while the cosmos itself has no beginning or end, we do. We begin 
when we enter it in ignorance (arigpa), and we end when we leave it 
in liberation (moksha).

<<<Without accepting proper instruction from any Vaishnava Masters, 
her exposition is quite flawed.>>>

Possibly flawed by Hindu standards, but then again Hindus standards 
are flawed by Buddhist standards so maybe things are even?

<<<What might she have achieved if she was not so hostile to 
Catholicism and Monotheism in general ? >>>

Not any more than she achieved while hostile (ie, she was just being 
honest with herself). Her hostility was, I think, justified.

<<<However, historically the devas have NO separate existence from 
the DEVA DEVA Who was considered their Origin. >>>

If Blavatsky was true to her Buddhism, then she did not believe that 
ANY deity has a separate and independent existence. Deities, like 
persons, have conditional reality.

NOTE: Any Theosophist can worship God, or a god, etc if they want to. 
One can be a Theosophist and practice bhakti yoga. I have tried it, 
but bhakti yoga is simply not an effective technique for me. So I 
don't practice it. I prefer shamanta and vipasyana meditations as 
described in Mahayana Buddhism, but I am eclectic and believe that 
people should use what works best for them.

Jerry S.

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