Nirvana: a Theosophical perspective

Discussion in 'Alternative' started by Nick the Pilot, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Hi everybody!

    Continuing on with the original theme of this thread, George Arundale describes objects (sentient beings) in Nirvana:

    “Each object is a personalization of Light-Sound, the personalization being the translation of Light-Sound in our lower worlds. Each object is a sun in humblest miniature, a tiny star, a world, a universe. Each object is a microscopic harmony. But each object, too, may have its elements of darkness and of discord, in which its true light and sound-values are thwarted. It is interesting to me to listen to and observe objects and to endeavor to sense their respective Sound and Light-formulae, their various vital notes and mystic chords.” (George Arundale, Nirvana — An Occult Experience, page 140)
     
  2. nativeastral

    nativeastral fluffy future

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    Objects 'in' nirvana or objects wherever? Buddha-dhatu within each of us..

    Nirvana Sutra :: Appreciation of the "Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra"

    the light/sounds very pythagorean and the sikhs too have these analogies in their religion [jot/light= satguru/true g#d reality,the 'unstruck' sound of the heart chakra and of course empahasis on kirtan or music/singing]. No doubt very familiar eastern concepts/ways of seeing and connecting with the divine [hence popularity of chakra therapy using colour/sounds/notes/mantras/light visualisations].

    What gets me is there is always a higher,higher para maha... just one way to explain the unexplainable,the unattainable, indescribable.

    A quick google brings up many light/sound gurus catering to the [new age market] spiritual seekers who perhaps don't want to trail through original sutras/ancient texts nor orientalist interpretations/theosophies but want the thrill of a personal master or guru to emulate.


    sorry if digressing..jainism was tongue in cheek but indian philosophies are incredibley diverse....pick whatever intuitively 'resonates' with your own 'vibratory' sound and hope your inner 'light' picks it up to play a harmonious tune.
     
  3. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Nativeastral,

    You asked,

    “Objects 'in' nirvana or objects wherever?”

    --> Yes. The objects being referred to are beings (not physical objects). I believe that the only objects in Nirvana are beings and entities. (There is no need for physical objects, or anything resembling physical objects, in Nirvana.)

    This gets us to a discussion of what Nirvana is. According to Theosophy, Nirvana is a plane of existence. We are now here in the Physical plane of existence. Theosophy also teaches of the Astral plane of existence. The Astral plane is where we do our astral traveling. It is also the first place we become conscious after we die. (Dead people can see us, and we can communicate with them while we are astral-traveling while we sleep at night. (Talking to recently dead people while we are asleep is a common “dream” that people have.) Thus, the Astral plane is a plane of existence, and it is only a matter of time before we stop being conscious on the Physical plane, and become conscious on Astral plane at death.)

    According to Theosophy, the next higher plane of existence is the Mental plane. This is the Heaven which is taught by all of the world’s major religions. As we continually cycle through reincarnation after reincarnation, we are continually cycling through consciousness on the Mental plane, then to the Physical plane, then back to the Mental plane, etc.

    Above the Mental plane is the Nirvanic plane of existence. Now I can answer your question. Yes, there are objects ‘in’ Nirvana. They are all of the beings that have achieved the ability to be conscious on the Nirvanic plane. (These beings are described as "lightning-standing-still," and I like that description. We, too, are nothing more than energy that is "lightning-standing-still," but we are presently unable to perceive of ourselves and perceive of the physical objects around us as "lightning-standing-still.") We, too, have Nirvanic bodies that are connected to our mental, astral, and physical bodies, but we are as yet unable to become conscious in our Nirvanic bodies. But that day will come, so Theosophy says. That is our goal of the path we are presently on. The day will come when we are 'saved' from the need for any more physical incarnations (something that can only be achieved through hard, hard work).

    Now we come to questions of Parinirvana, Mahaparinirvana, etc. These are descriptions of planes of existence that are above the Nirvanic plane of existence, in a seemingly endless chain of planes. The day will come when we rise to consciousness on each of these planes. This explains how Parinirvanic consciousness, as well as Nirvanic consciousness, is our goal.
     
  4. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    The Dhammapada in particular suggests that it entails ongoing personal discipline of vigilant mindfulness and a continual cultivation of non-attachment. There is no reason to believe it has to be an abrupt or dramatic development.

    The Dhammapada, for one, includes no positive description of Nirvana other than that the path is a peaceful one (quite different from some religious experiences.) The Dhammapada specifies the nature of the practice that presumably can lead up to the intended goal. Logistically, there is attainment to a state of being free from selfishness, sensual passions, and strong emotions. Practice depends on compassion as a motive force,


    Apart from the fact that we have so little detail on the Buddhist concept, why would you say this is different from what we know about the Buddhist view? In all of the following Dhammapada descriptions, there is references to a psychological development that could be called "nirvanic consciousness." It's said to be...
    ... a goal of discipline: "One is the quest for worldly gain, and quite another is the path to Nibbana. Clearly understanding this, let not the monk, the disciple of the Buddha, be carried away by worldly acclaim, but develop detachment instead." (75)

    ... liberation from attachment to sensory experiences: "The wise ones, ever meditative and steadfastly persevering, alone experience Nibbana, the incomparable freedom from bondage." (23)

    ....reward for compassion: "The monk who abides in universal love and is deeply devoted to the Teaching of the Buddha attains the peace of Nibbana, the bliss of the cessation of all conditioned things." (368)

    ... a state of mental clarity via the removal of stains from consciousness (like anger): "Those who are ever vigilant, who discipline themselves day and night, and are ever intent upon Nibbana — their defilements fade away." (226)

     
  5. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Netti-Netti,

    You mentioned that Nirvana:

    "…entails ongoing personal discipline of vigilant mindfulness and a continual cultivation of non-attachment."

    --> These two ideas seem to be speaking more about the requirements to achieve nirvana than the conditions within nirvana. Therefore, these two ideas seem to be talking more about enlightenment than nirvana. Theosophy makes a clear distinction between enlightenment and nirvana. Do you think Buddhism makes the same clear distinction?

    " There is no reason to believe it has to be an abrupt or dramatic development."

    --> There is no reason to believe the opposite, either.

    "The Dhammapada … includes no positive description of Nirvana…."

    --> Theosophy, on the other hand, does.

    "…the path is a peaceful one…."

    --> I see it the same way.

    "The Dhammapada specifies the nature of the practice that presumably can lead up to the intended goal."

    --> Again, this concerns practices that lead to the achieving of Nirvana, not what it is like to have achieved Nirvana. It also does not distinguish between enlightenment and Nirvana. (Theosophy clearly distinguishes between the two.) It merely speaks of the earthly path we are now on.

    "…a state of being free from selfishness, sensual passions, and strong emotions."

    --> I agree. Theosophy teaches that Nirvana is only achievable after a person’s lower principles are annihilated, and a person’s higher principles are perfected. The three things you have mentioned are utterly impossible once a person achieves nirvanic consciousness. But doesn't Buddhism say that these things are also possible for a person who has only achieved enlightenment and have not achieved Nirvana?

    "Practice depends on compassion as a motive force…."

    --> I have often defined Nirvana (not enlightenment) as doing nothing all day (24/7) but going around and doing nice things for people. Doing such a thing is impossible for us here in our earthly existence.

    "Nirvana is seen as becoming able to be conscious on a plane of consciousness called the Nirvanic plane of consciousness. --> …why would you say this is different from what we know about the Buddhist view?"

    --> Buddhism does not get into detailed description of the different types of consciousness possible for humans after death. I think it is safe to say that Buddhism does not discuss planes of existence, and does not describe the one particular plane of existence called Nirvana. Both Buddhism and Theosophy agree on the nature of Nirvana, but Theosophy goes into much more detail. There is no disagreement between Buddhism and Theosophy at all about Nirvana, just a difference in the amount of detailed description.

    "…In all of the following Dhammapada descriptions, there is references to a psychological development that could be called "nirvanic consciousness." It's said to be ... a goal of discipline: "One is the quest for worldly gain, and quite another is the path to Nibbana. Clearly understanding this, let not the monk, the disciple of the Buddha, be carried away by worldly acclaim, but develop detachment instead."

    --> Once again, these ideas refer to the path a person must follow on earth to make progress towards Nirvana, not conditions within Nirvana itself. They also make no distinction between enlightenment and Nirvana.

    "…liberation from attachment to sensory experiences: "The wise ones, ever meditative and steadfastly persevering, alone experience Nibbana, the incomparable freedom from bondage."

    --> Theosophy agrees that Nirvana is such freedom. But, in my humble opinion, Theosophy gives a much more detailed description of what that freedom consists of.

    "…the bliss of the cessation of all conditioned things."

    --> I have always found the Buddhist description of such a state quite confusing, and is similar to the description of Nirvana as the annihilation of a human being. Theosophy sees it quite differently. Also, I feel that Theosophy gives a much clearer explanation of what this cessation of conditioned things actually means. There is also the problem that the cessation of all conditioned things talks about what ends. It does not talk so much about what begins. Theosophy does both.

    And, Buddhism describes Nirvana as the annihilation of the entire essence of a human being. (Theosophy does not.) Such annihilation means nothing is left -- Theosophy takes a much more understandable approach to the question of annihilation.

    "... a state of mental clarity via the removal of stains from consciousness (like anger): "Those who are ever vigilant, who discipline themselves day and night, and are ever intent upon Nibbana — their defilements fade away."

    --> Theosophy agrees that Nirvana includes mental clarity and the inability to become angry. But, again, this is more a description of what Nirvana is not, rather than a description of what Nirvana is. It also describes what enlightenment is as well as Nirvana. I just to do not see Buddhism making a clear distinction between enlightenment and Nirvana. Theosophy does.
     
  6. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    Hi Nick,
    Where?

    Please cite relevant passages.
     
  7. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Let me look around and see what I can find.
     
  8. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    "Another point as to which there is a very similar misunderstanding is the constantly repeated assertion that nirvana is equivalent to annihilation. Even Max Mueller, the great Oxford Sanskritist, was under this delusion for many years, but later in his life with furthers and deeper study he came to understand that in this he had been mistaken. The description which the Lord Buddha Himself gives to nirvana is so far above the comprehension of any man who is trained only in ordinary and worldly methods of thought that it is little wonder that it should have been misunderstood at first sight by the European orientalists; but no one who has lived in the East among the Buddhists can for a moment suppose that they regard annihilation as the end which they are striving to reach.

    "It is quite true that the attaining of nirvana does involve the utter annihilation of that lower side of man which is in truth all that we know of him at the present time. The personality, like everything connected with the lower vehicles, is impermanent and will disappear. If we endeavor to realize what man would be when deprived of all which is included under these terms we shall see that for us at our present stage it would be difficult to comprehend that anything remained, and yet the truth is that everything remains — that in the glorified spirit which then exists, all the essence of all the qualities which have been developed through the centuries of strife and stress in earthly incarnation will inhere to the fullest possible degree. The man has become more than man, since he is now on the threshold of Divinity; yet he is still himself, even though it be a so much wider self.

    "Many definitions have been given of nirvana, and naturally none of them can possibly be satisfactory; perhaps the best on the whole is that of peace in omniscience. Many years ago when I was preparing a simple introductory catechism of their religion for Buddhist children, the chief Abbot Sumangala himself gave me as the best definition of nirvana to put before them that it was a condition of peace and blessedness so high above our present state that it was impossible for us to understand it. Surely that is far removed from the idea of annihilation. Truly all that we now call the man has disappeared, but that is not because the individuality is annihilated, but because it is lost in divinity.

    "The Buddha Himself once said: “Nirvana is not being, but also it is not non-being.”

    -The Inner Life, p. 75
     
  9. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Nirvana may be described as “another world,” another plane of existence, but people can achieve Nirvanic consciousness while still living in a physical body. George Arundale describes how he lives in a physical body during the day, yet rises up to Nirvanic consciousness at night, while his physical body is asleep:

    “Evening after evening I have shaken myself free from the shackles of the lower bodies and I have roamed in splendid regions, climbing from peak to peak of consciousness, standing on great summits of Buddhic and Nirvanic bliss. Morning after morning I return from these cherished pilgrimages and assume again the vestures of what now seems to be a prison-life. Plunge again and again I must into these shadow-worlds [the physical world], groping my way about, amidst confusion and clashing sounds of discord and of strife. Great is the strain of continual readjustment, and of the constant contrast between the Peace above and the War beneath. Are there no prospects of release? May I not let the lower worlds go? Have I not done with them? If I may leave them for the time, may I not leave them for all time? True, I am not unhappy, for there is work to do, and the Wardens of the Gates of the lower worlds are kindly. But at times I long for Nirvana unbroken by these constant descents into what seem to be the dungeons of life. I seem so terribly shut off from the wonders I know in the higher worlds, the glorious worlds within, with a sunshine and freedom in such vivid contrast with the darkness and restriction of these lower spheres....

    “Can I not escape my prison? Is release impossible? I would be finally free as all in Nirvana are free. I would for ever bask in the eternal sunshine in which they bathe. I too would for ever wander in that Elysian region, growing aDd yet so indescribably at rest, so free from all the irksomeness of prison life and discipline. As I thus yearn, suddenly the way of escape opens. From without a whisper comes: "Be it as you will. A friend will open to you for the last time your prison gates. Enter into freedom and return no more." And as I realize the wonderful possibility, there seems to come upon me the sense of a great expectancy without, of a great welcome waiting for me as I cast off for the last time my — ‘prison fetters‘ is the word that comes — and yet, looking back, I see that these fetters are in reality more vows than fetters, so I almost feel constrained to write prison-vows rather than prison-fetters. But at the time I do not think of them as vows. They seem fetters, and I am impatient to be rid of them. I resolve I will be free, and as I so resolve the I barriers fall away, and I find myself issuing forth again into the indescribable glories of unutterable freedom.” (George Arundale, Nirvana — An Occult Experience, pages 230 - 232)
     
  10. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    Here's an article by Suvanno Mahathera explaining the Buddhist scheme of things. He describes 31 planes of existence.
    http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/allexistence.pdf


     
  11. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Netti-Netti,

    You are correct. I meant to say planes as Theosophy defines them. But I now realize that different Buddhists will define planes differently. I apologize.
     
  12. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    George Arundale describes looking at physical objects after having achieved Nivanic Consciousness:

    “... I cannot walk in the garden, through the Australian bush on my way to work in town, without perceiving everything around me in terms of the Light I know. The growing grass, the trees swaying in the breeze, the birds singing in the air and flying from tree to tree, the insects crawling on the ground, the very earth I tread in all its varied forms of rock and mould, the water trickling down the hill-side, the very air I breathe: all is imprisoned splendour, sacred to every sense I possess. I am more in tune than ever before with the Purpose of Life. I see God working out His Purpose in all around me; and all around me is shining Light, restless, ordered growth-movement. Color, form, place, storm, sound, stillness, time — all are growth, because Light ever shines. It is the nature of Light to shine....” (George Arundale, Nirvana — An Occult Experience, pages 95-96)
     
  13. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    George Arundale describes the sense of universal consciousness, the sense of being one with all:

    “It seems to me also that I am in constant contact with all outside me. This is probably a way of putting the fact that I am conscious on the plane of Universal consciousness, on which time and space are non-existent. An act of consciousness — and I contact whatever I desire to contact. It is not a question of going anywhere, of projection, but rather of tuning, and not even of tuning, but rather of attending. The act of attention makes the contact.” (George Arundale, Nirvana — An Occult Experience, page 34)
     
  14. Dharmaatmaa

    Dharmaatmaa New Member

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    Is the G. Arundale a nirvani?! I'd never believe it. I quess, even Blavatsky wasn't a nirvani. Many mahatmas aren't nirvani...
    If he was not, then how can he know what really nirvana is?

    I just want to say that theosophy is an art of free-thinking. We shouldn't learn by rote different articles and opinions. We must learn to think only.
     
  15. Dharmaatmaa

    Dharmaatmaa New Member

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    Besides, our second object (purpose, in Russian tradiion) is to study different religions and philosophies. I think it'd be more useful to analize here some quotations from Sankhya, Vedanta, or maybe Hinduism and Buddhism texts. :)
     
  16. nativeastral

    nativeastral fluffy future

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    the acute awareness, dissolving of subject/object of arundale describes the after effects of continued meditation.
    l read [buddhanet?] the mahayana buddhist nagarjuna [2nd Century AD] said
    'there is not the slightest difference between samsara and nirvana' ie 2 sides of the same coin.
     
  17. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Dharmaatmaa,

    You asked,

    "Is the G. Arundale a nirvani?! I'd never believe it."

    --> He said he was.

    "I quess, even Blavatsky wasn't a nirvani."

    --> It is hard to say. She said she was in her last physical birth, so she probably achieved enlightenment and nirvanic consciousness sometime during her life. She also may have been an Avatara, although I think that is less likely.

    "Many mahatmas aren't nirvani..."

    --> If you are referring to the two Mahatmas who started the Theosophical Society, they were not. They were two individuals who achieved enlightenment, but chose not to enter Nirvana, in order to remain here on earth and help us. Many Buddhists refer to such people as Bodhisattvas, but Theosophy uses the techinical term Nirmanakaya to refer to such people.

    "If he was not, then how can he know what really nirvana is?"

    --> He said he had achieved nirvanic consciousness. I think Buddha did the same thing, even though Buddha continued to live for (I think ) 20 years in his physical body after he achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. Arundale says he was conscious in his physical body during the day, then conscious in his nirvanic body while he slept. However, even during the day, he was able to perceive physical objects differently during the day, because a certain amount of separation between him and the physical objects around him had been removed thanks to his "nirvanic abilities." (The sense of separation that you and I have about each other is an illusion -- a basic Buddhist and Theosophical teaching -- and part of this illusion is removed when we achieve nirvanic consciousness.) Plants do have a certain level of consciousness (altough nothing resembling the human level of consciousness) and Arundale was able to immediately connect psychically to the tiny bit of suffering the plants felt as the gardener cut back the plants.

    "I just want to say that theosophy is an art of free-thinking. We shouldn't learn by rote different articles and opinions. We must learn to think only."

    --> That is one of the best things I like about Theosophy: Everyone is forced to decide for themselves what they do and do not believe. No one should rely on dogma, etc., for what they believe. Theosophy forces a great deal of responsibility on its members. Although this is painful for some people, I think it is a good thing.

    "I think it'd be more useful to analize here some quotations from Sankhya, Vedanta, or maybe Hinduism and Buddhism texts."

    --> Let's see what you come up with. I would like to see what those traditions have in common with Theosophy. All religious traditions evolved from the one original religion on earth, so there is much in common that we can discuss.
     
  18. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    nativeastral,

    I, too, have heard the statement that Samsara and Nirvana are the same thing. I think what they are trying to say is, every physical object has a corresponding nirvanic object on the Nirvanic Plane of Existence. Physical objects are nothing more than emanations from nirvanic objects. One way of looking at it is, the difference between a physical rock and the nirvanic point of light that is the corresponding nirvainc object for the physical rock is only a matter of perception (for those beings that can perceive objects on both the Physical and Nirvanic planes.) It is only a matter of difference in perception, which is what I think Nargajuna meant. We must also remember that both physical objects and nirvanic objects are only illusions, so that also means they are only different versions of the same thing -- illusion.
     
  19. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Here is Mr. Arundale’s account of achieving oneness with an orange grove:

    “I remember sitting at the window of my room in the hotel in which a party of us were staying, and I was listlessly dreaming. All of a sudden my half non-seeing eyes rested on the orange grove in the little valley beneath, and I found myself peculiarly, wonderfully, identified with the orange trees, with their very life and being. I was at my window, yet was I also in the orange grove — indeed, I was the orange grove. It was almost as if my consciousness flickered between George Arundale as George Arundale and George Arundale as the orange grove. I was two entities, yet one. And as I lived as the orange grove a gardener entered and began to pluck some of the oranges and to cut off some of the branches. All these things the gardener was doing to me. I rebelled — not as George Arundale might rebel, not with my mind and my will, but as orange groves apparently do rebel. I was conscious of discomfort, of loss, not exactly of pain but of something next door to it. I was the more discomforted because the gardener did not treat me reverently or affectionately, but as if I were inanimate with no feelings, with no capacity for sensation. Why could he not realise that the same life was in us both? If he had only had the attitude of asking my permission, of begging my pardon, for his actions, of conveying to me that I could make others happy by sharing myself with them, I should not have minded so much. But he was callous, selfish, and treated the orange grove as a slave instead of as a comrade. He hurt me every time be plucked an orange or cut off a branch. With a different attitude on his part, he might have had all my oranges, all my branches, and we might have rejoiced together, for we could have worked together. As it was, being at his mercy and treated as his chattel, life was only just worth living, and I was a poor orange grove, because uncared for.

    “This experience of consciousness in the vegetable kingdom opened before my eyes In entirely new conception of consciousness at different levels of unfoldment, and of the implications of the all-embracing unity. I have never been the same since. I have never been able to pluck a flower, or even to uproot a weed, without as it were silently explaining my reasons to the plant or to the weed, requesting a sacrifice for some definite, I will not necessarily say larger, good. And I have never found any lack of cooperation.” (George Arundale, Nirvana — An Occult Experience, pages xi - xiii)
     
  20. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Here is the idea of us entering Nirvana as a spark that becomes a flame.

    “Every [soul] is fundamentally a spark of the divine triad; he cannot merge into that of which he is already a part. Surely a better explanation of what happens would be to say that as he evolves the spark develops into flame; he becomes more and more conscious of his unity with the divine, and so the Logos is able more and more to manifest Himself through him.” (The Inner Life, page 147)
     

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