Nirvana: a Theosophical perspective

Nick the Pilot

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Nirvana has been criticised as being a theory of annihilation. This idea is answered.

“...there is no loss of individuality [in Nirvana], of the power to think, to plan and to act. Long before that there is an entire loss of the sense of separateness, but that is a very different thing.” (The Inner Life, page 148)
 

Bandit

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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)


This is great. Sadly that gardner does not have a labor of love in what he does. I doubt very many humans will ever understand or be able to experience what this is like, let alone explain it that well. This kind of thing has always come natural for me. I do not view myself as better or above, just different from the garden and I do indeed view my gardens as a comrade. Very nice.

Though I have no problem of ridding of certain poison vines or toxic plants, to protect myself and the fruits. If cut or pinched correctly, picking a flower and fruit does not harm the plant but can help it.
 

nativeastral

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This is great. Sadly that gardner does not have a labor of love in what he does. I doubt very many humans will ever understand or be able to experience what this is like, let alone explain it that well. This kind of thing has always come natural for me. I do not view myself as better or above, just different from the garden and I do indeed view my gardens as a comrade. Very nice.

Though I have no problem of ridding of certain poison vines or toxic plants, to protect myself and the fruits. If cut or pinched correctly, picking a flower and fruit does not harm the plant but can help it.

it is well known that treating plants as sentient [or rather the deva forces?] influences their growth, as studies of healers has shown. the man who founded bach flower remedies was especially attuned; l try to convey intentions when l garden [when picking for particular occasions] but it is easy to slip into slaying mercilicly whilst in amongst the 'weeds of disorder' for what is a garden but a man made design?

have been reading up on buddhism concerning enlightenment/nirvana which l have came to the conclusion is synonymous, whereas paranirvana was when the Buddha 'passed away'. the spark you speak of seems to be the buddha nature in all of us and so could be equated with soul [though of course not in a personal or permanent way such as in christianity] and enlightenment/nirvana is an experiential mode that is only achieved by the few whilst alive, and sporadically by those ordinary mortals in their aha moments, or when meditating praying etc, when subject/object is dissolved [when one 'meets' g#d] etc etc.
what do you think? can you expand on the theosophical distinctions more?

btw happy beltane blessings to one and all:)
 

Bandit

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it is well known that treating plants as sentient [or rather the deva forces?] influences their growth, as studies of healers has shown. the man who founded bach flower remedies was especially attuned; l try to convey intentions when l garden [when picking for particular occasions] but it is easy to slip into slaying mercilicly whilst in amongst the 'weeds of disorder' for what is a garden but a man made design?

have been reading up on buddhism concerning enlightenment/nirvana which l have came to the conclusion is synonymous, whereas paranirvana was when the Buddha 'passed away'. the spark you speak of seems to be the buddha nature in all of us and so could be equated with soul [though of course not in a personal or permanent way such as in christianity] and enlightenment/nirvana is an experiential mode that is only achieved by the few whilst alive, and sporadically by those ordinary mortals in their aha moments, or when meditating praying etc, when subject/object is dissolved [when one 'meets' g#d] etc etc.
what do you think? can you expand on the theosophical distinctions more?

btw happy beltane blessings to one and all:)

We have the same approach to this.

I actually let quite a few weeds of disorder grow where they may and they get there own areas, but do make sure they are not allowed to kill off any favorites, considering one mans weed is another mans favorite:). I am in seedling mode right now and it feels great. I don't explain how to enter into these things because I have never had to try as it is something that comes to me and not I to it. I am just able to do it and don't give much thought to it as how or why. I am one with the earth all the time though there are highlights when my god reveals himself to me through the earth or some form of communication and often unexpected or in hindsight. I was aware of Nirvana before I ever knew there was a word for it. I am not one to explain my deeper beliefs and experiences in the open and prefer a private one on one dialogue. [hope you understand & maybe we can do that one day]

I also wonder if many elderly folks experience nirvana for the first time later in life like perhaps the last few years, after they have exhausted of everything else, it comes to them. This might seem weird but I have found that the farther I am away from humans and religions the closer I get to the things that bring me peace and happiness, which could be done thru prayer, fasting, meditation. I have also found that allowing it to happen is what works, rather than trying to force something...I am sure you know what I mean:) I would also do away with the terms and labels like Mahaparinirvana, though I understand some people only do that to explain the differences.

I think the garden approach was an excellent way of explaining what some call Nirvana. It isn't the only way but a good way to explain it.I suppose what I find simple might not be so simple for everyone.

Another thing that is like this is something I call Big and Small. It is where you become big or small in a situation or place and it is done through an illusion and your whole perspective of things change, kind of like the orange grove, but it can also be used in reality to get things you need properly without disturbing much. Have you ever done that? There is a name for it in religion but I do not recall.
 

nativeastral

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quote bandit:
'Another thing that is like this is something I call Big and Small. It is where you become big or small in a situation or place and it is done through an illusion and your whole perspective of things change, kind of like the orange grove, but it can also be used in reality to get things you need properly without disturbing much. Have you ever done that? There is a name for it in religion but I do not recall.'

sorry must sleep on that intriguing paragraph! [though it sounds familiar..]
 

Nick the Pilot

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Bandit,

There is one thing that needs to be emphasized, and that is the idea of separateness. Buddhism and Theosophy teach that there in so self, and that is true. But what it means is that there is no separateness between you and I. Separateness is an artificial condition that has been placed upon you and I. We will experience the true nature of a higher level of reality when this separateness is removed, and you become me, and I become you.

What I am saying, then, is that Mr. Arundale had more than just an Aha! experience. He actually removed the sense of separateness that had existed between him and the orange grove. This is what I see as nirvanic consciousness. I look forward to the day when I have left earth far behind, and I am "in" a place where separateness does not exist.
 

Nick the Pilot

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nativeastral,

You said,

"it is well known that treating plants as sentient [or rather the deva forces?] influences their growth, as studies of healers has shown."

--> They have hooked plants up to lie-detector machines. They did some amazing things with these experiments. The most amazing thing was when a man in another room merely thought the thought of ripping the plant to shreds and destroying it. The needle hooked up to the plant went off the scale. Amazing!

"have been reading up on buddhism concerning enlightenment/nirvana which l have came to the conclusion is synonymous, whereas paranirvana was when the Buddha 'passed away'."

--> I disagree. But I will let Buddhists define nirvana as they may. But, as you have shown, many Buddhists define enlightenment and nirvana as the same thing. This makes no sense to me. Why have two words for the same concept? Obviously Buddha had two different concepts in mind when he used the two words enlightenment and nirvana. I feel that attempts to define enlightenment and nirvana as the same thing are misguided, and also show that Buddha's original teachings have been changed. There are also people who say that parinirvana and mahaparinirvana are the same thing, which I think is just more of the same old story.

"the spark you speak of seems to be the buddha nature in all of us and so could be equated with soul [though of course not in a personal or permanent way such as in christianity]...."

--> I agree.

"...sporadically by those ordinary mortals in their aha moments, or when meditating praying etc, when subject/object is dissolved [when one 'meets' g#d] etc etc."

--> It is very common for people to think of enlightenment and nirvana as being the same, and also to think of enlightenment/nirvana as some type of Aha! experience. Theosophy sees enlightenment and Nirvana as two very different things, and sees neither as an Aha! experience.

Enlightenment is seen as an Initiation, and a formal ceremony in which the person is finally relased from the need for any more forced reincarnations. Of course, reincarnations can still continue, but the conditions become quite different (and much better -- the need for suffering has disappeared). It is said that enlightenment is when a person is "saved" from further forced reincarnations, and it is this original meaning that Christians have borrowed to say that they have been saved. Theosophy says that being saved and achieving enlightenment are the very same thing, and can only be achieved through hard work -- Jesus cannot save us, we can only save ourselves. (This makes a lot of sense to me, and removes all of the inequalities that Christianity teaches.)

Nirvana, on the other hand, is different. According to Theosophy, Nirvana is a state of consciousness like the physical state of consciousness, the astral state of consciousness (astral travel, which is something that everyone does while asleep at night), etc. But Nirvanic consciousness is seen as being at a much higher level than physical, astral, or mental consciousness.

This also allows for the Theosophical belief that both Heaven and Nirvana "happen." I see no conflict between the ideas of Heaven and Nirvana whatsoever.
 

Nick the Pilot

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Bandit,

You said,

"I was aware of Nirvana before I ever knew there was a word for it. I am not one to explain my deeper beliefs and experiences in the open and prefer a private one on one dialogue. [hope you understand & maybe we can do that one day]"

--> I understand exactly what you are saying. It makes me wonder if you have already achieved nirvanic consciousnes as defined by Theosophy, and also if you are ready to achieve full conscousness on the Nirvanic Plane of Existence soon.

"I have also found that allowing it to happen is what works, rather than trying to force something...I am sure you know what I mean:) "

--> I do!

"I would also do away with the terms and labels like Mahaparinirvana, though I understand some people only do that to explain the differences."

--> I disagree. I see Mahaparinirvana as being completely different than Parinirvana, which is also completely different from Nirvana. Such terminology is absolutely essential for my belief system. Buddhists may argue that Parinirvana and Mahaparinirvana are the same, but I strongly disagree. (But I also respect a Buddhist's right to belive that Parinirvana and Mahaparinirvana are the same.)
 

Nick the Pilot

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Hi everybody!

There is one more aspect of nirvanic annihilation that needs to be covered. As a matter of fact, Theosophy does teach that part of the "soul" gets annihilated upon achieving nirvanic consciousness. But Theosophy teaches that there are seven aspects to a person's "soul" (three higher aspects and four lower aspects). According to Theosophy, the four lower aspects of a person are annihilated upon the achieving of Nirvana. The three higher aspects are not annihilated upon achieving Nirvana, but become more alive than ever.
 

nativeastral

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hi nick
had to look up aha to see whether we were thinking the same thing; found this interesting pdf which confirms aha is not sudden as supposed but accumulative, therefore in line with our discussion.

http://www.bfe.org/articles/Aha Somatics.English.pdf

so you are saying enlightenment is a formal ceremony? whereas others would state they 'came' to that realization, that 'illumination' without such initiations.

l can understand about 'bits' of the soul being annhilated [burnt off/destroyed] to enlarge/brighten the 'higher parts'; can also see why christians for instance, and others who see the soul as indivisible/immutable, would baulk at such a view. These persepctives were channeled or passed down by living gurus to Blavatsky?
 

Nick the Pilot

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nativeastral,

I think we are on the same page as to what an Aha! moment is. Certainly, having an Aha! moment is the culmination of accumulating a great deal of information. But there is that moment when everything suddenly falls into place, which is the moment of the Aha!

"so you are saying enlightenment is a formal ceremony?"

--> Yes.

"whereas others would state they 'came' to that realization, that 'illumination' without such initiations."

--> It all depends on one's definiton of enlightenment. It also depends on one's definition of why we are here on earth, what we have to do to move onto the next level of existence beyond earthly existence, and what that beyond-earthly existence will be like.

But your statement begs the questions. What kind of realization? What kind of illumination? What kind of knowledge do "Aha! moment enlightenment experiencers" now possess?

But let's not lose sight of the idea of Aha! moments. Of course they happen. Some people think enlightenment is an Aha! moment, while other people do not. Everyone has to put together a religious belief system that works for them. It seems clear that both types of belief system appeal to a particular kind of person. Theosophy encourages people to find which belief system that works for them, instead of blindly following someone else's belief system.

"l can understand about 'bits' of the soul being annhilated [burnt off/destroyed] to enlarge/brighten the 'higher parts'...."

--> I am glad such an idea makes sense to you, even if it may not fit into your personal belief system. (Does it?)

"...can also see why christians for instance, and others who see the soul as indivisible/immutable, would baulk at such a view."

--> Fortunately, Theosophy teaches that a good Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, etc., is making progress towards enlightenment no matter what their belief system is. (This is one of Theosophy's most appealing aspects for me.)

"These perspectives were channeled or passed down by living gurus to Blavatsky?"

--> Yes. According to the theory, these gurus have already been through the enlightenment experience, have chosen to forgo Nirvana, and have remained on earth to help us accelerate our progress along the path to enlightenment. Such a person is called a Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism, and being a Bodhisattva is a goal that is held up very highly by many Mahayana Buddhists. (It has been said that the Bodhisattva concept is the biggest difference between Mahayana Buddhism and Theravadan Buddhism.)

Nativeastral, what is your plan for after your enlightenment? Will you enter Nirvana, or will you stay here on earth to help the rest of us who are still unable to achieve enlightenment?

By the way, I like this theory because it makes sense to me (and no other theory makes sense to me). If you can find a flaw in this way of thinking, please share it with us.
 

nativeastral

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hi nick

l get bogged down by the details,doctrines fractually endless interpretations of religious 'systems' so tend to stay outwith them [and why l didn't study astrology as extensively as would have liked,too].
Maybe in a past life l went down that road...l think l'm coming back too..
 

Nick the Pilot

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Hi everybody!

Here is the often-quoted “the dewdrop slips into the shinning sea” analogy to Nirvana.

“Sir Edwin Arnold wrote of that beatific condition ‘the dewdrop slips into the shinning sea.’ Those who have passed through that most marvelous of experiences know that, paradoxical as it may seem, the sensation is exactly the reverse, and that a far closer description would be that the ocean had somehow been poured into the drop!” (The Inner Life, page 148)

We can only imagine what this is actually refers to. The true experience of Nirvana must be something quite unexplainable in an earthly language.
 

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Hi everybody!

Here is a description of entering Nirvava as both a spark which will return to its flame, and a drop which will return to the ocean.

“Where is thy individuality, Lanoo [Disciple], where the Lanoo himself? It is the spark lost in the fire, the drop within the ocean, the ever-present Ray become the all and the eternal radiance.” (H. P. Blavatsky, The Voice of the Silence, p. 20)
 

Nick the Pilot

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NA,

No, Theosophy does not teach that we are already enlightened. Our main goal in earthly life is to make progress towards becoming enlightened.

Many Buddhists have said, as you say, that we are enlightened and we do not know it. I disagree. But I think what they are referring to is that we have nirvanic bodies just as we have physical, astral, and mental bodies. We have nirvanic bodies, we just do not know how to become conscious in them. This is how I interpret the idea that we are enlightened, we just do not know it.

No, the seven Rays are not the seven aspects of a person's "soul." There are seven basic types of personalities that people have, each one based on a particular Ray. The first Ray is the devotional type of person, so common among evangelical Christians. However, Theosophy teaches that there are six other types of people that are not of the devotional type. This is another reason why a devotional type of religion does not work for many people, that Theosophy encourages different types of religions to exist, and that the evangelical Christian's claim that a devotional religion works for everyone does not make sense from a Theosophical point of view.

Here is a chart I made of the seven principles of a person's "soul."

individualization.gif



The four lower aspects drop off as a person goes through death, while the three higher principles continue through each reincarnation. (The three higher principles "detach" from the four lower principles at death.) New "copies" of the four lower principles are assembled for each new reincarnation.

It should also be noted that even the third principle -- Manas, Mind, a person's intellectual ability -- is no longer needed in Nirvana, and is released when a person enters Nirvana. Nirvana is such a high level of consciousness that Manas cannot exist in Nirvana, that such intelligence is too coarse a principle to exist in Nirvana. (Many people have a hard time imagining an existence in Nirvana without their intellectual abilities, but that is exactly how Theosophy describes conditions within Nirvana. This gets close to the true meaning of the Buddhist and Theosophical concept of no-self, a concept that is difficult for many people to grasp.)

On more thing. Many people say that the Hindu and Theosophical concept of Atma/Atman is equal to the Christian concept of soul. As you can see, there is a big difference between the two concepts.
 
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