Nirvana: a Theosophical perspective

a university course; but as l'm in 2 minds it may show and am unprepared [see no forward planning ouch!]
Here is a well-known “center everywhere” quote.

“That [nirvanic] consciousness, wide as the sea, with ‘its center everywhere and its circumference nowhere,’ is a great and glorious fact.“ (The Inner Life, page 148)
Hi everybody.

Here is another quote, hinting at Nirvana as being the opposite of annihilation.

“...but when a man attains [Nirvana], it seems to him that his consciousness has widened to take in all that, not that he is merged into something else. And he is right, for that which he had ignorantly supposed to be his consciousness was never his at all, but only the shining of the divine power and wisdom and love through him, and he is now at last beginning to realize that stupendous fact.“ (The Inner Life, page 148)
'Vedanta's fundamental principle is that because there is no such thing as the "I," you cannot
live for yourself, whether "you" are an individual, a family, a community, a nation or a race.
It is not truth and therefore such separation will go, even though it will take a long time'

PBThesisPt1.pdf (application/pdf Object)

dont know if you are familiar with paul brunton, but he did engage with theosophy for a while, and this thesis l found would be interesting to those studying orientalism. if anyone finds his work online, please let me know!

The concept of no-self or no-I are important concepts in Theosophy and Buddhism (and apparently in Hinduism too, from the looks of your post). The concept of no-self is also important in this discussion of Nirvana, because Nirvana is a condition where "that which separates you from me" begins to get stripped away.

I find it fascinating that the concept of no-self does not get much acknowledgement in Christianity. It does get mentioned right on the first page of the Bible. The Firmament is an important element of the Christian story, and it is this Firmament that "separates us from God" (to use Christian-like terminology). It is good to know that even Christianity teaches the concept of no-self (and, by extention, the concept of Nirvana) if we just know where to look for it. It also supports the idea that all major religions sprouted from one original religion -- another key Theosophical teaching.

...Did you get the university course?
hi nick
l forgot to mention that quote was from a 'neo hindu' pandit called Iyer who followed an inclusivist approach after Vivekananda [the disciple of Ramakrishna] who represented 'sanatana dharma' by attending the Parliament of religions in Chicago in the late 1800's. He [Iyer] thought it fortuitous and fated to bring about this message during the Hitler era.

sometimes things upside down or inside out look the same!

l wont hear about course yet but blanked out during it whilst recalling that my van had broken down the night before and was stuck illegally somewhere far away:(
"...stuck illegally somewhere...."

Hi everybody!

Here is another quote which says that, compared to nirvanic consciousness, the physical world is a delusion.
“The truth is that what is commonly understood by individuality is a delusion and has never existed....” (The Inner Life, page 148)
Nirvana as being everywhere at once.
“Any description of Nirvana which we may attempt must sound strange. No words that we can use can give even the least idea of such an experience as that, for all with which our minds are acquainted has long ago disappeared before that level is attained.... The man feels as if he were everywhere, but could focus anywhere within himself, and wherever for a moment the outpouring of force diminishes, that is for him a body.” (The Masters and the Path p. 200)​
Another thought on Nirvana not being annihiliation.

It has been said that Nirvana is annihiliation, the disappearance of the very essence of our being. Theosophy teaches the opposite. Nirvana is seen as an increase in our abilites, not a decrease. One author described Nirvana as fullness, not emptiness:
“So often the expressions used [to describe Nirvana] may seem to indicate a void. Hence the western idea of annihilation. If you think of it as fullness, you will realise that the consciousness expands more and more, without losing utterly the sense of identity; if you could think of a center of a circle without a circumference, you would glimpse the truth.” (George Arundale, Nirvana — An Occult Experience, page 244)

"...stuck illegally somewhere...."


yeh l know, was rolling about myself at the time trying to get the frigging bust tyre off then knocking a rusty nut with a wrench trying to get the spare tyre out then finding it bare, flat and the wrong size! no delusion of the physical world there. no discrepancy between appearance and reality!

any one got a vehicle.must run well, have an m.o.t. preferably with a towbar
and must be very cheap??!!
Nick the Pilot,

I've got no time to read the thread now, so I can't partake in the discussion. I just wanted to do what I promised a couple of months ago.
You said that I could give you an address of the electronic form of the theosophical paper, in where is situated the article I translated to Russian.
It's A.P. Sinnett's article about the septenary chains of planets called Esoteric Teaching. To be frank, it wasn't read in Russia before, and was widely discussed when the translation was prepared.
Now, it was published in "The Theosophical Bulletin" (Теософский Вестник) of Moscow.
You can find it here - It's all in Russian, but what I have to say - we live in a globalization world.

I am glad to see that Theosophy is slowly being translated into Russian.

The idea that the Earth is part of a chain of seven planets is a basic Theosophical concept. Thanks for helping to spread such basic teachings.
Here is another anti-annihilation quote:

“Madame Blavatsky often spoke of [nirvanic] consciousness as having its center everywhere and its circumference nowhere, a profoundly suggestive sentence, attributed variously to Pascal, Cardinal de Cusa and the Zohar, but belonging by right to the Books of Hermes. Far indeed from annihilation [annihilation as used to describe Nirvana] is such consciousness; the Initiate reaching it has not in the least lost the sense that he is himself; his memory is perfectly continuous; he is the same man, yet all this as well, and now indeed he can say ‘I am I’ knowing what ‘I’ really means.” (The Masters and the Path p. 199)
George Arundale wrote of Nirvana as love:
"Nirvana ... is not annihilation, but an infinitely deeper radiance, an infinitely deeper wisdom, power, love." (George Arundale, Nirvana — An Occult Experience, page 120)​
George Arundale wrote of Nirvana as radiance.
“Trying to describe what I must call down here the Nirvanic body, the only word that comes to me in substitution for ‘body’ is radiance....

“In some ways, from the standpoint of the lower planes, the word transcendence is more appropriate even than radiance, for it indicates the going beyond every single limitation worn by the planes beneath. Time, space, form — these are transcended. They have ceased to manifest, though remaining in potentiality.... I am well aware that such transcendence suggests an annihilation of all that on the lower planes seems to make life real-the ego, the personality, the individuality. If these are gone, what remains? Is Nirvana, after all, the annihilation which some philosophers have thought it to be?

“My answer is that all these things, however substantial they may appear down here, however much they may seem to be our ultimate foundation, are themselves but reflections of a nobler substans, themselves rest on deeper foundations still. Individualized Divinity exists in Nirvana, and doubtless in para-Nirvana too, even though its reflections as time, space, form and as the lower individualities we know as ego, personality and individuality, are unmanifest, potential. We have to learn that individuality does not necessarily demand description in terms of time and space and form as we know these in the outer worlds. There is individuality in other terms, in terms of Nirvanic time, Nirvanic space, Nirvanic form-the archetypes of lower time, lower space, lower form.” (George Arundale, Nirvana — An Occult Experience, pages 111-112)​
Forsaking Nirvana to Do Service Here in the Physical World

George Arundale wrote: (Note Mr. Arundale's description of this physical world as a prison-world.)
“I have entered Eternity. The past is for ever behind me. I am delightfully lost in the rapture of pure being. I am. And in these two words is a fathomless, limitless ocean of bliss supreme. But stay! What is this that I hear? What sounds are these that enter into my joy? Can it be — yes, it is — the call of my prison-worlds. But what have I now to do with my prison-worlds? They are behind me, and never need I return to them again. As I realize that I am free, so gloriously free, I feel how wonderful it is to know my safety in the power of this freedom. No power from prison-world can draw me back, for the power of my freedom transcends all other power below. For a moment again I lose myself in rhythmic ecstasy, and then — what is this strange thing which has come upon me? Am I dissatisfied with such a freedom? Am I, it seems impossible, beginning to want to return? It is true. Across the infinite spaces I have placed between myself and the far-off prison-worlds, come to me the cries of those whom prison-fetters still are binding. Can I honorably ignore them? Yes; and yet I cannot ignore them. Let this freedom, this ecstasy, go. I will have none of it while prison-worlds still call — prison-worlds of every kingdom, prison-worlds of the worlds, of systems, of universes. And as I thus resolve, I find myself apparently turning away from my bliss, and all Nature round me watches my return in solemn stillness, and, I must add for truth's sake though I shrink from writing the words, almost as if in homage.

“Back, back, I go, and at last I am at the doors of that prison-world I left so recently, but which seems an eternity away from me. The doors open. I enter. And as I enter, it is as if I heard: ‘You went to your freedom as was your right, for you have won it. The call of freedom came, and your ears were ready to hear, for you had fulfilled many of those vows the Monad made in the beginning of time, and in their fulfilment their fetters must needs drop away. Yet for many of your comrades from long ago the fetters still remain; and you have done well to heed the cry which came to you across the empty spaces. No bliss, however rapturous, must ever dull the ear to the cry of suffering and need; rather must it make the ear more sensitive, and the feet more speedy to succor.’

“And so I find myself back in the old routine of prison-life, and am content, for I am needed where I am. But what is this change which has come about? Surely I am not still in prison? Is there a mistake? Have I felt the cry unheeded? I look around me. The age-old prison-world is round me. Yet I am different. I have not returned alone. Something glorious has returned with me, and in its magic the imprisonment seems no imprisonment. It is imprisonment, and yet it is not. Slowly upon me dawns the fact that while the form is there, the life has become free. I dwell a free man in the form. No longer am I bound upon it. No longer need I return to it life after life its slave, though I may return its master. Form has become the servant of my life. Another miracle of transubstantiation, for within the forms freedom has been substituted for necessity. Have I not brought Nirvana back with me? Have not the swaying ecstasies of Divinity-attuned rhythm entered into my very being, thus abiding with me even in the prison-worlds? All I thought I must leave is with me forever. There is no loss in renunciation, only gain. There is no loss in sacrifice, only gain. And this gain is the supreme gain of gains — the gain of added Unity, and of the Love, the Wisdom and the Power which are its threefold agpect.” (George Arundale, Nirvana — An Occult Experience, pages 233-235)​
Apparently Gautama Buddha attained Nirvana shortly before is death. I think he was in his eighties. What is the trajectory/time frame for Theosophists?

As far as I can tell, the "trajectory/time frame for Theosophists" is the same for Buddhists and Hindus. A person achieves enlightenment during his or her lifetime, and then lives out the rest of his or her physical life. Then, the person can either enter Nirvana, or return for another physical rebirth. (There are also intermediary options available, called Sambhogakaya. I wonder if Vaj, etc., will agree with me on this....)

The only real difference that I see between Theosophy and Buddhism is the idea of achieving nirvanic consciousness at the moment of enlightenment. I have not heard such teachings from Buddhist teachers.

It should be pointed out that Buddha lived for many years after achieving enlightenment, then entered Nirvana after his physical death. This follows the Theosophical as well as Buddhist explanation of what transpired. I would not say that Buddha achieved Nirvana shortly before his death, but this is a Theosophical interpretation not a Buddhist one. Pehaps Vaj, etc., can supply us with a "correct" Buddhist timetable of the events in Buddha's life.

I would say there is a difference between the Theosophical and Buddhist ideas of what "entering Nirvana" means. I must say I am still unclear as to the Buddhist answer to this question. The Theosophical answer is that Nirvana is a plane of existence, just like the Physical and Astral planes of existences. A nirvani who still lives in a physical body can "go" to Nirvana at night in full consciousness. The nirvani will then reside on the Nirvanic plane continuously when his or her physical body finally dies. Nirvanic consciousness and residence in Nirvana lasts for a long time, but will only last until consciousness is achieved on even higher planes of existence, for example, the Parinirvanic plane, the Mahaparinirvanic plane, etc. I have never heard Buddhist teachings give this type of detailed explanation.