Compassion - The Spirit of Truth

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Compassion - The Spirit of Truth

By Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

Master Thyself And Protect Others

There is no vocation higher and nobler than pure, brotherly love. Yet, countless are the trials of those who vowed to live for others: 

. . . the sensitive sympathiser at once becomes the locus and focus of all the woes of the world, which press upon him much more heavily than its rejoicings.1

“What is a more perfect specimen of a man than those are who look on themselves as born for the assistance, the protection, and the preservation of others?”

But the greatest proof of all is, that nature herself gives a silent judgment in favour of the immortality of the soul, inasmuch as all are anxious, and that to a great degree, about the things which concern futurity: 
One plants what future ages shall enjoy,

as Statius saith in his Synepheboi. What is his object in doing so, except that he is interested in posterity? Shall the industrious husbandman, then, plant trees the fruit of which he shall never see? And shall not the great man found laws, institutions, and a republic? What does the procreation of children imply, and our care to continue our names, and our adoptions, and our scrupulous exactness in drawing up wills, and the inscriptions on monuments, and panegyrics, but that our thoughts run on futurity? There is no doubt but a judgment may be formed of nature in general, from looking at each nature in its most perfect specimens; and what is a more perfect specimen of a man than those are who look on themselves as born for the assistance, the protection, and the preservation of others? Hercules has gone to heaven; he never would have gone thither had he not, while among men, made that road for himself. These things are of old date, and have, besides, the sanction of universal religion.2

“Art thou also become pure and mighty of heart as we — art thou also become one of us?”

How often, even if we lift the marble entrance gate, do we but wander among those old kings in their repose, and finger the robes they lie in, and stir the crowns on their foreheads; and still they are silent to us, and seem but a dusty imagery; because we know not the incantation of the heart that would wake them; — which, if they once heard, they would start up to meet us in their power of long ago, narrowly to look upon us, and consider us; and, as the fallen kings of Hades meet the newly fallen, saying, “Art thou also become weak as we — art thou also become one of us?” so would these kings, with their undimmed, unshaken diadems, meet us, saying, “Art thou also become pure and mighty of heart as we — art thou also become one of us?” 1

Despise the life that only seeks its own

Hold fashion as thy slave, and not thy lord. Rule well thyself, nor seek with hasty feet To govern others. Let thy pulses beat To Heaven’s own music. Grasp the unsheathed sword Of Truth, and vindicate the Eternal Word. Give each his recognition, fair and meet: (The rose is good to smell, and not to eat.) Live loftily, and let thy soul afford A council room for angels. Dwell in peace. Find in continual good thy heaven and crown; Claiming no guerdon. Shun effeminate ease. Despise the life that only seeks its own. Let riches rot, sunk in Lethean seas: So shall thy path with nobler gems be strown.2

No one can set foot upon the ladder’s lowest rung while saddled with uncurbed passions and self-love.

. . . no one is free, only he who knows how to master himself, and the yoke of the passions is much heavier and more difficult to throw off than that of the most cruel tyrants.3
The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real. Let the Disciple slay the Slayer.4

Arjuna’s enemies in the battlefield of Kurukshetra are none other than the passions of his lower mind. Lower mind and egotism are one and the same. Slaying either is as tenacious and gruelling. For every step toward the spiritual pains the material. Only when the realisation comes that there can be no bliss when all that lives must suffer,5 pain for self is replaced by pain for others. This slow and agonising self-immolation gives rise to the dark night of the soul. St John of the Cross, echoing the experience of many a mystic, provides a chilling account of how it feels.6 Neither rest nor sleep can relieve the anguish and desolation of a crumbling soul. That is why Lord Krishna and his devotees on the Renunciatory Path empathise with the distress of Arjuna, whose “heart was overwhelmed with despondency.” 1

My members fail me, my countenance withereth, the hair standeth on end upon my body, and all my frame trembleth with horror! Even Gandiva, my bow, slips from my hand, and my skin is parched and dried up. I am not able to stand; for my mind, as it were, whirleth round.2

If the dominant desire is to live for self, so the longing to run away from the afflictions of embodied existence is for self, too. But fleeing 3 from the woes of conscious life is neither mercy for self, nor victory of the true Self. It is another triumph of the false self that, in turn, intensifies its “proud seclusion and apart from men.” 4 Treading a solitary path is bound to provide an equally solitary perception of Self by self-alone, without any concern about the fate of fellow pilgrims “who fell upon the thorns of life and bleed.” 5 This is how the pratyeka or selfish buddha is born, “in prideful solitude and unperceived by any but himself.” 6 He is akin to the imaginary Antichrist of the Christians.

Verily, it is easy to undergo any sacrifice and physical torture of limited duration to secure oneself an eternity of joy and bliss. It is still easier especially for an immortal God to die to save mankind. Many were the so-called Saviours of Humanity, and still more numerous the pretenders. But where is he who would damn himself for ever to save mankind at large? Where is that being who, in order to make his fellow creatures happy and free on earth, would consent to live and suffer hour after hour, day after day, æon upon æon and never die, never get release from his nameless sufferings, until, the great day of the Maha-pralaya? Let such a man appear; and then when he does and proves it, we shall worship him as our Saviour, the God of gods, the only TRUE AND LIVING GOD. 7

Just as egoist is the antonym of altruist, so pratyeka buddha 8 is the antithesis of the Unselfish Buddha of Perfection, or Buddha of Compassion.

He, who becomes Pratyeka-Buddha, makes his obeisance but to his Self. The Bodhisattva who has won the battle, who holds the prize within his palm, yet says in his divine compassion:

“For others’ sake, this great reward I yield” 
accomplishes the greater Renunciation. A Saviour of the World is he.1

Those who believe that no buddha “at such superhuman height of power, wisdom, and love could be selfish,” may wish to ponder on the following selections from the Theosophical Glossary, Mahatma Letters, and Inner Group Teachings:

[Pratyeka Buddha is] the same as “Pasi-Buddha.” The Pratyeka Buddha is a degree which belongs exclusively to the Yogacharya school, yet it is only one of high intellectual development with no true spirituality. It is the dead-letter of the Yoga laws, in which intellect and comprehension play the greatest part, added to the strict carrying out of the rules of the inner development. It is one of the three paths to Nirvana, and the lowest, in which a Yogi — “without teacher and without saving others” 2 — by the mere force of will and technical observances, attains to a kind of nominal Buddhaship individually; doing no good to anyone, but working selfishly for his own salvation and himself alone. The Pratyekas are respected outwardly but are despised inwardly by those of keen spiritual appreciation.3

(1) The Pacceka-Yana — (in Sanskrit “Pratyeka”) means literally the “personal vehicle” or personal Ego, a combination of the five lower principles. While 
(2) The Amata-Yana — (in Sanskrit “Amrita”) is translated “the immortal vehicle,” or the Individuality the Spiritual Soul, or the Immortal monad — a combination of the fifth, sixth and seventh.4

The Pratyeka-Buddha, the Buddha of Selfishness — called because of the spiritual selfishness “the rhinoceros,” 5 the solitary animal — can never pass beyond the third plane, that of Jiva. Such a one has conquered, indeed, his material desires, but he has not yet freed himself from his mental and spiritual longings. It is the Buddha of Compassion only that can transcend this third macrocosmic plane.6




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