If The Secret Doctrine is the definitive text of Esoteric Philosophy, The Voice of the Silence gives away its hidden aim — the Heart Doctrine. The Voice’s stirring ethics are in perfect harmony with the humbling metaphysics of Theosophy. Sylvia Cranston noted the similarity between the GREAT SACRIFICE and the Pledge of Kuan-Yin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, in this poignant quatrain:
Never will I seek nor receive private individual salvation;
Never will I enter into final peace alone;
But forever and everywhere will I live and
Strive for the redemption of every creature throughout the world.
An in-depth analysis of The Voice, “the only true exposition in English of the Heart Doctrine of the Mahayana and its noble ideal of self-sacrifice for humanity,” 2 is outside the scope of this study. Only salient features will be touched upon here so that the defining selections on sacrifice by BP Wadia and WQ Judge that follow immediately after can be fully appreciated.
Two courses of conduct
When, by contemplation upon the TRUTH of Truths and self-surrender, a soul sets about identifying with its spiritual counterpart, it can be said that its journey toward repatriation has begun in earnest. Two entirely different motives inform and impel two antithetical courses of conduct: the Eye Doctrine and the Heart Doctrine.
1 Eye Doctrine | Appalled and depressed by the hopelessness of embodied existence, the vulgar masses seek to exchange fleeting enjoyments and thrills with everlasting joy and peace. They set about a process that is commonly known as the (Open) Path of Liberation or Yoga. Their aim is to evade personal responsibility and bask instead in a supernal Shangri-La. The motive is selfish, not materially but spiritually.
2 Heart Doctrine | The Voice proposes an alternative to the well-trodden solitary path of oblivion from our world, the Path of Compassion or Secret Path that the Elect of Humanity pursue to a conclusion out of boundless pity for the world of mortals.
Three golden precepts
1 The Voice of the Silence | The First Fragment is an overview of the Heart Doctrine or Path of Compassion. At a certain stage of inner development, a “still small voice” 1 will be heard by those who are intellectually and ethically fit to follow its behests. As it will be shown in chapter 7, That Voice is not any voice. It is the Voice of our planet’s Highest Chohan. It is Divine Thought universally manifested and diffused, Logos. It is Sound Eternal, Vach. It is our Divine Consciousness, our Inner God that speaks audibly to the heart. It comes from That Wondrous Being 2 who, having renounced Its own rest and peace, remains on Earth shielding “mankind invisibly from still worse evils” 3 by Its quintessence and occult influence.
2 The Two Paths | The Middle Fragment is the heart of this moving poem, where Personal Liberation is compared to Sublime Renunciation. By stepping to the rugged Path of the fourfold dhyana with false learning and pride, the crowd plans to escape from the world and abandon those still ensnared by it to their fate. On the other Path, the steeper Path of Virtue, “the Few” or the Elect of our Race, humbled 4 by true knowledge, rise up to the Paramita Heights. Upon reaching the summit of intellectual and moral excellence, they renounce personal rest and bliss so that they can be of service to the world, unthanked and unperceived,
Humble because of knowledge; mighty by sacrifice.5
Compassion and humility meet in Love.6
Slaying the personal mind is a prerequisite for stepping over either Path. But menticide is a relatively minor sacrifice: it only frees the soul from the perpetual roll of births and deaths. The Voice directs disciples towards a much greater course of action, the Path of Woe and Self-immolation which commands a second sacrifice immediately after the fruition of the first: the renunciation of the liberty itself. That is the overriding aim of The Voice of the Silence, and that is why this little book is so precious.
3 The Seven Portals | The Third Fragment contrasts the Arya Path with the Blissful Path of yogins that leads to the “heaven” of nirvana. This is one of the most stirring invocations of Compassion for our world, humanity and all creatures, and their worsening afflictions. The anxiety of its celestial author to bring out Humaneness and Mercy is touching, almost palpable. Only by sacrificing “individuality” at the altar of Humanity and by bitter duty to Nature and all beings can animal man come of age and reclaim his longforgotten divinity. As Theosophy’s purpose and application are inextricably related, so is The Voice’s Cause when galvanised by Compassion: it lights up the “Secret Path” and brings Universal Brotherhood on Earth, which is Its noble end and living fruition.
Here is how BP Wadia counterpoints “The Two Paths”:
Just as Fohat is related to the One Life metaphysically, so the central teaching of this real Wisdom of the Great Sages is related to the doctrine of Universal Brotherhood. That central teaching is called the Path of Great Renunciation and is distinct and different from the Path of Liberation or Emancipation. This path of Great Renunciation is not the one ordinarily known among Eastern yogis and sannyasis, swamis and fakirs. That Path of Renunciation (Tyaga and Sannyasa Margas) is walked in the hope, for the purpose, and with the motive of gaining Liberation or Moksha. The Path of Great Renunciation taught in Esoteric Philosophy is not the means and the channel for liberation of the human spirit, but leads to the conscious and deliberate Renunciation of that liberation — “Nirvanas, gained and lost from boundless pity and compassion for the world of deluded mortals.” The path of renunciation of actions, and of fruits of actions which leads to Liberation is called in Esoteric Philosophy the Open Path; the Path of Great Renunciation leads the Mukta and Nirvanee “to don the miseries of ‘Secret life,’” and produces “mental woe unspeakable; woe for the living Dead and helpless pity for the men of karmic sorrow.” This is called the Secret Path.
Altruism, therefore, is the key to Theosophy. And Theosophists are those philanthropists who strive to help all that lives through thick and thin. Not those who, blinded by Spiritual Selfishness, forsake their own kin by crossing “to the other shore” 2 or nirvana
. . . which is oblivion of the World and men for ever.4
Altruism or “other-interest” is a synthetic word. It implies impersonal, unconditional love of other-self, to coincide with the launch of the Theosophical Society in 1875, just as great music was often composed for special occasions.brotherly love, vivre pour l’autrui. Altruism is the antonym of egoism or “self-interest.” It is as if Auguste Compte coined it to coincide with the launch of the Theosophical Society in 1875, just as great music was often composed for special occasions.1
Continues Shri Wadia:
Without hesitation it can be asserted that the teachings contained in The Secret Doctrine will not be thoroughly understood by one who is not actively altruistic. It will remain a sealed book in spite of higher understanding and intuitive perceptions, unless these two are made use of on the plane of action. What distinguishes a Theosophist from a student of Theosophy is this altruism. In The Key to Theosophy it is said, “Theosophist is, who Theosophy does” — not thinks, not studies, not feels, but does. Speaking of the pledged member of her esoteric school, H.P.B. said that he “has to become a thorough altruist” (Key, p. 20) . . . “The only palliative to the evils of life is union and harmony — a Brotherhood IN ACTU, and altruism not simply in name.
WQ Judge, in his analysis of the second chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita, reflects upon the reasons for the secrecy surrounding the First School of Initiation:
It is secret, because, founded in nature and having only real Hierophants at the head, its privacy cannot be invaded without the real key. And that key, in each degree, is the aspirant himself. Until that aspirant has become in fact the sign and the key, he cannot enter the degree above him. As a whole then, and in each degree, it is selfprotective.
The Voice of the Silence sheds light on the path of self-immolation. It is Krishna in His song of life. It is Narada in His exaltation of Devotional Love. It is The Voice of Mercy, the hidden author of the Book of the Golden Precepts that speaks. When the last soul has returned home safely, The Voice will finally resume Its “Mercy Seat on the Throne.” And who knows? Some of those who have listened to It and acted upon Its promptings, may be destined to keep the torch of Truth alight in another world, watching over and protecting another “orphan” at some future kalpa. And “the last shall be the greatest.”
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