We shall take up the Seven Virtues from the Voice of the Silence by request of one of the members.

“Yea, Lord; I see the PATH; its foot in mire, its summits lost in glorious light Nirvanic. And now I see the ever narrowing Portals on the hard and thorny way to Jnana.”*

Thou seest well, Lanoo. These Portals lead the aspirant across the waters on “to the other shore”.7 Each Portal hath a golden key that openeth its gate; and these keys are:

1. DANA, the key of charity and love immortal.

2. SHILA, the key of Harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action.

3. KSHANTI, patience sweet, that nought can ruffle.

4. VIRAGA, indifference to pleasure and to pain, illusion conquered, truth alone perceived.

5. VIRYA, the dauntless energy that fights its way to the supernal TRUTH, out of the mire of lies terrestrial.

6. DHYANA, whose golden gate once opened leads the Narjol* toward the realm of Sat eternal and its ceaseless contemplation.

7. PRAJNA, the key to which makes of a man a god, creating him a Bodhisattva, son of the Dhyanis.

Such to the Portals are the golden keys.

Replies to This Discussion

An interesting list for sure. My thought in response is that the 'keys' mentioned, suggest recommended action to the would be chela. Are they meant to be recommended actions (ie. to be charitable)? Have I understood the comments accurately?

Then I wonder - Is it true that if we act charitably (or lovingly, or indifferently, etc.) - are we actually that way? Does the very act of some virtue cause us to be that, or is that only an act - something affected?

Somehow, I suspect that virtue is an effect - something that falls from something not affected.

These are interesting questions to me.  Ideals have power through their use. I suppose the motive is all important.  Virtues can be play acted and scripted to prop up the separate self.  Pride has often been pointed to as the last vice the chela must shed. It seems to me we cannot expect absolute purity in our motives from the beginning.  But we must start somewhere, yes?

Are the virtues a natural result of an expanding sense of self, a greater compassion for others outside our private life?

Yes, Tamiko, it seems we need to start somewhere - and then watch what happens.  I think importantly, we need to examine as best as we can our motives - why we do what we do.  Can we know why?  Our personality or our personal ego inevitably is always trying to assert itself, but we can't let that deter us I think.  To know what role that personality is trying to play seems most important.  Just to be aware of our motives is a good place to start.

But it does seem right that both the cause (ie motive) and effect of a virtuous activity - however we define that - are one and the same.   A good definition of virtue would need to include that the act would be one of compassion and consideration for others, not ourselves.  That kind of act wouild spring up without calculation - almost automatically, if the personality isn't involved too greatly.  So, the personality or personal ego is again, the rock in our road.



But surely a personality can become virtuous if guided by the higher impulses yes?

Hi Don:

These are very interesting thoughts;  some, I entertain myself periodically.  Like you, I wonder, if virtues are effects and not causes.   Now, I tend to believe that they are both - cause and effect.  There was one comment I read in the teachings, which opened my eyes to the the ideas of virtues.  Somewhere, it is said that the adoption of virtues are, on the subtle levels, an act of bringing devic essences into our being.  In short, virtues are living devas.  This made me realized that practicing virtues is not "dead" perfunctory routine but a very dynamic and powerful practice - it is a process of purification and character refinement. 

On another note, I do wonder if there is something more to the Paramitas than what we grasp on the surface.  As stated, "These portals lead the aspirant across the waters on "to the other shore.  Each Portal hath a golden key that openeth its gate; and these keys are: -"  I take that these portals are the seven states of consciousness and each of these Paramitas is a hint to a way of awakening  each of the seven energy centers. 

Just my speculation.   


This is a powerful statement and so true and real that Barbaram said
"This made me realized that practicing virtues is not "dead" perfunctory routine but a very dynamic and powerful practice - it is a process of purification and character refinement. "

Hi Barbaram,

Your comment about 'bringing devic essences (living beings) into our being' through virtuous effort, is very interesting.  I find that not hard to imagine.  We regularly must bring and expel lives to and from 'ourselves' to an unimaginable degree.  In effect, we're a conglomeration of entities which both attract and repel other entities of similar ilk.  It seems we're more a composit event.

On that other note regarding the 7 portals / states of conciousness - that sounds very intuitive... 

B.B.Wadia                                                      THE VIRTUOUS MIND,                                                                                                                           “Before the mind can absorb the virtues the learner has to see himself the difference between desire-mind and soul-mind. A bridge called conscience exists as a third factor. Conscience is Antahkarana – the internal organ – and it is both the voice of experience accumulated in the world of matter and the channel of divine light streaming forth from the world of Spirit. Conscience rightly activated bridges the gulf which ordinarily exists between mental and moral activities. Before the actual treading of the Path begins and the first of the divine paramitas can be correctly practised, the integration between head and heart is necessary.

This does not imply that the art of separating the body from the mind is acquired; but it does mean that each time, if Dana – Charity is to be rightly expressed, an attempt has to be made to examine the relative position of body and mind, to live, be it but for a moment, in the eternal, to feel that something of ourself abides in all things and that all things are in the One Self. This preliminary to the exercise of the Dana-paramita brings to it the strength of the mind and of true ideas. As it is most difficult, almost impossible, to attune our mind to the mind of the whole of humanity, advantage is taken of the Chela-institution, and we are told to attune our mind to “the collective minds of Lanoo-Shravakas.” The feeling of unity illuminates the mind; the enlightened mind uses the virtues of Dana, charity and love immortal, not sentimentally, but Egoically. ---“

This does not imply that the art of separating the body from the mind is acquired; but it does mean that each time, if Dana-Charity is to be rightly expressed, an attempt has to be made to examine the relative position of the body and mind, to live, be it but for the moment, in the eternal, to feel something of ourselves abide in all things and that all things are in the One Self.

What is true of Dana is equally true of Shila and of Kshanti; these form a triad, for love creates harmony, and without patience, harmony cannot be created. The balanced offspring, whether a word or an act, a poem or a picture, has for its father love and for his mother patience. When the child is created, its nature of perfection makes it a masterpiece, and there is Bliss “for ever after.”

Similarly, the last three paramitas of Virya, Dhyana and Prajna, form a triad. When with dauntless energy, the father pursues contemplation, the result is Prajna – full spiritual perception.

Thanks you for sharing this.  I find Mr. Wadia's writings to be full of heart and wisdom.  He is very helpful and inspiring.   What do you think he means when he says:  

The feeling of unity illuminates the mind; the enlightened mind uses the virtues of Dana, charity and love immortal, not sentimentally, but Egoically. ---“   

What does it mean to use things Egoically?  I am presuming he is talking about the immortal nature of man.

HI Tomiko, I think Wadia is possibly referring to the higher self when he uses the term Egoically as it appears to me the higher self feels and thinks differently. Feeling blissful and thinking in terms of pictures and symbols. this goes beyond words as a new way of feeling and thinking is experienced. if that is the immortal nature of the higher self then yes he is referring to the immortal principals or immortal nature of man. let us know if my reply fits with your question and thinking please

What additional meaning does the word immortal bring to the idea of love and charity?

Love immortal,  not just love, but love immortal.

When the question is asked of who we are, the answer is of course sure I know, my name is so and so, male or female and this or that are my likes and dislikes, but after giving it some thought we realize that the feeling of identity doesn't come from the name we carry, the sex we are or of the likes and dislikes we have for our interests are constantly changing. So who are we, is there something eternal in us and if so what is this and why are we here?

Theosophy tells us that the only real and permanent part of our being is Spirit. This Spirit is not in but above us and partakes continually of the Universal Divine State. All such Spirits know each other and are continually in report. Spirit in terms of man is Atma-Buddhi (Wisdom) the seventh and sixth principle and has with it as a link to the personality the mind or Manas, that which lives and thinks in man, the ETERNAL PILGRIM.

This Unit, the monad is the eternal Ego (Atma-Buddhi-Manas), as the agent of Karma it cooperates over the cycle of incarnations in providing a center, (which is no place but a center of consciousness, which is not dormant but always in its highest state of activity) this is the center to which monads of lesser experience may come and thereby participate in forming new personalities.

Man has seven principles, the Monad thus in combination of the seventh and the sixth, the permanent principles, Manas the fifth principle provides the bridge or link to the other four, the life principle, the astral body, the desires and the body, the forever changing and therefore impermanent principles.

There are thus two Egos in man, the Higher Ego and the Lower ego, the transformation of the Lower ego depends on the understanding and application of the Universal principles of which the paramitas are the keys.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on October 25, 2014 at 12:39pm


This is what is sais in the article "Love with an Object" (Lucifer Vol.1, p.391-4)

"A love which is directed towards all things alike, an universal love, is beyond the conception of the mortal mind, and yet this kind of love, which bestows no favors upon any one thing, seems to be that eternal love, which is recommended by all the sacred books of the East and the West; because as soon as we begin to love one thing or one being more than another, we not only detract from the rest an amount of love which the rest might rightfully claim; but we also become attached to the object of our love, a fate against which we are seriously warned in various books.

Love - divine love - is the source of life, of light, and happiness. It is the creative principle in the Macrocosm and in the Microcosm of man. It is Venus, the mother of all the gods, because from her alone originates Will and Imagination and all the other powers by which the universe was evolved. It is the germ of divinity which exists in the heart of man, and which may develop into a life-giving sun, illuminating the mind and sending its rays to the center of the universe; for it originates from that center and to that center it will ultimately return. It is a divine messenger, who carries Light from Heaven down to the Earth and returns again to Heaven loaded with sacrificial gifts.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on October 28, 2014 at 7:46am

Very clear summary.

Thank you.

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on October 25, 2014 at 9:25pm
Is the virtue in winning the game or playing the game. Is the victory the only goal or doing our best and trying to better our best , our goal? (This doesn't mean if you're a pro you aren't paid to win) Does this matter in the "ART OF LIVING"?
My granddaughter has never seen me swim long distances across wide-open lakes. She's only presently seven years old. She naïvely said to me one day while outside at their families' pool. "I can swim better than you can!" I thought to myself how competitive thinking can lead to arrogant thinking but I kept my mouth shut realizing that when I point the finger at someone else there also 3 or 4 of my own pointing back at me, usually at my own Blindspots.

Is the virtue the walking away from the fights or is it going to battle. The answers are not always simple. For example some battles, including battles that are within ourselves, are worth struggling about and fighting and sometimes the hardest thing to struggle with are within me ,....within ourselves. I say to my sis we must better ou best. I call our vices our "BLINDSPOTS", our flaws.

To paraphrase , page 16 in the voice of silence tells us Woe then to thee disciple, if there is one single blind spot we have left behind. Page 16 tells us, make our Blindspots impotent. That infers we have to somehow recognize them. Sometimes looking and studying opposites of virtues helps us recognize our Blindspots.

Page 33 in the Voice says, to live to benefit mankind is the first step. That to me means altruistic living. It also says that practicing the "glorious" virtues is the second.

This leads to a question. How do we know what we know? The yoga sutras address that in part one. Verse 7. It says what?....and what does that have to do with virtues? You tell me? It's loaded with advice in that simple verse! And just how many people have asked how you know what you know?

What's the advantages of learning, even memorizing virtues? Well... The Voice of Silence says that pain and suffering are lessened and obviates those pains and sufferings by the voice of virtues and advises us to not leave one behind. In other words, make effort, practice, look for our Blindspots for correction and reflection and lessening of lousy karmic reactions.
The Voice didn't call these the "keys" for the fun of it. Rather don't they unlock the doors to the art of living?!!

What are your interpretations to these "glorious keys"? What other virtues would or might you add to those mentioned in the voice of silence fragment 3. List their opposites and look for ... my, our Blindspots. Enough said. Agree, disagree, give me better methods.
Looking forward to your listing and your input. Look at lousy Blindspots and then tell us what the virtue is for it!
For example the other day I asked myself, self ... what is the opposite of arrogance. I came up with a big dash of reasonable humbleness!
Even reasonable fear and doubt can be a virtue, especially in our rude and impolite alpha humans so prevalent in our society. I wanted to shoot the legs out from underneath one the other day!....but there were just to many witnesses around! Good thing I'm not a concealed carrier!.... Pepper spay works wonders though! No, I didn't use it, but I sure was stressed.....not good about it all.

I've also asked what's the opposite or antonym for procrastination. The only thing I could come up with is energetic timeliness. And what about meditation .... I don't want to sit and focus on a higher self and I really don't care if I go into a higher state of consciousness or not.

The most demanding and the highest calling I see in all of theosophy in learning and practicing virtues .... only meditation doesn't seem attractive to me. Been in a higher state before and I still have to fetch wood and carry water. I've told many folks I don't care what your or another's metaphysical beliefs and/or religion is. ....what I look at is what is a persons character....bottom line for me...do they practice virtues.
Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on October 26, 2014 at 1:08pm

From the Voice of the Silence, lines shortly after listing the Seven Portals.

Before thou canst approach the last, O weaver of thy freedom, thou hast to master these Paramitas of perfection—the virtues transcendental six and ten in number—along the weary Path.

For, O Disciple! Before thou wert made fit to meet thy Teacher face to face, thy MASTER light to light, what wert thou told?

Before thou canst approach the foremost gate thou hast to learn to part thy body from thy mind, to dissipate the shadow, and to live in the eternal. For this, thou hast to live and breathe in all, as all that thou perceivest breathes in thee; to feel thyself abiding in all things, all things in SELF.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on October 28, 2014 at 8:05am

"Before thou canst approach the last, O weaver of thy freedom, thou hast to master these Paramitas of perfection—the virtues transcendental six and ten in number—along the weary Path."

Does anyone know what the "ten in number" is referring to?

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on October 28, 2014 at 11:08am

LIGHT ON THE PATH, p.14 – 18-9                                                                                                                                                “For through your own heart comes the one light which can illuminate life and make it clear to your eyes.

Study the hearts of men, that you may know what is that world in which you live and of which you will to be a part. Regard the constantly changing and moving life which surrounds you, for it is formed by the hearts of men; and as you learn to understand their constitution and meaning, you will by degrees be able to read the larger word of life.”

STUDIES IN THE SECRET DOCTRINE, p.81                                                                                                                                    “He does not practice altruism; he who is not prepared to share his last morsel with a weaker or poorer than himself; he who neglects to help his brother man, of whatever race, nation, or creed, whenever and wherever he meets suffering, and who turns a deaf ear to the cry of human misery; he who hears an innocent person slandered, whether a brother Theosophist or not, and does not undertake his defence as he would undertake his own – is no Theosophist.”

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on October 28, 2014 at 11:29am

1987 Blavatsky lecture (England)

The Perfection Beyond Cognition of Enlightenment

 Jñāna is the undying knowledge, the enlightenment, of a Buddha. Try to imagine if you can what the beyondness of that might represent! From our present perspective, we cannot get even a glimpse of the Tenth Perfection of Cognition. Young bodhisattvas, at the early stage of Acceptance, know that there is something to know. The Bodhisattva at the stage of Insight KNOWS. Now arises the man who HAS KNOWN. Experience is rooted within him, and the whole of his living being displays it. Each word and action is in itself the whole truth, leaving no karmic trace behind. When he effortlessly demonstrates the Law, all living beings, great and small, are nourished, and the fruit of this stage is known as 'Dharma- Megha' - attainment of the fertilising powers of Rain-Cloud of the Law.

 This stage is that of a fully-enlightened Buddha after his enlightenment under the tree.

 Many and glorious are the descriptions of this Final Stage in the Scripture:

 A Bodhisattva who has reached this Stage of Assembling the Dharma Clouds knows clearly and exactly the change of sentient beings’ desires and of their views ... He enters the secret of Buddhahood ... the secret of body, words and mind, of taming sentient beings, and of demonstrating different paths ...
The Bodhisattva of this stage is endowed with the illumination and penetrating Wisdom. He can perform all sorts of miracles. At will, he can make a small world into a large world, a defiled world into a pure world, and a pure one into a defiled one. He can place the (different world systems) in an anomalous order ... reverse order or regular order. He can place a whole world system into a small dust-mote with the mountains and rivers therein remaining as usual; neither the dust-mote changes its form, nor the world system reduces its size. The Bodhisattvas, including the Bodhisattvas of the Ninth Stage, cannot know this Bodhisattva's acts, Wisdoms, glories and wonders; nor can these wonders be exhausted by description through aeons of ages ... This Bodhisattva practises all the Ten Paramitas, but stresses and consummates - the Perfection of Wisdom.

 This Inner or Esoteric Path within the heart must be travelled simultaneously with our outer practice. We must work through the True Self.

 The Mountain looks forbidding. The Way indeed means hard work, and denial of the personality we cherish so much, but there is no need to be disheartened. The process goes on at all levels - huge, wide-spreading orbits for the Great Bodhisattvas - large spirals for the medium ones, and tiny little loops for those like us. We each have our place in the great evolutionary scheme of things, and our only job is to play our part well and do the best we can, starting here and now.

 We are given much help on the way.

 The Buddha said:

 My friend, within this very body, six feet in length, with its sense impressions, thoughts and ideas, I declare to you are the world, and the origin of the world, and the ceasing of the world, and like-wise the Way that leads to the ceasing thereof.[16]

In THE SEVEN PORTALS, H.P.B. said:                                                                              Such is the Arya Path, Path of the Buddhas of perfection.                                                 She also said:                                                                                                             Thrice great is he who climbs the lofty top.[17]                                                                                                                                   And she ended it, as now, with:                             PEACE TO ALL BEINGS

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on October 28, 2014 at 12:19pm

delivered at the Annual Convention (Summer School) of the Theosophical Society in England.


The Perfection Beyond Giving


The Perfection Beyond Precepts

The Perfection Beyond Patient Acceptance

The Perfection Beyond Vigour

The Perfection Beyond Rapt Meditation


The Perfection beyond Wisdom of Insight

The Perfection Beyond Skilful Means

The Perfection Beyond the Vow

The Perfection Beyond Power

The Perfection Beyond Cognition of Enlightenment

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on October 28, 2014 at 12:45pm

delivered at the Annual Convention (Summer School) of the Theosophical Society in England.


The Perfection Beyond Giving


The Perfection Beyond Precepts

The Perfection Beyond Patient Acceptance

The Perfection Beyond Vigour

The Perfection Beyond Rapt Meditation


The Perfection beyond Wisdom of Insight

The Perfection Beyond Skilful Means

The Perfection Beyond the Vow

The Perfection Beyond Power

The Perfection Beyond Cognition of Enlightenment

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on October 28, 2014 at 8:30pm
You asked ayou asked about the "tenant in number". Each school or grouping of Buddhist uses paramites (virtues) in their monastic schools. Theses usually number about ten.
Since Blavatsky used the tiles or writings from a monastic setting for the Voice of Silence it makes sense that the tiles reflect the monastic setting...thus ten virtues.
These virtues are listed on the Internet and possibly even in Wikipedia under Buddhist para it's or under virtues.

Another point of interest is that Wikipedia has an excellent listing over virtues. Perhaps someone with better computer skills and mom can copy and list those here.

Another point of interest is that the voices of silence was taken from the book of golden precepts and only part of the verses were written out for us. perhaps someone herein with an astute Buddhist training could give us insight into the remaining versus or where to find them.??
Permalink Reply by barbaram on October 29, 2014 at 7:01pm

It is interesting to see the possible relation between the VOS and the Buddhist tradition.  Thank you.


Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 7, 2014 at 5:45pm

The Voice of the Silence is most definitely connected with the Tibetan Buddhist experience.  The Virtues it points to are so universal.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by barbaram on November 8, 2014 at 10:47am

Hi Gerry,

In reply to your comment, other than the 10 virtues, what else do you see that "is most definitely connected with the Tibetan Buddhist experience?"  Why do you say Tibetan Buddhist and not Buddhism in general?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 11, 2014 at 3:39pm

Only that the Voice of the Silence is a text that comes from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Permalink Reply by Peter on November 12, 2014 at 7:39am

I don't think that is correct, Gerry.  In the Preface to The Voice of the Silence HPB says that the verses come from the Book of Golden Precepts "some of which are pre-Buddhistic while others belong to a later date. " (page vii., original edition). She goes on to say that copies of these can be found on discs, or plates, which are generally found on "the altars of those temples attached to centres where the so-called 'contemplative' or Mahayana (Yogacharya) schools are established." 

It's not clear just where the Mahayana, as a school, originated.  But what we can say is that earliest scriptures and teachers identified with the Mahayana tradition originated in India and it was taught there long before those teachings spread to Tibet, China and Japan. HPB specifically mentions two buddhist teachers associated with the Mahayana, Nagarjuna and Aryasanga - both Indian born.  Zen is also seen as part of Mahayana buddhism, so we musn't restrict it or limit it to Tibetan Buddhism alone.  Of course, the main claim of those who follow the Mahayana school is that these teaching can be found in the Buddha's own discourses.

Permalink Reply by David Reigle on November 17, 2014 at 5:07pm

The question of the sources of The Voice of the Silence is a very difficult one, one that I do not think can be answered with the resources available today. My attempts to find a Tibetan manuscript of it, despite the promising lead regarding Lama Ping, have so far not met with success. What Blavatsky writes in her preface to it links it to the Buddhist Mahayana schools, and places copies of it on the altars of their temples, copies that are sometimes written in Tibetan but mostly in ideographs. This places at least some of these in Tibet. Yet when she wrote about it to her sister, Vera Zhelihovsky, she said about its aphorisms that “I only translated them from Telugu, the oldest South-Indian dialect.” She goes on to say that they are about “the moral principles of the Mongolian and Dravidian mystics.”

As for the contents of The Voice of the Silence, its three distinct treatises or fragments display teachings of different schools of thought. The first fragment, “The Voice of the Silence,” distinctly refers to the sixth, seventh, and eighth limbs of Patanjali’s eight-limbed Raja-yoga from theYoga-sutras found in Hinduism. It also gives material (pp. 9-11) found in the sixth chapter of the Jnanesvari, a Hindu text written in the Marathi language commenting on theBhagavad-gita (material that was quoted from theJnanesvari in The Dream of Ravan, and from there quoted in The Theosophist, vol. 1, Jan. 1880, pp. 86-87, where the book title is spelled Dnyaneshvari). At the same time, it beautifully portrays the Mahayana Buddhist bodhisattva ideal in the passage beginning on p. 12, “Let thy Soul lend its ear to every cry of pain . . .,” ending on p. 13 with a direct reference to “the midnight blossom of Buddha.” Then in closing (p. 19) it returns to the topic of dharana with which it opened (p. 1), “the sixth stage” of Patanjali’s eight-limbed Yoga, moving quickly on (p. 20) to the seventh and eighth stages, dhyana and samadhi. On the following page (p. 21) it refers to the second and fourth of the Buddha’s four noble truths under their Chinese names as spelled by Rev. Joseph Edkins in his 1880 book, Chinese Buddhism: Tsi and Tau. At the very end (p. 22) it gives the characteristic Hindu phrase: “Om Tat Sat.”

The second fragment, “The Two Paths,” uses many Mahayana Buddhist terms. These include three that are specifically from the Buddhist tantras, or Vajrayana Buddhism. These are: "Diamond Soul," i.e., Vajra-sattva; "Time's Circle," i.e., Kalachakra; and at the very end the characteristic Buddhist tantric phrase, "Om Vajrapani hum."

The third fragment, “The Seven Portals,” is on the paramitas, the “perfections,” that are taught in Mahayana Buddhism, especially in the Perfection of Wisdom or Prajna-paramita sutras. However, the Buddhist texts speak of six (and less often of ten), not seven as given in The Voice. The Voice gives the standard six, but inserts a seventh, viraga, in the middle of the six: dana, shila, kshanti, viraga, virya, dhyana, prajna. Yet The Voice twice refers to them as six in number, not seven (pp. 45, 48). I have never found viraga as a paramita in any Buddhist text. When ten are given, the additional four are: upaya, pranidhana, bala, and jnana.

Returning to Blavatsky’s statement that The Voice gives aphorisms about “the moral principles of the Mongolian and Dravidian mystics,” in agreement with this statement, we can see that the first fragment is a nice mix of Hindu and Buddhist ideas. Regarding her statement that she “translated them from Telugu, the oldest South-Indian dialect,” we may first note that many regard Tamil rather than Telugu as the oldest south Indian language. In any case, it is a fact that, historically speaking, Buddhism once flourished in south India. Moreover, the Buddhism that flourished there included both Mahayana and Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism, existing alongside Hinduism. I attach two articles that may be of interest in this regard: “Tantric Buddhism in Tamilnadu,” by Kalpakam Sankaranarayanan, from the Adyar Library Bulletin, 1995; and “History of Tantric Buddhism in Tamilnadu,” by G. V. Saroja, from the book, Tantric Buddhism, 1999, reprint 2005.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 18, 2014 at 11:17am

Thank you David.  Fascinating stuff here.

Permalink Reply by Peter on November 20, 2014 at 4:21am

David, thanks for your post on VOS sources.  There's also similarity between some of the verses in the Nada Bindhu Upanishad and the VOS - for example, the Yogi astride Hamsa, the great Swan; the various mystic sounds etc.  Other minor Upanishads also provide similar though not identical versions of the mystic sounds mentioned therein.  I imagine you know this, but it may be useful information for other members.


Permalink Reply by David Reigle on November 23, 2014 at 1:22pm

Thanks, Peter. The passage on p. 5 of The Voice of the Silence does indeed match verses 1 and 4-5 from theNada-bindu Upanishad, as also noted by Blavatsky in her notes 10 and 12.

p. 5: “. . . and then thou canst repose between the wings of the GREAT BIRD. Aye, sweet is rest between the wings of that which is not born, nor dies, but is the AUM throughout eternal ages. Bestride Bird of Life, if thou would’st know.”

v. 1: “The syllable A is considered to be its (the bird Om’s) right wing, U its left, M its tail, . . .” vv. 4-5: “An adept in yoga who bestrides the Hamsa (bird) thus (viz., contemplates on OM) is not affected by karmic influences or by 10 crores of sins.”

The mystic sounds listed on p. 10 of The Voice closely match those given the Jnanesvari as quoted in The Dream of Ravan, and from there quoted in The Theosophist, vol. 1, Jan. 1880, pp. 86-87. These parallels and a few others, even in the phraseology used, were noted by Daniel Caldwell a number of years ago. The mystic sounds given in the Nada-bindu Upanishad, verses 31-34, are the same in principle, but differ as to the specific ones listed. An English translation of the Nada-bindu Upanishad was published in The Theosophist, vol. 10, May 1889, pp. 478-482, shortly before Blavatsky left for France in late June or early July, where she wrote The Voice of Silence. A scan of this translation is attached.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on October 28, 2014 at 10:17pm

Thou shalt not separate thy being from BEING, and the rest, but merge the Ocean in the drop, the drop within the Ocean.

So shalt thou be in full accord with all that lives; bear love to men as though they were thy brother-pupils, disciples of one Teacher, the sons of one sweet mother.

Of teachers there are many; the MASTER-SOUL is one,8 Alaya, the Universal Soul. Live in that MASTER as ITS ray in thee. Live in thy fellows as they live in IT.

-The Voice of the Silence   From the Section the Seven Portals

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on October 31, 2014 at 3:14pm

I would like to chime in to all these wonderful ideas on the Seven Virtues :). I think ‘action’ here is very important as Don was saying. My view is somewhat similar to learning a new language or as a baby, learning to walk for the first time.

It seems to me that HPB gives us these tools/keys for repetitive action and thought, until it just becomes, without thought. You hear, learn and speak the new foreign word over and over daily for however long it takes, until it clicks. Without thinking you know the new word, it just is.

The baby lifts him or herself off the floor daily, scrambling to get to its feet to take that step or two until finally the baby just IS walking. Walking becomes our nature. If we start aiming in the direction of these virtues, even while battling the personality on it, our nature starts becoming that if our intentions are of right thought. The heart, the will, must be there.

However, if we are merely acting and it’s just motive for self, would not those virtues cease? Wouldn’t the acted virtues for self gain always have a question or thought behind and around them, some kind of doubt, and never just be?

Permalink Reply by barbaram on November 1, 2014 at 6:16pm

If we act out of self-interest in our practice, then any good that comes out of it would be limited because the focus is misplaced.  It is like building a house on shaky ground that will not withstand a storm.  But,  I hear that people have to start somewhere, which is true.  Possibly, it is a continuing refining process till we learn to love virtues because they are the essence of goodness.       

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 2, 2014 at 9:00pm
Practicing altruistically through virtues is in everyone's interest including our own. I notice a difference in others attitudes towards me all the time when my actions are altruistic, do we not value others that share and care...of course we do! The problems come in however when we have motives and expectations that others should reciprocate our action to ourselves instead of just hoping others will "pay it forward".
Recall the saying "be the change you want to see".
Permalink Reply by barbaram on November 3, 2014 at 6:33pm

Hi Gary,

This is a good example of performing one's duty without caring about any rewards.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on November 3, 2014 at 10:46am

"Thou shalt not separate thy being from Bing, and the rest, but merge the Ocean in the drop, the drop within the Ocean."

TRANSACTIONS, p.138                                                                                                                                                                              “He who would be an occultist must not separate either himself or anything else from the rest of creation or non creation. For, the moment he distinguishes himself from even a vessel of dishonour, he will not be able to join himself to any vessel of honour. He must think of himself as an infinitesimal something, not even as an individual atom, but as a part of the world-atoms as a whole, or become an illusion, a nobody, and vanish like a breath leaving no trace behind. As illusions, we are separate distinct bodies, living in masks furnished by Maya. Can we claim one single atom in our body as distinctly our own?                                                                                                                                                                                              Everything, from spirit to the tiniest particle, is part of the whole, at best a link. Break a single link and all passes into annihilation; but this is impossible. There is a series of vehicles becoming more and more gross, from spirit to the densest matter, so that with each step downward and outward we get more and more the sense of separateness developed in us. Yet this is illusory, for if there were a real and complete separation between any two human beings, they could not communicate with, or understand each other in any way.”

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on November 5, 2014 at 10:19pm

Love is divine. But love is expressed differently and in different degrees according to the evolution of the individual soul.

There are people who still have hatred, jealousy, anger and pride in their hearts. To such, God is above, beyond and apart. They also may love God, but their love is selfish. This love is tamasic.

That, too, is a low form of love which people love and worship God as a separate being, and pray to him for the fulfillment of their material desires. Such love is known as rajasic love.

But when the love, the lover and the beloved have become one, when we see God and love him as the innermost Self of all beings; and when there is a continuous current of love flowing in the heart, then is it that we realize divine love.

When such divine love fills the heart, we transcend the three gunas and become united with Brahman.

— Kapila

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on November 7, 2014 at 9:06am

beautifully said

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 5, 2014 at 10:21pm

How does one develop any virtue without falling prey to the primary vice.... pride?

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 6, 2014 at 7:29pm
Wow Gerry
We must recognize ,it seems to me , there is a difference between meekness, pride and arrogance. When pride becomes unreasonable it tends to turn into arrogance. Everyone recognizes arrogance. Pride itself when reasonable is fine as much of our self esteem and feeling of worthiness can be called reasonable pride. Humbleness and meekness are way over-rated and this has been due to goodlygook religious teachings that people are sinners and unworthy. I recognize what it is because I grew up with the gooblygook and the fear based religious setting. I would never call pride when reasonable and when not arrogance as a vice.
Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on November 11, 2014 at 8:56pm

I think humility is a key virtue to counterbalance pride.  Humility implies a no ownership policy of virtue. In the martial arts we are trained to respect our opponents because they help bring out the best and expose the worst in us.  We are taught to give credit to the teacher for whatever skill we acquire under their tutelage.  In theosophy all qualities, good and bad, belong to Nature and never to a separate self.  Humility would be a natural result of such a realization it seems to me.

Humility is also the result of a larger perspective which reveals the truth that no matter how high a mountain we have scaled it is only a mere hill in the range of mountains in this universe and in this Manvantara of infinite possibility.

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on November 7, 2014 at 8:17am

Hopefully the following is helpful for it seems to describe the vice of pride well:

Tyagi Jayadev

Ananda Assisi, Italy


Dear M,

To overcome spiritual pride, pin it down first: define very clearly how that feeling of self-pleasure feels, its color, its presence. The clearer your awareness of that feeling, the sooner you can catch it when next it comes up, and the better you can respond to it.

Next mark that feeling very clearly in your mind as your serious spiritual enemy, as poisoned honey for your soul. The ego feels justified in this pride, so you need to clearly mark it as spiritually harmful.

When next that spiritual pride and self-pleasure come up, be aware of it, but don't identify with it. It is not you. See it rising up like an intruder, and tell it: "So here you are again, Mr. Vanity!" Offer that feeling up to God and practice an affirmation or a prayer of humility, like: "I have nothing to offer Thee, for all things are Thine!"

In reality that pride is nothing but the ego loving itself. Yogananda once said: "If you love yourself, how can you love God?"

Another good way to develop spiritual humility is to tell yourself that there are many yogis far ahead of you, and that your experiences are tiny compared to others'. That should keep your feet humbly on the ground. Once Swami Kriyananda was feeling a little proud of some inner bliss he felt, but Yogananda told him: "That is nothing!"

H.P.B. on the mission of Theosophy:

……the following show how strongly she insisted on altruism as the indispensable quality of the aspirant to Wisdom.

Self-Knowledge is of loving deeds the child. We have never attained or even understood the powers of the human heart. Self-sacrifice is the highest standard of Theosophy. It is not by studying Occultism for selfish ends, for the gratification of ones personal ambition, pride, or vanity, that one can ever reach the true goal -- that of helping suffering humanity. Compassion is the Law of Laws -- eternal harmony. To feel "Compassion" without an adequate practical result is not Altruism. The first of the Theosophical duties is to do one's duty by all men. For every flower of love and charity you plant in your neighbor's garden, a loathsome weed will disappear from your own. There is no happiness for one who is ever thinking of self and forgetting all other selves. The duty -- let alone happiness -- of every Theosophist is certainly to help others to carry their burden. A Theosophist should gain the wisdom to help others effectually, not blindly. The human heart has not yet fully uttered itself. If unable to toil for humanity, work for the few who need your help. The principle of Brotherhood is one of the eternal truths that govern the world's progress. Step out of sunlight into shade to make more room for others."

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 7, 2014 at 3:18pm
I am beginning to wonder if some people have a kick me syndrome . Pride is not a vice unless turned int arrogance. Each of us have discovered theosophy should have spiritual pride but not arrogance!!! I am proud of my efforts within theosophy, the spreading and sharing.

Another item of perhaps interest. like Blavatsky I do not believe in an anthropomorphic God and i take exception to holding us up to "God". Anyone can read the introduction to Isis unveiled and get HPBs take on this matter. Also the 10th letter of the Letter From The Masters.....the teachers of HPB. HOPE THIS is is taken as intended and in kindness.
Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on November 7, 2014 at 3:58pm

The Key to Theosophy' section 5:

THEOSOPHIST. An Occultist or a Theosophist addresses his prayer to his Father which is in secret (read, and try to understand, ch. vi. v. 6, Matthew), not to an extra-cosmic and therefore finite God; and that "Father" is in man himself.

ENQUIRER. Then you make of man a God?

THEOSOPHIST. Please say "God" and not a God. In our sense, the inner man is the only God we can have cognizance of. And how can this be otherwise? Grant us our postulate that God is a universally diffused, infinite principle, and how can man alone escape from being soaked through by, and in, the Deity? We call our "Father in heaven" that deific essence of which we are cognizant within us, in our heart and spiritual consciousness, and which has nothing to do with the anthropomorphic conception we may form of it in our physical brain or its fancy: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of (the absolute) God dwelleth in you?" (3) Yet, let no man anthropomorphise that essence in us. Let no Theosophist, if he would hold to divine, not human truth, say that this "God in secret" listens to, or is distinct from, either finite man or the infinite essence — for all are one. Nor, as just remarked, that a prayer is a petition. It is a mystery rather; an occult process by which finite and conditioned thoughts and desires, unable to be assimilated by the absolute spirit which is unconditioned, are translated into spiritual wills and the will; such process being called "spiritual transmutation." The intensity of our ardent aspirations changes prayer into the "philosopher's stone," or that which transmutes lead into pure gold. The only homogeneous essence, our "will-prayer" becomes the active or creative force, producing effects according to our desire.

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 7, 2014 at 5:20pm
Good post Margreet, it says it all
Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 8, 2014 at 12:12pm

Margreet could you tell us more about some of the connections you see in the passage with the subject of the 7 virtues?  I am sure you have many thoughts about this.

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on November 10, 2014 at 2:09pm

Here are some of my thoughts on the virtues, it is a little long but Gerry you asked for it :)

Trying to share my understanding, significance and importance of the Paramitas given to us by the masters I like to start with an analogy, a very simple one but the best I can come up with. The paramitas are not written for the personality for they are not the beneficiaries because it is for their transformation, so for who are they written. Maybe we should compare us with someone watching a movie or maybe several people watching the same movie, some watchers are absolutely absorbed in the movie and have no idea what is going on around them and the extreme opposite is someone just observing it without any special emotion and there is lots in between. This is who we are, some of us (eternal pilgrims) are so absorb by sense-life and have no awareness of what goes on at different other levels. It seems to me that the paramitas are given to those, who because of having gone through enough pain and suffering, begin to question “who am I, where do I come from and where am I going”, where is all of this for? This is the beginning of an inner awakening and the search and desire to know Truth begins once we realize that we are the keys to unlock the gates.

Can we say that the paramitas are the moral comic forces turned into divine ethics which have to be traveled through to find our way back to Self-Conscious excistence, the path is different for each and every one because of the different combination of the forces set in motions but the goal is the same and the paramitas apply to every situation.

Looking at the first Paramita:                                                                                                                 Dana the key of charity and love immortal, ….. It seems to me that it starts with the way we think, when we are starting to look at each and everyone on the planet as the eternal pilgrim locked up in the sense world and struggling to shine through (consciously or unconsciously) we can absolutely relate and feel a brotherly or sisterly love and compassion  for this uphill battle. Our compassion then is not for the personality but for the inward struggle and the greatest charity we can offer is that of showing the way to the teachings and by offering our limited understanding so that they also step by step gain the tools to overcome their lower nature in the same way as they are given to us                                                                                          Shila, the key of Harmony in word and act,…., the thoughts we have, the words we speak should be harmless and in harmony with each other, we have to start were we are and this is also difficult for we don’t have a clear picture yet where we are going but the desire to be of benefit to all that lives is of great help. We can make the changes every moment of the day and look back at the end of the day and see how we did.                                                                                                           Kshanti, patience sweet ….., being patient includes many things i.e., being non-judgemental, considerate, tolerant, self restraint etc. All this as we know is not an easy task but every effort in that direction opens up the channel to its divine counterpart,  Mr.Judge “Try keep trying”, the following step is:                                                                                                 Viraga, indifference to pleasure and to pain…… which means absolute detachment for all our likes and dislikes when we reach this point we recognize that all the outer manifestations are illusions and are able to see unity in everything.  By the assimilation of these paramitas not in that order but simultaneously the spiritual energy Virya can travel through the golden gates of Dhyana to its destiny Prajna and reconnect with the true self which makes of man a God.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 11, 2014 at 3:04pm

Thank you for all that Margreet.  I benefited from your movie theater analogy. I just want to encourage everyone to offer some of their own thoughts in addition to quotation or passage they might post.  It is helpful to hear what we are all thinking. We will be better able to learn and assist each other this way.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on November 8, 2014 at 1:53pm

According to the Key:

The intensity of our ardent aspirations changes prayer into the "philosopher's stone," or that which transmutes lead into pure gold. The only homogeneous essence, our "will-prayer" becomes the active or creative force, producing effects according to our desire.

What does this teach us about the development of virtue?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 11, 2014 at 3:04pm

What are your thoughts on the subject Grace?

Permalink Reply by barbaram on November 8, 2014 at 11:07am


Hi Gary,
I think there are two definition to the word "proud."  One is related to a feeling of delight and satisfaction, like I am proud to be a theosophist.  The other is related to ego, like I am too proud to admit my mistakes.  I believe when we are discussing virtues and vices, we are referring to the latter. 
The difference is as a Buddhist story goes - after listening to the Buddha teachings, the novice proudly proclaims to others, I know, and the disciples mutters, thus have I heard. 
Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 8, 2014 at 12:10pm

I agree Barbaram that there are two uses for the word Pride.  When praising a child for an accomplishment we might say "son I am proud of you".  Offering praise is a good thing when sincere and when worthy. 

But the pride that is the chief of vices is a sense of superiority and arrogance that often occurs to people of accomplishment.  These are the most devious forms of separateness and perhaps the hardest to root out.

"Self-gratulation, O Disciple, is like unto a lofty tower, up which a haught fool has climbed. Thereon he sits in prideful solitude and unperceived by any but himself."

"Tell him, O Candidate, that he who makes of pride and self-regard bond-maidens to devotion; that he, who cleaving to existence, still lays his patience and submission to the Law, as a sweet flower at the feet of Shakya-Thub-pa,1 becomes a Srotapatti2 in this birth."

from the Voice of the Silence

So how do we push back on this kind of pride?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 8, 2014 at 12:23pm

Yes I agree, HPB and Theosophical Philosophy points to ideas like the Impersonal Deity, The Absolute, Cosmic Heirarchies and others to refute the idea of a personal God that can be solicited for football games, wars and wealth.

We have the idea that we progress with "self-induced, and self-devised efforts" and all the petitioning for intervention is really useless.  When intervention in a problem occurs it has karmic roots and is governed by law rather than celestial interference.

This is kind of the basis of the virtues it seems to me.  They are not blessings bestowed upon us but rather moral and spiritual muscles we build through practice and exertion. 

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 9, 2014 at 10:34pm
Gerry, Barbaram, you're right about about pride having different definitions and connotations

Sense: recognition of own worth
Synonyms: pride, dignity, self-respect
Antonyms: humility
See also

Now about this pride : "But the pride that is the chief of vices is a sense of superiority and arrogance that often occurs to people of accomplishment. These are the most devious forms of separateness and perhaps the hardest to root out." And you ask how do we push back on this kind of pride?

The answer was given on the following page in The Voice.
To paraphrase on page 38: by knowledge of former births, by humbleness, by calmness, restraining the lower self, slaying desire.

We must also keep in mind that these are written in the section of The Voice that is about the two paths, and the context is important and it describes a kind of inner battle and is described as such within ourselves....and no effort is in vain!

I would like to get back to direct talk about particular virtues and will do in future posts as time permits. Patience for us all!
Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 11, 2014 at 3:26pm

Didn't anybody tell you?????  Barb and I are always right!

Kidding aside.

You are the one that is right.  There are two very different uses for the term pride.  For the purposes of this discussion and for the question I raised pride is being used here in the negative sense.

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 11, 2014 at 4:57pm
Ok let's open up this to the can of worms.
When is war virtuous ?
Is it virtuous and fulfilling duty to defend ones homeland or aid another being threatened?
What about the idea and actions called tough love?
What about situations that call for abortions?
Why support serial killers and psychopaths with life sentences when justly convicted? I disagree with HPB about capital punishment!!!
Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on November 11, 2014 at 9:06pm

Dear Gary there are too many questions here with too much to say which might run us off the road of discussing virtue in the Voice.

Maybe just take one of these questions: When is participating in a war virtuous?  It is an interesting question.

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on November 11, 2014 at 9:09pm

I wonder if you would disagree with her as much if you discovered that the elemental energies released and karmic forces at invisible levels enabled by capital punishment lead to more murder, more bloodshed? Like pouring poison in a well.

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 12, 2014 at 3:30am
Bear in mind that capital punishment is just another form of war and abortion can be defensive action as well as compassionate

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 12, 2014 at 11:45am

Gandhi made the point that to live in the world we must make some concessions to violence.  For our bodies to live either plant life or animal life must be sacrificed.  To build a house you might have to take down some trees, that sort of thing.  The virtuous thing to do, he would say, is to try in every way you can to minimize the amount of violence needed for your own existence here on the planet.

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on November 12, 2014 at 8:34am

When is war virtuous?

The paramitas are tools for us to get control of the negative tendencies within ourselves, our obstacles are as Robert Crosbie says "as I myself desired" for they reflect back to us where the work needs to be done. "To live and reap experience the mind needs breath and depth and points to draw it towards the Diamond Soul." We have to become indifferent to our own pain but what of those of others? Shouldn't we help others when they are in different ways attacked. The question in everything that always should be asked is "is my or our motives the purest it can be? 

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 12, 2014 at 9:28am
Well Margreet,
You just keep hitting the center of the target, the questions. I couldn't think of a better answer if I tried and tried.
Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on November 12, 2014 at 4:06pm

Is there a difference between war, capital punishment and abortion? Just some thoughts.

The violent deaths in war and capital punishment release as Tamiko sais elemental energies at the invisible level which leads to more bloodshed and murder. This is not often thought about but very true. In case of war when people are brutalized there might not be another option than to try to end it but we always need to be cautious, honest and true to our motives.

In case of capital punishment it seems different. Here the culprit is apprehended and can do no more harm, in this case we can look at it a little different for we can recognize the absolute engulfment of the pilgrim in his lower nature having made terrible choices, living out his life gives him or her the chance of realizing the mistakes and gain some awareness,  another good reason why not to go ahead with capital punishment is the knowledge that violent elemental energies are thrown out when preceding with an also violent death it wouldn't make the world a better place. This would give compassion to the so misguided soul and punishment for the personality. 

Abortion is different again: What happens when the soul comes out of devachan, collects its skandhas and tries to enter the best opportunity for its upcoming incarnation and that opportunity is lost?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 12, 2014 at 4:58pm

These are all helpful and interesting comments.  Thank you for them.  As moderator I want to make sure we do not wander off too far from the subject of this discussion which is the Seven virtues.  Gary has rightly identified a large list of hot button issues each one of which is worthy of discussion. But unless we can tie them back to our discussion of the seven virtues we might want to save these topics for a different occasion.  

How about this question to make an attempt to rope all of Gary's issues together: What is the relationship between violence and the seven virtues?

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 13, 2014 at 3:25am

I disagree Gerry respectfully. What's the use of discussing virtues when real life demands we make decisions based on reality and those virtues we try to live up to? This is about the art of living after all. I have had to face each of these important questions personally and it's hard stuff...real living!

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 13, 2014 at 6:58am

Guess what Gerry my friend....I opened a box of success cards from Deepak Chopra that my sister gave me and guess what the first card says.
"I protect my inner life from the opinion of others."

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 13, 2014 at 9:56am

You are right, we do want to discuss real life demands in this discussion group. Theosophy philosophy offers an answer to all of life's problems and challenges.

Permalink Reply by Peter on November 13, 2014 at 7:39am

The issue with capital punishment relates to our other Group Study on Karma.  The teaching on this is as follows.  When an individual dies at the time set for him/her by karma, then a natural dissolution process of the inner principles takes place.  The individual loses the lower triad of physical body, astral double and prana.  Then the Ego lapses into an unconscious state as the process of the separation of the higher and lower principles takes place through a number of stages, including that of the Higher principles seeking to carry away the ‘spiritual’ portions of the ‘personality that was’ into Devachan.   

One of the concerns about capital punishment, aside from whether it is ever morally justified, has to do with the occult view of what happens when an individual’s life is terminated before it is karmically due, especially in the case of very wicked individuals.  On physical death such an individual loses the lower triad, but the separation of the principles does not begin to take place until that point in time when the life of the individual would have ended as determined by its Karma.  The result is that the wicked person, though not aware of being dead, retains some semblance of consciousness on the astral planes while still seeking to consciously follow the wicked passions to which it has been drawn during life.  This leads it to be drawn to similar natures and scenes of wickedness in the astral realm and continuing its malevolent influence on those still living, which in turn creates further terrible karma for that Ego.  

In the case of abortion; because the Ego has not made a proper connection with the lower triad (see above) and does not do so until around the 7th year when it becomes karmically responsible, then incarnating Ego incarnates into another body, perhaps even in the same family.  It doesn’t miss the opportunity of the new life.

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 13, 2014 at 12:06pm
Peter, help me her please,...I have read HPBs essay on capital punishment. Interestingly the natural death person must retain some form of consciousness as HPB HAS ELSEWHERE STATED THAT EVERYTHING has consciousness of its type. This also jives with science and atoms in motion.b Otherwise we have a contradiction in HPBS teaching.
I was under the impression that the person in devachan enters a period of rest and dreaming.
Permalink Reply by Peter on November 14, 2014 at 4:57am

Gary,  Yes, everything in nature is said to have a consciousness of its own kind just as each of the seven planes is said to have a consciousness (a subjectivity and objectivity) of its own kind.  However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Ego is able to retain its ‘self-consciousness’ and act consciously on every plane. The ability to do so comes with occult and/or spiritual development, which also includes developing the necessary perceptive faculties relative to each ‘plane’ of consciousness.  In the case of a death which happens at the time allotted by Karma, the natural death process which is comprised of the dissolution and separation of the lower principles from the higher begins.  Normal people, i.e the vast majority of humanity, cannot retain a self-conscious state or consciously act during the after-death process. This loss of ‘self-consciousness’ is described as a kind of akashic sleep or ‘unconsciousness’.  The Mahatma KH states: “Those who know they are dead in their physical body can only be either adepts or sorcerers; and these two are the exceptions to the general rule.”  (ML 16; 20c; 24b)   To be able to go through this process consciously would be one aspect of the Initiation process, would it not?

The wicked murderer whose life is taken before the time allotted by karma does not undergo the natural death process with regards dissolution and separation of the inner principles until that time finally arrives.  In the meantime s/he retains some semblance of self consciousness on the inner planes with regards to wishing to fulfill their desires and urges even though unaware of their true situation. Hence they are magnetically drawn into similar currents of wickedness in the world and become a force for these on the astral plane.

There are a number of stages in the after death states prior to devachan.  The teaching is that the Ego remains in an ‘unconscious’ state and wakes up gradually only near the entrance, so to speak, of Devachan.  Devachan is itself a dream like state, but one made up of the spiritual aspirations of the personality that was in the life just gone.   By this stage, the separation of the higher from the lower principles has fully taken place.

Permalink Reply by Peter on November 14, 2014 at 5:50am

There is an outline and summary of the after death states which can be found on the page-link below:


Scroll down to "Reply by Peter on January 10, 2014 at 3:42pm".

Students can check the validity, or not, of the content by following up the references mentioned, which refer to The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett, HPB's Collected Writings, The Key to Theosophy & so on.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by barbaram on November 15, 2014 at 8:07am

"occult view of what happens when an individual’s life is terminated before it is karmically due.........."

I understand the theosophical views on capital punishment.  On the flip side, our society is prolonging the physical body with every invention possible.  There are people who are existing like the living dead.  Could we say these people are extending their physical life beyond their karmic due? For those who choose not to prolong life with any artificial means and end it earlier, would they suffer the same consequences?

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 15, 2014 at 9:10pm
Yes we in the west are prolonging life beyond natural death time especially with heart bypass surgery. Frankly this is very questionable in some circumstances when the compassionant thing to do is let some die. I have also seen truly sad and serious cases that are now vegetables kept alive artificially because relatives with authority cannot let go.

Motive and compassion do not always walk hand in hand. A knowledge of reincarnation might help many. To many unsuccessful suicides are happening as well that turn into living tragedies. HPB never addressed compassionate dying by choice so I elect wisdom, compassion and best sense answers when quality of life is gone.
Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 16, 2014 at 12:27pm

Your post Gary made me wonder which one of the seven virtues have to do with detachment (Letting go one might say).  Could that be viraga or is it another of the virtues?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 13, 2014 at 9:53am

What is the relationship between the various virtues?  For example what is the relationship between Dana and Shila?  Can there be Shila (harmony in word and act) without Dana (charity and love immortal)? Are the 7 virtues likes note on the scale, or colors of the rainbow that blend into each other?

Permalink Reply by Peter on November 14, 2014 at 6:20am

Good question, Gerry. 

Shila is described as "..the Key of Harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action."  

This seems to be a very deep statement to me, linking us to our study in the Bhagavad Gita and Krishna's advice on action to Arjuna.  I wonder how one could act in such a 'karma-less' way without Prajna or Wisdom (the key to the 7th Portal in VOS) or without a feeling of love to all beings, which is implied in Dana, "the key of charity and love immortal'?  Yet, we are told we cannot approach the last Portal of which Prajna is the key, without first mastering the other six.

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 14, 2014 at 7:04am
interesting heres a catagory of virtues found in wikipedia.
since i found this helpful perhaps others may as well

Personal values

Virtue – characteristic of a person which supports individual moral excellence and collective well being. Such characteristics are valued as a principle and recognized as a good way to be. This list is necessarily incomplete.

Virtues of self-control
Temperance - self-control regarding pleasure
Good temper - self-control regarding anger
Ambition - self-control regarding one's goals
Curiosity - self-control regarding knowledge
Frugality (also Thrift) - self-control regarding the material lifestyle
Industry - self-control regarding play, recreation and entertainment
Contentment - self-control regarding one's possessions and the possessions of others; acknowledgement and satisfaction of reaching capacity
Continence - self-control regarding bodily functions
Chastity - self-control regarding sexual activities

Virtues of self-efficacy
Courage - willingness to do the right thing in the face of danger, pain, significant harm or risk
Patience - ability to delay or wait for what is desired
Perseverance - courageous patience, integrity
Persistence - the quality of being persistent

Virtues of regard
Fair-mindedness - concern that all get their due (including oneself) in cooperative arrangements of mutual benefit
Tolerance - willingness to allow others to lead a life based on a certain set of beliefs differing from ones own
Truthfulness/Honesty - telling someone what you know to be true in the context of a direct inquiry

Virtues of respect
Respect - regard for the worth of others
Self respect - regard for the worth of oneself
Humility - respect for one's limitations
Social virtues

Virtues of kindness
Kindness - regard for those who are within an individual's ability to help
Generosity - giving to those in need
Forgiveness - willingness to overlook transgressions made against you
Compassion - empathy and understanding for the suffering of others
Permalink Reply by Peter on November 14, 2014 at 10:37am

Thanks, Gary - I imagine we could arrange that list with different headings in quite a few different ways.  It raises the question as to why the Seven Keys to the portals in The VOS are those particular ones and not any of the others that could be chosen?

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on November 14, 2014 at 12:11pm

If you put them all together you might say self-mastery is one of the common links.  I also think you could connect each of these with one or more of the Seven Virtues in the Voice of the Silence.  Emerson would put them all together and say it adds up to character which is the Atman shining through the vestures to use theosophical language.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on November 14, 2014 at 12:30pm

Could students help me to better understand the last three virtues.  The first four seem more straightforward to me.    Is Virya determination and persistence?   Doesn't Dhyana have something to do with concentration and meditation?   Is Prajna really a virtue or is it the culmination of all the previous six together?  Prajna =Wisdom

Permalink Reply by barbaram on November 15, 2014 at 9:03am

Hi Grace:

I also see Virya to mean determination and persistence.  It is using the will to overcome any obstacles.  Unless there is determination,  there is no success.   We will not see great leaders give up after many attempts, they have the resolve to persist in face of any difficulties. 

I look at Dhyana in this context to mean - focus or to be single-minded.   This requires total dedication to the higher and a complete sacrifice of the lower.  It is a process of relinquishing all distractions and become one-pointed.   Unless there is a strong focus and commitment, there will be little success.

I think Prajna is both a culmination of the previous six paramitas and a virtue.  It is a virtue to acquire because we need wisdom in action.  Unless there is wisdom to guide us, we will be lost.  Our decisions and actions affect us and all lives in manifestation.

I see the first three paramitas are related to the qualities of the heart and the last three of the mind;  all six culminated to the seventh. 

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on November 16, 2014 at 3:09pm

Thank you Barb, this is extremely helpful.   Many thanks.

Virya =Determination

Dhyana= Line of life's Meditation

Prajna = Knowledge of the right path 

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 18, 2014 at 5:44pm
Gerry I'd like to hear from others as well about "letting go". I personally think it involves several virtues: Dana, charity , love, tender mercy, compassion...both for ourselves and for others.
Shila, harmony and courage.
Viraga, acceptance of the inevitable, acceptance Not indifference, to pleasure and pain.
Prajna, understanding combined with intellect and heart or emotions.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 20, 2014 at 9:48am

Gary can you tell us more about what you mean by "letting go" and which virtue you are associating it with specifically?  Or maybe you are saying it is part of several of the virtues.  Either way tell us more of what you mean by letting go.

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 22, 2014 at 12:47am
Letting go in general means to detach from the status quo,an acceptance of change.

There are all kinds of things as life goes on that asks us to let go. Each of us could name important ones....for example: a suffering or comatose loved one on artifical life support systems, an intolerable marriage, a miserable job, a child leaving home, ending a relationship or friendship, letting go of an intolerable belief or false one, on and on the list may go. Thus the broad amount of virtues involved already mentioned.
There is another topic that HPB did not address and that is compassionate suicide in her condemning suicide overall. Not everyone can stop their intake of food and water when their own life is closing or Physically intolerable. Right to die is another letting go. Death is a hard issue to talk about for many but must eventually be faced by each of us. It is the ultimate in letting go and letting others let go.
Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 22, 2014 at 2:56am

I think your ideas here are wonderful and touch on many of the virtues we are discussing here.

Perhaps Shila (harmony in word and act) requires a letting go of personal desires and false attachments.  We have to let go of the body we use, like you say.  Nature gives us no choice really.  Do we cooperate with the natural process or fight it?  The end of life issues you bring up perhaps relate to this.

Letting a child live their life without undue interference is indeed a letting go and aids us in harmonizing if you will.  We all have some experience with this.  There comes a point when you must see your child as an equal adult and afford them that respect whether we agree with their choices or not.

I too have many friends who cannot seem to let go or perhaps correct negative circumstances (job, marriage, etc.) because they are too afraid to venture outside the routine and what is habitual.

Do you think Virya could be allied with the idea of courage?  Courage needed to break out of the attachments that bind human beings.  Perhaps we need courage to let go of what is familiar to move to a higher vantage place?

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on November 23, 2014 at 7:15am

There is an interesting parallel in psychology and Stoicism concerning attachment and mind sets in general.  Essentially it is thought that it is not any given situation or experience that is good or bad, but one's perception or concept of it.  Everything goes back to what we believe and what we have learned.  Our experience of anything greatly depends on our outlook and belief system.  If we have decided something is bad it is, even though someone else might think differently and have a completely different experience.  Everything begins within.  This is why Plato quote's Socrates as saying one must, "Know thyself". 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 23, 2014 at 2:48pm

Jeffrey might you say more about "know thyself" and seven virtues?  How do you see them connected?

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on November 28, 2014 at 6:56am

We cannot develop virtue or morality until we understand who we are, what drives us, where our attitudes come from and where we think we are going.  We must stop being pulled and pushed by the world around us and look within to understand our true origin and purpose.  It is only then, when we have remembered who we are, that we can apply virtue to our lives.  Otherwise we are like leaves on a windy day, simply flying about with no direction, leaving ourselves to the will of our environment instead of the will of our true selves.

Permalink Reply by Gary Barnhart on November 28, 2014 at 10:16am
Jeffery, respectfully, I couldn't disagree with you more then I already do. Virtues define our character and our purpose and intentions. Without virtues we are indeed leaves in the wind.
Perhaps you would care to define who we are and our purpose besides the realization we are here to continue our evolution, our development,and to reproduce and to keep making effort towards those virtues which define us. Without virtues of some degree we would be morally bankrupt.
Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on November 30, 2014 at 6:04am

I think this comes down to the old question: "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"  If virtues define all those things you mention above do we not then know ourselves to a certain extent?  Perhaps there are different levels of virtue, the lowest being simply - keep your hands to yourself - the highest being - help those in need, sacrifice your time and talents to that end.  What do you think?

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on November 30, 2014 at 10:57am

Might we say that virtues are powers of the Self, our higher nature perhaps.   When we seek to practice the virtues it is an act of the lower nature reaching up to the higher nature.  We discover, if we are wise, what is blocking the energies (virtues) of the higher nature through the effort to practice them.  As we shed the impediments that block the virtues then we open the communication and flow between the higher and the lower nature within us.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 4, 2014 at 10:15am

Nicholas posted this in the Forum section of Tnexus under the Wisdom of James Allen it deserves to be here too.

And virtue is not only of the heart; it is of the intellect also; and without this virtue of the intellect, the virtue of the heart is imperiled. Reason, like passion, has its vices. Metaphysical speculations are the riot of the intellect, as sensuality is the riot of the affections. The highest flights of speculation—pleasing as they are—reveal no place of rest, and the strained mind must return to facts and moral principles to find that truth which it seeks. As the soaring bird returns for refuge and rest to its nest in the rock, so must the speculative thinker return to the rock of virtue for surety and peace.


The Life Triumphant

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 5, 2014 at 3:48am

"Metaphysical speculations are the riot of the intellect, as sensuality is the riot of the affections."

Gerry, are you thus inviting us all to indulge in a 'riot of the intellect' with your posts of study material to the Secret Doctrine group?

Is all metaphysical speculation merely a riot of the intellect and in itself devoid of virtue, as Allen claims?


Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 5, 2014 at 10:31am

I try to be careful with the word "all" because it opens myself up for contradiction. I think what James Allen is trying to say is  metaphysical speculation without instantiation can be empty.  Have we not all met people, ( for me at universities) who speculate on this or that but make no effort to change their lives accordingly. (Claim to love humanity for example but can't stand individual people.) This is how I read it.

Theosophy teaches a roundedness, a wholeness, a circle if you will. All departments of life and all departments of our being come into play.  Metaphyics and ethics come together in theosophy. They are part and parcel of each other and ought not and should not be separated.

Metaphysical flights of imagination are crucial to the theosophical student. Equally so  are ethical applications.  The SD study provides a philosophical foundation for an elevated ethics for the student. That is what I think at least. James Allen echoes that sentiment.

What do other students think?

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."   - Thoreau

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 5, 2014 at 11:43am

Yes, it's the "all' that we have to be cautious of as your rightly say, Gerry. The "all" is implied in Allen statement which is why I question it.  You write:

"The SD study provides a philosophical foundation for an elevated ethics for the student."

I think this is such a valuable statement, and we could also put it slightly differently and say, "The sincere study of first principles (i.e metaphysics) provides a philosophical foundation for an elevated ethics.'  Theosophy aside, one can study just the works of Plato, Plotinus, Proclus and the long line of neo-platonists to appreciate how the two are intertwined.  

I think that what you and Nicholas have both said is very rich and food for much thought and reflection.  Whether what you're saying is, indeed, what Allen is saying is another matter, but it started a valuable line of questioning non the less.

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 5, 2014 at 2:50pm

Some passages from HPB’s Collected Writings on this topic of ethics and/or metaphysics.

‘Now as to the Dharma: we have already stated how high we hold Buddhist ethics. Theosophy, however, has to do with something else than just rules of conduct. It achieves the miracle of uniting pre-Buddhist ethics with pre-Vedic metaphysics, and pre-Hermetic science. Theosophical development calls upon all the principles of man, upon his intellectual as well as his spiritual faculties.…’  (CW X 123)

(Note the “pre” in pre-Buddhist, pre-Vedic etc)

‘Theosophy is “divine” or “god-wisdom.” Therefore, it must be the life-blood of that system (philosophy) which is defined as “the science of things divine and human and the causes in which they are contained” (Sir W. Hamilton), Theosophy alone possessing the keys to those “causes.” Bearing in mind simply its most elementary division, we find that philosophy is the love of, and search after, wisdom, “the knowledge of phenomena as explained by, and resolved into, causes and reasons, powers and laws.” (Encyclopedia.) When applied to god or gods, it became in every country theology; when to material nature, it was called physics and natural history; concerned with man, it appeared as anthropology and psychology; and when raised to the higher regions it becomes known asmetaphysics.’  (CW XI 434)

“…outside of metaphysics no occult philosophy, no esotericism is possible.”  (SD I 170)

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on December 6, 2014 at 10:29am

I believe HPB said somewhere that ethics is applied metaphysics. Maybe someone can help me with the reference.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 31, 2014 at 1:53pm

A corollary might be the Greek ideas of Theoria and Praxis.  Theoria would be like a blueprint and praxis would be the building.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on December 6, 2014 at 11:31am

I think Allen is pointing out to the right use of the intellect.  The word speculation has the connotation of idle fancy and philosophical sophistry, which is very different from a study of metaphysical truths.   We have to start with the intellect to grasp the basic tenets, for there needs to be breath of knowledge in order to gain depth of understanding.  I guess a lot depends on what we do with the knowledge we gain from our study.  If we accumulate all the theories in our mind without putting them into experimentation and practice, then it does lead to intellectual congestion, or a "riot of the intellect."  If we assimilate the teachings by living out the principles, then it is transformative.  The doctrine of the Ageless Wisdom offers us hope because it gives us a framework to comprehend the mysteries of life.  Devoid of this eternal light to humanity, we live in darkness and, as such, the teachings is life-giving.    

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on December 9, 2014 at 10:12pm

I wonder if when we talk about the intellect going wrong we are always talking about Kama manas?

Permalink Reply by barbaram on December 12, 2014 at 4:19pm

If I take kama manas to mean desire-mind, then the "intellect going wrong" extends beyond this.  There could be the intellect or lower mind that is over-active which prevents the light of intuition or the heart of understanding to deepen our knowledge. 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 13, 2014 at 11:38am

Is higher mind, higher intellect by definition benevolent and altruistic because of its association with the Buddhic principle?  Perhaps desire mind, albeit capable of great power, can break away from the Buddhic influence and descend more into separative and selfish concerns.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 5, 2014 at 10:47am

Could we make connections between Dana and any other of the virtues?  For example what role does love immortal play in harmony in word and act, patience sweet, indifference to pleasure and pain, dauntless energy etc.?

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on December 6, 2014 at 10:32am

It is true Love Immortal plays a role in all the other virtues, at least for me.  How can there be harmony without love, a willingness to wait without love, the strength to hold on without love and sufficient energy without love.  The idea of love immortal is quite mysterious and probably confused with many other lesser things.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on December 12, 2014 at 11:23pm

From the Voice of the Silence The Seven Portals

Before thou canst approach the last, O weaver of thy freedom, thou hast to master these Paramitas of perfection—the virtues transcendental six and ten in number—along the weary Path.

For, O Disciple! Before thou wert made fit to meet thy Teacher face to face, thy MASTER light to light, what wert thou told?

Before thou canst approach the foremost gate thou hast to learn to part thy body from thy mind, to dissipate the shadow, and to live in the eternal. For this, thou hast to live and breathe in all, as all that thou perceivest breathes in thee; to feel thyself abiding in all things, all things in SELF.

Thou shalt not let thy senses make a playground of thy mind.

Thou shalt not separate thy being from BEING, and the rest, but merge the Ocean in the drop, the drop within the Ocean.

So shalt thou be in full accord with all that lives; bear love to men as though they were thy brother-pupils, disciples of one Teacher, the sons of one sweet mother.

Of teachers there are many; the MASTER-SOUL is one,8 Alaya, the Universal Soul. Live in that MASTER as ITS ray in thee. Live in thy fellows as they live in IT.

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on December 13, 2014 at 5:03am

"Thou shalt not let thy senses make a playground of thy mind."    The denial of the physical senses, of the body, has been a central idea to many ethical and religious traditions the world over.  Some people, I think take to extremes and deny all of their senses and others indulge in their senses to great extremes.  We should not let our desires and senses run away with us or control our minds, but our desires and senses do have a good purpose.  They are part of who we are.  Our senses tell us when we are hungry and so we eat and live.  We have sexual urges which are how we reproduce and create and maintain intimate relationships.  We shouldn't deny these impulses, but we most certainly should learn to use them wisely and integrate them into a sacred and virtuous life.  Virtue is all important both ethically and in evolution.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 13, 2014 at 11:46am

Good points Jeffrey.  The larger problem is despite being a sevenfold being we are fascinated and overwhelmed by the lowest plane and have little facility with the deeper aspects of our nature.  Putting the senses in their proper place is both difficult and important.  Meditation is, in a sense, taking a break from the world of the senses, and placing the mind on higher realms.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on December 13, 2014 at 11:24am

Could more be said about what Dhyana is?

 DHYANA, whose golden gate once opened leads the Narjol toward the realm of Sat eternal and its ceaseless contemplation.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 16, 2014 at 10:59am

In a footnote the Voice of the Silence says:  page 21

"4 Dhyana is the last stage before the final on this Earth, unless one becomes a full MAHATMA. As said already, in this state the Raj Yogi is yet spiritually conscious of Self, and the working of his higher principles. One step more, and he will be on the plane beyond the Seventh, the fourth, according to some Schools. These, after the practice of Pratyehara - a preliminary training, in order to control one's mind and thoughts -count Dhasena, Dhyana and Samadhi and embrace the three under the generic name of SANNYAMA."

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 18, 2014 at 7:07am

The references to Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi in the Voice of the Silence (VOS) may well be a reference to Patanjali.  It may also be the case that both The Voice of the Silence and Patanjali draw upon a common source of spiritual practice.  I mention this because some people believe that to find Patanjali’s system in the VOS undermines HPB’s claim about the source of the Golden Precepts.  However, the same terms can be found in a number of the Upanishads, some of which are believed to predate Patanajali.  Support for the existence of these yoga practices prior to Patanjali is also given in the Theosophical Glossary:

“Yoga - One of the six Darshanas or schools of India; a school of philosophy founded by Patanjali, though the real Yoga doctrine, the one that is said to have helped prepare the world for the preaching of the Buddha, is attributed with good reasons to the more ancient sage, Yajnawalkya, the writer of the Shaptapata Brahmana, of the Yajur Veda, the Brihad Aranyaka, and other famous works.”

James Houghton Woods and Edwin Bryant each show in their respective translations of “Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras” that the four limbs mentioned above can be found in Upanishads and Puranas that predate Patanjali.  Pantanjali appears to have systemised already existent practices in his Yoga Sutras.  The upanishads have a mixture of 6, 8 and even 10 limbs of yoga, invariably ending in Dharana, Dhyani and Samadhi.  A few examples are given below.

The Maitri Upanishad (one of the 13 Principle Upanishads said to predate Patanjali), for example, refers to Six Limbs of Yoga; apparently not yet developed into the eight limbs associated with Patanjali’s Yoga:

6: 18. The precept for effecting this [unity with Brahman] is this : restraint of the breath (pranayama), withdrawal of the senses (pratyahara), meditation (dhyana), concentration (dharana), contemplation (tarka), absorption (samadhi). Such is said to be the sixfold Yoga.   (Maitri Upanishad from Sama Veda)

The Amrita-Nada Upanishad and Dhyana-Bindu Upanishad (both from Yajur Veda linked to Yajnawalkya by Mead, see above) also include the 6 limbs of Yoga similar to those described in the Maitri U. 

Interestingly, the Tejo Bindu Upanishad appears to have ten limbs in its system:

1:15-16 Yama (forbearance), Niyama (religious observance), Tyaga (renunciation), Mouna (silence) according to time and place, Asana (posture), Mulabandha, seeing all bodies as equal, the position of the eye;  Prana-samyamana (control of breath), Pratyahara (subjugation of the senses), Dharana, Atma-Dhyana and Samadhi – these are spoken of as the parts (of Yoga) in order.  (Tejo-Bindu Upanishad from Krishna Yajur Veda)

Other Upanishads have Eight Limbs of Yoga, similar to those in Patanjali’s system, though not all upanishads relate them to Raja Yoga.  For example:

24(b)-25. Now hear (the description of) Hatha-Yoga. This Yoga is said to possess (the following) eight subservients, Yama (forbearance), Niyama (religious observance), Asana (posture), Pranayama (suppression of breath), Pratyahara (subjugation of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana, the contemplation on Hari in the middle of the eyebrows and Samadhi that is the state of equality. (Yoga Tattva Upanishad; Yajur-Veda)

10 - 12a:  He should practise Mantra-Yoga. Laya-Yoga and Hatha-Yoga, through mild, middling and transcendental methods (or periods) respectively. Laya, Mantra and Hatha-Yogas have each (the same) eight subservients. They are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.  (Varaha Upanishad.  Chapter V  from Krishna Yajur-Veda)

The Jabala Darsana Upanishad and Sandilya Upanishad both refer to eight limbs of yoga for the realisation of Atman/Brahman.  These are the same as Patanjali’s eight limbs.

The Aparokshanobhuti attributed to Adi Sankaracharya also includes Eight Limbs of Yoga with the meaning given to them from the perspective of Advaita Vedanta, i.e. non-dualism.

Permalink Reply by David Reigle on December 19, 2014 at 8:11pm

Thanks for posting all this information.

The date of Patanjali is quite uncertain, only an educated guess on the part of scholars who must rely only on extant writings for comparison. Bhagavan Das tells us that the blind pandit Dhanaraja dictated to him the "original" and inextant Yoga-sutras, 501 in number, as opposed to the 195 of the extant version, in April and May of 1910 (The Pranava-vada of Gargyayana, vol. 2, p. 187, available at dzyan.net under Sanskrit Texts, Suddha Dharma Mandala Texts). This transcript has never been published, and apparently is still with the family of Bhagavan Das.

The six-limbed yoga of the Buddhist Kalacakra-tantra and Guhyasamaja-tantra has the same six limbs as those listed in the Maitri Upanisad, except having anusmrti instead of tarka, and having a different order: pratyahara, dhyana, pranayama, dharana, anusmrti, samadhi. In these Buddhist texts, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi are defined quite differently than in Patanjali's Yoga-sutras. What is given in The Voice of the Silence agrees with what Patanjali gives.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on December 20, 2014 at 7:51am

"In these Buddhist texts, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi are defined quite differently than in Patanjali's Yoga-sutras."

Hi David:

What are the differences noted above by you in regards to the definitions between the two schools?  If it is too long to elaborate, what is a good Buddhist text to look up the meanings?

Thank you.


Permalink Reply by David Reigle on December 20, 2014 at 9:23pm

Barbara, a good brief description of the Kalacakra six-branched yoga can be found in the book by Cyrus Stearns titled, The Buddha from Dolpo, 1999 edition, pp. 99-100; 2010 edition, pp. 104-105. Maybe these pages can be seen on Amazon via their "look inside" the book feature.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 24, 2014 at 12:53pm

Many thanks Nicholas.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on December 16, 2014 at 1:07pm

Just a few more resources on Dhyana, in addition to the note from the Voice of the Silence:

Dhyâna (Sk.). In Buddhism one of the six Paramitas of perfection, a state of abstraction which carries the ascetic practising it far above this plane of sensuous perception and out of the world of matter. Lit., “contemplation”. The six stages of Dhyan differ only in the degrees of abstraction of the personal Ego from sensuous life.—Theosophical Glossary

And, in the same glossary, under Trailokya, there are more details given when speaking of the rupadhatu and arupadhatu:

"... Esoteric Philosophy teaches that though for the Egos for the time being, everything or everyone preserves its form (as in a dream), yet as Rûpadhâtu is a purely mental region, and a state, the Egos themselves have no form outside their own consciousness. Esotericism divides this “ region” into seven Dhyânas, “regions”, or states of contemplation, which are not localities but mental representations of these. Arûpadhâtu: this “region” is again divided into seven Dhyânas, still more abstract and formless, for this “World” is without any form or desire whatever. It is the highest region of the post mortem Trailokya; and as it is the abode of those who are almost ready for Nirvâna and is, in fact, the very threshold of the Nirvânic state, it stands to reason that in Arûpadhâtu (or Arûpavachara) there can be neither form nor sensation, nor any feeling connected with our three dimensional Universe."

Some of the Buddhist suttas explore these "dhyanas" or "jhanas" as well. The Anupada Sutta comes to mind, where the "rupa" and "arupa" jhanas are enumerated. The Maha-paranibbana sutta, it describes the Buddha's ascent into Nirvana through the jhanas. For an exoteric approach, there's "The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation," which might be interesting reading. I found this helpful as well: Dhyana in Buddhism.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 22, 2014 at 7:12pm

Could we say, in a manner of speaking, that the state of consciousness determines the locality of awareness?  In other words different states perceive different worlds or realms.  By entering choosing to enter a particular state of consciousness we pass through a door so to speak. And maybe this is somewhat analogous to a parent voluntarily entering into the playworld of a child.

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on December 28, 2014 at 2:42am

You could be on to something.   Many scientists and philosophers today think of the brain as a filter which enables us to stay focused in what we consider to be the present reality.  If we meditate, use hallucinogenic chemicals, or some other technique we can turn off the filter, or part of the filter, for a moment and experience other realities.  Perhaps this is what is happening to people who suffer from Schizophrenia.  How we experience these possible realities will, or course, depend on our emotional state and perception or beliefs about what we are perceiving.  Interesting area of study.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 31, 2014 at 1:43pm

It is interesting that we use the idea or metaphor of a Path for the concept of developing these 7 virtues.  It goes to show that we can look at all theosophical ideas from various perspectives, philosophical, metaphysical, psychological etc.  The concept of a Path seems to be more of a psychological viewpoint being connected to the "Who am I?" question.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on December 31, 2014 at 2:05pm

I am reminded of the Eightfold Noble Path as being both a group of virtues and a path.

Permalink Reply by Alex Papandakis on December 31, 2014 at 3:10pm

“If then virtue is a quality of the soul, and is admitted to be profitable, it must be wisdom or prudence, since none of the things of the soul are either profitable or hurtful in themselves, but they are all made profitable or hurtful by the addition of wisdom” -Plato (Meno)

Virtue is a soul quality for Plato.  It is the shining through of the higher nature through the lower nature.