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Devachan and Tibetan Buddhism

Jan 24, 1999 09:18 AM
by Jerry Schueler

>We are discussing (so far as I am concerned), not that HPB may be
>right or wrong, superficially, in her choice of words, but
>whether the meaning behind the words [ in this case "Devachan or
>Deva-Chan ] used in Theosophical doctrine are valuable or not.
>I brought up the chronology, so far as I am able to trace it, of
>the use of this word.  I am not interested in linguistics.  I
>place no special value on them.

But Dallas, HPB not only uses the term wrongly, but even if
you look at exactly how she defines it, there is no such an
after-death state anywhere mentioned in the Tibetan Book
of the Dead. This goes, I think, beyond lingusitics.

The term Devachan (spelled bDe ba can) is given an
honorable mention in MYRIAD WORLDS where it is said
to be the Tibetan for Sukhavati "Blissful Realm." (p. 247).
It is not even considered important enough to describe,
but in fairness to HBP it is at least mentioned as a "place"
somewhere on the inner planes.

The question now becomes, Where did HPB get the idea
for her definition of Devachan as an after-death state for the
ego or jiva?  This could only have come from the bardo of
Tibet if you tweak some more definitions.  G de P does
try to do this, and his explanation is probably the best that
I have ever heard. However, and I think that this is important,
he carefully says that Devachan as used in Theosophy as
a state of mind and not a place per se.  He points out that
the deceased in Devachan could be located anywhere at

Clearly Blavatsky was not trying to use all of the Tibetan
ideas--she plainly refuted the idea of transmigration into
animals, which HH the Dali Lama still believes possible.
She also refuted the idea of 49 days and instead gives
the after death thousands of years--an idea that is a
possibility but not typical in Tibetan Buddhism. She also
eliminated the six realms of the Tibetan after death state.

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