Re: After-Death Bliss
Jan 24, 1999 01:28 PM
by Richard Taylor
In a message dated 1/24/99 6:55:09 PM, Dan wrote:
<<>Was Madame Blavatsky as well as the Mahatma KH ignorant
>of what Rich has written on the term "Devachan"?
>And if so, why?
[Jerry replied] Good question, Dan. I have wondered myself why she didn't
choose "bardo" instead of Devachan, which was and still is an obscure word.
But I do think that she was aware of its Tibetan meaning. She was clearly
aware of the six realms, for example. It could be that KH was pointing out
that the name was being used primarily *because* it could be taken as both
TIbetan and Sanskrit. It seems clear from the MLs that she used it because KH
did, but why he used it remains a mystery. >>
I suspect that Master KH really did know the Tibetan meaning of the word bDe-
wa-can, and used it deliberately. Even though our Glossary is wrong, I
wouldn't attribute that error to KH, or possibly even to HPB. I have searched
through all references I can find to Devachan, and nowhere (that I've found)
does HPB herself call it a Sanskrit word, except in the Glossary -- which as
Dallas says, is a pretty suspect document in some ways. (I wrote weeks ago
that the Glossary is "untrustworthy," particularly if it is one's sole
reference, which in Dallas' case, it certainly is not.)
If we believe in Theosophy at all, we must believe that its great Founders,
the Mahatmas, were very careful and deliberate in Their teachings. I propose
we begin on this basis.
Why would the Master choose the term bDe-wa-can rather than bardo? Because
the bardo states, in Tibetan literature, are described in tremendously
complicated terms. There are more deities than you can shake a stick at, and
dealing with all of them on symbolic terms would have taken a mighty effort.
bDe-wa-can has this virtue: it is an established term and concept in Tibetan
(it is *not* obscure for Tibetans, three major sutras deal with it) and it is
relatively simple. In its most basic English translation, it simply means
"possessed of happiness." The descriptions of these realms, as Peter points
out, are vulgar and materialistic, but serve as a much simpler base for
analogy and teaching of ignorant Westerners than the complicated bardos with
their 100+ deities.
The whole point of the Theosophical Devachan teaching (as opposed to the
Tibetan Buddhist bDe-wa-can teaching) is that it serves a necessary karmic
recompense for all the higher and unactualized wishes and dreams of men during
life. As part of the effort to demonstrate the universal sway of Karma, this
Devachan teaching of the Wisdom Tradition shows the perfect action of Karma,
both in material recompense (in future lives) and in psychic recompense (in
In the process, we get to see one of the Masters "unpack" and explain an
exoteric concept (Tibetan bDe-wa-can) with its esoteric root (Theosophical
Devachan). Perhaps if we watch this process often enough, our intuition (and
yes, even our intellectual REASON) learn to do the same thing. We become
self-taught, self-induced learners. Which, as the S.D. states, is the goal.
I think this is good pedagogy, and that's why I think the Master chose to work
I will mention one last time, however, that getting the "Eye Doctrine" wrong
does in fact harm our understanding of the "Heart Doctrine." Not knowing the
original language of a term makes it impossible to see how natives used it (in
this case, Tibetans). This then hurts our understanding of what is different
and important in what the Master does with the term. For this reason, again,
I find obstructionism (attempts to block discussion or switch the topic)
harmful. In fear and avoidance of Eye Doctrine, Heart Doctrine is also
jeopardized. HPB used both.
If it is the goal of no one else on this list, it is at least my goal to have
the WHOLE truth, inner *and* outer. I see no reason why we shouldn't at leave
*strive* for both. And truth be told, I think a goodly number of sincere
seekers join me in this sentiment.
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