Materialien zum Neobuddhismus


Wilhelm II.: "Völker Europas, wahrt Eure heiligsten Güter!"

2. International

 1. Buddhismus und theosophische Bewegung

von Alois Payer


Zitierweise / cite as:

Payer, Alois <1944 - >: Materialien zum Neobuddhismus.  --   2. International. -- 1. Buddhismus und theosophische Bewegung. -- Fassung vom 2005-04-26. -- URL: . -- [Stichwort].

Erstmals publiziert: 1996-05-15

Überarbeitungen: 2005-04-26 [überarbeitet]; 2003-06-19 [überarbeitet und stark erweitert]

Anlass: Lehrveranstaltung Neobuddhismus, Univ. Tübingen, SS 1987, SS 2003, SS 2005

Copyright: Dieser Text steht der Allgemeinheit zur Verfügung. Eine Verwertung in Publikationen, die über übliche Zitate hinausgeht, bedarf der ausdrücklichen Genehmigung des Verfassers.

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Diese Inhalt ist unter einer Creative Commons-Lizenz lizenziert.

Dieser Text ist Teil der Abteilung Buddhismus von Tüpfli's Global Village Library

0. Übersicht

Dieses Kapitel besteht aus vier Teilen:

Die vorliegende Einleitung hat folgende Abschnitte:

1. Weiterführende Ressourcen

Cranston, Sylvia: HPB : Leben und Werk der Helena Blavatsky, Begründerin der modernen Theosophie. -- Satteldorf : Adyar, 1995. -- 702 S. : Ill. -- ISBN 3-927837-53-9. -- Originaltitel: HPB, The extraordinary life and influence of Helena Blavatsky (1993)
[Materialreiche Hagiographie]

Dharmapala <Anagarika> <1864-1933>: Return to righteousness : a collection of speeches, essays and letters of the Anagarika Dharmapala / ed. by Ananda Guruge. -- Colombo : The Government Press, 1965. -- 875 S. -- "Published by The Anagarika Dharmapala Birth Centenary Committee, Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs, Ceylon"

Farquhar, J. N. [John Nicol] <1861 - 1921>: Modern religious movements in India.  -- New York : McMillan, 1915. -- (The Hartford-Lamson lectures on the religions of the world). -- S. 208-291.

Die geheimnisvolle Welt der Helena Petrovna Blavatsky : [Abenteuer, Begegnungen und Erlebnisse aufgezeichnet von Augenzeugen]  / zusammengestellt von Daniel Caldwell. -- Grafing : Edition Adyar, ©2003. -- 408 S. : Ill. -- ISBN 3-89427-235-X. -- Originaltitel: The esoteric world of Madame Blavatsky (1991)

Glasenapp, Helmut von <1891 - 1963>: Das Indienbild deutscher Denker. -- Stuttgart : Koehler, 1960. --  S. 186-191.

Helena Petrowna Blavatsky : ein Genius verändert die Welt / zusammengestellt von Katherine Tingley ... -- Hannover : Verlag Esoterische Philosophie, ©1992. -- ISBN 3-924849-44-7. -- 323 S. : Ill. -- Originaltitel: Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1921)

Malalgoda, Kitisiri: Buddhism in Sinhalese society 1750-1900 : a study of religious revival and change. -- Berkeley [u.a.] : University of California Press, 1976. -- 300 S. -- ISBN 0-520-02873-2

Abb.: Einbandtitel

Murphet, Howard: Yankee beacon of Buddhist light : life of Col. Henry S. Olcott : formerly published as Hammer on the mountain. -- 1st Quest ed. --- Wheaton, Ill. : Theosophical Pub. House, 1988. -- 345 S. : Ill.. -- ISBN 0-8356-0638-4

Prothero, Stephen R.: The white Buddhist : the Asian odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott / Stephen Prothero. -- Bloomington : Indiana University Press, ©1996. -- 242 S. : Ill. -- ISBN 0-253-33014-9

Webportal -- Zugriff am 2003-05-12

Theosophical University Press Online : A publishing arm of The Theosophical Society International Headquarters: Pasadena, California. --  -- Zugriff am 2003-05-12. -- [Enthält viele Texte online]

Blavatsky Study Center. -- URL: -- Zugriff am 2003-05-27. -- [Zahlreiche, sonst schwer zugängliche Quellen]

Werke von H. S. Olcott in Buchform:

Ohne Anspruch auf Vollständigkeit!

Karma lore one / H.P. Blavatsky, H.S. Olcott, W.Q. Judge. -- Talent, Or. : Eastern School Press, 1983. -- 71 p. -- Contents: What is Karma? / H.P. Blavatsky -- Karma in practical life / H.P. Blavatsky -- Karma, the twelvefold chain of causation / H.S. Olcott -- Aphorisms on Karma / W.Q. Judge.

Notovitch, Nicolas <1858 - >: The unknown life of Jesus Christ / from an ancient manuscript, recently discovered in a Buddhist monastery in Thibet by Nicholas Notovitch, translated by from the French and edited with an introduction and illustrations by Virchand R. Gandhi ; revised by G.L. Christie. -- Chicago : Progressive Thinker Publishing House, 1907, c1894. -- 156 p. -- Translation of: La vie inconnue. -- Includes lectures by H.S. Olcott and Elizabeth Harlow on the dangers of Psychism.

Olcott, Henry Steel <1832-1907>: A Buddhist catechism, according to the canon of the Southern Church / by Henry S. Olcott. Approved, and recommended for use in Buddhist schools by H. Sumangala. -- Colombo, Ceylon : Theosophical Society, Buddhist Section, 1881. -- 28 p. -- At head of title: "Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa".

Olcott, Henry Steel <1832-1907>: A collection of lectures on theosophy and archaic religions, delivered in India and Ceylon, by Colonel H. S. Olcott... -- Madras : A. T. Rajier, 1883. -- 218p.

Olcott, Henry Steel <1832-1907>: Theosophy, religion and occult science. -- London : G. Redway, 1885. Description: 384 p. -- Half title: Lectures and addresses on theosophy. -- Rev. and enl. ed. of: A collection of lectures on theosophy and archaic religions. -- Contents: Theosophy or materialism, which? -- England's welcome -- The Theosophical Society and its aims -- The common foundation of all religions -- Theosophy, the scientific basis of religion -- Theosophy, its friends and enemies -- The occult sciences -- Spiritualism and theosophy -- India : past, present, and future -- The civilization that India needs -- The spirit of the Zoroastrianism religion -- The life of Buddha and its lessons.

Olcott, Henry Steel <1832-1907>: Old diary leaves : the history of the Theosophical Society. -- Verschiedene Verlage

First series, America 1874 - 1878.. -- 1910. -- 537 S.. -- The chapters originally appeared in the Theosophist magazine,
Second series, 1878-83. -- 1900. -- 476 S.
Third series, 1883-1887. -- 1904. -- 444 S. -- The chapters originally appeared in the Theosophist magazine, 1892-1906.
Fourth series, 1887-92. -- 1910. -- 537 S... -- The chapters originally appeared in the Theosophist magazine,
Fifth series, January 1893 -- April 1896. -- 1932. --  507  S.
Sixth Series, April 1896 - September 1898. -- 1935. -- 423 S. -- The chapters orifinally appeared in The Theosophist from January, 1905 to December, 1906

Mehrere editions bzw. reprints. Ich zitiere nach den Reprints, die 1972 bis 1975 bei The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar erschienen sind.

Olcott, Henry Steel <1832-1907> ed.: Outlines of the first course of Yale agricultural lectures. / by Henry S. Olcott. With an introduction by John A. Porter. -- New York : C. M. Saxton, Barker & Co., 1860. -- 186 p.

Olcott, Henry Steel <1832-1907>: People from the other world / by Henry S. Olcott ; profusely illustrated by Alfred Kappes, and T.W. Williams. -- Hartford, Conn. : American Pub., 1875. -- 492 p., [3] leaves of plates : ill.

Olcott, Henry Steel <1832-1907>: Sorgho and imphee, the Chinese and African sugar canes : a treatise upon their origin, varieties, and culture, their value as a forage crop, and the manufacture of sugar, syrup, alcohol, wines, beer, cider, vinegar, starch, and dye-stuffs : with a paper by Leonard Wray, Esq., of Caffraria, and a description of his patented process for crystallizing the juice of the imphee : to which are added, copious translations of valuable French pamphlets / by Henry S. Olcott. -- New York : A.O. Moore, 1857. -- 350, 10 p., [2] leaves of plates : ill. -- Part 2 (p. [191]-228) has special t.p.: The Zulu-Kaffir imphee, or, "sweet reed" (the Holcus Saccharatus of Linnaeus) : comprising a description of its numerous varieties, its mode of cultivation, and the manufacture of sugar and other products from its rich saccharine juice / by Leonard Wray.

Roessle, Theophilus <1832-1907>: How to cultivate and preserve celery / by Theophilus Roessle ... Ed., with a preface, by Henry S. Olcott. -- Albany : T. Roessle ; New York : C. M. Saxton, Barker & company, 1860. -- 4 p. l., [iii]-xxvi p., 1 l., [29]-100 p. col. front., 3 pl. (2 col.). -- (Roessle's Gardener's handbooks ; no. 1)

2. Blavatsky und Olcott in der Darstellung der Theosophical Society

"Henry Steel Olcott

Colonel H.S. Olcott. President-Founder, The Theosophical Society, 1875-1907. Born 2 August 1832 at Orange, New Jersey, U.S.A. Gained international renown at 23 for his work on the model farm of Scientific Agriculture at Newark. Declined Chair of Agriculture in University of Athens offered by Greek Government. Co-Founder of Westchester Farm School, near Mount Vernon, New York, the first American Scientific School of Agriculture. His first book Sorghum and Imphee became a school textbook and brought him at 25 offers of a governmental botanical mission to Caffraria, S. Africa, Directorship of Agricultural Bureau at Washington, and managership of two immense properties, all of which he declined. At 26 he toured Europe in the interests of agriculture and his report was published in the American Cyclopedia. Became American correspondent of Mark Lane Express (London), Associate Agricultural Editor (1858-60) of New York Tribune, and published two more books on agriculture. For his public service in agricultural reform was voted two medals of honour and a silver goblet.

As reporter for New York Tribune in 1859, Olcott was present at hanging of John Brown, and though in considerable danger, extricated himself under the seal of Masonic confidence. Joined the Northern Army and fought through North Carolina Campaign, invalided to New York (1862-5). Drafted as Special Commissioner of the War Department and later Navy Department for the investigation of frauds. Received high commendation for purifying the Public Service and cleansing these departments in peril of life and reputation. In 1868 admitted to the Bar. Practised till 1878, specializing in customs, revenue and insurance cases. Published valuable report on insurance while Secretary and Managing Director of National Insurance Convention, a conference or league of State officials to codify and simplify insurance laws. A statute drafted by H.S.O. and another lawyer was passed in ten State Legislatures. As Attorney he had such clients as New York City, N.Y. Stock Exchange, Mutual Equitable Life and Continental Life Insurance Companies, Gold Exchange Bank, Panama Railways, The United Steel Manufacturers of Sheffield, England. Also Hon. Sec. to Citizens' National Committee working with French Government for first International Exposition of World Industries; also served on International Italian Committee to erect statue to Mazzini in New York. Was nominated by retiring Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and listed by President Johnson to succeed in that office, but he took sides with Congress against the President and lost the appointment. Member of Lotos Club, and intimate friend of Mark Twain, and other famous authors.

Interested in Spiritualism from the age of 19, he reported the psychic phenomena at Eddy Farm in 1874 for New York Sun and New York Graphic. Single copies sold at $1 and seven publishers contended for book rights. Published as People from the Other World, 1875, one of the earliest books on psychical research, highly praised by Alfred Russel Wallace, FRS and Sir William Crookes, FRS. At Eddy Homestead met Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and together they threw themselves into defence of reality of spiritualistic phenomena while attempting to purify spiritualistic movement of its materialistic trend. Helped with the preparation of her book, Isis Unveiled. Together they founded The Theosophical Society at New York, 17 November 1875. Organized the first public cremation in the U.S.A. in 1876. In 1878 the Co-Founders moved T.S. Headquarters to Bombay, India. Before leaving, H.S.O. received from U.S. President autographed letter of recommendation to all U.S. Ministers and Consuls; and from Dept. of State a special diplomatic passport, and a commission to report to Government upon the practicability of extending the commercial interests of U.S. in Asia. Held first Swadeshi Exhibition in Bombay, 1879. As President of the T.S., championed in India, Ceylon, Japan and other oriental countries the revival of Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Islam and other faiths. Stimulated Sanskrit revival. United the sects of Ceylon in the Buddhist Section of the Theosophical Society (1880); the 12 sects of Japan into a Joint Committee for the promotion of Buddhism (1889); Burma, Siam, and Ceylon into a Convention of Southern Buddhists (1891); and finally Northern and Southern Buddhism through joint signatures to his Fourteen Propositions of Buddhism (1891). With delegation of Buddhists (1882) in a Hindu Temple at Tinnevelly, planted "Tree of Friendship" as the first act of fraternization for hundreds of years between Buddhists and Hindus. Founded Adyar Library (1886) at which for the first time in history the religious teachers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Islam united to bless a common cause.

Though H.S.O.'s vision the principle of autonomous Sections with an international Headquarters was developed. In one year (1882-83) of mesmeric healing treated 6,000 cripples, deaf, dumb, blind and insane with phenomenal success. Started Olcott Harijan Free Schools for the education of the outcastes of India. Throughout India founded Hindu schools, Boy's Aryan Leagues and libraries, and sponsored and published Arya Bala Bodhini for Hindu boys. In Ceylon established schools for Buddhist children. Secured for Ceylon Buddhists freedom from religious persecution and Wesak as public holiday. Sponsored informal conference 1891 on possibility of Women's National Society in India. Planned institute of technological education for the Maharaja of Baroda (1888).

Lectured and traveled for T.S. many thousands of miles yearly by land and sea. Made Hon. Member of many ----famous clubs and learned societies. Received official blessing of Pope Pio Nono; blessed by the Buddhist High Priests of Ceylon, Burma, Siam and Japan, for his work for Buddhism (he took Pancha Sheela as a Buddhist in 1880); and adopted into the Brahmin caste for distinguished services to Hinduism.

Publications: Editor The Theosophist after H.P.B. left for Europe 1885; The Buddhist Catechism, 44 editions (1938), translated into 20 languages, an internationally used textbook; Old Diary Leaves, history of T.S. (in six volumes); and many pamphlets and articles on Theosophy, religion, psychic phenomena, etc. Died 17 February 1907, at Adyar, nominating as his successor Annie Besant."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2003-05-12]

Abb.: HPB

"Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

Madame Blavatsky, 'that extraordinary woman,' was co-founder, with Colonel H.S. Olcott, of the Theosophical Society. She was born at Ekaterinoslav in Russia at midnight between 30 and 31 July 1831. Her father, Colonel Peter Hahn, came of a noble family originally of Mecklenburg, Germany, but which had settled in Russia for some 300 years. Her mother's family, also of noble lineage, traced its origins to a ninth century ancestor.

H.P.B.'s clairvoyant faculty was such that, even as a child, she was consulted by the nobility about their private affairs and by the police regarding crimes committed. She was a talented pianist, and as a young girl, played in London with Clara Schumann and Arabelle Goddard.

In 1848 when she was seventeen, she married General Blavatsky, a very elderly man, from whom she soon separated. During 1848 and 1849, she studied magic in Egypt with an aged Copt and joined 'The Druses of Lebanon,' a secret society. She was present with Garibaldi at the battle of Mentana in 1849 and 'was picked out of a ditch for dead with the left arm broken in two places, musket balls embedded in right shoulder and leg, and a stiletto wound in the heart.'

When walking with her father in London in 1851, she saw a tall and stately Rajput whom she recognized as a Protector known in her visions from childhood. He spoke to her of a future work she was to do under His direction after preparation in the East. In 1852-54 she attempted to enter Tibet, however she was not successful until 1867-70. During the intervening period, she made contact with spiritualism, learned to 'bring under her control her marvelous power to produce phenomena at will,' and engaged in 'several commercial enterprises' (a trade in high class woods, head of an artificial flower factory, etc.). In Tibet, she learned, we are told, to manipulate occult forces. In Cairo in 1871 she made an unsuccessful attempt to found a spiritual society upon the basis of phenomena. Then as 'Madame Laura,' she did concert tours in Italy and Russia. In 1873 she lived with her brother in Paris, painting and writing (in addition to her other accomplishments she was a fine artist and a very clever caricaturist).

Whilst in Paris she received peremptory orders from 'the Brothers' to go to New York to await instructions. She landed on 7 July 1873, without personal funds, having exchanged her first class passage to steerage class (the cheapest) in order to buy steerage class for a poor woman and children who had been swindled. Although she had in her trunk 23,000 francs entrusted to her by her Master, she earned her living by working for a maker of cravats. Still acting under orders she finally took the money to town of Buffalo and gave it to an unknown man just in time to prevent him from committing suicide! An unsuccessful business venture in a Long Island Farm, used up the 1,000 ruble legacy she had received on the death of her father.

In 1874 she was ordered to go to the Eddy homestead in Chittenden. This was the scene of various occult phenomena being investigated by Colonel H.S. Olcott. With him in 1875, in New York, she founded the Theosophical Society. Isis Unveiled, her magnificent attack upon the materialism of religion and science, was published in 1877. She sent the first proceeds together with money received for her various articles published by Russian newspapers and journals, to the Red Cross in Russia to help her compatriots wounded in the Russo-Turkish war.

On 8 July 1878, she became an American citizen. Later that year, acting 'under orders,' she and Olcott sailed for India; they landed in Bombay in February 1879. In 1880 the two founders toured Sri Lanka on behalf of Buddhism, themselves becoming Buddhists on 19 May 1881. In 1882, the headquarters of the Society was moved to its present site in Adyar, Madras. She made various tours of India between her arrival in 1879 and her visit to Europe in 1884. In the absence of the Founders, came the one sided report of the Society for Psychical Research, in an attempt to show her up as an impostor. Since then, the S.P.R. has retracted the allegations against her. Despite the intervention of her Guru to restore her health, it deteriorated and she was unable to remain at Adyar for more than a short visit paid later that year.

In Wurzburg she worked at The Secret Doctrine, whose real authors, according to Countess Wachtmeister, were the Adept Brothers. As with Isis Unveiled, the Brothers collected the material and passed it before the inner gaze of H.P.B. In 1887 at Ostend, H.P.B. fell very ill but made another strange recovery explaining that she had 'elected' to work for a few more years in her suffering body. By invitation, she moved to London which then became the centre of the Theosophical work in Europe. In this she was assisted by occasional visits of the President-Founder (Colonel Olcott). In 1888 the first two volumes of The Secret Doctrine were published. She died on 8 May 1891 in London. Her ashes were divided between New York, India, and London, and part of it is interred under her statue in Adyar. In her will she requested that each year, on the anniversary of her death, her friends should assemble and read from The Light of Asia and the Bhagavad Gita. By Colonel Olcott's wish, this anniversary came to be known as 'White Lotus Day.'

Colonel Olcott summed up the secret of H.P.B.'s remarkable power in producing swift changes in the lives of those about her as due to:

Her amazing occult knowledge and phenomena-working powers, together with her relation to the hidden Masters.
Her sparkling talents, especially as a conversationalist with her social accomplishments, wide travels, and extraordinary adventures.
Her insight into problems of philology, racial origins, fundamental bases of religions, and keys to old mysteries and symbols.

Unflinching self-consecration to the Great Ones irradiated the life of H.P.B. and she will ever be known as the 'Light-Bringer' of the nineteenth Century.

Some Publications: Editor,  The Theosophist, The Secret Doctrine (in three Volumes), Isis Unveiled, Practical Occultism, The Voice of the Silence, two books of The Stanzas of Dzyan, The Key to Theosophy, Original Programme of the TS, Dynamics of the Psychic World, etc."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2003-05-12]

3. Theosophy and Buddhism / by David Reigle

"Theosophy and Buddhism

by David Reigle

[Reprinted from Fohat (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)  Spring ©2000, pp. 14-17, 22-23.]

Theosophy is the modern name given by H. P. Blavatsky to what is described by her as the once universal but now hidden Wisdom-Religion, the parent source of all known religions. This original Wisdom-Religion had been preserved intact out of the reach of the many conflicting sects, who each thought that their piece of it was the only truth. Blavatsky was now entrusted by its custodians with the task of making publicly known its existence and bringing out some of its teachings. She presented it to the modern world as Theosophy. In her early writings she referred to this Wisdom-Religion as pre-Vedic Buddhism.

We can assert, with entire plausibility, that there is not one of all these sects—Kabalism, Judaism, and our present Christianity included—but sprang from the two main branches of that one mother-trunk, the once universal religion, which antedated the Vedic ages—we speak of that prehistoric Buddhism which merged later into Brahmanism. (1)

We repeat again, Buddhism is but the primitive source of Brahmanism. (2)

Pre-Vedic Brahmanism and Buddhism are the double source from which all religions sprang; . . . (3)

When the Theosophical Society was founded by Blavatsky and others in 1875, she was asked about this Wisdom-Religion by William Q. Judge, one of the co-founders. He in his question referred to the custodians of the Wisdom-Religion as Masters, as did Blavatsky, since they were her teachers. Her reply indicates that while pre-Vedic Buddhism is a correct designation for the Wisdom-Religion, she considered that it might best be thought of as esoteric Buddhism. As reported by Judge:

. . . on my asking her [Blavatsky] in 1875 what could the Masters' belief be called, she told me they might be designated "pre-Vedic Buddhists," but that no one would now admit there was any Buddhism before the Vedas, so I had best think of them as Esoteric Buddhists. (4)

The title chosen for the first book to attempt an outline of the tenets of Theosophy or the Wisdom-Religion was Esoteric Buddhism. Its author, A. P. Sinnett, obviously also felt that this was an accurate designation. This book was written on the basis of correspondence with two of the custodians of the Wisdom-Religion living in Tibet. These, Blavatsky's Masters or teachers, also came to be called by the name used in India (where Sinnett and Blavatsky were then living), Mahatmas. Their letters, later published and now preserved in the British Museum, became known as the Mahatma letters. However, as made clear in them, the term Mahatma is not used in Tibet. Instead, the Tibetan term byang chub is used, whose Sanskrit equivalent is Bodhisattva rather than Mahatma. Sinnett's book based on these Mahatma letters was responsible for establishing the idea among the Western public that Theosophy is esoteric Buddhism. But the public did not correctly apprehend what was meant by esoteric Buddhism, as the Mahatma K.H. commented several months after the book of that name was published:

. . . that public having never heard of the Tibetan, and entertaining very perverted notions of the Esoteric Buddhist System. . . . the Tibetan School will ever be regarded by those who know little, if anything of it, as coloured more or less with sectarianism. (5)

Thus arose the misconception that Theosophy is derived from one religion among others, namely that known in the world as Buddhism, rather than from the Wisdom-Religion which was the source of all religions.

In order to counter this misconception, and to stress the universality of Theosophy, Blavatsky opened her greatest work, The Secret Doctrine, with a refutation of the idea that Theosophy is esoteric Buddhism. She said that Sinnett's book should have been titled, Esoteric Budhism, spelled with one "d," to distinguish the Wisdom-Religion, or Budhism, from the exoteric religion known as Buddhism. She repeated this in Section I of The Key to Theosophy. We can certainly understand the need to correct the misconception that had arisen in people's minds; but was the problem really with the book title, or was it with people being too ready to jump to unwarranted conclusions? We may recall that at the time the book was being written, the Mahatma K.H. thought Esoteric Buddhism was "an excellent title." (6) One must wonder if this distancing of Theosophy from esoteric Buddhism has not produced its own misconceptions; e.g., the idea that the Mahatmas lived in Tibet among Buddhists, but were not themselves Buddhists as such. The literary evidence from Blavatsky's Mahatma teachers indicates that they were in fact Buddhists.

Starting with the first known Mahatma letter, written to Blavatsky's aunt in 1870 in the Mahatma K.H. handwriting, we find the following (translated from the original French):

She [Blavatsky] has been very ill, but is so no longer; for under the protection of the Lord Sang-gyas she has found devoted friends who guard her physically and spiritually. (7)

The word "Sang-gyas" (sangs rgyas) is the Tibetan translation of the Sanskrit word "Buddha."

Then in letters from the Mahatma K.H. to A. P. Sinnett and A. O. Hume, written in the early 1880s, we find a number of references to Sang-gyas or Buddha as "our Lord:"

They cannot place—however much they would—the birth of our Lord Sangyas Buddha A.D. as they have contrived to place that of Chrishna. (8)

. . . the ecclesiastical system built upon the basic ideas of our Lord Gautama Buddha's philosophy, . . . (9)

. . . for the information gathered as to what takes place beyond we are indebted to the Planetary Spirits, to our blessed Lord Buddha. (10)

. . . and necessity of the practical application of these sublime words of our Lord and Master:—"O ye Bhikkhus and Arhats— . . ." (11)

Our Lord Buddha—a sixth r. man—  (12)

Plato and Confucius were fifth round men and our Lord a sixth round man . . . (13)

. . . the old, very old fact distinctly taught by our Lord . . . (14)

"The right in thee is base, the wrong a curse," was said by our Lord Buddha for such as she; . . . (15)

The Devachan, or land of "Sukhavati," is allegorically described by our Lord Buddha himself. (16)

In letters from the Mahatma Morya to S. Ramaswamier and from the Mahatma K.H. to C. W. Leadbeater, we find similar references to "our Lord," using the term "Tathagata," another title of the Buddha:

. . . decide after counting the whole cost, and may the light of our Lord Tathagata's memory aid you to decide for the best. (17)

So now choose and grasp your own destiny—and may our Lord's the Tathagata's memory aid you to decide for the best. (18)

Let no one know that you are going, and may the blessing of our Lord and my poor blessing shield you from every evil in your new life. (19)

The letters from these Mahatmas also include other passages that specifically identify them as Buddhists:

. . . our lamas to honour the fraternity of the Bhikkhus [Buddhist monks] established by our blessed master himself, . . . (20)

"Real Adepts like Gautama Buddha or Jesus Christ did not shroud themselves in mystery, but came and talked openly," quoth our oracle. If they did it's news to us—the humble followers of the former. (21)

. . . he who reads our Buddhist scriptures . . . (22)

Therefore, we deny God both as philosophers and as Buddhists. (23)

If it is objected that we too have temples, we too have priests and that our lamas also live on charity . . . let them know that the objects above named have in common with their Western equivalents, but the name. Thus in our temples there is neither a god nor gods worshipped, only the thrice sacred memory of the greatest as the holiest man that ever lived. (24)

They distinguish themselves from other creeds, including even Advaita Vedanta, which is said by Blavatsky to be, along with Buddhism, the closest to the Esoteric Philosophy:

We are not Adwaitees . . . (25)

They retain this distinction, even though they accept the truths taught in Advaita Vedanta, and have Advaita Vedanta chelas or pupils:

It is an every day occurrence to find students belonging to different schools of occult thought sitting side by side at the feet of the same Guru. Upasika (Madam B[lavatsky]) and Subba Row, though pupils of the same Master, have not followed the same Philosophy, the one is Buddhist and the other an Adwaitee. (26)

The Mahatma Morya wrote to Dr. Franz Hartmann that his becoming a Buddhist will make the path of knowledge easier of access. After H. P. Blavatsky and H. S. Olcott publicly took "Panchashila" at Galle, Ceylon, on May 25, 1880, to formally become Buddhists, the first Westerners known to do so, Hartmann followed suit and became a Buddhist on Dec. 26, 1883. The Mahatma Morya wrote in a letter to him on Feb. 5, 1884:

Let me give you an advice. Never offer yourself as a chela, but wait until chelaship descends by itself upon you. Above all, try to find yourself, and the path of knowledge will open itself before you, and this so much the easier as you have made a contact with the Light-ray of the Blessed one, whose name you have now taken as your spiritual lode-star. . . . Receive in advance my blessings and my thanks. (27)

It would seem that not only were Blavatsky's Mahatma teachers Buddhists, but so was the trans-Himalayan school of adepts to which they belonged.

When our great Buddha, the patron of all the adepts, the reformer and the codifier of the occult system, reached first Nirvana on earth . . . (28)

. . . and philanthropy as preached by our Great Patron—"the Saviour of the World—the Teacher of Nirvana and the Law" . . . (29)

In a letter to Mrs. Sinnett, Blavatsky refers to other Masters or Mahatmas of this school,

. . . who are pure blooded Mongolian Buddhists. (30)

Indeed, some of the clearest references identifying this school of Mahatmas with Buddhism are found in the words of the Chohan, the teacher of Blavatsky's teachers:

That we the devoted followers of that spirit incarnate of absolute self sacrifice, of philanthropy, divine kindness, as of all the highest virtues attainable on this earth of sorrow, the man of men, Gautama Buddha, should ever allow the Theosophical Society to represent the embodiment of selfishness, the refuge of the few with no thought in them for the many, is a strange idea, my brothers.

Among the few glimpses obtained by Europeans of Tibet and its mystical hierarchy of "perfect lamas," there is one which was correctly understood and described. "The incarnations of the Boddisatwa Padma Pani or Avalo-Kiteswara and of Tsong Kapa, that of Amitabha, relinquish at their death the attainment of Buddhahood— i.e. the summum bonum of bliss, and of individual personal felicity—that they might be born again and again for the benefit of mankind." (Rhys Davids). In other words, that they might be again and again subjected to misery, imprisonment in flesh and all the sorrows of life, provided that by such a self sacrifice repeated throughout long and dreary centuries they might become the means of securing salvation and bliss in the hereafter for a handful of men chosen among but one of the many races of mankind. And it is we, the humble disciples of these perfect lamas, who are expected to allow the T.S. to drop its noblest title, that of the Brotherhood of Humanity to become a simple school of psychology? No, no, good brothers, you have been labouring under the mistake too long already. (31)

As clear as these references are to the Mahatmas of this school being the devoted followers of Gautama Buddha, and "humble disciples of these perfect lamas," there yet exists an even more direct statement. This came through unfiltered in a response from the Mahatma Morya to a request from a certain Hindu Theosophist to open up new correspondence. He and other Hindu Theosophists, however, were not prepared to give up caste and their "old superstitions" such as faith in the Gods and God, as had the Hindu Theosophist Damodar Mavalankar. The Mahatma Morya says in his characteristic blunt manner:

What have we, the disciples of the true Arhats, of esoteric Buddhism and of Sang-gyas [Buddha] to do with the Shastras and Orthodox Brahmanism? There are 100 of thousands of Fakirs, Sannyasis and Sadhus leading the most pure lives, and yet being as they are, on the path of error, never having had an opportunity to meet, see or even hear of us. Their forefathers have driven away the followers of the only true philosophy upon earth from India and now it is not for the latter to come to them but for them to come to us if they want us. Which of them is ready to become a Buddhist, a Nastika [one who does not believe in God or Gods] as they call us? None. Those who have believed and followed us have had their reward. (32)

These quotations given above leave little doubt that the Mahatmas behind the Theosophical movement, Blavatsky's teachers, considered themselves to be Buddhists as such, and not only esoteric Buddhists.

The obvious question which now arises is this: Why don't the teachings given out by the Theosophical Mahatmas agree with the known teachings of Buddhism? To merely say that the Mahatmas are esoteric Buddhists does not entirely answer the question. It does not explain the Buddhist part. What makes them esoteric Buddhists rather than esoteric Hindus or esoteric Christians or esoteric anything else? Why should there have ever been any talk of pre-Vedic Buddhism or esoteric Buddhism unless known Buddhism has some direct connection with their teachings? Having investigated this question for many years, my own conclusion is simply and in brief as follows.

Buddhism is the most direct descendant of the Wisdom-Religion now in existence, and in the Buddhist scriptures are preserved more of the Wisdom-Religion's teachings than in any other texts now extant. Thus Blavatsky's Mahatma teachers are even exoterically Buddhists. But, as often repeated by Blavatsky, the commentaries which give the true meanings of the known texts have been withdrawn and are no longer accessible. Thus the teachings of the Mahatmas differ significantly from those of exoteric or known Buddhism. In other words, the texts of the Wisdom-Religion are best preserved in Buddhism, while the true teachings of these texts, long preserved in secret by the Mahatmas, began to be given out to the world as Theosophy.

We may recall that when the Theosophical Society was started, the scriptures of Northern Buddhism were almost all unavailable and untranslated, unlike those of Hinduism that Blavatsky cited frequently. The books on Buddhism that then existed were criticized by the Mahatma K.H. Yet he indicates that even the exoteric Buddhism portrayed in them "is full of the sparkle of our most important esotericism," likening it to diamond mines:

The more one reads such speculations as those of Messrs. Rhys Davids, Lillie, etc.—the less can one bring himself to believe that the unregenerate Western mind can ever get at the core of our abstruse doctrines. . . . Mr. Rhys Davids' Buddhism is full of the sparkle of our most important esotericism; but always, as it would seem, beyond not only his reach but apparently even his powers of intellectual perception. . . . He is like the Cape Settlers who lived over diamond mines without suspecting it. (33)

To show this, the Mahatma K.H. then provides Sinnett with the esoteric explanation of an exoteric Buddhist doctrine given in Rhys Davids' book.

En passant, to show to you that not only were not the "races" invented by us, but that they are a cardinal dogma with the Lama Buddhists and with all who study our esoteric doctrine, I send you an explanation on a page or two in Rhys Davids' Buddhism,—otherwise incomprehensible, meaningless and absurd. It is written with the special permission of the Chohan (my Master) and—for your benefit. No Orientalist has ever suspected the truths contained in it, and—you are the first Western man (outside Tibet) to whom it is now explained.  (34)

So far as I know, this explanation has not come down to us, as it is not among the Mahatma papers now preserved in the British Museum. From a perusal of Rhys Davids' book, we may assume that this explanation was "on a page or two" of his chapter 8, "Northern Buddhism."  Specifically, it likely refers to the listing he gives of the five Dhyani Buddhas, their five Bodhisattvas, and the five corresponding Manushi (human) Buddhas. (35) K.H. had also in a previous letter spoken of sending an explanation of this material; but if there included, it too has not come down to us. In this letter he appeared anxious that the theosophists give out the right explanation of this seemingly fantastic Buddhist teaching.

Only, to prove to you, if not to him, that we have not invented those races, I will give out for your benefit that which has never been given out before. I will explain to you a whole chapter out of Rhys Davids work on Buddhism, or rather on Lamaism, which, in his natural ignorance he regards as a corruption of Buddhism! Since those gentlemen—the Orientalists—presume to give to the world their soi-disant translations and commentaries on our sacred books, let the theosophists show the great ignorance of those "world" pundits, by giving the public the right doctrines and explanations of what they would regard as an absurd, fancy theory. (36)

Fortunately, Sinnett did give out in his Esoteric Buddhism what is apparently this right explanation. In chapter 9, entitled "Buddha," Sinnett explains that the five human Buddhas given by Rhys Davids relate to the five races taught by Theosophy. He introduces this topic thus:

The explanation of this branch of the subject, in plain terms, will not alone be important for its own sake, but will be interesting to all students of exoteric Buddhism, as elucidating some of the puzzling complications of the more abstruse "Northern doctrine." (37)

The listing of the human Buddhas in the Rhys Davids book gives three Buddhas of the remote past, then Gautama the historical Buddha as fourth, and Maitreya the coming Buddha as fifth. Sinnett explains why it is that the fourth Buddha belongs to our fifth race; namely, that at the beginning of the first race appears a teacher he refers to as a Dhyan Chohan, and who is therefore not in this list of five Buddhas. His explanation of this, however, was not altogether clear; and a correspondent questioned it in The Theosophist for August, 1884. The editor, H. P. Blavatsky, clarified that:

. . . Gautama was the fourth Buddha, i.e., "enlightened," while he was the fifth spiritual teacher. The first "teacher" of this "Round" on this planet was a Dhyan Chohan. As a Dhyan Chohan, he belonged to another System, and was thus far higher than a Buddha. As, however, in ordinary language, all spiritual teachers are called "Buddhas," Mr. Sinnett speaks of Gautama as the fifth Buddha. To be more accurate, it must be said that Gautama was the fifth spiritual teacher in this "Round" on this planet, while he was the fourth who became a Buddha. (38)

With this one example the Mahatma K.H. showed that the hitherto esoteric teachings now given out as Theosophy could explain the known teachings of Buddhism that were otherwise considered fantastic, and at the same time the known teachings of Buddhism could support the newly given out Theosophical teachings that were otherwise considered fantastic.

The many schools of Buddhism, each with its own varying interpretations, all claim to have preserved intact the original teachings, and to have transmitted their correct explanations in an unbroken line. Theosophy, too, makes this claim. As Blavatsky describes to a correspondent:

But what I do believe in is: (1), the unbroken oral teachings revealed by living divine men during the infancy of mankind to the elect among men; (2), that it has reached us unaltered; and (3), that the MASTERS are thoroughly versed in the science based on such uninterrupted teaching. (39)

Both Buddhism and Theosophy teach that each person should determine for his or her own self what is true through proper reasoning. If the example given by the Mahatma K.H. be taken as representative, we may reasonably conclude that Buddhism does in fact preserve original teachings of the Wisdom-Religion, and that the correct explanations have indeed been transmitted in an unbroken line to the esoteric school of the Mahatmas, and partially given out to the world as Theosophy.

The Mahatma K.H. had advised Sinnett that to properly study and correctly understand their teachings, a special group should be formed for the express purpose of seeking esoteric knowledge from the Northern Buddhist source:

It seems necessary for a proper study and correct understanding of our Philosophy and the benefit of those whose inclination leads them to seek esoteric knowledge from the Northern Buddhist Source, . . . that an exclusive group composed of those members who desire to follow absolutely the teachings of the School to which we, of the Tibetan Brotherhood, belong, should be formed . . . . (40)

However, the attempt made at that time soon proved abortive; and this remains unaccomplished and still a desideratum. Now that so many of the Northern Buddhist scriptures have become available, the opportunities to study and interpret them in light of Theosophy as sourcebooks of the Wisdom-Religion are very great indeed.


(1) Isis Unveiled, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1st ed., 1877; rev. ed. [by Boris de Zirkoff] (pagination unchanged), Wheaton, Illinois: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972, vol. 2, p. 123.

(2)  Isis Unveiled, vol. 2, p. 169.

(3)  Isis Unveiled, vol. 2, p. 639.

(4)  The Path, vol. 9, March 1895, p. 431; reprinted in Echoes of the Orient: The Writings of William Quan Judge, vol. I, compiled by Dara Eklund, San Diego: Point Loma Publications, 1975, p. 453. The spelling "Buddhists" is found in The Path; it was adapted to "Budhists" in Echoes of the Orient.

(5)  The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, compiled by A. T. Barker, 1st ed., 1923; 3rd rev. ed., Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1962, p. 392; arranged in chronological sequence by Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., Quezon City, Metro Manila: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993, p. 410.

(6) The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 198; chron. ed., p. 363.

(7) Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, compiled by C. Jinarajadasa, First Series, letter no. 38, Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1st ed., 1919, p. 102; 5th ed., 1964, p. 85; Second Series, letter no. 1, Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1925, p. 4; Chicago: The Theosophical Press, 1926, p. 11. Both volumes include a transcription of the original French letter, and an English translation. The second volume also includes a facsimile of the original, allowing my corrected spelling "Sang-gyas," rather than the printed "Sangyas."

(8) The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 339; chron. ed., pp. 377-78.

(9) The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 393; chron. ed., p. 410.

(10) The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 134; chron. ed., p. 279.

(11) The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 381; chron. ed., p. 385.

(12)  The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 94; chron. ed., p. 186.

(13)  The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 83; chron. ed., p. 176.

(14) The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 108; chron. ed., p. 199.

(15)  The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 354; chron. ed., p. 442.

(16)  The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 97; chron. ed., p. 189.

(17)  Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, Second Series, letter no. 51, Morya to S. Ramaswamier, Adyar ed., 1925, p. 98; Chicago ed., 1926, p. 110.

(18) Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series, letter no. 7, K.H. to C. W. Leadbeater, 1st ed., 1919, p. 35; 5th ed., 1964, p. 30.   A facsimile of this letter was published in The "K.H." Letters to C. W. Leadbeater, by C. Jinarajadasa, Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1941, where this passage occurs on p. 11 (incidentally showing the circumflex mark in the word Tathagata).

(19) Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series, letter no. 8, K.H. to C. W. Leadbeater, 1st ed., 1919, p. 36; 5th ed., 1964, p. 30; facsimile in The "K.H." Letters to C. W. Leadbeater, pp. 50-51.

(20)  The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 58; chron. ed., p. 275.

(21)  The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 277; chron. ed., p. 71.

(22)  The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 54; chron. ed., p. 271.

(23) The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 52; chron. ed., p. 270.

(24) The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 58; chron. ed., p. 275.

(25) The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 53; chron. ed., p. 271.

(26) The Mahatma Letters, 3rd ed., p. 393; chron. ed., p. 410.

(27)  H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. 8, Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1960, p. 446.

(28)  The Mahatma Letters, 3rd. ed., p. 43; chron. ed., p. 62.

(29)  The Mahatma Letters, 3rd. ed., p. 33; chron. ed., p. 49.

(30) The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, compiled by A. T. Barker, 1st ed., 1925; facsimile edition, Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1973, p. 85.

(31) Combined Chronology, Margaret Conger, Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1973, pp. 46-47; The Mahatma Letters, chron. ed., appendix II, pp. 479-80; with minor variants, Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series, letter no. 1. The reference attributed to Rhys Davids is actually from Clements R. Markham, ed., Narratives of the Mission of George Bogle to Tibet and of the Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa, 1st ed., 1876; 2nd ed., London, 1879, p. xlvii. The reference to securing salvation for a handful of men from but one of the many races of mankind is further explained in an excerpt from a secret book, given by H. P. Blavatsky in "'Reincarnations' of Buddha," H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. 14, Wheaton, Illinois: Theosophical Publishing House, 1985, p. 405:

The Seven Ways and the Four Truths were once more hidden out of sight. The Merciful One [Buddha] confined since then his attention and fatherly care to the heart of Bodyul [Tibet], the nursery grounds of the seeds of truth. The blessed "remains" since then have overshadowed and rested in many a holy body of human Bodhisattvas.

(32)  The Mahatma Letters, 3rd. ed., p. 455; chron. ed., p. 95.

(33) The Mahatma Letters, 3rd. ed., p. 337; chron. ed., p. 376.

(34)  The Mahatma Letters, 3rd. ed., p. 154; chron. ed., p. 315.

(35)  Buddhism: Being a Sketch of the Life and Teachings of Gautama, the Buddha, by T. W. Rhys Davids, 1st ed., 1877; rev. ed., London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1886, p. 205; taken from Eugene Burnouf, Introduction a l'histoire du Buddhisme indien, Paris, 1844, p. 117.

(36) The Mahatma Letters, 3rd. ed., p. 182; chron. ed., p. 261.

(37)  Esoteric Buddhism, by A. P. Sinnett, 1st ed., 1883; 5th annotated ed. 1885, reprint, Minneapolis: Wizards Bookshelf, 1973, p. 171.

(38)  H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. 6, 1st ed., 1954; 2nd ed., Wheaton, Illinois: Theosophical Publishing House, 1975, p. 267. The Buddhist texts (e.g., the Bhadra-kalpika Sutra) speak of many more than five Buddhas, but only four have so far appeared in our kalpa, or eon; with the fifth, Maitreya, next to come in our kalpa. Buddhist texts (e.g., the Abhidharma-kosa) describe several kinds of kalpas. One kind of kalpa is, in the Theosophical terminology coined by A. P. Sinnett, a "round." A round is the time period during which seven sequential races or humanities evolve on our planet. The equivalence of this kalpa and "round" is shown in a quotation from a commentary given in The Secret Doctrine, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1st ed., 1888; rev. ed. [by Boris de Zirkoff] (pagination unchanged), Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1978, vol. 1, p. 184:

The human foetus follows now in its transformations all the forms that the physical frame of man had assumed throughout the three Kalpas (Rounds) during the tentative efforts at plastic formation around the monad by senseless, because imperfect, matter, in her blind wanderings. In the present age . . .

(39)  H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. 11, Wheaton, Illinois: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973, pp. 466-67. Contrast this statement with the popular view repeated again and again by ill-informed writers that Blavatsky's source was psychic communications from "Ascended Masters."

(40)  The Mahatma Letters, 3rd. ed., p. 394; chron. ed., p. 411."

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