Mahayana Buddhism: A Guiding Light for the New Age
The Aryan Wisdom Tradition descends from the Brahmans to the Buddhists
This article is part of our ongoing series exploring the history, purpose, and destiny of Philosophy.
In the previous article of this series, we discussed how the birth of philosophy was originally inspired by a much older project - the “Arya”.
The Arya is a grand project, ancient in origin, that is aimed at the long-term evolution of human civilization, bringing it away from the evils that had plagued Atlantis and toward the realization of a higher spiritual plan and purpose.
In this article, we’re going to investigate Buddhism - or more specifically, the Mahayana or Northern School of Buddhism, which emerged 800 years or so after the original Buddhist school or “Sangha” was founded by Gautama Buddha during the 6th century BC.
The original philosophic school founded by the sage and prophet Gautama Siddhartha was an early prototype for what Buddhism would later become by the end of the Axial Age.
Beginning around the 4th century AD - a period that coincides not only with the official founding of Christianity via the Council of Nicaea but also with the transition of World Ages between Aries and Pisces - a new, more advanced school of Buddhism emerged: the Mahayana School.
1. The Mahayana School: An Introduction
The Mahayana School, which is also called the Northern School, originates with the mysterious sage Nagarjuna, who emerged in the 4th century AD to reveal, for the first time publicly, that Gautama Buddha had taught to a select cohort of disciples an Esoteric and mystic inner doctrine.
As a result of this revelation, it became apparent that there were actually three levels of degrees to the school or “Sangha” founded by Gautama Buddha.
At the lowest level of the three was an outer, “exoteric” body.
With Hinayana Buddhism, this exoteric branch would break off to become something like the Orthodox Christian Church, with the two higher levels not contained within its institutional structure.
In Mahayana Buddhism, this exoteric body also functions something like a Church, where devotees worship the religious philosophy’s hierarchy of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas.
But unlike with Christianity or Hinayana Buddhism, this outer wing is explicitly connected to an inner, Esoteric body: an inner, mystical Sangha whose more advanced Doctrine was taught only to the most advanced students.
Here, the symbols and myths that the system’s exoteric body worshipped were still used, but they were approached from a philosophical rather than a religious standpoint. The figures of its mythology become principles to be meditated upon and comprehended: one did not merely worship, one attempted to go deeper.
In other words, the inner branch of the Mahayana Sangha features a Cabalistic school that completely re-interprets the system’s outer religious symbolism. The teachers of this school are Initiates, the masters are Adepts, and the students are disciples. Here, we find the Mysteries reborn.
In between these two poles is the Schoolhouse, where students at a variety of levels are gradually working to improve and evolve themselves, using the Doctrine as their guide.
The Schoolhouse as a public-facing institution is also a new feature of Mahayana Buddhism: one that is only possible with the creation of a link between the School’s Exoteric and Esoteric wings.
As philosophers pass through the School’s various grades, they are striving to move from the Exoteric to the Esoteric, using the Doctrine as their guide.
This Middle Place - the Schoolhouse - is the proper domain of the Philosophers. This is where the Doctrine descends to meet the earnest student who is not yet perfected but working towards it.
The Schoolhouse did not exist in Atlantis. It existed in a small way - available to a limited amount of individuals within an exclusive caste - with the ancient Mystery Schools. But it really wasn’t really until the Axial Age when the great world teachers came and revealed the Doctrine that education begins to be emphasized as a public institution.
Before the birth of Philosophy, education was held within the family. It was a personal and private matter; a choice.
Meanwhile, within the Mysteries, we find education standardized and carried out according to an exact science. But the Mysteries only accepted the best candidates; the top students. In a time when education was the luxury of the elite, nearly all the candidates for the Mysteries came from the aristocratic caste.
With the emergence of Philosophy, this situation begins to change. Now, education in the form of philosophic instruction begins to be offered publicly. A seed was being planted in the body of the greater populace.
But when Philosophy first emerged, the Age of Aries had not yet ended; the old institutional paradigm was still in place, where the Esoteric teachings were monopolized by the priesthood, with their unauthorized dissemination being punishable by death.
As such, the first iteration of philosophy - the first wave of schools founded by the great World Teachers of the age - did not contain the Esoteric doctrine (or even acknowledge its existence) in an explicitly public-facing form.
It was not until the end of the Axial Age, a period which also coincides with the end of the Age of Aries, that the old institutional paradigm would be completely destroyed and the Esoteric Doctrine could be completely liberated to be ported into the Philosophical vehicle that had been prepared for it.
Mahayana Buddhism, the “Northern School”, is the system of Buddhism that emerges as a result of this motion of the Esoteric doctrine into the institutional vehicle of Philosophy.
With Mahayana Buddhism, the Mysteries re-emerge, now caste-free.
Whereas before the Mysteries were held secretly within the temples, where they were available to a small, elite caste, in their new form, its Doctrine would now be taught at the highest level of the philosophical school, where it would be formally connected to lower degrees.
Now, everyone in the lower grades was being prepared to one day join the Esoteric Fraternity at its highest levels. This is a more meritocratic turn of events: before, the Esoteric Doctrine was realistically only available to one or two elite castes whose members possessed the means to join.
What is true of Mahayana Buddhism is also true of the other great philosophical schools of the Axial Age: each evolved a vehicle containing the Esoteric Doctrine at its core.
One particularly notable example of this in the West is with the Alexandrian school of Neoplatonists that emerged around the same time that Mahayana Buddhism emerged in India.
Both Doctrines are founded upon the same basic revelation: that the School’s founder had secretly taught an inner, Esoteric doctrine to select initiates which featured mysticism as a primary element.
For example, because Plato was an initiate of the Greek Mysteries, he was forbidden from revealing certain elements of its knowledge, instead having to resort to cryptic symbolism in his writing to indicate certain points he was not allowed to explicitly state. It was not until the old institutional order broke down that those forbidden elements could be formally incorporated into the Doctrine.
Unlike with Neoplatonism or the other Esoteric systems of religious philosophy that emerged and developed during the Piscean Age, Mahayana Buddhism’s inner, Esoteric core is explicitly connected to the body of an outer, exoteric religious vehicle.
This is not the case in the West: the orthodox Christian Church persecuted its esoteric counterparts to such a degree that they were forced to go underground into various secret societies and fraternal organizations.
The unique value of Mahayana Buddhism is that its inner, Esoteric doctrine is connected seamlessly with its outer religious philosophy. This means that, with Mahayana Buddhism, not only can anyone enter the Schoolhouse, but even those who don’t or aren’t yet capable can still be connected to it exoterically and still benefit from the simple wisdom teachings and ethical guidelines that it offers as a popular religion.
2. Mahayana Buddhism: A Child of the Arya
In the previous article of this series, we explored how, at a remote point in the Atlantean Age, a sect of priests broke away from Atlantis’s main civilization base and relocated to the remote confines of the Himalayan Mountains. Here, this band of exiled Atlantean priests and a small community of followers were “oversouled” by what in Hinduism is called a Manu and which in Buddhism is called either a “Bodhisattva” (a “Light Being”) or a Manushi Buddha (a “Human Buddha”).
This “oversouling” spiritual entity is a highly evolved, god-like human reborn from a previous cycle of existence who has taken the Bodhisattva’s vow to returned to embodiment in order to shine a Light upon a humanity in need.
This great Bodhisattva manifests itself through seven subsidiary Bodhisattvas, who together embody the seven Rays or seven Soul Powers of this Human Buddha.
These seven Bodhisattvas emanate seven Rays of wisdom, which unite together to form the embryo for what is called the Adept-Self. This Adept-Self is the Archetype of the perfected human that exists within each of us: it is the inner Bodhisattva that the Buddhist Doctrine is designed to liberate.
The Adept is the individual who has achieved this liberation; they have actualized the seed-potential of the Adept-Self and become Adepts.
The Adept is therefore an outstanding individual that has risen from the present life wave to transmute themselves into a living embodiment of the spiritual ideal set by the original incarnating Bodhisattvas who first established the Aryan Cycle.
The Adept extends seven extensions of himself in the form of seven Initiates. These seven Initiates are the seven disciples of the Adept. They exist at a level right below the Master. Each embodies as their primary personality attribute one of the seven Rays of the Adept’s Soul Power.
Altogether then, we have four primary elements to Earth’s spiritual government: the Manushi Buddha, the seven Bodhisattvas, the Adept, and th seven Initiates. Together, these elements form the spiritual foundation of the Assembly or Sangha, with the Doctrine being the Fifth Element the glues them all together.
The first Adepts and Initiates were drawn from the elite priests of the original Atlantean spiritual community which had migrated to the Himalayas. These became the first “Aryans”, with that word describing an Initiate of this sect. The word Aryan is therefore not about genetics and ethnicity but rather about religion, spirituality, and caste positioning.
This sacerdotal caste of Aryan yogi-philosophers founded a revamped system of Mystery Schools as their first act: an institution of spiritual education termed the “Institutes of Manu”.
Through this institution, new generations of Initiates and Adepts would trained. The first cohort of Adept-Initiates to be produced out of it were the Aryan-Brahmans of ancient India.
These Aryan-Brahmans and their later descendants became the wandering Adepts who carried forth the torch for the Arya, spreading its gospel around the world, seeding its institutional framework into cultural zones around the world so that all of mankind would receive its Light and begin to grow in the direction of the Archetype originally established by the Manu.
The Aryan Mysteries, or “Institutes of Manu” as it was then called, was overseen by seven Adepts, each of whom worked through seven initiates. These initiates in turn taught lesser disciples, and so on down the ladder it goes.
As the ladder of descent unfolds from the original cohort of Aryan-Brahmans, the Doctrine expanded into other regions, races, and cultures outside of the original North Asian community it had been born within and formed new Sanghas or Assemblies in these regions, each an offshoot or branch of the original Aryan seed.
The very first descendants of the original Aryan Adepts were the Indian Brahmans, who emerged and spread within India in a gradual motion of descent southward into the mainland Indian sub-continent.
It was from this lineage of Brahmans, thousands of years down the line, that Gautama Siddhartha, the sage of Buddhism, first emerged.
He belonged to the elite Brahmanic caste originally descended from these original great yogi-priests. As such, he was an initiate of their wisdom teachings and was chosen as an instrument of their order to found an earthly institution that their wisdom teachings could be ported into, with the transition of the world into the Age of Pisces looming.
This institution became Philosophy, which was built from three primary elements:
a) The mythology of Gautama Buddha the Adept, the hero-god who sets the ideal example for man to follow by perfectly embodying the Doctrine;
b) The Doctrine that Siddhartha leaves, which represents his “Way” or “Ray” to Enlightenment. Each world teacher has their own Doctrine; thus, each presents philosophy according to a different “Way” or “Ray”.
c) The Sangha or Assembly, which is the community of initiates and disciples that forms around the Doctrine, embodying its teachings (and thus the example of the founder) in their way of life.
Through time, this new institution - Philosophy - was born with a great destiny in store for it: it is intended to play a major role in the unfoldment of our age.
The story of Philosophy’s origin, purpose, and destiny is the story that we’ve been tracking over the course of the first four essays that have already come so far in this series. We will also continue this coverage over the course of the next eight articles, where we will be gradually bringing things up to date before finishing by taking a look into the future to predict what is to come.
In this present essay, we’re going to examine the significance of Mahayana Buddhism’s first emergence and look at the new features it brought to Buddhism, while also considering what it reveals about the older Brahmanic and Aryan systems it was born out of.
This discussion is where we begin in the next section.
3. The Historical Relationship Between Buddhism and Brahmanism
As the Aryan wisdom teachings were brought around the world by its Adepts and seeded into regions and culture zones who were descendants of the former Atlantean Empire, they gradually modified the old institutional paradigm of those cultures and shaped them into a new model that imitated the original Aryan seed-Archetype.
Among the regions that the Aryan Doctrine descended into around the world, the one that preserved its teachings in the purest form - the one most untouched by the influence of outside thinking - is in the region of Northern India right below the Himavat where the original Aryan revelations took place.
This is perhaps unsurprising: it is the geographical region that is closest to the source of the original revelation. Furthermore, its peoples and culture were the first converts of the Aryan Adepts and therefore its Brahmans were the oldest living Aryan descendants.
At the same time, this region also had the benefit of being furthest away from the home base of the Atlantean home continent and was well protected from the reach of their empire by the harsh terrain and climate of the region. This means that the institutional paradigm practiced by the native Indians of the region would be relatively less influenced by the dominance of Atlantean hegemony when compared to cultures in other regions of the world.
It’s important to emphasize that the term “Arya” refers not primarily to a genetic motion but rather to a psychological one:
In its most specific form of usage, the word “Aryan” references not the person of a specific genetic ethnicity but rather an individual who has evolved their psychic and physical resources to become a member of an elite caste of spiritual teachers.
An Aryan is an Adept and their band of initiates and disciples: these describe individuals who have been initiated into a closely guarded sect or caste who are guardians and protectors of the wisdom tradition first revealed in the Himavat long ago.
The first seven Rishis or “Aryan Adepts” were not born during the present Earth cycle; they are Bodhisattvas from a previous cycle who represent already-perfected humans who have come back to show us the way forward.
These seven Bodhisattvas are sent from the spiritual consciousness of this Divine Human, the Manu - who in Mahayana Buddhism is termed the Manushi Buddha or “Human Buddha” - in order to “plant the seed” for a new evolutionary age of mankind to begin - much like how the rectangular megalith heralds the evolution of man in the film “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
This seed first blossomed forth in the form of the first Indian Brahmans. As they rose, the original Aryans receded, and it was these first Indian Brahmans and their descendants that migrated out to expand the doctrine and seed it into the rest of the world.
It was one of these Aryan Brahmans who played the part of Orpheus, the great reformer of Greek religion. It was this same caste of spiritual teachers who also brought the Osirian doctrine to Egypt, and the Zoroastrian doctrine to Persia. Again and Again, the pattern repeats around the world, with descendants of these later branches in turn becoming the seed-parents for the next generation whose destiny is to further extend the Doctrine and its Light into the collective body of mankind.
In the case of Mahayana Buddhism, this is what we find:
The Brahmans were the first wave, the original Buddhist sect formed by the descendants of Gautama Buddha was an intermediate stage, and then later the Mahayana School of Buddhism emerges as the fully-matured final form: its “Great Vehicle”, ready to carry forward the great Doctrine of Aryan wisdom teachings into a new era and into a larger portion of the social collective.
And then again, with Mahayana Buddhism, the same pattern reproduces itself, with the early masters or “Adepts” of Mahayana Buddhism becoming the seed-fathers for future generations that will further extend the Light of the Doctrine into the world.
In the East, we see the influence of this Mahayana branch of Buddhism in the form of the many Mahayana Buddhist sects that flourished in other Asian countries. China is the place that Manly Hall points to as being the region that most successfully internalized the Mahayana doctrine. Early on, its version became the standard that Sanghas in other regions like Japan and Korea imitated.
Here in China, where the Mahayana doctrine mixed with the beautiful poetic thinking of Lao Tzu and Taoism, the institutional framework of the Mahayana Doctrine is revealed and preserved in its highest form.
We also find the influence of the Mahayana sect in the West. For example, the same innovative transformations that took place in Buddhism with Nagarjuna and the Mahayana sect also take place in a very similar way in the West with the birth of the Alexandrian Esoteric Schools of the late Axial Age period. Four notable examples of doctrines born in the region around this intellectual capital of the ancient world include: Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, Cabalism, and Hermeticism.
When we compare Buddhism and with the other Philosophical Schools that rose around it, we find a similar pattern taking place though all of them: over the course of Axial Age, each is born in a similar way and each develops and evolves in a certain direction, with its final state of the evolution coming with the rebirth of the Doctrine in a new form that explicitly references the existence of an Esoteric core.
Buddhism, like its counterparts, was not born into the world fully realized. It required an incubation period of almost one thousand years until the inner, Esoteric aspect of its Doctrine would be revealed.
With the revelation by Nagarjuna of this Esoteric Doctrine - a revelation that forms the foundation for Mahayana Buddhism - the Sangha or Assembly was reborn into a new form where its reach would be extended further into the outer castes of society, bringing the Light of Salvation (Wisdom) to more and more of an ignorant populace greatly in need.
With this extension, the Doctrine of Salvation was to be made available to more of a struggling mankind desperately in need of it. At the same time, it accomplished another feat: in addition to adding an outer, exoteric branch this new doctrine also featured an inner, Esoteric branch that was meant for the highest students.
This secret Esoteric Doctrine was concerned with the initiatic rituals of the ancient Mysteries and the tantric doctrines that were practiced by its highest Initiates and Adepts. To access these teachings, one had to be initiated into the highest orders of the School
This inner Esoteric Doctrine contained a body of sacred mystic teachings that had previously, before Mahayana Buddhism, been kept exclusively by the Brahmanic castes of Asia.
At the point that Siddhartha first gave birth to Buddhism, the Brahmanic caste still existed and their authority was still preserved within the institutional framework of Indian society.
By the end of the Axial Age, this social situation was no longer the case, however. It was then - around the 4th century AD - that Buddhism evolves into the form that would become its most fully realized version: Mahayana Buddhism; the Northern School.
While the Brahmans preserved the original Aryan wisdom teachings intact within their own internal caste, they kept its knowledge confined away from the rest of society outside their exclusive order.
With the Mahayana Buddhists, these same core Brahmanic wisdom teachings would finally be ported into a new vehicle, where it could then be gradually externalized to the population at large.
The Buddhist monks of the older body were given a choice: stay attached to their old interpretation, or accept this new revelation. The ones attached to the original interpretation became the Hinayana Buddhists; the ones committed to the new revelation became the Northern or Mahayana School.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the highest school of Buddhism - the Mahayana School - is called the “Northern School”, after the fact that it hails from North Asia, the region that is closest to the source of the original Aryan revelations.
One quick side note:
The situation between the Mahayana and Hinayana Schools rather closely mirrors that which took place between the orthodox Christian Church and the Gnostics, with their revelation of a mystic method of interpreting Christianity. The difference is, the Mahayana Buddhists were able to preserve Buddhism’s Esoteric doctrine, just like how the Jewish Cabalists were able to preserve their Esoteric Doctrine that exists behind the Torah.
The Esoteric core of Christianity was persecuted and extinguished. It was forced underground. In the West, it would pop as Neoplatonism, Hermeticism, Cabalism, Astrology, Alchemy, Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry: all forms that are disconnected from the outer body of a popular religion.
With Mahayana Buddhism, the inner Esoteric Doctrine remains connected to the outer Exoteric religious body. This is special; in the West, we do not have this.
Now, before moving on, let’s recap once more the line of descent of the Aryan Wisdom Teachings:
a) The original Aryans were a caste of divine beings or “Bodhisattvas” who passed their wisdom down to a small circle of Brahmans who were initiated into the Aryan wisdom teachings. These Brahmans were sourced from surrounding tribes in the region, ones who were comparatively primitive in relation to the Aryan Adepts they encountered.
b) The Brahman caste spread over India gradually, preserving the original Aryan doctrine and condensing it into highly refined system of yoga and tantra that was developed and evolved through a continuous lineage of scholars and sages.
c) These sacred doctrines, highly distilled, then passed into the hands of Gautama Buddha, who repackaged them in Buddhist terminology and shared them with a small circle of Arhats, who kept this Esoteric Doctrine alive within a secret inner body. This Esoteric Doctrine was kept secret and not revealed within the body of Buddhism until the end of the Axial Age, when Nagarjuna rose to reveal its existence, along with a new, evolved doctrine of Buddhism that could incorporate it: the Mahayana School.
4. The Sangha (The Assembly)
Buddhism begins with the Teacher: Gautama Buddha. The Teacher reveals the Doctrine, which he also embodies through his life’s work.
Gautama Buddha embodies the Archetype: he is the fully awakened human of the current race born from the seed-Archetype originally planted within mankind by the Aryan Manu.
He exists as the ideal living representation for what the disciple can become by following the Doctrine and learning to embody it in the same manner that the Master learned to do.
Gautama Buddha wasn’t born enlightened: he attained to that rarified state by overcoming the trials and tribulations of life, attaining internal peace and Self-realization out of the stimulation that his experiences in life gave him. He accomplished what we are all trying to accomplish; therefore, the fact of the tremendous life he lived gives his followers a firm basis in which to plant their faith. If they follow the Doctrine and live its codes, they can gradually develop to become like the Master.
The Sangha or Assembly is the organization of students that follow the Master’s example, practice and preach his Doctrine, and congregate together to collectively embody the Buddhist way of life.
Through the Sangha, Buddhism becomes institutionalized: it is given an organizational vehicle that can serve as a home for the Doctrine, preserving it while spreading its Light and pursuing its objectives.
Archetypally, the primordial Sangha is seven in number: seven witnesses to the Revelation of the Teacher; seven Rays who witness the pure Light.
In Hindu mythology, the Teacher archetype is represented by the Manu, who comes to humanity from a higher plane of existence in order to show mankind the way of Yoga or Union.
Not being able to remove himself from the plane of the Solar Heart, the Divine Man sends seven messengers: the seven Bodhisattvas, who, existing in a state one stage below the total perfection of the Manu, are able to step their spiritualized consciousness down one plane lower to reach the highest terrestrial humans, who have elevated themselves to the point of being able to be contacted by these Bodhisattvas within the internal structure of their mental consciousness.
So, seven human Adepts are contacted by the seven Bodhisattvas, with each providing a vehicle through which the wisdom of one of the seven Bodhisattvas can incarnate.
Through this mechanism of knowledge transference - the Bodhisattvas to the Adept to the Initiates to their lesser disciples - the sacred scriptures and teachings of the world have been revealed to the outer body of mankind from the inner planes of the spiritual world where they originate.
As fully evolved spiritual beings, the Adept perfectly embodies the Doctrine he teaches to his Initiates. They in turn work to do the same: to elevate themselves to become perfect embodiments of the Doctrine. Each focuses in particular one of the aspect of the doctrine - i.e. on one of its seven Rays or Soul Powers.
Having elevated themselves to the point of becoming living, terrestrial embodiments of the Archetype, the Adept then become the living example of the Doctrine for a new generation of Initiates.
Together, the seven Adepts, each with seven initiates, embody the seven paths to Yoga or Union. This is the foundation of the Sangha.
Each subsequent generation of Adepts and Initiates after the first emerges by being raised up by a previous generation (like how the Brahmans were raised up from the Aryans).
The Sangha perpetuates as a continuous unbroken lineage. It is passed down from one generation to another as a deliberate act: a new generation must be prepared to take on the responsibilities associated with fulfilling the Sangha’s mission.
Here we come across the “Bodhisattva” ideal: entities on one level are striving to evolve up toward the next level, while entities who are already at that next level agree to return to the previous level to help the next group in their quest to make the leap.
When the next group finally makes this achievement with the help of the Bodhisattvas who came back, they reciprocate the gesture that was originally made toward them and they repeat the Bodhisattva vow to return and help those who are still to come.
By this point, the original Bodhisattvas who had come back to help that first cohort who have since graduated are now finally ready to move onto the next stage of life’s great ladder of unfoldment. The Vow of the Bodhisattva has been fulfilled. Now, they will again repeat this process on a higher level, becoming the students of a yet greater doctrine of teachings and the disciples of yet greater levels of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas.
5. The Middle Way
Among the numerous Esoteric Doctrines that emerged at the onset of the Piscean Age, Mahayana Buddhism holds a special place.
With the Mahayana School, Buddhism extends the Doctrine and Sangha in two directions at once, transforming Buddhism in the process.
In one direction, it extends the fundamentals of the doctrine “outwards” into society and makes it more available to the average individual. Here, the laity can benefit from the simple ethical, moral, and spiritual codes of life that Buddhism provides.
At the same time, it also extends the Doctrine “inwards”, making available to the Sangha’s most advanced students a body of Esoteric, initiatic teachings that were previously not made available to them.
In between these two extremes - the exoteric and Esoteric - is the “Middle Way”, which is the way of Philosophy.
Through Philosophy, one turns from an outward facing, exoterically-oriented state of consciousness and begins their journey up the path that ends inevitably with mysticism, esotericism, and spiritual awakening.
Philosophy’s emergence is therefore the pivot point of the Doctrine’s unfoldment: it is here that the individual agrees to enter the path that will inevitably lead to the end of suffering and the attainment of Nirvana.
The vehicle for this salvation is the Doctrine, with the student who learns to understand and internalize the Doctrine becoming its “lover”. In this way, the Philosopher becomes a “Lover of Sophia” or “Lover of Wisdom”, which is what the word “Philosophy” literally means.
This is the Right Hand Path that the Doctrine is intended to meet you on and lead you down. When you take the first step on this path, you officially declare yourself the Neophyte. And it is here that the teachings of the Doctrine begin.
In sum, with Mahayana Buddhism, the Esoteric and Exoteric aspects of the Doctrine become linked within the body of one Sangha.
Here, the most advanced students can benefit from the esoteric branch of the Doctrine, while less mature and capable souls can still gain the benefit of a lower level of teachings that emphasize the simple religious, moral, ethical, and ritualistic aspects of the Doctrine’s teachings.
In between these two poles emerges the Schoolhouse, where the body of man is gradually elevated from the outer plane of the exoteric to the inner plane of the Esoteric.
Because it is able to integrate the inner, the outer, and the middle together in one package, the Mahayana system is ideally designed as a vehicle to spread the Light of the Dharma to all sentient beings.
6. The Bodhisattva’s Vow
The impact of the Mahayana revelations on the practicing Buddhists of the period was tremendous. As Manly Hall summarizes:
“With the rise of the Mahayana School, the religious life of devout Buddhists was greatly changed. The goal was no longer departure from this world, and the saint was no longer an ascetic. He chose rather the path of compassion, seeking liberation for others rather than himself.”
“He sought to embody within his own conduct the heart of God, living for the redemption of all creatures. He was no longer concerned with his own perfection; he lived from day to day, occupied with labors of redemption. Through self-forgetfulness, he forgot the illusion of self, and lived in a continuous awareness of the Divine Love flowing in from every dimension of Space, and flowing out through the gateways of his personal dedications.” (The Mystery of the Holy Spirit)
The Doctrine taught in Mahayana Buddhism is the “Way of the Bodhisattva”:
The Adepts and initiates of the Esoteric school embody “the Way of the Bodhisattva”. This is the Doctrine that they teach to their students.
Through their earthly careers, these incarnating sages revealed the Dharma to the outer body of mankind. This they accomplished through their Doctrine and through the Sangha they established. Together, these three elements synthesize to form the backbone of Buddhism as a philosophical institution.
By following the Mahayana School of Philosophy, one becomes educated in the ways of the Bodhisattva. They are being prepared to one day restate the same vow of renunciation that the great spiritual teachers of humanity have all taken .
The Bodhisattva Doctrine is implicitly based on the concept of reincarnation: Bodhisattvas come back to guide us. Over the course of many lives and many experiences, gradually we learn the wisdom of their ways and become dedicated to evolving ourselves toward the attainment of their high standard.
Without the notion of reincarnation, none of this is possible. There has to be a superior state of Reality for the Bodhisattva to come back from.
In truth, the whole concept of reincarnation is premised upon the notion that there is something outside the cycle of creation that is looking down upon it and projecting sequences of personalities into it, which this “Over-Self” or over-souling entity can control and become stimulated by.
This Higher Self outside of creation is the true entity of evolution: evolution takes place not with the mortal personality but within the immortal “Over-Self” who is the Alpha and Omega of all mortal personalities.
This Over-Self is the “Higher Self”, which in Buddhism is referred to as the “Bodhisattva-Self”, implying that above your incarnating Over-Self is the evolving seed of a future Bodhisattva. It exists above the material plane of the Earth and is projecting down into it objective personalities. These personalities become instruments through which this incarnating Over-Self can express itself through and and evolve itself within.
This “Bodhisattva-Self” is an embryonic Bodhisattva. As this embryo matures over the course of many lifetimes, its rises in stages to become first the Initiate, then the Adept, and then finally the Bodhisattva.
This is the Path of the Bodhisattva: the path that every great spiritual teacher of mankind has taken.
The great spiritual teachers of world history were once struggling mortals just like us. They have been through the trials and tribulations of life, experienced and known ignorance, and also know what it takes to meet and overcome the many obstacles that Earth presents to its inhabitants.
Based on wisdom obtained through experience, these beings have come back to teach us the way forward: “They bore witness to the ascent of the human potential. … They were Elder Brothers capable of leading the way to eternal freedom because they had walked that way themselves.” (MPH)
The true leaders of the Invisible Government of the world are Bodhisattvas who have been through it, who know, and who are compassionate enough to come back and show us the way to the Great Beyond.
These spiritual leaders aren’t kings; they’re teachers. They aren’t micro-managers, they are guides and facilitators. They don’t interject forcibly, they wait patiently for their assistance to be graciously requested.
As Manly P. Hall describes the situation: “The administration of the racial unfoldment was put in the keeping of certain custodians termed “Adepts”, who must keep the universal laws and are servants rather than masters of the Divine Plan. These Adepts are required by the Law of the Manu to guide the race without interfering with the right of the human being to learn through experience. As the wise parent protects his child but does not overshadow his individuality, so the Hierarchy can only operate in accordance with the conscious will of the governed. When man sees Light, the Hierarchy reveals itself, but until such time it cannot force growth.”
7. Manly P. Hall on the Reincarnating Over-Self
In Manly P. Hall’s writings, he discusses the relationship between the Bodhisattva-Self and the process of re-incarnation in detail. In the space below, I want share an extended excerpt from one of his articles on the topic (“Research on the Law of Rebirth”) because it contains a number of points that are relevant to our discussion of the idea that the Higher Self is actually a Bodhisattva-Self.
In this article I’m about to quote, Mr. Hall describes in detail the inner psychological dynamics involved with reincarnation.
In particular, he examines the relationship between the physical personality and what he calls the Super-Ego, which is this greater “Bodhisattva-Self”.
Hall begins this quote by noting that the Over-Self is bound to the physical personality through a series of subconscious psychological attachments or “false acceptances” termed “Skandas”.
He states that this Over-Self can only release itself from involvement in material existence by releasing itself from these Skandas or attachments.
In relation to the incarnating Over-Self, these Skandas form “one thread of karma or compensative destiny extended though many lives, binding them together like beads upon a single thread. Thus, the complete cycle of human embodiments, made up of several hundred physical incarnations, is itself a complete pattern, in which the hindrances are slowly but inevitably transcended and transmuted.”
He continues: “During this longer life span, a conditioned entity exists. For this entity, each rebirth is like a day in school, and education cannot be completed in one day, or even in one grade.”
“This means that man possesses a super-personality which endures throughout the human life-cycle. It began when man began, millions of years ago, and it will continue until the evolutionary program for humanity is completed. “
“This Super-Ego is in a superior relationship to the lesser personalities which it projects from its own substance … It also possesses in an available form the total experience of a long sequence of lives.”
“Such experiences, attainments, and abilities as these separate embodiments attain are ultimately incorporated into the essential nature of the Super-Ego. With this larger perspective, it is more adequately oriented than those separate personalities which are unaware of their own continuity.”
Hall points to this Over-Self or “Bodhisattva-Self” as a type of “personal God”:
“Symbolically speaking, this Super-Ego is a ‘venerable ancient’, for it has endured long and remembers the whole story of mankind. Considered from the human perspective, this Super-Ego is almost a god, for it possesses at all times a decisional power over the personalities to which it bears a parental relationship. It would therefore be natural to assume that this Super-Ego is also a guardian, a ruler over its own emanations, with a sufficient knowledge of the intentions and purposes with which it engenders the material shadows of itself.”
“In terms of mythology, therefore, the Super-Ego is also the immortal-mortal, and gives rise to the myth of the culture-hero. It is immortal when compared to its countless fragmentary embodiments, but it is mortal in the sense that, like each of its extensions, it is born, passes through childhood, attains maturity and age, and is finally dissolved in the Mahaparanirvana.”
“In many ways, it truly is a superior being. In fact, many ancient peoples believed that prayers are actually addressed to this higher part of our own natures rather than to mysterious gods abiding in remote parts of space.”
Hall notes that this Over-Self is growing and evolving. This evolution is taking place through the lower personalities it extends.
“Although this Self might abide in the blessed heavens of Buddhist metaphysics, it was still subject to the grand illusion; that is, the total concept of the reality of individualized existence. If the reincarnated ego is a personality, the Super-Ego is an individuality, but the end of the great road is complete universality.”
“Like the human personality which it creates, the Super-Ego is subject to the world-illusion. If it were not, it would not have to gain its own liberation through fulfilling the ‘cycle of necessity.' It has not exhausted its instinct to objectivity, and it is this instinct which causes it to seek release through the forms which it fashions.”
“It would therefore be consistent to recognize the Super-Ego as in a process of growth. It, too, is moving inevitably from ignorance to wisdom, and its evolution is accomplished by means of the personalities which it fashions.”
By implication then, “we have another Self invisible to us which is also passing through infancy, childhood, or even adolescence. … It may take a hundred human lives to bring the Super-Ego from infancy to childhood, and several hundred lives to carry it safely through the mysteries of psychic adolescence. “
When the meditating mystic experiences Enlightenment, this not taking place primarily within the physical personality but instead within the Over-Self.
“Through study and the unfoldment of interior powers of knowledge, man becomes aware of this radiant psychic entity from which his personality is suspended and to which it must sometime return.”
“Through his unfolding understanding man builds bridges of awareness by which his human personality becomes ever more perfectly adjusted to the essential requirements of the Super-Ego.”
“The conscious dedication of the physical personality to the needs of the superior Self results ultimately in such a union by which the body (the mortal personality) is reunited with its direct source, the Super-Ego. This is in substance the story of the Arhats and Adepts, who have achieved identity with the “immortal-mortal” and are therefore regarded as participating directly and fully in its attributes.”
“The Buddhists believed that when the personal ego attains a condition of rapport with this Super-Ego, it receives a larger vision and certain valuable instructions. Through this attunement, man intuitively senses his own endurance and his survival as a rational creature seeking gradually to overcome the limitations imposed by rationality itself.”
Each of us exists here on Earth as a reflection of the state of maturity our Over-Self has thus far achieved in its evolution:
“The Super-Ego passes through various phases of maturity and immaturity. As in the case of the human being, maturity is measured by the degree of realization that the Super-Ego has attained.”
“Each life brings with it some motion toward the annihilation of the sense of diversity.”
“During embodiment, the personality must extend itself into some new sphere of experience in order that the Super-Ego can continue its own growth. “
“The pressures upon its individual personalities will therefore be according to its own degree of enlightenment. Thus, the individual may experience the tyranny of the Super-Ego, and be impelled by internal pressure to excessive conduct. The driving force which seems to press some mortals to an exceptional destiny may originate in the intensities of the super-ego.”
Through our lifespans here on Earth, we work out the karma of this incarnating Over-Self:
“In Buddhist philosophy, the exhaustion of karma means specifically the dying-out of the capacity for illusion. As long as man is capable of perpetuating error within himself, he is bound to the wheel of transmigratory existence.”
“The capacity for illusion is determined by the degree of development attained by the Super-Ego, which, through its long period of migrations, gains the enlightenment necessary to extricate itself totally from the restrictions imposed by self-consciousness. It must therefore follow that the Nirvana, or ultimate release, can occur only to this superior Self.”
“By union with the Super-Ego, the objective personality moves upward in realization to a state of individuality. This means that it gains a total awareness of its true source and complete nature. The Buddhist assumes that such a degree of understanding prepares and equips the disciple for further advancement toward the 'ultimate objective.’”
The individual who attains union with the Super-Ego becomes united with their Bodhisattva-Self.
“In Buddhistic teachings, the Bodhisattvas, or enlightened Selves, are regarded as human beings who have attained conscious union with the Over-Self.”
Once formed, these “Bodhisattvas act as interceptors between man and total reality. They abide in the suburbs of the superior world, and are dedicated totally to the service of the law of truth.”
“Their individualities represent the Super-Ego' coming of age. This maturity is possible only through the cycle of personalities which they project into the illusions of matter.” This implies that “man, in his ignorance, is contributing to the perfection of a superior being whose very existence may be unknown to its mortal projection.”
It is this higher Self within us that must make the great Vow of the Bodhisattva:
“It is the Arhat- or Adept-Self that must come finally to the place of the great decision. The patriarchs of Buddhism are said to have attained this degree of universal insight. They might, therefore, decide whether to remain on the level of the Super-Ego, and fashion bodies for the service of their fellow men, or to retire into the universal essence from which all life comes.”
Once the Bodhisattva comes back, they become the Superman; the World Hero: “In the case of the Arhat, a physical embodiment makes available the total content of the Super-Ego because the wall of immaturity has been transcended. … We cannot say that the superior Self is actually embodied, but the channels of consciousness are open, and the memory of past lives and all the experiences which have been gathered through the ages are then recorded in the conscious memory of the incarnating being. This is why such incarnations are said to be accompanied by wonders, and the newborn child is aware at birth of his mission and his destiny.”
In conclusion, we can rest easy knowing that the real leaders of our world aren’t at Davos or in some underground facility owned by Lockheed-Martin. Rather, they are Bodhisattvas who are our Elder Brothers who have come back to show us the Way and have left their legacy to us in the form of their Doctrine: Philosophy.
This is the real Invisible Government of the world.
If we can collectively acknowledge this truth and learn to live by the Doctrine they have left us, we can have a new Golden Age.