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Buddhalands,Saint-Martin, etc

Feb 03, 1995 09:03 AM

Jerry Schueler asked:

       "By the way, could you shed any light on the doctrine of
       Buddhalands and Mount Meru as taught in Buddhist scripture
       versus the cosmic planes and Globes of theosophy and the
       Sephiorth of the Qabalah?"

My goodness, you're asking for a dissertation project!!! I'll
restrict my response just to my understanding of buddhalands
(buddharealms) and Mount Meru, the axis mundi.

Ever see a buddhist altar? Adrian Snodgrass' published
dissertation is one of the best kept secrets in the field.  An
Australian architect (and perennial- ist), he took a PhD later in
life.  His background adds a dimension all too frequently missing
in Buddhist studies; he knows the stuff from the inside.  His
book begins with the original buddhist axis mundi or world center
mountain, the stupa.  When Shakyamuni passed through
transmission, his cremains were equally distributed to the eight
great sites associated with his buddha career; each location was
site of a stupa, an immense dirt mount.  According to Basham,
stupa in time came to be a derogatory Hindu term meaning a
Buddhist rubbish heap! From the stupa came the Tibetan chorten
and the Far Eastern pagoda - all symoblically standing for the
abiding place of the essence of illumination.

Buddhist altars - the kind of butsudan Manley Hall had in his
office at PRS - are minature versions of the stupa/axis
mundi/buddhaverse.  They are the center of the enlightened world
and aim to center the world of temples and households were they

The key to buddharealms actually lies in the moment one becomes a
bodhisattva.  Perhaps you're familiar with the work and tradition
of Louis Claude de Saint- Martin (I'm also a Martinist Free
Initiator).  S-M differed with others of his time concerning the
meaning of l'initiation.  He was entirely an esoterist; his
position was that initiation meant the moment of gnosis, not
rituals conferring some dramatization of initiation.  Of course,
ritual is very important and we should not discount it.
Nevertheless, Louis-Claude came to repudiate any ritual
initiation on the grounds that they were misleading and
misinformative: that gnosis alone initiates one into
understanding the mysteries of light.

Becoming a bodhisattva is very much the same.  I notice the
Tibetan traditions do mass bodhisattva initiations.  Such
practices are good, but Louis-Claude, we must remember that a
public ceremony is most likely not the moment of sudden awakening
that constitutes real bodhicitta (still unimaginatively
translated as "thought of enlightenment" giving the wrong
impression it is an act of cognition); I like the SinoChinese
equivalent bodaishin better: awakening/ awake/awakened heart.  In
the moment wisdom/compassion of all enlightened beings is
experience; understanding is born.  One sees through the
obscuring complexes of illusion/delusion, right into the heart of
emptiness; thus unburdened, love, compassion and lust for
enlightenment is born of the heart.  One literally wishs to drag
the whole world along, delivering all from suffering and sorrow
rooted in illusionary lives.

We say a purvapranidhana arises at that moment, a hongan.  In
one's experience and insight, a vow or dedication arises from the
heart.  One is committed to becoming fully awake, to transmuting
the passions to live a life of enlightened passion (no repression
of the monkish sort here).  That bodhisattva vow includes
enlightening the whole world.  So, you as Jerry Bodhisattva make
it your business to create an enlightened world - and as you get
good at it, becoming a real professional bodhisattva in this and
all the lives you will ever live, your vow propells you - at
times in spite of that self interest we know to be rooted in
ignorance.  Like all buddhas, you will develop a buddhaland - you
will become a master teacher of esoteric spirituality.  You will
reveal the BIG SECRET - that there is no secret!

Now, a pantheon (really a henotheism) of buddhas and bodhisattvas
were invented as the continuing revelation of bodhisattva
buddhism.  Good gnostic traditions do not limit themselves to
texts written down a thousand or more years ago; they keep
renewing with the changing world, inventing new scriptures as
time goes on (I'm the author of the Santa Claus Sutra and the
Santa Claus Samadhi Sutra - and am still looking for a

One danger with regard to buddhism (and all esoterica) is making
a symbol into a concrete, literal thing.  Buddhalands are
especially subject to this.  Their real meaning is symbolic, and
refers to you yourself! All the buddhas and bodhisattvas are
characterizations, personifications (masks) of how enlightening
beings - persons of awakening - live and act and talk and think
in this or any world.

Here's another point that may interest you.  Who are Buddhist
texts addressed to? Answer: sentient (not just human) beings of
the world systems of the ten directions.  The whole bloody
universe.  Remarkable for a world view akin to our own at a time
when our Western ancestors were still in the Flat Earth Society.
Note, however, that we're not talking buddhalands.  Any world
system is a potential buddhaland.  Lands are transformed as well
as hearts.  The notion of group karma is nested here, as is the
esoteric notion the French call an egregoire - a collective
though projection.

Hope I haven't bored you too much with a little bodhisattva
buddhism along with some Louis-Claude.

A bientot and gassho,

Ken O'Neill, Kyoshi
White Lotus Society
Tucson, Arizona

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