Hinduism vs Buddhism
Jun 02, 1997 02:58 PM
by Gerald Schueler
>Being composed of elements that partake of both Hindu and Buddhist
>thought (among other things), can anyone tell me how theosophy has
>resolved the difference between the traditional Hindu view of Atman and
>Brahman and the quite succint refutation of these concepts by Buddhism
>(for example, in the Buddhist doctrine of anatman)?
>Is there some overarching theosophical perspective that reconciles this
>direct philosophical opposition?
The common denominator is the Doctrine of Monads, which HPB
skewed until it fit both the Hindu and Buddhist perspectives. She
calls the ego (Jungian sense) the Human Monad, for example,
which suggests that it is real and meaninful and permanent (Hindu
view) but then in other places suggests that it only lasts one lifetime
while the Spiritual Monad lasts through the whole manvantara, and
so on. Its altogether a very involved and messy business, but
the bottom line is that her Human Monad (which is NOT a monad
at all, because it IS divisible) equates to the Buddhist non-ego and
her Spiritual Monad equates to non-atman. Mahayana Buddhism
(which is where HPB, not Olcott, was coming from) views the ego
as relatively real--it has, like all aggragates, a dependent arising.
It does not exists independently, but only in a relative sense.
Once you work your way through her terminology, she speaks
from a true Mahayana framework but her words (e.g., her flagrant
use of the word monad) sound very Hindu-ish.
The only monad that is truly monadic is what she calls
the Divine Monad, and this is outside of time and space, and beyond
the seven cosmic planes, and thus outside of maya (Buddhists
have two views of maya--most think of it as the four lower planes
of manifestation with the Abyss being the dividing line, and the
three planes above the Abyss being Nirvana. But others
(notably the Dozchen) view all seven planes as being maya, and
thus they view Nirvana as being just as mayavic as the lower
four planes (which they call Samsara).
When you read HPB in the light of the Divine Monad as
the only true monad, she is pure Mahayana. When you read HPB in
the light of the lower monads (which don't fit the definition of "monad"
but she uses the word anyway) she is pure Hinduism.
One of the problems here is that HPB was only allowed to
give out information on the lower four planes. This is Samsara,
and she only talks about the 7 Globes, A through G on these planes.
The three higher planes weren't discussed much until G. de Purucker.
Hope this helps.
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