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Re: Jerry's Responses to Dallas

Dec 21, 1998 03:58 PM
by Grigor Ananikian


In following this debate between Dallas and Jerry, the following
reflections occur.

First, it might be that HPB put, as one of her blinds, a portrayal of other
traditions that was not wholly accurate so that her more
sensitive/intelligent followers would have to follow up on her led on their
own.  Finding some answers on one's own is one of the ways a teacher puts
the responsibility of what one believes or says one knows upon oneself
(something a fundamentalist of any strip does not like).  I know of two
individuals from the Esoteric Section that have said something to this
effect.  And/or, she didn't have the information we have now but gave a

Second, sometimes, HPB's descriptions of Tantric Buddhism may depart from
the contemporary presentations of it for three reasons.  First, the
Tibetans were as vigorous in how they looked down on "Hinayana" in the 19th
century as she was.  Second, her contacts were with the Panchen Lama.
While all forms of Vajrayana are historically and spiritually
inter-related, there are some strains of Tantric Buddhism that are not the
Lhasa forms of them.  Recently, for example, a consensus has been reached
that Bon is really an even earlier form of Tantric Buddhism than the
Nymingmapa (Old School).  Mongolian Tantric Buddhism, while under the Dalai
Lama, has some marked differences, including a myth of cosmological
origins, including a war in heaven with earth being the last stronghold of
the evil forces.  There is a Tibetan variant of this tale mentioned by the
scholar Tucci who thinks it reflects another Zoroastrian influence on
Tantric Buddhism (there are many).  Moreover, Japanese Tantric Shingon
differs in a number a ways from known Tibetan forms that reflect Central
Asian forms of Tantric Buddhism.  For example, Shingon, like Central Asian
Tantric Buddhism, posits a true atman over and above anatman (anatman is
clever means/vehicle to be abandoned in ultimate state).  Beyond the
highest known Tibetan/Mahayana level, in Shingon the goku mujisho-shin or
"mind of ultimate no-self nature", there is the Secret Mind of the true I
that truly becomes itself when it becomes free of the last great
vehicle/insight that is now the last obstacle, namely, attachment to
void/no self nature of self.  This level is called in Shingon himitsu
shogon shin or Secret Mind of True Self.  Some have posited a Taoist
influence here on Shingon but others have suggested a Central Asian origin
since the same concept shows up there (which may still not eliminate a
Taoist influence since it and Zoroastrianism were the big religious
traditions of Central Asia when Buddhism developed there and incorporated
some elements of these two religions).  Also, there have been some doubts
as to where HPB may have been in Tibet or if she ever was (as opposed to
Tantric Buddhist regions of Kashmir, Lahore, Bhutan, etc.) with a variety
of suggestions why she might have said it was Tibet (other than cupable
lying).  Finally, we know that HPB was acquainted with at least one form of
Central Asian Tantric Buddhism, that of the Kalmucks.  Their Tantric
Buddhism differs in several respects from the current "normative"
Nyingmapa, Karmapa, Kagyupa, or Gelukpa forms of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism.
So, the point here is that, without more information, it is difficult to
judge the accuracy of HPB's knowledge of Tantric Buddhism in comparison
with contemporary presentations (and accurate) of Tibetan Buddhism because
it may not be the form she knew.

Oh, and hello to the board!  This is my first post.


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