Remembering Blavatsky – White Lotusday

On May 8th theosophists all over the world, whatever theosophical organization they belong to, commemorate Blavatsky’s passing on May 8th 1891. This day is called White Lotusday. Traditionally quotes from three texts are read: The Bhagavad Gita, The Voice of the Silence and Light of Asia. So here goes from chapter ten of the Bhagavad Gita, on the nature of God (or Krishna) (translated by by Dr. Ramanada Prasad)

The Supreme Lord said: O Arjun, listen once again to My supreme word that I shall speak to you, who are very dear to Me, for your welfare. (10.01)
Neither the celestial controllers (Devas), nor the great sages know My origin, because I am the origin of all Devas and great sages also. (10.02) One who knows Me as the unborn, the beginningless, and the Supreme Lord of the universe, is considered wise among the mortals and becomes liberated from the bondage of Karm. (10.03) Discrimination, Self-knowledge, non-delusion, forgiveness, truthfulness, control over the mind and senses, tranquillity, pleasure, pain, birth, death, fear, fearlessness, nonviolence, calmness, contentment, austerity, charity, fame, ill fame — these diverse qualities in human beings arise from Me alone. (10.04-05) The seven great sages, four Sanakas, and fourteen Manus from whom all the creatures of the world were born, originated from My potential energy. (10.06)

One who truly understands My manifestations and yogic powers, is united with Me by unswerving devotion. There is no doubt about it. (10.07) I am the origin of all. Everything emanates from Me. Understanding this, the wise adore Me with love and devotion (10.08), remaining ever content and delighted. Their minds remain absorbed in Me and their lives surrendered unto Me. They always enlighten each other by talking about Me. (10.09)

This is possibly the most famous quote in the whole text, because it makes it clear that God or The Divine is beyond knowing, beyond description. As this translator is an Indian, he spells the name of the main character of the Gita as ‘Arjun’, when in the West his name is usually pronounced and written as Arjuna (which is closer to the Sanskrit, but less close to the Indian languages of today).

From the Voice of the Silence by H.P. Blavatsky

Before thou canst approach the foremost gate thou hast to learn to part thy body from thy mind, to dissipate the shadow, and to live in the eternal. For this, thou hast to live and breathe in all, as all that thou perceivest breathes in thee; to feel thyself abiding in all things, all things in SELF.

Thou shalt not let thy senses make a playground of thy mind.

Thou shalt not separate thy being from BEING, and the rest, but merge the Ocean in the drop, the drop within the Ocean.

So shalt thou be in full accord with all that lives; bear love to men as though they were thy brother-pupils, disciples of one Teacher, the sons of one sweet mother.

The word ‘SELF’ (note the capital letters) stands here for the Divine, the unity between Atma and Brahman in Vedantic terms. The theme is that a sense of seperation is the ultimate enemy of spiritual development and ultimate liberation. And this unity with all means Love for all that lives as well.

The Light of Asia, by Edwin Arnold, was a very popular 19th century rendition of the life of Buddha. It did much to acquaint the West with Buddhism. Unfortunately the style is that of those long 19th century poems for which I have no patience. But at the end there’s a poem which comes to the point much more quickly:

The Books say well, my Brothers! each man’s life
The outcome of his former living is;
The bygone wrongs bring forth sorrows and woes
The bygone right breeds bliss.

That which ye sow ye reap. See yonder fields!
The sesamum was sesamum, the corn
Was corn. The Silence and the Darkness knew!
So is a man’s fate born.

He cometh, reaper of the things he sowed,
Sesamum, corn, so much cast in past birth;
And so much weed and poison-stuff, which mar
Him and the aching earth.

If he shall labor rightly, rooting these,
And planting wholesome seedlings where they grew,
Fruitful and fair and clean the ground shall be,
And rich the harvest due.

All of this obviously the message of the law of karma.

7 thoughts on “Remembering Blavatsky – White Lotusday”

  1. Thanks for the info… I was able to observe it this year, though I have no copy of _The Light of Asia_, so I am glad you posted part of it. It would have been nice to post about Wesak the day after White Lotus Day (or even on it as a 2-day event,) but I suppose like Easter, the day Buddha entered Nirvana is a bit more important.

  2. I see you said on that Wesak does not always happen close to WLD. Still, it is interesting when it does… since HPB took Buddhist refuge/vows and may have focused on it the most… or at least several later Theosophists put an emphasis on Buddhism in their systems of reasoning & explanation about Theosophy.

  3. Well – mostly I’m not into observing religious holidays. I haven’t blogged about Christmas, Easter or Mother’s day – so why make an exception for Wesak? But White Lotusday is different – since I do celebrate that (tomorrow in The Hague – private lodge meeting). But yes, Blavatsky was more avowedly a Buddhist than anything else other than theosophy. She has been accused of not being Buddhist enough by some scholars, but as she did take Pansil, she can be said to be MORE Buddhist than many ‘Western Buddhists’ these days…

  4. Hi there,

    I added your link to my site. Theosophy is something I’ve always admired and respected. It should be more widespread, in my opinion. If more people knew about it, they would probably realize its value. If all the world were more theosophical, I believe it would be a much better place…

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