The Two Paths
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
And now, O Teacher of Compassion, point thou the way to other men. Behold, all those who knocking for admission, await in ignorance and darkness, to see the gate of the Sweet Law flung open!
The voice of the Candidates:
Shalt not thou, Master of thine own Mercy, reveal the Doctrine of the Heart? Shalt thou refuse to lead thy Servants unto the Path of Liberation?
Quoth the Teacher:
The Paths are two; the great Perfections three; six are the Virtues that transform the body into the Tree of Knowledge.
Who shall approach them?
Who shall first enter them?
Who shall first hear the doctrine of two Paths in one, the truth unveiled about the Secret Heart? The Law which, shunning learning, teaches Wisdom, reveals a tale of woe.
Alas, alas, that all men should possess Alaya, be one with the great Soul, and that possessing it, Alaya should so little avail them!
Behold how like the moon, reflected in the tranquil waves, Alaya is reflected by the small and by the great, is mirrored in the tiniest atoms, yet fails to reach the heart of all. Alas, that so few men should profit by the gift, the priceless boon of learning truth, the right perception of existing things, the Knowledge of the non-existent!
Saith the pupil:
O Teacher, what shall I do to reach to Wisdom?
O Wise one, what, to gain perfection?
Search for the Paths. But, O Lanoo, be of clean heart before thou startest on thy journey. Before thou takest thy first step learn to discern the real from the false, the ever-fleeting from the everlasting. Learn above all to separate Head-learning from Soul-Wisdom, the “Eye” from the “Heart” doctrine.
Yea, ignorance is like unto a closed and airless vessel; the soul a bird shut up within. It warbles not, nor can it stir a feather; but the songster mute and torpid sits, and of exhaustion dies.
But even ignorance is better than Head-learning with no Soul-wisdom to illuminate and guide it.
The seeds of Wisdom cannot sprout and grow in airless space. To live and reap experience the mind needs breadth and depth and points to draw it towards the Diamond Soul. Seek not those points in Mâyâ’s realm; but soar beyond illusions, search the eternal and the changeless sat, mistrusting fancy’s false suggestions.
For mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects. It needs the gentle breezes of Soul-Wisdom to brush away the dust of our illusions. Seek O Beginner, to blend thy Mind and Soul.
Shun ignorance, and likewise shun illusion. Avert thy face from world deceptions; mistrust thy senses, they are false. But within thy body — the shrine of thy sensations — seek in the Impersonal for the “eternal man”; and having sought him out, look inward: thou art Buddha.
Shun praise, O Devotee. Praise leads to self-delusion. Thy body is not self, thy self is in itself without a body, and either praise or blame affects it not.
Self-gratulation, O disciple, is like unto a lofty tower, up which a haughty fool has climbed. Thereon he sits in prideful solitude and unperceived by any but himself.
False learning is rejected by the Wise, and scattered to the Winds by the good Law. Its wheel revolves for all, the humble and the proud. The “Doctrine of the Eye” is for the crowd, the “Doctrine of the Heart,” for the elect. The first repeat in pride: “Behold, I know,” the last, they who in humbleness have garnered, low confess, “thus have I heard”.
“Great Sifter” is the name of the “Heart Doctrine,” O disciple.
The wheel of the good Law moves swiftly on. It grinds by night and day. The worthless husks it drives from out the golden grain, the refuse from the flour. The hand of Karma guides the wheel; the revolutions mark the beatings of the Karmic heart.
True knowledge is the flour, false learning is the husk. If thou would’st eat the bread of Wisdom, thy flour thou hast to knead with Amrita’s (Immortality.) clear waters. But if thou kneadest husks with Mâyâ’s dew, thou canst create but food for the black doves of death, the birds of birth, decay and sorrow.
If thou art told that to become Arhan thou hast to cease to love all beings — tell them they lie.
If thou art told that to gain liberation thou hast to hate thy mother and disregard thy son; to disavow thy father and call him “householder”; for man and beast all pity to renounce — tell them their tongue is false.
Thus teach the Tîrthikas, the unbelievers. (Brahman ascetics.)
If thou art taught that sin is born of action and bliss of absolute inaction, then tell them that they err. Non-permanence of human action; deliverance of mind from thraldom by the cessation of sin and faults, are not for “Deva Egos.” (The reincarnating Ego.) Thus saith the “Doctrine of the Heart.”
The Dharma of the “Eye” is the embodiment of the external, and the non-existing.
The Dharma of the “Heart” is the embodiment of Bodhi, (True, divine Wisdom.) the Permanent and Everlasting.
The Lamp burns bright when wick and oil are clean. To make them clean a cleaner is required. The flame feels not the process of the cleaning. “The branches of a tree are shaken by the wind; the trunk remains unmoved.”
Both action and inaction may find room in thee; thy body agitated, thy mind tranquil, thy Soul as limpid as a mountain lake.
Would’st thou become a Yogi of “Time’s Circle”? Then, O Lanoo: —
Believe thou not that sitting in dark forests, in proud seclusion and apart from men; believe thou not that life on roots and plants, that thirst assuaged with snow from the great Range — believe thou not, O Devotee, that this will lead thee to the goal of final liberation.
Think not that breaking bone, that rending flesh and muscle, unites thee to thy “silent Self”. Think not, that when the sins of thy gross form are conquered, O Victim of thy Shadows, thy duty is accomplished by nature and by man.
The blessed ones have scorned to do so. The Lion of the Law, the Lord of Mercy, (Buddha.) perceiving the true cause of human woe, immediately forsook the sweet but selfish rest of quiet wilds. From Âranyaka He became the Teacher of mankind. After Julai had entered the Nirvâna, He preached on mount and plain, and held discourses in the cities, to Devas, men and gods.
Sow kindly acts and thou shalt reap their fruition. Inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin.
Thus saith the Sage.
Shalt thou abstain from action? Not so shall gain thy soul her freedom. To reach Nirvâna one must reach Self-Knowledge, and Self-Knowledge is of loving deeds the child.
Have patience, Candidate, as one who fears no failure, courts no success. Fix thy Soul’s gaze upon the star whose ray thou art, the flaming star that shines within the lightless depths of ever-being, the boundless fields of the Unknown.
Have perseverance as one who doth for evermore endure. Thy shadows live and vanish; that which in thee shall live for ever, that which in thee knows, for it is knowledge, is not of fleeing life: it is the man that was, that is, and will be, for whom the hour shall never strike.
If thou would’st reap sweet peace and rest, Disciple, sow with the seeds of merit the fields of future harvests. Accept the woes of birth.
Step out from sunlight into shade, to make more room for others. The tears that water the parched soil of pain and sorrow, bring forth the blossoms and the fruits of Karmic retribution. Out of the furnace of man’s life and its black smoke, winged flames arise, flames purified, that soaring onward, ‘neath the Karmic eye, weave in the end the fabric glorified of the three vestures of the Path.
These vestures are: Nirmânakâya, Sambhogakâya, and Dharmakâya, robe Sublime..
The Shangna robe, ’tis true, can purchase light eternal. The Shangna robe alone gives the Nirvâna of destruction; it stops rebirth, but, O Lanoo, it also kills — compassion. No longer can the perfect Buddhas, who don the Dharmakâya glory, help man’s salvation. Alas! shall selves be sacrificed to Self; mankind, unto the weal of Units?
Know, O beginner, this is the Open Path, the way to selfish bliss, shunned by the Bodhisattvas of the “Secret Heart,” the Buddhas of Compassion.
To live to benefit mankind is the first step. To practise the six glorious virtues is the second.
To don Nirmânakâya’s humble robe is to forego eternal bliss for Self, to help on man’s salvation. To reach Nirvâna’s bliss, but to renounce it, is the supreme, the final step — the highest on Renunciation’s Path.
Know, O Disciple, this is the Secret Path, selected by the Buddhas of Perfection, who sacrificed The SELF to weaker Selves.
Yet, if the “Doctrine of the Heart” is too high-winged for thee. If thou need’st help thyself and fearest to offer help to others, — then, thou of timid heart, be warned in time: remain content with the “Eye Doctrine” of the Law. Hope still. For if the “Secret Path” is unattainable this “day,” it is within thy reach “to-morrow.”. Learn that no efforts, not the smallest — whether in right or wrong direction — can vanish from the world of causes. E’en wasted smoke remains not traceless. “A harsh word uttered in past lives, is not destroyed but ever comes again.” (Precepts of the Prasanga School.) The pepper plant will not give birth to roses, nor the sweet jessamine’s silver star to thorn or thistle turn.
Thou canst create this “day” thy chances for thy “morrow.” In the “Great Journey,” causes sown each hour bear each its harvest of effects, for rigid Justice rules the World. With mighty sweep of never erring action, it brings to mortals lives of weal or woe, the Karmic progeny of all our former thoughts and deeds.
Take then as much as merit hath in store for thee, O thou of patient heart. Be of good cheer and rest content with fate. Such is thy Karma, the Karma of the cycle of thy births, the destiny of those, who, in their pain and sorrow, are born along with thee, rejoice and weep from life to life, chained to thy previous actions.
Act thou for them to “day,” and they will act for thee “to morrow.”
‘Tis from the bud of Renunciation of the Self, that springeth the sweet fruit of final Liberation.
To perish doomed is he, who out of fear of Mâra refrains from helping man, lest he should act for Self. The pilgrim who would cool his weary limbs in running waters, yet dares not plunge for terror of the stream, risks to succumb from heat. Inaction based on selfish fear can bear but evil fruit.
The Selfish devotee lives to no purpose. The man who does not go through his appointed work in life — has lived in vain.
Follow the wheel of life; follow the wheel of duty to race and kin, to friend and foe, and close thy mind to pleasures as to pain. Exhaust the law of Karmic retribution. Gain Siddhis for thy future birth.
If Sun thou can’st not be, then be the humble planet. Aye, if thou art debarred from flaming like the noon-day Sun upon the snow-capped mount of purity eternal, then choose, O Neophyte, a humbler course.
Point out the “Way” — however dimly, and lost among the host — as does the evening star to those who tread their path in darkness.
Behold Migmar, (Mars.) as in his crimson veils his “Eye” sweeps over slumbering Earth. Behold the fiery aura of the “Hand” of Lhagpa (Mercury.) extended in protecting love over the heads of his ascetics. Both are now servants to Nyima (The Sun.) left in his absence silent watchers in the night. Yet both in Kalpas past were bright Nyimas, and may in future “Days” again become two Suns. Such are the falls and rises of the Karmic Law in nature.
Be, O Lanoo, like them. Give light and comfort to the toiling pilgrim, and seek out him who knows still less than thou; who in his wretched desolation sits starving for the bread of Wisdom and the bread which feeds the shadow, without a Teacher, hope or consolation, and — let him hear the Law.
Tell him, O Candidate, that he who makes of pride and self-regard bond-maidens to devotion; that he, who cleaving to existence, still lays his patience and submission to the Law, as a sweet flower at the feet of Shakya-Thub-pa, (Buddha.) becomes a Srotâpatti in this birth. The Siddhis of perfection may loom far, far away; but the first step is taken, the stream is entered, and he may gain the eye-sight of the mountain eagle, the hearing of the timid doe.
Tell him, O Aspirant, that true devotion may bring him back the knowledge, that knowledge which was his in former births. The deva-sight and deva-hearing are not obtained in one short birth.
Be humble, if thou would’st attain to Wisdom.
Be humbler still, when Wisdom thou hast mastered.
Be like the Ocean which receives all streams and rivers. The Ocean’s mighty calm remains unmoved; it feels them not.
Restrain by thy Divine thy lower Self.
Restrain by the Eternal the Divine.
Aye, great is he, who is the slayer of desire.
Still greater he, in whom the Self Divine has slain the very knowledge of desire.
Guard thou the Lower lest it soil the Higher.
The way to final freedom is within thy self.
That way begins and ends outside of Self.
Unpraised by men and humble is the mother of all Rivers, in Tîrthika’s proud sight; empty the human form though filled with Amrita’s sweet waters, in the sight of fools. Withal, the birth-place of the sacred rivers is the sacred land, and he who Wisdom hath, is honoured by all men.
Arhans and Sages of the boundless Vision are rare as is the blossom of the Udumbara tree. Arhans are born at midnight hour, together with the sacred plant of nine and seven stalks, the holy flower that opes and blooms in darkness, out of the pure dew and on the frozen bed of snow-capped heights, heights that are trodden by no sinful foot.
No Arhan, O Lanoo, becomes one in that birth when for the first the Soul begins to long for final liberation. Yet, O thou anxious one, no warrior volunteering fight in the fierce strife between the living and the dead, not one recruit can ever be refused the right to enter on the Path that leads toward the field of Battle.
For, either he shall win, or he shall fall.
Yea, if he conquers, Nirvâna shall be his. Before he casts his shadow off his mortal coil, that pregnant cause of anguish and illimitable pain — in him will men a great and holy Buddha honour.
And if he falls, e’en then he does not fall in vain; the enemies he slew in the last battle will not return to life in the next birth that will be his.
But if thou would’st Nirvâna reach, or cast the prize away, let not the fruit of action and inaction be thy motive, thou of dauntless heart.
Know that the Bodhisattva who liberation changes for Renunciation to don the miseries of “Secret Life,” is called, “thrice Honoured,” O thou candidate for woe throughout the cycles.
The path is one, Disciple, yet in the end, twofold. Marked are its stages by four and seven Portals. At one end — bliss immediate, and at the other — bliss deferred. Both are of merit the reward: the choice is thine.
The One becomes the two, the Open and the Secret. The first one leadeth to the goal, the second, to Self-Immolation.
When to the Permanent is sacrificed the Mutable, the prize is thine: the drop returneth whence it came. The Open path leads to the changeless change — Nirvâna, the glorious state of Absoluteness, the Bliss past human thought.
Thus, the first Path is liberation.
But Path the Second is — renunciation, and therefore called the “Path of Woe.”
That Secret Path leads the Arhan to mental woe unspeakable; woe for the living Dead, and helpless pity for the men of Karmic sorrow, the fruit of Karma Sages dare not still.
For it is written: “teach to eschew all causes; the ripple of effect, as the great tidal wave, thou shalt let run its course.”
The “Open Way,” no sooner hast thou reached its goal, will lead thee to reject the Bodhisattvic body and make thee enter the thrice glorious state of Dharmakâya which is oblivion of the World and men for ever.
The “Secret Way” leads also to Paranirvânic bliss — but at the close of Kalpas without number; Nirvânas gained and lost from boundless pity and compassion for the world of deluded mortals.
But it is said “The last shall be the greatest,” Samyak Sambuddha, the Teacher of Perfection, gave up his SELF for the salvation of the World, by stopping at the threshold of Nirvâna — the pure state.
Thou hast the knowledge now concerning the two Ways. Thy time will come for choice, O thou of eager Soul, when thou hast reached the end and passed the seven Portals. Thy mind is clear. No more art thou entangled in delusive thoughts, for thou hast learned all. Unveiled stands truth and looks thee sternly in the face. She says:
“Sweet are the fruits of Rest and Liberation for the sake of Self; but sweeter still the fruits of long and bitter duty. Aye, Renunciation for the sake of others, of suffering fellow men.”
He, who becomes Pratyeka-Buddha, makes his obeisance but to his Self. The Bodhisattva who has won the battle, who holds the prize within his palm, yet says in his divine compassion:
“For others’ sake this great reward I yield” — accomplishes the greater Renunciation.
A Saviour of the World is he.
Behold! The goal of bliss and the long Path of Woe are at the furthest end. Thou canst choose either, O aspirant to Sorrow, throughout the coming cycles! ….
Om Vajrapâni hum.