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Commentary on The Four Noble Truths

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Commentary on The Four Noble Truths1

The Four Noble Truth are:

The Noble Truth of Suffering

The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering

The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering

The Noble Truth of the Way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering

In The Secret Doctrine Commentaries2 we find the following comments of Blavatsky on the Four Noble Truths. After listening to the reading of the relevant passage from The Light of Asia composed by Sir Edwin Arnold, in which the life of the Buddha is exoterically and poetically described, Blavatsky comments: “All this is theological and all this is exoteric; this is what you can find in the volumes that any Buddhist priest will give you; but there is far more explanation, of course in the works of Āryāsaṅga3, though that is esoteric too. Arnold took it from Singhalese Buddhism.” Q: Then do these four truths: the first off sorrow, the second of sorrow’s cause, the third sorrow ceasing and the fourth the way, do they represent the four noble truths esoterically. A (Blavatsky): “Yes I think they do. You will find Buddhism all about them.” Q: What do they really stand for? A (Blavatsky): “It would take too long and it has no relevancy to this śloka [presently discussed, i.e. Stanza I śloka 3 – Ed. DTh]. It would take much too long. it is impossible to tell you now. It would take several evenings to explain one of them thoroughly.” President [of the meeting]: Then we will put them down for the future. Q: I am not sure it would not be a profitable thing to take up next time. A (Blavatsky): “I Am not sure that it would be. You had better follow the ślokas [of The Secret Doctrine]. You are not going to follow that, because the four noble truths meant one thing for the priests of the yellow robes, and meant different things to the mystics. The one acts on the dead letter, just the same as our [Christian] priests will act on the canons of the Church, and the mystics have got nothing to do with it.”

Next meeting. Q: … We want to know if you will give us some explanation of the four and seven truths, even if it takes all evening, as you said it would be too large a subject with at the same time as others. A (Blavatsky): “Well, I will answer as follows: Everything about the four truths you van find in the Buddhist Catechism [by H.S. Olcott, 1881] or any other exoteric books, but I don’t think you are ready, anyone of you, for the esoteric explanation of them; therefore I had better ask you to postpone this.” Q: Can anything that is esoteric be found in these exoteric books? A (Blavatsky): “You can find it in any manual of Buddhism; in Olcott’s book, for instance. There is nothing occult about it.” Q: Then how far is that exoteric side to be taken for anything real? A (Blavatsky): “It is real, because in the Buddhist church they practice it, and certainly the high priests know the truth about it, and they do not take the exoteric form literally. As to the small fry and the laymen, the do.” Q: Then how far has that any value? A (Blavatsky): “It has great value, because it is a discipline and it helps them to lead a good life and to have their mind fixed always on the spiritual.” ))

See for more explanation also the article The Noble Eightfold Path on this website.4

  1. Refer to the article: The Four Noble Truths. []
  2. The Secret Doctrine Commentaries; The Unpublished 1889 Instructions. [Original records of the meetings of The Blavatsky Lodge, 17 Lansdowne Road, Holland Park, London, 1889] I.S.I.S Foundation, The Hague, The Netherlands, 2010. []
  3. The original, pre-Christian Āryāsaṅgha, I suppose. – Ed. DTh. See Voice of the Silence – Alphabetic Glossary – A []
  4. In The Secret Doctrine Commentaries we find: Q: Is The Noble Eightfold Paththe eightfold path the same as the seven ways to bliss [mentioned in the Stanzas of Dzyan in The Secret Doctrine]: A (Blavatsky); “Yes.”

    In The Secret Doctrine we find in Stanza I: 4. The seven ways to bliss (Mokṣa* or Nirvāṇa) were not. The great causes of misery (Nidāna† and Māyā) were not, for there was no one to produce and get ensnared by them. (Blavatsky): There are seven “Paths” or “Ways” to the bliss of Non-Existence, which is absolute Being, Existence, and Consciousness. They were not, because the Universe was, so far, empty, and existed only in the Divine Thought. …” []