Freedom is not achieved by turning our backs upon the heritage of the land, nor is it won by force of arms. The restricting vessels of a true tradition are the way to freedom, but only if they are correctly understood and utilized. If this operation is successful, the restricting power itself is not only transcend, but transformed.

–The UnderWorld Initiation

Re-reading the underworld initiation. Just finished the hidden adept which was a fun book. Debating whether to read some Gersholm Sholem, Ibn Arabi and/or fiction about cats…..

The liberation mentioned above is a spiritual union if all opposites and transcended. The UnderWorld tradition is a universal one found world wide. The Orphic mysteries, sleeping beauty, the Cult of Venus and the Goddess in her tomb. Transformation within the very depths of the earth, within and without…

As we know in Hermeticism, “As above so below” The macro and microcosm. Transformation in the depths of the earth then is seen on a stellar, solar, lunar scale.. within this lunar scale is ourselves.  Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum lapidem. Visit the interior of the Earth through purification you will find the hidden stone.

I realised, it is this aspect that I must initially explore in the home I live in. Misplaced from England and New york city, now in this spiritually, botanically unfamiliar land. To truly work here, I must work here. Therefore I must pass through the inverted tree, downwards into wonderland… to the realms below.

They summoned Eurydice and gave her to him, but upon one condition: that he would not look back at her as she followed him, until they had reached the upper world. So the two passed through the great doors of Hades to the path which would take them out of the darkness, climbing up and up. He knew that she must be just behind him, but he longed unutterably to give one glance to make sure. But now they were almost there, the blackness was turning gray; now he had stepped out joyfully into the daylight. Then he turned to her. It was too soon; she was still in the cavern. He saw her in the dim light, and he held out his arms to clasp her; but on the instant she was gone. She had slipped back into the darkness. All he heard was one faint word, “Farewell.”

I must embrace the Rose, meet the natives of the land….


From this it is plain that the Earth is like the bass above which the rest of the harmony of the universe progresses. If it were removed, the other voices would remain in an unpleasant and imperfect harmony of many dissonances. Believing sufficient to have been said on the universal symphony of the planets, we will now turn to the particulars of their symphony.

Athanasius Kircher

If this metaphysical space is to be known,

such knowledge can be attained only by faith and grace,

not by ‘entering’ but by ‘being entered’

-this is so because the greater must reveal itself to the lesser.

Put differently, that which is immanently ‘Spirit’ can only be known receptively,

through its own intellective vision, and not any derivative faculty such as reason,

feeling or sensation. Reason can only discern conceptually,

at best reducing reality to a dualism of subject and object

(as in the case of Descartes) or catagorical postulate

(as in the case of Kant) or dialectic process

(as in the case of Hegel) – its ‘telos’ will tend to be utopian(as in the case of Marx),

fundamentalist( as in the cases of religious, political or secular dogmatism)

or anthropocentrically consencual (as in the case of Rousseau’s social contract);

while sensation or feeling even where elevated to

the level of empirical ‘science,’ can only discern reality as matter or as psyche,

quantitatively, thereby cutting it off from its transcendent

and qualitative roots, leading to an emphasis on hypertrophic subjectivism

(as in the case of Nietzsche), Psychologism(as in the case of Freud),

or reductive positivism(as in the cases of philosophical positivism and of scientism).

That which transcends us cannot be known reductively

but only by that transcendent faculty which is immanent in us-which in

Tradition is termed the ‘Intellect’

or the Self-knowing Spirit. To know is to discern BEING.

We must empty ourselves or our ‘self’ in order to know who we ARE.

We must return to the sacred emptiness of the space that is our

ontological core in order to know that which truly IS.

–M Ali Lakhani (the Distance between us, found in Sacred Web issue 31)

It is precisely the challenge involved

in using inadequate words

that drives the mind

beyond all words…

At the borders of speech

we open ourselves

to the positive value of silence….

Literary reading,

through its complexity, its music,

its suggestiveness, points to a fuller realm of being.

–Edward k Kaplan (citing Abraham Joshua Heschel)

Who is the giver?

What is given, and to whom?

and the receiver, who is that?

and what is gotten?


Who is the teacher?

What is taught, and to whom?

Who is the knower of That?

and what is known?


Upon knowing, upon realization

what will that one say?

or having said that –

of what value is it?


What can that one hope to gain –

What does that one have to give?

Is there any value in what such a one

would offer us?


What has been gained?

What great jewel has that one found?

Of what use is his tapasya?

Of what use his penance?


At the end, in the desire to give

in the hope that what will be given

be of value and worth, lies a quandry.


The evidence of the value of what would be given,

does not yet shine in the life of that one having arrived.

There is no evidence, “but the giving itself.”


After the giving, after the sowing

the crop bares fruit, not otherwise.

Yet the Sadhu would give only what has value.

But who is the knower of that value?


To the one desiring to give

arises the desire that what would be given,

be of value to the receiver.

That one desiring so, cannot see the worth

until after the fruit is eaten.


The taste of truth is not given by the giver

nor does it exist in the sweet words uttered;

“That” lies only in the arising of love

in the receiver.


Giving belongs to God, to the consciousness,

never to the Sadhu.

and it is also the consciousness

that is the receiver of the gifts.


Yet the Sadhu mutters, “I will not give

a thing which has no value”.

He does not realize that wealth

has no value unless used for the good of all!


Selfishness has no part in truth

nor any part in Love. Love that is selfish

is just that; “Selfish”

It is that which excludes and disqualifies

us from realization due to selfhood;

Due to I-Ness and Me-ness.


Due to ownership, an I exists!

Due to the mere desire to give

there is a giver, an “I”!


True Wisdom is not great knowledge

nor the ownership of understanding;

Wisdom is the realization of charity.

Thus what can be given with wisdom

can only be what is loving to all.


Which knowledge is that, and who is the knower of it?

Which knowledge is for the good of all

and who could be the giver of that?

The knowledge can only be knowledge of the One Self

And the giver of such as that,

can only be one who has realized that self.


Who is the receiver of great wisdom, of great love?

and who the giver? It is certainly not the one

crying from the mountain-top;

Nor is it the one who seeks value in giving;


It is not the one who seeks to be paid homage

neither is it the one seeking absolution.

The receiver and the giver are but one.


There can be thus no gain, nor any loss

for in the acceptance of the receiver –

the giver is also the receiver.


Wisdom is charity, nothing more.

While it is Love that is the hidden force

of consciousness and the knower of the known.


Having known everything, it is time to give.

At this time what can be received?

Nothing what-so-ever,

but the knowledge of “The Love of The One Self”

What can be given?

Nothing what-so-ever, but “The Love of The One Self”.


In this way, the one having arrived nowhere

comes home……….. Home to the heart!

Home to Love……. The light then shines.

The paradox of the human condition is that nothing is so contrary to us as the requirement to transcend ourselves,
and nothing so fundamentally ourselves as the essence of this requirement , or perhaps,
the fruit of this transcendence

–Frithjof Schuon, Echoes of Perennial wisdom

Japanese bronze sculpture of bodhisattva Monju (Manjusri), 17th - 19th century, the British Museum

And the great angel Eleleth, understanding, spoke to me: “Within limitless realms dwells incorruptibility. Sophia, who is called Pistis, wanted to create something, alone without her consort; and her product was a celestial thing. A veil exists between the world above and the realms that are below; and shadow came into being beneath the veil; and that shadow became matter; and that shadow was projected apart. And what she had created became a product in the matter, like an aborted fetus. And it assumed a plastic form molded out of shadow, and became an arrogant beast resembling a lion. It was androgynous, as I have already said, because it was from matter that it derived.

Opening his eyes, he saw a vast quantity of matter without limit; and he became arrogant, saying, “It is I who am God, and there is none other apart from me”. When he said this, he sinned against the entirety. And a voice came forth from above the realm of absolute power, saying, “You are mistaken, Samael” – which is, ‘god of the blind’.

And he said, “If any other thing exists before me, let it become visible to me!” And immediately Sophia stretched forth her finger and introduced light into matter; and she pursued it down to the region of chaos. And she returned up to her light; once again darkness […] matter.

This ruler, by being androgynous, made himself a vast realm, an extent without limit. And he contemplated creating offspring for himself, and created for himself seven offspring, androgynous just like their parent. And he said to his offspring, “It is I who am god of the entirety.”

–Hypostasis of the Archons

The suitability of meditation

Those who have not reached self-arising and self-liberation, have the usual ordinary thoughts:

Evil discursive thoughts have led them into samsara. To be free from these they use the means of meditation. Later vast prajña rises, free from all extremes.

By conceptions one falls into samsara, Dharmakirti’s Praise to Manjushri says:

Conceptions are great ignorance.

It is these that make us sink

In the ocean of samsara.

If we are without conceptions,

We will pass beyond

the sufferings of conceptions.

The Edifice of the Three Jewels says:

By constant conception we wander

In the wilderness of samsara.

Because of constant formation

Of karma and the kleshas,

Hundreds of sufferings

Are made to manifest.

Since these are pacified by meditating, by doing so the prajña in which all dharmas are

perfectly liberated is sure to arise.


Prajñā (Sanskrit) or paññā (Pali) has been translated as “wisdom,” “understanding,” “discernment,” “cognitive acuity,” or “know-how.” In some sects of Buddhism, it especially refers to the wisdom that is based on the direct realization of the Four Noble Truths, impermanence, interdependent origination, non-self, emptiness, etc. Prajñā is the wisdom that is able to extinguish afflictions and bring about enlightenment.

Manjusri (Ch: 文殊 Wénshū or Wénshūshili Púsà; Jp: Monju; Tib: Jampelyang; Nepalese: Manjushree) is a bodhisattva in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions of Buddhism. Manjusri is the bodhisattva associated with wisdom, doctrine and awareness and in Vajrayana Buddhism is the meditational diety (yidam), who embodies enlightend wisdom. Historically, the Mahayana scriptures assert that Manjusri was a disciple of Gautama Buddha, scriptures but he was not mentioned in Hinayana scriptures.

The Sanskrit term Mañjuśrī can be translated as “Gentle Glory”[1]. Mañjuśrī is also known by the fuller Sanskrit name of Mañjuśrī-kumāra-bhūta.

Dharmakirti (ca. 7th century), was an Indian scholar and one of the Buddhist founders of Indian philosophical logic. He was one of the primary theorists of Buddhist atomism, according to which the only items considered to exist are momentary Buddhist atoms and states of consciousness.

Samsara or sasāra (Sanskrit:; Tibetan: khor wa; Mongolian: orchilong) refers to the cycle of reincarnation or rebirth in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and other related religions.

According to these religions, one’s karmic “account balance” at the time of death is inherited via the state at which a person is reborn. During the course of each worldly life actions committed (for good or ill) determine the future destiny of each being in the process of becoming (evolution or devolution). In Buddhism, at death the underlying volitional impulses (samskaras) thus accrued and developed are carried and transmitted in a consciousness structure popularly known as the soul which, after an intermediate period (in Tibetan called the bardo), forms the basis for a new biological structure that will result in rebirth and a new life. This process is considered to go on until the person achieves self-realization.

If one lives in evil ways, one is reborn as an animal or other unfortunate being

Karma (Sanskrit: kárma (help·info), kárman “act, action, performance”[1]; Pali: kamma) is the concept of “action” or “deed” in Indian religions understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect (i.e., the cycle called sasāra) originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist philosophies.

The philosophical explanation of karma can differ slightly between traditions, but the general concept is basically the same. Through the law of karma, the effects of all deeds actively create past, present, and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one’s own life, and the pain and joy it brings to him/her and others. The results or ‘fruits’ of actions are called karma-phala. In religions that incorporate reincarnation, karma extends through one’s present life and all past and future lives as well.

In Buddhism, kilesa (Pali; Sanskrit: kleśa or klesha) is typically translated as “defilement” or “poison.” In early Buddhist texts, kilesa generally referred to mental states which temporarily cloud the mind and manifest in unskillful actions. Over time, kilesa additionally became associated with the very roots of samsaric existence.

The Sanskrit term Dharma (help·info) (Devanāgarī:, Pali transliteration dhamma), is an Indian spiritual and religious term, that means one’s righteous duty, or any virtuous path in the common sense of the term.[1] In Indian languages it contextually implies one’s religion. Throughout Indian philosophy, Dharma is present as a central concept that is used in order to explain the “higher truth” or ultimate reality of the universe.

The word dharma literally translates as that which upholds or supports (from the root, dhr– to hold, ma – mother or Earth or Universe or Nature depending on context), and is generally translated into English as law. But throughout the history of Indian philosophy, it has governed ideas about the proper conduct of living – ideas that are upheld by the laws of the universe[2] The symbol of the dharma – the wheel – is the central motif in the national flag of India.

The various Indian religions and philosophy (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Parsism, and Sikhism, among others) have all accorded a central focus to Dharma and advocate its practice. Each of these religions emphasizes Dharma as the correct understanding of Nature (or God, as the origin of nature) in its teachings.[3][4][5] In these traditions, beings that live in accordance with Dharma proceed more quickly toward Dharma Yukam, Moksha or Nirvana (personal liberation). Dharma also refers to the teachings and doctrines of the founders of these traditions, such as those of Gautama Buddha and Mahavira. In traditional Hindu society with its caste structure, Dharma constituted the religious and moral doctrine of the rights and duties of each individual. (see dharmasastra). Dharma in its universal meaning shares much in common with the way of Tao or Taoism.

The antonym of dharma is adharma meaning unnatural or immoral.

Tai Chi: As an icon the Tai Chi is a symbol, composed of the Yin and Yang circle, surrounded by eight trigrams. It, in terms of function is the underlying philosophy of all Chinese, and ‘classical’ Oriental philosophy. According to the scholar Fung Yu-Lan, ”The History of Chinese Philosophy, Vol 2.” Princeton, 1953, the philosophies of Pythagoras, and the Tai Chi are almost identical. The concept of Chi, and Sophia (wisdom), Logos, and Tao, meaning ”Word,” are identical. The power of male and female polarities in the Tai Chi, resemble the ideas of Pronoia, and Protophanes, in the concept of ”Barbelo.” ( See Barbelo, and Sethian Monadology. See also; ”The Valentinian Exposition.”) The Tai Chi is associated with the ”Book of Changes,” (I Ching), in Chinese Philosophy. Pythagoras is thought to have studied Chinese Philosophy, and obviously did. (See; Bulfinch’s Mythology, Gramercy, Crown Pub.
1979.) The analogy to the Tai Chi, Sethian values are in ”Tetrakys of the
Decad, Monadic Vlaues.”

Tartaros (Tartarus): Keeper of Hades. Also referred to as Tartarucus, Tatrokis, Saklas
and Temeluchus in various Christian texts. (See; ”The Book of Thomas the Contender,” Nag Hammadi Lib. Name is also used by Clement in “Stromata“)

Tatian: (110-180) Pupil of Justin Martyr and author of the “Diatessaron,” and “Letter to the Greeks.” Formed Gnostic sects in Syria called Encratites, meaning literally, ‘Masters of Themselves.’ Qualified the soul, as a special kind of spirit. (”Letter to the Greeks.”)

Tatian the Assyrian.

Tatian the Assyrian.

Tertullian: (160-230) Native of
Carthage who joined literalist Christianity
around 196, after becoming a lawyer in
Rome. Before he became a Montanist in 207, he argued with Hippolytus against Gnosticism. However his work does not reflect a sound knowledge of any of the pre-Christian, Valentinian, or Sethian
epistemologies. (See; Tertullian’s, ”Treatise of the Soul.”)

Tetraktys (Tetractys) of the Decad, The Monadic Values: There is no doubt that Sethian Gnostics applied the principles of this paradigm. ”Pythagorus considered all things relative to numbers… How he conceived this process has never been satisfactorily explained.” (Bullfinch, pg. 289.) Perhaps this is
the secret….



Pythagorus considered the monad as the source of all things. In the case of the tetraktys of the decad, the concepts of form and structure are related in mathematical values. These values work in harmony. They are not just a list, they are a set. The first and most obvious is numerical value is the digital sequence of one through ten. ‘Monad,’ 2. Decad, 3. Triad, 4. Tetrad, 5. Pentad, 6. Hexad, 7. Heptad, 8. Ogdoad, 9. Ennead, and 10. Decad.

Digital sequencing can be done in different base values, like using base six to count on your hands. You count to five on the right hand, and the first digit of the left hand represents six, the next set the left hand finger is given the value of twelve, then eighteen, then the sequence goes up to 35, when you run out of fingers, if you have ten. Another sequencing schema is the Heaven Sequence of the Tai Chi, which is in base eight.

The Pythagorean model showing the tetraktys of the decad is in the form of a triangle, usually shown as only dots, I have placed numbers beside the dots, denoting the digital sequence. Below is a traditional explanation for this sequence, where I have made aditions to show how the Tai Chi, and this sequence
are parallel….

o Monad
o o Decad
o o o Triad
o o o o Tetrad

________________________________These triangles should be equalateral.

2. 3.
4. 5. 6.
7. 8. 9. 10.

1.. The Tetractys represented the organization of space: {Wu Chi, Void, ”Jesus is Silence.” See; ”A Valentinian Exposition.”}
2.. the first row represented zero-dimensions (a point) {Tai Chi, yin and yang are the same.}
3.. the second row represented one-dimension (a line of two points) {Liang Yi, yin and yang are different}
4.. the third row represented two-dimensions (a plane defined by a triangle of
three points) {This is consistent with the San Ti. Man is the same as heaven and earth.}
5.. the fourth row represented three-dimensions (a triangular pyramid defined by four points) {This is consistent with the Si Xiang. This is Yin and Yang seenas two different things, or four types. This parallel to the Tai Chi does not include the Ba Gua (8 trigrams)} Wikapedia source…..

This triangle represents five, or more different mathematical values, not generally recognized unless you apply the Tai Chi model with the parallel of the Tetraktys. The mathematical values are thought of more like aphorisms, or a mantra, rather than calculations in some respect. Pythagoras put everything in terms of math, and I think the statistical terms below can be adapted to both the Tai Chi and the Tetraktys of the Decad.

The digital sequence of one through ten, connotes the decad. What cannotes the the ‘tetra’ is the number four. In the case of the tetraktys of the decad, the value of four corresponds with the relative value of the mathematical concept of ‘mode.’ One through six, would make the triangle a triad, and if you add a fifth
line, 11. through, 15., to the base, the mode is a pentad. As shown above we have the tetrad. (See; ”The Table of Ten Numbers,” )

The mode is the value, or set of like units that appear most frequently in a set. As can be seen in the model of the tetraktys of the decad, all three sides of the triangle contain four units. (This is looking at the triangle of dots as an icon like the Tai Chi.) In terms of the triangle there are four levels, or modes (called types in the ”Gospel of Mary,”), Level 1. is one, level two the decad, is 2. and 3., level three the triad, is 4. 5. and 6., level four the tetrad, is 7. 8. 9. and 10.

O monad
O O decad
O O O triad
O O O O tetrad

A set in most science involving polarity, is called a field or pool, which connotes a perimeter of the form, or the unified body of the set, as a whole. Mode connotes the ‘level,’ of the form and structure of the pool. Therefor tetrads, hexads, ogdoads, etc. are thought of as modes and levels, which can be
applied to fields.

As you build the triangle by adding lines of digits to the base, the mode changes in sequence, but the values of mean, and median, also become relative to the model. This is allegorical to how a seed turns into a tree or plant. This same sequence is thought to be extant in the working of the Logos, Pleroma,
Kenoma, and Psyche of man, and collective consciousness of mankind.

This means you are using mathematical terms as points of a contemplation, or meditation, more like aphorism than calculation. Each configuration of the triangle regardless of the mode, retains the value of the monad in the digital sequence. The mode sequence, the mean value in the sequence, and the median
values in the sequence, are not mutually exclusive. They work in harmony.

The mode sequence is determined by looking at the triangle like an icon, and determining the number of units each side of the triangle has. The mode sequence has a different numerical value than the digital sequence value. In the Tai Chi, Wu Chi, is the void or zero, and in the Sethian system Jesus is Silence. Tai Chi, is one, meaning Yin and Yang are the same. Liang Yi is the third in the Heaven Sequence, and means Yin and Yang as seperate or different. The student of the Tetraktys retains the triology, or ‘tripartite,’ as a mindset, in the contemplation of the sequence. “Man’s mind/heart, is the same as heaven and
earth.” (”Kenpo Gokui’.’)

The next stage in the Heaven Sequence, (Use of even numbers) is the Si Xiang, which represents the tetrad or four units. In the Chinese system Wu Chi = 0, Tai Chi equals 2., Liang Yi = 2, and Si Xiang= 4., puting the Tai Chi in a setof eight parts, symbolically aligned with the Ba Gua, or eight trigrams, making
the Tai Chi an organized Ogdoad. The Sacred Tetrad is regarded in the same way, as the Si Xiang, in form, structure, and mechanics. (See; Tai Chi. See; ”The History of Chinese Philosophy,” Vol. 2, Fung Yu-Lan, Princeton, 1953.)

The mean is determined by adding the number of units, in the digital sequence, then dividing that sum by the number of units, the result is an average number of units. That would be the pentad or five, the mean of ten units. In building form and structure in the Monadology, the constant value of the mean is thevalue of one, (Monad) and denotes the value of the monad in each consecutive mode in the sequence. The Monad remains integrated into the form and structure of all mode values. (See; Decalogue.)

The median, is the value where half of the units in a set are larger or smaller than the opposite set of units. The median is the point where the set is divided, and determines balance with the reflective or dual values of male/female, good/evil, light and darkness. The odd numbers where their are more units on one half of the set than the other, represents unbalance. Pythagoreans used the terms square for even numbers, and oblong for odd numbers.

In the application of the sequence the consideration of median, is that ‘duality,’ reamains a constant regardless of the level, or mode, as does the power of the Monad. Duality can be meant to be more than one feature, when drawing a monadic paradigm, as duality does not always mean opposite, it can
mean either, or. In some cases it can be implied as an opposite. It can be areflective value, like a mirror image, or reflection. (See; Bythos)

For instance, the pentad can be given five values, with good connotations, and their opposite with negative conotations. Five constructive values, are opposed to the destructive values of opposition. The Chinese use the idea of the Wu Xing, or five constructive, and destructive forces. The reflective value or
median value (duality) is always considered as part of form and structure,
regardless of the mode, or level in the sequence.

The fifth value is the parabolic, more of a geometric adaptation, which has dimensions or perspective, reflection and even vibration. (See; Parables.) The parabolic view is in reference to the higher modes of the Pentad and above, where the structure and form can be seen as multi-dimensional and having
perspective. (See; Parabole, which can be shown as viewing the inside of a
cone. See also; Gematria.)

As a contemplation device, all the values of the tetraktys of the decad, are imagined in unison as a harmony. This unified perception is imperical to the idea of how the natural order of wisdom works in the tripartite vision of man as being psyche, material, and spiritual. The sequence is operational in the realms of man, heaven and earth.

You can see that 1. 2. 3. and 5. form the equalateral cross, common in the first century. There may be more of these parallels, than I mention at this time. The Platonic tetrad, used in the ”Square of Opposition,” a tool of logic, can also be seen in the formation of 2. 3. 5. 8. and 9.

If you look at the triagle of dots you will see that 2. 3. 4. 6. 8. and 9. form a circle with 5. in the middle. 1. 7., and 9. are outside the circle. (See Tripartite) As one contemplates this image the fifth value of the parabolic becomes apparent. The image can look like it is multi-dimensional, where the center (5) as seen as closer and further away, adds perspective. The center dot 5. becomes parabolic point of center, and the middle of the sequence.

In regard to the human figure, you can draw arms going up from 2., and 3., and legs off 8. and 9., and you can imagine the human figure in the gematria within the triangle.

In martial arts, especially those aligned with the classic Tai Chi, the points of the shoulders and hips represent the primary centers of the body’s natural ”primary square of balance,” where 5. is the center of the body the diaphram. Some martial artists use this ‘cone’ image like sights on a gun, aiming at a
target, and using the same grid for defense. This shows the tool (sequence) is useful as both applied in the material world, and applied to the psyche. The entire system of Isshin Ryu Karate can be shown in the ”Heaven Sequence,” as well as the application against opponents.

Kabbalistic Tetraktys illustrating the 72 names of God and  the manifestation of creation

Kabbalistic Tetraktys illustrating the 72 names of God and the manifestation of creation

Thereapeutae: (Therapuetrides) A Jewish sect in Alexandria described by Philo in his “On the Contemplative Life.” They were similar to Essenes, and were mistaken by Eusebius as being Christian. ( “The History of the Church,” Eusebius, Williamson, Penguin, 1989, pg. 422-23)

“the entire interval from dawn to evening is given up by them to spiritual exercises. For they read the holy scriptures and draw out in thought and allegory their ancestral philosophy, since they regard the literal meanings as symbols of an inner and hidden nature revealing itself in covert ideas.”

Philo, para. 28

Theodotus: A student of Valentinus, and Pantaenus in the Alexandrian lineage. Theodotus explains that passions are called spirits: ” The passions that are in the soul are called spirits, not spirits of power, since in that case the man under the influence of passion would be a legion of demons; but they are so
called in consequence of the impulse they communicate. For the soul itself, through modifications, taking on this and that other sort of qualities of wickedness, is said to receive spirits.” ( See; Fragments of Theodotus, Kirby, Criddle. , and Theodotus )

Theosis: (Theiosis, Theopoiesis, Theōsis) In Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic theology, theosis, meaning divinization (or deification or, to become god), is the call to man to become holy and seek union with God, beginning in this life and later consummated in the resurrection. Theosis comprehends salvation from sin, is premised upon apostolic and early Christian understanding of the life of faith, and is conceptually foundational in both the East and the West. See also; Consecration, Deification, Divine Union, Sanctification.

The Ladder of Paradise icon described by John Climacus.

The Ladder of Paradise icon described by John Climacus.

Theudas: (42 CE approx.) Theudas, meaning ‘gift from God’ declared himself a prophet and was executed while attempting to ‘part the
Jordan” for his followers. Years later Valentinus laid claim to some of his teaching. ( Ehrman, “Lost Christianities, pg 193, says Theudas was a disciple of Paul, this is not true.. Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.97-98 )

Theurgy: ‘Works of the Gods’ ( See; “Zostrianos”). This refers to human affairs and the effects in the earthly state. ”Theurgy (from Latin: theurgia, Greek: theourgeia) describes the practice of rituals, sometimes seen as magical in nature, performed with the intention of invoking the action of God (or other personified supernatural power), especially with the goal of uniting with the divine, achieving theosis, and perfecting oneself.”


In its “original Egyptian” use, the term Theurgy however refers to “becoming a hollow reed. This concept is quite different to the “modern” use employed by modern “Hermeticists.” Although the two concepts may in turn cross over, the fundamental difference is one involves taking from the “Gods” and the other involves opening one’s self up in order to be filled. In theory this may be the same or similar, but the actual process is different. In such that one involves manipulation and the other involves self sacrifice.

Torah: The first five books of the Bible, “Genesis,” “Exodus,” “Leviticus,”
Numbers,” and “Deuteronomy,” also referred to as “The Law.”

Transubstantiation: The act of applying or transference of Holy Spirit into wine and bread. The term is common to the Christian and Gnostic Eucharist, Communion, or sacramental ceremonies. ”A change of substance, {transmutation} usually refering to the doctrine of the Eucharist sacrement of the Lord’s Supper, where the bread and wine were declared symbols of the body and blood of Jesus.”( See; ”The Steinerbooks Dictionary of the Psychic, Mystic, and Occult,” Rudolf Steiner, 1973. pg. 219. See also; “Valentinian Exposition,”
Baptism A., B., Eucarist, Chrism, etc. Nag Hammadi Lib. See also; ”Gospel of Philip.”)

Treatise: A book or writing directed toward a specific purpose.

Sextus: (4 BCE– 65-CE ?) A first century Greek Pythagorean philosopher. A collection of his sayings are contained in the Nag Hammadi Lib. Tractate 1 Codex XII.

Silvanus: Name of main character in the “Teachings of Silvanus,” Tractate 4, Codex VII. of the Nag Hammadi Lib., anti-Pagan work not thought to be Gnostic. A person called Silvanus was a disciple of Peter who carried messages from Peter to Asia Minor from Rome. (Also mentioned by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 1,1; 2 Thessalonians 1,1; 2 Corinthians 1,19.)

Simon Magus: (1st Century CE) From Samaria, he was thought to be one of the earliest Gnostics, and a follower of John the Baptist. He was skilled in the arts of the Occult. He interpreted the Garden of Eden, exodus from Egypt, and the crossing of the Red Sea as allegories. He was rejected by Peter for his views on the Holy Spirit. (see Simony) Simon Magus offered the disciples of Jesus payment for the power to perform miracles. He formed the ancient Gnostic sect of Simonianism, and is thought to have influenced later secular forms of Gnosticism. (See; ”Jung and the Lost Gospels,” by Hoeller, Theophysical Pub., 1989.) (See also; Dositheos.)

The death of Simon Magus, from the Nuremberg Chronicle or Liber Chronicarum, 1493

The death of Simon Magus, from the Nuremberg Chronicle or Liber Chronicarum, 1493

Simony: The ecclesiastical crime and sin of paying for offices or positions in the hierarchy of a church, named after Simon Magus, who appears in the ”Acts of the Apostles,” 8:18-24.

: Means “Wisdom.” Like the Logos this is considered a primal form. While the Logos is personified as male, Sophia is female. Logos has a direct and intellectual basis for guidance, Sophia is inspirational (sometimes even sensual). The basic idea is comparable to wisdom being Sophia (sofia) or “Holy
Spirit” in the form of pure wisdom. Pistis, means faith, hylic, or Prunikus Sophia refers to the imperfect or earthly state of the living, or earthly form from Pleromic origins. ”As appropriated by Sethianism and the Gnostics in general, Sophia is a hypostatized form of Hokmah, (i.e., the divine Wisdom of Proverbs 8, Job 28, Sirach 24).” ( See; Turner.)

Russian Icon, Sophia, the Holy Wisdom, 1812

Russian Icon, Sophia, the Holy Wisdom, 1812

Sophist: Teachers in 5th Century B.C. Greece who took payment for lecturing. Later Sophists were known for presenting convoluted lectures on political subjects to further their own means. Clement of Alexander denounced them for distorting truths. (See; W. K. C. Guthrie, Sophists (1971); H. Diels, ed., The
Older Sophists (1972). “Stromata” Bk 1 )

Soter: “Savior” also a name used for the Logos.

Soteriology: The study of principles of salvation within a religion.

Soul: That part of the human nous that can be activated and bonded with the Holy Spirit, Light, Sophia, etc. (See the Gospel of Phillip, “….the soul bonds with the Holy Spirit….. Nag Hammadi Lib.) According to the ”Acts of Thomas,” and ”The Heart Sutra,” and the ”Sutra of Cause and Effect” the soul is composed
of five ‘skandas,’ or elements, form, perception, consciousness, action, and knowledge. (See ”The Jesus Sutras,” Palmer, Ballantine, 2001) See also, ”Tatian’s Letter to the Greeks,” ”The soul is a special kind of spirit.” (See also; Sutra)

Spinther: The “spark” or “splinter” of internal divine light, that is awakened with Gnosis. The spinther is considered a divine spark which is cast into the souls of men, by the light cast off by the Perfect man, in some scenerios this is Seth, Adamas, (Adam), or Jesus. (See Pneumatic. See; Gaffney, p. 246.)

Meaning a range of things in literalist Christian works including different ideas in the Gospels of Luke, Mark, Matthew and John. The Gospel of Mary refers to the spirit as a part of the human condition, as is the soul. Isidore and Theodotus wrote that spirit emanated from the soul. Also used to denote the Holy Spirit. Can mean vital energy, and probably best thought of as a concentration or type of energy. “Further, Clement the Stromatist, in the various definitions which he framed,that they might guide the man desirous of studying theology in every dogma of religion, defining what spirit is, and how it is called spirit, says: “Spirit is a substance, subtle, immaterial, and which issues forth without form.” ( JOANNES
VOL. I. P. 24) (See also; Theodotus)

Stele: Upright stone or pillar with an inscription or design. (See; “The Three Steles of Seth,” Codex VII, Tractate 5, Nag Hammadi Lib.)

Stoic: A philosophy strongly associated with Plato, and commonly accepted by the first century. Stoics held that virtue is attained by adapting nature and reason, they held that there are four cardinal passions: pleasure, desire, distress, and fear. They held that passions arose from false belief and ignorance, and one should adopt an ‘apatheia’ or an active role of non-passion in human feeling. (See; “The Gospel of Mary Magdala, by Karen King, Polebridge Press, 2003).

Sutra: Refers to literature of Eastern origins, such as the ”Heart Sutra,” known in Persian and Chinese works. Also refers to Chinese works found in Xian China, which are from an early Christian monastery. The ”Sutra of Cause and Effect,” contains the five ”Skandas” {skandhas} of the soul, ”Form, Perception, Consciousness, Action, and Knowledge.” These descriptions match those in the ”Acts of Thomas,” and the ”Heart Sutra.” (See; “The Jesus Sutras,” Palmer, Ballantine, 2001.) ”What we in our ignorance call the Self is really an interplay of five mental elements and the physical body (known as skandhas ), in temporary conjunctions, constantly changing and interacting. “Skandha” is usually translated as “heap”: or “aggregate” or “group,” each skandha being itself a combination of faculties shading into each other. The Sanskrit for the five mental skandhas can be translated as consciousness, sensations, concepts, perceptions, and volition.”The Gnostic Apostle Thomas (c) 1997 Herbert Christian Merillat.

Syncretism: Refers to combining two or more ‘cultural’ or otherwise perspectives into one system. Gnosticism (and therefore Christianity), as well as Kabbalah and the Mysteries of Mithras etc. grew from syncretism. Influence of Jewish mysticism, Zoroastrian, and Hermetic contained in the ”Nag Hammadi
,” and other works suggest that Sethian Gnosticism is based upon a syncretism.

Syncretism is not eclecticism but is often mistaken for the same thing. The latter is a picking and choosing according to taste, without the internal framework of a genuine understanding of function. The former is when two systems come together with cultural perspectives, or mutual economy that needs to be
worked out. Thus the important deeper “hard parts” of a system will still be included after syncretism, but lost on eclecticism.

Synergy: When two or more things combine together to produce or become more than their parts. In the process of Gnosis one must bond with a higher ‘wisdom.’ This is the plemoric part of enlightenment in the trilogy of gnosis in the Plemoric, Psychic, and Hylic states of the Nous, in becoming a Pneumatic.

Synesis: Means “insight” in the aspect of meditation or contemplation in the physical inter-workings of the bonding with Sophia, as an aspect of Gnosis. It is one of the lower powers that was bound into man from the Aeons, by the Demiurge, as derived from ‘a’ Gnostic creation scenerio. This concept is like
other scenarios of the process in Gnosis of bonding with the ‘Light’ or Holy Spirit to become Pneumatophoroi, or enlightened.

Synectic: A term used by Clement of Alexandria to mean a type of thought or memory that reflects aspects of the thought process relative to being human. (See “Stromata” Bk VIII by Clement of Alexandria) “But, in truth, Procatarctic causes (thoughts) are more than one both generically and specifically; as, for example, cold, weakness, fatigue, dyspepsia, drunkenness, generically, of any
disease; and specifically, of fever. But Synectic causes are so, generically alone, and not also specifically….Further, of causes, some are apparent; others are grasped by a process of reasoning; others are occult; others are inferred analogically.” (See also; Procatarctic)

Syzygetic: Having to do with the conjunction or opposition of two heavenly bodies, or either of the points which these occur, most often in regard to the sun and moon.

Syzygos: Literally means “consort”. Sometimes used to refer to the twin. Is generally meant to imply the thing to which one is driven to connect with. A person’s syzygos is their spirit. ”Sophia’s mistake was said to be her drive to create without her syzygos.” Syzgy, is considered a blending of spirit and
soul. (See; Theodotus, Criddle Collection.)

The Doctrine of the Origin of Evil


Lurianic and Sabbatian Kabbalah

and in the

‘Awakening of Faith’


Mahayanistic Buddhism


Evgeny A. Torchinov

The doctrine of evil is a crucial question for every religious and mystico-theosophical system of thought. In Christianity this problem was a source of a serious controversy which led to the appearance of a number of systems of theodicy, i.e., explanations of the coexistence of an all-good God Creator and evil in the world created by this God.

One of the most influential answers to this theological challenge was the theodicy of Leibniz who argued the tenet that in any case God has created the best world from all possible worlds. The explanation of evil as the consequence of the human free will and freedom of choice was also rather popular. But it could not explain the necessity of the choice itself: how there appeared the very possibility of evil if the source of the world (that is, God) was absolutely good.

Some theosophically oriented thinkers were ready to explain evil by postulating, in the very substance of God, the presence of some dark, or ethically indifferent foundation. The Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev developed this idea, proclaiming that before God there was a dark foundation which was also the source and root of God Himself, and which had potencies to explicate itself equally as good and evil. He called this pre-Divine substance ‘meonic freedom’ (‘nonexistent freedom,’ or ‘non-being-less freedom’). In this he followed Schelling who insisted that the sentence ‘God has his foundation in Himself’ means that this foundation is something really (not only formally and logically) different from God, existing nevertheless inside God and before God.

Kabbalah has always been extremely attentive to the problem of evil. Kabbalistic gnostics and theosophists as a rule followed the same course of thinking (or the same pattern) as the successors of Boehme and Schelling. It can even be ventured that Kabbalists were the real predecessors of this pattern of thought in Christian mysticism; but the question of the historical influence of Kabbalah on Boehme or Schelling is still open. Nevertheless, Kabbalistic theosophy suggested very original varieties of this pattern, sometimes even avoiding the dangers of dualism as well as those of pure illusionism.

In the very brief outline of the Kabbalistic approach to evil suggested below I will limit myself to the approach of Lurianic Kabbalah, mainly because of its role in the history of the Kabbalistic movement and the predominant importance of the doctrine of evil in its gnostic-theosophical system. I will add some brief references to the Sabbatean Kabbalah of Nathan of Gaza, which is directly derived from Lurianic Kabbalah as its source and paradigm.

The Lurianic Kabbalah, as explicated by R. Hayyim Vital, teaches that the hidden transcendent Absolute, Deus Absconditus (En Sof, Unlimited, or ‘Or En Sof � Unlimited Light) had to contract Itself to produce the place for the creation. If En Sof is everything, if It is unlimited and endless, there is no ‘space’ for the created universe. Therefore, En Sof, or Unlimited Light, contracted from the center outwards to ’empty’ a place within itself for the world to be created.

The technical term for this contraction is ‘zimzum‘ (tzimtzum). Throughout the ages, different interpretations of zimzum were suggested, from the literal and mytho-poetic to the philosophical. For instance, some Kabbalists interpreted zimzum as God’s self-limitation for the benefit of creation.

It is noteworthy in this regard that Nathan of Gaza, in his ‘Book on Creation‘ (Sefer ha-Beriy’a), taught the existence of some duality or even contradiction in the Divine Will: a wish to contract and to create (i.e., ‘thought-some lights’), and a wish to be in an eternal state of the hidden mystery without any contraction or creation (i.e., ‘thought-less lights’).

What was the cause of this divine contraction? Lurianic Kabbalah proposes that the nature of the Divine Will itself eternally strove to the unfolding of the hidden mystery of En Sof. But another source has been pointed out for the initiating of the cosmogonic process. It was the wish of En Sof to liberate Itself from the roots of evil potentially present in Its nature, understood as the roots of the power of Stern Judgement (din).

These roots had to be objectified, to be manifested so that it became possible for En Sof to emancipate itself from them. The Absolute had to become conscious of those roots in order to be liberated from them. Thus, the very process of creation as that of ordering, limitation and bordering is the process of the objectivization of the roots of the Stern Judgement.

Hence, It can be said that the moving force for the creation process (and for zimzum as its first stage) is the tendency within the Absolute (En Sof) to liberate itself from the potentially evil roots of Stern Judgement. But this process, by its very nature, is closely related to the explication of the roots of evil and their transition from potentiality to actuality. Only by giving existence to the powers of Stern Judgement, can the Absolute be liberated from them, or transform them into the principles of goodness and holiness.

This idea can be expressed as the immanence of the explication of the powers of Stern Judgement (and consequently, of evil) to initiate the process of creation: that is, the beginning of creation by necessity is contraction, zimzum. But every contraction, or limitation is a function of the powers of Stern Judgement. Thus, these powers are necessarily involved in the creation at its very foundation, and this involvement is pregnant with the appearance of the actual evil. Hence it is important for the aims of this paper to underline the following points:

  1. According to Lurianic Kabbalah the roots of evil (expressed as the power of din) are immanent to The Absolute (En Sof) itself and are contained in its depths.
  2. The process of creation explicates these potential roots of evil.
  3. This explication of din is the foundation of the very beginning of the creation through zimzum (contraction).
  4. The purpose of creation is the elimination of the element of din (and consequently of evil) through its explication and subsequent liquidation in the process of ‘divine catharsis.’ Keeping these points in mind we can now outline some Buddhist materials relevant to our topic.

In early Buddhism and in Theravada (Sthaviravada) tradition the problem of evil has been decided in a very simple way. Evil was understood as ‘suffering,’ duhkha which was thought to be one of the most fundamental qualities of being as such (together with anitya – non eternity, non constancy and anatma – essencelessness, or devoidedness of essence/’ego’). Briefly speaking, early Buddhism only demonstrated the fact of evil as a principal attribute of every existence as such. It also analyzed the cause of suffering and involvement of the sentient beings into the cyclic existence of the world of births-and-deaths (samsara), and this cause of this involvement was ignorant affectivity and desires, or defilements (klesa). Moreover, in the Abhidharmic texts (e.g., Vasubandhu’s famous ‘Compendium of Abhidharma,’ Abhidharma kosa, chapter 3, Loka nirdesa, ‘Exposition of the World‘) even the Triple Cosmos (traya lokya) itself was thought to be the objectivization (‘materialization’) of the summarized sequences of the affects of the living beings of the preceding cosmic cycle (kalpa). Nothing else but klesas (affects and desires in their latent, or subtle form) produce the material foundation of the universe at the beginning of every cosmic cycle. And this universe is only an expression of the beginningless desires and lusts which lead every being to the painful samsaric existence according to the Law of Interdependent Origination (pratitya samutpada). And this ‘evil’ character of samsara is confirmed by the doctrinal essentials of Buddhism, that is, the Four Noble Truths:

  1. every existence is painful/unsatisfactory,
  2. desires and attachments are the cause of pain,
  3. there is a state free from pain (nirvana), and
  4. there is a path toward liberation from samsara and attainment of nirvana (Eightfold Noble Path).

But the question of the origins of ignorant volitions and affects did not arise at all. Moreover it was thought to be an incorrect one because of the beginningless character of the cyclic existence of samsara. This position was tightly connected with the empirical treatment of the problem of consciousness: early Buddhism was interested only in analyses of the given contents of the psychic without an attempt to examine the question of the root, or source of consciousness (vijnana) and its contents.

In Mahayana (Great Vehicle Buddhism) the situation has been radically changed. Mahayanistic schools of Buddhism (first of all, Yogacara, or Vijnaptimatra) tried to find the source root of consciousness as well as the root of all samsaric existence. The Yogacarins proclaimed a famous tenet that all three worlds of samsara are but consciousness (vijnana, citta) and its states (vijnapti, caita). If samsara is but consciousness, it means that the roots of consciousness are the roots of samsara as well. The Yogacarins introduced a notion of alaya vijnana (store consciousness) as a source of all samsaric experiences. It is important to note that in the classical Yogacara this store consciousness was not understood as substance, or even substratum of the experiential world. The Yogacarins often used the image of the stream of water to depict alaya vijnana: it is a pure continuity of impermanent, or even momentary nature. The Tibetan word for ‘alaya vijnana‘ is sems kun gzhi, that is ‘consciousness which is the all-root.’

The concept of alaya vijnana was sufficient to explain the nature of samsara but it mostly failed to explain the nature of the final liberation, nirvana and Enlightenment, or more exactly, Awakening (bodhi) as attainment of the exalted state of Buddhahood.

This drawback was corrected by the doctrine of Tathagatagarbha the examination of which is essential for this study. Tathagata (Thus Coming One) is one of the most frequently used titles of the Buddha. The Sanskrit word garbha has double meaning. The first one is embryo, or foetus. The second one is a container of a foetus, that is the womb. In the first case Tathagatagarbha is the embryo of Buddhahood (state of the Buddha) not only immanent to our own original nature (as well as to the true nature of every sentient being) but it even composes this nature (every being is a potential Buddha, Buddha-to-be). In the second case Tathagatagarbha is One Mind, the Absolute Mind (eka citta) embracing all existence being the substratum of both � samsara and nirvana.

This Absolute Mind has four noble qualities which are contrary to the qualities of samsara: if samsara is unconstant (anitya), full of sufferings (duhkha), devoid of essence (anatma) and dirty (asubha), then Tathagatagarbha is constant (nitya), blissful (sukha), it has Essence, or Self (atma) and it is pure (subha). This Absolute Buddha-Mind is also the nature of every state of consciousness like water is the nature of every wave.

Here, the problem of Enlightenment/Awakening has been solved: it is the realization of our own inner nature which is but Buddha Nature. But the question of the origin of samsara with its unending chains of sufferings and frustrations obtained new actuality. If the nature of every existence (of all dharmas in the Buddhist terminology) is absolutely perfect, translucent and enlightened how is it possible for samsara to come into being (even conditioned and relative) at all? What is the source of samsaric existence with all its evils? Briefly speaking, the Buddhist Mahayana thinkers became trapped by the problem of theodicy.

The most detailed and distinct exposition of the Buddhist doctrine of the origin of evil (and samsara) as well can be found in Mahayana sraddhotpada sastra (Chin.: Da sheng qi xin lun), or the ‘Awakening of Faith in Mahayana‘. This text, now existing only in Chinese is a pseudoepigraph of the Indian author of the 1st century C.E., Asvaghosa. In reality it appeared in China in the 6th century. According to the Buddhist tradition it was translated into Chinese from Sanskrit in 550 by the famous Indian Buddhist monk and translator, Paramartha (499-569) but there are strong suspicions that it was written in Chinese by Paramartha himself or by one of his Chinese disciples, though the text artificially imitates the form and style of the Indian theoretical treatises. Additional strength to these suspicions are strengthened by the fact that there are no quotations from this work in any known Indian-Buddhist texts, as well as that there is no Tibetan translation of it. The famous Chinese pilgrim of the 7th century C.E., Xuanzang, was so struck by the fact that the Indian scholars he encountered were ignorant of such an important text that he even translated it from Chinese into Sanskrit.

The Awakening of Faith in Mahayana (henceforth: Awakening) became one of the most important texts of the Buddhist tradition of
Eastern Asia (China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam); it exerted an extremely powerful influence on the process of formatting the Far Eastern Buddhist schools (such as Tiantai, Huayan and Chan/Zen) and their doctrinal teachings.

From the theoretical side, it represents the highest point of the development of the Tathagatagarbha theory contaminated with some Yogacara doctrines, the most important of which was the doctrine of alaya vijnana, store conscious. Thus, the Awakening combined to form strong sides of both doctrines: the Yogacara theory of the origins of samsara, and the Tathagatagarbian teaching about Enlightenment and the Buddha-nature. Here we will try to examine the character of this doctrinal synthesis and its contents.

It is important to note that the Awakening declares the primeval existence of the only reality (tathata, or Suchness) which is but One Mind (ekacitta, yi xin). This Absolute is empty of our thinking being a kind of transcendent reality but not empty in itself, being the pleroma, or fullness of innumerable good qualities. Nevertheless, just this Suchness is a source of samsara with all its sufferings as well as nirvana with its bliss. The Awakening proclaims:

‘From the very beginning, Suchness in its nature is fully provided with all excellent qualities; namely, it is endowed with the light of great wisdom, [the qualities of] illuminating the entire universe, of true cognition and mind pure in its self-nature; of eternity, bliss, Self, and purity; of refreshing coolness, immutability, and freedom. It is endowed with this [excellent qualities] which outnumbered the sands of the Ganges, which are not independent of, disjointed from, or different from [the essence of Suchness], and which are supra-rational [attributes of] Buddhahood. Since it is endowed completely with all these, and is not lacking anything, it is called the Tathagata-garbha [when latent] and also the Dharmakaya of the Tathagata‘.

The text declares that the Absolute Mind (Suchness) has two aspects: the aspect of Enlightenment and that of non-enlightenment.

Original Enlightenment (Original Awakening, ben jue, literally, ‘root Awakening’) is a substance of Mind devoid of conceptual differentiating thinking. It is like unlimited empty space which pervades everything, and it is ‘One without second’ as the absolute body of the Buddha (dharmakaya, fa shen).

Non-enlightenment (bu jue) is also grounded in the original Enlightenment being of secondary and non-substantial nature. Nevertheless, because of its empirical existence there appeared the necessity for living beings (human beings) to cultivate mind by contemplative practices to realize their substantially enlightened nature. This kind of Enlightenment obtained empirically through psychological practices of the Buddhist yoga is called here ‘Enlightenment which has its beginning’ (shi jue).

Original Enlightenment is intrinsic, but non-enlightenment is accidental. The latter is a non-actualized state of the same original enlightenment. That is to say, man is originally enlightened or saved, but suffers because he does not realize that he is enlightened or saved and continues on as a blind or faithless man, groping for enlightenment or salvation elsewhere. The premise is that if man is not enlightened or saved originally, there is no possibility of his attaining enlightenment or salvation at all.

This obtained Enlightenment in its complete and perfect form is but the original Enlightenment by its essence and substance. Forms and types of the practice (bhavana) of the bodhisattva who will to attain Buddhahood and the stages of this practice have been described in details in the text of Awakening.

The unenlightened aspect expresses its nature in not realizing oneness with the True Nature of Suchness and illusory independence from it. This ignorance gives rise to the differentiating thoughts and then to subject-and-object dichotomy, passions and last and, finally, to all qualities of the miseries of the samsaric existence. Nevertheless, those ignorant thoughts have no substantiality of their own. Therefore, ‘they are not independent of the original enlightenment’. And commentators of the Awakening as well as the Buddhist thinkers who were connected in their philosophies with the doctrine of this work often graphically depicted this aspect of Absolute as the black dot in the center of the white circle of original Enlightenment (as it was done by Zongmi, 780-841, in his famous ‘Chan Preface‘ ).

The text also is attentive to the problem of the relationships between Enlightenment and non-enlightenment. It examined two kinds of such relationships: identity and nonidentity.

Because all phenomena in their foundations have no substance different from their Suchness, just as all kinds of pottery are of the same nature being made of clay. Therefore even magic-like appearances (maya; huan) in their root substantiality have the basic intrinsic nature of the Absolute Mind and its Suchness. Here the author of the Awakening refers to the canonical text of the unidentified sutra:

‘…all sentient beings intrinsically abide in eternity and are entered nirvana. The state of enlightenment is not something that is to be acquired by practice or to be created. In the end, it is unobtainable [for it is given from the beginning].’

The aspect of nonidentity has an accidental nature, just as different kinds of pottery have different images and forms. Therefore, empirically, illusions of samsara have their existence. The differences between the reality of Suchness and the illusory phenomena of samsara exist in accordance with the defiled consciousness of the sentient beings and their effective ignorance of the nature of Reality.

And, rather curiously, it can be said that the ignorant consciousness of the sentient beings has its relative non-substantial existence due to the non-enlightened aspect of One Mind which in its turn exists only for the deluded consciousness of the sentient beings having no existence of its own (svabhava; zi xing).

Let us see now, what is the way of the explication of samsara produced by the operation of the non-enlightened aspect of One Mind.

The Awakening describes three stages of the origination of samsara:

  1. Because of the existence of the non-enlightened aspect of Mind it becomes agitated, and this agitation is the activity of ignorance. The result of this activity is suffering (complete frustration, or anxiety � duhkha).
  2. Agitation destroys the unity of Suchness. As a result, the empirically perceiving subject appears to be existent.
  3. The world of empirical objects obtains its illusion-like existence because of the perceiving subject. The objects have their being only with their relation to subject. Without perceiving subjects there can not be the perceived objects. The subject as well as objects are devoid of their intrinsic nature. Their being is only relative to the unsubstantial non-enlightened aspect of Suchness and is completely conditioned by its erroneous nature. Mind, as such, by its true nature is calm and transcendent to the subject-object dichotomy.

On the third stage the mind became conditioned by the character of the objects. In this state it produces the following six aspects:

  1. Depending on the erroneously perceived world of objects the subject obtains the intellect discriminating between liking and disliking.
  2. Then the consciousness produces the awareness of pleasure and pain regarding the world of the objects. This awareness becomes uninterruptedly continuous.The consciousness superimposes its deluded thoughts on the world of objects and becomes attached to what it likes.
  3. The discriminations and mental constructing (vikalpa, fen bie). The consciousness attached to the objects produces analytical ability related to the words and concepts which are devoid of the true meaning. The words and concepts become substitutes of the true reality for the deluded consciousness.
  4. The attachment to the mentally constructed signs of word-and-concepts creates all manifold kinds of evil karma (ye); the consciousness becomes a subject of the cyclic existence of births-and-deaths.
  5. The consciousness suffered from the fruits of karma and is not free any longer. Thus, all the defiled states of consciousness are produced from ignorance, and ignorance has its illusion-like existence due to the aspect of nonenlightenment which is the relative and provisional aspect of Suchness.

Describing the beginning of the process of the emergence of samsara, the Awakening uses the word vasana (xun xi) which is the Yogacara technical term. Here it means the influence or actions which have abilities to permeate something. In the case of the origin of samsara it can be said that the nonenlightenment, having its ground in the original Enlightenment of Suchness, produces ignorance which is the primary cause of the defiled state that permeates into the substance of Suchness itself. And this permeation (vasana) is the cause of the appearance of the deluded consciousness. While the principle of Suchness has not been yet realized in the ‘Enlightenment which has its beginning’, the deluded consciousness continues to predicate the erroneously conceived objects of senses and mind. These objects, in their turn, permeate the deluded consciousness ‘and cause the deluded mind to attach itself to its thoughts, to create various… karma, and to undergo all kinds of physical and mental suffering’. An end can be put to this process only by Enlightenment which, being empirically a result of psycho-practical mind cultivation, is substantially the same as the original Enlightenment, just as the nature of Reality is such.

How does the Awakening describe the liberated enlightened mind? Here the text uses the rather popular metaphors in Buddhist works of waves and water. Here follows two rather important quotations from the text:

  1. All modes (laksana) of mind and consciousness [under the state of nonenlightenment] are [the products of] ignorance. Ignorance does not exist apart from enlightenment; therefore, it cannot be destroyed [because one cannot destroy something which does not really exist], and yet it cannot not be destroyed [in so far as it remains]. This is like the relationship that exists between the water of the ocean [i.e., enlightenment] and its waves [i.e. modes of mind] stirred by the wind [i.e., ignorance]. Water and wind are inseparable; but water is not mobile by nature, and if the wind stops the movement ceases. But the wet nature remains undestroyed. Likewise, man’s Mind, pure in its own nature, is stirred by the wind of ignorance. Both Mind and ignorance have no particular forms of their own and they are inseparable. Yet Mind is not mobile by nature, and if ignorance ceases, then the continuity [of deluded activities] ceases. But the essential nature of wisdom [i.e., the essence of Mind, like the wet nature of the water remains undestroyed.
  2. Question: If the mind ceases to be, what will become of its continuity? If there is no continuity of mind, how can you explain its final cessation?
    Answer: What we speak of as ‘cessation’ is the cessation of the marks of [the deluded] mind only and not the cessation of its essence. It is like the case of the wind which, following the surface of the water, leaves the marks of its movement. If the water should cease to be, then the marks of the wind would be nullified and the wind would have no support [on which to display its movement]. But since the water does not cease to be, the marks of the wind nay continue. Because only the wind ceases, the marks of its movement cease accordingly. This is not the cessation of the water. So it is with ignorance; on the ground of the essence of Mind there is movement. If the essence of Mind were to cease, then people would be nullified and they have no support. But since the essence does not cease to be, the mind may continue. Because only stupidity ceases to be, the marks of the [stupidity of the] mind cease accordingly. It is not that the wisdom [i.e., the essence] of Mind ceases.

Therefore, it can be said that Enlightenment stops the winds of ignorance from blowing under the surface of calm by its intrinsic nature of water. Water (which is an image of the self-nature of the Absolute Mind) does not change, its nature remains just the same, and only the accidental and substantially unreal waves (cyclic existence of samsara), produced by the wind of ignorance (avidya, bu jue) rooted in the depths of One Mind itself, cease to appear. It means literally that for the Enlightened mind all spheres of objects cease to be. And for this perfectly Enlightened Mind the ‘black dot’ of the aspect of non-enlightenment does no longer exists. This is a ‘correction’, or ‘catharsis’ of Suchness. It becomes what it really is from the very beginning: non-dual, self luminescent, absolute One Mind possessing innumerable good and excellent qualities of the Buddha as Dharmakaya. This is presented in the Awakening as follows:

In fact, there are no corporeal objects, because all objects are original from the mind. And as long as there are no corporeal objects at all, ’empty place’ can not be maintained. All objects are of the mind alone; but when illusions arise, [objects which are regarded as real] appear. When the mind is free from its deluded activities, then all objects [imagined as real] vanish of themselves. [What is real,] the one and true Mind, pervades everywhere. This is the final meaning of the Tathagata’s great and comprehensive wisdom.

Examining in brief all the most important teachings of the Awakening related to the roots of samsaric evil and the liberation from them, we can now to analyze and compare the typologies of the Mahayanistic and Kabbalistic approaches to these subjects.

In the attitude of the Awakening towards the problem of evil we can find a number of features which are comparable to the attitudes expressed in Lurianic Kabbalah.

  1. Both teachings support the view that the roots of evil lie in the Absolute itself. According to Lurianic Kabbalah these roots are the potential force of din (Stern Judgement) which can find its overdevelopment and isolation from the power of Mercy as qelippoth, or ‘shells’. Therefore, the dark side of being is latently immanent to the Absolute. According to the Awakening, the cause of evil and of the samsaric cyclical existence with all its sufferings originates from the unenlightened aspect of Absolute (Suchness as luminous One Mind), which has a secondary and accidental nature but nevertheless is responsible for all defilements and attachments of the empirical consciousness of the sentient beings.
  2. The very process of creation is seen as an objectivization, or explication of the roots of evil. In Lurianic Kabbalah the first point of the creative activities of the Original Unlimited Light of Absolute (‘Or En Sof) is its contraction (zimzum) — that is, its limitation. And every limitation can be seen as the manifestation of the powers of din which are the root of evil as well. Therefore, the explication of evil is the primary characteristic of the process of creation as such. In Awakening the first point of the emergence of samsara is ignorance originated from the unenlightened aspect of the Absolute. This ignorance manifests itself in the discriminating thought which erroneously takes itself to be different from the substance of Suchness. The development of this process results with the mental constructing, or appearance, of subject-object oppositions and different kinds of attachments.
  3. The process of creation is not only the process of the explication of evil, but also a means for the liberation of the Absolute from the potential roots of evil, and can be understood as a kind of cathartic activity of the Absolute. In Lurianic Kabbalah this process of the Divine catharsis results in the tiqqun, or restoration of being. (In some kinds of Lurianic Kabbalah the powers of evil, qelippoth, devoid of the forces of the Light, must be eliminated as a ‘waste product’ from the essence of the Godhead, in others they must be transfigured into the powers of holiness worthy of restoration in the realm of the Divine Lights). In Awakening the samsaric beings, because of the influence of their substantial original Buddha nature, attain Enlightenment which leads to the complete elimination of the non-enlightened black dot inside the Absolute, and its complete Enlightenment. The text does not speak explicitly about the cathartic character of the emergence and empirical existence of samsara but it can be easily supposed because of the very structure of the process of the movement from the Original Enlightenment through unsubstantial nonenlightenment to the empirical Enlightenment resulting with the complete Enlightenment as the absolute elimination of the shadow of ignorance.

Nevertheless, there are also very important and theologically substantial differences between the understanding of the nature of evil and the ways of its elimination in these two kinds of the mystical theosophies. And they are also important for an understanding of the essential specific features of the soteriological attitudes of Lurianic Kabbalah, as rooted in the Biblical world-view, and those of Mahayanistic Buddhism which is closely related to the traditional Indian ways of thinking.

First of all, it must be noted that the end of the world-process in the Lurianic Kabbalah is tiqqun � that is, the restoration of the purified creation to its perfect and undefiled state, or even its inclusion into the sphere of the Divine pleroma. In the Awakening, Enlightenment is seen as the state of elimination of all subject-object relations and the extinction of the manifold world as such: mind returns to its own intrinsic nature, and the waves (i.e., the world) caused by the wind of ignorance cease to appear in the phenomena, revealing the true calm self-nature of the Mind as the plain surface of the Ocean of the Absolute. Therefore the Lurianic attitude toward the creation (manifold world produced from the depths of the Absolute) is ontologically optimistic, while that of the Awakening is pessimistic.

Secondly, the very evaluation of the creative process is rather different in both systems: the moving power of the unfolding of One Mind/Suchness in the world of phenomena is delusion, and only by complete Enlightenment are the effects of this delusion (the influence of the unenlightened aspect of Suchness) and the universe (three worlds of samsara), eliminated. On the other hand, the corresponding attitude in Lurianic Kabbalah is more complicated. There, the shadow of potential evil participates in the process of creation from the very beginning, but that creation is also a positively evaluated act of the Divine unfolding. Moshe Hayyim Luzzato had even suggested that the Absolute En Sof was obliged to give up His omniscience and omnipotence, in order to be able to create the space-and-time dependent world. The Absolute is by its nature static, as Aristotle had asserted; therefore, in order to achieve a dynamic state of creation, the Absolute had to give up being absolute.

Summarizing the above-mentioned differences, it would be rather convenient to use metaphorically Nathan of Gaza‘s images of the thought-some and thought-less Lights. (Thought-some lights express the Divine Will to create, while thought-less lights express its Will to remain in the primordial quietness of its hidden mystery, understanding the creation only as an explication of the powers of evil and even as a revolt against the Absolute itself.) Comparing this problem of creation in Lurianic Kabbalah and the Awakening, the former expresses mostly a position of the thought-some Lights, while the latter expresses that of the thought-less Lights.

And last but not least, these two systems use very different languages to express their ideas: that of the Lurianic and Sabbatean thinkers is the gnostic mytho-poetic language of a highly suggestive character, while the language of the Awakening is a philosophical and speculative one, relating this text to the traditional treatises of the learned Buddhist scholasticism.

Moreover, it is important to note that the problem of examining Kabbalistic mysticism within the broad frames of intercultural researches is rather substantial, and this paper is only one of the first steps on this way. But an ancient Chinese sage said: ‘The way in ten thousand miles begins with one step’. And if this step has been done here, then the author can consider his task to be fulfilled.


On evil in Christian thought, see J.H. Hick Evil and the God of Love, New York 1977; G.R. Evans, Augustine on Evil, Cambridge Mass. 1983; S. Runciman, The Medieval Manichee: A Study of the Christian Dualist Heresy, Cambridge, Mass. 1982.
For a review of Leibniz’s theodical system see S.C. Brown, Leibniz.
Minnesota 1985; L. E. Loemker, Struggle for Synthesis: The Seventeenth-Century Background of Leibniz’s Synthesis of Order and Freedom, Cambridge, Mass. 1972.
Explanations of this sort were suggested, for instance, by A. Schopenhauer who ardently denied not only Christian approaches to the problem of freedom of will but even this principle as such (at least on the phenomenal being of existence). For a critical review see B. Magee, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer,
Oxford 1983.

Notable examples are J. Boehme, and Schelling who followed Boehme on this point. For review see R. F. Brown The Later Philosophy of Schelling: The Influence of Boehme on the works of 1809-1815, Bucknell University Press 1976 (Henceforth, Brown, The Later Philosophy of Schelling); M. Heidegger, Schelling’s Treatise on the Essence of Human Freedom, Translated by Joan Stambaugh, Ohio University Press 1985.

For a review of Berdyaev’s position on evil see N. Berdyaev, The Destiny of Man, translated by N. Duddington. New York and London 1979; L. E. Allen Freedom in God: A Guide to the Thought of Nicholas Berdyaev, New York 1980; A. F. Zamaleyev Lektsii po istorii russkoi filosofii (Lectures on the History of Russian Philosophy), St. Petersburg 1995, pp. 232-233.

For a review of Schelling’s position on the dark foundation of Godhead see F. Schelling, Of Human Freedom, trans. J. Gutmann, New York 1985; R.F. Brown, The Later Philosophy of Schelling.

For a review of Kabbalistic influence on Boehme and Schelling see Secret F. Les Kabbalistes chr�tiens de la Renaissance, Paris 1964; W. A. Schultze, ‘Schelling und die Kabbala‘, Judaica 13 (1957).

However, see J. Dan, ‘Kabbalistic and Gnostic Dualism‘, Binah 3 (1994), pp. 19-33 [First printed in Hebrew in Da’at 19 (1987), pp. 5-16].

G. Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi. The Mystical Messiah 1626-1676, Princeton 1973, p. 28. (Henceforth, Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi.)

For the sources of the doctrine of Zimzum in Lurianic Kabbalah see M. Idel, ‘On the Concept of Zimzum in Kabbalah and its Research‘, Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought, X (1992), pp. 59-112 [Hebrew]; B. Huss, ‘Genizat Ha-Or in Simeon Lavi’s Ketem Paz and the Lurianic Doctrine of Zimzum‘, Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 10 (1992), pp. 341-362 [Hebrew].

Scholem has asserted that philosophical approach to Zimzum was suggested first of all by Italian Kabbalist Israel Sarug. See G. Scholem, ‘Israel Sarug – a disciple of R. Yizhak Luria?Zion 5 (1940), pp. 214-243 [Hebrew]. Altmann, however, disagreed and asserted that Sarug’s interpretation was actually mythical. See A. Altmann, ‘Notes on the Development of Rabbi Menahem Azariah Fano’s Kabbalistic Doctrine‘, Studies in Jewish Mysticism Philosophy and Ethical Literature Presented to Isaiah Tishby on his Seventy-Fifth Birthday, Jerusalem 1986, pp. 241-268 [Hebrew]. For a philosophical analysis of Zimzum in the thought of Herrera, Sarug’s disciple, see N. Yosha, Myth and Metaphor: Abraham Cohen Herrera’s Philosophical Interpretation of Lurianic Kabbalah, Jerusalem 1994, pp. 188-210 [Hebrew].

The most notable example is Moshe Hayyim Luzzato

Ch. Wirszubski, Between the Lines: Kabbalah, Christian Kabbalah and Sabbatianism, ed. M. Idel, Jerusalem 1990, pp. 156-159 [Hebrew]. A. Elqayam, The Mystery of Faith in the Writings of Nathan of Gaza, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Hebrew University, 1993, [Hebrew]; [henceforth The Mystery].

I. Tishby, The Doctrine of Evil and the ‘Kelippah’ in Lurianic Kabbalah. Jerusalem 1984, [Hebrew]. Tishby’s interpretation was also taken up by Scholem in Sabbatai Sevi, p. 30.

On the Yogacara philosophy see: L. de la Valle Poussin, Vijnaptimatra siddhi sastra (Le siddhi de Hsuan-tsang). T. 1-2, Paris 1928-1929; Th. E. Wood, Mind Only: A Philosophical Doctrinal Analysis of the Vijnanavada, Honolulu 1991; Th. A. Kochumuttom, Buddhist Doctrine of Experience, New Delhi 1982; Th. Stcherbatsky, Buddhist Logic, Leningrad 1930-1932.

The scriptural sources of the Tathagatagarbha doctrine are such canonical texts of Mahayana as Tathagatagarbha sutra, Maha parinirvana sutra and Srimaladevi simhanada sutra.

On the theory of Tathagatagarbha see: E.E. Obermiller, The Sublime Science of the Great Vehicle to Salvation. A translation of Uttaratantra of Bodhisattva Maitreya with the Commentary of Asanga, Acta Orientalia 9, 1931; Jikido Takasaki, Study on the Ratnagotravibhaga (Uttaratantra), Serie Orientale Roma 33,1966; D. S. Ruegg, La Theorie du Tathagatagarbha et du Gotra. Etudes sur la Soteriologie et la Gnoseologie du Bouddhisme, Paris 1969.

Peter N. Gregory, ‘The Problem of Theodicy in the Awakening of Faith‘, Religious Studies 22 pp.

All the citations from the Awakening will be given by the English translation of Yoshito S. Hakeda: The Awakening of Faith. Attributed to Asvaghosha. Translated with commentaries by Yoshito S. Hakeda, New York 1967 [henceforth: Hakeda]. The text was also translated from original Chinese into Russian by E. Torchinov: Traktat o probuzhdenii vey v Mahayanu (Treatise on the Awakening of Faith in Mahayana), St. Petersburg 1997. The original text of the Awakening is included in the Chinese Tripitaka (Buddhist Canon). See: Taisho shinshu daizokye (Tripitaka Taisho – TT), vol. 32 (No. 1666), pp. 575-583.

Hakeda, p. 65. The tenet that ‘one and the same mind which is a source of samsara as well as nirvana is rather common to such radical trends of Mahayana Buddhism as the tradition of the mahasiddhas (Great Perfect Ones) of the Tantric Vajrayana, Tibetan rdzog-chen and Sino-Japanese Chan/Zen. It is interesting that the idea that mind and mental attitudes are responsible for samsaric bondage or nirvanic liberation obtained its expression in the form of a kind of ethical antnomianism (compare with the mystical antinomianism of the Sabbatians). Thus, Candamaharosana tantra says: ‘The same fearful deeds which lead living beings to terrible hells, without doubt lead to liberation when done in accordance with the method of release. It is the established opinion that the mind is forerunner of everything, evil as well as good; the distinctions regarding state of existence, place and so on are forms of imagination of the mind’. See Lal Mani Joshi, ‘Religious Change in Late Indian Buddhist History, Part III‘, Buddhist Studies Review 9 (1992), p. 159.

Hakeda, p. 37. The words ‘without any second’ have been added in brackets by the translator (Yoshito S. Hakeda) but the notion of advaya (bu er), non-duality is extremely important for the Mahayana thought.

Ibid., p. 38.

Hakeda, p. 43.

Chan Preface (or Preface to the Collection of Explanations of the Origins of the Chan Truths) is included in the Chinese Tripitaka (TT, 48, pp. 409-414) with the title: Chan yuan zhu quan ji du xu. English translation: Broughton J. Kuei-feng Tsung-mi: the convergence of Ch’an and the Teachings’. Ph.D. Dissertation, Columbia University, 1975. Russian translation by K. Yu. Solonin: Zong-mi. Chanskie istiny (Chan Truths). St. Petersburg 1998, pp. 36-110 (diagrams and their explanations on pp. 102-103).
Hakeda, p. 46.

Hakeda, pp. 44-45.

Awakening, p. 57.

Awakening, p. 41.

Awakening, pp. 55-56. It is rather interesting that Nathan of Gaza also uses the image of water and waves regarding the relations between Absolute and the creation (personal communication with Prof. A. Elqayam).

Awakening, p. 75.

Professor A. Elqayam’s personal communication.

Elqayam A. The Mystery.

On the comparison of the Kabbalistic and Oriental mystical teachings see also: Torchinov E. Kabbala I Vostok (Kabbalah and the East), Vestnik evreiskogo universiteta v Moskve (Works of the Hebrew University in Moscow), 3 (16), Moscow-Jerusalem 1997/5758, pp. 96-128. Here I am very glad to express my profound and sincere gratitude to Prof. Avraham Elqayam for his invaluable assistance and consultations without which the aim of this article could not be attained.

Form, sound, and taste and touch

And smell’s arisings are only

Like a castle of the gandharvas

Like dream or like illusion

Like an illusory person

And like a mere reflection

Pleasant and unpleasant

Even if they arise,

Where and what are they?

–The Mulamadhyamakakarikas


“What does it mean to know and experience my own ‘nothingness.’?

It is not enough to turn away in disgust from my illusions and faults
and mistakes, to separate myself from them as if they were not, and as
if I were someone other than myself.  This kind of self-annihilation is
only a worse illusion, it is a pretended humility which, by saying ‘I am
nothing’ I mean in effect ‘I wish I were not what I am.'”

–Thomas Merton


Those who see me as form

Those who know me as words

Are dwelling on wrong paths.

These persons have not seen me.

What is meant by the buddhas

Is the view of dharmata.

The leaders are dharmakaya.

Dharmata is not a knowable,

So consciousness cannot know it.

–The Diamond Sutra


A Gandharva (Sanskrit) or Gandhabba (Pāli) is one of the lowest-ranking devas in Buddhist theology. They are classed among the Cāturmahārājikakāyika devas, and are subject to the Great King Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Guardian of the East. Beings are reborn among the Gandharvas as a consequence of having practiced the most basic form of ethics (Janavasabha-sutta, DN.18). It was considered embarrassing for a monk to be born in no better birth than that of a gandharva.

Gandharvas can fly through the air, and are known for their skill as musicians. They are connected with trees and flowers, and are described as dwelling in the scents of bark, sap, and blossom. They are among the beings of the wilderness that might disturb a monk meditating alone.

The terms gandharva and yakṣa are sometimes used for the same person; yakṣa in these cases is the more general term, including a variety of lower deities.

Among the notable gandharvas are mentioned (in DN.20 and DN.32) Panāda, Opamañña, Naḷa, Cittasena, Rājā. Janesabha is probably the same as Janavasabha, a rebirth of King Bimbisāra of Magadha. Mātali the Gandharva is the charioteer for Śakra.

Timbarū was a chieftain of the gandharvas. There is a romantic story told about the love between his daughter Bhaddā Suriyavaccasā (Sanskrit: Bhadrā Sūryavarcasā) and another gandharva, Pañcasikha (Sanskrit: Pañcaśikha). Pañcasikha fell in love with Suriyavaccasā when he saw her dancing before Śakra, but she was then in love with Sikhandī (or Sikhaddi), son of Mātali the charioteer. Pañcasikha then went to Timbarū’s home and played a melody on his lute of beluva-wood, on which he had great skill, and sang a love-song in which he interwove themes about the Buddha and his Arhats.

Later, Śakra prevailed upon Pañcasikha to intercede with the Buddha so that Śakra might have an audience with him. As a reward for Pañcasikha’s services, Śakra was able to get Suriyavaccasā, already pleased with Pañcasikha’s display of skill and devotion, to agree to marry Pañcasikha.

Pañcasikha also acts as a messenger for the Four Heavenly Kings, conveying news from them to Mātali, the latter representing Śakra and the Trāyastriṃśa devas.

Gandharva or gandhabba is also used in a completely different sense, referring to a being (or, strictly speaking, part of the causal continuum of consciousness) in a liminal state between birth and death.

Next Page »