East – West discovering Dharma

From a Student

Dharma is a Sanskrit word meaning righteousness, moral law, merit, and virtue.

east west dharma Theosophy

Dharma is a sacred law. Dharma is also the natural property of all things. The Dharma of fire is to burn, that of a dog is to bark when it “smells” a stranger. In the case of man, Dharma is a pursuit of one’s regular duty in one’s stage of life. As the man advances in life, the sense of duty progresses in a continuous process. As one takes up new responsibility, one discovers new duty towards the family, profession, and religious, social, national. At every stage, one makes choices with the best understanding within the limitation of one’s knowledge in the given situation.

As one advances in the understanding of Karma, one becomes more conscious and responsible to apply the right thought and action in accomplishing one's Dharma. In others words, there is a continuity from philosophical thought to the application of the correct action in the right way, in a given context, i.e. Dharma.

In the Theosophical perspective, Dharma has a wider meaning in the sense of a East – West, two complementary and joint approach towards discovering the understanding of eternal verities which form the basis of H.P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine:

The Secret Doctrine was a universally diffused religion of ancient and prehistoric world.” (SD i, xxxiv)

“Rawlinson shows an undeniable Vedic influence in the earl mythology of Babylon.” (SD I, xxxi).

Goerges Dumezil, a French modern scholar compares the Mahabharata and Scandinavian Loki’s story that illustrate a similar pattern of a war between spiritual and opposite forces of the same family. HPB says in the Glossary for Loki:

Loki by blood is the brother of Odin … Odin-Loki is two in one”

In The Key to Theosophy HPB introduces the Neo-Platonists, and their philosophy as an expression of the Wisdom-Religion. The Greek philosophers with Pythagoras, Ammonius, Apollonius of Tyana, and down to the last Hypatia show a continuity of this same wisdom-religion. They maintained a connection with the Hindu Brahmins.

The Theosophical Movement's second Object declares a pioneer statement:

“Study of the Eastern literature (Aryan and others), religions and sciences”.

In 1879, The Theosophist began a publication of articles and formed a library as a platform of exchange of Eastern and Western cultures.

W.Q. Judge contributed two important books The Bhagavad-Gita and The Aphorisms of Patanjali and a series of articles in The Path to help a deeper understanding of an Eastern approach to universal ideas in view of the modern Western thought.

In the 4th of the Five Messages, brings forward the influence of Hindu on English [and Western] thought through writing in Lucifer...

“So that each may supply the qualities lacking in the others, and develop more fraternal feelings among Nations”.

From the soul point of view, the inner man acts through bodies from different places. There some astonishing examples of Western born, all ready to adapt Eastern thought easily even very young, e.g. Sir Edwin Arnold, Gandhi and Tagore are symmetrical examples. This exchange has increased considerably in the 20th and 21st centuries with an English speaking community of scientists in India and another community of Western thinkers adopting Indian philosophical ideas.

Letters That Have Helped Me (Book 2, Letter 2): “we have to educate the West so that it may appreciate the possibilities of the East, and thus on the waiting structure in the East may build a new order of things for the benefit of the whole”.

The Indian Institute of World Culture in Bangalore and the Institute of World Culture in Santa Barbara offer another channel to enrich understanding.

Others beyond Theosophists illustrate this exchange of thoughts. Vivekananda the Vedanta philosophy's messenger to the West (World Parliament of Religions in 1893) addressed the audience as “Brothers and Sisters” and there was a feeling of a resonance in the hearts of all.

Gandhi's message of applying Brotherhood (Hindu – Muslim unity) and non-violence in the Independence of India attracted world's attention and was a partial success. To him, it was a failure because he wanted an independent one India. But the outcome was two nations of India and Pakistan, which again split to add another nation, Bangladesh. The Dalai Lama's message of Peace and Compassion has been a great success in the world. There is a terrible suffering and loss of lives among Tibetans however the outcome is that Buddhist ideas are well appreciated in the West.

Even now there is religious violence in several parts of the world. However there is an immense serious effort towards peace movements to bring closer ties all over. Examples of altruism are in international rescue movements like Doctors without Borders are ready to rush aid to any nation in case of emergency.

There is a continuity of what may be called Indo-European civilizations as similar patterns of thought (freedom of thought, democracy). At the same time there are differences of approach, rather complementary ways that deepen the understanding and enrich the experience during a fruitful cooperation in a project. The Sanskrit Heritage site ( shows how far scholars can concentrate their efforts from different areas and nations (philosophy, linguistics, mathematics, computer science etc) for the revival of Sanskrit that was announced by H.P.B.

There is a modern international thought being created along the lines of international work together with all nations, as a result of globalization.

Deepak Chopra, an Indian born specialized in modern medicine talks about Hindu philosophical ideas appealing to the West. International Schools are teaching children spirituality, ethics, and tolerance, without reference to any religious systems.

Institutions of excellence are teaching stress management with meditation. Some examples involve Full Awareness (Thich Nhat Hanh) and Mindfulness (Mark Williams). This is used in various nations including in a psychiatry clinical context (Christophe André). There is a genuine influence of Yoga practice with expanding the consciousness to be “fraternal” to those one loves, then to those with whom one has difficulties, finally to all. It also uses concentration on the breath to bring calm the mind. Theosophy has a special warning to this approach. The breath control is only mildly mentioned in the end of Book 2 in the Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms. No concentration on breath is recommended because of its inherent dangers that may stimulate centers of forces that may cause trouble.

A true Brotherhood requires a metaphysical comprehension of the Dharma. The way is spirituality, ethics, and idealism. Then only the exchange can be on the level of truth only.

There is no Religion higher than Truth.

Sayat nasti paro Dharmah

A compromise results in a partial application only. This is better than total failure but the aim is a total success. The encouragement given by The Voice of the Silence, each apparent failure is a partial success as well as:

The enemies he slew in the last battle will not return to life in the next birth that will be his.” And “Gain siddhis for thy future birth.

Reason can demonstrate the truth by method of philosophy, in an intellectual sense, while intuition gives the direct cognition for the ultimate realization of Truth. Reason and Intuition have to be trained in a progressive and continuous process. The hearing and seeing are used in the Indian philosophy. Fine hearing enables a Yogi to hear mystic sounds (The Voice of the Silence). A higher seeing capacity leads to Seer-ship, a spiritual clairvoyance (Rishis are examples through a Raja Yoga training).

In the Study of the Light on the Path (B.P. Wadia) there is a section on Listening and Speaking.

The Listening with three stages:

  1. Listen to the teaching of Theosophy as recorded in the Message.

  2. Learn to listen to the Inner Ego by training the ears.

  3. Learn to listen to Great Gurus, the Elder Brothers, the modern Representatives of the Ancient Fathers, who sustain the institution of Chelaship in the Yuga

The Speaking with three stages:

  1. Learn to speak the Teachings of Theosophy as recorded in the Message.

  2. Learn to speak to other souls in the Language of the Soul.

  3. Learn to speak as a Channel of Great Gurus, the Elder Brothers, the modern Representatives of the Ancient Fathers, who sustain the institution of Chelaship in the Yuga.

The Bhagavad-Gita may be viewed as an appeal to a sense of duty with a fine analysis. Action is a necessity. The duty of a warrior is to fight a lawful battle. Therefore he must resolve to fight. The important attitude is to fight, treating success and failure alike, i.e. without the expectation of the result. The analysis proceeds to one’s own nature. Even a man of knowledge acts according to his own nature (Prakriti). There are influences from various factors like sense attraction and repulsion. It is better to do one’s duty rather than do the duty of another. The variety of duty is a factor determined by one’s own nature, Svabhava and one’s particular position, Svadharma. Special attention to one’s duty with devotion attains to perfection.

The Voice of the Silence questions:

“Thou hast to be prepared to answer Dharma, the stern law…

Hast thou complied with all the rules?”

Living the Life (B.P. Wadia) indicates the way:

“The Teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy and the Great Teachers who are the custodians of those Teachings aid in preparing the earnest aspirant resolved to serve the Cause and determined to live the Life…

Dharma reveals the right way to overcome Karma. Karma is the acceptance of one’s state in a given context: endure, suffer, and pay your debt. Dharma says this is the right way to learn to pay your debt and ascend to heavenly heights.”

Man is free to choose and act by self-induced and self-devised efforts but Dharma warns that if he chooses wrongly, the inner man is held responsible for the errors of the personalities and for the choice of the right duty to perform to discharge it. The universe is governed by moral principles. Man is a creator by thought and word and the rules of the Inner Life demand that he be non-violent in thought and speech, i.e. the application of universal Brotherhood. In other words, gain the Great Wisdom for the Great Sacrifice necessary for the Great Service.

The teaching of the Occult Science is given by the term Manodhatu in the Glossary:

Each human being has his Manodhatu or plane of thought proportionate with the degree of his intellect and his mental faculties, beyond which he can go only by studying and developing his higher spiritual faculties in one of the higher spheres of thought.”

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