Theosophy in Tibet: The Teachings of the Jonangpa School
- Published: Friday, 08 July 2011 03:05
David Reigle – USA
[By David Reigle, reprinted here from Blavatsky’s Secret Books: Twenty Years of Research (San Diego, CA: Wizards Bookshelf, 1999), pp. 83-95, with formal modifications for Theosophy Forward house style.]
Some seven centuries ago there arose in Tibet a school of teachings which has many parallels to Theosophy. This is the Jonangpa school. Like Theosophy, which attempted to restore teachings from “the universally diffused religion of the ancient and prehistoric world,”1 it attempted to restore teachings of the earlier Golden Age. Like Theosophy, which teaches as its first fundamental proposition “an omnipresent, eternal, boundless, and immutable principle on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception,”2 it teaches a principle which is permanent, stable, quiescent, and eternal, which is devoid of anything but itself, or “empty of other” (gzhan stong), and which therefore transcends even the most subtle conceptualization. And like Theosophy, it was persecuted by orthodoxy.
A SECRET DOCTRINE
The teachings of the Jonangpa school were originated by Yumo Mikyo Dorje (yu mo mi bskyod rdo rje), an eleventh/twelfth-century yogi. He was a student of Somanatha, the Sanskrit pandit and Kalacakra master from Kashmir who translated the great Kalacakra commentary Vimala-prabha into Tibetan. Yumo is said to have received the Jonangpa teachings while practicing the Kalacakra six-limbed yoga in the Mt. Kailasa area of western Tibet. The Jonangpa teachings include primarily the Kalacakra transmission and the “empty of other” or shen-tong (gzhan stong) doctrine. Yumo expounded these as a “secret doctrine” (lkog pa’i chos).3 He did not, however, put these teachings into writing; so we do not have from him a work called The Secret Doctrine, as we do from H. P. Blavatsky. The task of putting them into writing was left to a successor, Dolpopa.