Chapter 8:

The Kalachakra Tantra

The recent discovery that the Stanzas of Dzyan are at least partly taken from the Kalachakra Tantra (or possibly viceversa) goes a very long way to showing that the essence of the Secret Doctrine can best be expressed as being the transformation of man. After all, transformation is universally acknowledged as the essence of Tantra, and the Kalachakra lineage is similarly recognized both in India and Tibet as the source of the highest and most esoteric of all teachings.1

Researches done by professor Jagannath Upadhyaya of Benares Sanskrit University, by H.J. Spierenburg of the Netherlands, and by David Reigle in the United States provide quite emphatic evidence that the true teaching of theosophy is one and the same with the so-called "Teaching of Shambhala," another name for the teaching of the Kalachakra lineage.2

Connecting the Stanzas and the Kalachakra Tantra is a true landmark in the understanding of the actual teaching of HPB's teachers. Since the essence of the Kalachakra teaching is transformation, it implies that the essence of theosophy is what takes place in the process of transformation itself. The heart of theosophy would then not be likely to be a mere series of "teachings" that anyone can speak or write about with more or less lucidity. Rather, it would be the act of transformed perception itself, unencumbered by any claims coming from the conditioned mind. In Buddhism, the most developed line of teaching came through the Mahayana and the Vajrayana, in both of which the intial teachings of the Buddha seemed to have been discarded radically. And it should be kept in mind that Nagarjuna, who is considered the primary source for these lineages, has been widely acknowledged as giving the "Teaching of Shambhala."

The reason why there is in Nagarjuna the appearance of discarding the Noble Eightfold Path together with many of the other fundamental teachings of Buddhism, is perhaps that they had become a tool for the conditioned mind rather than an element for true liberation. The moment a fixed idea is created about any truth, it ceases to be the truth and begins to be an element of the conditioned mind--and is one of the reasons for the danger of metaphysical expositions made without the benefit of the psychological key. That is perhaps a reason why in the roots of the Mahayana and the Vajrayana it was considered indispensable to do away with the acceptance of fixed teachings. This then may also be a reason why true theosophy cannot be a series of fixed teachings, however sublime they may sometimes sound.

The teaching of Shambhala

All such teachings are of the world of the conditioned mind, and are not very likely to lead to a life of transformation, except as they may provoke frustration and subsequent abandonment by the very serious. In fact, the teaching of Shambhala (as in the first stanza quoted above) seems to suggest very clearly that the life of transformation does not begin until and unless all ideas, beliefs and attachments to various philosophies cease to be. Transformation implies that the conditioned mind is no longer, and something else takes its place. It is only in such a state that true theosophy begins. When transformation is taking place, according to Nagarjuna and therefore the teaching of Shambhala, it is then not necessary to believe or disbelieve in anything. The beliefs in reincarnation, karma, the oneness of life, the spiritual path, or any others, are quite dispensable in the context of the life of transformation. Whatever takes place in such a context of total negation of the conditioned mind is sacred (to borrow a term from Krishnamurti) and is its own source; it does not require justification from any book or teaching. Its normal expression would be a total compenetration with whatever is taking place, and so it would be described by personalities witnessing it as compassion, wisdom, understanding, caring. As Krishnamurti put it,

Meditation is not a search, it's not a seeking, a probing, an exploration. It is an explosion and discovery. It's not the taming of the brain to conform nor is it a self-introspective analysis, it is certainly not the training in concentration which includes, chooses and denies. It's something that comes naturally, when all positive and negative assertions and accomplishments have been understood and drop away easily. It is the total emptiness of the brain. It's the emptiness that is essential, not what's in the emptiness, there is seeing only from emptiness, all virtue, not social morality and respectability, springs from it. It's out of this emptiness love comes, otherwise it's not love. Foundation of righteousness is in this emptiness. It's the end and beginning of all things.3

Krishnamurti and Nagarjuna

A connection between Krishnamurti and Nagarjuna has indeed been made by Buddhists. In speaking of Pandit Jagannath Upadhyaya, Pupul Jayakar says in her biography of Krishnamurti that

In the beginning of the 1950s, when pandits of Varanasi had first hear Krishnaji, the Buddhists held that Krishnaji was speaking Buddhism, the Vedantins that he was in the stream of Vedanta. Later, Upadhyayaji felt that Krishnaji was more in the stream of Nagarjuna. Again, at a later period, he felt that krishnaji's word was what Nagarjuna would have said had he been alive today. It was relevant to the contemporary moment.4

It would seem to be a great temptation for a conditioned mind, when confronted with a manifestation of the life of transformation, to create a new world of ideas in order to explain that life. However, in the first place the description of the conditioned mind (all descriptions are the descriptions of the conditioned mind because they are expressed in its language), are not the described, they never can say what one would like for them to be able to say. And secondly, even when the description is inspiring at some level, it is never itself the life of transformation, and is therefore completely irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the life of transformation, and it would seem that all the "teachings" are so much grist for the mill of the conditioned mind, no matter how beautiful or profound they may sound. This is the first lesson to be learned in the teaching of Shambhala, as all the evidence seems to suggest.

KH and transformation

A formidable problem is how difficult it is to really see this first lesson for oneself, since there is no help from any scripture, guru, or tradition at that point. One is totally by oneself, with nothing to lean on. As one of HPB's teachers, the Master KH, put it,

The fact is, that to the last and supreme initiation every chela--and even some adepts--is left to his own device and counsel. We have to fight our own battles, and the familiar adage--"the adept becomes, he is not made" is true to the letter.5

Eliminating the attachments of the conditioned mind (including all the teachings and practices that one's conditioned mind may have come to identify with the spiritual life), obviously would create a tremendous vacuum in one's life. This void would be so deeply uncomfortable, that there would be a very great temptation to fill it up with new concepts. It is very tempting, for instance, to create a new world of ideas out of the notion that all ideas are to be given up.

Being left without any concept to depend on feels so "wrong" to the concept-bound conditioned mind, that it easily assumes that there must really be something wrong with the death of all of its preciously-held attachments. But so long as one is acting according to a formula, no matter how clever, sophisticated or subtle, it is the conditioned mind, the me, that is in charge. One might like to find some comfort in having a ready-made formula for how life will be without the conditioned mind. In fact, however it is not possible to predetermine how transformation will take place because, as Master KH underscored, it is always original, unique.

It is this sense of disorientation and uncomfortableness naturally felt by the conditioned mind that has made Krishnamurti's insights and observations so very difficult for many of the vast numbers of people--and not only Theosophists--who came in contact with him throughout his long life. This uneasiness is strikingly reminiscent of the accounts of discipleship and probation spoken of continuously in the early years of the society's history, particularly in the letters of the Masters.


1 See Edwin Bernbaum, The way to Shambhala, Garden City: Anchor Books, 1980; see also Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala. The Sacred Path of the Warrior, New York: Bantam Books, 1986.

2 See David Reigle, The Books of Kiu-Te or The Tibetan Buddhist Tantras. A Preliminary Analysis, San Diego: Wizards Bookshelf, 1983; see also his paper "New Light on the Book of Dzyan," in Symposium on H.P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine. Proceedings, San Diego: Point Loma Publications, 1991.

3 Krishnamurti, Notebook, op. cit., pp. 68-69.

4 Pupul Jayakar, Krishnamurti, A Biography, New York: Harper & Row, 1986, p. 434.

5 Humphreys and Benjamin, eds., Mahatma Letters, op. cit., p. 305.

The Secret Doctrine | Victorian Theosophy | Victorian Zen | The Mystery Language | Seven Keys
The Stanzas of Zen | The Voice of the Silence | The Kalachakra Tantra | Krishnamurti and Transformation

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