Three classes of Buddhas
At each evolutionary stage there are various cohorts at different stages of development. This was and is also the case in the epochs such as the Lemurian upto the Current Postatlantean epoch. Advanced spirits that reached their normal development already on Old Sun or Old Moon (sun or moon pitris) developed to varying degrees and incarnate upto now in human bodies. (see 1904-11-01-GA089 quote on Man in the Lemurian epoch)
Through the epochs, the leaders of Mankind consist of cohorts of advanced beings that are ahead of those developments are directly connected with a being from the third hierarchy at the levels of the higher bodily principles (see Man's higher triad, and Schema FMC00.312A), so they are 'ensouled' and receive direct inspiration from such higher being: an angel, archangel or archai. Such beings are called, by Eastern names, respectively: a Buddha, a Bodhisattva, or a Dhyani-Buddha.
- in the Lemurian epoch
- the first teachers that provided guidance to humanity were Luciferic beings from Venus and Mercury, whereby they just external human forms on Earth which in fact was a kind of outward illusion (1908-08-11-GA105)
- these divine messengers are also called arhats (1904-09-06-GA091)
- in the first part of the Atlantean epoch
- it was quite common for highly evolved men to vacate their soul and spirit bodily principles (and withdrew into the spiritual world to take on another body), leaving the physical, etheric and astral bodies. Highly spiritual beings then descended into such pure bodies and acted as great teachers in the Atlantean schools of initiation (1908-08-11-GA105)
- H. P. Blavatsky refers to 'Barhishads who entered into ordinary human bodies and so for a time became part of the race.
- Related - on the leadership and guidance of mankind
- More background on the various cohorts of beings is given on: Planets hosting beings at various stages of evolution as well as Human races
- the being of Buddha (Wotan) passed through all manner of stages of advanced evolution on Venus before coming back to Earth (1912-06-12-GA137)
- See also the topic pages White Lodge and Bodhisattva for more info; and - for an Eastern perspective (by Meher Baba) - also see God experience
- for a theosophical coverage, see also Powell in 'The solar system' (online here); Chapter XVIII: Buddhas, Mahachochans and Bodisattvas
Schema FMC00.313 provides an overview of the beings that provide spiritual guidance of mankind in the current Postatlantean epoch, comparing it with the categories of beings and the state of 'ensoulment' by a being from the third spiritual hierarchy H3 in the Lemurian epoch (upper right).
Schema FMC00.362 illustrates the process of souls descending from the various planets based on their stage of spiritual development, for the process of developing the human 'I' principle and the pipeline for the Tenth hierarchy.
The blue line depicts the spiritual guidance of mankind.
Lecture coverage and references
is a key lecture regarding the descent of the first spirits (terminology-wise, the word souls is used) in the Lemurian epoch, and the context of the original sin
Freely translated excerpt
In the middle of the Lemurian epoch we have streams flowing together. The souls of humanity already existed but on another plane, where they had developed over seven races and rounds. ...
[In the Lemurian epoch] the first and second root races were still soul-less. Souls could not take hold of the bodies as the Earth was not ripe enough. ...
First the Earth had to produce mature bodies, so the degree of maturity matched that of the souls. So here we have two development streams that flow together. ...
- When we consider the earthly stream: only a few of the bodies were ripe enough that they could be inhabited by souls. Furthermore, the whole bodily development was thus that only very advanced souls knew how to do anything with these bodies. Hence we have here a group of men with very advanced souls. This is an exceptional human race of highly developed arhats, really a small share. The souls of these arhats were much advanced in comparison with the stream of normal development, they could foresee what the others would only achieve after much further developement. Hence they could lead humanity.
- Now the limited number of these excellent bodies was exhausted, and the others had to be content with inferior bodies. ... These bodies could only development so far as the atlantean, that is why they had to extinct.
- The primal semites were the basis for the fifth root race ... this is the third group.
- first group: very advanced arhats
- second group: received only a dull spirit and had to die out
- third group: that lags and comes behind just as bodies become available. From these are recruted the capable to develop up until beyond the fifth race and beyond.
The arhats are highly developed beings that, whenever they incarnate, stand much higher than any normal human being. They have the capability to live in the higher planes and communicate there, also receive orders there. Hence these were messengers of the gods, kings and leaders of humanity. At most they could attract a few mean to them, but overall the rest of men were guided rather unconsciously. This lasted throughout the Atlantean epoch.
Only those that develop from the primal semites are able to take fate in their hands .. and were ready to be taught by the messengers of the gods.
[follows Tantalos myth]
The Rishis were the first initiated Men, all the ones before were gods that had descended. Now a new phenomena occured with new beings: initiates that origine from Earth development itself .. and that could become leaders. .. Since then these have incarnated again and again, and are now called Masters. The sixth epoch will have the first beings that arose from humanity itself and that will lead humanity as Manu. This is a transition from the divine leaders to the human masters (or mahatmas).
And now this Manu is at the head of the spiritual scientific movement and preparing for the sixth rooth race. So in a way, what happens in the spiritual scientific movement is the same as what happened in the Atlantean epoch. Master Morya is the first human Manu that will found the sixth root race, whereas before this was done by divine messengers called arhats (or also called sons of the fire mist, while this was the state of the Earth in the Lemurian epoch).
[Note: text states 'theosophical' as this is an early lecture, we opted to here choose the generic term 'spiritual scientific' over 'anthroposophical']
on this topic, see Mysteries of the Spirit, the Son and the Father#1904-10-24-GA090A
This section below follows a description of the evolutionary cohorts and three types of beings in the Lemurian epoch, see lecture extract on Man in the Lemurian epoch, and continues with the beings that bring the budhi spark:
... Then we have those which threw the spark of budhi into the human being. These dhyani, which live on higher plane, are the ones which are called the Buddhas in a higher sense, or Christos in Christian terms. They are the fourth dhyani, the budhi dhyani. They are real gods.
We have now widened our horizon. The spark, which the budhi dhyani are there to give, can first of all be thrown into the solar pitris. Such a solar pitri, into whom the spark of budhi has been thrown, is called a bodhisattva.
At a much later time the spark of budhi was able to descend as far as the lunar pitris. The first lunar pitri who was filled with budhi and in whom human and godhead were united, was Jesus Christ. And there we have to consider that in Jesus Christ the budhi divinity had descended to the lowest level.
The budhi spark can descend as far as the kama manasic principle. The human being would then be a teacher. Buddha, Zarathustra, Krishna, Moses, Hermes and others were such teachers. Such individuals are born destined to be teachers.
Note in the excerpt below, the term 'monad' is used for the spiritual souls that descended onto the physical bodies on Earth.
SWCC (phrasing not changed but some sentences re-ordered for logical flow)
Thus we have the human being as he evolved from the unisexual into the bisexual state, and together with him bisexual animals, male and female. It was only through the Lunar Pitris that man became mature enough to have a body capable of receiving the Monads. The latter however selected only the most highly developed examples and evolved a noble human form; only these had to be withdrawn completely from intercourse with anything around them, otherwise the beautiful bodies would have been lost.
- It was only then that the body formed itself in accordance with the monad. In the middle of the Lemurian Age we find the first 'sons of the fire mist'; these incarnate in the fiery element, which at that time surrounded the Earth. These 'sons of the fire mist' were the first Arhats.
Then there arose the other two kinds. The other forms which were less advanced failed to satisfy the descending monad; hence they poured only a part of their spiritual force into the imperfect human bodies and the third stream utterly refused to incarnate. Because of this there existed very poorly endowed human bodies and also others quite devoid of spirit.
- In the first Lemurian human race those who had received only a small spark were little adapted to forming a civilisation and soon went under.
- On the other hand those who had received absolutely nothing found full expression for their lower nature. They mingled with the animals. From them proceeded the last Lemurian races. The wild, animal instincts lived in wild animal-like human forms. This brought about a degeneration of the entire human substance.
Had all human beings been fructified with monads, the whole human race would have greatly improved.
The first evil arose through the fact that certain monads refused to incarnate. From this, through intermingling, deterioration set in. In this way the human being suffered an essentially physical degradation.
Only in the Atlantean epoch did the monads regret their previous refusal; they came down and populated all mankind. In this way arose the various Atlantean races.
We have now reached a time when something happened to bring about the deterioration of the Earth. The wholesale deterioration of the races brought this about. It was then that the seed of karma was planted.
Everything that came later is the result of this original karma; for had the monads all entered into human forms at the right time, human beings would have possessed the certainty of animals, they could not have been subject to error, but they would not have been able to develop freedom. The original arhats could not go astray; they are angels in human form.
The Moon Adepts however had so brought things about that certain monads waited before incarnating. Through this the principle of asceticism entered into the world, reluctance to inhabit the Earth. This discrepancy between higher and lower nature arose at this time. Because of it Man became uncertain; he must now try things out, oscillating from one experience to another, in an attempt to find his way in the world. Because he had original karma, his own further karma came about. Now he could fall into error.
The intention was that Man should attain knowledge. This could only be brought about through the original karma. The Luciferic principle, the Moon Adepts, wanted to develop freedom and independence to an ever-greater degree. This is very beautifully expressed in the saga of Prometheus: Zeus will not allow human beings to get fire. Prometheus however gives them fire, the faculty of developing ever higher and higher. By so doing he condemns Man to suffering.
Man must now wait for the coming of a Sun Hero, until the Principle of the Sun Hero in the sixth race will make him able to develop further without Luciferic knowledge. Those endowed with this higher degree of advancement are like Prometheus, they are Sun Heroes.
describes the leadership of mankind
[Luciferic beings from Venus and Mercury]
We now ask: Who were the elemental Beings who helped man not to sink into the depths?
They are those mentioned in the last lecture, those who worked on Man when he had descended to the depths, and who led him again to the heights — the Luciferic beings. The Sun-Spirits did not yet work upon him, but those beings did who sacrificed themselves.
They moved among the people of the Earth in a very remarkable way. Outwardly they had a certain human form, for even the highest spirits have to incarnate in forms which are to be found on Earth, so these beings took upon them the external shape that was Man's at that time. They said: In form we are similar to man, but our true home is not on the Earth; it is upon the two intermediate planets, Venus and Mercury. The best part of their souls were on these planets, but their outward form, which in fact was a kind of illusion, was on Earth.
They gave to Man what he needed, namely, guidance and teaching, for the reason that their home was not on Earth, which was the first planet to be formed, but upon Venus and Mercury. These beings must be described as the first teachers, the first Initiates of humanity; outwardly they resembled the human beings of that time, but inwardly they possessed lofty and important qualities enabling them to work upon humanity as a whole, and also to work on the more advanced individuals in special schools, which were the first Mystery schools. There were always some of these more advanced individuals who had their home in the stars and who, although connected with the stars, had a human shape and walked among men.
Man himself continued to progress, and now passed on into the middle of the Atlantean epoch; the present human form only began to develop during the first half of that epoch; only then did Man begin to feel fully at home in it.
Now, there were some beings in those ancient times who were very low down in the scale of humanity; these became the backward races; there were others who kept themselves plastic; and, again, others who only occasionally inhabited human bodies.
What I am now about to describe happened very frequently in the first part of the Atlantean epoch.
Imagine a Man of that time who for an Atlantean was highly evolved; through certain procedures it frequently happened that such a Man was caused to separate his physical body (which was then very plastic) and his etheric and astral bodies from his more spiritual parts, which then withdrew more into the spiritual world so as later to take on another body.
It very frequently happened that, long before the physical, etheric and astral bodies were ready to die, they were willingly vacated by their soul and spirit-principles. These, when they had belonged to especially exalted individuals, were pure and good bodies. Highly spiritual beings then let themselves descend into these bodies; and so it frequently happened during the ancient Atlantean epoch that beings who were otherwise unable to incarnate on earth made use of such advanced bodies in order to descend among men. These were the beings who acted as great teachers in the Atlantean schools of initiation. They worked powerfully with the means available at that time.
[memories of Wotan, Thor, Zeus, Apollo]
When at that time Man left his physical body at night he had what may be called a dim clairvoyant consciousness; during the day the outline of objects was still indistinct, and there was no such clearly defined difference between the conditions of sleeping and waking as exists today. It happened, therefore, that the ordinary man beheld such an individual as I have described in an alternating manner — by day he saw him like a man, but at night he saw him quite otherwise, in a spiritual soul-like way, though he knew it was the same being who appeared to him by day in a physical body. These were beings belonging to Venus and Mercury who interposed into human existence and were with man day and night. The remembrance of these beings remained in the souls who incarnated again and again among the peoples of Europe, and they recalled them when they uttered the names Wotan, Thor, etc.
When the inhabitants of ancient Europe spoke of the Gods they were no imaginary figures to them, but memories of forms seen in Atlantis. In the same way, when the Greeks spoke of Zeus, Apollo, and Ares these were forms they had themselves perceived during the Atlantean epoch. Whereas in the Egyptian age memories of ancient Lemuria arose, in the Grecian age memories of the earthly experiences on Atlantis rose within the souls of the people.
We indicated the nature of this Impulse when we spoke about the long intermediate period of evolution in which Luciferic beings were preparing mankind, making him capable of receiving the Christ Impulse, so that the sun should not merely send down its force externally, but that inner forces should also stream into man from it. This period has not nearly come to an end; it is still in its beginning, for with the coming of Christ only the first impulse was given for the inwardly spiritual part of the sun to stream to earth in addition to the physical sunlight. Ever stronger will that light become, which as Spiritual Sunlight, or Christ-light, will irradiate mankind from within as the physical sunlight illuminates him from without.
In Postatlantean times men had not yet advanced so far that they could do without help from above, inspiration was still necessary; and a sort of ensouling still took place from above.
- have seen how such ensouling occurred in Lemurian times, because an Archai ensouled the physical body;
- in the Atlantean times the physical and the etheric bodies were ensouled by Archangels,
- and now the great leaders of the Postatlantean times were ensouled through an Angel descending into their physical, etheric and astral bodies.
The great leaders of humanity in the post-Atlantean times did not possess merely a physical, etheric and astral body, but an Angel also lived within them. Therefore, these great leaders could look back into their former incarnations. The ordinary man cannot do so as yet, because he has not yet developed his Manas; he must himself first become an Angel. These leaders, who were born out of the ordinary inhabitants, carried an Angelic Being within their physical, etheric and astral bodies, who ensouled and, interpenetrated them. This is again Maya, again we have Beings who are something different from what they appear to be on earth. The great leaders of humanity of grey antiquity were quite different from what they outwardly seemed to be. They were personalities in whom an Angel dwelt and gave what they needed, so that they might become Teachers and Leaders of men. The great founders of religions were men possessed by Angels. Angels spoke through them. The affairs of the world have to be described indeed as entirely regular, but the processes of development always slide one within the other, they overlap. That which we describe as exhibiting complete regularity does not work itself out with such regularity.
It is certainly true that, as a general principle, Archai did speak through human entities in the Lemurian times, Archangels in the Atlantean, and Angels in the Postatlantean times.
However also existed:
- But such beings arose, also even in the Postatlantean times, who were penetrated by an Archai down to their physical body, who, therefore, were in the same position, although they lived in the Postatlantean times, as were those beings through whom in Lemuria the Archai spoke. Thus it was possible to have men also in the Postatlantean times, who bore externally all the characteristics of their nation, but who, because humanity still needed such great leaders, carried within them an Archai (Spirit of Personality) - and who were the external incarnation of such a Spirit.
- Then there were also men in the Postatlantean times who had an Archangel, a Spirit of Mercury, within them, who ensouled their physical and etheric bodies.
- And lastly, a third category of men was ensouled, inspired in their physical, etheric and astral bodies by an Angel Being, one through whom an Angel spoke. In the spirit of the Eastern Teaching such personalities received particular names.
Thus a personality who outwardly resembles a man of our Postatlantean times, but who really is the bearer of an Archai, who is ensouled by that Spirit down to his physical body, is called Dhyani-Buddha in the Eastern Teaching. Dhyani-Buddha is a generic name for human individualities in whom the Spirits of Personality are active, even as far as their physical body.
- Those personalities who are ensouled down to their etheric body, who were bearers of Archangels in the post-Atlantean times, are called Bodhi-Sattva
- And those who are the bearers of an Angel, who are, therefore, ensouled in their physical, etheric and astral bodies, are called human Buddhas
Thus we have three degrees: that of the Dhyani-Buddha, the Bodhi-Sattva and the human Buddha.
This is the true teaching of the Buddhas, of the classes and categories of Buddhas, which we have to recognise in connection with the whole manner and means by which the Hierarchies fulfil their ends. This is the marvel which meets us, when we look back to earlier undeveloped men, that among these men we find those, through whom the Hierarchies speak The great Hierarchies speak out of the Cosmos downwards into the Planets, and only by degrees do these Spirits of the higher Hierarchies, who were active before the appearance of our earth, emancipate the planetary men who live down here, when they have reached the necessary degree of ripeness. Here we gaze into unfathomable depths of wisdom. And what is of extraordinary importance is, that we understand this wisdom exactly as it was taught in all the ages, when primeval wisdom was taught to men.
Thus, when you hear of the Buddhas, for they do not speak of the one Buddha only in the Eastern teaching, but of many, among whom there are naturally different grades of perfection — give attention to the fact: a Buddha walks on earth, but behind the Buddha, was the Bodhi-Sattva and even the Dhyani-Buddha.
Matters, however, might be so, that the Dhyani-Buddha or the Bodhi-Sattva did not reach so far as to ensoul the physical body, but that the Bodhi-Sattva descended only as far as to be able to ensoul the etheric body, so that you can imagine a Being who does not reach so far as to ensoul and inspire the mans physical body, but only the etheric body.
It can, however, happen when such a Bodhi-Sattva is not physically visible (for when he appears only in an etheric body he is not physically visible, and there were such Bodhi-Sattva who were physically invisible) that he can, as a higher Being, inspire quite exceptionally the human Buddha. So that we have the human Buddha, who is already inspired by an Angelic Being, being further inspired in his etheric body by an Archangel Being.
It is essential that we should look into this wonderful complexity of the human nature. Many Individualities to whom we look back into former times can only be understood, when we accept them as the meeting point of different higher Beings, who proclaim and express themselves through the man. For, in truth, many periods do not possess a sufficient number of great men to be inspired by the Spirits who have to be active. Thus sometimes one single personality has to be ensouled by different individualities of the higher Hierarchies. And sometimes it is not only the inhabitants of Mercury who speak with us, when we have a certain personality standing before us, but the inhabitants of Venus also.
Such ideas lead us to the understanding of human evolution, so that we may recognise the true nature of those personalities who, when met as physical men, represent merely Maya. Tomorrow we shall begin by trying to comprehend the origin of each individual planet, which up to now we have considered only as boundary marks, and then we shall gain an idea of them as the dwelling-places of the corresponding spiritual beings.
Whilst human beings all over the Earth are born again and again and can thus always come to an experience of the Christ Impulse in their incarnations after the time of Christ, the Buddha attained in pre-Christian times the stage of evolution which removed from him the necessity of returning any more into an Earthly body. This means that the Buddha belongs therefore to the very small number of human beings who lived on the Earth and then left it, before Christ came.
And you may want to know, what is the relation of the Christ to Buddha?
Apart from what I mentioned yesterday, that Buddha shone down from higher worlds into the astral body of the Luke Jesus Child, how do the Christ and Buddha stand to one another? Is it actually so, that Buddha left the Earth before Christ was on the Earth? that he took his way to Mars, so that the Buddha and Christ so to speak passed one another?
I explained to you [earlier] how the Christ was united with the Sun. In point of fact it was only through the baptism by John, or rather through the Mystery of Golgotha itself, that the Christ came into union with the Earth. The Christ is therefore a Sun Spirit and we have to look for Him, before the Mystery of Golgotha took place on Earth, in close connection with His Kingdom, the Sun. Zarathustra sought Him there. And it is during the time when Christ is working as Ruler in the kingdom of the Sun, when He has not yet extended His rulership to the Earth — at all events, not yet by means of His Impulse — that the life of Buddha takes its course on Earth. And now we must turn back to the earlier incarnations of Buddha, if we would arrive at the truth in this matter. We know that Buddha was before a Bodhisattva; he worked on Earth through long periods of time as Bodhisattva. These Bodhisattvas had in them no ordinary human soul. Their case was quite a special one.
You must here call to mind the description in Occult Science of the beginning of Earth evolution, — how, after the interval between Moon and Earth, the Sun was re-united with Earth and the other planets, and how they all then separated again, being shed, as it were, like a husk or shell one after the other. (See also my lecture cycle on the Spiritual Hierarchies.) There was, therefore, at one time the condition in which the Earth was united with the Sun. Then Earth and Sun separated, and you know that after that came the separation also of the Moon, and the strengthening of the Earth through souls coming from other planets.
Let us now fix our attention on the point of time when the Sun has just separated from the Earth. When this separation took place, the two planets Venus and Mercury — I am giving them their astronomical names — were still within the Sun. The Earth alone separated off, Venus and Mercury remaining within the Sun. We have therefore now Sun and Earth. On Earth, evolution continues.
Only a small number of human beings remain behind; others go up to the planets, to return again later on. With the Sun went also beings; for the world does not consist just of external matter, but of beings. Beings went with the Sun when it separated from the Earth. And their Leader is the Christ. For at the time in Earth evolution when the Sun separated from the Earth, What one may call the taking precedence by the Christ over Lucifer and the other planetary spirits had already come to fulfilment.
Then later on, Venus separated, and Mercury.
Let us consider for a moment the exit of Venus from the Sun. Together with Venus are beings who had also at first gone with the Sun but were not able to remain there. These break away and inhabit Venus. Among them is the being who stands behind the later Buddha. He went as a messenger from the Christ to the dwellers on Venus. The Christ sent him to Venus, and here on Venus Buddha passed through all manner of stages of evolution.
Later on, souls came back from Venus to Earth.
- The ordinary human souls were of course but little developed.
- Buddha, however, who also descended to Earth with the Venus souls, was a highly evolved being, — so highly evolved that he could at once become a Bodhisattva and afterwards early a Buddha.
Thus we have in Buddha one who had long ago been sent out by Christ and had the task of preparing the work of Christ on Earth. For his mission to the Venus men had this meaning, — that he should go to Earth beforehand, as a forerunner of the Sun.
Nirmanakaya and the bodies of a Bodhisattva
To be added: the Trikaya or three bodies of a Bodhisattva
- Nirmanakaya (see also workings of Buddha and John the Baptist)
- as well as Dharmakaya and Sambhogakaya
References oa :
When the astral body is completely transformed the etheric body becomes a counterpart of it. This is Nirmana Kaya when no remnants are left in the astral world. Zarathustra penetrated the astral body of Hermes Dharmakaya.
Of a Being such as the Bodhisattva who became Buddha, we said — and this is the teaching of all who know: When a Being passes through this stage he has had his last incarnation on the Earth, for his whole nature is contained within a human body. Such a Being never again incarnates in this sense. Hence when the Buddha became aware of the significance of his present existence, he could say: ‘This is my last incarnation; I shall not again incarnate on the Earth!’ — It would however be erroneous to think that such a Being then withdraws altogether from Earth-existence. True, he does not enter directly into a physical body but he assumes another body — of an astral or etheric nature — and so continues to send his influences into the world. The way in which such a Being who has passed through the last incarnation belonging to his own destiny continues to work in the world, may be understood by thinking of the following facts. An ordinary human being, consisting of physical body, etheric body, astral body and I, can be permeated by such a Being. It is possible for a Being of this rank, who no longer descends into a physical body but still has an astral body, to be membered into the astral body of another human being. This man may well become a personality of importance, for the forces of a Being who has already passed through his last incarnation on the Earth are now working in him. Thus an astral Being unites with the astral nature of some individual on the Earth. Such a union may take place in a most complicated way. When the Buddha appeared to the shepherds in the picture of the ‘heavenly host’, he was not in a physical body but in an astral body. He had assumed a body in which he could still send his influences to the Earth. Thus in the case of a Being who has become a Buddha, we distinguish three bodies:
1. The body he has before he attains Buddhahood, when he is still working from above as a Bodhisattva; it is a body that does not contain in itself all the powers at his command; he still lives in spiritual heights and is linked with his earlier mission as was the Bodhisattva before his mission became the Buddha's mission. As long as such a Being is living in a body of this nature, his body is called a ‘Dharmakaya’;
2. The body which such a Being builds as his own and through which he brings to expression, in the physical body, everything he has within him. This body is called the ‘body of perfection’, ‘Sambhogakaya’.
3. The body which such a Being assumes, after he has passed through the stage of perfection and can work from above in the way described. This body is called a Nirmanakaya’.
We can therefore say that the ‘Nirmanakaya’ of Buddha appeared to the shepherds in the picture of the angelic host. Buddha appeared in the radiance of his Nirmanakaya and revealed himself in this way to the shepherds. But he was to find further ways of working into the events in Palestine at this crucial point of time.