Dhyani-Buddha

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Dhyani-Buddha is a Sanskrit compound term from dhyāni ("contemplative, one who meditates") and buddha (an "awakened one" or "the enlightened one"), which could be translated as "Buddha of Contemplation"[1]. In Vajrayana Buddhism, there are five Dhyani-Buddhas, namely Akṣobhya, Amitābha, Amoghasiddhi, Ratnasaṃbhava, and Vairocana.

The five Dhyani-Buddhas are based on the Yogācāra teachings concerning the Trikaya (Sanskrit Tri: "three", and kaya: "body") doctrine, which posits three "bodies" of the Buddha. The Dhyani-Buddhas are all aspects of the dharmakaya or "truth-body", which embodies the principle of enlightenment.

Theosophical View

General description

Regarding the origin of the Dhyani-Buddhas, H. P. Blavatsky explained the following:

In the esoteric, and even exoteric Buddhism of the North, Adi-Buddha (Chogi dangpoi sangye), the One unknown, without beginning or end, identical with Parabrahm and Ain-Soph, emits a bright ray from its darkness.
This is the Logos (the first), or Vajradhara, the Supreme Buddha (also called Dorjechang). As the Lord of all Mysteries he cannot manifest, but sends into the world of manifestation his heart—the “diamond heart,” Vajrasattva (Dorjesempa). This is the second logos of creation, from whom emanate the seven (in the exoteric blind the five) Dhyani Buddhas, called the Anupadaka, “the parentless.” These Buddhas are the primeval monads from the world of incorporeal being, the Arupa world, wherein the Intelligences (on that plane only) have neither shape nor name, in the exoteric system, but have their distinct seven names in esoteric philosophy.[2]

The Dhyani-Buddhas are thus the seven primordial rays emanated from the second Logos. The latter is said to be unmanifested-manifest, and the reference to it in this context should probably be taken as referring to its unmanifested aspect:

The former [Dhyāni-Buddhas] only are called Anupadaka, parentless, because they radiated directly from that which is neither Father nor Mother but the unmanifested Logos. They are, in fact, the spiritual aspect of the seven Logoi; and the Planetary Spirits are in their totality, as the seven Sephiroth.[3]

In another quote, Mme. Blavatsky said that the Atmic or Auric plane correspond to the Kosmic Dhyāni-Buddhas, who are said to be in the Dharmakāya state:

The Âtmic or Auric state or locality. It radiates directly from the periodical manifestation in ABSOLUTENESS, and is the first something in the Universe. Its correspondence in Kosmos is the hierarchy of non-substantial primordial beings, in a place which is no state. This hierarchy contains the primordial plane, all that was, is, and will be, from the beginning to the end of the Mahâmanvantara; all is there. This statement should not, however, be taken to imply fatality, kismet: the latter is contrary to all the teachings of Occultism. Here are the hierarchies of the Dhyâni-Buddhas. Their state is that of Para-Samâdhi, of the Dharmakâya; a state where no progress is possible. The entities there may be said to be crystallized in purity, in homogeneity.[4]

Because these Dhyanis are the highest on the scale of manifestation, they are related to the higher human principles: "The 'Dhyani-Buddhas' are concerned with the human higher triad in a mysterious way that need not be explained here".[5] In fact, each monad is said to be part of the essence of a Dhyani-Buddha.[6]

Evolutionary role

The Dhyani-Buddhas are involved in growth of humanity in different ways. One of them is to "watch" over the development of the different evolutionary cycles:

In the Esoteric System, the Dhyanis watch successively over one of the Rounds and the great Root-races of our planetary chain.[7]
Every class or hierarchy corresponds to one of the Rounds, the first and lowest hierarchy to the first and less developed Round, the second to the second, and so on till the seventh Round is reached, which is under the supervision of the highest Hierarchy of the Seven Dhyanis.[8]

In this function, they are known as the "watchers" or the "architects". They remain active during the whole Planetary manvantara, and can rest--

Only at the end of the seventh Round, and not between each round, for they have to watch over the working of the laws during these minor pralayas.[9]

Now, "there are incarnating and there are watching Dhyanis", although we must remember that "all these differences in fact are merely functional, for they are all aspects of one and the same Essence".[10]

They incarnating Dhyanis appear on Earth during every Round and Race[11] through their emanations, the celestial Bodhisattvas:

These Dhyani Buddhas emanate, or create from themselves, by virtue of Dhyana, celestial Selves—the super-human Bodhisattvas. These incarnating at the beginning of every human cycle on earth as mortal men, become occasionally, owing to their personal merit, Bodhisattvas among the Sons of Humanity, after which they may re-appear as Manushi (human) Buddhas. The Anupadaka (or Dhyani-Buddhas) are thus identical with the Brahminical Manasaputra, “mind-born sons”—whether of Brahmâ or either of the other two Trimurtian Hypostases, hence identical also with the Rishis and Prajâpatis.[12]

Although Tibetan Buddhism mentions five Dhyani-Buddhas, the Theosophical literature talks about seven ("or, rather, the Seven Hierarchies of these Dhyanis"[13]). The reason given is that although there are seven hierarchies in total, they become active progressively as the evolutionary cycles go on. Thus, on this Globe...

...five only have hitherto manifested, and two are to come in the sixth and seventh Root-races. They are, so to speak, the eternal prototypes of the Buddhas who appear on this earth, each of whom has his particular divine prototype."[14]

However, this is said to be only a figurative way of speaking. As Mme. Blavatsky further explained:

This is, again, semi-allegorical, if not entirely so. For the sixth and seventh Hierarchies have been already incarnated on this earth together with the rest. But as they have reached “Buddhaship,” so called, almost from the beginning of the fourth Root-Race, they are said to rest since then in conscious bliss and freedom till the beginning of the Seventh Round, when they will lead Humanity as a new race of Buddhas.[15]

It seems that even the "watchers" incarnate at the beginning and the beginning and the end of major evolutionary cycles:

The Dhyani-Buddhas of the two higher groups, namely, the “Watchers” or the “Architects,” furnished the many and various races with divine kings and leaders. It is the latter who taught humanity their arts and sciences, and the former who revealed to the incarnated Monads that had just shaken off their vehicles of the lower Kingdoms—and who had, therefore, lost every recollection of their divine origin—the great spiritual truths of the transcendental worlds.[16]
At the last, they will appear on earth, as also will some of the Planetary, for the whole humanity will have become Bodhisattvas, their own “sons,” i.e., the “Sons” of their own Spirit and Essence or—themselves.[17]

In Tibetan Buddhism

The term "dhyani-buddhas" was first recorded in English by the British Resident in Nepal, Brian Hodgson, in the early 19th century, and is unattested in any surviving traditional primary sources. In Vajrayana Buddhism they are frequently called Five Tathāgatas (pañcatathāgata) or Five Wisdom Tathāgatas (pinyin: Wǔzhì Rúlái), the Five Great Buddhas and the Five Jinas (Sanskrit for "conqueror" or "victor"). They are emanations and representations of the five qualities of the Adi-Buddha ("first Buddha")--or Vajradhara, which is associated with Dharmakaya.

Their names are: Vairocana (depicted in mandalas at the center, as the Principal deity/meditator), Amoghasiddhi (North), Amitābha (West), Akshobhya (East), and Ratnasambhava (South).

The Five Tathāgatas have their consorts as well as Dhyani-Bodhisattvas, as follows:

  • Vairocana (consort: White Tara or Dharmadhatvishvari, Dhyani-Bodhisattva: Samantabhadra)
  • Akshobhya (Locanā, Vajrapani)
  • Amitābha (Pandara, Avalokiteśvara)
  • Ratnasaṃbhava (Mamaki, Ratnapani)
  • Amoghasiddhi (Green Tara, Viśvapāni)

See also

Online resources

Articles

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 109.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 571.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 344-345.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 665.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964), 341.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 573.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 42.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964), 344.
  9. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964), 344.
  10. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964), 344.
  11. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 42.
  12. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 571.
  13. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964), 343.
  14. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 108.
  15. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964), 343.
  16. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 267.
  17. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964), 344.