Enlightenment Basics

Enlightenment Basics from the Akasha


Douglas recommends the article on Buddha below and also makes reference to the 3 volumes of the Gospel of Sophia.

Rudolf Steiner on Buddhism

Rudolf Steiner on Enlightenment

“My book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment stems from ancient traditions. Because it is essential that the truth become known, the guiding spirits of evolution have given permission for the publication of these rules.”      

Rudolf Steiner

The Lamrim is not the only Buddhist path that claims to offer the quickest path to enlightenment. Through the ancient teachings of the Bonpo religion, revealed through the Buddha Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche, there is a short path to enlightenment called Lojong, which builds its structure upon the Bonpo teachings of Dzogchen. Dzogchen is supposedly the easiest and quickest path to illumination leading to enlightenment taught in Bon and Nyingma Buddhist schools of philosophy. The steps to enlightenment are simple and threefold according to the Buddhist teacher Dawa Gyaltsen who said: “Vision is mind. Mind is empty. Emptiness is clear light. Clear light is union. Union is great bliss.” Other Dzogchen teachings concerning the path to enlightenment indicate that once a teacher has prepared you, all that is left is to ‘learn to see the light, hear the sounds, understand the words.’ This can be accomplished without mantras, vajra tools, tantric deities, or other Buddhist spiritual practices. The Dzogchen master need only meditate on empty space, the Sun, or manifestations of the spirits through lights, sounds, and words.

It is our belief that Rudolf Steiner was fully aware of the translations of Tibetan texts that revealed these secret teachings to the West. Through his association with H. P. Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine, Steiner was well versed in Eastern teachings, particularly those Lamrim teachings that have filtered into Blavatsky’s works from the Tibetan texts she called The Golden Book of Precepts. In fact the Dalai Lama, who was incarnated at the time of Blavatsky, recognized her teachings as originating from Tibetan Buddhism. Steiner took those teachings and modernized them and added the most important missing detail – the nature of the Cosmic Christ. Thus, the ‘striving for enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings’ may be a path Christians can also walk. Therefore, studying Steiner’s Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment is a type of Lamrim, Lojang, Dzogchen, and path to enlightenment all rolled up into a Christian Cosmology. Steiner uses that very word – enlightenment – to describe what he is teaching in this book.

We further believe that other writings and teachings of Rudolf Steiner also build upon the ancient wisdom of the past, especially Tibetan Buddhism. We find the evidence for this idea in his book, The Stages of Higher Knowledge, which builds upon what he revealed in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment. In fact, part of the indications given by Steiner in The Stages of Higher Knowledge are very similar to the teachings of Lojong. The Buddhist Lojong is similar to the Buddhist Lamrim in that it teachings how to work with the three higher spiritual bodies called: Manas, Buddhi, and Atman – Rudolf Steiner called them Spirit Self, Life Spirit, and Spirit Man. They are descriptions of the same three higher spirit bodies found in the human constitution. Therefore, we thought it might be helpful to present the Lojong as another useful guide to the path of awakening the higher self.

We have previously discussed the nature of the path to enlightenment in our article, Steiner and Buddhism, where we demonstrate many similarities between the Buddhist path of enlightenment and the path of Preparation, Enlightenment, and Initiation given by Dr. Steiner in Knowledge of Higher Worlds and Its Attainment. We pointed out in that article that the Buddhist Lamrim stages of the path to enlightenment are expanded by Steiner’s contributions to these descriptions of ascension which refocus the spiritual path to be germane to our times. Any objective comparison between the two – the Lamrim and Knowledge of Higher Worlds – will show Steiner’s path to be “new and improved” and completely cognizant of the ancient teaching concerning preparation, enlightenment, and spiritual initiation. As a matter of fact, Steiner goes beyond the Enlightenment/Nirvana (Spirit Self – Manas) of Gautama Buddha and takes the next steps into Paranirvana (Life Spirit – Buddhi) and Mahaparanirvana (Spirit Man – Atman) to complete the ascension into the higher three spirit realms. Rudolf Steiner also calls these realms “Moral Imagination, Moral Inspiration, and Moral Intuition”, which are the higher forms of thinking, feeling, and willing.

In his book on enlightenment and initiation, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds And Its Attainment (GA 10), Rudolf Steiner defines and explains what he means by the word enlightenment:

“Many believe that they must seek, at one place or another, the masters of higher knowledge in order to receive enlightenment. Now in the first place, whoever strives earnestly after higher knowledge will shun no exertion and fear no obstacle in his search for an initiate who can lead him to the higher knowledge of the world.

Spiritual Science gives the means of developing the spiritual ears and eyes, and of kindling the spiritual light; and this method of spiritual training: (1) Preparation; this develops the spiritual senses. (2) Enlightenment; this kindles the spiritual light. (3) Initiation; this establishes intercourse with the higher spiritual beings. It is not altogether necessary that the first of these three stages should be completed before the second can be begun, nor that the second, in turn, be completed before the third be started. In certain respects it is possible to partake of enlightenment, and even of initiation, and in other respects still be in the preparatory stage. Yet it will be necessary to spend a certain time in the stage of preparation before any enlightenment can begin; and, at least in some respects, enlightenment must be completed before it is even possible to enter upon the stage of initiation.

Enlightenment proceeds from very simple processes. Here, too, it is a matter of developing certain feelings and thoughts which slumber in every human being and must be awakened. It is only when these simple processes are carried out with unfailing patience, continuously and conscientiously, that they can lead to the perception of the inner light-forms. The first step is taken by observing different natural objects in a particular way; for instance, a transparent and beautifully formed crystal, a plant, and an animal. By sinking deeply into such thoughts, and while doing so, observing the stone and the animal with rapt attention, there arise in the soul two quite separate kinds of feelings. Out of these feelings and the thoughts that are bound up with them, the organs of clairvoyance are formed. The organs thus formed are spiritual eyes. The students gradually learns, by their means, to see something like soul and spirit colors. The spiritual world with its lines and figures remains dark as long as he has only attained what has been described as preparation; through enlightenment this world becomes light. Every stone, every plant, every animal has its own particular shade of color. In addition to these there are also the beings of the higher worlds who never incarnate physically, but who have their colors, often wonderful, often horrible. Indeed, the wealth of color in these higher worlds is immeasurably greater than in the physical world.

Once the faculty of seeing with spiritual eyes has been acquired, one then encounters sooner or later the beings here mentioned, some of them higher, some lower than man himself – beings that never enter physical reality. If this point has been reached, the way to a great deal lies open. Moreover, if a man has the strength and the endurance to travel so far that he fulfills the elementary conditions of enlightenment, he will assuredly seek and find the right guidance. Throughout his training he must continually increase his moral strength, his inner purity, and his power of observation. Without patience no genuine results can be attained.”

We can see from Steiner’s definition and description of enlightenment that it is quite different than the Western esoteric student’s understanding of the term. If, as Steiner indicates, enlightenment should come before initiation, then enlightenment must be more common than one might think. Enlightenment – otherwise called Moral Imagination by Steiner – is a step towards the spirit, not the final step or the “be all and end all” of spiritual development. Enlightenment/Moral Imagination is the first of three steps to claim the higher spiritual nature of the human being – Moral Imagination/Spirit Self, Moral Inspiration/Life Spirit, and Moral Intuition/Spirit Man. As Steiner pointed out concerning the enlightenment of Buddha – which opened Buddha to the stage of Nirvana – ‘it was a first step.’ Buddhi doesn’t really teach his students how to get to Paranirvana/Life Spirit, or Mahaparanirvana/Spirit Man. It takes the embodiment of all three higher spiritual bodies to attain Buddhahood. During ascension through the Life Spirit realm, the initiate must directly meet the Cosmic Christ, which is not usually understood to be part of Buddha’s teachings. Thus, enlightenment for a Christian is only a prior stage before initiation and direct communion with higher beings.

Steiner’s view of enlightenment makes it plain that it is not the end goal – it is a rung on a tall ladder. In The Gospel of St. Mark (lecture four of series) Steiner makes it perfectly clear that Buddha had a preliminary mission upon which Christ built further:

“The Buddha gave heavenly enlightenment to his pupils; Christ in His parables gave earthly enlightenment to the crowd.”

Enlightenment for Steiner and other Christians is much more attainable than the nebulous “Nirvana” and “Enlightenment” of Gautama Buddha, as generally understood in Western esotericism. Enlightenment is simply a preliminary on the path of spiritual initiation, just as Preparation is a preliminary for Enlightenment.

In a lecture given by Rudolf Steiner in Berlin entitled:The Inner Development of Man (December 15, 1904, GA 53), we are given another description of enlightenment according to Anthroposophy:

“The three stages of occult schooling are called Preparation (Catharsis), Enlightenment, and Initiation. During the first stage or level, man’s being is prepared in such a manner as to allow the delicate structures of the soul to emerge. On the level of enlightenment man gains the means of perceiving in the soul realm, and through initiation he attains the faculty of expressing himself in the spirit realm.”

In other words, preparation and enlightenment are pre-requisites to initiation, which is much more involved and requires more than the initial feelings of esteem, reverence, devotion, wonder, and awe developed in the preparation stage. Preparation prepares the chalice to be empty so that it can be filled with light, sound, words, and communion with the hierarchy. In Buddhism they call these the results of ascension – seeing lights, hearing sounds, understanding words of spirit beings from the hierarchical ranks above us (lights, sounds, rays, and the language of the spirit).

This preparation for ascension to become vessels who can see (lights), hear (sounds), and speak (rays/words) with the spirits beyond the threshold is necessary before the effects of initiation begin in the aspirant. These lights, sounds, and words are the methods whereby the spirit teaches the student. Steiner calls them Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition. He again defines enlightenment and initiation and describes these new senses of light, sound, and word in a lecture given in Berlin on December 15, 1904, entitled The Inner Development of Man (GA 53):

“Human individuality and that of cosmic beings is profound, unfathomably profound. One cannot achieve anything in this area save by patience, perseverance, and loving devotion toward the cosmic powers. These are forces which, like electricity in the external world, are powerful in the internal world. They are not only moral forces but forces of cognition. When the aspirant for enlightenment has become proficient in allowing such truths to dwell within his being for some time, if he has accepted them in thankfulness toward those who revealed them to him, then he will at last reach a special point, which sooner or later becomes available to everybody who has allowed tranquility and silence to come to fruition in his soul. This is the moment when his soul begins to speak, when his own inner being begins to perceive the great, eternal truths. Then, suddenly the world around him lights up in colors never seen before. Something becomes audible that he had never heard before. The world will radiate in a new light. New sounds and words will become audible. This new light and radiance ray toward him from the soul realm and the new sounds he hears come to him from the spirit realm. It is characteristic of the soul world that one “sees” it. It is equally characteristic of the spirit world that one “hears” it.

The three stages of occult schooling are called preparation (catharsis), enlightenment, and initiation. During the first stage or level, man’s being is prepared in such a manner as to allow the delicate structures of the soul to emerge. On the level of enlightenment man gains the means of perceiving in the soul realm, and through initiation he attains the faculty of expressing himself in the spirit realm.”

Later in the same lecture, The Inner Development of Man, Rudolf Steiner makes it perfectly clear that he is linking onto prior streams of esotericism when he releases mystery wisdom concerning preparation, enlightenment, and initiation. We should not be surprised that the content of Steiner’s teachings can also be found in ancient teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. Steiner amplifies the material, updating it with Christianity and expanding the content to meet the needs of the modern spiritual aspirant but clearly connecting his instructions (rules) with past traditions:

“If self-development is sought for in this area, then part of it comes about through obedience to and observation of a great sum of rules and directions. The rules presented in this book were never made public in former times when, it must be understood, occult instruction was only taught in occult schools. Such instruction is still being given out in occult schools today because it is an intimate teaching process that takes place between two persons. The rules that are put down in the book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment, stem from ancient traditions. Because it is essential that the truth become known, the guiding spirits of evolution have given permission for the publication of these rules. Still, it is only possible to publish a certain amount. The rest had to be excluded because the most important rules can only be disclosed by word of mouth.

What is found in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment is apart from other books of instruction in that it is harmless. Only those guidelines are disclosed that cannot do damage to a person, even if they are not followed with patience and perseverance. They can do no harm even if a person practices them improperly. This had to be mentioned because the question has arisen as to why and by what authority a set of esoteric rules was published.”

It is quite important to remember that the ancient traditions were given before the Mystery of Golgotha, the incarnation of Christ in Jesus of Nazareth, and thus need to be re-enliven for our times before they are fully useful in the direct perception of the spiritual world where Christ is appearing in the etheric realm as a ‘Second Coming.’ Enlightenment is not fully possible without encountering Christ in the etheric body of the human being and the Earth. Buddha did not teach about the Life Spirit realm while he was incarnated on the Earth because it is the realm where Christ works in a most powerful way and reigns as king upon the throne of New Jerusalem. Therefore, no enlightenment or initiation is complete without the understanding of the Cosmic Christ. Rudolf Steiner makes that clear in what he says about Christ and enlightenment in lecture six of his lecture course entitled: Three Streams of Human Evolution, Augustus and the Roman Catholic Church, Rhetoric, Intellectual Soul and Consciousness Soul (October 13, 1918, GA 184):

“Thus today, in the first third of the twentieth century, we are facing the approach of an important event for mankind. It is not an event now in the physical world, but an event that will come to men as a kind of enlightenment, reaching them before the first third of the twentieth century has run out. If the phrase is not misunderstood, one can call it the reappearance of Christ Jesus. But Christ Jesus will not appear in external life, as at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, but will work in man and be felt supersensibly. He is present in the etheric body. Those who are prepared can constantly experience Him in visions, constantly receive His counsel; in a certain sense they can enter into a direct personal relation with Him.”

The Stages of Higher Knowledge

In the Preface to The Stages of Higher Knowledge, Marie Steiner tells us that in the 1904 Lucifer-Gnosis magazine articles appeared what later became the book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment. A continuation of these articles appeared under the title, The Stages of Higher Knowledge. They were intended, later on, to be formed into a second volume in continuation of Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment. In other words, the ‘path to Enlightenment and Initiation’ continued in The Stages of Higher Knowledge which describes the realm of Nirvana (Spirit Self-Imagination) that one attains through Enlightenment. Even beyond this realm of Enlightenment (Nirvana-Imagination), Steiner describes the realms of Paranirvana (Life Spirit-Inspiration), and Mahaparanirvana (Spirit Man-Intuition) which are also known as Manas, Buddhi, and Atman – or in the Buddhist traditions as Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Dharmakaya. These three future “bodies” of the human being are the redeemed and spiritualized astral, etheric, and physical bodies of the human constitution. They are realms where angels, archangels, and archai live and work. These are the realms Steiner calls Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition and are directly linked to the three higher egos of the human being.

Marie Steiner tells us in the Preface to the book The Stages of Higher Knowledge, that Steiner has created a “science of initiation:”

“Rudolf Steiner created a science of initiation in which henceforth every serious, morally striving human being can find the fundament that carries him; he will be able to take hold of the elements that sharpen his power of discrimination while new worlds open up to him. He need not grope uncertainly, having received enough instruction to guide him until he finds the leader in the lands of spirit. This was not the case before Rudolf Steiner began his spiritual work. His deed is the science of initiation. Through it is revealed what lay hidden in the Mysteries of the ancient temples: namely, alongside the knowledge of cosmic evolution, the knowledge of the imminent descent of Christ, and what was sealed up in the Church: the redeeming deed of the liberation of mankind through the Christ and the gradual permeation of the ego of the individual with His power. Instead of personal guidance, the requirement now is that the human being find the way to the Ego of Mankind, to the Christ, through the forces of the Time Spirit [the Archangel Michael acting as our current Archai]. The consciousness of the individual human being is made mature for the acceptance of the higher ego force; self-consciousness is raised to Spirit Self.”

We find in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds the “rules” for the path of enlightenment and the many helpful words of guidance needed to attain enlightenment. Steiner carried those rules further in his other “basic” books that were written as his testimony to enlightenment and spiritual initiation. You can find the golden thread of ancient mystery teachings throughout these

books and it clearly indicates to the reader that this wisdom is newly-packaged, ancient secret teachings. No clearer demonstration of this reality is found in The Stages of Higher Knowledge, which somewhat mirror the secret teachings of Dzogchen — the Bonpo and Tibetan Buddhist ‘quickest path to enlightenment.’ Just as Knowledge of the Higher Worlds is similar to the Tibetan Buddhist practice towards enlightenment called Lamrin, so too the book The Stages of Higher Knowledge is similar in form and content to the Dzogchen practice called Lojong. We will be able to see this first-hand by comparing some of the content of both Steiner’s book and the ancient practice of Lojong.

Below is a chronological list of Rudolf Steiner’s “basic books” that reference spiritual development and the processes of preparation, enlightenment, and initiation. Reading them in the proper order will clearly show that Dr. Steiner was laying down the new path to modern enlightenment and spiritual initiation.

  • Theosophy, 1904 GA 9
  • Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, 1904, GA 10, (A.K.A. The Way of Initiation, Initiation and Its Results)
  • The Stages of Higher Knowledge, 1905, GA 12
  • An Outline of Occult Science, 1910, GA 13
  • The Spiritual Guidance of Mankind, 1911, GA 15
  • A Road to Self Knowledge, 1912, GA 16
  • The Threshold of the Spiritual World, 1918, GA 17
  • Three Stages of Anthroposophy – Cosmology, Religion, Philosophy, 1922, GA 25

We present in the selections below, the content of The Stages of Higher Knowledge that are quite similar to the Lojong practice of enlightenment of the Bonpo and Nyingmapa Traditions of Buddhism. Rudolf Steiner published his book in Berlin in 1905, and it can be found in the collected works under GA 12.

“In my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, the path to higher knowledge has been traced up to the meeting with the two Guardians of the Threshold. The relation in which the soul stands to the different worlds as it passes through the successive stages of knowledge will now be described. What will be given may be called ‘the teachings of occult science.’

Before man enters upon the path of higher knowledge, he knows only the first of four stages of cognition. This stage is the one he occupies in ordinary life in the world of the senses. Even inwhat is called science, we have to do only with this first stage of knowledge. In occult science this first stage of knowledge is called the “material mode of cognition.” This is followed by three higher stages, and there are still others beyond these. These stages of knowledge shall be described here before proceeding with the description of the “path of knowledge.”

Considering the ordinary method of scientific cognition, of apprehension through the senses as the first stage, we shall have to differentiate the following four stages:

1. Material knowledge,

2. Imaginative knowledge,

3. Inspirational knowledge – “of the nature of will”, and

4. Intuitive knowledge.

It must first be made quite clear what is significant in these different modes of cognition. In the ordinary sense, the knowledge of four elements are to be considered: (1) the object, which makes an impression upon the senses; (2) the image, which the human being forms of this object; (3) the concept, through which the human being arrives at a spiritual comprehension of an object or an event; (4) the ego, which forms for itself the image and concept based on the impression of the object.

Therefore in “material cognition” four elements have to be considered: sensation, image, concept, ego. At the next higher stage of knowledge, the impression made upon the outer senses, the “sensation,” falls away. There is no longer any outer sensory object. Of the elements to which man is accustomed in ordinary knowledge there remains only the three: image, concept, and ego.

Ordinary knowledge in a healthy individual creates no image and no concept when an object does not confront the outer senses. The ego then remains inactive. Whoever forms images of which the corresponding sensory objects do not actually exist lives in fantasy. But the occult student acquires this very faculty of forming images without the stimulus of external sensory objects. With him something else must take the place of outer objects. He must be able to form images although no object touches his senses. Something must step in to replace sensation. This something is Imagination. At this stage, images appear to the occult student in exactly the same way as if a sensory object were making an impression upon him. They are as vivid and true as sensory images, yet they are not of material, but of soul-spirit origin. Yet the senses remain entirely inactive. It is evident that the individual must first acquire this faculty of forming meaningful images without sense impressions. This is accomplished through meditation and through the exercises that have been described in the book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment.

The man confined to the sense world lives only among images that have reached him through the senses. The imaginative man has a world of images that he has received from a higher source.

A careful training is necessary to distinguish illusion from reality in this higher image world. The capacity to decide what is “real” and what is “illusionary” in these higher regions can come only from experience, and this experience must be made one’s own in a quiet, patient inner life. One must first completely stop up the springs of the fantastic; only thus can one come to Imagination. At this point it will be clear that the world that one has entered in this way is not only just as real as the world of sense, but much more real.

In the third stage of knowledge, images no longer appear. The human being has now to deal only with “concept” and “ego.” Whereas at the second stage a world of images still surrounded one,remainder of the moment when a vivid memory instantaneously kindles impressions from theouter world, without oneself actually having such impressions, at the third stage not even such images are present. The human being lives wholly in a purely spiritual world. The pictures of Imagination have a vivacity and a comprehensiveness with which theshadowy memory pictures of the sensory world, and even the glittering and ephemeral physical world itself are not to be compared.

Now the world of the third stage of knowledge. Nothing in the sensory world can even suggest its wealth and abundance. What was sensation at the first stage of cognition, imagination at the second, here becomesInspiration.” Inspiration gives the impressions, and the ego forms the concepts. If anything at all in the realm of sense can be compared with this world of Inspiration, it is the world of tone opened up to us by the sense of hearing. But now not the tones of earthly music are concerned, but purely “spiritual tones.” One begins to “hear” what is going on at the heart of things. The stone, the plant, and so forth, become “spiritual words.” The world begins to express its true nature to the soul. It sounds grotesque, but it is literally true, that at this stage of knowledge one “hears spiritually the growing of the grass.” The crystal form is perceived like sound; the opening blossom “speaks” to one. The inspired man is able to proclaim the inner nature of things; everything rises up before his soul, as though from the dead, in a new kind of way. He speaks a language that stems from another world, and that alone can make the everyday world comprehensible.

Lastly, at the fourth stage of knowledge Inspiration also ceases. Of the elements customarily observed in everyday knowledge, the ego alone remains to be considered. The attainment of this stage by the occult student is marked by a definite inner experience. This experience manifests itself in the feeling that he no longer stands outside the things and occurrences that he recognizes, but is himself within them. Images are not the object, but merely its imprint. Also, inspiration does not yield up the object itself, but only tells about it. But what now lives in the soul is in reality the object itself. The ego has streamed forth over all beings; it has merged with them. The actual living of things within the soul is Intuition. When it is said of Intuition that “through it [Intuition] man creeps into all things,” this is literally true.

In ordinary life man has only one “intuition” –  namely, of the ego itself, for the ego can in no way be perceived from without; it can only be experienced in the inner life. The perception of the ego is the prototype of all intuitive cognition. Thus to enter into all things, one must first step outside oneself. One must become “selfless” in order to become blended with the “self,” the “ego” of another being.

Meditation and concentration are the sure means by which to approach this stage of cognition, like the earlier ones. Of course, they must be practiced in a quiet and patient way. Rich and vivid as are the worlds to which man may rise, yet they are delicate and subtle, while the world of sense is coarse and crude.

Now when imaginative cognition approaches in man, part of the forces directed upon the body in sleep must be employed in another way. Through these forces are formed the spiritual sense organs that provide the possibility for the soul not merely to live in a higher world, but also to perceive it. Thus the soul during sleep works no longer merely upon the body, but also upon itself. This work results from meditation and concentration, as well as from other exercises.

Meditation, concentration, and other exercises bring it about that the soul withdraws for a time from its union with the sense organs. It is then immersed in itself. Its activity is turned inward. What is accomplished by the immersion in the inner life bears fruit first of all in the state of sleep. When at night the soul is freed from the body, what has been stimulated in it by the exercises of the day works on. Organs take shape within it, through which it comes into connection with a higher environment, exactly as through the outer sense organs it had formerly united itself with the corporeal world. Out of the darkness of nocturnal surroundings appear the light phenomena of the higher world. Tender and intimate at first is this communion.

Everything depends upon his learning to distinguish what is due to the ordinary world from what through its own nature presents itself as a manifestation from higher worlds. In a quiet, introspective mental life he must acquire this discernment. It is necessary first to develop a sense of the value and meaning of those intimate formations of the soul that mingle themselves with daily life as though they were “chance impressions,” but that are really recollections of the nightly communion with a higher world.

The lower nature of man must be fortified and made inaccessible to dangerous elemental influences. This can be brought about by the conscious cultivation of certain virtues. These virtues are set forth in the writings on spiritual development. Here is the reason why they must be carefully sought after. They are the following.

First of all, the human being must, in a fully conscious manner, in all things, continually be intent upon the lasting, distinguish the imperishable from the transitory and turns his attention toward it. In all things and beings he can suppose or discern something that remains after the transitory appearance has faded away. No one should neglect to do this, for no one who has not first made himself thoroughly familiar with the perishable aspect will detect the eternal in things. Then the heart must be fixed upon all that is valuable and genuine, which one must learn to esteem more highly than the fleeting and insignificant. In all feelings and actions, the value of any single thing must be held before the eyes in the context of the whole.

Thirdly, Six Qualities should be developed:

  1. Control of the thought world
  2. Control of actions
  3. Endurance
  4. Impartiality
  5. Trust in the surrounding world
  6. Inner equilibrium.

Lojong Slogans for Enlightenment Training

“Vision is mind. Mind is empty. Emptiness is clear light. Clear light is union. Union is great bliss.”

Dawa Gyaltsen

Lojong is a mind training practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition based on a set of aphorisms formulated in Tibet in the 12th century by Chekawa Yeshe Dorje. The practice involves refining and purifying one’s motivations and attitudes. The fifty-nine or so slogans that form the root text of the mind training practice are designed as a set of antidotes to undesired mental habits that cause suffering. They contain both methods to expand one’s viewpoint towards absolute bodhicitta [enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings].

Lojong, or mind training, is a core practice in all the lineages of the Tibetan tradition. They can perhaps best be characterized as a method for transforming our mind by turning away from self-centeredness and cultivating instead the mental habits that generate bodhicitta, the awakened mind that puts the benefit of others above all else. The teachings on it are more diverse than many people realize. The Lojong texts present a system for putting compassion into practice according to the teachings that originate with the Buddha himself and echo throughout the centuries.

The origin of Lojong as a codified system is generally attributed to Atisha, the eleventh-century Bengali master who came to Tibet and founded the Kadampa tradition and whose influence on all the Tibetan lineages was profound. From Atisha and the Kadampa masters who followed him, we have received a rich array of core Lojong texts that form the basis for the commentaries and teachings we have today. Originally the Lojong teachings – often just collections of short sayings – were considered secret and were not widely disseminated.

While the core Kadampa Lojong texts are taught throughout the Tibetan schools, some schools gave them their own unique expression. There are two particular and very unique Nyingma presentations of Lojong in The Root Text of the Seven Points of Training the Mind by Chekawa Yeshe Dorje and The Basic Path Toward Enlightenment by Jamgon Kongtrul. In these masterful works, the authors present mind training from the core teachings familiar in all the well-known works and then introduces the Dzogchen-specific instructions which are considered to be the quickest path to enlightenment in Bon and Tibetan schools of philosophy.

The Root Text of the Seven Points of Training the Mind, Chekawa Yeshe Dorje and The Basic Path Toward Enlightenment, Jamgon Kongtrul

Point One: The preliminaries, which are the basis for dharma practice

1. Dharma exists by way of four ideas or Four Thoughts:

A. Maintain an awareness of the Preciousness of Human Life.

B. Be aware of the reality that life ends; death comes for everyone; Impermanence.

C. Recall that whatever you do, whether virtuous or not, has a result; Karma.

D. Contemplate that as long as you are too focused on self-importance and too caught up in thinking about how you are good or bad, you will experience suffering. Obsessing about getting what you want and avoiding what you don’t want does not result in happiness; Ego.

Point Two: The main practice, which is training in bodhicitta

Absolute Bodhicitta

2. Regard all dharmas [teachings] as dreams. Anything spiritual is a dream. Although experiences may seem solid, they are passing memories.

3. Examine the nature of unborn awareness. Remember there is a state of awareness before even becoming aware of anything.

4. Self-liberate even the antidote to be free.

5. Rest in the essence of consciousness in the present moment.

6. In post-meditation, be a child of illusion.

Relative Bodhicitta

7. Giving and receiving alternate naturally. Sending and taking should be practiced alternately and should ride the breath.

8. Three objects, three poisons, three roots of virtue — The three objects are friends, enemies, and neutrals. The three poisons are craving, aversion and indifference. The three roots of virtue are the remedies: anti-craving, anti-aversion, and anti-indifference.

9. In all activities train with Lojong slogans.

10. Begin the sequence of giving and receiving with yourself.

Point Three: Transformation of Bad Circumstances into the Way of Enlightenment

11. When the world is filled with evil, transform all mishaps into the path of enlightenment. As the world fills up with evil, go find peace.

12. Drive all blames into one. Gather up all grievances into one.

13. Be grateful to everyone. Thank everyone.

14. Thoughts have no home. Thoughts keep going without stopping. Thoughts are lighter than light, completely insubstantial. Thoughts have no birthplace, thoughts are unceasing, and thoughts are not solid.

15. Four practices are the best of methods, accumulating merit, setting aside evil actions, offering to your demons, and offering to your teachers.

16. Whatever you meet unexpectedly, join with meditation.

Point Four: Showing the Utilization of Practice in One’s Whole Life

17. There are five heart strengths: determination, familiarization, positive seed, reproach, and aspiration.

18. At death, release of consciousness is practicing the five strengths.

Point Five: Evaluation of Mind Training

19. All spiritual practice agrees on one point, lessen ego and self-absorption.

20. You know yourself better than anyone else knows you.

21. Keep a joyful frame of mind.

22. If you can practice even when distracted, you are well trained.

Point Six: Disciplines of Mind Training

23. Always follow three basic principles, dedication to practice, refraining from outrageous conduct, and developing patience.

24. Change your attitude but remain natural. Reduce ego attachment but still be yourself.

25. Don’t talk about injured limbs, that is, take pleasure discussing defects in yourself and others.

26. Don’t think ill of others and take pleasure thinking about their weaknesses.

27. Work with the greatest defilements first – work with your greatest obstacles first.

28. Abandon any hope of fulfillment. Rather than get caught up in how you will be in the future, stay in the present moment.

29. Abandon toxic food.

30. Be unpredictable and forget the slights of others.

31. Speak well of others.

32. Head off wrongdoing by others.

33. Head off avoidable disasters and shaming of others.

34. Carry your own burden and take responsibility.

35. Don’t try to be the fastest – don’t compete with others.

36. Do good deeds without twisting and scheming to benefit yourself.

37. Use these Lojong slogans as ways to decrease your self-absorption. Otherwise gods become demons.

38. Don’t seek others’ pain as the limbs of your own happiness.

Point Seven: Guidelines of Mind Training

39. All activities should be done with one intention.

40. Correct all wrongs with one intention.

41. Two activities: one at the beginning, one at the end.

42. Whichever of the two occurs, be patient.

43. Observe these two, even at the risk of your life.

44. Train in the three difficulties which are obstacles that arise too quickly for us to catch, when obstacles have arrived it’s hard to know what to do about them, and obstacles keep coming back.

45. Adopt three principal causes, the teacher, the dharma (spirit), the sangha (community).

46. Pay attention that these three never wane, gratitude toward one’s teacher, appreciation of the dharma (teachings), and correct conduct.

47. Keep these three inseparable – body, speech, and mind.

48. Train without bias in every way completely and wholeheartedly.

49. Meditate on whatever provokes resentment.

50. Don’t be swayed by external circumstances.

51. This time, practice these main points, put others before self, dharma practice, and awaken compassion.

52. Interpret life’s events correctly. Six things that may be misinterpreted are patience, yearning, excitement, compassion, priorities, and joy.

53. Be steadfast in your practice of these slogans. Don’t vacillate in your practice of Lojong.

54. Train with all your heart. Train wholeheartedly.

55. Liberate yourself by examining and analyzing. Know your own mind honestly and fearlessly.

56. Set aside self-pity – don’t wallow in self-pity.

57. Let go of jealousy – don’t be jealous.

58. Ignore frivolity – don’t be frivolous.

59. Expect no applause.

Eight Verses of Training the Mind, by Geshe Langri Thangpa

By thinking of all sentient beings

As more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel

For accomplishing the highest aim,

I will always hold them dear.

Whenever I’m in the company of others,

I will regard myself as the lowest among all,

And from the depths of my heart

Cherish others as supreme.

In my every action, I will watch my mind,

And the moment destructive emotions arise,

I will confront them strongly and avert them,

Since they will hurt both me and others.

Whenever I see ill-natured beings,

Or those overwhelmed by heavy misdeeds or suffering,

I will cherish them as something rare,

As though I’d found a priceless treasure.

Whenever someone out of envy

Does me wrong by attacking or belittling me,

I will take defeat upon myself,

And give the victory to others.

Even when someone I have helped,

Or in whom I have placed great hopes

Mistreats me very unjustly,

I will view that person as a true spiritual teacher.

In brief, directly or indirectly,

I will offer help and happiness to all my mothers,

And secretly take upon myself

All their hurt and suffering.

I will learn to keep all these practices

Untainted by thoughts of the eight worldly concerns.

May I recognize all things as like illusions,

And, without attachment, gain freedom from bondage.

The Thirty-Seven Practices of All the Bodhisattvas, by Gyalse Tokme Zangpo

This poem was composed in Jewel Cave in Ngulchu by a teacher of scripture and reasoning for his own and others’ benefit. He was a Dzogchen master who lived in the 8th century in the area of Zhangzhung. It was translated by Adam Pearcey in 2006.

The Thirty-Seven Practices of All the Bodhisattvas

You see that all things are beyond coming and going,

Yet still you strive solely for the sake of living beings –

To you, my precious guru inseparable from Lord Avalokita,

I offer perpetual homage, respectfully, with body, speech, and mind.

The perfect buddhas, who are the source of all benefit and joy,

Come into being through accomplishing the sacred Dharma.

And since this in turn depends on knowing how to practice,

I shall now describe the practices of all the buddhas’ heirs.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to study, reflect, and meditate,

Tirelessly, both day and night, without ever straying into idleness,

In order to free oneself and others from this ocean of saṃsara,

Having gained this supreme vessel – a free, well-favored human life, so difficult to find.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to leave behind one’s homeland,

Where our attachment to family and friends overwhelms us like a torrent,

While our aversion towards enemies rages inside us like a blazing fire,

And delusion’s darkness obscures what must be adopted and abandoned.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to take to solitary places,

Avoiding the unwholesome, so that destructive emotions gradually fade away,

And, in the absence of distraction, virtuous practice naturally gains strength,

Whilst, with awareness clearly focused, we gain conviction in the teachings.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to renounce this life’s concerns,

For friends and relatives, long acquainted, must all go their separate ways;

Wealth and prized possessions, painstakingly acquired, must all be left behind;

And consciousness, the guest who lodges in the body, must in time depart.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to avoid destructive friends,

In whose company the three poisons of the mind grow stronger,

And we engage less and less in study, reflection, and meditation,

So that love and compassion fade away until they are no more.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to cherish spiritual friends,

By regarding them as even more precious than one’s own body,

Since they are the ones who will help to rid us of all our faults,

And make our virtues grow ever greater just like the waxing moon.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to take refuge in the Three Jewels,

Since they will never fail to provide protection for all who call upon them,

For whom are the ordinary gods of this world ever capable of helping,

As long as they themselves are trapped within saṃsara’s vicious cycle?

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is never to commit a harmful act,

Even though not to do so might put one’s very life at risk,

For the Sage himself has taught how negative actions will ripen

Into the manifold miseries of the lower realms, so difficult to endure.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to strive towards the goal,

Which is the supreme state of changeless, everlasting liberation,

Since all the happiness of the three realms lasts but a moment,

And then is quickly gone, just like dewdrops on blades of grass.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to arouse bodhicitta,

So as to bring freedom to all sentient beings, infinite in number.

For how can true happiness ever be found while our mothers,

Who have cared for us throughout the ages, endure such pain?

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to make a genuine exchange

Of one’s own happiness and wellbeing for all the sufferings of others.

Since all misery comes from seeking happiness for oneself alone,

Whilst perfect buddhahood is born from the wish for others’ good.

Even if others, in the grips of great desire, should steal,

Or encourage others to take away, all the wealth that I possess,

To dedicate to them entirely my body, possessions and all my merits

From the past, present and future – this is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.

Even if others should seek to cut off my head,

Though I’ve done them not the slightest wrong,

To take upon myself, out of compassion,

All the harms they have amassed – is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.

Even if others should declare before the world

All manner of unpleasant things about me,

To speak only of their qualities in return,

With a mind that’s filled with love – this is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.

Even if others should expose my hidden faults or deride me

When speaking amidst great gatherings of many people,

To conceive of them as spiritual friends and to bow

Before them in respect – this is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.

Even if others whom I have cared for like children of my own

Should turn upon me and treat me as an enemy,

To regard them only with special fondness and affection,

As a mother would her ailing child – this is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.

Even if others, equal or inferior to me in status,

Should, out of arrogance, disparage me,

To honor them, as I would my teacher,

By bowing down my head before them – this is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.

Even though I may be destitute and despised by all,

Beset with terrible illness and plagued by evil spirits,

Still to take upon myself all beings’ ills and harmful actions,

Without ever losing heart – this is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.

Even though I may be famous and revered by all,

And as rich as Vaisravaṇa, the god of wealth himself,

To see the futility of all the glory and riches of this world

And to remain without conceit – this is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to subdue the mind

With the forces of loving kindness and compassion.

For unless the real adversary – my own anger – is defeated,

Outer enemies, though I may conquer them, will continue to appear.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to turn away immediately

From those things which bring desire and attachment.

For the pleasures of the senses are just like salty water:

The more we taste of them, the more our thirst increases.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is never to entertain concepts,

Which revolve around dualistic notions of perceiver and perceived,

In the knowledge that all these appearances are but the mind itself,

Whilst mind’s own nature is forever beyond the limitations of ideas.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to let go of grasping

When encountering things one finds pleasant or attractive,

Considering them to be like rainbows in the summer skies –

Beautiful in appearance, yet in truth devoid of any substance.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to recognize delusion

Whenever one is confronted by adversity or misfortune.

For these sufferings are just like the death of a child in a dream,

And it’s so exhausting to cling to delusory perceptions as real.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to give out of generosity,

With no hopes of karmic recompense or expectation of reward.

For if those who seek awakening must give even their own bodies,

What need is there to mention mere outer objects and possessions?

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to observe ethical restraint,

Without the slightest intention of continuing in saṃsaric existence.

For lacking discipline one will never secure even one’s own wellbeing,

And so any thought of bringing benefit to others would be absurd.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to cultivate patience,

Free from any trace of animosity towards anyone at all,

Since any potential source of harm is like a priceless treasure

To the bodhisattva who is eager to enjoy a wealth of virtue.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to strive with enthusiastic diligence –

The source of all good qualities – when working for the sake of all who live;

Seeing that even sravakas and pratyekabuddhas, who labor for themselves alone,

Exert themselves as if urgently trying to extinguish fires upon their heads.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to cultivate concentration,

Which utterly transcends the four formless absorptions,

In the knowledge that mental afflictions are overcome entirely

Through penetrating insight suffused with stable calm.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to cultivate wisdom,

Beyond the three conceptual spheres, alongside skillful means,

Since it is not possible to attain the perfect level of awakening

Through the other five paramitas alone, in wisdom’s absence.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to scrutinize oneself

Continually and to rid oneself of faults whenever they appear.

For unless one checks carefully to find one’s own confusion,

One might appear to be practicing Dharma, but act against it.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is never to speak ill

Of others who have embarked upon the greater vehicle,

For if, under the influence of destructive emotions,

I speak of other bodhisattvas’ failings, it is I who am at fault.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to let go of attachment

To the households of benefactors and of family and friends,

Since one’s study, reflection, and meditation will all diminish

When one quarrels and competes for honors and rewards.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to avoid harsh words,

Which others might find unpleasant or distasteful,

Since abusive language upsets the minds of others,

And thereby undermines a bodhisattva’s conduct.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to slay attachment

And the rest – mind’s afflictions – at once, the very moment they arise,

Taking as weapons the remedies held with mindfulness and vigilance.

For once the kleshas have become familiar, they’ll be harder to avert.

In short, no matter what one might be doing,

By always examining the status of one’s mind,

With continuous mindfulness and alertness,

To bring about the good of others – this is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to dedicate towards enlightenment

All the virtue to be gained through making effort in these ways,

With wisdom that is purified entirely of the three conceptual spheres,

So as to dispel the sufferings of the infinity of beings.

Here I have set down for those who wish to follow the bodhisattva path,

Thirty-seven practices to be adopted by all the buddhas’ heirs,

Based on what is taught in the sutras, tantras and treatises,

And following the instructions of the great masters of the past.

Since my intellect is only feeble and I have studied but a little,

This is not a composition likely to delight the connoisseurs,

Yet since I’ve relied upon the sutras and what the saints have taught

I feel these are indeed the genuine trainings of the buddhas’ heirs.

Still, the tremendous waves of activity of the bodhisattvas

Are difficult for simple-minded folk like me to comprehend,

And I must therefore beg the indulgence of all the perfect saints

For any contradictions, irrelevancies, or other flaws this may contain.

Through whatever merit has here been gained, may all beings

Generate sublime bodhicitta, both relative and absolute,

And through this, come to equal Lord Avalokitesvara,

Transcending the extremes of existence and quiescence.


The poem directly above, The Thirty-Seven Practices of All the Bodhisattvas is a 37 step path of training in sutrayana that awakens the moral forces necessary to pass through the stage Rudolf Steiner calls Preparation on the path to spiritual initiation. You may recognize many of Steiner’s core teachings in these pithy “practices.” In the poem above it, Eight Verses of Training the Mind, you will find a transformed presentation of Buddha’s Eightfold Path, laid out as advice for the soul of the aspirant. Rudolf Steiner often refers to the Eightfold Path in his path to enlightenment found in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. All paths to enlightenment agree that moral development is needed at every stage of spiritual development. Mental training is secondary next to moral development. Rudolf Steiner tells us in Knowledge of Higher Worlds and Its Attainment that:

“For every step in spiritual perception, three steps are to be taken in moral development.”

The Tibetan Buddhist Lamrim and Lojong are excellent versions of ancient secret traditions from the mystery centers of Asia. They were the cutting-edge initiation science of their time. Many elements of these practices are still applicable today and they are a comprehensive reminder of all that goes into spiritual Preparation and Enlightenment as the preliminary steps for further spiritual Initiation. But in the final analysis, it is only through morality that the aspirant can reach enlightenment to commune with divine beings and attain knowledge of higher worlds.