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Esoteric Buddhism Paperback – February 2, 2009
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About the Author
Alfred Percy Sinnett (18 January 1840, London - 26 June 1921) was an English author and Theosophist. Sinnett's father died while he was young, by 1851 Sinnett is listed as a "Scholar – London University", living with his widowed mother Jane whose occupation is listed as "Periodical Literature", and his older sister Sophia age 22 who is a teacher. Jane's sister Sarah age 48 is also a teacher. Sinnett married his wife Patience in 1870, probably in the London area. He is listed in the 1871 England Census at age 31, as a Journalist, born in Middlesex. His wife Patience is 27, and her mother Clarissa Edenson a "Landowner", is living with them. By 1879, Sinnett had moved to India where he was "... the Editor of The Pioneer, the leading English Daily of India..." He relates in his book, The Occult World that: "...on the first occasion of my making Madame Blavatsky's acquaintance she became a guest at my home at Allahabad and remained there for six weeks..." In 1880 Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott visited the Sinnetts at their summer-home in Simla. The Mahatma letters, which generated the controversy that later helped lead to the split of the Theosophical Society, were mostly written to Sinnett or his wife, Patience. The letters started at this time when Sinnett asked Blavatsky whether if he wrote a letter to her Mahatmas, she could arrange to have it delivered. By 1884, Sinnett was back in England, where that year Constance Wachtmeister states that she met Blavatsky at the home of the Sinnetts in London. Sinnett asked Charles Webster Leadbeater to come back to England to tutor his son Percy and George Arundale. Leadbeater agreed and brought with him one of his pupils Curuppumullage Jinarajadasa. Using "astral clairvoyance" Leadbeater assisted William Scott-Elliot to write his book The Story of Atlantis, for which Sinnett wrote the preface. Sinnett was later President of the London Lodge of the Society. By 1901, Sinnett is listed as an author. His son Percy is also listed as an author and born in India. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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He wrote in the Preface to the First Edition (1884) of this book, "The teachings embodied in the present volume let in a flood of light on questions connected with Buddhist doctrine which have deeply perplexed previous writers on that religion, and offer the world for the first time a practical clue to the meaning of almost all ancient religious symbolism. More than this, the esoteric doctrine, when properly understood, will be found to advance an overpowering claim on the attention of earnest thinkers." He added in the Introduction to the American Edition (1888), "I think it will be found that the alleged incompatibility of theosophy and spiritualism is much less complete than is supposed."
He states, "esoteric Buddhism, though by no means divorced from the associations of exoteric Buddhism, must not be conceived to constitute ... a central school of culture in the vortex of the Buddhist world. In proportion as Buddhism retreats into the inner penetralia of its faith, these are found to merge into the inner penetralia of other faiths... At the same time, exoteric Buddhism has remained in closer union with the esoteric doctrine than any other popular religion. As exposition of the inner knowledge addressed to English readers in the present day, will thus associate itself irresistably with familiar outlines of Buddhist teaching... That which I am about to put before the reader IS esoteric Buddhism, and for European students ... any other designation would be a misnomer." (Pg. 27-29)
He asserts, "From Buddha's time till now the esoteric science referred to has been zealously guarded as a precious heritage belonging exclusively to regularly initiated members of mysteriously organized associations. These, so far as Buddhism is concerned, are the... Arhats, referred to in Buddhist literature. They are the initiates who tread the 'fourth path of holiness.'" (Pg. 44-45)
He adds, "The permanent entity is that which lives through the whole series of lives, not only through the races belonging to the present round wave on earth, but also through those of other round waves and other worlds." (Pg. 103) Later, he elaborates, "even if any given spiritual individuality has occasionally, through its passage through this world, been linked with personalities so deporably and desperately degraded that they have passed completely into the attraction of the lower vortex, that spiritual individuality in such cases will have retained in its own affinities no trace or taint of them. These pages will, as it were, have been cleanly torn out from the book. And... after crossing the Kama loca, the spiritual individuality will have passed into the unconscious gestation state from which ... it will be directly ... re-born into its next life of objective activity, all the self-consciousness connected with that existence will have passed into the lower world, there eventually to 'perish everlastingly.'" (Pg. 170)
He states, "Nirvana is truly the keynote of esoteric Buddhism, as of the hitherto rather misdirected studies of external scholars. The great end of the whole stupendous evolution of humanity is to cultivate human souls so that they shall be ultimately fit for that as yet inconceivable condition." (Pg. 241-242) He concludes, "It takes some mental effort to realize the difference between personality and individuality, but the craving for the continuity of personal existence, for the full recollection always of those transitory circumstances of our present physical life which make up the personality, is manifestly no more than a passing weakness of the flesh." (Pg. 293)
While "orthodox" students of Buddhism may be repelled this the doctrines of this book, students of Theosophy and related spiritualities will find it very interesting.
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Sinnett was not an initiate. He was writing what he had been given.Read more