Nov 5, 2022

Extract | The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects by Alexandra David Neel & Lama Yongden

Book Extracts

In this Book Extract, a Tibetan Lama explains why even when secret teachings are freely given they still remain a secret to the listener.

Book cover for The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects by Alexandra David Neel & Lama Yongden



He was not encouraging. "Waste of time," he said. "The great majority of readers and hearers are the same all over the world. I have no doubt that the people of your country. .. are like those I have met in China and India, and these latter were just like Tibetans. If you speak to them of profound Truths they yawn, and, if they dare, they leave you, but if you tell them absurd fables they are all eyes and ears. They wish the doctrines preached to them, whether religious, philosophic, or social, to be agreeable, to be consistent with their conceptions, to satisfy their inclinations, in fact that they find themselves in them, and that they feel themselves approved by them."

The Master had nothing to teach me on this point.

Hundreds of times, in the West, I had heard men and women express the desire to find a religion which would satisfy them, or had seen reject a doctrine with the remark: "It does not satisfy me."

What, then, was that something that wanted to be agreeably caressed, satisfied ?

It was the collection of false notions, of unreasonable propensities, of feelings of a rudimentary sensuality which is disguised under the appearance of a puppet named "I".

I thought then of the devotees who intoxicate themselves with incense and the stirring sonorousness of the organ in the half shadows of our cathedrals, believing themselves to be on the way to spiritual heights. I thought of all those; whatever might be the religion or secular faith to which they belong, who thrill at the sound of certain names, of certain words which are but empty noises devoid of reality.

"In general," continued the Master, "we distinguish three kinds of individuals: those whose intelligence is completely dull; those whose intelligence is of average quality; able to understand some Truths :which are specially evident ; those endowed with an intelligence better equipped for acute perceptions, who are fit to penetrate below the surface of the world of physical phenomena and grasp the causes which are at work there.

"It is enough to direct the attention to these last, to say to them: 'Look from this point of view, consider that' and they perceive what is to be perceived there where they have been told to look; they understand what is really the thing which one has pointed out to them. "One may proclaim on the high road the Teachings considered secret, they will remain 'secret' for the individuals with dull minds who will hear what is said to them, and will grasp nothing of it but the sound.

"It is not on the Master that the· 'secret' depends but on the hearer. A Master can only be he who opens the door : it is for the disciple to be capable of seeing what lies beyond.

(The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects by Alexandra David Neel & Lama Yongden)

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