Letter by Khetra Mohana Mukhopadhyaya | Notes by H.P.B.
On page 144 of Esoteric Buddhism we have the following:—
“A Buddha visits the earth for each of the seven races of the great planetary period. The Buddha with whom we are occupied was the fourth of the series . . . The fifth, or Maitreya Buddha, will come after the final disappearance of the fifth race, and when the sixth race will already have been established on earth for some hundreds of thousands of years. The sixth will come at the beginning of the seventh race, and the seventh towards the close of that race.”
Later on we find on page 146:—
“The first Buddha of the series in which Gautama Buddha stands fourth is thus the second incarnation of Avalokiteswara—. . . and though Gautama is thus the fourth incarnation of enlightenment by exoteric reckoning, he is really the fifth of the true series, and thus properly belonging to our fifth race.”
According to this latter interpretation then, if we are to accept our enlightened Gautama as the fifth Buddha, it is not understood what the author means by saying “the fifth or Maitreya Buddha will come after the final disappearance of the fifth race,” etc., etc. If, however, it is meant that the Maitreya Buddha will then become the sixth, it will thereby necessitate an eighth Buddha to complete the series, which I believe is not the case.
Again, just after the passage first quoted, the author points out a difficulty likely to arise in the minds of his readers. “Here we are in the middle of the fifth race,” he says, “and yet it is the fourth Buddha who has been identified with this race.” But his explanation does not clear the point. He explains how after the end of an obscuration and beginning of each great planetary period, when the human tide-wave “arrives at the shore of a globe where no humanity has existed for milliards of years,” a teacher is required to impress “the first broad principles of right and wrong and the first truths of the esoteric doctrine on a sufficient number of receptive minds, to ensure the continued reverberation of the ideas so implanted through successive generations of men in the millions of years to come, before the first race shall have completed its course.” But the difficulty remains all the more unsolved as to why that very necessity does not exist in the case of subsequent races, each of which is said to be separated from its predecessor by cataclysms, and why it is that the fifth Buddha or teacher will come after the final disappearance of the fifth race, the sixth at the beginning of the seventh race, and the seventh at the close of that race.
Khetra Mohana Mukhopadyaya,
Belghoria, 12th June, 1884.
[Editor’s] Note: [H.P.B.]—What Mr. Sinnett meant by the two passages on pages 144 and 146 of his Esoteric Buddhism, was that Gautama was the fourth Buddha, i.e., “enlightened,” while he was the fifth spiritual teacher. The first “teacher” of this “Round” on this planet was a Dhyan Chohan. As a Dhyan Chohan, he belonged to another System, and was thus far higher than a Buddha. As, however, in ordinary language, all spiritual teachers are called “Buddhas,” Mr. Sinnett speaks of Gautama as the fifth Buddha. To be more accurate, it must be said that Gautama was the fifth spiritual teacher in this “Round” on this planet, while he was the fourth who became Buddha. The one who will appear at the close of the seventh race—at the time of the occupation of the next higher planet by humanity—will again be a Dhyan Chohan. The passage of humanity into a planet and its going therefrom to another—are two critical junctures, necessitating the appearance of a Dhyan Chohan. At its first appearance, the seed of “spiritual wisdom” has to be implanted and then carried on to the next planet, when the period of obscuration of the inhabited planet approaches. The intervening disturbances, caused by racial cataclysms, on the globe, do not destroy that seed and its growth is ensured by the appearance of the intermediate Buddhas.