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Doctrine of the Heart

The esoteric Buddhist doctrine that stresses compassion and wisdom, and is contrasted with the “doctrine of the eye,” which is head-learning and exoteric ritualism. Helena P. BLAVATSKY states that the latter is for the crowd, while the former is for the elect. The Voice of the Silence states that “even ignorance is better than Head-learning with no Soul-wisdom to illuminate and guide it.” The Heart Doctrine leads to the awakening of Bodhi, or enlightened wisdom. It does not advocate passivity or inaction, but rather advocates compassionate and impersonal action.

The two schools of Buddha’s doctrine, the esoteric and the exoteric, are respectively called the “Heart” and the “Eye” Doctrine. Bodhidharma called them in China — from whence the names reached Tibet — the Tsung-men (esoteric) and Kiau-men (exoteric school). It is so named, because it is the teaching which emanated from Gautama Buddha’s heart, whereas the “Eye” Doctrine was the work of his head or brain. The “Heart Doctrine” is also called “the seal of truth” or the “true seal,” a symbol found on the heading of almost all esoteric works.

The Mahatma KOOT HOOMI wrote of the absolute need of the Doctrine of the Heart in the Theosophical Society:

. . . Our Society is not a mere intellectual school for occultism, and those greater than we have said that he who thinks the task of working for others too hard had better not undertake it. The moral and spiritual sufferings of the world are more important and need help and cure more than science needs aid from us in any field of discovery. “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (LMW I, Letter 46)


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