But it was not long before extremist followers across Asia and India split his teachings into separate branches and sects, ruled over by self-appointed lamas and monks.
The same exists today in a Hinduism that is dominated by a priestly caste of Brahmins who have co-opted the ancient wisdom religion for their own purposes.
It compares to Islam where a minority of priestly fanatics have gained dominance and political power, and who preach a severe and even violent dogmatism aimed at preserving their right to rule.
Yet Buddha’s life and teachings showed humanity the way to conscious enlightenment without priestly intermediaries, through direct spiritual development, merit and compassion. People were inspired to rediscover and live according to the dictates of their own peaceful spiritual insights without any forced obedience to caste or creed.
The Buddha’s teaching of individual responsibility and the primacy of individual spiritual action should have saved the world from religious dogmatism. But with the persistence of the selfish side of human nature such teachings would not prevail.
Similarly, Christian religious dogmatism, with its god and invented savior, cleverly placed beyond our mere earthly domain, the ‘only son of God’ dogma secured a virtually unbreakable dominance over the soul of humanity.
“Shun ignorance, and likewise shun illusion. Avert thy face from world deceptions” and “mistrust thy senses, they are false,” The Voice of the Silence (Fragment 2) declared. “But within thy body, the shrine of thy sensations,” it insisted,
“seek for the ‘eternal man,’ and having sought him out, look inward: thou art Buddha.”
The ancient origin of the [Upanishads], H. P. Blavatsky notes in The Secret Doctrine [Summing Up section], “proves many of the the Upanishads were written before the caste system became the tyrannical institution which it still is.”
“Half of their contents have been eliminated,” she wrote, “while some of them were rewritten and abridged.” A few brave souls today are speaking and acting out, as Blavatsky did, against dogmatic desecration and dominance.