Helena Blavatsky (1831 - 1891)
There is no danger that dauntless courage cannot conquer; there is no trial that spotless purity cannot pass through; there is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot surmount.
There is a general ignorance of what Theosophy is. There are a number of reasons for this. When it first came to the notice of the public in 1875 it was associated with spiritualism, which was then much in vogue. Later some of H. P. Blavatsky's remarkable phenomena became known and these were inexplicable. This led to her becoming dubbed as a fraudulent medium and this view was upheld by the Society for Psychical Research in the content of a report by one of their members and particularly regarding the authorship of letters and other written material purporting to come from those she referred to as her Teachers or Masters of the Wisdom. Even though this report has been found defective by several independent investigators, its findings still remain to affect the views of academics and others who might otherwise have more regard for what Mme Blavatsky has written. Moreover, some of this was in a vein that offended orthodox churchmen.
These attitudes of the academic world and the church led to Blavatsky's writings being ignored by the seriously scholarly fraternity. The public in general, where they were at all interested, were interested in the sensationalism that surrounded her. They too were affected by the taint of alleged charlatanry and fraud. Nevertheless, all Mme Blavatsky's writings have been continuously in print since her death and she is still a figure of interest. Books and articles about her continue to appear. They are often derogatory, even scurrilous. Slowly, however, the more serious and definitive biographies of her are being noticed. Much of the unfounded and misinformed opinion of her is being refuted. Nevertheless, much remains, particularly in those of a satirical turn of mind who regard themselves as her equal or even her superior in knowledge and intellect. They have not, however, been able to appreciate the scope and depth of what she wrote.
Her complete vindication is in her writings, voluminous and of erudition second to none in the world. Against a background of modern scientific and religious orthodoxy their content is largely unacceptable. Given an open mind and some perseverance on the part of a more than superficial reader they are found to be of the greatest learning, making reference to all the recognized authorities of the past, and in themselves offering a profound and illuminating comprehensive philosophical-religious system which had never, in its entirety, been made public before.
This present work is an attempt to demonstrate in outline only something of what the original literature contains. It is a compilation of selected descriptive and definitive statements taken from the subject matter in the great works. All the quotations are verbatim from the original text, with references, so that they can be looked up and seen in context.
Taken together these extracts, while only touching on the massive amount of information contained in the works they are taken from, will at least give an idea of what the content of those works is all about. Its modern name is Theosophy.
Mme Blavatsky was at pains to say in many places what Theosophy is vis-à-vis the current scientific, religious and philosophical views of her time, and to show its relationship to the Theosophical Society which she and others had founded in New York in 1875. The Society among other things (its three objects) was intended to promulgate a knowledge of Theosophy i.e., "to assist in showing to men that such a thing as Theosophy exists, and to help them to ascend towards it by studying and assimilating its eternal verities". [KEY, 57]
Theosophy is not a revelation. It is knowledge, possessed by the Masters of the Arcane Sciences from time immemorial, of the nature and processes of Cosmos -all Nature herself, both objective and subjective, i.e., her formative powers, energies and forces.
It is sometimes referred to as the Ageless Wisdom.
Historically it appears in Egyptian, Greek, Roman and mediaeval times, hence the references to the philosophers and writers of those periods in the following extracts:
IT LIES AT THE ROOT OF EVERY MORAL PHILOSOPHY, RELIGION, AND SCIENCE.
How long, O radiant gods of truth, how long shall this terrible mental cecity [blindness] of the nineteenth century Philosophists last? How much longer are they to be told that Theosophy is no national property, no religion, but only the universal code of science and the most transcendental ethics that was ever known; that it lies at the root of every moral philosophy and religion; and that neither Theosophy per se, nor yet its humble unworthy vehicle, the Theosophical Society, has anything whatever to do with any personality or personalities. To identify it with these is to show oneself sadly defective in logic and even common sense. [CW XI, 437]
IT IS THE ARCHAIC WISDOM-RELIGION
Theosophy is, then, the archaic Wisdom-Religion, the esoteric doctrine once known in every ancient country having claims to civilization. This "Wisdom" all the old writings show us as an emanation of the divine Principle; and the clear comprehension of it is typified in such names as the Indian Buddha, the Babylonian Nebo, the Thoth of Memphis, the Hermes of Greece; in the appellations, also, of some goddesses - Metis, Neitha, Athena, the Gnostic Sophia, and finally - the Vedas, from the word "to know", Under this designation, all the ancient philosophers of the East and West, the Hierophants of old Egypt, the rishis of Aryavarta, the Theodidaktoi of Greece, included all knowledge of things occult and essentially divine. The Mercavah of the Hebrew Rabbis, the secular and popular series, were thus designated as only the vehicle, the outward shell that contained the higher esoteric knowledge. The Magi of Zoroaster received instruction and were initiated in the caves and secret lodges of Bactria; the Egyptian and Grecian hierophants had their aporrheta, or secret discourses, during which the Mystes became an Epoptes - a seer. [CW II, 88-90]
IT IS THE ACCUMULATED WISDOM OF THE AGES
The Secret Doctrine is the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages, and its cosmogony alone is the most stupendous and elaborate system: e .g even in the exotericism of the Puranas. But such is the mysterious power of Occult symbolism, that the facts which have actually occupied countless generations of initiated seers and prophets to marshal, to set down and explain, in the bewildering series of evolutionary progress, are all recorded on a few pages of geometrical signs and glyphs. The flashing gaze of those seers has penetrated into the very kernel of matter, and recorded the soul of things there, where an ordinary profane however learned, would perceived but the external work of form … That it is the uninterrupted record covering thousands of generations of Seers whose respective experiences were made to test and to verify the traditions passed orally by one early race to another, of the teachings higher and exalted beings, who watched over the childhood Humanity. That for long ages the "Wise Men" of the Fifth Race, of the stock saved and rescued from the last cataclysm and shifting continents, had passed their lives in learning, not teaching … by checking, testing, and verifying in every department of nature the traditions of old by the independent visions of great adepts …No vision of one adept was accepted till it was checked and confirmed by the visions - so obtained as to stand as independent evidence - of other adepts, and by centuries of experience. [SD 1, 272-3]
There were Theosophists before the Christian era, notwithstanding that the Christian writers ascribe the development of the Eclectic theosophical system, to the early part of the third century of their era. [CW V, 88]
The central idea of the Eclectic Theosophy was that of a single Supreme Essence, Unknown and Unknowable - for -"How could one know the knower?" as enquires Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Their system was characterized by three distinct features:
the theory of the above-named Essence;
the doctrine of the human soul - an emanation from the latter, hence of the same nature;
and its theurgy.
It is this last science that has led the Neo-Platonists to be so misrepresented in our era of materialistic science. Theurgy being essentially the art of applying the divine powers of man to the subordination of the blind forces of nature, its votaries were first termed magicians - a corruption of the word "Magh", signifying a wise, or learned man, and - derided. Skeptics of a century ago would have been as wide of the mark if they had laughed at the idea of a phonograph or a telegraph. The ridiculed and the "infidels" of one generation generally become the wise men and saints of the next. [CW II, 90]
THE NEO-PLATONIC SCHOOL
Diogenes Laertius traces Theosophy to an epoch antedating the dynasty of the Ptolemies; and names as its founder an Egyptian Hierophant called Pot-Amun, the name being Coptic and signifying a priest consecrated to Amun, the god of Wisdom. But history shows it revived by Ammonius Saccas, the founder of the Neo-Platonic School. He and his disciples called themselves "Philaletheians" -lovers of the truth; while others termed them the "Analogists", on account of their method of interpreting all sacred legends, symbolical myths and mysteries, by a rule of analogy or correspondence, so that events which had occurred in the external world were regarded as expressing operations and experiences of the human soul. It was the aim and purpose of Ammonius to reconcile all sects, peoples and nations under one common faith - a belief in one Supreme, Eternal, Unknown, and Unnamed Power, governing the Universe by immutable and eternal laws. His object was;
to prove a primitive system of Theosophy, which at the beginning was essentially alike in all countries;
to induce all men to lay aside their strife’s and quarrels, and unite in purpose and thought as the children of one common mother;
to purify the ancient religions, by degrees corrupted and obscured, from all dross of human element, by uniting and expounding them upon pure philosophical principles.
Hence, the Buddhistic, Vedantic and Magian, or Zoroastrian, systems were taught in the Eclectic Theosophical School along with all the philosophies of Greece. Hence also, that pre-eminently Buddhistic and Indian feature among the ancient theosophists of Alexandria;
of due reverence for parents and aged persons;
a fraternal affection for the whole human race; and,
a compassionate feeling for even the dumb animals.
While seeking to establish a system of moral discipline, which enforced upon people the duty to live according to the laws of their respective countries; to exalt their minds by the research and contemplation of the one Absolute Truth; his chief object in order, as he believed, to achieve all others, was to extract from the various religious teachings, as from a many-chorded instrument, one full an harmonious melody, which would find response in every truth-loving heart. [CW II, 88-9]
HEGEL, FICHTE, SPINOZA
That Theosophy which prompted such men as Hegel, Fichte and Spinoza to take up the labours of the old Grecian philosophers and speculate upon the One Substance -the Deity, the Divine All proceeding from the Divine Wisdom -incomprehensible, unknown, and unnamed - by any ancient or modern religious philosophy, with the exception of Christianity and Mohammedanism. Every Theosophist, then, holding to a theory of the Deity "which has not revelation, but an inspiration of his own for its basis", may accept any of the above definitions or belong to any of these religions, and yet remain strictly within the boundaries of Theosophy. For the latter is belief in the Deity as the ALL, the source of all existence, the infinite that cannot be either comprehended or known, the universe alone revealing It, or, as some prefer it, Him, thus giving a sex to that, to anthropomorphise which is blasphemy. True, Theosophy shrinks from brutal materialization; it prefers believing that, from eternity retired within itself, the Spirit of the Deity neither wills nor creates; but that, from the infinite effulgence everywhere going forth from the Great Centre, that which produces all visible and invisible things is but a Ray containing in itself the generative and conceptive power, which, in its turn produces that which the Greeks called Macrocosm, the Kabalists Tikkum or Adam Kadmon -the archetypal man, and the Aryans Purusha, the manifested Brahm, or the Divine Male. Theosophy believes also in the Anastasis or continued existence, and in transmigration (evolution) or a series of changes in the soul which can be defended and explained on strict philosophical principles; and only by making a distinction b-etween Pafamt1tma (transcendental, supreme soul) and Jivt1tma (animal, or conscious soul) of the Vedantins. [CW II, 91-2]
PLOTINUS, SCHELLING, EMERSON
Plotinus, the pupil of the "God-taught" Ammonius, tells us, that the secret gnosis or the knowledge of Theosophy has three degrees - opinion, science, and illumination. The means or instrument .of the first, is sense, or perception; .of the second, dialectics; .of the third, intuition. To the last, reason is subordinate; it is absolute knowledge, founded on the identification of the mind with the object known. Theosophy is the exact science of psychology, so to say; it stands in relation to natural, uncultivated mediumship, as the knowledge of a Tyndall stands to that of a schoolboy in physics. It develops in man a direct beholding; that which Schelling denominates "a realization of the identity of subject and object in the John Tyndall individual"; so that under the influence and knowledge of hyponoia man thinks divine thoughts, views all things as they really are, and, finally, "becomes recipient of the Soul of the World" , to use one of the finest expressions of Emerson. "I, the imperfect, adore my own Perfect" - he says in his superb essay on The Over-Soul. [CW II, 95]
IS IT A SCIENCE?
To fully define Theosophy we must consider it under all its aspects. H. P. Blavatsky. [CW II, 92}
It is not possible to give a short but meaningful description of Theosophy because of its immense scope and depth. It relates to the inner (subjective) and outer (objective) realms of the whole cosmic scene and all that is in it, at all its various levels of being.
Theosophy could be thought of as the Science of Life or the, Science of Sciences. It is science in the broadest, omnibus sense. It is all embracing knowledge but in its deeper inner aspects only possessed by the Initiates and Adepts. This is known as Esoteric Science, a synonym for Theosophy. One such Master Adept said "Modem Science is our best ally". He said this when it deals with facts and not hypotheses and opinions.
...it checks the discoveries of modem exact science, and shows some of them to be necessarily correct, since they are found corroborated in the ancient records. All this will, no doubt, be regarded as terribly impertinent and disrespectful, a veritable crime of lese-science; nevertheless, it is a fact.
Science is, undeniably, ultra-materialistic in our days; but it finds, in one sense, its justification. Nature behaving in actu ever esoterically, and being, as the Kabalists say, in abscondito, can only be judged by the profane through her appearance, and that appearance is always deceitful on the physical plane. [SD I, 610]
Once Theosophy and its principles are known, it will be demonstrated that our philosophy is not only a "close relative of modern science," but its forbear, though greatly transcending it in logic; and that its "metaphysics" is vaster, more beautiful and more powerful than any emanating from a dogmatic cult. It is the metaphysics of Nature in her chaste nakedness, both physical, moral and spiritual, alone capable of explaining the apparent miracle by means of natural and psychic laws, and of completing the mere physiological and pathological notions of Science, and of killing for ever the anthropomorphic Gods and the Devils of dualistic religions. No one believes more firmly in the Unity of the eternal laws than do the Theosophists. [CW VIII, 76]
Theosophy is an all embracing Science; many are the ways leading to it, as numerous in fact as its definitions, which began by the sublime, during the day of Ammonius Saccas, and ended by the ridiculous - in Webster's Dictionary. There is no reason why our critics should claim the right for themselves alone to know what is theosophy and to define it. There were theosophists and Theosophical Schools for the last 2,000 years, from Plato down to the mediaeval Alchemists, who knew the value of the term, it may be supposed. Therefore, when we are told that "the question for consideration is not whether the Theosophical Society is doing good, but whether it is doing that kind of good which is entitled to the name of Theosophy" -we turn round and ask: " And who is to be the judge in this mooted question?" We have heard of one of the greatest Theosophists who ever who assured his audience that whosoever gave a cup of cold water to a little one in his (Theosophy's) name, would have a greater reward than all the learned Scribes and Pharisees. [CW VII, /691 ]
Yes; Theosophy is the science of all that is divine in man and nature. It is the study and the analysis, within the known and the knowable, of the unknown, and the otherwise UNKNOWABLE. [CW V. 353]
Practical Theosophy is not one Science, but embraces every science in life, moral and physical. It may, in short, be justly regarded as the universal "coach," a tutor of world-wide knowledge and experience, and of an erudition which not only assists and guides his pupils toward a successful examination for every scientific or moral service in earthly life, but fits them for the lives to come, if those pupils will only study the universe and its mysteries within themselves, instead of studying them through the spectacles of orthodox science and religions. [CW X. 165]
IS IT A RELIGION?
Mankind has devised for itself religion in many forms throughout the ages. Theosophy tells us that in its infancy humanity was so spiritual that individuals were aware of their own divinity. This was a fact of ordinary life for them. But with the densification of their material forms as the cycle of so-called involution (descent into matter) proceeded and the physical objective world occupied more and more of their attention, their inner spiritual faculty was lost. Men forgot their own true nature and God or Gods became externalised, assuming many forms, but ending as an anthropomorphic being with all human qualities and even weaknesses of character much magnified. Such gods could respond to supplication, could be appeased if they were angry, most important of all could forgive sins and grant eternal life.
Some years ago we remarked that the Esoteric Doctrine may well be called the "thread-doctrine," since, like Sutratman, in the Vedanta philosophy, it passes through and strings together all the ancient philosophical religious systems, and reconciles and explains them all. We say now it does more. It not only reconciles the various and apparently conflicting systems, but it checks the discoveries of modem exact science, and shows some of them to be necessarily correct, since they are found corroborated in the ancient records. [SD I, 610]
Yet there are, as every one knows, certain beliefs, philosophical, religious and scientific, which have become so closely associated in recent years with the word "Theosophy" that they have come to be taken by the general public for theosophy itself. Moreover, we shall be told these beliefs have been put forward, explained and defended by these very Founders who have declared that Theosophy is not a religion. Wha1 is then the explanation of this apparent contradiction? How can a certain body of beliefs and teachings, an elaborate doctrine, in fact, be labelled "Theosophy" and be tacitly accepted as "Theosophical" by nine-tenths of the members of the T. S., if Theosophy is not a Religion? - we are asked.
It is perhaps necessary, first of all, to say, that the assertion that "Theosophy is not a Religion," by no means excludes the fact that "Theosophy is Religion" itself. A Religion in the true and only correct sense is a bond uniting men together - not a particular set of dogmas and beliefs. Now Religion, per se, in its widest meaning is that which bind not only all MEN, but also all BEINGS and all things in the entire Universe into one grand whole. This is our theosophical definition c religion; [CW X. 161]
There were thaumaturgists in every creed, and mysticism has as much room in idolatrous as in monotheistic systems. Theosophy is the culmination and the practical demonstration of the truths underlying every creed. It requires but sincerity and a firm will in the application the Essentials of any of them - whether they be Theism or Adwaitism or even Atheism. Theosophy is simply the informing life of creed and of every religion and goes to prove their raison d 'etre, instead of their negation. [CW V. 96]
Theosophy believes in no miracle, whether divine or devilish; recognises nothing as supernatural; believes only in facts and Science; studies the laws of Nature, both Occult and patent; and gives attention, particularly to the former, just because exact Science will have nothing to do with them. [CW II. 490]
But though Theosophy means Divine Wisdom, it implies nothing resembling belief in a personal god. It is not "the wisdom of God", but divine wisdom. The Theosophists of the Alexandrian Neo-Platonic School believed in "gods" and "demons" and in one impersonal ABSOLUTE DEITY. [CW X. 73]
It only refuses to accept any of the gods of the so-called monotheistic religions, gods created by man in his own image and likeness, a blasphemous and sorry caricature of the Ever-Unknowable. [SD.I. xx]
Theosophy fights every anthropomorphic conception of the great UNKNOWABLE, and would impress upon the growing world, that its days of babyhood and even adolescence are over and gone by to return no more. Theosophy would teach its adherents that animal man, the finite, having been studied for ages and found wanting in everything but animalism - he being the moral as well as physical synthesis of all the forms and beings through which he has evoluted, hence beyond correction and something that must be left to time and the work of evolution - it is more profitable to turn our attention to the spiritual or inner man, the infinite and the immortal. In its higher aspect, Theosophy pities and would help every living sentient creature, not man alone. [CW V. 355]
For Theosophy is belief in the Deity as the ALL, the source of all existence, the infinite that cannot be either comprehended or known, the universe alone revealing It, or, as some prefer it, Him, thus giving a sex to that, to anthropomorphise which is blasphemy. [CW II. 92-3]
In this respect, I believe esoteric teaching differs from the Vedantin doctrines of both the Advaita and the Visishtadvaita Schools. For it says that, while Mulaprakriti, the noumenon, is self-existing and without any origin -is, in short, parentless, Anupadaka (as one with Brahman) - Prakriti, its phenomenon, is periodical and no better than a phantasm of the former; so Mahat - with the Occultists, the first-born of Jnana (or gnosis), knowledge, wisdom or the Logos is a phantasm reflected from the Absolute NIRGUNA (Parabrahman, the one reality, "devoid of attributes and qualities"; see Upanishads); while with some Vedantins Mahat is a manifestation of Prakriti, or Matter. [SD I. 62]
For, all religions divested of their man-made theologies and superlative- ly human ecclesiasticism rest on one and the same foundation, converge towards one focus: an ineradicable, congenital belief in an inner Nature reflected in the inner man, its microcosm; on this our earth, we can know of but one Light -the one we see. The Divine Principle, the WHOLE can be manifested to our consciousness, but through Nature and its highest tabernacle -man, in the words of Jesus, the only "temple of God". [CW V. 355]
These doctrines belong exclusively to no religion, and are confined to no society or time. They are the birthright of every human soul. Such a thing as orthodoxy must be wrought out by each individual according to his nature and his needs, and according to his varying experience. This may explain why those who have imagined Theosophy to be a new religion have hunted in vain for its creed and its ritual. Its creed is Loyalty to Truth, and its ritual "To honour every truth by use." [KEY, 18fn]
Thus Theosophy is not a Religion, we say, but RELIGION itself, the one bond of unity, which is so universal and all-embracing that no man, as no speck - from gods and mortals down to animals, the blade of grass and atom - can be outside of its light. Therefore, any organisation or body of that name must necessarily be a UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD.
Were it otherwise, Theosophy would be but a word added to hundreds "other such" words as high-sounding as they are pretentious and empty. Viewed as a philosophy, Theosophy in its practical work is the alembic of the Mediaeval alchemist. It transmutes the apparently base metal of every ritualistic and dogmatic creed (Christianity included) into the gold of fact and truth, and thus truly produces a universal panacea for the ills of mankind. This is why, when applying for admission into the Theosophical Society, no one is asked what religion he belongs to, nor what his deistic views may be. These views are his own personal property and have nought to do with the Society. Because Theosophy can be practised by Christian or Heathen, Jew or Gentile, by Agnostic or Materialist, or even an Atheist, provided that none of these is a bigoted fanatic, who refuses to recognise as his brother any man or woman outside his own special creed or belief. [CW X. 163]
At the time when Theosophy was being made available to the public in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky spiritualism in all its forms was attracting wide attention in both the United States and Europe. H. P. B. accepted the possibility of genuine phenomena but warned that there were many mediums practising fraudulently who brought the movement into general disrepute. For a long time the scientific fraternity would not countenance it at all - whether genuine or not. At the start of her career H. P. B. herself wrought many remarkable phenomena to demonstrate that it was possible for a qualified person who knew the appropriate laws of nature, to produce them. This, however, was inexplicable by and unacceptable to the body of orthodox scientists at the time. Fraud was the only explanation for them.
In the passages that follow it will become evident that the theosophical view of 'Spirit' is in a sense quite different from that of the spiritualists. In the theosophical classification of the seven principles of man only the upper two and a half (i.e. Atman, Buddhi and the Higher Manas) are regarded as truly spiritual and immortal. They constitute the man's spirit that cannot 'communicate' through a medium. It is the psychic reliquae of the deceased that can, but only for a time after death.
The following is an abridged collation from H. P. Blavatsky's The Key to Theosophy, in the form of an interview with her by an imaginary enquirer.
ENQ. But do you not believe in spiritualism?
THEO. If by "Spiritualism" you mean the explanation which Spiritualists give of some abnormal phenomena, then decidedly we do not. They maintain that these manifestations are produced by the "spirits" of departed mortals, generally their relatives, who return to earth to communicate with those they have loved, or to whom they are attached. We deny this point blank. We assert that the spirits of the dead cannot return to earth - save in rare and exceptional cases; nor do they communicate with men, except by entirely subjective means. That which does appear objectively, is only the phantom of the ex-physical man. But in psychic, and so to say, "Spiritual" Spiritualism, we do believe, most decidedly.
ENQ. Do you reject the phenomena also?
THEO. Assuredly not - save cases of conscious fraud.
ENQ. How do you account for them, then?
THEO. In many ways. The causes of such manifestations are by no means so simple as the Spiritualists would like to believe. Foremost of all, the deus ex machina of the so-called "materialisations" is usually the astral body or "double" of the medium, or of some one present. This astral body is also the producer, or operating force in the manifestations of slate writing. "Davenport"-like manifestations, and so on.
ENQ. You say "usually;" what is it that produces the rest?
THEO. That depends on the nature of the manifestations. Sometimes the astral remains, the Kama-Iokic "shells" of the vanished personalities that were; at other times, Elementals. "Spirit" is a word of manifold and wide significance. I really do not know what Spiritualists mean by the term; but what we understand them to claim, is that the physical phenomena are produced by the reincarnating Ego, the Spiritual and immortal "individuality". And this hypothesis we entirely reject. The Conscious Individuality of the disembodied cannot materialise, not can it return from its own mental Devachanic sphere to the plane of terrestrial objectivity.
ENQ. But many of the communications received from the "spirits" show not only intelligence, but a knowledge of facts not known to the medium, ...the investigator, ...the audience.
THEO. This does not necessarily prove that the intelligence and knowledge you speak of belong to spirits, or emanate from disembodied souls. Somnambulists have been known to compose music and poetry, and to solve mathematical problems while in their trance state, without having ever learnt music or mathematics. Others, answered intelligently to questions put to them, and even spoke languages, such as Hebrew and Latin, of which they were entirely ignorant when awake - all this in a state of profound sleep. Will you, then, maintain that this was caused by "spirits"?
ENQ. But how you would explain it?
THEO. We assert that the divine spark in man being one and identical in its essence with the Universal Spirit, our "spiritual Self' is practically omniscient, but that it cannot manifest its knowledge owing to the impediments of matter. Now the more these impediments are removed, in other words, the more the physical body is paralysed, as to its own independent activity and consciousness, as in deep sleep, or deep trance, or, again, in illness, the more fully can the inner Self manifest on this plane. This is our explanation of those truly wonderful phenomena of a higher order, in which undeniable intelligence and knowledge are exhibited. As to the lower order of manifestations, such as physical phenomena, and the platitudes, and common talk of the general "spirit", to explain even the most important of the teaching we hold upon the subject, would take up more space and time than can be allotted to it at present. We have no desire to interfere with the belief of the Spiritualists any more than with any other belief. The onus probandi must fall on the believers in "spirits". And at the present moment, while still convinced that the higher sort of manifestations occur through the disembodied souls, their leaders and the most learned and intelligent among the Spiritualists are the first to confess that not all the phenomena are produced by spirits. Gradually they will come to recognise the whole truth; but meanwhile we have no right or desire to proselytise them to our views. The less so, as in the cases of purely psychic and spiritual manifestations, we believe in the intercommunication of the spirit of the living man with that of disembodied personalities. (See explanatory note on page 30 - Key to Theosophy, TPH London 1987 reprint - p 30: an important but long explanatory note has been omitted, for brevity.)
ENQ. This means that you reject the philosophy of spiritualism in toto?
THEO. If by "philosophy" you mean their crude theories, we do. But they have no philosophy in truth. Their best, their most intellectual and earnest defenders say so. Their fundamental and only unimpeachable truth, namely, that phenomena occur through mediums controlled by invisible forces and intelligences - no one, except a blind materialist of the "Huxley big toe" school, will or can deny ...
ENQ. I was told that the Theosophical Society was originally founded to crush spiritualism and belief in the survival of the individuality in man.
THEO. You are misinformed. Our beliefs are all founded on that immortal individuality. But then, like so may others, you confuse personality with individuality. The Western psychologists do not seem to have established any clear distinction between the two. Yet it is precisely that difference which gives the keynote to the understanding of Eastern philosophy, and which lies at the root of the divergence between the Theosophical and Spiritualistic teachings. And though it may draw upon us still more the hostility of some Spiritualists, yet I must state here that it is Theosophy which is the true and unalloyed Spiritualism, while the modern scheme of that name is, as now practised by the masses, simple transcendental materialism.
ENQ. Please explain your ideas more clearly.
THEO. What I mean is that though our teachings insist upon the identity of spirit and matter, and though we say that spirit is potential matter, and matter is simply crystallised spirit (e.g., as ice is solidified steam), yet since the original and eternal condition of all is not spirit but meta spirit, so to speak, (visible and solid matter being simply its periodical manifestation), we maintain that the term spirit can only be applied to the true individuality.
ENQ. But what is the distinction between this "true individuality" and the "I", or Ego, of which we are all conscious?
THEO. Before I can answer you, we must argue upon what you mean by "I" or "Ego". We distinguish between the simple fact of self-consciousness, the simple feeling that "I am I", and the complex thought that "I am Mr Smith" or "Mrs Brown". Believing as we do in a series of births for the same Ego, or re-incarnation, this distinction is the fundamental pivot of the whole idea. You see "Mr Smith" really means a long series of daily experiences strung together by the thread of memory, and forming what Mr Smith calls "himself'. But none of these "experiences" are really the “I”, or the Ego, nor do they give "Mr Smith" the feeling that he is himself, for he forgets the greater part of his daily experience, and they produce the feeling of Egoity in him only while they last. We Theosophists, therefore, distinguish between this bundle of "experiences", which we call the false (because so finite and evanescent) personality , and that element in man to which the feeling of "I am I" is due. It is this "I am I" which we call the true individuality; and we say that this "Ego" or individuality plays, like an actor, many parts on the stage of life. Let us call every life on earth of the same Ego a night on the stage of a theatre. One night the actor, or Ego, appears as Macbeth, the next as Shylock, the third as Romeo, the fourth as Hamlet or King Lear, and so on, until he has run through the whole cycle of incarnation The Ego begins his life-pilgrimage as a sprite, an Ariel, or a Puck; 1 plays the part of a super, is a soldier, a servant, one of the chorus; rises then to speaking parts, plays leading roles interspersed with insignificant parts, till he finally retires from the stage as Prospero, the magician.
ENQ. I understand. You say that this true Ego cannot return to earth after death. But surely the actor is at liberty, if he has preserved the sense of his individuality, to return if he likes to the scene of his former actions?
THEO. We say not, simply because such a return to earth would be incompatible with any state of unalloyed bliss after death. As I am prepared to prove. We say that man suffers so much unmerited misery during his life through the fault of others with whom he is associated, or because of hi environment, that he is surely entitled to perfect rest and quiet, if n< bliss, before taking up again the burden of life. [KEY 11,27-35]
The knowledge of Theosophy is more properly philosophy itself. In the limit Theosophy is all knowledge - literally omniscience. This is only the case, however, with the great Souls who have attained to that degree of enlightenment. This is the grand achievement of the fully developed Adept or Master of Wisdom.
The great philosophers of the past may have been Initiates into the mysteries but the fact that many may have been members of Arcane School meant they were under a vow of strict secrecy that prevented them from speaking or writing anything that touched on the deeper aspects of the true occult nature of existence. This is a factor of which those who try to assess their teaching against ordinary views cannot have regard.
Occultism is the comprehensive knowledge of the subjective inner world and their processes, an outline of which was given out in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky. These writings contained some material never before made public. A distinguishing feature of Theosophy as then propounded, is that is not speculative as is much other philosophy. It is based on an actual knowledge in its infinitude, depth and extent of the all-embracing nature of Nature (the manifest Cosmos) and her processes (the Law).
For the Esoteric philosophy is alone calculated to withstand, in this age of crass and illogical materialism, the repeated attacks on all and everything man holds most dear and sacred, in his inner spiritual life. The true philosopher, the student of the Esoteric Wisdom, entirely loses sight of personalities, dogmatic beliefs and special religions. Moreover, Esoteric philosophy reconciles all religions, strips every one of its outward, human garments, and shows the root of each to be identical with that of every other great religion. It proves the necessity of an absolute Divine Principle in nature. It denies Deity no more than it does the Sun. Esoteric philosophy has never rejected God in Nature, nor Deity as the absolute and abstract Ens. [SD l. xx]
IT IS AT THE HEART OF ALL RELIGIONS AND PHILOSOPHIES Theosophy is neither Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Mohammedanism, Hinduism, nor any other -ism: it is the esoteric synthesis of the known religions and philosophies. [CW lX. 218 ]
But it is perhaps desirable to state unequivocally that the teachings, however fragmentary and incomplete, contained in these volumes, belong neither to the Hindu, the Zoroastrian, the Chaldean, nor the Egyptian religion, neither to Buddhism, Islam, Judaism nor Christianity e-xclusively. The Secret Doctrine is the essence of all these. Sprung from it in their origins, the various religious schemes are now made to merge back into their original element, out of which every mystery and dogma has grown, developed, and become materialised. [SD l. viii]
Men cannot all be Occultists, but they can all be Theosophists. Many who have never heard of the Society are Theosophists without knowing it themselves; for the essence of Theosophy is the perfect harmonising of the divine with the human in man, the adjustment of his god-like qualities and aspirations, and their sway over the terrestrial or animal passions in him. Kindness, absence of every ill feeling or selfishness, charity, good-will to all beings, and perfect justice to others as to one's self, are its chief features. He who teaches Theosophy preaches the gospel of good-will; and the converse of this is true also he who preaches the gospel of good-will, teaches Theosophy. [CW I. 244/5]
Yes; Theosophy is the science of all that is divine in man and nature. It is the study and the analysis, within the known and the knowable, of the unknown, and the otherwise UNKNOWABLE. "In its practical application it certainly means -freedom (of thought), self-trust and self-control, courage and independence". [CW V; 353]
Therefore it is that the Ethics of Theosophy are even more necessary to mankind than the scientific aspects of the psychic facts of nature and man. [CW XI. 162]
Theosophy must not represent merely a collection of moral verities, a bundle of metaphysical Ethics epitomised in theoretical dissertations. Theosophy must be made practical, and has, therefore, to be disencumbered of useless discussion. .. It has to find objective expression in all all-embracing code of life thoroughly impregnated with its spirit -the spirit of mutual tolerance, charity and love. [CW VII, 169]
It is esoteric philosophy alone, the spiritual and psychic blending of mal with Nature that, by revealing fundamental truths, can bring that much desired mediate state between the extremes of human Egotism and divine Altruism and finally lead to the alleviation of human suffering [CW VII. 147.fn]
The answer to what Theosophy is begins to dawn as we study its literature, observe our fellow humans, experience the exigencies of our lives, and become aware of Nature, her ways and her creatures. Later we sense our own conscious livingness, and begin to sense perhaps that in it we are sharing something vital with all others: men, animals and even plants. In a letter written by H. P. Blavatsky this sensing is referred to as "the living and breathing spirit of Truth and an ever growing Knowledge" (CW IX, 244).
The advent of Theosophy was meant to counteract prevalent materialism. "For by 'materialism' is meant not only an anti-philosophical negation of pure spirit, and, even more, materialism in conduct and action -brutality, hypocrisy, and, above all, selfishness, -but also the fruits of a disbelief in all but material things. .." (CW IX, 244).
The sub-title to The Secret Doctrine says it is 'The Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy' and equates it to Theosophy.
Theosophy is divine knowledge, and knowledge is truth; every true fact, every sincere word are thus part and parcel of Theosophy. [CW IX, 38]
Theosophy, if meaning anything, means truth; and truth has to deal indiscriminately and in the same spirit of impartiality with vessels of honour and of dishonour alike. [CW IX, 9]
Theosophy is the shore less ocean of universal truth, love, and wisdom, reflecting its radiance on the earth, while the Theosophical Society is only a visible bubble on that reflection. Theosophy is divine nature, visible and invisible, and its Society human nature trying to ascend to its divine parent. Theosophy, finally, is the fixed eternal sun, and its Society the evanescent comet trying to settle in an orbit to become a planet, ever revolving within the attraction of the sun of the truth. It was formed to assist in showing to men that such a thing as Theosophy exists, and to help them to ascend towards it by studying and assimilating its eternal verities. [KEY, 57]
If you speak of THEOSOPHY, I answer that, it has existed eternally throughout the endless cycles upon cycles of the Past, so it will ever exist throughout the infinitudes of the Future, because Theosophy is synonymous with EVERLASTING TRUTH. [KEY, 304]
It seeks the one Truth in all religions, in all science, in all experience, as in every system of thought. What aim can be nobler, more universal, more all-embracing? [CW XI, 339]
With every man that is earnestly searching in his own way after a knowledge of the Divine Principle, of man's relations to it, and nature's manifestations of it, Theosophy is allied. [CW II, 103]
Theosophy, too, advocates the development and the resources of MAN'S own nature as the grandest ideal we can strive for. [CW VI, 173]
To fully define Theosophy, we must consider it under all its aspects. The interior world has not been hidden from all by impenetrable darkness. By that higher intuition acquired by Theosophia -or God-knowledge, which carries the mind from the world of form into that of formless spirit, mar has been sometimes enabled in every age and every country to perceive things in the interior or invisible world. Hence, the "Samadhi," or Dyan Yog Samadhi, of the Hindu ascetics; the "Da'imonion-photi," or spiritual illumination, of the Neo-Platonists; the "Sidereal confabulation of souls," of the Rosicrucians or Fire-philosophers; and, even the ecsta- tic trance of mystics and of the modern mesmerists and spiritualists, are identical in nature, though various as to manifestation. The search after man's diviner "self," so often and so erroneously interpreted as individual communion with a personal God, was the object of every mystic, and belief in its possibility seems to have been coeval with the genesis of humanity - each people giving it another name. Thus Plato and Plotinus call "Noetic work" that which the Yogis and the Srotriya term Vidya. "By reflection, self-knowledge and intellectual discipline, the soul can be raised to the vision of eternal truth, goodness, and beauty - that is, to the Vision of God - this is the epopteia," said the Greeks . "To unite one's soul to the Universal Soul," says Porphyry, "requires but a perfectly pure mind. Through self-contemplation, perfect chastity, and purity of body, we may approach nearer to It, and receive in that state, true knowledge and wonderful insight." [CW II, 92-3]
Plato having been initiated could not believe in a personal God - a gigantic Shadow of Man. His epithets of "Monarch and Lawgiver of the Universe" bear an abstract meaning well understood by every Occultist, who, no less than any Christian, believes in the One Law that governs the Universe, recognising it at the same time as immutable. [SD II, 554]
Real Theosophy is, for the mystics, that state which Apollonius of Tyana was made to describe thus: "I can see the present and the future as in a clear mirror. The sage need not wait for the vapours of the earth and the corruption of the air to foresee plagues and fevers ... The theoi, or gods see the future; common men the present; sages that which is about to take place." [KEY; Il fn]
Its doctrines, if seriously studied, call forth, by stimulating one's reasoning powers and awakening the inner in the animal man, every hitherto dormant power for good in us, and also the perception of the true and the real, as opposed to the false and the unreal. Tearing off with no uncertain hand the thick veil of dead-letter with which every old religious scripture was cloaked, scientific Theosophy, learned in the cunning symbolism of the ages, reveals to the scoffer at old wisdom the origin of the world's faiths and sciences. It opens new vistas beyond the old horizons of crystallised, motionless and despotic faiths; and turning blind belief into a reasoned knowledge founded on mathematical laws - the only exact science -it demonstrates to him under profounder and more philosophical aspects the existence of that which, repelled by the grossness of its dead-letter form, he had long since abandoned as a nursery tale. It gives a clear and well-defined object, an ideal to live for, to every sincere man or woman belonging to whatever station in Society and of whatever culture and degree of intellect. Practical Theosophy is
not one Science, but embraces every science in life, moral and physical. It may, in short, be justly regarded as the universal "coach," a tutor of world-wide knowledge and experience, and of an erudition which not only assists and guides his pupils toward a successful examination for every scientific or moral service in earthly life, but fits them for the lives to come, if those pupils will only study the universe and its mysteries within themselves, instead of studying them through the spectacles of orthodox science and religions. [CW X, 164-5]
THE ASPIRANT MUST LIVE FOR OTHERS, NOT FOR HIS OWN LITTLE SELF.
Its aims are several; but the most important of all are those which are likely to lead to the relief of human suffering under any or every form, moral as well as physical. And we believe the former to be far more important than the latter. Theosophy has to inculcate ethics; it has to purify the soul, if it would relieve the physical body, whose ailments, save cases of accidents, are all hereditary .It is not by studying Occultism for selfish ends, for the gratification of one's personal ambition, pride, or vanity, that one can ever reach the true goal: that of helping suffering mankind. Nor is it by studying one single branch of the esoteric philosophy that a man becomes an Occultist, but by studying, if no mastering, them all. [KEY, 24]
For, while the heart is full of thoughts for a little group of selves, near and dear to us, how shall the rest of mankind fare in our souls? What percentage of love and care will there remain to bestow on the "great orphan"? And how shall the "still small voice" make itself heard in a soul entirely occupied with its own privileged tenants? What room is there left for the needs of Humanity en bloc to impress themselves upon, o even receive a speedy response? And yet, he who would profit by the wisdom of the universal mind has to reach it through the whole of Humanity without distinction of race, complexion, religion or social status. It is altruism, not ego-ism even in its most legal and noble conception, which can lead the unit to merge its little Self in the Universal Selves. It is to these needs and to this work that the true disciple of true Occultism has to devote himself, if he would obtain Theo-sophy, divine Wisdom and Knowledge. [CW IX, 258]
A true Theosophist ought "to deal justly and walk humbly" ...The one self has to forget itself for the many selves …
FIRST HE MUST FIND HIMSELF.
In the words of a true Philaletheian: "What every man needs first is to find himself, and then take an honest inventory of his subjective possessions, and, bad or bankrupt as it may be, it is not beyond redemption if we set about it in earnest." But how many do? All are willing to work for their own development and progress; very few for those of others.
BREAK IDOLS, PUT AWAY SHAMS.
To quote the same writer again: Men have been deceived and deluded long enough; they must break their idols, put away their shams, and go to work for themselves - nay, there is one little word too much or too many, for he who works for himself had better not work at all; rather let him work himself for others, for all. For every flower of love and charity he plants in his neighbour's garden, a loathsome weed will disappear from his own, and so this garden of the gods -Humanity -shall blossom as a rose. In all Bibles, all religions, this is plainly set forth -but designing men have at first misinterpreted and finally emasculated, materialized, besotted them. It does not require a new revelation. Let every man be a revelation unto himself. Let once man's immortal spirit take possession of the temple of his body, drive out the money-changers and every unclean thing, and his own divine humanity will redeem him, for when he is thus at one with himself he will know the "builder of the Temple." [KEY, 52]
The Ethical Ideals of Theosophy
The phrases in the selected passages below emphasize some of the aspects of ethics for the guidance of would-be theosophists. These centre on the elimination of selfishness. This means a transference of interest from the limited personal to the unlimited "impersonal", from the specifically egocentric to the universal. The saying that Theosophy is altruism is an expression of this shift. The technical considerations behind this lie in the theosophical constitution of man as a tripartite being. He is regarded as primarily spiritual, with an emotional or psychic nature and a physical body. In the teaching the tripartite classification is expanded into a sevenfold one wherein his physical principles are threefold, his psychic twofold and his highest spiritual nature threefold (the psychic and the spiritual share the mental principle). His spirituality reflects the essential Being of the Universe up the highest level according to the man's development. Consciousness at this level transcends completely the purely personal with its private concerns. Consciousness becomes liberated and the man's mental view expands embrace the cosmic whole with everything in it, including all human whatever its condition. Virtue is the hallmark of the developed theosophist and this necessarily includes compassion.
Theosophy teaches the animal-man to be a human-man; and when people have learnt to think and feel as truly human beings should feel and think, they will act humanely, and works of charity, justice, and generosity will be done spontaneously by all. [CW IX, 247]
Men cannot all be Occultists, but they can all be Theosophists. Many who have never heard of the Society are Theosophists without knowing it themselves; for the essence of Theosophy is the perfect harmonising of the divine within the human in man, the adjustment of his god-like qualities and aspirations, and their sway over the terrestrial or animal passions in him. Kindness, absence of every ill feeling or selfishness, charity, good will to all beings, and perfect justice to others as to one’s self, are its chief features. [CW 1X, 244/5]
MUTUAL-CULTURE, NOT SELF-CULTURE "Theosophy teaches self-culture and not control," we are told. Theosophy teaches mutual-culture before self-culture to begin with. Union is strength. It is by gathering many theosophists of the same way of thinking into one or more groups, and making them closely united by the same magnetic bond of fraternal unity and sympathy that the objects of mutual development and progress in Theosophical thought may best achieved. "Self-culture" is for isolated Hatha Yogis, independent of any Society and having to avoid association with human beings; and this is a triply distilled SELFISHNESS. For real moral advancement -there "where two or three are gathered" in the name of the SPIRIT OF TRUTH -there that Spirit of Theosophy will be in the midst of them. [CW VII, 160-1]
HOPE AND RESPONSIBILITY TO SUFFERING HUMANITY If Theosophy prevailing in the struggle, its all-embracing philosophy strikes deep root into the minds and hearts of men, if its doctrines of Reincarnation and Karma, in other words, of Hope and Responsibility, find a home in the lives of the new generations, then, indeed will dawn the day of joy and gladness for all who now suffer and are outcast. For real Theosophy is ALTRUISM, and we cannot repeat it too often. It is brotherly love, mutual help, unswerving devotion to Truth. If once men do but realise that in these alone can true happiness be found, and never in wealth, possessions, or any selfish gratification, then the dark clouds will roll away, and a new humanity will be born upon earth. Then, the GOLDEN AGE will be there, indeed. [CW XI, 202]
Karma is a word of many meanings, and has a special term for almost every one of its aspects. It means, as a synonym of sin, the performance of some action for the attainment of an object of worldly, hence selfish, desire, which cannot fail to be hurtful to somebody else. Karma is action, the Cause; and Karma again is "the law of ethical causation;" the effect of an act produced egotistically, when the great law of harmony depends on altruism. [SD 11, 302 fn]
The problem of true Theosophy and its great mission are, first, the working out of clear unequivocal conceptions of ethic ideas and duties, such as shall best and most fully satisfy the right and altruistic feelings in men; and, second, the modelling of these conceptions for their adaptation into such forms of daily life, as shall offer a field where they may be applied with most equitableness. [CW VII, 175]
A BROTHERHOOD On the day when Theosophy will have accomplished its most holy and most important mission -namely, to unite firmly a body of men of all nations in brotherly love and bent on a pure altruistic work, not on a labour with selfish motives -on that day only will Theosophy become higher than any nominal brotherhood of man. This will be a wonder and a miracle truly, for the realisation of which Humanity is vainly waiting for the last 18 centuries, and which every association has hitherto failed to accomplish. [CW IX, 243]
Theosophy must not represent merely a collection of moral verities, a bundle of metaphysical Ethics epitomised in theoretical dissertations. Theosophy must be made practical, and has, therefore, to be disencumbered of useless discussion … It has to find objective expression in a all-embracing code of life thoroughly impregnated with its spirit - the spirit of mutual tolerance, charity and love … [CW VII, 169]
I repeat: it is only Theosophy, which well understood, that can save the world from despair, by re-enacting the social and religious reform once before in history accomplished by Gautama the Buddha; a peaceful reform, without one drop of spilt blood, permitting everyone to remain in the faith of his fathers if he so choose. To do this, one would have only to reject the parasitic plants of human fabrication which at the present moment are choking all religions and cults in the world. Let him accept but the essence, which is the same in all; namely, the spirit which gives life to man in whom it resides, and renders him immortal. Let every man inclined to good find his ideal - a star before him to guide him. Let him follow it without ever deviating from his path, and he is almost certain to reach the "beacon-light" of life - TRUTH; no matter whether he seeks for and finds it at the bottom of a cradle or of a well. [CW IX, 262]
But if not, then the storm will burst, and our boasted western civilisation and enlightenment will sink in such a sea of horror that its parallel History has never yet recorded. [CW XI, 202]
Theosophy unveiled in The Secret Doctrine
The literature of the Ancient Wisdom comes to us out of the remotest antiquity. There has been a continuous thread cropping up in all the civilizations the world has seen. The writings have come from a numberless series of knowers who have bestowed on humanity works of devotion, inspiration, ethics, philosophy, even of a transcendental psychology. The knowers, however, have been initiates in the arcane mysteries with secrets which they could never reveal at the heart of their lore. These secrets concerned the inner nature of Nature (the manifest herself and of her laws and processes. Among the secrets was how man related in every respect to Nature. His nature reflected in miniature (microcosm) that of Great Nature herself (Macrocosm) in every respect.
More than had ever before been made public was given out to the world in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky (an initiate in her own right) and of her Teachers, Masters of the Wisdom. These writings included importantly THE SECRET DOCTRINE. There were others.
Much of the material in this Section is of great significance and depth. For most students the concepts - and all their ramifications - will be new. Repeated reading with much thought is required for the concepts fully to be appreciated, at first singly and then as a comprehensive whole. Later when the great cosmic principle of UNITY is apprehended it is found that the fundamental teachings relate to man himself. Then comes the realisation that concerns the inmost nature of each of us. We are "THAT".
For what is contained in this work is to be found scattered throughout thousands of volumes embodying the scriptures of the great Asiatic and early European religions, hidden under glyph and symbol, and hitherto left unnoticed because of this veil. What is now attempted is to gather the oldest tenets together and to make of them one harmonious and unbroken whole. [SD I, vii]
The aim of this work may thus be stated: to show that Nature is not "a fortuitous concurrence of atoms," and to assign to man his rightful place in the scheme of the Universe; to rescue from degradation the archaic truths which are the basis of all religions; and to uncover, to some extent, the fundamental unity from which they all spring; finally, to show that the occult side of Nature has never been approached by the Science of modem civilisation. [SD I, viii]
It [Theosophy] is not taught in any of the six Indian Schools of philosophy, for it pertains to their synthesis - the seventh, which is the Occult doctrine. It is not traced on any crumbling papyrus of Egypt, nor is it any longer graven on Assyrian tile or granite wall. The Books of the Vedanta (the last word of human knowledge) give out but the metaphysical aspect of this world-Cosmogony; and their priceless thesaurus, the Upanishads -Upa-ni-shad being a compound word meaning "the conquest of ignorance by the revelation of secret, spiritual knowledge" -require now the additional possession of a master key to enable the student to get at their full meaning. [SD I, 269]
Before the reader proceeds to the consideration of the Stanzas from the Book of Dzyan which form the basis of this present work, it is absolutely necessary that he should be made acquainted with the few fundamental conceptions which underlie and pervade the entire system of thought to which his attention is invited. These basic ideas are few in number, and on their clear apprehension depends the understanding of all that follows [in The Secret Doctrine].
The Secret Doctrine establishes three fundamental propositions;
THE UNMANIFEST ONE
(a) An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought -in the words of Mandukya Upanishad, "unthinkable and unspeakable."
To render these ideas clearer to the general reader, let him set out with the postulate that there is one absolute Reality which antecedes all manifested, conditioned, being. This Infinite and Eternal Cause - dimly formulated in the "Unconscious" and "Unknowable" of current European philosophy -is the rootless root of "all that was, is, or ever shall be." It is of course devoid of all attributes and is essentially without any relation to manifested, finite Being. It is "Be-ness" rather than Being (in Sanskrit, Sat), and is beyond all thought or speculation.
This "Be-ness" is symbolised in the Secret Doctrine under two aspects On the one hand, absolute abstract Space, representing bare subjectivity the one thing which no human mind can either exclude from any conception, or conceive of by itself. On the other, absolute abstrac1 Motion representing Unconditioned Consciousness. Even our Western thinkers have shown that Consciousness is inconceivable to us apart from change, and motion best symbolises change, its essential characteristic. This latter aspect of the one Reality, is also symbolised by the term 'The Great Breath’ a symbol sufficiently graphic to need no further elucidation. Thus, then, the first fundamental axiom of the Secret Doctrine is this metaphysical ONE ABSOLUTE - BE-NESS -symbolised by finite intelligence as the theological Trinity. [SD I, 14]
Parabrahman (the One Reality, the Absolute) is the field of Absolute Consciousness, i.e., that Essence which is out of all relation to the conditioned existence, and of which conscious existence is a conditioned symbol. But once that we pass in thought from this (to us) Absolute Negation, duality supervenes in the contrast of Spirit (or consciousness and Matter, Subject and Object.
Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter are, however, to be regarded, not as independent realities, but as the two facets or aspects of the Absolute (Parabrahman), which constitute the basis of conditioned Being whether subjective or objective.
Considering this metaphysical triad as the Root from which proceeds all manifestation, the Great Breath assumes the character of pre-cosmic Ideation. It is the fons et origo of force and of all individual conscious-ness, and supplies the guiding intelligence in the vast scheme of cosmic Evolution. On the other hand, pre-cosmic root-substance (Mulaprakriti) is that aspect of the Absolute which underlies all the objective planes of Nature.
Just as pre-cosmic Ideation is the root of all individual consciousness, so pre-cosmic Substance is the substratum of matter in the various grades of its differentiation.
Hence it will be apparent that the contrast of these two aspects of the Absolute is essential to the existence of the "Manifested Universe." Apart from Cosmic Substance, Cosmic Ideation could not manifest as individual consciousness, since it is only through a vehicle of matter that consciousness wells up as "I am I," a physical basis being necessary to focus a ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity. Again, apart from Cosmic Ideation, Cosmic Substance would remain an empty abstraction, and no emergence of consciousness could ensue.
The "Manifested Universe," therefore, is pervaded by duality, which is, as it were, the very essence of its EX-istence as "manifestation." [SD I, 15]
But just as the opposite poles of subject and object, spirit and matter, are but aspects of the One Unity in which they are synthesised, so, in the manifested Universe, there is "that" which links spirit to matter, subject to object.
This something, at present unknown to Western speculation, is called by the occultists Fohat. It is the "bridge" by which the "Ideas" existing in the "Divine Thought" are impressed on Cosmic substance as the "Laws of Nature." Fohat is thus the dynamic energy of Cosmic Ideation; or, regarded from the other side, it is the intelligent medium, the guiding power of all manifestation, the "Thought Divine" transmitted and made manifest through the Dhyani-Chohans*, the Architects of the visible World. Thus from Spirit, or Cosmic Ideation, comes our consciousness from Cosmic Substance the several vehicles in which that consciousness is individualised and attains to self - or reflective -consciousness; while Fohat, in its various manifestations, is the mysterious link between Mind and Matter, the animating principle electrifying every atom into Life [SD I, 16]*
*Called by Christian Theology archangels, seraphs, etc.
The following summary will afford a clearer idea to the reader:
(I). The ABSOLUTE; the Parabrahman of the Vedantins, or the one Reality, SAT, which is, as Hegel says, both Absolute Being and Non-Being.
(2). The first manifestation, the impersonal, and, in philosophy, unmanifested Logos, the precursor of the "manifested." This is the "First Cause," the "Unconscious" of European Pantheists.
(3). Spirit-matter, LIFE; the "Spirit of the Universe," the Purusha and Prakriti, or the second Logos.
(4). Cosmic Ideation, MAHAT or Intelligence, the Universal World-Soul; the Cosmic Noumenon of Matter, the basis of the intelligent operations in and of Nature, also called MAHA-BUDDHI.
The ONE REALITY; its dual aspects in the conditioned Universe.
Further the Secret Doctrine affirms:
THE UNIVERSE, A BOUNDLESS PLANE
(b) The Eternity of the Universe in toto as a boundless plane; periodically ‘the playground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing’, called ‘the manifesting stars’ and the ‘sparks of Eternity’. ‘The Eternity of the Pilgrim’ is like a wink of the Eye of Self-Existence (Book of Dzyan). “The appearance and disappearance Worlds is like a regular tidal ebb, flux and reflux.” [SD I, 16/7]
THE LAW OF PERIODICITY
This second assertion of the Secret Doctrine is the absolute universality of that law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow, which physical science has observed and recorded in all departments of nature. An alternation such as that of Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking, is a fact so common, so perfectly universal and without exception, that it is easy to comprehend that in it we see one of the absolutely fundamental laws of the universe. [SD I, 17]
...OUR IDENTITY WITH THE UNIVERSAL OVER-SOUL
Moreover, the Secret Doctrine teaches:
(c) The fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over-Soul, the latter being itself an aspect of the Unknown Root; and the obligatory pilgrimage for every Soul - a spark of the former - through the Cycle of Incarnation (or "Necessity") in accordance with Cyclic and Karmic law, during the whole term. In other words, no purely spiritual Buddhi (divine Soul) can have an independent (conscious) existence before the spark which issued from the pure Essence of the Universal Sixth principle - or the OVER-SOUL - has (a) passed through every elemental form of the phenomenal world of that Manvantara, and (b) acquired individuality, first by natural impulse, and then by self-induced and self-devised efforts (checked by its Karma), thus ascending through all the degrees of intelligence, from the lowest to the highest Manas, from mineral and plant, up to the holiest archangel (Dhyani-Buddha). The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations. This is why the Hindus say that the Universe, is Brahma and Brahma, for Brahma is in every atom of the universe, the six principles in Nature being all the outcome - the variously differentiated aspects - of the SEVENTH and ONE, the only reality in the Universe, whether Cosmical or microcosmical; and also why the permutations (psychic, spiritual and physical), on the plane of manifestation and form of the sixth (Brahma, the vehicle of Brahma) are viewed by metaphysical antiphrasis as illusive and Mayavic. For although the root of every atom individually, and of every form collectively, is that seventh principle or the one Reality, still, in its manifested phenomenal and temporary appearance, it is no better than an evanescent illusion of our senses. [SD I, 17-8]
THE MANIFEST ONE
In its absoluteness, the One Principle under its two aspects (of Parabrahman and Mûlaprakriti) is sexless, unconditioned and eternal. Its periodical (manvantaric) emanation - or primal radiation - is also One, androgynous and phenomenally finite. When the radiation radiates in its turn, all its radiations are also androgynous, to become male and female principles in their lower aspects. After Pralaya, whether the great or the minor Pralaya (the latter leaving the worlds in statu quo**), the first that reawakens to active life is the plastic Akasa, Father- Mother, the Spirit and Soul of Ether, or the plane on the surface of the Circle. Space is called the "Mother" before its Cosmic activity, and Father-Mother at the first stage of reawakening. In the Kabala it is also Father-Mother-Son. But whereas in the Eastern doctrine, these are the Seventh Principle of the manifested Universe, or its "Atma-Buddhi-Manas" (Spirit, Soul, Intelligence) , the triad branching off and dividing into the seven cosmical and seven human principles, in the Eastern Kabala of the Christian mystics it is the Triad or Trinity, and with their occultists, the male-female Jehovah, Jah-Havah. In this lies the whole difference between the esoteric and the Christian trinities. The Mystics and the Philosophers, the Eastern and Western Pantheists, synthesise their pre genetic triad in the pure divine abstraction. The orthodox anthropomorphise it. Hiranyagarbha, Hari, and Samkara - the three hypostases of the manifesting "Spirit of the Supreme Spirit" (by which title Prithivi - the Earth – greets Vishnu in his first Avatara) - are the purely metaphysical abstract qualities of formation, preservation, and destruction, and are the three divine Avasthas (lit. hypostases) of that which "does not perish with created things" (or Achyuta, a name of Vishnu); whereas the orthodox Christian separates his personal creative Deity into the three personages of the Trinity, and admits of no higher Deity. The latter, in Occultism, is the abstract Triangle; with the orthodox, the perfect Cube. The creative god, or the aggregate gods, are regarded by the Eastern philosopher as Bhrantidarsanatah – ‘false apprehension’, something ‘conceived of by reason of erroneous appearances, as a material form’, and explained as arising from the illusive conception of the Egotistic personal and human Soul (lower fifth principle) .It is beautifully expressed in a new translation of Vishnu-Purana: "That Brahmâ, in its totality, has, essentially, the aspect of Prakriti, both evolved and un-evolved (Mûlaprakriti), and also the aspect of spirit and the aspect of Time. Spirit, O twice-born, is the leading aspect of the supreme Brahma. The next is a twofold aspect - Prakriti, both evolved and un-evolved, and time is the last".
**It is not the physical organisms that remain in statu quo, least of all their physical principles, during the great Cosmic, or even Solar, pralayas but only their Akashic, astral, 'photographs' .But during minor pralayas, once overtaken by the 'Night', the planets remain intact, though dead, as a huge animal, caught and imbedded in the polar ice, remains the same for ages.
Kronos (Chronos) is shown in the Orphic theogony as being also a generated god or agent.
At this stage of the reawakening of the Universe, the sacred symbolism represents it as a perfect Circle with the (root) point in the Centre. This sign was universal, therefore we find it in the Kabala also. [SD I, 18-9]
THE SECRET DOCTRINE ESTABLISHES A FURTHER THREE PROPOSITIONS
As regards the evolution of mankind, the Secret Doctrine postulates three new propositions, which stand in direct antagonism to modem science as well as to current dogmas; it teaches: (a) the simultaneous evolution of seven human groups on seven different portions of our globe; (b) The birth of the astral, before the physical body, the former being a model for the latter; and (c) that man, in this Round, preceded every mammalian -the anthropoids included -in the animal kingdom. [SD II, 1]
7. Blavatsky on how to study Theosophy
In the last few weeks of her life H. P. Blavatsky had about her a small group of students to whom she gave some important instruction. In this group was a Commander Robert Bowen. Bowen made notes of some of their conversations and his notes were later found. They formed the basis for a small booklet to which was given the title "Madame Blavatsky on how to study Theosophy". This gave some general advice on how to approach the study of Theosophy and in particular her great work The Secret Doctrine. In her talks to the Group she was helpfully explicit on a number of points, shedding the light of her great knowledge on them. A full reiteration of these points is unnecessary here but quotations from the booklet are made in this section.
DEVELOPING THE MIND
Come to the SD (she says) without any hope of getting the final Truth of existence from it, or with any idea other than seeing how far it may lead TOWARDS the Truth. See in study a means of exercising and developing the mind never touched by other studies. Observe the following rules: No matter what one may study in the SD, let the mind hold fast, as the basis of its ideation, to the following ideas. [BN 9]
(a) The FUNDAMENTAL UNITY OF ALL EXISTENCE. This unity is a thing altogether different from the common notion of unity -as when we say that a nation or an army is united; or that this planet is united to that by lines of magnetic force or the like. The teaching is not that. It is that existence ONE THING, not any collection of things linked together. Fundamentally there is ONE BEING. The BEING has two aspects, positive and negative. The positive is Spirit, or CONSCIOUSNESS. The negative is SUBSTANCE, the subject of consciousness. This Being is the Absolute in its primary manifestation. Being absolute there is nothing outside it. It is ALL-BEING. It is indivisible else it would not be absolute. If a portion could be separated, that remaining could not be absolute, because there would at once arise the question of COMPARISON between it and the separated part. Comparison is incompatible with any idea of absoluteness. Therefore it is clear that this fundamental ONE EXISTENCE, or Absolute Being, must be the REALITY in every form there is.
The Atom, the Man, the God (she says) are each separately, as well as all collectively, Absolute Being in their last analysis, that is their REAL INDIVIDUALITY. It is this idea which must be held always in the background of the mind to form the basis for every conception that arises from study of the SD. The moment one lets it go (and it is most easy to do so when engaged in any of the many intricate aspects of the Esoteric Philosophy) the idea of SEPARATION supervenes, and the study loses its value. [BN, 9]
THERE IS NO DEAD MATTER
The second idea to hold fast to is that THERE IS NO DEAD MATTER. Every last atom is alive. It cannot be otherwise since every atom is itself fundamentally Absolute Being. Therefore there is no such thing as "spaces" of Ether, or Akasha, or call it what you like, in which angels and elementals disport themselves like trout in water. That's a common idea. The true idea shows every atom of substance no matter of what plane to be in itself a LIFE. [BN, 9]
Now the Occultists, who: trace every atom in the universe, whether an aggregate or single, to One Unity, or Universal Life; who do not recognise that anything in Nature can be inorganic; who know of no such thing as dead matter - the Occultists are consistent with their doctrine of Spirit and Soul when speaking of memory in every atom, of will and sensation. [SD II, 672]
(c) The third basic idea to be held is that Man is the MICROCOSM. As he is so, then all the Hierarchies of the Heavens exist within him. But in truth there is neither Macrocosm nor Microcosm but ONE EXISTENCE. Great and small are such only as viewed by a limited consciousness. [BN, 9]
(d) Fourth and last basic idea to be held is that expressed in the Great Hermetic Axiom. It really sums up and synthesises all the others: As is the Inner, so is the Outer; as is the Great, so is the Small; as it is above, so it is below: there is but ONE LIFE AND LAW; and he that worketh it is ONE. Nothing is Inner, nothing is Outer; nothing is GREAT, nothing is Small; nothing is High, nothing is Low, in the Divine Economy. [BN, 10]
Analogy is the guiding law in Nature, the only true Ariadne's thread that can lead us, through the inextricable paths of her domain, toward her primal and final mysteries. Nature, as a creative potency, is infinite, and no generation of physical scientists can ever boast of having exhausted the list of her ways and methods, however uniform the laws upon which she proceeds. If we can conceive of a ball of Fire-mist becoming gradually - as it rolls through the aeons of time in the inter-stellar spaces -a planet, a self-luminous globe, to settle into a man-bearing world, or Earth, thus having passed from a soft plastic body into a rock-bound globe; and if we see on it everything evolving from the non-nucleated jelly-speck that becomes the sarcode [protoplasm] of the moneron, then passes from its protistic state into the form of an animal, to grow into a gigantic reptilian monster of the Mesozoic times; then dwindles again into the (comparatively) dwarfish crocodile, now confined solely to tropical regions, and the universally common lizard - how can man alone escape the general law? "There were giants on earth in those days," says Genesis, repeating the statement of all the other Eastern Scriptures; and the Titans are founded on anthropological and physiological fact. [SD 11, 153]
Did the Ancients know of worlds besides their own? What are the data of the Occultists in affirming that every globe is a septenary chain of worlds - of which only one member is visible - and that these are, were or will be, "man bearing," just as every visible star or planet is? What do they mean by "a moral and physical influence" of the sidereal worlds on our globes?
Such are the questions often put to us, and they have to be considered from every aspect. To the first of the two queries the answer is: We believe it, because the first law in nature is uniformity in diversity, and the second -analogy. "As above, so below." That time is gone by for ever, when, although our pious ancestors believed that our earth was in the centre of the universe, the church and her arrogant servants could insist that we should regard as blasphemy the supposition that any other planet could be inhabited. Adam and Eve, the Serpent, and the Original Sin followed by atonement through blood, have been too long in the way, and thus was universal truth sacrificed to the insane conceit of us little men. [SD II, 699]
Only, as already remarked, no Eastern Initiate would speak of spheres "above us, between the earth and the airs," even the highest, as there is no such division or measurement in occult speech, no "above" as no "below", but an eternal "within", within two other withins, or the planes of subjectivity merging gradually into that of terrestrial objectivity - this being for man the last one, his own plane. [SD.I, 671-2]
Warnings to the selfish
These warnings must be seen against a background of the teachings concerning the occult nature of man (both genders) .In them he is sevenfold - his three higher principles (upper Manas, Buddhi and Atma) are purely spiritual, transcending completely the personal man; they are in effect immortal, providing the limited earthly man with his sense of "I" and his inherent consciousness. They are, however, utterly impersonal, unlimited by any constraints of the personal beings they overshadow during their lives. Further, they cannot be tainted or affected by any gross results of the lives of their periodical incarnations at physical level - ordinary men and women.
The personality on the other hand is temporary .It is mortal, impure spiritually as a result of passions, appetites of all sorts, self-interest, ambition at the expense of others, etc., etc. It comprises the four lower principles of the septenary, i.e. the mento-emotional or psychic and those relating to and including the physical body. All of us at this level are conditioned. Our concern is for the things of the lower self, the very antithesis of what must apply to the aspiring spiritual man or he who would enter into the arcana of Occult Wisdom, or Theosophy.
Theosophy is essentially unsectarian, and work for it forms the entrance to the Inner life. But none can enter there save the man himself in the highest and truest spirit of Brotherhood, and any other attempt at entrance will either be futile or he will lie blasted at the threshold. [CW XI,166]
It is a noticeable fact that neither Zoroaster, Buddha, Orpheus, Pythagoras, Confucius, Socrates, nor Ammonius Saccas, committed anything to writing. The reason for it is obvious. Theosophy is a double-edged weapon and unfit for the ignorant or the selfish. Like every ancient philosophy it has its votaries among the moderns; but, until late in our own days, its disciples were few in numbers, and of the most various sects and opinions. [CW 11, 96]
But woe to those who try to convert a noble philosophy into a den for disgusting immorality, greediness for selfish power, and money-making under the cloak of Theosophy. Karma reaches them when least expected. [CW X1, 165]
Siddhis (or the Arhat powers) are only for those who are able to "lead the life", to comply with the terrible sacrifices required for such training, and to comply with them to the very letter. Let them know at once and remember always, that true Occultism or Theosophy is the "Great Renunciation of SELF", unconditionally and absolutely, in thought as in action. It is ALTRUISM, and it throws him who practises it out of calculation of the ranks of the living altogether. "Not for himself, but for the world, he lives", as soon as he has pledged himself to the work. Much is forgiven during the first years of probation. But, no sooner is he "accepted" than his personality must disappear, and he has to become a mere beneficent force in Nature. There are two poles for him after that, two paths, and no midward place of rest. He has either to ascend laboriously, step by step, often through numerous incarnations and no Devachanic break, the golden ladder leading to Mahatma-ship (the Arhat or Bodhisattva condition), or - he will let himself slide down the ladder at the first false step, and roll down into Dugpaship ... [CW IX, 254]
Besides this psychological, or soul-state, Theosophy cultivated every branch of sciences and arts. It was thoroughly familiar with what is now commonly known as mesmerism. Practical theurgy or "ceremonial magic", so often resorted to in their exorcisms by the Roman Catholic clergy -is discarded by the Theosophists. It is but lamblichus alone who, transcending the other Eclectics, added to Theosophy the doctrine of Theurgy. When ignorant of the true meaning of the esoteric divine symbols of nature, man is apt to miscalculate the powers of his soul, and, instead of communing spiritually and mentally with the higher, celestial being the good spirits (the gods of the theurgists of the Platonic school), he will unconsciously call forth the evil, dark powers which lurk around humanity - the undying, grim creations of human crimes all vices - and thus fall from theurgia (white magic) into goetia (or black magic, sorcery). Yet, neither white, nor black magic are what popular superstition understans (by the terms. The possibility of "raising spirits" according to the key of Solomon, is the height of superstition and ignorance. Purity of deed and thought can alone raise us to an intercourse "with the gods" and attain for us the goal we desire. Alchemy, believed by so many to have been a spiritual philosophy as well as a physic science, belonged to the teachings of the theosophical school. [CW II,96]
CW The Collected Writings of H.P. Blavatsky
Edited by Boris De Zirkoff; [14 Vols]; Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton.
SD The Secret Doctrine
H. P. Blavatsky; [3 Vols]; Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar.
KEY The Key to Theosophy
H. P. Blavatsky; (unabridged, verbatim reprinting of the 1889 First Edition); Theosophical University Press, Pasadena.
BN The Bowen Notes
Madame Blavatsky on how to study Theosophy; The Theosophical Society in England.
Students are specially recommended to read the following articles in the Collected Writings:
1) What is Theosophy? [Vol. II, pp 87-97]
2) Is Theosophy a Religion? [Vol. X, pp 159-174]
There is a very wide literature covering the subjects dealt with in this book but the writings of H. P. Blavatsky have been taken to be the mos1 informative and authoritative that there are available. Her knowledge was from two sources, one her Initiate Teachers and second her own insights, her own apperception, her intuition resulting from great inherent gifts and intense training. Her Teachers also committed much to writing, a very rare occurrence where genuine Occultism is concerned.
Books by H. P. Blavatsky are as follows:
1. ISIS UNVEILED: 1877; J. W. Bouton, New York; subtitle: A Master Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology; , large work in two volumes of over 600 pages each.
This is a mine of information, some of it very little known, and a mass o enlightened comment on the science and theology of the day. While som< of this is out of date, much in the book is of an enduring nature. This book while being regarded by some as iconoclastic, is liberating. It helps us 1< free ourselves from our prejudices and preconceptions. It is in a number o editions, by various publishers, but the text is the same in them all.
2. THE SECRET DOCTRINE: 1888; The Theosophical Publishing Company, London; subtitle: The Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy; two volumes of some 1500 pages altogether.
This is a massive work of great erudition, some 1100 other works being referred to in the text. It outlines the vast scheme of knowledge of the nature and function of Cosmos available to mankind in the extensive world literature on the subject and adds some items of great significance, not previously given out. In spite of the work's extent and depth, H. P .B. say that in it only "a corner of the veil" was lifted. In her preface H. P. B. says, "The aim of this work may thus be stated: to show that Nature is not a fortuitous concurrence of atoms' and to assign to man his rightful place in the scheme of the Universe, etc. etc." She further says that it, The Secret Doctrine, is as much as 20th century man can apprehend.
3. THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY: 1889; numerous editions about 250 pages; "Dedicated by H. P. B. to all her pupils that they may Learn and Teach in their turn".
This book covers the main aspects of the teaching as they affect mankind. She discusses among others the Wisdom-Religion, Occultism, Spiritualism, God and Prayer, the septenary Nature of Man, the After-death states, Reincarnation, the Complex Nature of Mind, Karma, etc. etc.; all this by way of question and answer.
4. THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE: 1889; numerous editions; about 250 pages; subtitle: Chosen Fragments from the " Book of the Golden Precepts" - for the Daily Use of Lanoos [Disciples]; it is "dedicated to the Few".
This is a book small in volume but massive in content. It is in three Fragments: the first entitled The Voice of Silence, of loo verses; the second, The Two Paths, of 95 verses; the third, The Seven Portals, of 120 verses. This is a work intended for the aspirant after true, or self, knowledge, aiming to playa significant part in helping mankind along its arduous evolutionary path to ultimate self-redemption and liberation.
5. THE COLLECTED WRITINGS: edited by Boris de Zirkoff; 14 volumes.
This is a collection of H. P. B.'s numerous writings by way of articles, stories, some published letters and so on, written during the period 1875 to 1891, arranged chronologically. These writings contain much teaching which supplements (and is entirely consistent with) what is contained in her books. Some of the material gives an insight into how the teachings could affect the lot of humanity in the circumstances of earth life, having regard to its traditions, institutions, ignorances, superstitions and so on. They are particularly illuminating on such subjects as spiritualism, the Christian religion, and Occultism generally. Always H. P. B. has an eye to essentials, to objective facts, which she sees clearly against the background of her encyclopaedic knowledge. In these works is to be found much wisdom and inspiration.
6. THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A. P. SINNETT: 1923; first published by Rider & Co., London; 500 pages; 2 editions plus a 3rd with the letters in chronological order (1993).
This is a volume of letters received from H. P. B.'s two initiate Teachers, in answer to questions put to them mostly by A. P. Sinnett with some by A. 0. Hume. The letters contain much metaphysical and philosophical teaching in the occult tradition, among much material relating to the early days of the Theosophical Society and the people in or associated with it. Many aspects of the teaching, among them those relating to the after-death states, are unique, having been kept secret up to that time. This is a book essential to any serious student of modern Occultism. It is the source of the main principles of the subject given and elaborated in H. P. B.'s writings. Most of the letters were received in the period 1880-1886.
7. TRANSACTIONS OF THE BLAVATSKY LODGE: Theosophical University Press, Covina, California.
A collection of notes, in question and answer form, taken at a series of meetings of the Lodge, in the first six months of 1889, at which H. P. B. was present.
8. FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY: compiled by I. H. Hoskins from the writings of H. P. Blavatsky; The Theosophical Publishing House; 66 pages including a glossary and as an appendix
THE SECRET DOCTRINE AND ITS STUDY.
This booklet is a compilation from The Secret Doctrine and Isis Unveiled, of excerpts which summarize the principle aspects of the great teaching.
9. MADAME BLAVATSKY ON HOW TO STUDY THEOSOPHY: The Theosophical Publishing House; 15 pages.
This is a booklet, referred to in the text as the 'Bowen Notes', containing material written down by Robert Bowen from talks which Madame Blavatsky gave to those near her during the close of her life. The content is in the form of important hints to students.
There are many other books, more or less reliable, which are virtually commentaries on the above source books. Some of these purport to be in the same tradition and to be expansions and extensions or even up-datings of the originals. Students are advised, however, to become really familiar with what H. P. B. and her Masters gave out, before studying later versions. Some books do follow the teachings faithfully and in so far as they give another point of view, or summarize or systematize the vast mass of information in the original works, do help the student. Books of this type are:
10. ESOTERIC BUDDHISM: A. P. Sinnett; Theosophical Publishing House.
A book first published in 1885 from material received by A. P. Sinnett in letters (see 6 above) from the two Adepts who instigated through H. P. B. the founding of the Theosophical Society. It made a connected narrative of much information about the esoteric side of Nature, not made public before.
11. THE DIVINE PLAN: Geoffrey A. Barborka; 1964;
The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, India; 520 pages.
This book deals with aspects of the subject as doctrines, twelve of them. Within each of these, information relating to it throughout the main work has been collected together in an orderly fashion; a valuable student book.
12. DEITY, COSMOS AND MAN: G. A. Farthing; Point Loma Publications.
This book epitomizes the main tenets of the theosophical teachings given in the original classical literature of the Theosophical Society listed in this Bibliography.
13. LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME: W. Q. Judge.
He was one of H. P. B.'s early collaborators in founding the Theosophical Society and was himself a long-time pupil of her Master.
As an aid to getting a feeling for the subject and to obtaining a perspective view of H. P. B. in the setting of contemporary life, of her character and of the enormous and distressing difficulties she encountered, but which she largely overcame, readers are recommended to read one or two of the reliable biographies, of which the following is a selection:
BOOKS BY HER CONTEMPORARIES
MY GUEST - H. P. BLAVATSKY: Francesca Arundale
REMINISCENCES OF H. P. BLAVATSKY: Bertram Keightley
INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF MADAME BLAVATSKY: A.P. Sinnett
REMINISCENCES OF H. P. BLAVATSKY AND THE SECRET
DOCTRINE: Countess Wachtmeister
BOOKS BY LATER BIOGRAPHERS
BLAVATSKY AND HER TEACHERS: Jean Overton Fuller
WHEN DAYLIGHT COMES: Howard Murphet
PERSONAL MEMOIRS OF H. P. BLAVATSKY: Mary K. Neff
H. P. B. -THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE AND WORK OF H. P. BLA V ATSKY : Sylvia Cranston
First published 2000 by The Theosophical Publishing House, London.
This article was originally produced as a booklet and is available from: The Theosophical Society in England, 50 Gloucester Place, London W1U 8EA