Point Loma edition 1993
Blavatsky Trust edition 2010
For an overview and guide to the book: INTRODUCTORY ARTICLE
|About the Author||xxi|
|-||Introduction to Part 1||3|
|I||About Esoteric Science||7|
|II||The Scope and Framework of the Science||11|
|III||The Occult Constitution of Cosmos and Man||21|
|IV||The Hierarchies of Beings||29|
|V||Akasha and the Astral Light||33|
|VI||Elements and Elementals||39|
|VII||Law in Cosmos and Human Life||49|
|VIII||Death and Rebirth||55|
|X||Globes, Rounds, and Races||71|
|XI||Ever-Becoming - The Processes of Evolution||79|
|XII||Spiritualism and Psychism||87|
|-||Introduction to Part II||109|
|1||About Esoteric Science||113|
|II||The Scope and Framework of the Science||119|
|III||The Occult Constitution of Cosmos and Man||125|
|IV||The Hierarchies of Beings||133|
|V||Akasha and the Astral Light||139|
|VI||Elements and Elementals||145|
|VII||Law in Cosmos and Human Life||153|
|VIII||Death and Rebirth||161|
|X||Globes, Rounds, and Races||177|
|XI||Ever-Becoming - The Processes of Evolution||187|
|XII||Spiritualism and Psychism||197|
Dedication This book is dedicated to those who would help to alleviate the lot of humanity by liberating the human mind from its imprisonment in ideas generated and perpetuated by institutional and academic orthodoxy in the fields of religion and philosophy. For centuries such man-made ideas and their resultant divisions, especially in the religious field, have been-and continue to be-productive of the bitterest hatred and strife, as witness in our own day the antagonisms of Hindu against Muslim, Roman Catholic against Protestant, and the isolation of Jewish religionists from those of other faiths.
The book is further dedicated to those who would work towards establishing peace and harmony among all peoples by promoting the practical realization of the brotherhood of humanity, transcending differences of race, religion, caste, class, political creed, or any other divisive element in human affairs.
Humanity is but ONE: let us work for the recognition of this unity.
- Geoffrey A. Farthing
A thread of Esotericism runs through the chronicled events of the world's history. Although the origins of the esoteric tradition are lost in the mists of time, the tradition itself may be discerned in the myths and fairy-tales of many cultures, with their stories of giants, dragons, magicians and wise men. As we approach historical times, we come to the legendary semi-divine figures of Krishna in India, Hermes in Egypt, Mithras in Persia, followed in due course by the great historical teachers known to us as Gautama the Buddha, Lao-tse and Jesus. In the west, the esoteric tradition is evident in the Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras and Plato, as also among the Gnostics, Valentinus, Basilides and Simon Magus among others. Ruthlessly suppressed by the Christian Church, it nevertheless emerges among the mediaeval Rosicrucians, Alchemists and Hermetists, and is in part made explicit in the works of individual writers such as Robert Fludd and Jacob Boehme.
The condition of western thought in the latter part of the 19th century, with religion in conflict with materialistic science, made it necessary for the Guardians of the esoteric tradition to let its existence be more openly known. For the first time in recorded history some parts of the teachings were given out publicly in the early literature of the theosophical movement.
The author of the present work has attempted to offer an outline of the teachings of Esoteric Science, with abundant reference to the great literature in which the student may discover for himself something of the scope and grandeur of the Wisdom tradition.
The compilation of the work has gone on over many years and it has seen many changes. The author is very grateful particularly to two editors: Miss Muriel Daw, one time editor of the Buddhist Society's magazine, who did an extensive preliminary edit of this work; it was later felt, however, that there was too much material in it and Miss Ianthe H. Hoskins, then General Secretary of the Theosophical Society in England, did some ruthless pruning, virtually rewriting the book and adding some further apt quotations, to make it more readable and informative for the general reader. The author is also particularly grateful to Jill Leslie for much typing and he patient work on the index. The author, as a non-literary man, is very grateful to these ladies for the great help he received from them. Thanks are also due to Eldon Tucker, for managing the book material for printing, and for more careful work on the index.
The author also acknowledges an irredeemable debt of gratitude to H.P. Blavatsky and her Adept Teachers who made what knowledge of Esoteric Science we have available to us.
There is a very wide literature covering the subjects dealt with in this book but, as explained in the introduction, the writings of H.P. Blavatsky have been taken to be the most 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.
1. ISIS UNVEILED : 1877; J.W.Bouton, New York; subtitle: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology; a 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 of enlightened comment on the science and theology of the day. While some 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 to free ourselves from our prejudices and preconceptions. It is in a number of 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. says 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 Afterdeath 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 100 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 play a 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, published letters, stories 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.
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.O. 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.
7. TRANSACTIONS OF THE BLAVATSKY LODGE : Theosophical University Press, Covine, 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 : from the writings of H.P. Blavatsky; compiled by I.H. Hoskins; The Theosophical Publishing House; 66 pages including a Page 5 Deity, Cosmos and Man by Geoffrey Farthing 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. LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME ; W.Q. Judge.
Judge 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:
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
The Occult World of Mme. Blavatsky: Daniel H. Caldwell
The Extraordinary Life of H.P. Blavatsky: Sylvia Cranston
H.P.B. Blavatsky and Her Teachers : Jean Overton Fuller
When Daylight Comes : Howard Murphet
Personal Memoirs of H.P. Blavatsky : Mary K. Neff
H.P. Blavatsky: The Mystery: Gottfried de Puruker
The basic theosophical literature appears in a number of editions. This section is intended to explain how the citations are made, and to indicate which edition of a work is quoted.
THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY edited by Boris de Zirkoff.
This 14 Volume work is cited as the Blavatsky Collected Writings.
ISIS UNVEILED (2 Vols) by H.P. Blavatsky
This two-volume work exists in the verbatim and the Blavatsky Collected Writings edition. Citations are from the more-accurate Blavatsky Collected Writings edition.
Mme BLAVATSKY ON HOW TO STUDY THEOSOPHY by Robert Bowen
This booklet is cited as Bowen Notes
THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT
This book exists in three editions. Citations are to Mahatma Letters (xxx, yyy), where xxx is the page number in the first and second editions, and yyy is the page number in the third edition. Citations are from the more-accurate third edition.
THE SECRET DOCTRINE
This work exists in four editions. The original exists in a two-volume verbatim edition (1888) and the Blavatsky Collected Writings edition (1979). The book also exists in a three-volume edition (volumes I and II in 1893 and III in 1897) and a six-volume (Adyar) edition (1938).
These three sources for this material are cited as Secret Doctrine (xxx, yyy, zzz) where xxx is the volume and page number of the two-volume Blavatsky Collected Writings edition, yyy is the volume and page number of the three-volume edition , and zzz is the page number of the six-volume edition.
THE SECRET DOCTRINE (Additional Materials)
At the end of the second volume of The Secret Doctrine Mme Blavatsky refers to "a third and even a fourth volume," yet no material seeming to constitute such volumes was discovered after her death.
A good deal of unpublished manuscript was collected and edited by Annie Besant and published in 1897 under the title The Secret Doctrine, volume III, Occultism. This material appeared in volume V of the six-volume Adyar edition. Included here are some Papers of Instruction circulated privately by Mme Blavatsky among her pupils constituting an inner group in the Esoteric Section which she had established in 1888.
The same material has since been published separately under the title The Esoteric Writings of H.P. Blavatsky, while the papers of instruction also appear in volume XII of the Collected Writings.
Four sources for this material are cited as Secret Doctrine Addendum (www, xxx, yyy, zzz) where www is the page number in volume III of the three-volume edition, xxx is the page number in volume V of the six-volume edition, yyy is the page number in volume XII of the Blavatsky Collected Writings, and zzz is the page number The Esoteric Writings of H.P. Blavatsky, edited by L.H. Leslie-Smith.
THE THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY by H.P. Blavatsky (and others).
There is a generally-held view that this was assembled by others from Blavatsky's notes after her death, that it is not completely in her own words and ideas. I recall reading that she herself refers to it, but I cannot give chapter and verse for this at present. GAF Citations are by the name of the entry in the Glossary, e.g. Theosophical Glossary, Manas.
THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE by H.P. Blavatsky
This exists in many editions, with differing pagination. The book is organised in three Fragments. Citations are by Fragment number and verse using a verbatim edition.
KEY is THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY by H.P. Blavatsky.
There are numerous editions with different paginations. Page numbers in citations come from a verbatim reprint of the first edition, that strictly adhered to the pagination of the original.
V.S. is THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE by H.P. Blavatsky
C.W. is the volumes in the series THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY (14 Vols) edited by Boris de Zirkoff.
T.G. is THE THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY by H.P. Blavatsky (and others).
T.B.L. is TRANSACTIONS OF THE BLAVATKSY LODGE
E.B. is ESOTERIC BUDDHISM by A.P. Sinnett
B.N. is MME BLAVATSKY ON HOW TO STUDY THEOSOPHY by Robert Bowen
W.Q.J. is LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME by W.Q. Judge
E.W. is THE ESOTERIC WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY by L.H. Leslie-Smith
D.P. is THE DIVINE PLAN by Geoffrey Barborka