Point Loma edition 1993
Blavatsky Trust edition 2010
ESOTERIC SCIENCE may be defined as the body of religious, philosophical and scientific teachings that form the core of a universal and timeless Wisdom tradition: religious, for it is concerned with the ultimate source of being and man's relation to it; philosophical, for it embraces the great questions of the origin and nature of man and the universe and the inter-relatedness of the parts within the whole; scientific, for its methods are essentially empirical, its exponents having individually and independently tested and corroborated the teachings received from earlier generations of wise men. Esoteric Science is, then, knowledge of the truths of existence, a knowledge acquired from time immemorial through the development of faculties which all mankind possesses but which remain in most of us in a state of latency.
Every religion and culture has its tradition of prophets and seers. In the literature of Esotericism, reference is made to them under various names - Adepts, Initiates, Rishis, Mahatmas, Maha-gurus, Masters of Wisdom. Although fully human, they have by their own effort broken through the limitations of common humanity. By means of a long and rigorous self-training through many lifetimes, they have passed beyond the levels of ordinary men and women in intellectual stature, sanctity of life and spiritual enlightenment. In accordance with the laws of the occult fraternity into which they have entered, their powers - well recognized in the literature of yoga - are utilized only for the advancement of the human race in its evolutionary progress. What is more, they affirm that the knowledge and powers which they possess and demonstrate are accessible to all who will undergo the disciplines by which, and by which alone, such attainment is possible.
The literature of Esoteric Science is extensive, in both its ancient and its modern presentations. Its doctrines are shown to be the source of the world's great religions, although time, ignorance and human corruption have distorted the original truths and obscured the profound significance of
the symbolism in which they were inevitably clothed. There is no doubt that a return to the pure source must radically disturb entrenched attachment to the familiar exoteric teachings. It requires courage to break free from popular and generally accepted ways of thought, abandoning thereby the security of common patterns of belief for the as yet unexplored territory of the esoteric traditions.
To the task of liberating the mind of western man from its subservience to convention and authority - (we are here in the last decade of the 19th century) - Madame Blavatsky set her courageous hand. She attacked on three fronts, opposing the religious dogmatism and scientific conceit of the day as well as the ignorant and gullible spiritualism then prevalent. But the vigorous polemics of her earlier writings were a necessary preliminary to the work that was to follow - the restoration of the esoteric tradition. Inevitably she made herself the target for hostility and personal abuse, but there is a curious endorsement of the validity of the doctrines of Esotericism that she was enunciating in the fact that her enemies were unable to find any weapon against her teachings other than slander against her person - a position which continues to this day.
Reliable accounts of Madame Blavatsky's life and of the launching of the theosophical movement are given in the Bibliography, together with a list of her voluminous writings. The extent of this literary output is indeed remarkable, especially so when one bears in mind that it was produced in a language foreign to her, during seventeen years of frequent travel and almost continuous ill-health.
Before proceeding to the text, the student who would be guided in his approach to the vast field of Esoteric Science is strongly recommended to study carefully the Preliminary Note that follows.
The subject matter of this work is presented in chapters, each of which treats of one facet of Esoteric Science. The chapters of Part I are introductory and discursive, their aim being to offer an overall view of the field. Although introductory, they cannot be elementary, for at all stages the study of Esoteric Science demands a sustained effort on the part of the student. Part II, divided into similar chapters, offers supplementary and
supporting material, with many extracts from the original literature. These extracts are selected for their explanatory value, and for their elaboration of the information outlined in Part I.
The student is recommended to make himself familiar with the contents of Part I first, by reading it with attention, preferably more than once, noting as he proceeds not only the questions that arise in his mind but also what appear to him to be the most significant statements of the science as presented under each chapter heading. When he has assimilated the essential data given in this first part, he would do well to read once more each of the chapters of Part I, but turning now, after each one, to the study of the corresponding chapter in Part II. Here the compiler has made what is inevitably a personal selection of significant and interesting supporting passages from the source books. Later on, the student is recommended to study these passages in their context, hence the provision of ample references which, if followed, will lead him into an inexhaustible mine of information and inspiration.
One of the most important documents to which attention is directed is the small compilation of Madame Blavatsky's final instructions to students known as the Bowen notes. These are published in a pamphlet entitled Mme Blavatsky on How to Study Theosophy, and are reproduced in the Foundations of Esoteric Philosophy (see Bibliography). In these notes, recorded only three weeks before her death, we find not only her personal advice to her students on how to approach the study of The Secret Doctrine, but also one more statement of the basic ideas of Esoteric Science , the first of which - it cannot be too often repeated - is that of the essential unity of existence: "all existence is ONE THING" Bowen Notes, 8. The moment one loses sight of this fundamental unity, she warns, "the idea of SEPARATION supervenes, and the study loses its value". Bowen Notes, 9
The field of Esoteric Science is limitless, its horizon ever receding as the student advances towards it. Its exploration is not easy, but the satisfaction - the excitement, even - of the insights awaiting discovery is the reward assured to every adventurer.
Do but set out; you could be on your way
into a new and wonderful world.
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