Point Loma edition 1993
Blavatsky Trust edition 2010
The source of religious teachings lies, according to the occult tradition, in a past far antedating any recorded history.
The mysteries of Heaven and Earth, revealed to the Third Race by their celestial teachers in the days of their purity, became a great focus of light, the rays from which became necessarily weakened as they were diffused and shed upon an uncongenial, because too material soil. With the masses they degenerated into Sorcery, taking later on the shape of exoteric religions, of idolatry full of superstitions, and man-, or hero-worship. Alone a handful of primitive men - in whom the spark of divine Wisdom burned bright, and only strengthened in its intensity as it got dimmer and dimmer with every age in those who turned it to bad purposes - remained the elect custodians of the Mysteries revealed to mankind by the divine Teachers. There were those among them, who remained in their Kumaric condition from the beginning; and tradition whispers, what the secret teachings affirm, namely, that these Elect were the germ of a Hierarchy which never died since that period. Secret Doctrine (II 281, II 294, III 283)
The celestial teachers in the above passage were those who, having reached full manhood in the Moon Chain (i.e. the Chain before ours), came to our earth as Instructors; they had finished their human evolution and did not incarnate into the chhayas or forms provided by the Lunar Pitris, who were at a lower stage of development but from whom man got his present bodily form (chhaya). The light of the true teaching has persisted throughout the ages, but in historical times, except for some few illumined men, it has shone only from behind the screen of superstition and ignorance in the forms of exoteric religions. In some of these the light is so obscured as to be hardly perceptible; in some others the veil is thinner, allowing beams of
the pure light to penetrate it. That light is indeed the original inspiration behind the classical religious literature of the world, and is least obscured where the old wordings have suffered least from translation and intentional or unwitting modification.
It is sometimes mistakenly thought that the occult doctrine stands in opposition to religion. This is clearly not so. The Preface to The Secret Doctrine, for example, states that among the aims of the work are two of particular relevance to our study, namely,
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 ... Secret Doctrine (I viii, I xxi, I 8)
The esoteric philosophy is not an attempt to make a new religion by a synthesis of existing ones, nor is it in itself a new religion, for
The Secret Doctrine was the universally diffused religion of the ancient and prehistoric world. Proofs of its diffusion, authentic records of its history, a complete chain of documents, showing its character and presence in every land, together with the teaching of all its great adepts, exist to this day in the secret crypts of libraries belonging to the Occult Fraternity. Secret Doctrine (I xxxiv, I 18, I 56)
The ecclesiastical historian Mosheim describes the teaching of Ammonius Saccas in terms that accord with the understanding of modern Theosophists:
Ammonius taught that the religion of the multitude went hand-in-hand with philosophy, and with her had shared the fate of being by degrees corrupted and obscured with mere human conceits, superstition, and lies; that it ought, therefore, to be brought back to its original purity by purging it of this dross and expounding it upon philosophical principles; and that the whole which Christ had in view was to reinstate and restore to its primitive integrity the Wisdom of the ancients - to reduce within bounds the universally -
prevailing dominion of superstition - and in part to correct, and in part to exterminate the various errors that had found their way into the different popular religions. The Key to Theosophy, 6
As for the mistaken notion that Theosophy is a new religion, the answer is unequivocal:
Is it a new religion, we are asked? By no means; it is not a religion, nor is its philosophy new; for, as already stated, it is as old as thinking mankind. Secret Doctrine (I xxxvi, I 20, I 58)
Those who are generally regarded as the founders of the great religions were all, in Mme Blavatsky's view,
... transmitters, not original teachers. They were the authors of new forms and interpretations, while the truths upon which the latter were based were as old as mankind. Secret Doctrine (I xxxvi, I 20, I 58)
Moreover, her support for the religious principle, as distinct from exoteric religious beliefs and practices, is made abundantly clear in this same Introductory section of The Secret Doctrine:
... 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 ... 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. 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. Secret Doctrine (I xx, I 3, I 43)
That the Deity of the esoteric philosophy is no personal 'extra-cosmic and anthropomorphic God' is further asserted in the answers given in The Key to Theosophy to questions about the theosophical attitude to God and Prayer. Mme Blavatsky dismisses the contention that Theosophy is either atheistic or pantheistic, and then adds:
Our DEITY is neither in a paradise, nor in a particular tree, building or mountain: it is everywhere, in every atom of the visible as of the invisible Cosmos, in, over, and around every indivisible atom and divisible molecule; for IT is the mysterious power of evolution and involution, the omnipresent, omnipotent, and even omniscient creative potentiality. Key to Theosophy, 64
Is man then to be deprived of comfort and strength in his hour of trial? No indeed, for Mme Blavatsky reminds her readers more than once of the words of Paul - whom she acknowledged to be an Initiate - in his letter to the Corinthians, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Cor iii, 16). If these words be believed, what need can there be for help from an external source? Again in The Secret Doctrine there is this significant passage:
The ever-unknowable and incognizable Karana alone, the Causeless Cause of all cause, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart - invisible, intangible, unmentioned, save through 'the still small voice' of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls; making their spirit the sole mediator between them and the Universal Spirit, their good actions the only priests, and their sinful intentions the only visible and objective sacrificial victims to the Presence. Secret Doctrine (I 280, I 300, I 322)
This passage is one of several in The Secret Doctrine which imply the necessity for a rigorous code of ethics to accompany the theoretical study of Esoteric Science. The aim of that science being "the assimilation of the human soul with the Universal Soul", Caves and Jungles of Hindostan 446 a process of purification must prepare the way for its attainment. The first stage of the human pilgrimage, variously described as "the path of outgoing" or "the path of descent", is one of increasing materiality. In the case of our humanity, the lowest point of the descending arc was reached in the Fourth Root Race. We are now at the beginning of the ascending arc, the emergence out of materiality into one of increasing spirituality. This indeed is the vision of the future of mankind placed before us in the panoramic view of Esoteric Science.
The Cycles of Matter will be succeeded by Cycles of Spirituality and a fully developed mind. On the law of parallel history and races, the majority of the future mankind will be composed of glorious Adepts. Humanity is the child of cyclic Destiny, and not one of its Units can escape its unconscious missions, or get rid of the burden of its cooperative work with nature. Secret Doctrine (II 446,II 465, III 444)
The codes of ethics that accompany the teachings of the great religions, in spite of obvious man-made accretions that disfigure rather than enhance them, are closely paralleled by the yama and niyama of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and the catalogue of desirable (and undesirable) qualities given in the Sixteenth Discourse of the Bhagavad Gita. These are rungs on the ladder that is to lead to Self-realization. They also provide the basis for future exoteric religions which, cleansed of superstition, are necessary for the guidance of mankind in its long journey to human perfection, Adeptship. Popular religion must stimulate and keep alive the spiritual intuitions which are more or less active in all men. They arise by reason of man's inner constitution wherein all are at one with the One Spirit. This is the indispensable principle of Unity which manifests as the One Life shared by all. This Unity also shows forth as the Law, previously discussed, but of which the twin law of Karma and Reincarnation are aspects.
These form the basis in their turn of the restraints and disciplines essential to the welfare and happiness of humanity. Without them a satisfactory and
satisfying civilized society is impossible. Our ethical and moral codes are aspects of these disciplines. Some ceremonial, ritual practices and music would lend colour and suggestive significance to religious teaching, but cannot be see as an end in themselves.
It is to be noted that, although the great Vedantic works insist on the uselessness of ceremonial acts as means of salvation, nowhere is the devotee instructed to abandon their performance, the teaching here being simply that he must not mistake the means for the end. There can be no salvation from outside, no vicarious atonement. Man is his own absolute law-giver and must affect his own salvation himself.
A communication from one of the Adept Teachers to A.P. Sinnett shows the importance those Teachers attached to the highest code of ethics, not only for the spiritual progress of the individual but more especially for the happiness of the human race, and to a truthful theology:
Remember the sum of human misery will never be diminished unto that day when the better portion of humanity destroys in the name of Truth, morality, and universal charity, the altars of their false gods. Mahatma Letters (58, 58)
Ethical precepts, given to successive human groups by their Teachers, are based on knowledge of the laws inherent in Nature. It follows that the responsibility of those who have access to the teachings is two-fold: to study further the doctrines of Esoteric Science, then, as far as they can, to live accordingly and to make those teachings more widely available.
Our duty is to keep alive in man his spiritual intuitions. To oppose and counteract - after due investigation and proof of its irrational nature - bigotry in every form, religious, scientific, or social, and cant above all, whether as religious sectarianism or as belief in miracles or anything supernatural. What we have to do is to seek to obtain knowledge of all the laws of nature, and to diffuse it. To encourage the study of those laws least understood by modern people, the so-called Occult Sciences, based on the true knowledge
of nature, instead of, as at present, on superstitious beliefs based on blind faith and authority. Key to Theosophy 48
The Scriptures of the world abound in the seemingly miraculous. The student of Esoteric Science does not necessarily dismiss such accounts as fictional: rather does he adopt the standpoint of Mme Blavatsky when, at the end of Isis Unveiled, she attempted to summarize the principles there enunciated:
There is no miracle. Everything that happens is the result of law - eternal, immutable, ever active. Isis Unveiled II 587
A happening that one fails to understand may well be called miraculous, but Occult Science asserts that 'there is really nothing above or beyond NATURE and Nature's laws' Key to Theosophy 290. Seeming miracles may indeed occur but, like the wonders of modern technology, they can be produced only by those who are well acquainted with the nature and processes of Nature herself and are thus able to manipulate the forces involved. Hence the injunction to those who would ally themselves to the forces of Nature for the greater good of humanity:
Help Nature and work on with her, and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators, and make obeisance. The Voice of the Silence Frag. 1, v66
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