Point Loma edition 1993
Blavatsky Trust edition 2010
In introducing the subject of Esoteric Science in Book I, several facts were briefly mentioned which it is now necessary to elaborate.
First of all, the antiquity of Theosophy has to be appreciated. Mme Blavatsky, acting as the amanuensis of her Teachers, had the particular task of making public some aspects of the archaic doctrine that had hitherto been reserved for the few to whom "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" had been made known. The knowledge communicated in those mysteries was no new thing, but to the general public - "them that are without" - it was concealed under parable and symbol Matt. xiii 11; Mark iv 11; Luke viii. This is made clear in the Preface to The Secret Doctrine, where the writer states:
These truths are in no sense put forward as a revelation; nor does the author claim the position of a revealer of mystic lore, now made public for the first time in the world's history. 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 them one harmonious and unbroken whole. Secret Doctrine (I vii, I xix, I 7)
The introductory section of The Secret Doctrine is in fact a presentation of the evidence of the existence of such a tradition in the ancient world. In an article published in the first number of The Theosophist, the monthly magazine which she founded in 1879 (and which continues in publication to this day), Mme Blavatsky explains:
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. Diogenes Laertius traces Theosophy to an epoch antedating the Ptolomies; 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 that 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 strifes 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. Blavatsky Collected Writings II 88
Evidence of the existence of an esoteric tradition in antiquity should not obscure the fact that the detailed information now presented in the writings of Mme Blavatsky and in the instructions given by her Teachers is unique: it is to be found nowhere else. For the first time, there is here offered to the student a comprehensive and consistent system, expressed as nearly as possible in plain terms in a European language. This modern exposition of Esoteric Science includes in its wide embrace the whole field of cosmic and human evolution, and specifically those areas indicated by the chapter headings of this book.
Esoteric Science is recognized under a variety of names, one of them being the Wisdom-Religion. However, as was pointed out earlier, Theosophy is not a religion in any sectarian sense, nor is it to be identified with any of the historical religions. This is stated explicitly in the Preface to The Secret Doctrine in the following passage:
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 exclusively. 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 materialized. Secret Doctrine (I viii, I xx, I 8)
In an article intended to clarify the use of the word "religion" in a theosophical context, Mme Blavatsky says repeatedly that Theosophy, although not a religion, is religion.
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 organization or body of that name must necessarily be a UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD ...
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 ...
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 ... the origin of the world's faiths and sciences. It opens new vistas beyond the old horizons of crystallized, 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, and 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 ... Blavatsky Collected Writings X 163
It has been claimed that Esoteric Science is specific knowledge of universal facts. This knowledge has been acquired, as already pointed out, by methods comparable with those of the physical sciences, with the difference that the instruments used by its investigators were faculties developed within themselves. An important passage from which an extract was quoted in Part I is here given more fully:
The Secret Doctrine is the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages, and its cosmogony alone is the most stupendous and elaborate system .... 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 regarded 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 have perceived but the external work of
form. But modern science believes not in the "soul of things", and hence will reject the whole system of ancient cosmology. It is useless to say that the system in question is no fancy of one or several isolated individuals. 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 of higher and exalted beings, who watched over the childhood of Humanity. That for long ages, the "Wise Men" of the Fifth Race ... had passed their lives in learning, not teaching. How did they do so? It is answered: by checking, testing, and verifying in every department of nature the traditions of old by the independent visions of great adepts; i.e., men who have developed and perfected their physical, mental, psychic, and spiritual organizations to the utmost possible degree. 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. Secret Doctrine (I 272, I 293, I 316)
“The doctrine is barely sketched in our two volumes”, she wrote in the first issue of La Revue Theosophique, in which some parts of The Secret Doctrine were to appear in translation, “and yet the mysteries unveiled therein concerning the beliefs of prehistoric peoples, cosmogony and anthropology, have never been divulged until now". Blavatsky Collected Writings X1 126
Deity Cosmos and Man >Next Page Part 2, Chapter II The Scope and Framework of the Science