Point Loma edition 1993
Blavatsky Trust edition 2010
The purpose of the Introductory section of The Secret Doctrine is to place before the public the available evidence which establishes beyond reasonable doubt the existence of an original source behind and beyond the various religions.
Is [the Secret Doctrine] 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 man. Its tenets are not now published for the first time, but have been cautiously given out to, and taught by, more than one European Initiate ... Secret Doctrine (I xxxvi, I 20, I 59)
It is to such initiates and their disciples that we must look for the origins of the exoteric forms of religion known to history.
More than one great scholar has stated that there never was a religious founder, whether Aryan, Semitic or Turanian, who had invented a new religion, or revealed a new truth. These founders were all 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. Selecting one or more of those grand verities - actualities visible only to the eye of the real Sage and Seer ... they revealed these truths to the masses. Thus every nation received in its turn some of the said truths, under the veil of its own local and special symbolism; which as time went on, developed into a more or less philosophical cultus, a Pantheon in mythical disguise. Secret Doctrine (I xxxvi, I 20, I 59)
Both Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine are characterized by an enormous number of quotations from respected philosophical, religious and
historical sources that support this contention. Their purpose is made explicit:
The public must be made acquainted with the efforts of many World-adepts, of initiated poets, writers, and classics of every age, to preserve in the records of Humanity the Knowledge of the existence at least, of such a philosophy, if not actually of its tenets. Secret Doctrine (I xiv, I 28, I 67)
In an important article published in Lucifer in February 1888 under the title "What is Truth?", Mme Blavatsky confronts the question of absolute and relative truth, the former being incommunicable to the limited consciousness of ordinary mortals, the latter being such rays of the Sun of Truth which that consciousness can assimilate. One of the quotations with which the article is introduced makes just this point, that
The greatest adept living can reveal of the Universal Truth only so much as the mind he is impressing it upon can assimilate, and no more. Blavatsky Collected Writings, IX 31
The quoted fragment says:
... Fair Truth's immortal sun
Is sometimes hid in clouds; not that her light
Is in itself defective, but obscured
By my weak prejudice, imperfect Faith
And all the thousand causes which obstruct
The growth of goodness.
Blavatsky Collected Writings, IX 30
Passages such as these emphasize the distinction that must always be made between ultimate or absolute Truth and the dogmas and scriptural presentations of relative truth that characterize the world's religions. Historical evidence shows that every human grouping has had as part of its culture a form of religion with an identifiable belief-system and its related practices. Occult tradition, however, goes further back, taking us to the
very early races of our humanity. Although formalized religion is not present among the Atlanteans, they had religion - from the Race before them - defined as
the binding together of the masses in one form of reverence paid to those we feel higher than ourselves, of piety - as a feeling expressed by a child toward a loved parent - then even the earliest Lemurians had a religion - and a most beautiful one - from the very beginning of their intellectual life. Secret Doctrine (II 272, II 284, III 273)
The occult tradition teaches that our humanity owes its origins to the sacrificial incarnation of "bright Spirits" who gave of
their own respective super-ethereal essences to animate the man of clay, by endowing each of his inner principles with a portion, or rather a reflection of that essence. Secret Doctrine (II 273, II 285, III 275)
It was the presence of the divine principles in man that gave him his innate religious sense:
No sooner had the mental eye of man been opened to understanding, than the Third Race felt itself one with the ever-present as the ever to be unknown and invisible ALL, the One Universal Deity. Endowed with divine powers, and feeling in himself his inner God, each felt he was a Man- God in his nature, though an animal in his physical Self. Secret Doctrine (II 272, II 284, III 273)
This "inner God" is still man's inner essential nature but the realization of it is all but totally obscured by materialism and purely personal concerns.
The degeneration of the pure religious impulse began with the Atlanteans,
the first progeny of semi-divine man after his separation into sexes - hence the first-begotten and humanly-born mortals - who became the first "Sacrificers" to the god of matter. They stand in
the far-away dim past, in ages more than prehistoric, as the prototype on which the great symbol of Cain was built, as the first anthropomorphists who worshipped form and matter. Secret Doctrine (II 273, II 285, III 275)
Coming down now to historical times, we cannot help but recognize the materialization of even the Godidea. The One, the Absolute Existence, unknown and unknowable to the conditioned human mind, becomes in the course of time an anthropomorphized Deity with personal attributes. The rejection of these "gods created by man in his own image and likeness - a blasphemous and sorry caricature of the Every-Unknowable", may lead the superficial reader to the erroneous conclusion that the occult philosophy is atheistic, or at best agnostic. At the very beginning of her great work, Mme Blavatsky states unequivocally the standpoint of the Wisdom-Religion and, incidentally, its relevance for the age in which we live. As we saw in Part I:
... 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. Secret Doctrine (I xx, I 3, I 43)
The Adept Teachers who entered into correspondence with Messrs Sinnett and Hume, recognizing the religious conditioning of their correspondents, were no less explicit in their rejection of any compromise with regard to the existence of a Being corresponding to even the most philosophical concept of God. They accepted neither the designation of atheists nor that of agnostics:
Our doctrine knows no compromise. It either affirms or denies, for it never teaches but that which it knows to be the truth. Mahatma Letters (52,52)
In the second summary with which Mme Blavatsky concludes the first part of The Secret Doctrine, she introduces the five proven facts by the statement that "The SECRET DOCTRINE teaches no Atheism". There are, as has been shown through this work, Hierarchies of beings - "Dhyan-Chohans and the other Forces" - the active agents of Karma in their respective functions in the cosmic process. No more than any hypothetical Supreme Being are these to be regarded as
proper subjects for divine honours or worship. All are entitled to the grateful reverence of Humanity, however, and man ought to be ever striving to help the divine evolution of ideas, by becoming to the best of his ability a co-worker with nature in the cyclic task. Secret Doctrine (I 280, I 300, I 322)
After telling us that
Many men have arisen who had glimpses of the truth, and fancied they had it all. Such have failed to achieve the good they might have done and sought to do, because vanity has made them thrust their personality into such undue prominence as to interpose it between their believers and the whole truth that lay behind ...
Mme Blavatsky went on to say,
The world needs no sectarian church whether of Buddha, Jesus, Mahomet, Swedenborg, Calvin or any other. There being but ONE Truth, man requires but one church - the temple of God within us, walled in by matter but penetrable by anyone who can find the way; the pure in heart see God. Isis Unveiled, II 635
The trinity of nature is the lock of magic,
the trinity of man the key that fits it.
Isis Unveiled, II 635
Deity Cosmos and Man >Next Page Epilogue