Point Loma edition 1993
Blavatsky Trust edition 2010
In Chapter 2 of Part I an outline of the principal aspects of Esoteric Science was given, each theme being further developed in the chapters that followed. That outline was intended to give a preliminary view of the scope of the science. Another way to the appreciation of the immense field of the study and the essential framework of Esoteric Science is suggested in a small compilation of extracts from the writings of H.P. Blavatsky. Its title, Foundations of Esoteric Philosophy, exactly describes its contents, for the extracts show the basic principles "which underlie and pervade the entire system of thought" designated by the name of Esoteric Science Secret Doctrine (I 13, I 42, I 79). Until the student is ready to embark on the study of the major works, this small book is an almost indispensable companion to his explorations of that science. What we have here is a collection of summaries made from time to time by Mme Blavatsky herself, so that the essential teachings could be clearly discerned amid the mass of detail and explanatory material which might otherwise conceal them. Furthermore, in the Bowen Notes - teachings given by her only a few weeks before her death - specific advice is offered to the student on the method of approach to the study of The Secret Doctrine, the order in which the most important sections of the work should be studied and the attitude that should accompany the reader throughout his study.
Come to the The Secret Doctrine - (she says) without any hope of getting the final Truth of existence from it, or with any idea other than seeing how far it may lead TOWARDS the Truth. See in study a means of exercising and developing the mind never touched by other studies. Bowen Notes - Madame Blavatsky on how to study theosophy, p.8
The basic principle of the system, as we have seen, is that of Unity, the One, the everlasting and unchanging Reality from which emerges periodically, according to inherent, ceaseless Law, a manifested universe. Within it are all things, the expressions in time and space of the inexhaustible potencies of the One Spirit, the ever activating Principle of the whole. The teaching of an originating and essential Oneness is expressed in various ways. (Note that, unless otherwise indicated, all the quotations that follow in this chapter are taken from Foundations of Esoteric Philosophy, where precise references to the source of each passage are given.) For example:
The radical unity of the ultimate essence of each constituent part of compounds in Nature ... is the one fundamental law in Occult Science. Secret Doctrine (I 120, I 145, I 179) FEP 13
The FUNDAMENTAL UNITY OF ALL EXISTENCE. This unity is a thing altogether different from the common notion of unity ... it is that existence is ONE THING, not any collection of things linked together. Fundamentally there is ONE Being. Bowen Notes 8 FEP 17
The essential unity of all manifested things is due to the originating Reality, the One Principle:
An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Immutable PRINCIPLE, on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought ... Secret Doctrine (I 14, I 42, I 82) FEP 2
The fundamental law in that system, the central point from which all emerges, around and towards which all gravitates, and upon which is hung all its philosophy, is the One Homogeneous Divine SUBSTANCE-PRINCIPLE, the One Radical Cause. Secret Doctrine (I 273, I 294, I 316) FEP 30
In the various lists of basic ideas collected here, the principle of unity is - with two exceptions - placed first. These exceptions are a) the summary at the end of Isis Unveiled, which was Mme Blavatsky's first
attempt to place the teachings of the esoteric philosophy before the public; here she puts first the principle of Universal Law:
There is no miracle. Everything that happens is the result of law - eternal, immutable, ever active. Isis Unveiled II 587 FEP 57
and b) the Recapitulation of the first part of Volume I of The Secret Doctrine, where the list of Six Numbered Items begins, not with basic principles, but with a summary of the Introductory section of the work, the evidence of a universal esoteric tradition. With these exceptions, the lists of basic ideas give first place to the principle of unity, for in fact all other principles are but corollaries of this fundamental truth. This will become evident as the statements in each of the summaries are studied. For instance, if there is but ONE OMNIPRESENT LIFE, it must follow that "there is no dead matter. Every last atom is alive.". Bowen Notes 9 FEP 17 If there is but ONE LIFE, "the fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over-Soul" must also be true Secret Doctrine (I 17, I 45, I 82) FEP 24. If there is but ONE LIFE, all things must have come from it: "The universe is the periodical manifestation of this unknown Absolute Essence" Secret Doctrine (I 273, I 294, I 317) FEP 30. If there is but ONE LIFE, as the Esoteric Science affirms, then that same Science cannot at the same time deny that ONE originating PRINCIPLE: "The Secret Doctrine teaches no Atheism".Secret Doctrine (I 279, I 300, I 322) FEP 39
Again, an examination of the summaries collected in Foundations of Esoteric Philosophy will make clear what, according to Esoteric Science, is the nature of man and his central place in the total scheme. All the grand processes of evolution involve man, for he is their model and the goal, in our System, of the whole process of universal Becoming. Physically, psychically, mentally and spiritually, he is in it and of it. His emergence as a self-conscious being is what the whole process is about. His evolutionary history recapitulates the movement of life through all the forms of the kingdoms of Nature. These forms are the instruments through which consciousness is constantly and increasingly expressed, until from simple responsiveness in the lowest kingdom it becomes self-consciousness in man.
Now a new element is introduced into the evolutionary process, the power of self-determination. While nothing can happen outside the Law, man, alone of all the creatures on our planet, can exercise choice in his observation of the Law.
The passages that follow illustrate the teachings of Esoteric Science in relation to man:
Nature is triune: there is visible, objective nature; an invisible, indwelling, energizing nature, the exact model of the other and its vital principle; and, above these two, spirit, source of all forces, alone eternal and indestructible. The lower two constantly change; the higher third does not.
... Man is also triune: he has his objective, physical body; his vitalizing astral body (or soul), the real man; and these two are brooded over and illuminated by the third - the sovereign, the immortal spirit. When the real man succeeds in merging himself with the latter he becomes an immortal entity.Isis Unveiled II 588 FEP 57
In the Third Fundamental Proposition given in the Proem of The Secret Doctrine, after the affirmation of "the fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over-Soul", there is outlined the age-long pilgrimage of man through the worlds of form, with this significant addition:
The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric Philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations. Secret Doctrine (I 17, I 45, I 82) FEP 24
Man's relationship to the rest of the cosmic process is further shown in paragraph 6 of the Recapitulation; for man is shown to be an inevitable stage in that process. Of the Hierarchies of Beings mentioned earlier, each individual member
... either was, or prepares to become, a man, if not in the present, then in a past or a coming cycle (Manvantara). They are perfected, when not incipient, men ... Secret Doctrine (I 275, I 295, I 318) FEP 32
In sober truth, as just shown, every so-called "Spirit" is either a disembodied or a future man. As from the highest Archangel (Dhyan Chohan) down to the last conscious "Builder" (the inferior class of Spiritual Entities), all such are men, having lived aeons ago, in other Manvantaras, on this or other spheres, so the inferior, semi-intelligent and non-intelligent Elementals are all future men. Secret Doctrine (I 277, I 297, I 320) FEP 34
(Clearly the term "man" must not be understood to be necessarily a being with "two arms, two legs and a head", but rather as a stage in the evolution of consciousness.)
Humanity constitutes one of the "almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings", and, together with all the others, it has its own mission to perform in its progress towards the next stage in the evolutionary scheme. Secret Doctrine (I 274, I 295, I 318) FEP 32 That stage is one in which the consciousness of the individual becomes merged with that of the whole human race: the sense of separateness characteristic of earlier stages gives place to the experience of unity with all mankind. That stage is reached when an individual is able to respond affirmatively to the question,
"Hast thou attuned thy heart and mind to the great mind and heart of all mankind?
... Hast thou attuned thy being to humanity's great pain?" The Voice of the Silence Frag.3, v 225, v 228
To reach that goal - one which can be attained by each individual unit - there is a long and painful route (but which at the same time engenders great joy) to be followed, for much that was useful in adolescence has to be sacrificed on the way to maturity. This is the lesson of the
great spiritual teachers, made explicit in the occult injunction, "Give up thy life, if thou would'st live." The Voice of the Silence, Frag.1, v 21]
Before leaving the review of Foundations of Esoteric Philosophy, it should be pointed out that the Conclusion given there does not appear to be the one intended by Mme Blavatsky when she recommended to her London group the study of the "Conclusion (Vol.II)". She had used the word Conclusion as the heading to the final portion of Part I of Volume II of The Secret Doctrine. It is here, rather than in the concluding pages of the whole work, that she writes of "the times of coming of the Races and Sub-Races". Both Conclusions are highly instructive and give the reader a sense of the immensity of the scheme in which he, like the whole human race, is involved.
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