THE SECRET DOCTRINE
This year (1988) sees the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Secret Doctrine in 1888. It may not be generally realized what an epoch-making event this was. Towards the end of the 19th century materialism was rife, and religion and science were dogmatic: the one claimed its authority direct from 'God' and the other was arrogantly assuming a position almost of omniscience. What it did not know then of the nature of things and the powers and forces involved in the processes of Nature would soon become known as a result of the spate of discoveries then being made. Since those times, however, religion has lost face with the public to a very large extent and science has certainly changed her attitude. There is now a general realization that "there is more in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy". A hundred years ago there was a relatively sharp demarcation between science, religion and even philosophy, and not a little antagonism between the first two.
When The Secret Doctrine came out it purported to be the 'synthesis of science, religion and philosophy'. Briefly, its argument was that whatever was true in science, in religion and in philosophy must necessarily be in accord, because truth itself is one and indivisible. There can be no contradictory aspect of truth. To a large extent then The Secret Doctrine was an exposition of what was true in all those disciplines.
In the Preface to the book appear these passages:
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 myth and symbol, and hitherto left unnoticed because of this veil. What is now attempted is to gather the oldest tenets together and to make of them one harmonious and unbroken whole...
But 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 to 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.
The aim of this work may be thus stated: to show that Nature is not "a fortuitous concurrence of atoms", and to assign to man his rightful place in the scheme of the Universe; 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; finally, to show that the occult side of Nature has never been approached by the science of modern civilization.
These are very large claims, and the justification for them involves the setting forth of concepts and ideas very different from those current at the time, and which even now appear strange to the conventional or orthodox reader.
The Secret Doctrine was the source book of modern 'theosophical' and kindred teachings. It became also the inspirational source from which many movements sprang. Similarly a number of different versions of 'Theosophy' appeared. Now, the only safe way to discover what The Secret Doctrine taught is to read either the book itself or literature directly derived from it. It is claimed that the 'Theosophy' as taught in it, is not a matter of dogma, of belief, or of private opinion, but that the teachings relate to the factual nature and processes of Cosmos. It postulates that Cosmos constitutes a Unity outside of which, at any levels, there is nothing. This means that we human beings, severally and collectively, are within and of it. We derive our being wholly from it.
This is the importance to us, individually, of the message contained in The
Secret Doctrine. The book is, however, not a work for the beginner. There is
simpler literature available and some of this is listed in the Trust's Recommended
Reading List; see study introduction