The purpose of this thread is to present some concepts, found spread out through diverse theosophical literature, which will attempt to give a basic outline of how the 'trans-Himalayan Arhat Esoteric school' (the 'Lodge', for short) explains how what they present as knowledge is obtained and justified. In the process, many study and learning guidelines, I think, will emerge.

This first passage indicates how a proper mindset in daily life is helpful and complementary for esoteric studies:

"But for the attainment of your proposed object, viz. — for a clearer comprehension of the extremely abstruse and at first incomprehensible theories of our occult doctrine never allow the serenity of your mind to be disturbed during your hours of literary labour, nor before you set to work. It is upon the serene and placid surface of the unruffled mind that the visions gathered from the invisible find a representation in the visible world. Otherwise you would vainly seek those visions, those flashes of sudden light which have already helped to solve so many of the minor problems and which alone can bring the truth before the eye of the soul. It is with jealous care that we have to guard our mind-plane from all the adverse influences which daily arise in our passage through earth-life."

Mahatama letters 11

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From SD3, ''Hermetic and Kabalistic Doctrines'', it deals with the fundamental aspect of the symbolism of the mystery language, of which there are seven basic keys:

''The student of Occultism has to bear in mind that every God and hero in ancient Pantheons (that of the Bible included), has three biographies in the narrative, so to say, running parallel with each other and each connected with one of the aspects of the hero - historical, astronomical and perfectly mythical, the last serving to connect the other two together and smooth away the asperities and discordancies in the narrative, and gathering into one or more symbols the verities of the first two. Localities are made to correspond with astronomical and even psychic events.'' CW 14, p. 91

From the Neoplatonic perspective, Sallustios, a neoplatonist linked to Iamblichus and Julian, gives 5 keys to myth interpretation:

1- Theological (Essence of the gods, ex. Kronos=Intellectual world) (Philosophers)
2- Physical (Activities of gods in the world, ex. Kronos=Time) (Poets)
3- Psychic (Activities of the soul itself) (Poets)
4- Material (Equating material substances with divine natures, ex. Isis=Earth)
5- Mixed psychic & material (Religious Initiation myths, ex. Attis)

http://thriceholy.net/Texts/Sallust.html
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The passage below indicates the more holistic, practical aspect of learning, the necessity of trying to live and apply the concepts so that the knoweldge is integrated into the fabric of one's being, or experience and observation, as they say.

''The recognition of the higher phases of man's being on this planet is not to be attained by mere acquirement of knowledge. Volumes of the most perfectly constructed information cannot reveal to man life in the higher regions. One has to get a knowledge of spiritual facts by personal experience and from actual observation, for as Tyndall puts it "facts looked directly at are vital, when they pass into words half the sap is taken out of them."

And because you recognise this great principle of personal observation, and are not slow to put into practice what you have acquired in the way of useful information, is perhaps the reason why the hitherto implacable Chohan my Master has finally permitted me to devote to a certain extent a portion of my time to the progress of the Eclectic. But I am but one and you are many, and none of my Fellow Brothers with the exception of M. will help me in this work, not even our semi-European Greek Brother who but a few days back remarked that when "every one of the Eclectics on the Hill will have become a Zetetic then will he see what he can do for them."

And as you are aware there is very little hope for this. Men seek after knowledge until they weary themselves to death, but even they do not feel very impatient to help their neighbour with their knowledge; hence there arises a coldness, a mutual indifference which renders him who knows inconsistent with himself and inharmonious with his surroundings. Viewed from our standpoint the evil is far greater on the spiritual than on the material side of man: hence my sincere thanks to you and desire to urge your attention to such a course as shall aid a true progression and achieve wider results by turning your knowledge into a permanent teaching in the form of articles and pamphlets.'' Mahatma letters to  AP Sinnett 11

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A succinct explanation of the astrological key of symbology:

"Because, while the sidereal symbols of the mystic characters or personifications in Puranas or Bible, fulfill astronomical functions, their spiritual anti-types rule invisibly, but very effectively, the world. They exist as abstractions on the higher plane, as manifested ideas on the astral, and become males, females and androgyne powers on this lower plane of ours."

[Blavatsky, The Esoteric Character of the Gospels, Part 2, Lucifer,  December, 1887]

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Another occult astrological concept (thanks to James Orchard):

"Astronomy and physiology are the bodies, astrology and psychology their informing souls; the former being studied by the eye of sensual perception, the latter by the inner or “soul-eye”; and both are exact sciences." Blavatsky, CW XII, 138

"Astrology is to exact astronomy what psychology is to exact physiology. In astrology and psychology one has to step beyond the visible world of matter, and enter into the domain of transcendent spirit." Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled I, 259

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Origen, a very Alexandrian scholar, gives five types of exegesis:

1- Literal

a- immediately relevant

b- edifying

c- non-edifying information

2- Moral

3- Spiritual

http://markfrancois.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/origens-literal-level-...

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The quote below illustrates another more practical aspect, the importance of spiritual cultivation and guidance from a young age (the study of Manu Smriti is also advised - CW XII, 593):

"Asiatics are so poor, as a rule, and books are so inaccessible to them in these degenerate days, that you can see plainly how different a plan of intellectual culture — in preparation for practical experiments to unfold psychic power in themselves — must be thought. In the olden time, this want was supplied by the Guru, who guided the chela through the difficulties of childhood and youth, and afforded him in oral teaching as much as, or more than through books the food for mental and psychic growth. The want of such a "guide, philosopher and friend," (and who so well deserves the tripartite title?) can never be supplied, try as you may. All you can do is to prepare the intellect: the impulse toward "soul-culture" must be furnished by the individual. Thrice fortunate they who can break through the vicious circle of modern influence and come up above the vapours!" Mahatma Letters, 35

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The following quote gives an indication of the holistic, multi-modal aspect of the sacred science:

''“Thus with these hierarchies. Why should we separate their classes in our mind, except for purposes of distinction in practical Occultism, which is but the lowest form of applied Metaphysics? But if you seek to separate them on this plane of illusion, then all I can say is, that there exists between these Hierarchies the same abysses of distinction as between the ‘principles’ of the Universe or those of man, if you like, and the same ‘principles’ in a bacillus.”*

CW 13, p. 71 (Commentary on Pistis Sophia)