Here is the last half of the preface for our consideration and discussion. We invite your questions and comments.

   It is needless to explain that this book is not the Secret Doctrine in its entirety, but a select number of fragments of its fundamental tenets, special attention being paid to some facts which have been seized upon by various writers, and distorted out of all resemblance to the truth. 

    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 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 materialised. 

    It is more than probable that the book will be regarded by a large section of the public as a romance of the wildest kind; for who has ever even heard of the book of Dzyan? 

    The writer, therefore, is fully prepared to take all the responsibility for what is contained in this work, and even to face the charge of having invented the whole of it. That it has many shortcomings she is fully aware; all that she claims for it is that, romantic as it may seem to many, its logical coherence and consistency entitle this new Genesis to rank, at any rate, on a level with the "working hypotheses" so freely accepted by modern science. Further, it claims consideration, not by reason of any appeal to dogmatic authority, but because it closely adheres to Nature, and follows the laws of uniformity and analogy. 

    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. 

    If this is in any degree accomplished, the writer is content. It is written in the service of humanity, and by humanity and the future generations it must be judged. Its author recognises no inferior court of appeal. Abuse she is accustomed to; calumny she is daily acquainted with; at slander she smiles in silent contempt.

De minimis non curat lex.

                                                                                                             H.P.B.

 

Views: 78

 Reply to This

Upload Files

Stop Following – Don't email me when people reply

Replies to This Discussion

Delete

I notice two things when I re-read this again after many years:  One is that it reassures the reader not to struggle with the small stuff, but to take it in as a whole and discover its unity, consistency, and coherence. Not that we can't work with details but that we not get lost and lose the greater context.  It helps, for example, to always self check whether some piece of information is in keeping with the larger propositions, asking about the truth of it, rather than get too academically engaged in our study.  

Second, I am reminded of later student articles I read that talk about belonging to all and yet to none, which is where I find myself frequently.  Theosophy has informed me in such a way that I can study or observe many teachings and yet I'm not going to wholly be able to say that I've felt as at home anywhere specific among the various doctrines.  (I'm not quite a Hindu or Buddhist and I understand my Christianity too, etc.)

Third, now that I think more, is that there are no apologies necessary, either by her or on her behalf.

Delete

You echo HPB's meaning very well, Di.  

         "De minimis non curat lex"

trans: The law does not concern itself with trifles.

 

Delete

And why do you suppose she wants to make this point about the law and trifles at this particular junction in the book?

Delete

It may just be because HPB wants us to focus on the big picture and not the details, the trifles, i.e. those things that make each religion appear different to each other.  The big picture is "the fundamental unity from which they all spring".

Delete

She is also setting us up to open our minds for the big universal ideas.

Delete

When she states: "That it has many shortcomings she is fully aware; all that she claims for it is that, romantic as it may seem to many, its logical coherence and consistency entitle this new Genesis to rank, at any rate, on a level with the "working hypotheses" so freely accepted by modern science."

Is she guarding against dogmatism here?

Delete

Was she poking at the kind of reasoning one uses, such as the scientific approach (starting with the working hypotheses for phenomena, empirical study, etc.), in that it is not the end-all of establishing reality?  She will later suggest that we should consider the probability of such concepts as reincarnation, which rely more on intuitive connections or a certain kind of logic that tells us something is going on that is not visually observable or measurable. 

Many of our conclusions rely on the probability of what is really going on, say on the atomic level.   Why should I not consider the probability of concepts that seem to align with many aspects of our reality and are suggested as true by generations of students. In fact that's how I talk about reincarnation, that I accept it on the probability that it is true.

I also like her usage of the "new Genesis" ... it reminds me of a nonconformist mystic (Anglican/ Church of England?), at the turn of the 20th c: his name was Reginald J Campbell and he introduced me to the "New Theology."  It's been a while since I looked at it but I saw a lot in common with theosophy at the time. He wrote a very interesting "spiritual journey" in 1916, which I ran into inadvertently at the public library. I called for a book that sat on the shelf next to it, and they delivered a book of his sermons instead!

Delete

...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.

Not an easy task! 124 years later... is society at large any closer to these goals? What is our role as theosophists, following in the wake of the work done by HPB and others, in continuing these efforts?

Delete

Showing the occult side of Nature ... this reminds me of a later reference in the SD (I'm borrowing it so I hope I quote it closely enough): "Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance. ... (The Secret Doctrine 1:578).

I found a similar quote:

Nature to be commanded must be obeyed. Francis Bacon, Novum Organum

Delete

That's a great quote from HPB, Di.  It's in The Voice of the Silence, p14 of original edition.

The Francis Bacon quote is an interesting one as well - paradoxical.

Delete

Di, what does it mean to you to "Help Nature and work on with her"?

Delete

I'll try: Understanding the "reality" of everything helps people make better decisions, so however I can know myself, what it means to be human, the world around me, the spiritual path and implications on living and the Earth (karma/reincarnation, etc.)... Designers of technology, for example, should not expect to changes the laws of physical nature and succeed for very long. Sustainability requires as long-term thinking as we can manage. Building dams, flood walls, etc., engineers need to be realistic. People can't work against nature and expect to "bring it to its knees." You can try to change the course of a river but sooner or later it will return to where its going to go. If you want to make energy from ocean waves, designers need to build turbines based on the working of real waves, because you can't reason with a wave, it simply rolls on.

Since doing the right thing that supports the nature of things has a real or more permanent impact, one can reason that sustainability is ethical, sensible and profitable. Perhaps because I believe we are spiritual beings and the universe looks kindly on us, I think that focusing on the good and on the interdependencies of the universe, attracts more of the same. To show ourselves that the occult side of Nature exists and is real, means that our decisions would benefit from more altruism and less material (impermanent) greed.

What does it mean to you?

@Peter, thanks for VOS citation!