We will now take up the Introductory remarks to the Secret Doctrine as outlined in our study guide.  I will try to add a passage per week to move through this in some rhythm.  Here is the first paragraph for discussion and comments:

“Gently to hear, kindly to judge.”
—SHAKESPEARE.

    SINCE the appearance of Theosophical literature in England, it has become customary to call its teachings “Esoteric Buddhism.” And, having become a habit—as an old proverb based on daily experience has it—“Error runs down an inclined plane, while Truth has to laboriously climb its way up hill.”

    Old truisms are often the wisest. The human mind can hardly remain entirely free from bias, and decisive opinions are often formed before a thorough examination of a subject from all its aspects has been made. This is said with reference to the prevailing double mistake (a) of limiting Theosophy to Buddhism: and (b) of confounding the tenets of the religious philosophy preached by Gautama, the Buddha, with the doctrines broadly outlined in “Esoteric Buddhism.” Any thing more erroneous than this could be hardly imagined. It has enabled our enemies to find an effective weapon against theosophy; because, as an eminent Pali scholar very pointedly expressed it, there was in the volume named “neither esotericism nor Buddhism.” The esoteric truths, presented in Mr. Sinnett’s work, had ceased to be esoteric from the moment they were made public; nor did it contain the religion of Buddha, but simply a few tenets from a hitherto hidden teaching which are now supplemented by many more, enlarged and explained in the present volumes. But even the latter, though giving out many fundamental tenets from the SECRET DOCTRINE of the East, raise but a small corner of the dark veil. For no one, not even the greatest living adept, would be permitted to, or could—even if he would—give out promiscuously, to a mocking, unbelieving world, that which has been so effectually concealed from it for long æons and ages.

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I think that if were the SD were to have fully elaborated explanations, it would be some 100 volume collection like the Kanjur - so it's a lot of brief snippets, digressions, fragments, hints, cryptic allusions, etc... it requires a lot of work on the reader's part - a basic knowledge of Hindu (esp. the Vishnu Purana) and Buddhist philosophy, Egyptian and Greek religion, Gnosticism and the Kaballah, can make it easier...

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One of the things, amongst others, that makes the SD difficult is that HPB is making the case for a much forgotten "Secret Doctrine" or "Hidden Wisdom" and the evidence for its lineage must be traced through all the diverse mystical traditions of long extinct civilizations that are practically unknown to us. Their terminology and language and conceptions are difficult for us in modern times.  Another thing that makes the SD difficult is the fact that we live in an extremely materialistic society and times and the Secret Doctrine spends a great deal of time discussing metaphysics.   We have almost no training in this department so many ideas only sound like gobblety gook much like high level math or sophisticated sheet music for a classical piece appears to us.  It does not mean it is any less real.  Ask a mathematican or musician for translation.

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Gerry,

Your comments ring true.  I'm sure it's been said that reading the Secret Doctrine has less to do with what we read in it, and more to do with how we read it.  It seems best to know how we think and what has influenced our thinking before diving into this work... 

And even after a greater understanding of how we think, we ask the question - is the thinking mind the only thing we bring to the study?  I think not :)

 

    

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Yes I see your point.  It would be great to obtain the objectivity to look at one's own views from the outside so to speak.  A big part of the Secret Doctrine study is to unveil our own limited conceptions of life. For example I can remember the shock to the system when someone suggested that we live more than once.  I think we are often quite unaware of many assumptions about life we hold without question or review.  The SD pushes some of these ideas and perceptions out into the open for our review because it raises contrary ideas to many of the accepted notions of the day.

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May I ask, because I really don't know, is there a difference between Theosophy and Esoteric Buddhism?

“Error runs down an inclined plane, while Truth has to laboriously climb its way up hill.”

Why is it we, in general, want to hold on to error than the truth, making the truth that much harder to obtain?

 

 

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Would anyone care to reply to Sharisse's question?  Can we put it in our own words?  HPB talks about this very point in the Key to Theosophy.

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Hi Sharisse,

Esoteric Buddhism, Sinnett's book, was a name endorsed by his teacher - it was the first major exposition of the core theosophical notions, based on letters from oriental adepts, but I think it caused some confusion with Buddhist scholars - but I don't think the term is all that bad, they both denote ostensibly secret buddhist traditions, although there are other schools as well. Nowadays there are more traditional esoteric texts from Buddhist traditions available, theoretically, they are similar, to a certain extent, to the theosophical notions.

The path to truth is a long, hard  journey? Maybe people tend to rely on comfort zones, rather than take the risk of discovery? But it's hard to say - everyone needs to go through the experiences they need to evolve - appearances can be deceiving... the outer circumstances don't always correspond to a person's inner being...

Peace, Mark

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Hi Mark,

Thank you, I'm fairly new to all this (Theosophy) so I really don't know much and apologize for my ignorant questions. I didn't know there is a book, 'Esoteric Buddhism.' I just recently learned Sinnett's name, so thank you for sharing. Is this book also what 'The Mahatma Letters,' are part of? I have read bits and pieces of what everyone has been sharing.

The path to truth is a long, hard  journey? Maybe people tend to rely on comfort zones, rather than take the risk of discovery?

It sure seems that way, as I am just at the beginning of the baby steps and it feels pretty dark here. I often wondered about this out of my own inabilities and what part in us would want to hold on to the non truths and question myself constantly.

appearances can be deceiving... the outer circumstances don't always correspond to a person's inner being...

I can relate well to this and its right in line with the above statement, "Gently to Hear, kindly to judge."

Thank you for your help.

 

 

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Hi Sharise,

‘Esoteric Buddhism’ is the name of the book written by A.P. Sinnett in 1883 as a result of his correspondence with the two Mahatmas KH and M.

‘The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett’ is a book containing many of the letters sent by those Mahatmas to A.P.Sinnet, but not published until some years later.  There are two main editions.  The first edited by Trevor Barker who arranged the letters by subject matter.  The second,  arranged in chronological sequence, with additional notes and letters, is published by T.P.H Manila.

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HPB repeats this point about Theosophy and Buddhism in the beggining of The Key to Theosophy in which she created a sub section entitled ‘Theosophy is not Buddhism’. So, it would be reasonable to assume that HPB felt this was an important point to clarify at the time of writing.  Perhaps it still is.  

The underlying point is that Theosophy is Divine Wisdom (see recent posts on Atma, Buddhi and Higher Manas in the previous SD study section).  In essence, it is what we areas immortal Monads rather than knowledge we possess as personal minds.

Only those who have directly realised something of this Divine Wisdom can truly be said to be in possession of knowledge regarding it.  Such knowledge, acquired by those great Initiates and Adepts is called the WISDOM-RELIGION which “was ever one, and being the last word of possible human knowledge, was, therefore, carefully preserved.” (The Key to Theosophy, p7)

The Wisdom Religion, then, is not any one spiritual tradition. Yet each of those religions in their esoteric teaching may contain a portion of that which is pure theosophy - at least as much as could be given out to them during that time and stage in humanity’s development. 

HPB states in The Key that Theosophy is not a religion:

“. . it is the essence of all religion and of absolute truth, a drop of which only underlies every creed. To resort once more to metaphor. Theosophy, on earth, is like the white ray of the spectrum, and every religion only one of the seven prismatic colours.”  (The Key, p58) 

If we view this in light of what she says about Buddhism in the beginning of the Secret Doctrine we may begin to get a sense of the overall picture:

“… the records we mean to place before the reader embrace the esoteric tenets of the whole world since the beginning of our humanity, and Buddhistic occultism occupies therein only its legitimate place, and no more.  Indeed, the secret portions of the “Dan” of “Janna” (“Dhyan’) of Gautama’s metaphysics - grand as they appear to one unacquainted with the tenets of the Wisdom Religion of antiquity - are but a very small portion of the whole.”  (SD I xx)

The same would need to be said with reference to the other great spiritual traditions.  We could no more say that Theosophy is Buddhism anymore than we can say that Theosophy is Brahmanism even though, according to HPB, the esoteric teachings of the Buddha "were simply the Guptya Vidya (secret knowledge) of the ancient Brahmins..." (The Key, p13)

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Hi Peter,

Thank you for explaining the difference between the 'Esoteric Buddhism' and 'The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett,' I appreciate it.

I am also grateful you shared this. I have read the beginning of the Key, I think I was trying to catch up to the study group that I must of forgotten when I caught up. That's when I probably should of written this question down :). I am going to go back over both beginnings of The Key and SD. Thank you!

The Wisdom Religion, then, is not any one spiritual tradition. Yet each of those religions in their esoteric teaching may contain a portion of that which is pure theosophy - at least as much as could be given out to them during that time and stage in humanity’s development.

I apologize if this is an ignorant question also, Is it right to view it as the blending of all and any Theosophical concepts within any and all spiritual or religious teachings and not just limited to Eastern teachings? And could the last statement about humanity's development also be considered the 'Ring Pass Not?'

Thank you for your time and help on this.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sharise,  those are very pertinent questions. Thank you.

We are given to understand that the Wisdom Religion is not just limited to eastern teachings.  What HPB seeks to demonstrate to us in the Secret Doctrine particularly, but also in her other writings, is the universality of the Wisdom Religion as the ultimate source of the genuine wisdom found in all the great spiritual traditions around the world.   HPB and her Teachers provide us with plenty of material in her works that we can study, reflect upon and follow up in our own investigations to enable us to judge for ourselves whether such a claim has any basis.

That’s a very interesting question about the ‘Ring Pass Not’.  HPB refers to this in one of the stanzas of the SD as that ring circumscribed by the very highest Dhyanis between the phenomenal world of manifestation and the noumenon.  It has a number of connotations and you could well be right that the two are connected, at least by correspondence.  It’s very likely that only a limited portion of the Esoteric teaching can be given out in any particular cycle - this being limited by factors such as the general overall spiritual development of the race and what is permitted by karma.

For anyone who might be interested HPB wrote an excellent article on 'What is Theosophy?' for her first edition of 'The Theosophist'  (1879).  The article is at the Link below:

http://www.katinkahesselink.net/blavatsky/articles/v2/y1879_020.htm

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Permalink Reply by Sharisse on April 8, 2013 at 9:57pm
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Peter,

Universality of the Wisdom Religion as the ultimate source of the genuine wisdom found in all the great spiritual traditions around the world.

This seems pretty important, to me, thank you. I see how the blending works through most, so far, the higher aspects I mean. Even within some indigenous tribes it seems they have similar wisdoms and truths, and I really can't help but ponder on it for the distances involved and the undeniable truths to it, it's amazing to me.

Thank you for sharing this article also. I was wondering about the correspondence on the 'Ring Pass Not' also. To my understanding is it flexible in varying degrees from the highest to the lowest, as in 'As above, so below,' all the way down to the mineral kingdom? Each one of us has a 'Ring Pass Not?' 

 

 

 

 

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on April 9, 2013 at 11:59am
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Sharisse,

that's a very good point you make there:

"is it flexible in varying degrees from the highest to the lowest, as in 'As above, so below,' all the way down to the mineral kingdom? Each one of us has a 'Ring Pass Not?' "

I would answer in the affirmative, if you look at the diagram of SD I:200, the "Ring Pass Not" will be drawn at the junction of the arupa and rupa plane, but since each plane has the corresponding subdivisions, one can say that this "Ring" exists on each plane - whether 'higher' or 'lower' (remember that all these planes are NOT stacked on top of each other but are in co-adunition. So indeed, each one of us has a 'Ring Pass Not', corresponding with the planes, our lower manas (when drawn down to the kamic principle) will form a 'Ring Pass Not' until we cross the antaskaranic bridge into higher manas, then higher manas needs to be fused to buddhi and perhaps so on. A 'ring pass not' can thus each time be situated in any 7-fold constitution between the lower 4 and the higher 3, rupa and arupa, objective and subjective, lower and higher, and so forth.

HPB also refers to several other names that to my mind seem to correspond with the idea of the 'Ring Pass Not', i.e. 'The Day be with us' and the 'Laya point'.

For instance:

6. THE LIPIKA CIRCUMSCRIBE THE TRIANGLE, THE FIRST ONE (the vertical line or the figure 1.), THE CUBE, THE SECOND ONE, AND THE PENTACLE WITHIN THE EGG (circle) (a). IT IS THE RING CALLED "PASS NOT," FOR THOSE WHO DESCEND AND ASCEND (as also for those) WHO, DURING THE KALPA, ARE PROGRESSING TOWARD THE GREAT DAY "BE WITH US" (b). . . . THUS WERE FORMED THE ARUPA AND THE RUPA (the Formless World and the World of Forms); FROM ONE LIGHT SEVEN LIGHTS; FROM EACH OF THE SEVEN SEVEN TIMES SEVEN LIGHTS. THE "WHEELS" WATCH THE RING. (SD I:129)

and

"The "Great Day of BE-WITH-US," then, is an expression the only merit of which lies in its literal translation. Its significance is not so easily revealed to a public, unacquainted with the mystic tenets of Occultism, or rather of Esoteric Wisdom or "Budhism." It is an expression peculiar to the latter, and as hazy for the profane as that of the Egyptians who called the same the "Day of COME-TO-US,"** which is identical with the former, though the verb "be" in this sense, might be still better replaced with either of the two words "Remain" or "Rest-with-us," as it refers to that long period of REST which is called Paranirvana." (SD I:134-135 - see also fn ** on p. 134)

There are several references to this idea in the SD, but I guess a good rule of thumb in the study of theosophy is to look upon every concept (principles, planes, forces, names, etc. as having a universal (or general) and an individual (or specific) application. At least I found this helpful in my own study and it kept me from getting TOO confused :-)

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on April 9, 2013 at 12:42pm
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Could you please give us a brief explanation of what co-adunition is?

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on April 9, 2013 at 1:59pm
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As HPB points out in the SD I:166

"Our Globe [D, see SD I:200 diagram)], as taught from the first, is at the bottom of the arc of descent, where the matter of our perceptions exhibits itself in its grossest form. . . . . . . Hence it only stands to reason that the globes which overshadow our Earth must be on different and superior planes. In short, as Globes, they are in CO-ADUNITION but not IN CONSUBSTANTIALITY WITH OUR EARTH and thus pertain to quite another state of consciousness."

So, our six other globes are not stacked on top of each other - as a linear interpretation of the diagram would lead us to believe - but occupy the same "locality" or "place" in space, although not in the same "space" as each plane has its own space, i.e. they are in co-adunition (co- meaning 'together with another or others', jointly, mutually, common) and (adunition, from the Latin coadunare, to unify), you could instead make up the word co-unification if you like :-) But!… they are not of the same substance or matter, so not consubstantial (of the same substance). If they would be of the same substance we would perceive them on our plane of globe D. In other words, as every PLANE of substance corresponds with a STATE of consciousness, these 6 other globes are right "here" but we do not perceive them as it requires also a change in consciousness because a PLANE corresponds to a STATE.

Check out this link and read the explanation, amazingly some student must have made the effort to investigate it and upload it to this site!

http://translation.babylon.com/english/coadunation/

Well, I'll add it for your convenience :-)

"Coadunation or Coadunition [from Latin coadunare to unify] Union; used in theosophical literature to define the interrelation of the globes of any planetary chain. Speaking of the earth-chain, "In short, as Globes, they are in co-adunition but not in consubstantiality with our earth and thus pertain to quite another state of consciousness" (SD 1:166). Were they consubstantial they would be on the same plane and of the same degree of manifested substance that our fourth-plane or physical globe earth is, whereas the higher globes are on different planes (cf SD 1:200, diagram). Yet they form one unitary system. Nevertheless, this must not be taken as implying that they occupy the same space. "Of course if there was anything in those 'worlds' approaching to the constitution of our globe it would be an utter fallacy, an absurdity to say that they are within our world and within each other (as they are) and that yet, they 'do not intermingle together' " (Blavatsky Letters to Sinnett, 250)."

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on April 9, 2013 at 10:15pm
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Pierre,

remember that all these planes are NOT stacked on top of each other but are in co-adunition

I remember reading this not to long ago. I'm glad Gerry asked what co-adunition is, I sure didn't know. Thank you for putting perspective on that. Now I can put better perspective on the phrase 'there is no empty space' as far and as boundless as space can be, higher or lower because its in co-adunition and not stacked. Is this where dimensions would come in correspondence? As we on this plane see in certain dimensions, 3 dimensional, and higher beings see beyond our dimensions so that what we think is empty space, really isn't? 

Very interesting on the Diagram of SD I:200, I never thought of the ring around the rupas. And then reading SD I:129(a)

"They circumscribe the manifested world of matter within the Ring 'Pass-Not.'

Going back to that diagram the rupas are in the ring and the earth globe has its own ring (so to speak because the Lipikas circumscribe the earth globe from the rupas), the rupa is form(matter) or manifested from the Arupa (?) and the earth globe is even more of a manifested form. I see what you were saying.

Very interesting information in Stanza V. sloka 6 SD I:129-135, thank you for sharing this, even the tidbit of "para-para-metaphysical." Does that relate to the same existence of planes in co-adunition of the metaphysical of another plane? 

"A good rule of thumb in the study of theosophy is to look upon every concept (principles, planes, forces, names, etc. as having a universal (or general) and an individual (or specific) application."

Very wise indeed, thank you. I think having this flexibility will help very much and maybe I should try to apply it to my already Too confused stuff :)

  

 

 

 

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on April 10, 2013 at 3:25pm
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" 'there is no empty space' as far and as boundless as space can be, higher or lower because its in co-adunition and not stacked. Is this where dimensions would come in correspondence? As we on this plane see in certain dimensions, 3 dimensional, and higher beings see beyond our dimensions so that what we think is empty space, really isn't? "

Correct. Dimensions have to do with "objects" in space. Space in and by itself (abstract space if you like) has no dimensions. Dimensions apply to the relationships that exist between the set and kind of senses we employ (and the consciousness receiving that data) within a given realm of space and the type of substance belonging to any "plane" of space. 

"Does that relate to the same existence of planes in co-adunition of the metaphysical of another plane?"

Yes, at least so far as the rupa planes are concerned, as to the arupa planes "where form ceases to exist, on the objective plane" (1st footnote below the SD I:200 diagram), there is very little information to go on because it is beyond our comprehension from our present perspective. Mark well however that it says "on the objective plane". What are we to understand by "form" on the subjective plane? :-) To us at present unknown. Even the next plane up from globe D is to the majority of mankind already "subjective" although it is within the realm of the manifested universe of form. Also, subject and object are relative to the perceiver, not a condition in and by itself.

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on April 11, 2013 at 10:59pm
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So far as the rupa planes are concerned, as to the arupa planes "where form ceases to exist, on the objective plane" (1st footnote below the SD I:200 diagram), there is very little information to go on because it is beyond our comprehension from our present perspective. Mark well however that it says "on the objective plane". What are we to understand by "form" on the subjective plane? :-) To us at present unknown. Even the next plane up from globe D is to the majority of mankind already "subjective" although it is within the realm of the manifested universe of form.

Thank you, I didn’t catch that when I read it. So now we have in the diagram globe D as objective and the Arupas as objective on their plane. Is it maybe because the Arupas are not the upper triangle or the unknown, no name? As soon as you said Mark well, it dawned on me, there is a bigger picture and maybe some diagrams I was shown and put aside for later might possibly correspond here. In Isis Unveiled 2:266  there are two diagrams, The Glory of Ensoph and Aditi, that show in correspondence (?) to the arupa also having its own septenary system and intellectual world just as in all things, and it relates to Brahma, Vach in the Aditi? Where the Closed Eye or the No Name are the upper triangle and subjective? So the Arupa in SD1:200 are objective, still not much more information from Isis but a bigger picture for the SD diagram?

Dimensions have to do with "objects" in space. Space in and by itself (abstract space if you like) has no dimensions.

:) Took me a second but I realize that now.

 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on April 7, 2013 at 11:11am
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Sharisse, no apologizing for questions is necessary unless some one gets hot under the collar and wants to apply the cooling waters of an apology.  Whatever a student is unfamiliar with, whatever a student does not understand is fair game for questions independent of the length of time or breathe of reading has been done.  We can all benefit from each other's experiences, reflections and life lessons.

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on April 8, 2013 at 10:03pm
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Understood Gerry, thank you!

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on April 18, 2013 at 10:51am
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Does anyone else find it interesting that she starts off the book with the Shakespeare quotation, "Gently to hear, Kindly to judge." ?

Permalink Reply by Casady on April 21, 2013 at 7:40am
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I guess at the time, HPB had a decent amount of general audience appeal - and the interest of certain prominent people in the fields of scientific and religious studies and the attention of newspapers and magazines - so with that in mind and considering that the SD was quite a remarkably new set of esoteric ideas to be made widely accessible, a certain amount of backlash was undoubtebly expected...