We will post various passages from helpful sources to aid in our study of the Secret Doctrine here.

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From B.P. Wadia's Studies in the Secret Doctrine "Scope, Structure, and Method"

The Foundations of the book are the Stanzas of Dzyan. What they are, whence they emanate, how Mme. Blavatsky came across them and how she used them make a fascinating tale — but that, as Kipling would say, is another story. These Stanzas are the Seed from which grows the Tree of The Secret Doctrine. They are not of the earth but are rooted high in the plane of the spirit — verily the Bij of the Ashwattha. Sweeter than music is their lucid meter. The ideas entombed in their language are of Fire-like mystery — they glow as they grow, they flare up as they subside; they are profound, of ocean depth, whence rise the clouds, which become harbingers of promised wind — beautiful to gaze upon, in their white purity on the arching blue, and useful and inspiring withal, for they bring the breeze and the gale which free the mind from the oppressive sultriness of petty and concrete thinking. Like the mighty ocean is their sweeping grandeur, the “glorious mirror where the Almighty’s form glasses itself … the image of eternity — the throne of the invisible.” How apt do the words of Byron fit, applied to this Ocean of Primeval Wisdom compared to the passing panorama of knowledge which pertains to the domain of the senses and the intellect:—

Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee—
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they?
Thy waters washed them power while they were free,
And many a tyrant since; their shores obey
The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay
Has dried up realms to deserts; not so thou—
Unchangeable save to thy wild waves’ play—
Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow—
Such as Creation’s dawn beheld, thou rollest now.

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BP Wadia is a live illustration of Higher Manas, like the full moon, in full bloom, radiating the light of Wisdom which illuminates the night sky. His sage appreciation of the Secret Doctrine above is an example.
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This passage reveals a man filled with an inspiration and a vision accorded to those who walk the heights of spiritual mountain climbing.  His words sound to me like they come from someone who has internalized the Secret Doctrine and it has lit up his life.

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As the above reference is taken from a highly important source, Sri BP Wadia's "Studies in the Secret Doctrine."  I believe this book is a must have for the Theosophical Student A very deep passage taken from the second volume of the above source, article "The preparation and Subjects for Study;"

"In the human consciousness, burnt in, as it were, is an impress of wisdom, which acts in man as intuition- this was the work of the 'Solar Angels,' the Agnisvatta Pitris- "
the Endowers of man with his conscious, immortal EGO" (S.D.II.88). "This "Conscious Entity" Occultism says, comes from, nay, in many cases is, the very entire essence and esse of the high Intelligences condemned, by the undeviating law of Karmic evolution, to reincarnate in this manvantara (SD.II.248).  Its influence and action are absent today because human consciousness is overlaid by nonspiritual longings and mortal impresses.  The task of the student is to utilize the "gift quickened by the 'Lords of Wisdom,' who have poured on the human manas the fresh dew of their own spirit and essence" (SD.II.411). The idea well grasped will make it clear to the student as to wherein lies the true preparation for his (or hers) approach to the Secrete Doctrine."

"...The functioning of these is usually vague and indefinite, but differs in different people; it begins to become definite in the persistent student of the Secret Doctrine who earnestly tries to lead the life.  In the process the student receives further impress on his one Egoic consciousness; for, the work of the Host which lights up the Manas latent in man is not finished.  Its beneficent labor continues, but, it may be said that this is confined to that class of human souls which aspires to learn the Higher Wisdom.  Self-redemption through self-control and self induced and self-devised ways and methods is the ideal of that class; what each unit in that class attracts to tiself depends on the assiduity in devotion which he or she manifests."

Such truth ought to be considered frequently by the student.  Often, it appears that philosophical study bears fruits of dry academia and a highly fickle mind- endless comparison with no true resolve or purpose.  I believe in the SD itself this is mentioned as a slight warning.  The lower mind still dominates through intelligence; scholarly or otherwise.  Wisdom is born through assimilation, humility, self-abgenation, and sacrifice. 

On another note, one might also consider the deeper meaning behind the Secret Doctrine, prior to study.

Who is the Secret Doctrine written for?  How might one understand the Secret Doctrine with no prior knowledge of the complex metaphysical philosophical systems presented therein?  It is necessary to adopt and study a philosophical system prior to the study of the Secret Doctrine?

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HPB pointed to the Three Fundamental Propositions as a way to get started.  Trying to get a foothold in these three ideas will guide us as we begin our journey into the world of the metaphysical side of life, which according to Theosophy is more real than the physical.

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From B.P. Wadia's Some Observations on the Study of the Secret Doctrine by H.P. Blavatsksy

People who attend classes for the study of The Secret Doctrine usually do so for one of two reasons. First, there are those who want the teachings for the purpose of self-improvement, who go to the book with the hope of obtaining simple, clear-cut formulae for the development of psychical or abnormal powers, such powers as the great author of the book, H. P. Blavatsky, is herself reported to have possessed; some seek mental self-improvement, hoping that the book will enable them to run the race of the competitive life on this earth in a more efficient manner. Secondly, there are those who go to the book with the hope of obtaining straight, definite teachings of Theosophy presented in a way that an ordinary intelligent individual can grasp, with the desire of imparting the teachings to others, and helping them to understand the
great truths; desire to learn so that they may teach. In both these cases the student is apt to be disappointed while it is quite true that The Secret Doctrine does help individual spiritual growth, it does so along a that is the least suspected by the would-be student; while it is also true that the teachings of The Secret Doctrine are there for all those who possess a mind notaltogether untutored, still the information conveyed, the teachings imparted, the of Theosophy is put forward an unexpected style, in an unfamiliar way, by a strange and almost unique method.

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I gather here the importance of asking ourselves what our motive and intentions are concerning the study.  Why not start with the highest and most noble purpose we can generate before we understand the study of the SD?  We could try to assume the mental posture of an accepted chela in an ashram taught be an authentic Spiritual Teacher.

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Perhaps the best advice I had read recently, from TSR;

"Where is the motive for Occult study ? one may be tempted to ask. The reply is, there ought not to be any motive for it. A love for it should be made to spring up like the love of an artist for his art. This kind of glowing affection for a higher spiritual life is the firmest basis on which a neophyte can take up his stand. Any other attitude, however disguised, will but lead to unsatisfactory results."
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Yes, pursue knowledge for knowledge sake, love truth for truth sake and not for any personal gain.  There is a passage in the Light of the Path that encapsulates this important point -

So must you press forward to open your soul to the Eternal. But it must be the Eternal that draws forth your strength and beauty, not desire of growth. For in the one case you develop in the luxuriance of purity; in the other you harden by the forcible passion for personal stature. 

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You point to the right motive and that is the ideal but we must not underestimate how extremely difficult this is and how insidious the snake of separative self can be. And how it sneaks in unnoticed.  We have to keep a close eye on the motive to appear holy in the eyes of others, or to have others appreciate how wise or virtuous one has become etc. etc. Love of truth for its own sake and knowledge for its own sake requires a lot of sifting.

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It dignity of the Path is revealed in its difficulty.

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From B.P. Wadia's Studies in the Secret Doctrine   from an article entitled:

Original Method, Original Teaching, Original Impulse

The Secret Doctrine teaches the continued, unimpaired and thorough existence of Shruti-Revelation, in the correct sense of the term. Said Madame Blavatsky:

What I do believe in is (1) the unbroken oral teachings revealed by living divine men during the infancy of mankind to the elect among men; (2) that it has reached us unaltered; and (3) that the MASTERS are thoroughly versed in the Science based on such uninterrupted teaching. 1

This stupendous claim has not been made for the first time in the history of human thought. The student will do well to reflect over this statement which finds corroborative testimony in many an ancient scripture. In fact the real Revelation, universal and impersonal, about which we have been writing, has been an object of exposition by great Teachers in a very long line of succession, and equally also an object of enquiry and search by a large number of earnest and devoted students of Truth which is Wisdom. Many claim the privilege of teaching; all true teachers, however different their personal ways of imparting knowledge, teach the one ancient and universal truth. As the Brahmabindopanishad has it: “Cows are many coloured; but the milk of all has but one colour. Look on knowledge as the milk, and on the teacher as the cows.” Herein we find the means whereby students can determine for themselves between false and true teachers.

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Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on April 25, 2016 at 5:56am
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I wonder how other, western-raised people feel about the term Revelation. It's a very loaded term in our culture, I think. How are we to understand the difference, say, between a revelation of the sort claimed for the Secret Doctrine, and a revelation of the sort claimed by Christians or Muslims etc.? Or is there a difference?

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on April 25, 2016 at 7:48am
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How are we to understand the difference, say, between a revelation of the sort claimed for the Secret Doctrine, and a revelation of the sort claimed by Christians or Muslims etc.? Or is there a difference?

I personally believe there isn't a difference.  To entertain a difference will be quite compromising to ones understanding of Brotherhood, moral character, and a grave misunderstanding of the deeper significance of Revelation- that is, an ancient stream of continuity regarding the most Sacred and Divine teachings as well as instructions which have been imparted by Those who have become the custodians.  I believe the Revelation claimed in the SD is that same revelation given to those who have unbreakable faith adhering to any words given to them by Divine Instructors.  HPB had said, she can not claim a single word or teaching in the SD as her own...

Nomenclature may change, instruction will eventually be corrupt in time, but Revelation is- to my understanding- a Blessing given to Humanity, a lifeline to Salvation.

Sri Wadia says himself;

(1) the unbroken oral teachings revealed by living divine men during the infancy of mankind to the elect among men; 
(2) that it has reached us unaltered; and 
(3) that the MASTERS are thoroughly versed in the Science based on such uninterrupted teaching

I think the question should be, "How can there be a Difference ?" :-

"In fact the real Revelation, universal and impersonal, about which we have been writing, has been an object of exposition by great Teachers in a very long line of succession, and equally also an object of enquiry and search by a large number of earnest and devoted students of Truth which is Wisdom."


Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on April 25, 2016 at 8:42pm
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Thanks Kristan. That makes sense. I suppose there are some notable frauds when it comes to claiming religious/spiritual revelations, but perhaps we can say that the major world religions do seem to be founded upon revelations sourced in the same origin as the one claimed for the SD.

So, if we assume that the revelation spoken of in regards to the SD is of the same nature as revelations given by other sages throughout human history, my question then is: what is the role of faith in our approach to this revelation? We see the high place that faith has taken in many world religions, and I assume, for a student of theosophy there must be some element of faith that the SD does, indeed, represent something worthy of our attention. Are there key differences in how a theosophist ought to apply faith in approaching this revelation verses the way in which we commonly see people applying faith to other revelations?

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on April 25, 2016 at 8:59pm
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One further thought that comes to mind is in regards to who or what we attribute the revelation to. Most (if not all) major world religions have at their head some kind of "prophet" (for lack of a better word), or we might say simply a "sage", but there is also quite commonly a further attribution of the revelation as coming from a Deity or the Deity.

While Blavatsky makes clear (see SD, Preface, p.vii) that what is taught in the SD isn't a revelation in the sense of something new, there is the "primeval revelation" that is claimed as the origin of the teachings that underlie the SD. Theosophical teachings do combat the idea of a supreme personal God, and it is clarified in the SD that revelation doesn't come from "God", but that:

"The Occultist accepts revelation as coming from divine yet still finite Beings, the manifested lives, never from the Unmanifestable ONE LIFE; from those entities, called Primordial Man, Dhyani-Buddhas, or Dhyan-Chohans, the "Rishi-Prajâpati" of the Hindus, the Elohim or "Sons of God," the Planetary Spirits of all nations, who have become Gods for men."

So my question would be: given that this primeval revelation is claimed as coming from divine beings, does that make the revelation itself fallible? Is it better for us to assume its infallibility, from our own perspective and condition, or is it better to approach it as fallible? Should we assume the teachings are true until proven (to us) otherwise, or assume they are false until proven (again, to us) true? ...

What's the best "posture" for a student to take in this regard?

This question is for everyone, of course.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on June 3, 2016 at 5:51am
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Sorry for the long delay...

"So my question would be: given that this primeval revelation is claimed as coming from divine beings, does that make the revelation itself fallible? Is it better for us to assume its infallibility, from our own perspective and condition, or is it better to approach it as fallible? Should we assume the teachings are true until proven (to us) otherwise, or assume they are false until proven (again, to us) true? ..."

If anything is claimed as coming from Divine Beings, it is purely infallible, in my opinion.  But there must be consistency in logic, teachings, and most importantly fundamentals.  If any one of the three are absent, the foundation is compromised.

The human intellect is imperfect and unreliable- no matter how educated, sharpened and intelligent.  Unless it has been purified by Knowledge, there is a residue inherent within the instrument that will defiantly present a mummer, as it were, in the stream of continuity.  

Theosophy teaches;


(1.) The Secret Doctrine is the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages, and its cosmogony alone is the most stupendous and elaborate system: e.g., even in the exotericism of the Purânas. But such is the mysterious power of Occult symbolism, that the facts which have actually occupied countless generations of initiated seers and prophets to marshal, to set down and explain, in the bewildering series of evolutionary progress, are all recorded on a few pages of geometrical signs and glyphs. The flashing gaze of those seers has penetrated into the very kernel of matter, and recorded the soul of things there, where an ordinary profane, however learned, would have perceived but the external work of form. But modern science believes not in the "soul of things," and hence will reject the whole system of ancient cosmogony. It is useless to say that the system in question is no fancy of one or several isolated individuals. That it is the uninterrupted record covering thousands of generations of Seers whose respective experiences were made to test and to verify the traditions passed orally by one early race to another, of the teachings of higher and exalted beings, who watched over the childhood of Humanity.   That for long ages, the "Wise Men" of the Fifth Race, of the stock saved and rescued from the last cataclysm and shifting of continents, had passed their lives in learning, not teaching. How did they do so? It is answered: by checking, testing, and verifying in every department of nature the traditions of old by the independent visions of great adepts; i.e., men who have developed and perfected their physical, mental, psychic, and spiritual organisations to the utmost possible degree. No vision of one adept was accepted till it was checked and confirmed by the visionsso obtained as to stand as independent evidenceof other adepts, and by centuries of experiences.


I believe this covers some important topics.  Too much un tested trust will mislead, too much doubt with blind.  One must be willing to test and study to make a logical conclusion.  

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on June 3, 2016 at 10:47am
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It seems like part of the revelation problem is that each one is considered "new", as if something was being invented or created for the first time.  The SD is saying there is only ONE REALITY and all 'revelations' are merely glimpses of the same reality.  Each group comes along, who themselves have no spiritual powers of perception, and claim the 'revelation' of their prophet to be the only real one and the one authentic one. From here we devolve into wars and divisions and the like.  HPB went the other way, she claims no new revelation and states she is passing on what she herself has been taught.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on April 22, 2016 at 11:26pm
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From the Studies in the Secret Doctrine by B.P. Wadia

The study of this book and the grasping of the teachings it contains, like those of any other volume, naturally depends on the capacity of the reader; but, just as the nature of the capacity differs according to the subject matter of study and investigation and the musical faculty is necessary for the appreciation of music, and the mathematical faculty for grasping mathematics, so also for the study of The Secret Doctrine a definite type of capacity and a particular faculty are essential.

Thus we are warned beforehand in the Introductory itself:

Every reader will inevitably judge the statements made from the stand-point of his own knowledge, experience, and consciousness, based on what he has already learnt. This fact the writer is constantly obliged to bear in mind: hence, also the frequent references in this first Book to matters which, properly speaking, belong to a later part of the work, but which could not be passed by in silence, lest the reader should look down on this work as a fairy tale indeed — a fiction of some modern brain. (I:xlvi.)

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on April 25, 2016 at 5:58am
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So what is this capacity or faculty spoken of? Intuition? Reason? ...

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on May 6, 2016 at 2:35pm
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How about this idea?  The posture and resonance of the student is like a magnet.  The more profound the mental posture, the deeper the resonance, the greater the capacity to attract wisdom.  Wisdom in this sense is attunement to subtler planes of existence that are causal and therefore more universal and seminal. This magnetism is a matter of degrees.  Maybe something it is something like language.  The more fluent in the language we become the greater the capacity to pick up insights from people using that language. 

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on May 4, 2016 at 11:59pm
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From B.P. Wadia

Of all her writings The Secret Doctrine was regarded by H.P.B. as her best work. But to understand it to any appreciable extent we must bear in mind certain important factors.

The book is not written; it is recorded, as the dedication points out. In the Proem the recorder takes note that her volumes may be regarded (1) as a fairy tale; or (2) “at best as one of the yet unproven speculations of dreamers”; or (3) “at the worst, as an additional hypothesis to the many scientific hypotheses past, present and future, some exploded, others still lingering.” But, it is added, “It is not in any sense worse than are many of the so-called Scientific theories; and it is in every case more philosophical and probable.” (I:23-24.)

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on May 6, 2016 at 2:35pm
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With White Lotus Day  (May 8th) coming up this Sunday it is a good time to say thinks for the SD.  It is a road map into the metaphysical.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on June 19, 2016 at 12:17pm
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From B.P. Wadia's Studies in the Secret Doctrine:  Growth Through Self-Effort

The first and the most important idea to understand in reference to evolution in this our kingdom is the following:

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. (S.D. I, 17.)

In the philosophy of Theosophy this fundamental plays the leading role. Every enquirer is told of it at the very start. Every tyro in Theosophy speaks about it. It is not a difficult proposition to understand, and yet, without doubt, it is the most difficult one to practise, and because of that, very often it is the least understood of the teachings. This is not paradoxical but the fact is that this teaching cannot be grasped by mind alone — however mighty the mind. No amount of theoretical knowledge of it will produce necessary effects. To know it thoroughly the teaching has to be applied, has to be practised, many a time, in many a situation, till dimly its activity stands revealed to our perception. It is not a mental process, hence mind alone cannot fathom its mystery; it is a manasic process, in which our mind is only a learner. Ordinarily our minds are the enlightening influence in our lives; but what has given it its enlightening power? Manas, the Thinker, is the teacher of mind; he lights the mind; from him our minds gain their power to illumine, their capacity to shine. Only when Manasic action of the Thinker, the Manushya, the Real Man, begins to operate does this teaching, through application, become clear.

The “mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects,” says The Voice of the Silence. But Manas is the Light of Buddhi which is fed by the Energy of Atma; it is the flame, radiant and luminous, which all the time performs the sacrificial action of consuming dust to make it shine in splendour. The energy of Atma is the Will, free and impersonal; the Light of Buddhi is the Intelligence which utilizes it because it is energized by that Will.

Will is the creative power in man — the maker of super-man. By our will we are the fashioners of that which is divine in us but which now is asleep, dormant, latent. Conscious, intelligent Will is the faculty par excellence of man, and this is the moulder of Individuality itself. Manas gains mastery over his mind and the other lower instruments by the power of Will and the faculty of intelligent discernment.

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Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 19, 2016 at 12:42pm
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Why does B.P. Wadia say that the idea of Growth Through Self Effort is one of the "least understood of the teachings"?  Why do students stumble here?  It seems like a straightforward notion.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on June 20, 2016 at 4:10am
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It is defiantly straight forward, but appears to be the hardest for most students.

Self Effort means self reliance.  To be self-reliant means to develop a center of confidence in the ability to grasp the meaning of our Theosophical texts through ones own understanding. 

Many, for various reasons, feel the need to be assured and acknowledged regarding their growth.  The constant obsession of approval is ingrained in the modern mind... not only is this far from Self Effort, but also self-reliance.  Millions cling to the feet of the 'guru' or the robes of the priest to "deliver them safely to heaven." This drains the confidence and will of the student.

Insecurities, intellectual or otherwise, must be managed if Self Effort is to be employed.  Perhaps this is what BP is referring to.  The urge to grab ahold is impulsive, reflective, and habitual. 

Permalink Reply by Alex Papandakis on June 20, 2016 at 9:54pm
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I find this very helpful Kristan, thank you.  In the end we must see Divinity within ourselves, within the inmost recesses of our consciousness.  We have a couple thousand years worth of salaried priests and vicarious atonement to overcome.  "Look inward, thou art Buddha."  - VOS