For your consideration:

1. (Theosophy is) the substratum and basis of all the world-religions and philosophies, taught and practiced by a few elect ever since man became a thinking being.   -The Theosophical Glossary

2. The WISDOM-RELIGION was ever one, and being the last word of possible human knowledge, was therefore, carefully preserved.  It preceded by long ages the Alexandrian Theosophists, reached the modern, and will survive every other religion and philosophy. -The Key to Theosophy

3. The work now submitted to public judgement is the fruit of a somewhat intimate acquaintance with Eastern adepts and study of their science.   -Isis Unveiled

4. The SECRET DOCTRINE is not a treatise, or a series of vague theories, but contains all that can be given out to the world in this century.   -SD

5. What I do believe in is (1) the unbroken oral teachings revealed by living 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. -Lucifer Magazine Oct. 1889


HPB begins the Secret Doctrine by stating in the Preface, "The Author-the writer rather...."

What does this mysterious phrase tell us about HPB and the Secret Doctrine itself?

Your comments and ideas are most welcome.

Replies to This Discussion

Thanks Gerry for our first discussion on Theosophy Nexus! (*round of applause*)

I'd love to just put forward an observation and questions from the ideas you shared above.

HPB says that "The WISDOM-RELIGION was ever one, and being the last word of possible human knowledge, was therefore, carefully preserved", that it consists of "unbroken oral teachings", and lastly that "it has reached us unaltered"

I find it incredibly humbling to put these things together and to consider that this "preservation" must not, then, consist of writings or recordings but of actual knowing or seeing. I suppose off the get-go, I'd love to ask you all:

What does this tell us about our study? About our approach to the SD (or any other work, for that matter)? How does one coordinate the study of writings with the seeking of what seems to be, in its essence, unwritten wisdom?

And I suppose this observation simply adds to Gerry's initial question, in what does it tell us about HPB, or of her writing of the SD?

Any thoughts on these questions would be much appreciated.


Gerry asks:

HPB begins the Secret Doctrine by stating in the Preface, "The Author-the writer rather...."

What does this mysterious phrase tell us about HPB and the Secret Doctrine itself?

We most often use the word "author" to denote the person who wrote a given text, but the word has other connotations as well. Without writing any literature at all, one can be named the "author" of an idea or concept. What are we implying when we use the word in this way?

As for the word "writer," it can be used in much the same way as the word author--to denote the person responsible for penning a piece of literature. But the mere act of writing is more or less a mechanical process. One can sit in a classroom or attend a lecture, writing down the words of the speaker in a notebook. What differentiates this writer from an author?


It definitely seems deferential in tone to me, how about you?


In a grand sense, it seems to me that the 'doctrine' itself is really unauthored - looking right to first principles. It certainly does seem that the most any person could claim in regards to an idea is that of transmitting. It's certainly not our personal selves that do any of the real authoring. That would be a little like claiming it to be possible for MacBeth or Hamlet to have written the plays in which they are characters ;)

So perhaps one thing this tells us about HPB is the level of her self-honesty and humility.


It seems notable that this statement literally opens the book, too. The fact that it is the very first thing she wrote tells us something about the importance of this concept. It is like a key to everything else that comes after it, once it is understood for what it means.


Perhaps the entire idea of 'starting off' with this kind of statement is meaningful in terms of how we approach our lives. Do we start our endeavors with a tone of impersonality? Do we recognize the limits of how much credit our little personality deserves? Do we give credit where it's due, and show our reverence for all those who came before and upon whose shoulders we rest?

I feel HPB was an exemplar of how to put our little selves aside.

What does this tell us about our study? About our approach to the SD (or any other work, for that matter)? How does one coordinate the study of writings with the seeking of what seems to be, in its essence, unwritten wisdom?

When I approach the SD in study, I try to keep in mind that what I'm reading is a macrocosmic model of myself - the microcosm. It's more interesting if I know that I'm reading about myself. I believe that the unwritten wisdom is the self-realized knowledge of the One Reality, which is our deepest self.

I try to keep in mind that what I'm reading is a macrocosmic model of myself - the microcosm.

Sounds like a great way to approach the work. Seems valuable to me to relate all of these abstract metaphysical ideas to our lives and our observations - a way of bridging that seeming divide between the lower and the higher.

Seems to me, if we can more and more fully realize that everything is within SELF, including our little self, we might just start to slowly redefine for ourselves just who we are.


I do not know much about any of this; however, on February 7, 1964, I had a life-altering experience.  In that event, I went from being a Southern Baptist very young Sunday School teacher to being a person who believed that all beliefs are absolutely true and authentic for those who believe them.  Baptists no longer held the key to salvation and athiests also held a truth that is sacred to them.  My family just about disowned me but I have never had a moment's doubt that we are all, each one of us, a sacred bit of what we have searched for as God.  We are like fish in the ocean as if the ocean itself is God.  We are one with it and we are it.


As I hope I have said clearly, I do not know anything at all about Theosophy but the little I know so resonates with me.


Linda give us your thoughts about  any of the 5 statements placed above in the discussion box.  I rather doubt if any Southern Baptists would have much to say about any of them.

I think she's trying to tell us that she didn't invent this doctrine, which is something that an author might do. Instead she is communicating a doctrine that is as old as world itself. After reading the entire Preface, the thought occurred to me that what we may actually have here, in the SD, are the epitomized blueprints used by the Builders to construct the World - in English. Isn't that a neat thought?!

Isn't that a neat thought?!

It certainly is. Sometimes it's easy to slide into approaching works like these in the way we might approach a work on mathematics or chemistry or such, but it's always nice to remind ourselves of the gravity of what we're attempting to study - the very making of worlds and selves!

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Daniel Noga on July 7, 2012 at 10:43pm

Later on in the Preface, she writes:

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.

To "face the charge," as if the very idea that she herself invented it is like unto an indictment of some crime. Here, she could not make it any clearer that for the work to be attributed to her alone was the farthest thing from her intention.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on July 7, 2012 at 11:37pm

There is no first personal pronoun – I or me - in the preface.  If HPB did not show her name at the end, one would think it was written by someone else because, from the tone, one gets the impression that someone is talking about HPB. A possible explanation about the beginning mysterious phrase is the term Author refers to the Higher three Principles and writer the physical vehicle.   This would account for the capitalization of the word “ Author”  but not writer.  Later on throughout the preface, both of these terms are used interchangeably, and the word author, without the capital letter, no longer has the same meaning. 

To response to Joe’s comments, I find the sentence in the first paragraph very revealing; it states how one can use the study in daily life. 

-          A large quantity of material has already been prepared, dealing with the history of occultism as contained in the lives of the great Adepts of the Aryan Race,and showing the bearing of occult philosophy upon the conduct of life, as it is and as it ought to be

It is truly humbling to be able to hear and read the ancient wisdom.  Thank you all for dedicating your energy and time in making this study groups possible. 

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on July 8, 2012 at 10:34am

from the tone, one gets the impression that someone is talking about HPB.

Great observation! I get this feeling throughout the SD.

I also love your observation about the meaning of the terms Author and writer and their relation to the higher and lower selves. That feels right on to me.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on July 13, 2012 at 7:48pm

There is no first personal pronoun – I or me - in the preface.

Wow. If that's not a lesson in true humility, I don't know what is.

I was once told, in reference to writing, that the success of a writer is in direct proportion to how little the reader sees of them in the work. Perhaps that can be extended to other aspects of our lives as well...

Permalink Reply by barbaram on July 14, 2012 at 2:01pm

Another possibilty is that, beyond humility,  this is HPB’s normal state of consciousness, which is, that of Oneness. 

We identify with our ego,   encased in a physical envelope.  If we begin to view our form as those we perceive in dreams,   then, referring to I – me- mine is kind of empty and sometimes meaningless.        

Permalink Reply by David Reigle on July 8, 2012 at 10:34am

It seems that this "author"-"writer" distinction goes back a ways. In her "Introductory" to The Secret Doctrine, HPB writes about her source, the "very old book,"  the "one small parent volume" (vol. 1, p. xliii):

"Tradition says, that it was taken down in Senzar, the secret sacerdotal tongue, from the words of the Divine Beings, who dictated it to the sons of Light, in Central Asia, at the very beginning of the 5th (our) race; . . ."

So here the authors are "the Divine Beings," and the writers are "the sons of Light."

Permalink Reply by barbaram on July 8, 2012 at 9:20pm

The source of SD, as stated in various places, is from the divine beings. Interestingly though, in the opening sentence, the subject, Author- the writer, is singular and not plural. 

“The Author - the writer, rather - feels it necessary to apologize for the long delay which has occurred in the appearance of this work. It has been occasioned by ill-health and the magnitude of the undertakings.”

Based on the context of the lines above, it seems like HPB is talking about herself in a very detached manner. As such, I assume she is referring to different aspects of her constitution when she says Author-writer.  Following the same vein in the second sentence, she refers to herself or to her physical body as “It”.  I would imagine her state of consciousness is akin to a quote from VOS.

“When to himself his form appears unreal, as do on waking all the forms he sees in dreams.”    


Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on July 8, 2012 at 10:31pm

Through this discussion, we're really getting a glimpse of something important about the SD, imho - and that's the several levels on which various ideas can be understood. This observation is beautiful David; really to the heart of the matter!

I think this interpretation can really help point us towards the sanctity of studying the Ancient Wisdom, whether we do it through the SD or any number of the ancient works extant in our world as well. Ideas that have their roots in such a divine exchange certainly deserve our reverence.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 8, 2012 at 10:53pm

4. The SECRET DOCTRINE is not a treatise, or a series of vague theories, but contains all that can be given out to the world in this century.   -SD

Why was it important for HPB to make this statement?

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on July 10, 2012 at 3:51pm

Perhaps this goes along with how much HPB made known about adepts, the brotherhood, etc. - something seemingly new, at least among western teachers. Perhaps it was important to present these kinds of ideas more boldly and directly to western minds, in part to combat our insistence on being either blind material creations or static (unevolving) creations of a deity?

Saying that this contains all that can be given out may cause us to pause and consider the SD in a different light, with a broader perspective...

Permalink Reply by Vicki Stebbings on July 10, 2012 at 4:16pm

WOW, when I read this... it hit me that it is "all that can be given out to the world in this century" What about the next century? Will more be revealed to us? Perhaps as we progress in wisdom?

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on July 10, 2012 at 7:03pm
I believe that more will be revealed eventually, when mankind is ready for it, and when it is needed. More than a century has passed since HPB made that statement. Has more Wisdom been unveiled already? In the preceding paragraph in the Intro (I:xxxviii) she says that in the twentieth century, a disciple may be sent to give irrefutable proofs that "there exists a Science called Gupta-Vidya;". Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on July 11, 2012 at 10:07am

a disciple may be sent...

I think perhaps the key word here is "may". At the outset of the Preface, HPB makes it clear that it is we, ourselves who determine how much is given (and, of course, our very ability to recognize teachings or a teacher, should they come our way). She said:

Should the present volumes meet with a favourable reception, no effort will be spared to carry out the scheme of the work in its entirety.

...meaning the delivery of the third and fourth volumes of the SD (and hence, more given out about Occultism). So, it seems that it's our reception of occult knowledge that determines how much is 'sent' our way. I'd suspect that if we're not ready, even if a teacher came and was right in front of us or working right among us, we might not even recognize it.

Interestingly, just above where she mentions the possible coming of someone to give irrefutable proof of Gupta-Vidya, she seemingly counters this by saying:

The same will be said of the Secret Archaic Doctrine, when proofs are given of its undeniable existence and records. But it will take centuries before much more is given from it.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on July 11, 2012 at 10:08am

There's an interesting statement by Robert Bowen that seems to relate to your questions. Food for thought, anyway.

It [The Secret Doctrine] contains, she says, just as much as can be received by the World during this coming century. This raised a question — which she explained in the following way: — "The World" means Man living in the Personal Nature. This "World" will find in the two volumes of the S.D. all its utmost comprehension can grasp, but no more. But this is not to say that the Disciple who is not living in "The World" cannot find any more in the book than the "World" finds.

Permalink Reply by Kirk Marzulo on July 15, 2012 at 9:38am

There were several who claimed to be H.P.B's successor and many who have since claimed to be in communication with "Masters." An excellent, detailed and documented history of this is found in "The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950," Cunningham Press. Some were convinced the messenger of the twentieth century was Jiddhu Krishnamurti, 'discovered' by Charles W. Leadbeater and groomed by Annie Bessant as the expected "messenger" and "World Teacher." Krishnamurti himself denied it many times later in life.

To be perfectly frank and open, my own life experience and study convinces that Professor Raghavan N. Iyer was indeed the messenger of the 20th century.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 15, 2012 at 2:58pm

For many theosophists this issue is a real hot button.  For the purposes of unity and staying focused on the Study of the Secret Doctrine we would prefer to avoid any debates concerning successorship.  We respect everyone's right to read and study whomever they wish but this Discussion Group is about The Secret Doctrine specifically.  We feel that it provides us with the best chance to draw together theosophists from all perspectives with the minimum amount of contentiousness.  I am sure all will agree and understand the position of the TNexus on this issue.

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on August 9, 2012 at 5:52pm

I've read through everyone's comments so far with great interest.  One thing I can add is the relation of the message to the larger cycles of 1000 years.  I think it was in Blavatsky's article on the Theory of Cycles she lays out 4 waves within each 1000 year cycle; to track them demonstrates patterns, how ideas resurface, etc. I'm trying to study it now, so I hope I'm reading this correctly.

If you track the year 1900 (since I'm just rounding out approximately), it goes back 5000 years to Krishna's life/death.  So I look at it as a "gateway" time into what she calls the 4th wave.  And the pattern that it matches best is one of great expansion, which you can see in other 4th-wave transitions, such as the increased maritime trade (or Viking raids!) about 900 CE, in the Silk Road and Grand Trunk Route in the first century BCE before the Roman Empire hit its high point. 

I can't track it all, but it seems to me in the 20th century that followed Blavatsky, the East-to-West ideas that Theosophy advanced have helped us through this globalization trend (with flight, the Internet connectedness, as well as the forcing of Tibetan culture and teachings into global accessibility, all making it an incredible expansion to global intercultural connection).  It seems to fit with the timing of the doctrine.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on August 10, 2012 at 11:48am

Very nice observations Di :)

It's a very interesting exercise to try to track these cycles; it seems to get more complicated the deeper one goes! I agree fully with your last paragraph - certainly the core ideas theosophists hold dear are playing an important role in the development of this new cycle.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on July 10, 2012 at 3:46pm

5. What I do believe in is (1) the unbroken oral teachings revealed by living men during the infancy of mankind to the elect among men.

I'm curious what other's thoughts are on the significance of teachings being passed orally as opposed to other methods. Is there a particular reason why 'oral'?

Permalink Reply by Daniel Noga on July 10, 2012 at 8:41pm

Regarding oral transmission, a couple of points come to mind:

  1. It is well to study a written work or even a symbol system such as Tarot, but an oral teaching implies a conversation--an exchange. A conversation is a cauldron bubbling over with dynamic potential.
  2. These teachings have until relatively recently been kept secret. Restricting their transmission to an oral mode is a means of preserving that secrecy.
  3. There may be much more significance to the idea of oral transmission than is first apparent. Thinking of words in the oral sense brings to mind the idea of vibration and reverberation--AUM--"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Between a Guru/Master and a disciple, the actual spoken words represent but one level of exchange taking place. The disciple is uplifted just by being in the presence of the teacher--there is likely a vibratory transmission of some kind going on, a process of attunement that can't really be found in a book. A similar thing occurs in group study and meditation. This is one of the meanings ofsangha.

Our words have a creative potential behind them that is not usually understood when we speak. It is certainly heightened by conscious awareness of the fact, but it is active even without this consciousness. There is much that would go completely unsaid if we each understood all of the ramifications of this.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 10, 2012 at 11:09pm

Another difference between the oral tradition and the publishing of a book is that in the oral tradition you had to earn the right to hear the teaching.  In the modern west and with book publishing the only barrier to access is the cost of the  book or a library card.  In the oral tradition you had to be ready to receive the teaching.  Many people approach the teaching in the wrong spirit, perhaps us as well, and don't get the full benefit.  Attitude is everything in the spiritual life we are told.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on July 12, 2012 at 9:52pm

Possibly, the means of transmission is a reflection of the particular era and culture.  Centuries ago, with limited options, families would pass on their mythologies and life stories through words of mouth from one generation to the next.  The masters used the oral tradition to transmit specific occult knowledge to their disciples when the time was ripe. 

It would be interesting to imagine the possible methods that a master would use at the present time to contact the students given the common usage of the internet nowadays.

Permalink Reply by Daniel Noga on July 14, 2012 at 1:04am

It seems to me that the increasing complexity of our world's communication systems creates many new pathways / channels for all sorts of messages. It is interesting to contemplate how this might apply to the transmission of esoteric wisdom.

It would appear that in times long past, there was a great emphasis on individuals when it comes to keeping the flame of esoteric wisdom alive. Certain intensely focused and dedicated people were prodigious wells of knowledge, creativity and influence that shone like beacons to the rest of us, and if we take traditional accounts of influence on the part of Adepts to be true, it would seem that they invested greatly in these key individuals. In the past this was necessary, as the circumstances allowing one access to the necessary channels of communication were increasingly rare the farther back in the past we go. HPB herself was born into nobility and her unique life circumstances were crucial in making the publication of The Secret Doctrine possible.

Nowadays a 13 year-old with internet access can make a YouTube video that goes viral and reaches millions. There is no longer such a need to concentrate on individuals. Perhaps if there are Adepts helping to guide humanity in this way, they, too will have shifted modalities and are now focusing more on the larger waves of influence that sweep individuals up? What one HPB accomplished through an apparent lifetime of working very closely with Mahatmas is remarkable--but what could be accomplished by 5,000 individuals operating from the promptings of even a single, subtle, fleeting influence from a Mahatma in today's environment?

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on July 14, 2012 at 3:16pm

There may be much more significance to the idea of oral transmission than is first apparent.

I'm thinking this as well. Seems that your points about vibration/attunement/etc. are important. I feel there may be much to it that relates to Mind and Ideation.

Stumbled on this today, not for the first time. Some food for thought for everyone:

This [the use of letters, i.e. writing], said Theuth, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit. Thamus replied: O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality. - Socrates, from Plato's Phaedrus

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by David Reigle on July 13, 2012 at 8:14am

A few observations on the oral tradition in the East:

1. The Vedas were memorized and passed down orally for many centuries before being written down. Likewise, the discourses of Gautama Buddha were memorized and passed down orally for centuries before being written down. Nonetheless, their words were fixed, and could not be altered. So the written text here does not verbally differ from the oral tradition.

2. Even today in India and Tibet there is much emphasis on receiving a text (now a written text) orally from a teacher. It is thought that the written text cannot be properly understood unless received verbally from a teacher. Thus, in Tibet a tradition has evolved where a lama will read a text to a group of students as fast as he can. This is receiving the "lung," the oral transmission. The text is read far to fast to be understood, or even to make out the words. But this is regarded as the necessary first step in studying a text. There is a widespread belief that without this the text is not effective. Lamas will tell you that studying a scripture on your own, without receiving this oral transmission, is useless.

3. The traditions of secret oral teachings, or ear-whispered teachings, pertain to texts that are now written. The actual meaning of a written passage may be passed down in the oral tradition, and never written. But these secret oral teachings go with texts, written texts. There is a small book by Alexandra David-Neel, titled Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects. She had to do her apprenticeship, living in an isolated hermitage. Then she became eligible to receive secret oral teachings. An example that she describes is when her lama revealed that the twelvefold chain of causation taught in Buddhist texts can be taken in reverse order. This was a secret oral teaching, one that was quite interesting to me. However, after I read her book, I later found this same teaching in written Buddhist sutras. I deduce that many secret oral teachings are so because students are not usually in a position to read widely.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 14, 2012 at 8:36am

In a noisy world we have forgotten both the power of sound and the sanctity of the spoken word when delivered in the right spirit, in the right tone, with the right amount of thought behind it. Our forefathers, perhaps we ourselves at one point in time, understood this.

Permalink Reply by Vicki Stebbings on July 14, 2012 at 6:49pm

I like what everyone is saying here about sound and it's vibrations. The chakras can be balanced by sound...through fact each chakra has a sound that "tunes" it, so to speak.

There seems also to be an exchange when one is teaching and one is learning...the teacher may, in some cases,  have revelations regarding the material being taught, and vice versa. The student's presence with the teachers creates a third, the union of the two (the trinity)...another level on which to understand. There is an old saying, "teach to learn."

Permalink Reply by barbaram on July 14, 2012 at 10:51pm

The practice of memorization is common in the orient.  When I attended school in the Far East for my formative years, we have to memorize every lesson in history, geography, English, etc...  The drawback is that the students fall into the habit of learning by rote, stifling the creativity and imagination, and this is one of the issues certain countries in Asia are dealing with right now.

But, I do not think this applies to the memorization of Holy Scriptures.  There is a lot of value in memorizing sacred texts; it gives one a feeling of ingesting the words, the sounds, the ideas and infusing oneself with the energy of the teachings.   I tried memorizing the VOS but did not get too far. 

In terms of the power of sounds,  one episode comes to mind.  On a sultry night in update New York 1974, I was deep asleep in my bed with windows wide open and was awoken by a strong breeze.   I thought it was odd that there could be a breeze in such humid climate.  The white curtain started blowing up and down in the dark and I felt/knew a spirit came in through the window.  It came to my bedside and whispered a long phrase with sounds in a language that I was not familiar with.  At the time, I thought it sounded like Tibetan.  Shortly, the spirit left and the curtain blew up and down again.  The whole episode was strange and I did not know what to make of it.  A few months later, my life was changed very unexpectedly, I left the group which I was very fond of and moved to the West Coast.    

There is a lot mysteries we do not know about the usage of sounds.   In the oral tradition, the teachers impart not just the secret teachings, but also their energies, to the students using various sounds.  As stated in occultism, before one can see, one has to hear.       

Permalink Reply by David Reigle on July 19, 2012 at 12:16pm

There are many interesting and helpful things in the replies posted by everyone here. I hope that no one gets discouraged if their particular contribution is not commented on by someone else. Speaking for myself, and I think this is true for most of us, I often get real benefit from reading these posts. Yet, just as often I am not free, timewise, to reply to them. So please know that your replies are being read and giving benefit, even if no one responds to them in writing.

To take just two examples, leaving out several others I could cite, Barbara's comment about having to memorize every lesson when attending school in the Far East was very helpful to me. Her observation about the drawbacks of this seemed very pertinent. Then, she distinguished this from memorizing scriptures. There seem to be pluses and minuses to each approach, and this certainly illustrates them. Thank you, Barbara, for taking the time to post this.

Along the same lines was Jon's posting of the quote from Plato's Phaedrus, where Theuth or Thoth comments on the art of writing. This gives us quite a different perspective on its value. Like Jon, I had seen this quote before (for me, in the book, Hamlet's Mill), but it never ceases to make me stop and think. I find the perspective it gives to be really helpful. It is very relevant to our study of The Secret Doctrine, which is based on ancient scriptures that perhaps went through this, first being oral and then being put into writing.

Permalink Reply by Linda McDonell on August 10, 2012 at 4:14pm

This conversaation reminds me of Kirtan which my husband and I learned about within the last year.  Since that time, we have attended three and plan to attent another next weekend.  Neither of us suspected that we would be so moved by the beautiful chanting.  The first we attended was in a cave in south central Texas and it was magical.  Now, I fear, we are almost addicted to the sounds and the vibrations of it.  it is as if we are all blended together in the sweet sounds of the instruments and the harmony of the voices.  I suspect this feeling is key to how it is integrated into the spirit when the oral teachings are received.  I can read exciting information that speaks to my soul's searching but I also need to speak the words with those who are like-minded.

Permalink Reply by Kirk Marzulo on July 15, 2012 at 8:57am

A few thoughts have come to mind in relation to the discussion already developed, though I have only a few minutes to share them with you this morning. Since we are freely drawing from the Preface, I offer another selected quote in addressing Gerry's original question regarding the use of the word "writer" as opposed to "author":

"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 glyph 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. The sole advantage which the writer has over her predecessors, is that she need not resort to personal speculations and theories. For this work is a partial statement of what she herself has been taught by more advanced students, supplemented, in a few details only, by the results of her own study and observation." Vol 1, pp vii, viii

So here she does use the word author but clearly points out that she is transmitting that which has been taught to her by more advanced "students." "Thus have I heard..." -VOS

We also learn later that the "students" she refers to are adepts or masters of wisdom who have extraordinary capabilities of thought transference, modes of instruction and of manifestion. To them, time and space are not the obstacles we imagine them to be. In addition, we are told that this "wisdom of the Gods" is not only present in every human heart as in the entirety of nature, but has always been preserved in secret crypts and libraries throughout the globe. Also, Dr. Archibald Keightley, who assisted H.P.B. in the assembly and editing of the SD commented in an interview that many of the volumes quoted in the SD were not in H.P.B's possession when she quoted them while also giving precise author, volume and page.

In other words, H.P.B. herself had the ability of noetically "reading" the astral light and of telepathic communication. Many who were closest to her, including W.Q.J., were convinced she was opperating on a plane which put her in direct communication with adepts. It is evident by other recorded events of her life that her "instruction" did not end upon leaving India or Tibet and deeply influenced or guided all her work. Nontheless, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. The scholarship, authenticity and the beneficient, universal import of what she offered to the world should speak for itself if we take the time and effort to become true students in turn.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 15, 2012 at 4:01pm

This was very helpful.  thank you

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on July 15, 2012 at 7:04pm

For this work is a partial statement of what she herself has been taught by more advanced students...

I find this to be very inspiring. This view, even of Adepts, as students, sure brings to the fore a grand perspective of human evolution and infinite perfectability.

...but has always been preserved in secret crypts and libraries throughout the globe.

In copying the contents of my hard drive to a USB stick yesterday, I had to marvel at this means of 'preservation' of texts. In order to read what I had preserved, one would need a key (i.e. a computer system capable of understanding the encrypted codes). If an unlearned person came looking for my copy of the Tao Te Ching, they would search in vein for an actual book and would not even recognize that the Tao, along with many other sacred works, is actually "in" a little piece of plastic and metal the size of my finger.

This reflection sure opens itself to many possible analogies and ideas! One that might be of interest in our approach to the SD is how often we search for something solely within our own fixed ideas of what we're looking for, and so miss the thing we are actually wanting to find.

Really enjoyed your observations Kirk. Thanks :)

Permalink Reply by Linda McDonell on August 9, 2012 at 7:44am

1.  Because I am not well-read in Theosophy, I cannot speak to any part of it other than the part that I have become acquainted with so recently; however, that part resonates with the 'knowledge' that came to me suddenly and unbidden.  So I agree that the knowledge is ancient is absolutely the basis of all of the world religions that I know anything about; however, I did not feel the knowledge was only available to the elect.  Instead I felt that a part of the human condition is that we are born blind to "reality" in the same way that a newborn kitten is born blind to the world; however, when the kitten gets to the right place, its eyes will open just as all human eyes will open to the 'reality' of sacred knowledge when his eyes are able to open.  I have not been certain, however, that my sacred knowledge is the only sacred knowledge.

2.  I did not know until I was exposed to ancient philosophy that the knowledge that my eyes had been opened to would have been common to ancient philosophers even though it would not havebeen familiar to my Southern Baptist family and friends.  I can only believe that it is more ancient than the ancient philosophers I later studied.

3.  Now, I know that this is true.  I had no clue about Eastern ideas or adepts until long my initial experience.

4.  I haven't read the SD so I cannot speak to this. 

5.  I do know that the 'knowledge' is true and is ancient and is sacred.  I do not know whether there may be other realms in which additional knowledge becomes available.  I only know what I know to be true for me seems to be true for others who have not been influenced by my own beliefs and I can't speak to the rest of the question.


Permalink Reply by Catherine Austin on August 10, 2012 at 5:09pm

I guess as a newbie to the SD, and Theosophy, really,  I have accepted that HPB was a remarkable woman, who knew far more than she shared, and was the chosen "Vehicle" to let humanity (re-?)know as much as possible (which apparently wasn't very much!) about our potential to become Bodhisattvas, or in effect become liberated from the cycle of rebirth in Earth. So far my initial study of the Secret Doctrine has released me wonderfully from the myths of sin and downfall from Eden, and especially the sin of womankind! To get the process of cosmogony as the emanation from THAT rather than the stories showing mankind as a guilt-ridden forsaken creation is a delight. To do that for a start, is a subjective proof for me that these teachings are about Truth.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on August 10, 2012 at 6:01pm

Wow Catherine... wonderfully put! :)

I just finished a discussion with several Christians online on the very subject of Eden, and the first chapter of Genesis (and must say that from an esoteric stance, Genesis is one of my favorite works! It's so rich!). I'm very thankful as well to have come to Theosophy and to see these ideas in new light.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Catherine Austin on August 14, 2012 at 1:14am

I love point 2 - it makes me feel Right! Just joking.

Theosophy has/is a sacred fount and all Beauty, Love, Truth, and Compassion, Mercy, Loving kindness, joy, Wisdom, Nobility, all that is good and pure flows inexhaustibly from it. No wonder it will last.

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on September 22, 2012 at 12:14pm
A couple of questions regarding the selection from Mr. Judge's book. How is one to know if the "certificates" themselves are authentic? Perhaps these are clever, and fraudulent, devices to trick gullible fence-sitters into believing in Blavatsky's "invisible Masters" - (I'm playing the devil's advocate here). The larger question in my mind is this: Is the Secret Doctrine in need of certification?
Permalink Reply by Daniel Noga on September 22, 2012 at 12:43pm

The larger question in my mind is this: Is the Secret Doctrine in need of certification?

That certainly is a good question. I am inclined to answer that if the Secret Doctrine is what the author says it is, it should not matter at all who wrote it. "By their fruits shall ye know them."

If the Ancient Wisdom is what the author(s) of the SD claim that it is, it can and does stand on its own merit. The book is just a map that has been given in hopes that it can help some of us to begin to find our way to the territory itself. In my humble opinion.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on September 22, 2012 at 1:30pm

This is my take as well, which I apply to basically all the texts I read. When one reads noble, truthful words, does it matter who spoke them, or is it the truth in the words that matters?

This also puts the onus on ourselves as students, to refine and develop our ability to recognize truth ourselves, such that we will forgo the dependence on authorities.

That said, I have also developed a 'faith' and 'trust' in both HPB and WQJ, if only because I've yet to be given satisfactory reason not to trust them, and have been given plenty of reason to do so.

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on September 23, 2012 at 10:32am

IN addition to saying that "There is no religion higher than truth," one can substitute "faith" as well.  And as you say, to "refine and develop our ability to recognize truth" also means that when you see under a different name or using different words, the idea/concept/essense should be recognizable, if you really have a good understanding yourself.  Maybe that's when we can say we assimilate our understanding into our lives.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on September 23, 2012 at 1:12pm

Maybe that's when we can say we assimilate our understanding into our lives.

What a great expression. Assimilate our understanding. I think that's a key point! Unlocking some level of understanding is one thing, living it, now that's a whole 'nother thing!

Permalink Reply by Catherine Austin on September 23, 2012 at 5:32pm

I enjoyed that quote from D.K. I have faith in Blavatsky and the Masters, and I agree that is a place we all have to come to. As far as the S.D is concerned, and faith in the above, the proof  is in the eating. In my own studies, insight is given only as an epiphany, or personal revelatory experience, and I then know what is True.

In knowing  of the break-up between Steiner and Q. Judge from the Theosophical Society (Adyar) and others, I see that each has had to have their insights and experiences and follow them. We have a very strong Steiner advocate in our Lodge and have had Steiner-Knowledgeable Speakers. Q. Judge I do not know much about here in NZ, but his books are available and also interest me. 

In terms of assimilating our understanding into our lives....what does that look like? Blavatsky was regarded as a Sphinx in her behaviour, no perfection there, Yet phenomenal compassion and reverence for the Mahatmas was there. I have a dear friend and mentor who can stretch his mind to cosmic levels, and when doing healing he is full of compassion from the cosmos to reach That to bring the healing energies through. And in himself he is modest and reverent about all that he does. Yet he is a normal man with faults and likes and dislikes in everyday life. He smokes as well. He is not a vegetarian. He has never joined any groups yet admires Blavatsky.

I guess I am talking long and hard about this behaviour issue, because our National Council is in crisis at the moment over behaviour. 

A dear Norwegian committee member grabs his collar, lifts it up and laughingly says we can't do it in ourselves. That is religious thinking. Until we are transformed, we will go through the vagaries of our personalities, tempered we hope over time and lives.

Permalink Reply by Daniel Noga on September 23, 2012 at 10:11pm

Or to put it another way - faith in our insight, plus faith in Sages is better than reliance on only one of the two.

The Middle Way.