Here is the next section in BP Wadia's studies in the Secret Doctrine of the article: Scope, Structure and Method.

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.)

The Secret Doctrine is the name of a book and yet what book can express, if not fully even adequately, the truths of a system of thought which is not centuries but millenniums old? As the Preface to the first volume says, “It is needless to explain that this book is not the Secret Doctrine in its entirety.”

The complete system of thought, the Ageless Wisdom, the Secret Doctrine, is very different in bulk and profundity from the two volumes, bulky and profound as they are. 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.” (I:xvii.)

In pursuing our study, then, we should remember that we are contacting but a part of the mighty whole; that part deemed suited and worthy to be given out to this day and generation. In the process of giving out that which was esoteric and hidden and secret, it had to be clothed in the vestures of exotericism and publicity, and though a “silence of centuries is broken” it is broken along similar lines and in a similar way as on previous occasions, however far past. That is, the language of symbol and allegory has been often used, personification of principles has been resorted to for purposes of explanation, and names and forms are given as indicators of the nameless and formless. Suited to our civilization is the limited presentation in The Secret Doctrine of THE SECRET DOCTRINE — Imperishable, Eternal, Ancient, Constant and Consistent.

The part of the mighty whole held forth to the vision of the age has its horizon. In mid-ocean, on board a ship, an observer sees water bounded by sky on all sides; sandy shores and mountain ranges, rocky solitude and populated islands, emerge in the midst of ever-extending waters, but a radius imposes its circumscribing limit always. So also a student-voyager on the mighty waters of the Wisdom finds himself surrounded by his self-created horizon, the result of his own limitations, and is able to perceive the ever-green, luxurious Elysian foliage in the distance, now here, now there, as it comes within his field of vision — and no more; he catches glimpse of a distant peak of metaphysics or an inspiring but lonely island of foregone days that tells the tale of culture now forgotten.

The student of The Secret Doctrine should remember that the part of the whole is a part which had intimate relation to his own Aryan culture, his own racial mind, with their attendant defects of materialism in science, bigotry in religion and commercialism in all things. The book may be said to symbolize the mind of the incarnation of Immortal and Immemorial Theosophy — the latest link in the ever-lengthening chain of the Life of Truth.

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So the Secret Doctrine is "that which has been so effectually concealed from it [a mocking, unbelieving world] for long æons and ages,” says HPB, as quoted by B. P. Wadia. Concealed very effectively, indeed, it would seem. Like the mysterious central point which is everywhere and nowhere, bits of the Secret Doctrine are allegedly found throughout the writings of antiquity, yet they are effectively nowhere. Virtually no one has ever found them with the recognition that they are part of single hidden doctrine.

Not even the alleged great initiates recognized them as such, as far as any onlooker can see. In the East, where reasoning pervades religion, each great teacher refuted the tenets of the other great teachers. Sankaracharya in his Advaita Vedanta writings refuted the other schools of Hinduism, including Yoga. Was not Patanjali also a great initiate, like Sankaracharya was? Tsongkhapa in his Gelugpa writings refuted the other schools of Buddhism, including Yogachara. Was not Arya Asanga also a great initiate, like Tsongkhapa was?

We apparently are to assume that these teachers, knowing about the universal Secret Doctrine, were part of the cover-up. They attacked each others' teachings to help keep the universality of the Secret Doctrine secret. They seem to have been successful at this. This makes our task, in studying the Secret Doctrine, more difficult. We must utilize their teachings, ignoring the polemical portions of them, and trying to find the portions that harmonize with other teachings. This defines our method. Kind of like a treasure hunt.


This could be a fruitful area of inquiry, Nicholas. I do not know why the great initiates refuted each other. But Subba Row at one point tried to discredit HPB, because he thought she was giving out too much of the Secret Doctrine. You wrote an excellent article a few years ago on the throttling of the mysteries in the West. From the standpoint of the Theosophical Mahatmas, why did that happen?


Your memory is right. It was not an article, but rather was a letter to the editor (The Canadian Theosophist, vol. 75, no. 5, Nov.-Dec. 1994, pp. 119-120). In it, you showed that the centennial cycle in which Eastern teachers make an attempt to help enlighten the West is said to have started many centuries before the time of Tsongkhapa, contrary to widespread belief among Theosophists. In addition to the quotation that you just now gave from BCW vol. 12, you also gave a quote from HPB's article, "The Last of the Mysteries in Europe," BCW vol. 14, pp. 294-295, as follows:

"The first hour for the disappearance of the Mysteries struck on the clock of the Races, with the Macedonian conqueror [Alexander the Great (356-323 B,C.)]. The first strokes of its last hour sounded in the year 47 B.C. [in] Alesia the famous city in Gaul. . . It was during the first century before our era, that the last and supreme hour of the great Mysteries had struck. . . Bibractis, a city as large and as famous, not far from Alesia, perished a few years later. . . Such was the last city in Gaul wherein died for Europe the secrets of the Initiations of the Great Mysteries, the Mysteries of Nature, and of her forgotten Occult truths."

Incidentally, there is a very interesting post on Bibractis with photographs, titled "Bibracte: Last Center of Celtic Occultism," here:


No doubt there's much truth in what you say, Nicholas.  In addition, HPB says there are records of the teachings.

To recapitulate. The Secret Doctrine was the universally diffused religion of the ancient and prehistoric world. Proofs of its diffusion, authentic records of its history, a complete chain of documents, showing its character and presence in every land, together with the teaching of all its great adepts, exist to this day in the secret crypts of libraries belonging to the Occult Fraternity.   (SD I xxxiv)


Virtually no one has ever found them with the recognition that they are part of single hidden doctrine.

Problem is, they're not looking in the right place. Looking for this "doctrine" in a book, however ancient, is missing the point, imho. The 'doctrine' is wisdom, which is not 'out there', but is a part of us - indeed it is that which we are. It is to be awakened within, not dug up from the desert with handpicks. ;) So, no scholars or academics have found the doctrine, but that takes nothing away from those who have realized that they are the doctrine.

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."

"In this path, to whatever place one would go, that place one’s own self becomes."

And it's not until one begins (even slightly) to awaken that wisdom within themselves that they begin to see it everywhere (not just in books, but in art, in nature, in each other). All of reality is the doctrine, if we have the 'eyes' to see it.

This makes our task, in studying the Secret Doctrine, more difficult.

I disagree. I think it helps make our task exactly what it ought to be: to think for ourselves ;), to not hook ourselves to some outer doctrine written in some book, no matter how ancient or exalted, or to seek authentication outside of ourselves, but to reach to, and light the fire of, that wisdom which lies latent in each of us. The SD is just a 'match' to help us do that.

As the Voice says: "seek not for thy Guru in those Mayavic regions"

Don't look for the doctrine here either ;)


What you say, Jon, gets to the heart of the matter. This is indeed what we need to do. But I wonder if this would mean that teachers like Sankaracharya and Tsongkhapa, who did engage heavily in polemics (and very technical polemics, no less) missed the Secret Doctrine, or the wisdom within themselves. Even much of HPB's book titled, The Secret Doctrine, consists of polemics against organized religion and the modern science of her day. Perhaps these teachers all did look inside themselves, and these were the best methods they could come up with to help others see within themselves.


One question I would post on this subject is this:

Was Sankaracharya speaking against what Patanjali taught, or against the yoga of his day? Was Tsong-kha-pa speaking against Yogacharya per se, or the yogacharya of his day? (as HPB says, what passes as Yogacharya is far from the actual esoteric system - see Theosophical Glossary, for instance). [these are open questions]

With HPB we see an effort to point out the faults of organized Christianity, for example, but also highly praising the ethics and teachings of Jesus. She tears down many assumptions of modern science, but never fails to give credit where credit is due, giving praise when scientists demonstrate flickers of wisdom. From what I've seen, her polemics were always limited to the misunderstandings and misapplications of the noble ideas/ideals of this or that system of thought, as opposed to the system itself (in its esoteric meaning), and as opposed to the teacher of the ideas that led to that system.

So it seems this is an important distinction to make.

The other thing is that it is possible for two individuals to differ in their intellectual interpretations of something, yet agree entirely in their hearts (and experientially). For example, you and I might engage in a debate about love, intellectually, and we might paint it in different terms and intellectually seem to disagree (may even imagine ourselves that we disagree), yet we might agree in our heart as to the experience of love and what it truly is per se. Thus, even if two individuals are possessed of the truth of a subject, they may disagree in their intellectualization and explanations of it.

In the end, it seems to me that the only test as to whether we find the Secret Doctrine in the words of Sankaracharya, Tsongkhapa or others, and thus what guesses we might come to as to the degree of their wisdom, lies entirely in our own ability to recognize such wisdom. Until we can do that, I don't think we'll be able to have an answer to what you wonder here.


Sankaracharya was speaking against what Patanjali taught, as found in the Yoga-sutras. This may be seen in Sankaracharya's commentary on the Brahma-sutras (or Vedanta-sutras), 2.1.3. This follows Sankaracharya's refutations of the Mimamsa, Samkhya, and Vaisesika schools of Hinduism, and the Abhidharma and Yogachara schools of Buddhism. So his refutation of Yoga is comparatively brief, saying that much of it has already been refuted in his refutation of Samkhya. His refutation of yoga, as a practice, pertains to his fundamental teaching that the only means to liberation is knowledge or wisdom (jnana), not action (karma). Since the type of meditation taught in Patanjali's yoga is a kind of action, it cannot ultimately lead to liberation. Only jnana can.

Likewise, Tsong-kha-pa was speaking against Yogachara per se, not the Yogachara of his day (which did not exist as a school in Tibet, where everyone followed Madhyamaka). His refutations of Yogachara are found in several of his works, including his most definitive one, translated by Robert Thurman as Tsong Khapa's Speech of Gold in the Essence of True Eloquence: Reason and Enlightenment in the Central Philosophy of Tibet (re-issued later under its subtitle). He refutes Yogachara, understood as teaching mind-only. This is the way it was understood in India by most Buddhists. A minority view of Yogachara, called Great Madhyamaka, does not take it as mind-only, but rather as teaching ultimate non-dual wisdom (jnana). This appears to be the esoteric view, based on what we have from HPB to judge it by. This view came in for even harsher criticism by Tsongkhapa in this book, a book that is considered by Gelugpas to give his final view on things.

The tenets of the Secret Doctrine, or at least fragments of them, once they are known, are easy to find scattered throughout the various sciences, religions and philosophies - both ancient and modern. But what about the idea of the "One Wisdom Religion"? Is there any evidence outside of HPB's Secret Doctrine that a single universal and primordial Wisdom exists now or ever existed? Is this a matter of faith?

Good point, Jimmy. My impression is that the idea of the "One Wisdom Religion," a single universal and primordial Wisdom, was first made known to the world through the publication of H. P. Blavatsky's 1877 book, Isis Unveiled. Then HPB devoted much of her 1888 book, The Secret Doctrine, to providing evidence from religions and philosophies around the world showing that this doctrine has always existed and still exists now. It was in order to prove this, not just through the circumstantial evidence of matching ideas in the religions and philosophies of the world, that she brought out verses purportedly translated from an actual secret book giving its teachings on cosmogony and the origin of humanity.

She called this secret book the Book of Dzyan. As is made clear in the recently published Secret Doctrine Commentaries (the previously unpublished 1889 Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge), it is an actual book having numbered verses. She mentions how many verses she skipped at various places in her translation. She also says that she translated its words as they are, without changing them. It is not just pictures that she put into words.     

I am not aware of any reference in any known Sanskrit or Tibetan book that refers to a single universal wisdom tradition found in all religions and philosophies. So it is indeed a matter of faith. It would be a matter of faith based on circumstantial evidence alone, were it not for the stanzas she gave out from the Book of Dzyan.


How does one account for the concepts of Gupta Vidya, Sanatana Dharma, Perenis Philosophia etc.that is scattered through mystical writings from many different  traditions?  Doesn't the existence of such concepts point to a parent doctrine or at least a perpetual one?

I wouldn't call it a "smoking gun" as far as empirical evidence goes. Anthropologists and Jungian psychologists might explain common features among various traditions as a human tendency to externalize psychological processes and experience through institutional religion and myth-making. However, this theory doesn't necessarily degrade the teaching of the divine origin of a Parent Doctrine, but could in fact indicate the mode transmission. It may be that the Doctrine filtered down from subjective spiritual regions to the objective minds of early man. Isn't this the way Superconscious ideas make their appearance to our objective minds today?

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Permalink Reply by Peter on October 4, 2012 at 3:03am

Nicholas, would you be kind enough to let us have the source reference for that quote from the Master M.