Continuing on the article:

"The book is related to time and space, to our civilization, and contains within its covers facts which reveal to us our limitations, individual and racial, but also bring to the daring and the persistent the power to remove those limitations. To understand its contents, to discover its hidden powers and to utilize them we must endeavor to realize the scope of the book, its structure, and method of imparting knowledge.

First then, its title-page indicates its scope: “The Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy.” It is neither “a synthesis,” nor “the synthesis of a particular science, a particular religion and a particular philosophy.” It is the unification of knowledge obtained by the use of senses physical and super-physical and their power of observation; by the experiences of soul-consciousness in its capacity of a perceiver of phenomena, a silent witness of the panorama of manifestation; and by the deductions and inferences which mental processes of reason and intuition imply. The result of this three-fold work throughout the ages has brought forth many sciences, innumerable religions, and numerous philosophies. The knowledge of all these, galvanized into a living and consistent whole, may rightly be regarded, from one point of view, as the synthesis referred to on the title-page of The Secret Doctrine. This is implied in the statement in the Preface: “What is now attempted is to gather the oldest tenets together and to make of them one harmonious and unbroken whole.” Such a process, however, implies elimination of innumerable factors belonging to particular schools and creeds, as also acceptance of certain definite principles and facts which constitute that synthesis. H. P. Blavatsky’s “Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy” is very different from Herbert Spencer’sSynthetic Philosophy which also is defined as “Unification of Knowledge.” 1 The nature of the synthesis of H. P. Blavatsky can be understood by what is contained in the following extracts:

But it is perhaps desirable to state unequivocally that the teachings, however fragmentary and incomplete, contained in these volumes, belong neither to the Hindu, the Zoroastrian, the Chaldean, nor the Egyptian religion, neither to Buddhism, Islam, Judaism nor Christianity exclusively. The Secret Doctrine is the essence of all these. Sprung from it in their origins, the various religious schemes are now made to merge back into their original element, out of which every mystery and dogma has grown, developed, and become materialised. (I:viii.)

If coming events are said to cast their shadows before, past events cannot fail to leave their impress behind them. It is, then, by those shadows of the hoary Past and their fantastic silhouettes on the external screen of every religion and philosophy, that we can, by checking them as we go along, and comparing them, trace out finally the body that produced them. There must be truth and fact in that which every people of antiquity accepted and made the foundation of its religions and of faith. (II:794.)"

Views: 221

 Reply to This

Upload Files

Stop Following – Don't email me when people reply

Replies to This Discussion


Regarding: ". . . the statement in the Preface: “What is now attempted is to gather the oldest tenets together and to make of them one harmonious and unbroken whole.”"

This is diametrically opposite to the current view held by society, that older is more primitive, and newer is more advanced. Who, then, wants "the oldest tenets"? Why choose these to make into "one harmonious and unbroken whole"?

If we accept that there was a primeval revelation, given in the infancy of humanity by more advanced beings, then it makes sense. Then we may regard the various religions and philosophies of the world as containing more or less of these primeval tenets. In that case, making the oldest tenets into one harmonious and unbroken whole would indeed imply what B. P. Wadia wrote:

"Such a process, however, implies elimination of innumerable factors belonging to particular schools and creeds, . . ."

Once we have followed out the second object of the Theosophical Society, the study of comparative religion and philosophy, this next step would be needed to achieve the synthesis that HPB attempted in The Secret Doctrine. While retaining the tolerance learned from our comparative study, this next step would have to be fairly ruthless at times. Even God may have to go, as we see in Mahatma Letter number 10 (posted here on this site by Nicholas).


Perhaps another road block for contemporary thinking is the truncated age of man we labor under. 18 Million years is a much different time frame to talk about than the last five thousand years.  What modern scholarship calls ancient would be a couple of days ago to a Sage, in a manner of speaking.

Perhaps this "synthesis" is the natural mode of enquiry for Man. When I say "natural", what I mean is this: if we take a man of genius who has an insatiable thirst for Truth, and yet knows absolutely nothing of religion, science, or philosophy; and place him on a deserted island, he would probably spontaneously and unconsciously use a religious-scientific-philosophical method of research. I know that the earliest Greek philosophers were mathematicians and geometers; Thales is known to have said that "everything is full of gods"; and the "divine fire" of Heracletus, etc., etc. Pythagoras might also be a good example of this. They really made no differentiation back in those days. This may be a case of the law of cycles at work - from one to many and many back to one. Who knows, the Secret Doctrine may be the beginning of new wave that'll last for another 2500 years.

What does the idea of a synthesis between Science, Philosophy and Religion suggest to you and what do others think of what this concept means?


Philosophy and religion have a strong correlation, but science has always seemed to be cold and removed from them. However, after reading the extract, "Developments in Theosophy-Science"  in Theosophy Forward ( about the scientists of the Theosophical Research Centre, it is possible to see how a synthesis between the three would benefit the advancement of humanity. However, it seems that this will only happen if intuition and wisdom replace intellectualism and ego.


Someone said that in the future Religion will be transformed into Spirituality.


I think we can already see the subtle beginnings of this process today. Many are trading in dogma for more open, flexible perspectives of what "being spiritual" means. Also the idea of "secular religion" is being actively sown by a few spiritual leaders.


Yes, "secular religion" is being actively sown by a few spiritual leaders, including the Dalai Lama. See his 2011 book, Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World. This follows upon his earlier book, Ethics for the New Millennium, which advocates ethics based on universal principles rather than religious principles. Secular ethics have also been advocated from another angle by Sam Harris in his 2010 book, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values.


However, it seems that this will only happen if intuition and wisdom replace intellectualism and ego.

Seems this way to me as well. I wonder what the steps are to begin this change, both individually and collectively...

Any thoughts, anyone?


I don't think it is possible to access intuition unless one trains one's mind to be a clear thinker.  We have to start with thinking things through.  It becomes an intellectual exercise only when used to show off and compete with others.  It becomes a soul exercise when motivated and guided by a love of humanity and a desire to reduce human suffering.  Intuition occurs, as Thoreau said, after a seed time of thought.

Great Question! To sum up my thoughts on the subject: Science, Religion and Philosophy each lay claim to a body of knowledge and a mode of obtaining that knowledge. Science seeks knowledge of the objective world through observation, and it's mode is inductive.  Philosophy seeks knowledge about God, Man, and the Universe; it's knowledge is obtained through reason by the method of deduction. Religion is just simply dogmatic; it states principles on a take it or leave it basis, and emphasizes Man's relationship with the Divine. The object of all three is some ultimate unifying and fundamental principle. With science it's a fundamental particle or "unifying field" or "First Matter" etc.; with philosophy a First Cause or Causless Cause; with Religion, God, Life, the Self, Superconsciousness, etc. And these three fields of knowledge are synthesized in the Secret Doctrine under the many names given to the PRINCIPLE described in the first fundamental proposition.

We have the notion from the SD that "Ethics" is applied metaphysics.   Perhaps this is one way of stating the synthesis between Science, Philosophy and Religion. What we are talking about is the whole man, not merely the intellect, or his actions in the world, his intuitions.  All of this together constitutes being human.  Man is the bridge between the manifest and the unmanifest so to speak and therefore requires this synthesis.

Also when we look at Science, Philosophy and Religion from the most exalted theosophical point of view I believe the conventional meanings of these terms are blown away and appear puny..

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on October 17, 2012 at 1:49pm
I think I'm having a little trouble articulating my central idea. For the sake of discussion, allow me to rename the title page of the SD: "The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of EXALTED Science, Religion, and Philosophy." Every single word, picture, symbol and idea of the Secret Doctrine points to ONE PRINCIPLE. And it's that Principle that the adherents of Science Religion and Philosophy are striving for, even if they aren't aware of it. When used as a form of Jnana Yoga, Science and Philosophy guide the Soul to the gates of heaven, and Religion - the faith that knows - gives it admittance.
Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on October 17, 2012 at 9:39pm

Also when we look at Science, Philosophy and Religion from the most exalted theosophical point of view I believe the conventional meanings of these terms are blown away and appear puny.

This, I agree with. And I think it's quite important. When HPB says "the synthesis of Science, Philosophy and Religion", she's not speaking about one particular science, or one particular philosophy or religion; she's talking about Science per se and Philosophy and Religion per se.

So I think we need to look at what these things are in and of themselves, instead of what we, in our culture or age, use the terms to signify. We can start this with better definitions:

"Religion is that ... striving of the human spirit towards union with the Cosmic All, involving an endlessly growing self-conscious identification with the Cosmic Realities therein — commonly and so feebly called by men, 'God' or gods" - Purucker, Esoteric Tradition.

"Religion is an expression of the yearning of the finite for the infinite." (source)

HPB says a good deal about religion (and its relation to science) in her article Is Theosophy a Religion?

And that's just one of the three. I think if we start looking at what these things truly are, we'll see that they are in essence inseparable.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on October 17, 2012 at 9:50pm

I think it's worth noting and investigating the seeming correlation between Religion, Philosophy and Science with the three streams of evolution in Man (the Spiritual, the Intellectual and the Physical).

“It now becomes plain that there exists in Nature a triple evolutionary scheme … These are the Monadic (or spiritual), the intellectual, and the physical evolutions.”  — Secret Doctrine, Vol 1, p. 181

We can also place these beside the three upadhis of Man by way of correspondence (see SD 1:157). The synthesis of these is Atma. So it seems this might say a lot about what the synthesis of S, R & P is...

Permalink Reply by Kathleen Hall on October 20, 2012 at 9:23am

Here is a quote from the SD (1:169) that gave me some clarity on the question as it breaks it down into simple terms:

"...for outside of metaphysics no occult philosophy, no esotericism is possible. It is like trying to explain the aspirations and affections, the love and hatred, the most private and sacred workings in the soul and mind of the living man, by an anatomical description of the chest and brain of his dead body".

Metaphysics is defined as "a division of philosophy that is concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being and that includes ontology, cosmology, and often epistemology" (Merriam Webster).  The Concise Encyclopedia states that,  "Some basic problems in the history of metaphysics are the problem of universals—i.e., the problem of the nature of universals and their relation to so-called particulars; the existence of God...". Metaphysics then involves philosophy and the basic principles of most religions...the inner world; science is concerned with trying to explain the physical (exterior) world. The synthesis of both metaphysics (metaphysics being philosophy and the root of religions), and science are therefore necessary when seeking answers to the truth of our existence. 

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on October 20, 2012 at 5:09am
"...and by the deductions and inferences which mental processes of reason and intuition imply."

Is intuition a mental process?
Permalink Reply by Peter on October 20, 2012 at 9:45am

My post of September 25, 2012 at 3:33am in Phase 3 Part may be relevant here.  See reference to Manas (the Intellect) and Buddhi towards the end of the edited message copied below.


When we refer to the “intellect” we should probably examine what Theosophy means by the term.  Strictly speaking the intellectual element in Man refers to our fifth principle, Manas.  The development of this principle is central to one of the three schemes of cosmic evolution -   Monadic,  Intellectual and Physical.  It is intimately related to the Manasa-Dhyanis, the givers of intelligence and consciousness to humanity. (See SD I 181)

The current limitation of the intellect in humanity’s present stage of development rests on the dual nature of Manas.  It has both a material aspect and a spiritual aspect.  Theosophy teaches that the material aspect of Manas was fully developed in the Fourth Root Race.   It is this material/physical aspect of Intellectual development that comes at the cost of declining spirituality in Man, hence it is this “Mind” that is 'the great slayer of the real'. 

 We are told that the spiritual aspect of Manas (Manas in conjunction with Buddhi) will only be fully developed in the Fifth Round of our evolutionary scheme - though there are and will be exceptions:


From a Theosophical perspective it would be a mistake to believe that we can by-pass the Intellect (Manas) on the way to spiritual development and Wisdom.  Without Manas there is no link between Man’s highest principles (Atma-Buddhi) and the lower principles.  Indeed, without Manas, there is no Spiritual Intuition.  As HPB states in “The Secret Doctrine Commentaries” (previously ‘Transactions of Blavatsky Lodge’):

"One thing you may say about Buddhi. Intuition is in Manas for the more or less light shed on it by Buddhi, whether it is assimilated much or little with Buddhi." (p639)

"Buddhi by itself can neither have intuition, nor non-intuition, nor anything; it is simply the cementing link, so to say, between the higher spirit and Manas.”(P639)

Permalink Reply by Peter on October 20, 2012 at 10:09am

I think it is important as theosophists that we don't create a split between Intuition and Mind, thus divorcing the one from the other.  This just colludes with all kinds of 'new age-ism' i.e. the belief that the mind is to be abandoned in favour of intuition.  The latter then becomes the measure of what 'feels right' (what is true for me) rather than the direct perception of truth (the truth of 'things in themselves').  

In Theosophy the distinction is between Higher Manas and Lower Manas.  The Higher Manas is Mind linked to Atma-Buddhi (the human Monad) and is the basis of true Intuition.  It is also the basis of altruism.  Mind linked with the physical brain and senses provides for rational and empirical thought and, more often than not, is the basis of separatism and egoic action.

In Stanza IV  Sloka 17 of volume 2 of the Secret Doctrine it states:


See also SD II 81:

"What is human mind in its higher aspect, whence comes it, if it is not a portion of the essence -- and, in some rare cases of incarnation, the very essence -- of a higher Being: one from a higher and divine plane?"

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 21, 2012 at 3:48pm

When the Voice of the Silence says, "The mind is the great slayer of the Real, let the disciple slay the slayer." it is not referring to Higher Mind, but rather as the Buddhist are inclined to do, the lower desire mind.  This is what must be slain.  This is why your point here about not separating mind from intuition is a good one.  Where Higher Mind ends and Buddhic Intuition begins I am sure would be extremely hard to define. Ultimately there is one continuum of consciousness, one would think.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on October 21, 2012 at 8:33pm

The Bhagavad Gita describes the three yogas that lead to union with the Absolute: Karma, Bhakti, and Jnana.  The student, depending on the temperament, would choose the suitable path.  Those who follow the devotional or service path often believe that it is necessary to abandon the mind and some even denigrate the value of rational thinking.  It is in Theosophy and a few other teachings that illustrate so beautifully the septenary parts of human beings and explain the two sections of the mind- kama-manas and buddhi-manas.  Until the follower understands the rightful role of the lower and higher mind in the evolutionary scheme,   one can easily be confused.     

Permalink Reply by Kathleen Hall on October 25, 2012 at 5:32pm

There is a good online article about the duality of the mind in Theosophy Watch: