Here is the next section of the Introduction to consider.

This is, of course, a great drawback to those who follow the methods of research prescribed by official Science; but to the students of Occultism, and to every genuine Occultist, this will be of little moment. The main body of the Doctrines given is found scattered throughout hundreds and thousands of Sanskrit MSS., some already translated—disfigured in their interpretations, as usual,—others still awaiting their turn. Every scholar, therefore, has an opportunity of verifying the statements herein made, and of checking most of the quotations. A few new facts (new to the profane Orientalist, only) and passages quoted from the Commentaries will be found difficult to trace. Several of the teachings, also, have hitherto been transmitted orally: yet even those are in every instance hinted at in the almost countless volumes of Brahminical, Chinese and Tibetan temple-literature.

    However it may be, and whatsoever is in store for the writer through malevolent criticism, one fact is quite certain. The members of several esoteric schools—the seat of which is beyond the Himalayas, and whose ramifications may be found in China, Japan, India, Tibet, and even in Syria, besides South America—claim to have in their possession the sum total of sacred and philosophical works in MSS. and type: all the works, in fact, that have ever been written, in whatever language or characters, since the art of writing began; from the ideographic hieroglyphs down to the alphabet of Cadmus and the Devanagari. 

    It has been claimed in all ages that ever since the destruction of the Alexandrian Library (see Isis Unveiled, Vol. II., p. 27), every work of a character that might have led the profane to the ultimate discovery and comprehension of some of the mysteries of the Secret Science, was, owing to the combined efforts of the members of the Brotherhoods, diligently searched for. It is added, moreover, by those who know, that once found, save three copies left and stored safely away, such works were all destroyed. In India, the last of the precious manuscripts were secured and hidden during the reign of the Emperor Akbar.*

    It is maintained, furthermore, that every sacred book of that kind, whose text was not sufficiently veiled in symbolism, or which had any direct references to the ancient mysteries, after having been carefully copied in cryptographic characters, such as to defy the art of the best and cleverest palæographer, was also destroyed to the last copy. During Akbar’s reign, some fanatical courtiers, displeased at the Emperor’s sinful prying into the religions of the infidels, themselves helped the Brahmans to conceal their MSS. Such was Badáonì, who had all undisguised horror for Akbar’s mania for idolatrous religions.*

    Moreover in all the large and wealthy lamaseries, there are subterranean crypts and cave-libraries, cut in the rock, whenever the gonpa and the lhakhang are situated in the mountains. Beyond the Western Tsaydam, in the solitary passes of Kuen-lun  there are several such hiding-places. Along the ridge of Altyn-Toga, whose soil no European foot has ever trodden so far, there exists a certain hamlet, lost in a deep gorge. It is a small cluster of houses, a hamlet rather than a monastery, with a poor-looking temple in it, with one old lama, a hermit, living nearby to watch it. Pilgrims say that the subterranean galleries and halls under it contain a collection of books, the number of which, according to the accounts given, is too large to find room even in the British Museum. ‡

See SD for footnotes

Your thoughts comments and questions.

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Yes, as there exist those who are able to hand down such knowledge as was and is contained within the SD, it is a little step only to conclude that the ability to conceal such knowledge is an easy matter for them..


That is such an interesting comment.  The power to reveal is equal to the power to conceal when needed as well.


I wonder if this revealing and concealing is also present in how Nature itself operates?


A bit unrelated, but birds' plumage changes with the season, usually aiding with mating needs. Much the rest of time it helps elude detection.  Would that fit?


Exquisitely.  What a great analogy to illustrate the point Di.


Key reasons to doubt the sources of the wisdom tradition and what is found in the SD are mentioned in this section of the intro in a sort of bad news / good news approach. Since I have come to believe we will recognize truths underlying all religions, if only partly, I don't suppose I need to hear this message of doubt anymore. I suppose it has to be said, given the criticism it receives and the overly righteous judgments of some skeptics. (I love skeptics overall, and I love being one on occasion, but we always look for how to ground ourself within some meaningful the context.)

Plus, HPB is giving students and scholars clues on where to start looking themselves. That's why I find the importance of efforts like David and Nancy Reigle's HP Blavatsky's Secret Books are meaningful, just as better true-to-meaning translations open up entirely different understanding of a sacred text. I appreciate these hard-come-by contributions to our trust, both intellectually and emotionally, as well as broadening our horizons of the long-running heritage we have as "heirs" to this wisdom no matter what time, people, or means it has been transmitted. I also appreciate how much more evidence we have throughout the 20th century as Tibetan Buddhists were forced westward and began publishing their texts for entire the world, now that its traditions are decimated.

As local context for the text, this part of the intro refers to the overall verification (reliability and correctness) of the SD information, and there are no easy answers for the reader. And we now live in a world of instant gratification (and of course, some people also trust Wikipedia).  For me, it seems true enough that my previous experiences give me easy evidence of how badly we can misinterpret something given flawed transmission of information. It's almost refreshing that here we are admitting HPB has gathered "scattered" pieces (a new string around the nosegay). 

The veiled symbolism is key imagery to us in our spiritual path, so it make sense its found some expression in the documentation that has survived, that the missing books or pieces are further veils or blinds.  Telling someone you trust information that cannot be traced much less studied anew is a bit like saying you have to believe in something before you see it.  It takes a while to work through what examples exist that have any merit at all, or else just sharing some hallucination or willfullness in our desire for our belief.  Where is the logic in this kind of thinking, is the question always asked, but the answer is rarely linear. The more I study, the more I understand the benefits of imagination as a spiritual practice in itself.

I've been studying the veil of Isis and its many connections in mythology and art, through time and cultures, and I can only be amazed at the connections that are traceable through the leadings of theosophy. I see great value in storytelling that opens doors to understanding how it's possible that we know what we know.  Is this a story about lost books or scrolls more in the fictional intrigue of Indiana Jones or Professor Robert Langdon (Dan Brown)?  I laughed when I saw that in Gerry's email.  To some it may open doors to help us explore (which is a good thing). But in our heads, we're starting to measure the probabilities, and whether we're limited by traditional sources.  History is written by the winners and much more is lost if we insist on only listening to cultural censors.

I think this section of the intro is part of the process of opening the mind, without giving up intellect. Does anyone else find their own willness to study the SD rooted in specific kinds of evidence? 


This intro chapter is a masterpiece of picturesque mysterious revelations, most def.

Personally, I do need to do quite a bit of research before I feel I have a basic understanding of a particular chapter. But I don't feel a pressing need to travel to exotic places and search for extremely old and obscure works from mysterious people. I just order stuff from ebay, which is admittedly a lot less romantic. But I find keys in the SD that I can't find anywhere else, so I stick with it - but I'm probably at a stage where I derive more inspiration than actual knowledge. (Actually, the Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge book has probably helped me more than anything else, so just that one book has saved me a lot of headaches...)


And it is interesting to ask, what constitutes evidence?


'I think this section of the intro is part of the process of opening the mind, without giving up intellect. Does anyone else find their own willness to study the SD rooted in specific kinds of evidence?'

Di, I think your comments and questions are quite good here..

In reply, yes, my own willingness to study the SD is rooted in the evidences that are mainly provable, but only to me.  That would probably be the same for anyone I suppose.  Yet, the question is important for us all to answer, so thanks for asking.  Why do we study this?  Do we find evidence of it's truth, and how so?  There is probably no finality to the question - which is a good thing.


Gay is new to our SD group and sent this message to me rather than post it here in the discussion.  She asked me to move it over for her. These are her comments and not mine.

Gay  Louise Gering has sent you a message on Theosophy Nexus

Subject: Thoughts on recent Secret Doctrine readings.

Blavatsky's remark on the scholars who studied -Nirvana- and were "unable to solve it logically and satisfactorily by untying the Gordian knot, they cut through it by declaring that Nirvana meant absolute annihilation."  She seems to be implying by cutting through the knot rather than unravelling it they were coming to a somewhat mistaken conclusion.


In The Secret Doctrine II, 78-82, she elaborates on this point in an interesting discussion about the origin of the fifth principle in humankind.  She writes,


"The human ego is neither Atman nor Buddi, but the higher Manas: the intellectual fruition and the efflorescence of the intellectual self-conscious Egotism- in the higher spiritual sense.  The ancient works refer to it as Karana Sarira on the plane of Sutratma, which is the golden thread on which like beads, the various personalites of this higher Ego are strung.  If the reader were told, as in these semi-esoteric allegories, that these beings were returning Nirvanees from preceding Maha-Manvantars- ages of inclalcuable duration which have rolled away in the Eternity, he would hardly understand the text correctly; while some Vedantins might say:  "This is not so; the Nirvanee can never return"; which is true during the Manvantara he belongs to, and erroneous where Eternity is concerned. For it is said in the Sacred Slokas:


". The thread of radiance which is imperishable and dissolves only in Nirvana, re-emerges from it in its integrity on the day when the Great Law calls all things back into action....."


In the next paragraph Blavatsky states, at least in part the reason for her outlining "a few fundamental truths from The Secret Doctrine of the Archaic ages," is to set straight the mistaken conclusions of "the scholarly researches of Sanscitists and Orientalists". In the same vein when she writes about, "the world of today," I assume she is referring to her own time period, the middle to late 1800's when the Spiritualist Movement was rampant in both Europe and North American. In the seance rooms mediums in trance were commonly bringing through to their clients voices and sometimes even materializations of their dead relatives. I wonder if this is what she ir referring to as her culture's "mad career towards the unknown-" (so-called spirits of the dead speaking and being materialized by mediums) and then confusing these so-called spirits, "with the unknowable," SPIRIT.  The Masters who supported Blavatsky and her work, in "The Mahatma Letters", explain in great detail, "why we oppose so strongly Spiritualism and mediumship."  One aspect of Blvatskys mission was to shed the light of ancient truths on these all to common occurrences.


There are probably also parallels in our own time to consider.  When she describes, " a vast arena- a true valley of discord and eternal strife-a necropolis wherein lie buried the highest and the most holy aspirations of our Spirit-Soul." Current popular culture's preoccupation and fascination with sex, violence and vampires come immediately to mind.  When Blavatky comments on Greely's infidels and profligates caring little, "for the revival of the dead sciences of the past;" she italicizes the word dead.  It seems she is being sarcastic to make the point: The ancient sciences, The Ancient Wisdom is perrenial, everlasting, undying and appears in every new age in new outward form to be re-interpreted by a new humanity.


I looked at The Mahatma Letters to see if they might shed some light on the mysterious Book of Dzyan, which must be a part of The Ancient Wisdom, and as such it possibly does not and never did exist in a "book" as we understand a book to be now. In The Mahatma Letters pg. 51, K. H. Writes,


"For countless generations hath the adept builded a fane of imperishable rocks, a giant's Tower of INFINITE THOUGHT wherein the Titan dwelt and will yet, if need be, dwell alone, emerging from it but at the end of every cycle, to invite the elect of mankind to cooperate with him and help in his turn to enlighten superstitious man. And we will go on in that periodical work of ours; we will not allow ourselves to be baffled in our philanthropic attempts until that day when the foundations of a new continent of thought are so firmly built that no amount of opposition and ignorant malice guided by the Brethren of the Shadow will be found to prevail."