Passages from the following sources will be posted periodically and sequentially from these sources:

The Fountain Head

          The Supreme Wisdom   The Secret Doctrine book i p.xix-xxi

           The Secret Science        SD i xxxiv-xxxvii

           The Perennial Source     SD i xliv-xlv


           The Upanishads             SD i 269-272

           The Three Trinities         SD i 277-278

           Cosmic Ideation             SD i 279-282

           Occult Aphorisms           SD i 288-296

           The Veil of Isis               SD i 298-299

The Tree of Knowledge          SD i 339-341

Initiation                                 SD i 569-574

The Sacred Fires                     SD ii 105-110

Self-Redemption                     SD ii 409-422

Illumination                The Theosophist,  Oct. 1879 "What is Theosophy"

The Beacon Light        La Revue Theosophique  May 1889

The Path                     Lucifer June 1890 "Mistaken Notions of the S.D."

The Seven Dhyanis     Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge 50-53

Please comment or add questions at any time.

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The Secret Doctrine book i  page xix

In etymology Adi, and Adhi Budha, the one (or the First) and “Supreme Wisdom” is a term used by Aryâsanga in his Secret treatises, and now by all the mystic Northern Buddhists. It is a Sanskrit term, and an appellation given by the earliest Aryans to the Unknown deity; the word “Brahmâ” not being found in the Vedas and the early works. It means the absolute Wisdom, and “Adi-bhûta” is translated “the primeval uncreated cause of all” by Fitzedward Hall. Æons of untold duration must have elapsed, before the epithet of Buddha was so humanized, so to speak, as to allow of the term being applied to mortals and finally appropriated to one whose unparalleled virtues and knowledge caused him to receive the title of the “Buddha of Wisdom unmoved” Bodha means the innate possession of divine intellect or “understanding”; “Buddha,” the acquirement of it by personal efforts and merit; while Buddhi is the faculty of cognizing the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the “Ego,” the discernment of good and evil, “divine conscience” also; and “Spiritual Soul,” which is the vehicle of Atma. “When Buddhi absorbs our EGO-tism (destroys it) with all its Vikaras, Avalôkitêshvara becomes manifested to us, and Nirvana, or Mukti, is reached,” “Mukti” being the same as Nirvana, i.e., freedom from the trammels of “Maya” or illusion. “Bodhi” is likewise the name of a particular state of trance condition, called Samadhi, during which the subject reaches the culmination of spiritual knowledge.


 Can the terms absolute wisdom and absolute reality be used interchangeably? Just what is the relationship between the two ideas?


Probably not. It takes absolute wisdom to know absolute reality, but absolute reality can exist during pralaya when there is no absolute wisdom manifest to know it. Absolute wisdom may be there during pralaya, but asleep and for all practical purposes non-existent.


You are probably right, I was thinking of the idea of Plato's divided line where the Knowing, the Knower and Known merge into one.  Therefore the perceiver and the object of perception are one.


I think what David says makes a lot of sense.  I believe you are also right, Gerry, from the perspective of Knower, Knowing and Known being ONE.  

Perhaps we might conceive of Absolute Wisdom having two aspects - unmanifest and manifest.  In each of these Knower, Knowing and Known are ultimately ONE.  

"From the Unknown One, the Infinite TOTALITY, the manifested ONE, or the periodical, Manvantaric Deity, emanates; and this is the Universal Mind, which, separated from its Fountain-Source, is the Demiurgos or the creative Logos of the Western Kabalists, and the four-faced Brahma of the Hindu religion. In its totality, viewed from the standpoint of manifested Divine Thought in the esoteric doctrine, it represents the Hosts of the higher creative Dhyan Chohans. Simultaneously with the evolution of the Universal Mind, the concealed Wisdom of Adi-Buddha - the One Supreme and eternal - manifests itself as Avalokiteshwara (or manifested Iswara), which is the Osiris of the Egyptians, the Ahura-Mazda of the Zoroastrians, the Heavenly Man of the Hermetic philosopher, the Logos of the Platonists, and the Atman of the Vedantins."  (SD I 110)

Just a thought.


Thanks for that.  The idea here might be that Wisdom, in its grandest conception, is not something we possess but rather something that we are.  The philosopher in a Pythagorean sense, is a lover of wisdom.  What we love we become. And looked at another way the quest for wisdom is a quest for Self-realization.

The quotation given here is striking in a wide variety of ways.  Who writes like this? Such precision, such perspective, how timeless!  It points to the mysterious interplay of spirit and matter that dance together at every level.


'To know Brahman is to be Brahman' is a pithy phrase associated with Sankaracharya.  HPB makes reference to this in the Proem of the SD.

' "The knowledge of the absolute Spirit, like the effulgence of the sun, or like heat in fire, is naught else than the Absolute Essence itself,"  says Sankaracharya.'  (SD I 6)


'Buddhi is the faculty of cognizing the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the “Ego,” the discernment of good and evil, “divine conscience” also; and “Spiritual Soul,” which is the vehicle of Atma.'  (SD I xix)

I’ve wondered about this statement for a some time - should there be a comma after “cognising”?  This would change the meaning from “Buddhi is the faculty of cognising the channel [etc] …” to Buddhi is:

-   the faculty of cognising,

-   the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the “Ego”

-   the discernment of good and evil,

-  “Divine conscience”

-   the vehicle of Atma, or “Spiritual Soul”

To say the buddhi is the faculty of cognising could largely fit with its description in Indian philosophy where manas is sometimes seen as the mechanism through which sensory information is taken ‘inward’ while buddhi is seen as the activity of ‘knowing’, ‘determining’, ‘discriminating’ between the information that is presented to the Atman by manas.

The comma would also then classify buddhi as “the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the ‘Ego’” rather than the faculty which cognises that channel.

Any thoughts on this, David - or others?


Peter, I think you are certainly right about this, and I thank you for catching the problem and bringing it to our attention. Every time I read this sentence I would stumble and pause momentarily, but then I would just keep on going without ever stopping to see that restoring a missing comma would solve the problem. I much appreciate you seeing this and posting the solution.

Now checking this in the other editions of The Secret Doctrine, we find that G. R. S. Mead in the 1893 third and revised edition did put in the comma (p. 3): ". . . whileBuddhi is the faculty of cognizing, the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the Ego, . . ." The 1938 Adyar edition also has the comma (p. 43). This edition is described in its Preface by George Arundale as a blend of the 1888 and 1893 editions. Josephine Ransom, the primary editor of the Adyar edition, tells us what that means in The Canadian Theosophist, vol. 19, no. 3, May 15th, 1938. Referring to Mead's edits, she writes (p. 76): "These improvements have all been again carefully reviewed, and where they were obviously advantageous, have been again incorporated, otherwise the 1888 text has been used, . . ." The 1978 edition prepared by Boris de Zirkoff, which closely follows the 1888 edition, does not have the comma.

So can we be reasonably sure that the comma should be there? I think so. Looking at the previous page, p. xviii, we find: ". . . and named after his title of Buddha, 'the Enlightened'—and Budha, 'Wisdom,' or knowledge (Vidyā), the faculty of cognizing, from the Sanskrit root 'Budh,' to know." This makes it likely. It is made almost certain by this sentence as it appears in the Wurzburg manuscript (The Theosophist, vol. 52, Aug. 1931, pp. 601-602): ". . . and named after his title of Buddha—and Buddhi, the Wisdom or the faculty of cognising, from the Sanskrit root 'Budh' to know." Even though the comma is missing in the subsequent sentence in the Wurzburg manuscript, ". . . and 'Buddhi' is the faculty of cognising the channel through which knowledge reaches the Ego," I think that the preceding definition of Buddhi as the faculty of cognising shows that it must be restored. Then, as you indicate, the remaining definitions fall into place.


The french translation of the SD made from the 1938 TPH Adyar edition, has the coma :

"tandis que Buddhi est la faculté de connaître, le canal par lequel la connaissance divine atteint l'Ego, le discernement du bien et du mal, et aussi la conscience divine, et l'Ame spirituelle qui est le véhicule d'Atmâ."


David, I see I have been 'stumbling and pausing' over that passage in good company for some time.  Thanks for the additional information from the other editions.  I use the original SD along with the Boris de Zirkoff 1978 edition, which I have grown to like very much.  It seems I need some more.  

Given the question about the above passage from the SD and our previous debates about various editions of the SD, you are quite right to remind us of Ransom's words with regards to the Adyar Edition.  I would think that so long as we have a facsimile or original of the 1888 edition then we can refer back to that and see for ourselves if any later changes are justified or not.

One of the reasons I've puzzled so long over the statement about Buddhi in that passage is simply from recognising that the terminology in Theosophy is not always the same as the standard usage by other traditions such as Vedanta or Buddhism.  So, I'm cautious about any potential mistakes which might be present in the SD and other works by HPB.

Peter, yes you are on to something. Several days ago I was looking up the word Buddhi in all of HPB's known writings and when I came to this SD passage, it also dawned on me that the comma was missing too. I then decided to check the Wurzburg manuscript (The Theosophist, vol. 52, Aug. 1931, p. 602) and then saw at the top of that page the other occurence of Buddhi that David Reigle mentioned in his recent reply to you.

Plus there is another sentence about Buddhi (the Wurzburg manuscript (The Theosophist, vol. 52, Aug. 1931, pp. 601-602) that was NOT included in the published 1888 ed. The sentence reads:

"It is also the plane of existence in which spiritual individuality is evolved, and from which personality is eliminated."

This is a very insightful statement.

This happens automatically in the afterdeath state when Buddhi absorbs only the "better part" (if any) of Manas or the personality. The remaining parts of the personality are then left as a cast-off, a shell.

In initiation, meditation, etc, while a human being is still embodied, this same process can be undertaken and achieved. Hence the saying "dying while still living."

On this same page (the Wurzburg manuscript (The Theosophist, vol. 52, Aug. 1931, p. 602) another passage reads:

"...when Maya and every worldly conception [is] eliminated from the inner nature of man[,] his spirit becomes one with the Ocean Spirit or Parabrahman."

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Peter on January 5, 2014 at 10:11am

Daniel, thanks for this extra information.

"It is also the plane of existence in which spiritual individuality is evolved, and from which personality is eliminated."

Yes - this is an insightful statement that HPB has given us. I wonder why she left it out of the SD when published?   I've found it in CW XIV, thanks to the reference from Nicholas. Is there a copy of the Wurzburg manuscript on line? 


Permalink Reply by barbaram on January 5, 2014 at 2:32pm

"In initiation, meditation, etc, while a human being is still embodied, this same process can be undertaken and achieved. Hence the saying "dying while still living."

I never thought the expression "dying while still living" in this way.  This hidden meanng is very interesting.

Thank you for the post.   

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 3, 2014 at 12:36pm

Great Passage about the Gupta Vidya in the Secret Doctrine from page.272-3 from Summing Up

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

Permalink Reply by Peter on January 4, 2014 at 3:23am

That is a great passage, Gerry.  Thanks.  If the Gupta Vidya is an unbroken tradition going back to the earliest days of humanity, I wonder why the “Wise Men” of the Fifth Race needed to check and verify all that it contained?

Below is another passage by HPB, from The Collected Writings.  Here HPB describes the Gupta Vidya as the fountain source of all great religions and occult traditions, these being merely fragments of the whole.  It illustrates that we should not identify the Gupta Vidya or Theosophy with any one religion or esoteric tradition.

“The great science, called by the vulgar “magic,” and by its Eastern proficients Gupta-Vidya, embracing as it does each and every science, since it is the acme of knowledge, and constitutes the perfection of philosophy, is universal; hence—as very truly remarked cannot be confined to one particular nation or geographical locality. But, as Truth is one, the method for the attainment of its highest proficiency must necessarily be also one. It cannot be subdivided, for, once reduced to parts, each of them, left to itself, will, like rays of light, diverge from, instead of converging to, its centre, the ultimate goal of knowledge; and these parts can re-become the Whole only by collecting them together again, or each fraction will remain but a fraction.  .  .  .  .  It is but the Occultist, the Eastern Adept, who stands a Free Man, omnipotent through his own Divine Spirit as much as man can be on earth. He has rid himself of all human conceptions and religious side issues. He is at one and the same time a Chaldaean Sage, a Persian Magi, a Greek Theurgist, an Egyptian Hermetist, a Buddhist Rahat, and an Indian Yogi. He has collected into one bundle all the separate fractions of Truth widely scattered over the nations, and holds in his hands the One Truth, a torch of light which no adverse wind can bend, blow out or even cause to waver.”

CW 3 266-267  from “The Himalayan Brothers.”

Permalink Reply by Daniel Caldwell on January 4, 2014 at 9:30am
Gerry and Peter,

Below I give some other relevant material by HPB and Master KH:


Mme. Blavatsky defines Theosophy as "Divine Knowledge or Science".

She goes on to give the "real meaning of the term":

" 'Divine Wisdom,' (Theosophia) or Wisdom of the gods, as (theogonia), genealogy of the gods. The word theos means a god in Greek, one of the divine beings, certainly not 'God' in the sense attached in our day to the term. Therefore, it is not 'Wisdom of God,' as translated by some, but Divine Wisdom such as that possessed by the gods. The term is many thousand years old.". THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY.

Master K.H. writes more about these "gods" and their "wisdom":

". . . the highest Planetary Spirits...who can no longer err...appear on Earth but at the origin of every new human kind; at the junction of, and close of the two ends of the great cycle. And, they remain with man no longer than the time required for the eternal truths they teach to impress themselves so forcibly upon the plastic minds of the new races as to warrant them from being lost or entirely forgotten in ages hereafter, by the forthcoming generations."

"The mission of the planetary Spirit is but to strike the KEY NOTE OF TRUTH. Once he has directed the vibration of the latter to run its course uninterruptedly along the catenation of that race and to the end of the cycle � the denizen of the highest inhabited sphere disappears from the surface of our planet � till the following 'resurrection of flesh.' The vibrations of the Primitive Truth are what your philosophers name 'innate ideas.'"

"...The notions of hells and purgatory, of paradises and resurrections are all caricatured, distorted echoes of the primeval one Truth, taught humanity in the infancy of its races by every First Messenger � the Planetary Spirit...� and whose remembrance lingered in the memory of man as Elu of the Chaldees, Osiris the Egyptian, Vishnu, the first Buddhas and so on."

"...At the beginning of each Round, when humanity reappears under quite different conditions than those afforded for the birth of each new race and its sub-races, a 'Planetary' [Spirit] has to mix with these primitive men, and to refresh their memories, and reveal to them the truths they knew during the preceding Round. Hence the confused traditions about Jehovahs, Ormazds, Osirises, Brahms, and the tutti quanti. But that happens only for the benefit of the first Race."

"It is the duty of the latter to choose the fit recipients among its sons, who are 'set apart' to use a Biblical phrase � as the vessels to contain the whole stock of knowledge, to be divided among the future races and generations until the close of that Round....Every race had its adepts; and with every new race, we are allowed to give them out as much of our knowledge as the men of that race deserve it. The last seventh Race will have its Buddha as every one of its predecessors had; but, its adepts will be far higher than any of the present race, for among them will abide the future Planetary, the Dhyan Chohan whose duty it will be to instruct or 'refresh the memory' of the first race of the fifth Round men after this planet's future obscuration."


Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 5, 2014 at 10:37pm

From Book 1  page xx

 The true philosopher, the student of the Esoteric Wisdom, entirely loses sight of personalities, dogmatic beliefs and special religions. Moreover, Esoteric philosophy reconciles all religions, strips every one of its outward, human garments, and shows the root of each to be identical with that of every other great religion. It proves the necessity of an absolute Divine Principle in nature. It denies Deity no more than it does the Sun. Esoteric philosophy has never rejected God in Nature, nor Deity as the absolute and abstract Ens. It only refuses to accept any of the gods of the so-called monotheistic religions, gods created by man in his own image and likeness, a blasphemous and sorry caricature of the Ever Unknowable. Furthermore, the records we mean to place before the reader embrace the esoteric tenets of the whole world since the beginning of our humanity, and Buddhistic occultism occupies therein only its legitimate place, and no more. Indeed, the secret portions of the “Dan” or “Jan-na” *(“Dhyan”) of Gautama’s metaphysics—grand as they appear to one unacquainted with the tenets of the Wisdom Religion of antiquity—are but a very small portion of the whole. The Hindu Reformer limited his public teachings to the purely moral and physiological aspect of the Wisdom-Religion, to Ethics and MAN alone. Things “unseen and incorporeal,” the mystery of Being outside our terrestrial sphere, the great Teacher left entirely untouched in his public lectures, reserving the hidden Truths for a select circle of his Arhats."

Your comments and questions are welcome.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 10, 2014 at 12:14am

The Secret Science   page xxxiv

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.

    This statement is rendered more credible by a consideration of the following facts: the tradition of the thousands of ancient parchments saved when the Alexandrian library was destroyed; the thousands of Sanskrit works which disappeared in India in the reign of Akbar; the universal tradition in China and Japan that the true old texts with the commentaries, which alone make them comprehensible—amounting to many thousands of volumes—have long passed out of the reach of profane hands; the disappearance of the vast sacred and occult literature of Babylon; the loss of those keys which alone could solve the thousand riddles of the Egyptian hieroglyphic records; the tradition in India that the real secret commentaries which alone make the Veda intelligible, though no longer visible to profane eyes, still remain for the initiate, hidden in secret caves and crypts; and an identical belief among the Buddhists, with regard to their secret books.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 10, 2014 at 12:16am

More from the Secret Science   page xxxv

 The danger was this: Doctrines such as the planetary chain, or the seven races, at once give a clue to the seven-fold nature of man, for each principle is correlated to a plane, a planet, and a race; and the human principles are, on every plane, correlated to seven-fold occult forces—those of the higher planes being of tremendous power. So that any septenary division at once gives a clue to tremendous occult powers, the abuse of which would cause incalculable evil to humanity. A clue, which is, perhaps, no clue to the present generation—especially the Westerns—protected as they are by their very blindness and ignorant materialistic disbelief in the occult; but a clue which would, nevertheless, have been very real in the early centuries of the Christian era, to people fully convinced of the reality of occultism, and entering a cycle of degradation, which made them rife for abuse of occult powers and sorcery of the worst description.

    The documents were concealed, it is true, but the knowledge itself and its actual existence had never been made a secret of by the Hierophants of the Temple, wherein MYSTERIES have ever been made a discipline and stimulus to virtue. This is very old news, and was repeatedly made known by the great adepts, from Pythagoras and Plato down to the Neoplatonists. It was the new religion of the Nazarenes that wrought a change for the worse—in the policy of centuries.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 10, 2014 at 12:20am

Last One from the Secret Science   page xxxvi-xxxvii

More than one great scholar has stated that there never was a religious founder, whether Aryan, Semitic or Turanian, who had invented a new religion, or revealed a new truth. These founders were all transmitters, not original teachers. They were the authors of new forms and interpretations, while the truths upon which the latter were based were as old as mankind. Selecting one or more of those grand verities—actualities visible only to the eye of the real Sage and Seer—out of the many orally revealed to man in the beginning, preserved and perpetuated in the adyta of the temples through initiation, during the MYSTERIES and by personal transmission—they revealed these truths to the masses. Thus every nation received in its turn some of the said truths, under the veil of its own local and special symbolism; which, as time went on, developed into a more or less philosophical cultus, a Pantheon in mythical disguise. Therefore is Confucius, a very ancient legislator in historical chronology, though a very modern Sage in the World’s History, shown by Dr. Legge *—who calls him “emphatically a transmitter, not a maker”—as saying: “I only hand on: I cannot create new things. I believe in the ancients and therefore I love them.” (Quoted in “Science of Religions” by Max Müller.)


Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 10, 2014 at 11:53am

For many of us this subject, The Gupta Vidya, Secret Science, Perennial Wisdom  must be one of our favorites.  The very idea that there is a Wisdom that stands behind the universe and through progressive awakenings a human being can draw closer and closer to it is one of the most inspiring of theosophical teachings.  We owe HPB and the Teachers she represents an enormous debt of gratitude for keeping this teaching alive and presenting it to modern man.

The fact that this Wisdom is behind all the religious and philosophical movements gives us a commonality of purpose and teaching that can help us to build at first a nucleus of universal brotherhood and eventually a complete family of man with no one left out.

Permalink Reply by Peter on January 11, 2014 at 4:30am

That's well said, Gerry.  Another factor to consider is that this Wisdom is not only at the core of all the major spiritual traditions and philosophies but also at the core of our very Being.   The one calls to or responds to the other, hence 'the heart' is lifted or moved when it finds something of itself mirrored in the teachings of this or that tradition.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 11, 2014 at 12:47pm

That is the perfect addition to the idea.  The Gupta Vidya is ultimately the study of ourselves.

Thank you for that.

I love your idea of one calling to the other.  Might you or anyone else elaborate on that? It seems very important.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 13, 2014 at 12:54pm

The Perennial Source  i xliv, xlv

Fragments have survived geological and political cataclysms to tell the story; and every survival shows evidence that the now Secret Wisdom was once the one fountain head, the ever-flowing perennial source, at which were fed all its streamlets—the later religions of all nations—from the first down to the last. This period, beginning with Buddha and Pythagoras at the one end and the Neo-Platonists and Gnostics at the other, is the only focus left in History wherein converge for the last time the bright rays of light streaming from the æons of time gone by, unobscured by the hand of bigotry and fanaticism.

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on January 17, 2014 at 1:34am

"This period, beginning with Buddha and Pythagoras at the one end and the Neo-Platonists and Gnostics at the other, is the only focus left in History wherein converge for the last time the bright rays of light streaming from the æons of time gone by, unobscured by the hand of bigotry and fanaticism."


Permalink Reply by David Reigle on January 20, 2014 at 11:21am

Tamiko, I don't know if anyone knows why. We are told that the cycle of Kali-yuga, the dark age or bad times, started in 3102 B.C.E., and after this date, things gradually got worse for humanity. The period here spoken of by Blavatsky was apparently the time in the Kali-yuga cycle when the last rays of light showed through unobscured. Blavatsky refers to the end of the first five thousand years of the Kali-yuga cycle as occurring in 1897-1898, as if this is an important sub-cycle of the Kali-yuga cycle. Certainly, her Mahatma teachers thought that the time had come when they could attempt to shine light once again. So we don't know why these cycles occur. All we are told is that they do occur. The good news is that we appear to be slowly emerging from the darkest part of that cycle.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 14, 2014 at 5:23pm

Gnosis     The Upanishads    From Summing Up  page 269

The first of these Seven chapters has been attempted and is now finished. However incomplete and feeble as an exposition, it is, at any rate, an approximation—using the word in a mathematical sense—to that which is the oldest basis for all the subsequent Cosmogonies. The attempt to render in a European tongue the grand panorama of the ever periodically recurring Law—impressed upon the plastic minds of the first races endowed with Consciousness by those who reflected the same from the Universal Mind—is daring, for no human language, save the Sanskrit—which is that of the Gods—can do so with any degree of adequacy. But the failures in this work must be forgiven for the sake of the motive.

    As a whole, neither the foregoing nor what follows can be found in full anywhere. It is not taught in any of the six Indian schools of philosophy, for it pertains to their synthesis—the seventh, which is the Occult doctrine. It is not traced on any crumbling papyrus of Egypt, nor is it any longer graven on Assyrian tile or granite wall. The Books of the Vedanta (the last word of human knowledge) give out but the metaphysical aspect of this world-Cosmogony; and their priceless thesaurus, the Upanishads—Upa-ni-shad being a compound word meaning "the conquest of ignorance by the revelation of secret, spiritual knowledge"—require now the additional possession of a Master-key to enable the student to get at their full meaning. The reason for this I venture to state here as I learned it from a Master.

    The name, "Upanishads," is usually translated "esoteric doctrine." These treatises form part of the Sruti or "revealed knowledge," Revelation, in short, and are generally attached to the Brahmana portion of the Vedas,* as their third division. There are over 150 Upanishads enumerated by, and known to, Orientalists, who credit the oldest with being written probably about 600 years B.C.; but of genuine texts there does not exist a fifth of the number. The Upanishads are to the Vedas what the Kabala is to the Jewish Bible. They treat of and expound the secret and mystic meaning of the Vedic texts. They speak of the origin of the Universe, the nature of Deity, and of Spirit and Soul, as also of the metaphysical connection of mind and matter. In a few words: They CONTAIN the beginning and the end of all human knowledge, but they have now ceased to REVEAL it, since the day of Buddha. If it were otherwise, the Upanishads could not be called esoteric, since they are now openly attached to the Sacred Brahmanical books, which have, in our present age, become accessible even to the Mlechchhas (out-castes) and the European Orientalists. One thing in them—and this in all the Upanishads—invariably and constantly points to their ancient origin, and proves (a) that they were written, in some of their portions, before the caste system became the tyrannical institution which it still is; and (b) that half of their contents have been eliminated, while some of them were rewritten and abridged. "The great Teachers of the higher Knowledge and the Brahmans are continually represented as going to Kshatriya (military caste) kings to become their pupils." As Cowell pertinently remarks, the Upanishads "breathe an entirely different spirit" (from other Brahmanical writings), "a freedom of thought unknown in any earlier work except in the Rig Veda hymns themselves." The second fact is explained by a tradition recorded in one of the MSS. on Buddha's life. It says that the Upanishads were originally attached to their Brahmanas after the beginning of a reform, which led to the exclusiveness of the present caste system among the Brahmins, a few centuries after the invasion of India by the "twice-born." They were complete in those days, and were used for the instruction of the chelas who were preparing for their initiation.

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on January 17, 2014 at 1:36am

I read somewhere that the term Upanishad means "come sit close". ( Is this correct?) How is this related to the idea of the esoteric doctrine?

Permalink Reply by David Reigle on January 20, 2014 at 12:19pm

Yes, Upanishad is often said to mean something like "come sit close." The Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Monier Monier-Williams gives the meaning as "to sit down near to." Then it explains how it comes to mean an esoteric doctrine: "(according to some) the sitting down at the feet of another to listen to his words (and hence, secret knowledge given in this manner; but according to native authorities upanishad means means 'setting at rest ignorance by revealing the knowledge of the supreme spirit'); the mystery which underlies or rests underneath the external system of things; esoteric doctrine, secret doctrine, mysterious or mystical meaning, words of mystery&c."

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 20, 2014 at 1:19pm

The term is suggestive of someone secretly whispering into your ear, like the whispering of Buddhi to Manas.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 17, 2014 at 1:09am

The Three Trinities  Book 1 Page 278

Three distinct representations of the Universe in its three distinct aspects are impressed upon our thought by the esoteric philosophy: the PRE-EXISTING (evolved from) the EVER-EXISTING; and the PHENOMENAL—the world of illusion, the reflection, and shadow thereof. During the great mystery and drama of life known as the Manvantara, real Kosmos is like the object placed behind the white screen upon which are thrown the Chinese shadows, called forth by the magic lantern. The actual figures and things remain invisible, while the wires of evolution are pulled by the unseen hands; and men and things are thus but the reflections, on the white field, of the realities behind the snares ofMahamaya, or the great Illusion. This was taught in every philosophy, in every religion, ante as well as post diluvian, in India and Chaldea, by the Chinese as by the Grecian Sages. In the former countries these three Universes were allegorized, in exoteric teachings, by the three trinities emanating from the Central eternal germ and forming with it a Supreme Unity: the initial, the manifested, and the Creative Triad, or the three in One. The last is but the symbol, in its concrete expression, of the first ideal two. Hence Esoteric philosophy passes over the necessarianism of this purely metaphysical conception, and calls the first one, only, the Ever Existing. This is the view of every one of the six great schools of Indian philosophy—the six principles of that unit body of WISDOM of which the "gnosis," the hidden knowledge, is the seventh.

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on January 17, 2014 at 1:43am

The difference between pre-existing and phenomenal or ever-exisiting and phenomenal seems apparent.  But what is the difference between pre-existing and ever-existing? Is this referring to the difference between the arupa and rupa planes?

One is reminded of the Occult Catechism on page 11:

   "What is it that ever is?" "Space, the eternal Anupadaka."* "What is it that ever was?" "The Germ in the Root." "What is it that is ever coming and going?" "The Great Breath." "Then, there are three Eternals?" "No, the three are one. That which ever is is one, that which ever was is one, that which is ever being and becoming is also one: and this is Space."

Permalink Reply by David Reigle on January 21, 2014 at 1:32pm

You ask very good questions, Tamiko. The difference between the pre-existing and the ever-existing is one of the most difficult questions in the whole cosmogony of The Secret Doctrine. Even Blavatsky largely refrained from trying to answer it, leaving it up to our own intuitions. She indicated that the pre-existing is what stanza 2 of the Book of Dzyan describes, which hardly differs from what is said about the ever-existing in stanza 1. She wrote (The Secret Doctrine, vol. 1, p. 21): "The stage described in Stanza II. is, to a western mind, so nearly identical with that mentioned in the first Stanza, that to express the idea of its difference would require a treatise in itself. Hence it must be left to the intuition and the higher faculties of the reader to grasp, as far as he can, the meaning of the allegorical phrases used." As for the arupa and rupa planes, even the formless or arupa planes are part of manifestation, so they come after the pre-existing stage and are part of the phenomenal world. The quote you gave from the Occult Catechism is no doubt quite relevant. It is, to me, one of the most profound statements I have ever read anywhere.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on January 17, 2014 at 9:36am

Theosophia, The Bodhi Dharma, Brahma Vidya, Sanatana Dharma, Perennis Philosophia, The Wisdom Religion, Atma Vidya, The Secret Doctrine, The Gupta Vidya.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on January 18, 2014 at 11:49am

I found this in my studies this morning:

book 1 p. 168-9  It points to the importance of the Parent Doctrine.

"Hence only a few of the doctrines were revealed in their broad outlines, while details were constantly withheld, and all the efforts made to elicit more information about them were systematically eluded from the beginning. This is perfectly natural. Of the four Vidyas—out of the seven branches of Knowledge mentioned in the Purânas—namely, "Yajna-Vidya" (the performance of religious rites in order to produce certain results); "Maha-Vidya," the great (Magic) knowledge, now degenerated into Tantrika worship; "Guhya-Vidya," the science of Mantras and their true rhythm or chanting, of mystical incantations, etc.—it is only the last one, "Atma-Vidya," or the true Spiritual and Divine wisdom, which can throw absolute and final light upon the teachings of the three first named. Without the help of Atma-Vidya, the other three remain no better than surfacesciences, geometrical magnitudes having length and breadth, but no thickness."

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 26, 2014 at 1:34pm

I saying Atma-Vidya is necessary to understand the other vidyas analogous to saying that you cannot understand chemistry or physics or biology without knowing mathematics?

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 19, 2014 at 11:03pm

Cosmic Ideation   book i  page 279-280

  (1) The Secret Doctrine teaches no Atheism, except in the Hindu sense of the word nastika, or the rejection of idols, including every anthropomorphic god. In this sense every Occultist is a Nastika.

    (2) It admits a Logos or a collective "Creator" of the Universe; a Demi-urgos—in the sense implied when one speaks of an "Architect" as the "Creator" of an edifice, whereas that Architect has never touched one stone of it, but, while furnishing the plan, left all the manual labour to the masons; in our case the plan was furnished by the Ideation of the Universe, and the constructive labour was left to the Hosts of intelligent Powers and Forces. But that Demiurgos is no personal deity,—i.e., an imperfect extra-cosmic god,—but only the aggregate of the Dhyan-Chohans and the other forces.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 25, 2014 at 12:35am

SD book 1  page 280

—but only the aggregate of the Dhyan-Chohans and the other forces.

    As to the latter—

    (3) They are dual in their character; being composed of (a) the irrational brute energy, inherent in matter, and (b) the intelligent soul or cosmic consciousness which directs and guides that energy, and which is the Dhyan-Chohanic thought reflecting the Ideation of the Universal mind. This results in a perpetual series of physical manifestations and moral effects on Earth, during manvantaric periods, the whole being subservient to Karma. As that process is not always perfect; and since, however many proofs it may exhibit of a guiding intelligence behind the veil, it still shows gaps and flaws, and even results very often in evident failures—therefore, neither the collective Host (Demiurgos), nor any of the working powers individually, are proper subjects for divine honours or worship. All are entitled to the grateful reverence of Humanity, however, and man ought to be ever striving to help the divine evolution of Ideas, by becoming to the best of his ability a co-worker with nature in the cyclic task. The ever unknowable and incognizable Karana alone, the Causeless Cause of all causes, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart—invisible, intangible, unmentioned, save through "the still small voice" of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it, ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls *; making their spirit the sole mediator between them and the Universal Spirit, their good actions the only priests, and their sinful intentions the only visible and objective sacrificial victims to the Presence.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 26, 2014 at 1:35pm

"All are entitled to the grateful reverence of Humanity, however, and man ought to be ever striving to help the divine evolution of Ideas, by becoming to the best of his ability a co-worker with nature in the cyclic task."

Might anyone like to give examples of how this task is accomplished?

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 26, 2014 at 12:24pm

Occult Aphorisms section  page 296 book 1

All that which is, emanates from the ABSOLUTE, which, from this qualification alone, stands as the one and only reality—hence, everything extraneous to this Absolute, the generative and causative Element, must be an illusion, most undeniably. But this is only so from the purely metaphysical view. A man who regards himself as mentally sane, and is so regarded by his neighbours, calls the visions of an insane brother—whose hallucinations make the victim either happy or supremely wretched, as the case may be—illusions and fancies likewise. But, where is that madman for whom the hideous shadows in his deranged mind, his illusions, are not, for the time being, as actual and as real as the things which his physician or keeper may see? Everything is relative in this Universe, everything is an illusion. 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 26, 2014 at 1:38pm

What is meant by the idea of illusion?  What is illusion?

Permalink Reply by Peter on January 28, 2014 at 4:59am

There may many types of illusion, but it's possible they may all be reduced to two basic categories:

a) things that don't exist at all
b) things which have existence but don't exist in the way that they appear.

a) things that don't exist at all. Examples would be the mirage of water in the desert or the figure of a man seen in the dark that turns out to be a gate post.

b) things that have existence but don’t exist in the way that they appear. An example would be sunrise, it’s journey across the sky followed by sunset. We can’t deny the existence of this phenomenon since it is part of the experience of all people in the world. But it doesn’t happen in the way that it appears. We know the true state of things is that the earth rotates which gives the appearance to us of the sun travelling across the sky. While this phenomenon is illusory and merely a relative truth for us, it still has great value for us. We use it to mark the time, for a start!

      From the purely metaphysical point of view all manifestation is an illusion in the sense that it has some form(s) of existence but not in the way that it appears. We live in realms of relative truths depending upon our point of perspective. For the Buddhist this is explained through the various doctrines of emptiness, e.g. that all ‘things’ lack a self-nature or an intrinsic existence of their own. For example, the table appears to exist as table with an intrinsic existence of its own, but take away all the parts and there is no table left. The table is a relative truth, we all agree that it exists and has a function, but it has no ultimate (absolute) existence of its own. Every thing lacks ultimate existence according to the majority of schools of buddhism.

      The Advaitees put it a different way. The world is unreal (illusory) as world, but real as Brahman. All things have a relative existence while ultimately everything is Brahman or Parabrahm. They use the analogy of the clay and the pot. The real nature of the pot is clay. Pot, as such, is merely ‘form with a name’ given to it. It is nama-rupa. Before it was pot it was clay, during its ‘existence’ as pot when it has a function it is just clay, and when the pot-form has disintegrated it is still clay. Pot has no intrinsic nature of its own, other than clay. Pot is the relative reality/truth, clay is the ultimate reality/truth. It’s in this sense that they view Brahman or Atman as the substratum of all states of experience and all phenomena in manifestation whether subtle or gross. The latter are illusory from the point of view of their relative existence. Their intrinsic existence and ultimate truth is that all is Brahman.

       Perhaps we might catch a glimpse of the above in those moments when our sense of separateness from others dissolves or gives way and is replaced by a sense of one-ness or unity with all life and which seems more real than anything else. So, we might feel able to say at those times, along with the Advaitees, that the underlying reality is there all along, there never was a time when it didn’t exist, there will never be a time when it ceases to exist. All appearances are relative and thus illusory from that point of view.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 28, 2014 at 12:37pm

Is another aspect of illusion the sense of seeming permanence?  When we see an ice sculpture it is the form we recognize. Yet after a while it melts and is simply water on the floor.  Things have form and we attribute permanence to them but that permanence is purely illusory.  The forms are always changing even if we cannot see the changes.

The ever changing nature of the manifest world seems to be a central tenet of the Gupta Vidya, the Secret Doctrine.

Permalink Reply by Peter on January 28, 2014 at 12:42pm

Yes, I think that must be the case, Gerry.  Only something which has an intrinsic nature of its own could remain as it is, permanently.  No causes can bring it into being, none can destroy it.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 26, 2014 at 12:28pm

The Veil of Isis section  book 1   page 298-299

 It is barely possible that the minds of the present generations are not quite ripe for the reception of Occult truths. Such will be the retrospect furnished to the advanced thinkers of the Sixth Root Race of the history of the acceptance of Esoteric Philosophy—fully and unconditionally. Meanwhile the generations of our Fifth Race will continue to be led away by prejudice and preconceptions. Occult Sciences will have the finger of scorn pointed at them from every street corner, and everyone will seek to ridicule and crush them in the name, and for the greater glory, of Materialism and its so-called Science. The Addendum which completes the present Book shows, however, in an anticipatory answer to several of the forthcoming Scientific objections, the true and mutual positions of the defendant and plaintiff. The Theosophists and Occultists stand arraigned by public opinion, which still holds high the banner of the inductive Sciences. The latter have, then, to be examined; and it must be shown how far their achievements and discoveries in the realm of natural laws are opposed, not so much to our claims, as to the facts in nature. The hour has now struck to ascertain whether the walls of the modern Jericho are so impregnable that no blast of the Occult trumpet is ever likely to make them crumble.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on January 26, 2014 at 12:52pm

Here is an important statement about the Gupta Vidya from the Great Master's Letter.

"Once unfettered, delivered from their dead-weight of dogmatism, interpretations, personal names, anthropomorphic conceptions, and salaried priests, the fundamental doctrines of all religions will be proved identical in their esoteric meaning.  Osiris, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, will be shown as different means for one and the same royal highway of final bliss - Nirvana.  Mystical Christianity teaches self-redemption through one's own seventh principle, the liberated Paramatma, called by  one Christ, by others Buddha; this is equivalent to regeneration, or rebirth in spirit, and it therefore expounds just the same truth as the Nirvana of Buddhism.  All of us have to get rid of our own Ego, the illusory, apparent self, to recognize our true Self, in a transcendental divine life."   — The Maha Chohan

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 26, 2014 at 1:36pm

Thank you Grace.  You could almost reproduce the whole letter here, it would all be relevant.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 28, 2014 at 12:45pm

From the Tree of Knowledge section  book 1 page 339-340

 The one prevailing, most distinct idea ― found in all ancient teaching, with reference to Cosmic Evolution and the first "creation" of our Globe with all its products, organic and inorganic (strange word for an Occultist to use) ― is that the whole Kosmos has sprung from the DIVINE THOUGHT. This thought impregnates matter, which is co-eternal with the ONE REALITY; and all that lives and breathes evolves from the emanations of the ONE Immutable ― Parabrahm = Mulaprakriti, the eternal one-root. The former of these is, so to say, the aspect of the central point turned inward into regions quite inaccessible to human intellect, and is absolute abstraction; whereas, in its aspect as Mulaprakriti  the eternal root of all, ― it gives one some hazy comprehension at least of the Mystery of Being.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 28, 2014 at 12:47pm

From the Tree of Knowledge section in our study guide.   Book 1 page 341

    Let us apply that Key to the rare fragments of long-forgotten cosmogonies and try by their scattered parts to re-establish the once Universal Cosmogony of the Secret Doctrine. The Key fits them all. No one can study ancient philosophies seriously without perceiving that the striking similitude of conception between all ― in their exoteric form very often, in their hidden spirit invariably ― is the result of no mere coincidence, but of a concurrent design: and that there was, during the youth of mankind, one language, one knowledge, one universal religion, when there were no churches, no creeds or sects, but when every man was a priest unto himself. And, if it is shown that already in those ages which are shut out from our sight by the exuberant growth of tradition, human religious thought developed in uniform sympathy in every portion of the globe; then, it becomes evident that, born under whatever latitude, in the cold North or the burning South, in the East or West, that thought was inspired by the same revelations, and man was nurtured under the protecting shadow of the same TREE OF KNOWLEDGE.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 29, 2014 at 10:46am

From the Initiation Section of our reading selections Book 1 page 569

 And this shows that the ancient Initiates, who were followed more or less closely by all profane antiquity, meant by the term "ATOM," a Soul, a Genius or Angel, the first-born of the ever-concealed CAUSE of all causes; and in this sense their teachings become comprehensible. They claimed, as do their successors, the existence of Gods and Genii, angels or "demons," not outside, or independent of, the Universal Plenum, but within it. Only this Plenum, during the life-cycles, is infinite. They admitted and taught a good deal of that which modern Science teaches now -- namely, the existence of a primordial "World-stuff or Cosmic Substance," from which worlds are formed, ever and eternally homogeneous, except during its periodic existence, when it differentiates its universal diffusion throughout infinite space; and the gradual formation of sidereal bodies from it. They taught the revolution of the Heavens, the Earth's rotation, the Heliocentric System, and the Atomic Vortices—Atoms—in reality Souls and intelligences. But those "Atomists" were spiritual, most transcendental, and philosophical Pantheists. It is not they who would have ever conceived, or dreamt that monstrous contrasted progeny, the nightmare of our modern civilized Race; namely—inanimate material, self-guiding atoms, on the one hand, and an extra-Cosmic God on the other.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 29, 2014 at 10:56am

From the Sacred Fires selection of our readings   Book 2 page 109

    This fire is the higher Self, the Spiritual Ego, or that which is eternally reincarnating under the influence of its lower personal Selves, changing with every re-birth, full of Tanha or desire to live. It is a strange law of Nature that, on this plane, the higher (Spiritual) Nature should be, so to say, in bondage to the lower. Unless the Ego takes refuge in the Atman, the ALL-SPIRIT, and merges entirely into the essence thereof, the personal Ego may goad it to the bitter end. This cannot be thoroughly understood unless the student makes himself familiar with the mystery of evolution, which proceeds on triple lines  spiritual, psychic and physical.