The Gupta Vidya

The Supreme Wisdom        SD  1   xix-xxi

The Secret Science             SD  1   xxxiv-xxxvii

The Perennial Source         SD  1   xliv-xlv

The Upanishads                  SD  1   269-272

The Three Trinities             SD  1   277-278

Cosmic Ideation                 SD  1   279-282

Occult Aphorisms               SD  1  288-296

The Veil of Isis                   SD  1  298-299

The Tree of Knowledge      SD  1  339-341

Initiation                            SD  1  569-574

The Sacred Fires                SD  2  105-110

Self-Redemption                SD  2  409-422

The Seven Dhyanis            Transactions   50-53

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The Supreme Wisdom        SD  1   xix-xxi   excerpt 

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.


In SD I:571, HPB refers to Adi Buddha as the "One unknown" and identical with Parabrahm and Ain-Soph as also being the source of the First Logos (Vajradhara) or the Supreme Buddha, both in the esoteric and even exoteric Buddhism of the North.

In the Voice of the Silence, p. 28 footnote 1, she points out that the "Diamond Soul" or Vajrasattva is the title of the Supreme Buddha, called also Vajradhara and Adi-Buddha. Vajrasattva in SD I:571 being referred to as the "diamond heart" or the second logos.

At first sight these explanations seem rather confusing and contradictory but we have to keep in mind that the unknowable source (Parabrahm, Adi Buddha, the absolute or whatever we want to call it) and the first, second and even third logos, are essentially ONE and not separate entities. However, distinctions can be made between these three logoi the moment they manifest and when the third logos differentiates and becomes the manifested universe. So we have to discern between distinction and separation. Separateness being a distortion of our perception in relation to our physical senses and the interpretation of the perceived data by the kama-manasic mind in the material world, distinction on the other hand a philosophical necessity once we deal with concepts within the plane of mind When these three logoi are in their pre-cosmic state, they are one (the one in three) when they are referred to relative to the rupa planes they become the three in one.

Of special note also is the sentence "Buddhi is the faculty of cognizing the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the “Ego,”". This channel most likely has multiple meanings both within the realm of the higher mental as also within the realm of the psycho-physiological plane. It certainly represents an interesting sentence to ponder in meditation.

It is also important to keep in mind that a term such as samadhi may have several different meanings depending on the context in which it is being used and that it also may apply to several different planes.

The abstract formula referred to in SD I:20-21 is of extreme importance as an aid in penetrating a lot of the apparent confusion that may arise in the study of the Secret Doctrine.


In addition to the abstract algebraical formula mentioned above the moderators have given us a group of texts to allow the student to get a proper foothold in the Secret Doctrine.  It is found at the front of the group page and reproduced below.

Recommended Back Ground Reading in the SD for General Orientation to the Esoteric Philosophy:

The Preface vii- viii

Introductory xvii-xxxiv (All of it if you have time.)

Proem 1-16

The Three Fundamentals 17-20

Summary of Stanzas and the Abstract Algebraical Formula of Evolution 20-22

Six Items of Cosmogony 272-276

Preliminary Notes Book 2 1-10

Conclusion to Book 2 794-798


The idea that there is a central "Teaching" behind all spiritual traditions is supported by the idea that there is a single Nature and a single Reality around which the teachings are based. There is one and only one "Reality" but there are many different angles upon which to view it.


How do we start to activate Buddhi?  What are the practices that help to bring access to this priniciple?


How do we start to activate Buddhi?

If I might take a chance to answer this, one might start by refining manas.  This means to make it porous and less crystalized in the earthly affairs and secluded divisions.  Less materialistic simply.  However, by no means are we to assume that one might "bring down buddhi" to activate it, as the opportunity to access this principle depends on ones own efforts regarding universal thinking, selfless deeds, and foremost, constant devotion to the Ideal of all Occult Philosophy.  It is by way of understanding the detailed constitution of microcosmic and macrocosmic principles and closing this imposed divide that the light and radiance of buddhi can be felt and called upon. 

Selections from the Bhagavadgita;

दूरेण ह्यवरं कर्म बुद्धियोगाद्धनञ्जय। बुद्धौ शरणमन्विच्छ कृपणाः फलहेतवः।।2.49।|

Verily, action is far inferior to devotion in Wisdom (buddhiyoga बुद्धियोग), O Dhanamjaya.  In wisdom seek thou shelter (बुद्धौ शरणमन्विच्छ) .  Wretched are they whose motive is the fruit.

तेषां सततयुक्तानां भजतां प्रीतिपूर्वकम्। ददामि बुद्धियोगं तं येन मामुपयान्ति ते।।10.10।।

To these, ever devout, worshipping Me with love, I give that devotion of knowledge (बुद्धियोगं) by which they come to Me.

चेतसा सर्वकर्माणि मयि संन्यस्य मत्परः। बुद्धियोगमुपाश्रित्य मच्चित्तः सततं भव।।18.57।।

Mentally resigning all deeds to Me, regarding Me as the Supreme, resorting to mental concentration (बुद्धियोगं) do thou ever fix thy Heart in Me. 

The term found in these three slokas is that of buddhi-yoga.  


Hi Kristan:

And how does one know that the efforts are yielding the right results?  How can one tell the method prescribed is activating buddhi and not just the forces in the subtle planes?

Thanks in advance. 


And how does one know that the efforts are yielding the right results?

I believe we must try to develop a Universal and Impersonal understanding regarding the condition of the Human upādhi in relation to the Cosmic upādhi, this aids in bridging the divide of separation.  It also modifies the qualities of manas to be fit to reflect the light of buddhi. Pierre has mentioned very important selections from the SD, in connection with the guna's and moral qualities and the ahaṃkāra.  

Personally, I don't believe we should work with a view to "activate" buddhi, if so, I truly believe one is set to fail.  Buddhi is already active, and has been. It is first in manifestation, that is, a subtler quality of matter in which consciousness is able to reflect and manifest prior to the manas principle.  So this isn't the issue.  

The idea here is how is own able to begin the process of marriage between manas and buddhi, not activate an already active principle.  This is my understanding.  

To think of right results is premature.  What gall and ego is one to have concerning themselves with "right results" when we all fail bitterly in the battle of personality and earthly-ego.  It might not be worth the time and energy to concern oneself with right results if the devotee or student can hardly step out of their own shadow.  There is no failure if one develops a Universal and Impersonal understanding of life. 

"...fasten the energies of your soul upon the task. Live neither in the present nor the future, but in the eternal. This giant weed cannot flower there: this blot upon existence is wiped out by the very atmosphere of eternal thought."

What does it mean; and not just the forces in the subtle planes? 
Are we not absolutely connected with these forces on the subtle planes?  What to you is the difference?  Are they not ourselves? Are they not active at every moment in the microcosm and microcosm?  I personally cannot conceive in anything without the forces of the subtle planes, metaphorically and quite literally.

I would hope that these subtle forces aid us in communion with Buddhi... We'd truly be spirits of the damned if they didn't! : ) 

Hope this helps.


"Personally, I don't believe we should work with a view to "activate" buddhi, if so, I truly believe one is set to fail.  Buddhi is already active, and has been."

I think this is a matter choice of words and expression.  It implies essentially the same thing, whether one attempts to "activate" or "bridge" the principles closer.

"To think of right results is premature.  What gall and ego is one to have concerning themselves with "right results" when we all fail bitterly in the battle of personality and earthly-ego."

If we were given a map, we want to make sure we are going in the right direction and have the right map.

"What does it mean; and not just the forces in the subtle planes?:

This is to learn to distinguish the forces of different planes.

I was following the thread about activation of buddhi and I was not very clear on my own thoughts.  I am just wondering how do we discern the "light of buddhi."  In other words,  what are the properties or qualities of buddhi that we can identify if we ever see it within and around us?     


Understood Barbara.

Perhaps the maps we are given are the texts found in the Esoteric Tradition.  These and the Heart- i.e., the Inner Voice as the guide, to me, are all that is needed. Faith and Trust are a very powerful instruments, as they are the cultivation of the energies of the Soul.  If one begins to use these inherent powers and direct the mind to a finer quality through Universal thinking, one might say Buddhi has already begun to shine.

Let ones actions and efforts determine ones results.  This is as much as anyone can ask.  Anything else outside of self-devised efforts is questionable, and most likely faulty in my opinion.

As a friend of ours often says something along these lines; many have maps and study them, but few actually take the first step and begin to traverse the mountain.  


Theosophy, and many texts state the Buddhi is the Atmic Vehicle.  This, I believe, is highly important to consider. 

A student of Occult Sciences writes;

"It is to be remembered that Buddhi is the first differentiation of Prakrti.  According to Kapila, Buddhi is the termination (adhyavasâya) in nature of Prakriti to evolve egotism.  Buddhi has three condition or aspects.  Its own essentially pure condition is that which it is identical with Prakrti, in which the three substantive qualities of satva (goodness), Rajas (passional activity), and tamas (delusion), are in a state of equilibrium and in that sense non-existent (though probably better understood as not manifest). This Buddhi is the Mother of salvation; in fact, it is salvation.

Just by analyzing the above portion, one might understand that manas is the result of the combinations of the qualities that inherently exist in Buddhi, therefore, manas cannot be anything separate from Buddhi, its parent and original state.  What makes it appear as something different is the combination and arrangement of qualities.

"... When under the influences of Rajas the quality of sattva predominates, four things are generated: the practice of virtue (dharma), dispassion (vairâgya), the spiritual powers (ais'varya), and finally salvation, when by the excess of goodness Buddhi returns to its original state of purity.   When under some influence Tamas predominates, the four opposites of what is stated above are produced.   Tamas, by its enveloping power (âvarana s'akti) makes the One Reality in the Universe appear as the differentiated universe of matter, and then Rajas by its expansive power (viksepa s'akti) produces the passion which are the cause of bondage." 

All of the different powers in the universe are only derived from the one Divine Power which pervades the Universe; Buddhi, Sakti, Mâyâ, Prajña, etc.  all names to designate different aspects of One Life. Of corse, this is one perspective of this very deep topic.

[the above quotations are found in the article; Places of Pilgrimage in India.]



"It is to be remembered that Buddhi is the first differentiation of Prakrti.  According to Kapila, Buddhi is the termination (adhyavasâya) in nature of Prakriti to evolve egotism.  Buddhi has three condition or aspects.  Its own essentially pure condition is that which it is identical with Prakrti, in which the three substantive qualities of satva (goodness), Rajas (passional activity), and tamas (delusion), are in a state of equilibrium and in that sense non-existent (though probably better understood as not manifest). 

Interesting quote.  It is a little bit different from what I have read in the TS literature but,  maybe, I just have not come across it. 

"All of the different powers in the universe are only derived from the one Divine Power which pervades the Universe; Buddhi, Sakti, Mâyâ, Prajña, etc.  all names to designate different aspects of One Life."

Yes, the color white has all the colors but we learn to identify and distinguish the spectrum of colors.  It is through discernment that we deepen our being and sharpen our perception. 


I think you have the right idea here. When the teachings come to us more naturally, when we see more clearly how to apply wisdom in various circumstances, when we get to the heart of an issue and perhaps when we naturally feel affection for our fellow man I would say might be signs of buddhi 'awakening' at the human level.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 7, 2015 at 6:47pm

That is an interesting question.  Like being on a diet to lose weight one must expect a certain amount of pain and suffering to accompany the new diet.  One cannot eat all the things one used to like to eat and there are withdrawal pains too.  So I suppose in self-purification one has to expect these things.  Growth requires some suffering almost by definition. 

But if one persists over time one would think that one might experience increased sense of calmness, a greater aptitude to sympathize with others, a longer fuse before frustration, a more penetrating concentration, a keener capacity to find what is essential and a growing aptitude for the teachings that comes as much from within as from without.  In general buddhi is a principle associated with bliss and contentment.  This is a "thus have I heard" situation here.

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on Thursday

Thank you for your response to my question.  If there is no hard and fast line between the principles then your suggestion of refining Manas makes perfectly good sense. We move closer to buddhi when we elevate the mind.  Of course, you are right about this.  Buddhi operates on a universal plane.  When the mind begins to ponder and soak in universal principles it would naturally awaken Buddhi within the Manas principle.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on December 2, 2015 at 8:25am

Buddhi is revealed when the mind is calm and focussed on universal principles or abstract ideas.  I don't think we develop Buddhi as much as we release it.

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on November 25, 2015 at 5:41pm

"When Buddhi absorbs our EGO-tism (destroys it) with all its Vikaras..."

When the word "EGO-tism" is used in this passage is the reference here to the personality or to the higher Individuality (Ego)?

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on November 25, 2015 at 10:11pm

I would think this is possibly a reference to the absorption of the sattwic aspect of ahamkara or manas, the conception of "I" which sees itself as separate from other I's and the one unity. At the same time the destruction of the rajasic and tamasic constituents of akamkara.

A combination of the following three references from the SD may support this:

"The monad […] is here rendered as the Atma in conjunction with Buddhi and the higher Manas. This trinity is one and eternal, the latter [Manas] being absorbed in the former [Buddhi] at the termination of all conditioned and illusive life." SD I:570

"The mind is Manas. […] it is Manas that springs from Ahamkara or (Universal) Self-Consciousness, as Manas in the microcosm springs from Mahat, or Maha-Buddhi (Buddhi, in man)." SD I:334

"Ahamkara, as universal Self-Consciousness, has a triple aspect, as also Manas. For this conception of "I," or one's Ego, is either sattwa, "pure quietude," or appears as rajas, "active," or remains tamas, "stagnant," in darkness. It belongs to Heaven and Earth, and assumes the properties of either." SD I:335 fn*.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on November 28, 2015 at 3:22pm

Thanks Pierre.  Great references.

An old text (one of my favorites) which can be quite in direct relation to the above;

Suresvaracarya's Pranavavartika

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on March 10, 2016 at 2:16pm

Thanks Kristan,

didn't catch this one until 2016 :-)

Very nice and interesting text, helps me out with some of the terminology in the Bhagavad Gita as well.

Permalink Reply by Peter on November 29, 2015 at 4:55am

This wonderful passage on the etymology of Adi and Adhi Buddha etc from HPB comes on the third page of her ‘Introductory’ chapter to The Secret Doctrine. In order to appreciate why she feels it important to explain at this stage the roots of the terms Adi Budha,  Bodha, and Buddhi it may help to look at the previous two pages in the SD.  Therein she explains that the prior publication of A.P. Sinnetts book, “Esoteric Buddhism’ (based on the letters he received from the Mahatma KH) had led many people to erroneous views, namely of “(a) limiting Theosophy to Buddhism: and (b) of confounding the tenets of the religious philosophy preached by Gautama, the Buddha, with the doctrines broadly outlined in the book ‘Esoteric Buddhism’.”

HPB, therefore, feels the need to explain the meaning of the above three terms.  

- ‘Adi Budha’ stands for the first or primeval Wisdom, in other words it refers to absolute Wisdom.

- ‘Bodha’ refers to the innate possession of divine intellect or understanding. The suggestion that such a divine intellect is innate implies that it is an ever present potential in all sentient beings, perhaps in all life.

- ‘Buddhi’ is a faculty, she says, which both “cognises” and “discerns”. This implies an unfolding to some degree or another of the “innate” divine intellect or understanding within us when this faculty is used. Buddhi is the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the ‘Ego’.*  Hence, it can operate as the “divine conscience” within us, which discerns the difference between ‘good’ and ‘evil’. This innate wisdom made operative has the capacity to destroy our ignorance and separative sense of Egotism and reveal our true nature.

A Buddha, then, is someone who has realised and brought into fruition that ‘Bodha’ that lies innate in all beings having at the same time destroyed the ignorance associated with the personal nature and separative self.

HPB explains the above, in part, to show that the above terms, each in their own way, refer to Wisdom, whether absolute, latent or made manifest.  She goes on to explain that the correct spelling for Sinnett’s book should really have been “Esoteric Budhism’  with one ‘d’, signifying the wisdom in general and not the religion ‘Buddhism’ in particular.  As she writes on the previous page, “The Wisdom Religion” is the inheritance of all nations, the world over..”  What she states about Buddhism is the case for all the world’s great spiritual traditions, i.e., as grand as even their secret portions and metaphysics may seem to us they are each but a very small portion of the whole.  However, the title Sinnett’s book required HPB to make a special point of clarifying the difference between Buddhism (the religion) and Budhism (wisdom) right at the outset of her monumental work.

*Note:  I believe a comma is missing in the passage on page xix.

‘…Buddhi is the faculty of cognising the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the “Ego”…’

The definition of the term ‘buddhi’ is ’to cognise’ or ‘to know’. Therefore it is likely the above sentence should read, “…Buddhi is the faculty of cognising, the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the “Ego:..’

Permalink Reply by Peter on November 29, 2015 at 5:34am

‘…Buddhi is the faculty of cognising the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the “Ego”…’

Perhaps I should have said a little bit more in the above post, in case the significance of the comma isn't quite clear. 

Without a comma in the sentence Buddhi is described as something which cognises the channel through which knowledge reaches the Ego.

With the comma Buddhi is described as both the faculty of cognition AND as the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the Ego. 

‘…Buddhi is the faculty of cognising, the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the “Ego”…

Permalink Reply by barbaram on November 29, 2015 at 7:27am

Hi Peter,

‘…Buddhi is the faculty of cognising, the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the “Ego”…

The "Ego" in this context refers to the personality or Higher Manas?  If it is the latter, then the Ego does not possess divine knowledge?

Permalink Reply by Peter on November 29, 2015 at 7:46am

Hi Barbara - I would understand it to mean the personal or mortal Ego, as it is during our incarnations that we learn about 'good' and 'evil', along with making the effort to purify our nature, tread the path etc. This would also be congruent with HPB's later sentence in which she refers to Buddhi eventually absorbing (destroying) our EGO-tism.   Does that fit with your understanding?

Permalink Reply by barbaram on November 29, 2015 at 7:56am

Hi Peter,

Yes, this is my thought as well.  I was thrown off because the word was capped, "Ego," and this usually refers to the Higher Self (Higher Manas and Buddhi).

Thank you so much for the clear explanation about Adi-Budha, Bodha, and Buddhi. 

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 7, 2015 at 7:14pm

You might say Buddhi overbroods Manas.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on June 3, 2016 at 11:44am

A possible approach is that it refers to the human soul which after having reached the culmination of the antaskaranic path (which has 7 steps corresponding with the 7 sub-divisions within the lower manas) it identifies or unites with higher manas, and "perceives" or "cognises" the channel that connects the spiritual heart with its own consciousness.

From The Voice of the Silence p. 10:

"Let not thy "Heaven-born," merged in the sea of Maya, break from the Universal Parent (SOUL), but let the fiery power retire into the inmost chamber, the chamber of the Heart and the abode of the World's Mother.

Then from the heart that Power shall rise into the sixth, the middle region, the place between thine eyes, when it becomes the breath of the ONE-SOUL, the voice which filleth all, thy Master's voice.

'Tis only then thou canst become a "Walker of the Sky" (3) who treads the winds above the waves, whose step touches not the waters."

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 7, 2015 at 7:10pm

It is my understanding, and I might be wrong, but when Ego is spelled with a capital E it more often pertains to the higher "Individuality" and not the personality.

From the Theosophical Glossary

Ego (Lat.). “Self”; the consciousness in man “I am I”—or the feeling of
“I-am-ship”. Esoteric philosophy teaches the existence of two Egos in man,
the mortal or personal, and the Higher, the Divine and the Impersonal,
calling the former “personality” and the latter “Individuality”.

. From the word “Ego”. Egoity means “individuality”, never
“personality”, and is the opposite of egoism or “selfishness”, the
characteristic par excellenceof the latter.

From the Key to Theosophy page 34.  A lot more there of interest besides what I quote here.

"We Theosophists, therefore, distinguish between this bundle of "experiences," which we call the false (because so finite and evanescent) personality, and that element in man to which the feeling of "I am I" is due. It is this "I am I" which we call the true individuality; and we say that this "Ego" or individuality plays, like an actor, many parts on the stage of life. (Vide infra, "On Individuality and Personality.") Let us call every new life on earth of the same Ego a night on the stage of a theatre. One night the actor, or "Ego," appears as "Macbeth," the next as "Shylock," the third as "Romeo," the fourth as "Hamlet" or "King Lear," and so on, until he has run through the whole cycle of incarnations. The Ego begins his life-pilgrimage as a sprite, an "Ariel," or a "Puck"; he plays the part of a super, is a soldier, a servant, one of the chorus; rises then to "speaking parts," plays leading roles, interspersed with insignificant parts, till he finally retires from the stage as "Prospero," the magician."

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 8, 2015 at 4:19am

There are, indeed, plenty of places where the term Ego with a capital E does refer to Higher Manas.  There are also plenty of places where the capitalised form is use to refer to the ‘personal Ego’. In the Key to Theosophy (original edition) the capital E is used nearly all the time for ‘personal Ego'. Also, see:  SD I 129, 329; SD II109, 610. It’s capitalised in The Voice of the Silence and in Transactions of Blavatsky Lodge.

The underlying question in our study passage is whether Buddhi,  as “Conscience”, guides the Higher Ego (which is immortal) or whether it guides the lower Ego (the personality, which is mortal).  Perhaps the following passage, in question and answer form, throws a little more light on the subject:

A. . . .  [ the higher Ego] is highly spiritual, and is linked very closely with the higher principles, Buddhi and Atma. These higher principles are entirely inactive on our plane, and the higher Ego (Manas) itself is more or less dormant during the waking of the physical man. This is especially the case with persons of very materialistic mind. So dormant are the Spiritual faculties, because the Ego is so trammelled by matter, that It can hardly give all its attention to the man’s actions, even should the latter commit sins for which that Ego— when reunited with its lower Manas—will have to suffer conjointly in the future. It is, as I said, the impressions projected into the physical man by this Ego which constitute what we call “conscience”; and in proportion as the Personality, the lower Soul (or Manas), unites itself to its higher consciousness, or EGO, does the action of the latter upon the life of mortal man become more marked.

Q. This Ego, then, is the “Higher Ego”?

A. Yes; it is the higher Manas illuminated by Buddhi; the principle of self-consciousness, the “I-am-I,” in short. It is the Karana-sarira, the immortal man, which passes from one incarnation to another.

(CW X 249)

The implication in the above passage is that the Higher Ego is actually Buddhi-Manas i.e. ‘Manas illuminated by Buddha’.   It is this ‘Buddhi-Manas’ which impresses itself as “conscience” on the Personal Ego, which we refer to variably as the lower Manas, Kama-Manas, the personal consciousness, or 'mortal man'.   The lower Manas being a projected ray of the ‘Higher’ and to which it has to unite itself.  The notion that 'Buddhi-Manas' act together as ‘conscience’ may be supported by the repeated reminders in the teachings that neither Atma nor Buddhi can act on our plane. 

The meaning of the term “Ego” can vary quite a lot throughout HPB’s writings. Even a definition in one place may be contradicted by a definition in another place, which can be rather testing for us.  It appears that we always need to take account of the context in which HPB gives her explanations.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 8, 2015 at 10:55am

Yes it gets quite complicated and context is all important.  I think HPB intentionally wanted to keep us on our toes and not solidify or concretize what she had to say. That is why I was careful to say often and not always. She was not interested in people parroting her.  She was interested in students gaining knowledge directly themselves and she wanted to point the way.

On the subject at hand.

Could it be that Buddhi is way too high to participate directly with this the lowest plane of existence?  Is our contact with Buddhi a result of it lighting up Manas?  In the end there is no rigid distinctions between the principles but  rather a gradation from plane to plane we are taught.  Therefore Manas must be purified (presumeably at the kama side of the spectrum) for Buddhi to have any influence on the man in the world.   Comments on this point of view?

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 10, 2015 at 8:11am

Yes, I certainly feel kept on my toes by HPB, Gerry.  I thought that both you and Barbara raised and interesting question about the capitalisation of Ego.I guess all we can do is check the actual physical text itself and see whether or not that is the case.  

As to your question on Buddhi, I sometimes wonder whether ‘our plane of existence’ is characterised simply by matter or more by our state of mind.  In other words, It is our mental states, not matter, which are ‘gross’, while matter is just another aspect of ‘Spirit’.  From this ‘gross’ realm of existence, which is my experience, I imagine that Buddhi must be somewhere else, on a different plane entirely.  Yet, if it is a universal principle (does this mean it must be everywhere?) perhaps it is nearer than I think.  Do I have to look some place for it, or just bring myself into harmony with it?  Just some thoughts.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on December 12, 2015 at 1:04pm

" I sometimes wonder whether ‘our plane of existence’ is characterised simply by matter or more by our state of mind.  In other words, It is our mental states, not matter, which are ‘gross’, while matter is just another aspect of ‘Spirit’. "

Hi Peter:

Question - Isn't our states of mind made up of various grades of matter? Our mental states range from the gross to the refined dependent on the mental contents. 

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 13, 2015 at 5:39am

Question - Isn't our states of mind made up of various grades of matter? Our mental states range from the gross to the refined dependent on the mental contents. 


Barbara - you are quite right, of course.  My writing can be a bit clumsy, at times.  I should have added that we normally refer to the world of objects around us as the world of 'gross matter', which then would have made more sense of my referring to mind or our mental states as that which is really gross, at least as we see these states acted out in the world with our passions, desires, bids for power and self aggrandisement, the unimaginable violence we carry out & so on.

As you know, HPB says that even the higher Manas and Buddhi are 'substance'.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on December 14, 2015 at 9:27am

Buddhi being a universal principle, like you say, would have no locality. Therefore the "distance" we experience in regards to Buddhi would have to be, as you suggest, a function of our state of consciousness.  Buddhi can be associated, one would think, with Bliss and Harmony, Insight and Wisdom.  For all but the very few of us human beings these are distant goals. I think it is true that the "path" to buddhi is through the reformed and focused mind.  

Permalink Reply by barbaram on December 12, 2015 at 2:07pm

"Is our contact with Buddhi a result of it lighting up Manas?"

I believe Buddhi "colors" our mind, the same way kama does in most of us at this time;  hence most of us perceive and relate to life through desire.  Eventually, we can perceive and relate to life through Wisdom. 

Quoting from Peter's post, it is important to remember that  "Buddhi is described as both the faculty of cognition AND as the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the Ego."

"In the end there is no rigid distinctions between the principles but  rather a gradation from plane to plane we are taught.  Therefore Manas must be purified (presumeably at the kama side of the spectrum) for Buddhi to have any influence on the man in the world."

I think so.  Unless the bowl empty, no fresh water can be added.  This is the basis of the need for purification.  When our vehicles (heart and mind) are purified, then we will resonate with the spiritual planes.  It is through resonance that we are drawn to the diferent planes and experiences.       

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on November 26, 2015 at 10:22am

I find the very idea that there is a Gupta Vidya, Theosophia, thrilling.

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on November 27, 2015 at 5:02am

That is a very good sign.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on November 26, 2015 at 12:46pm

SD Book 1 xix -xx

Unwise are those who, in their blind and, in our age, untimely hatred of Buddhism, and, by reaction, of “Budhism,” deny its esoteric teachings (which are those also of the Brahmins), simply because the name suggests what to them, as Monotheists, are noxious doctrines. Unwise is the correct term to use in their case. For the Esoteric philosophy is alone calculated to withstand, in this age of crass and illogical materialism, the repeated attacks on all and everything man holds most dear and sacred, in his inner spiritual life. 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. The latter received their Initiation at the famous Saptaparna cave (the Sattapanni of Mahavansa) near Mount Baibhâr (the Webhâra of the Pali MSS.). This cave was in Rajagriha, the ancient capital of Mogadha, and was the Cheta cave of Fa-hian, as rightly suspected by some archæologists.

Permalink Reply by Ryan Hauck on November 30, 2015 at 6:54am

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.

I truly believe that on a collective level, a great recognition of this is occurring, by and through the rising conflicts and crises erupting around the world. 

To "lose sight of.." perhaps does not mean an ignorance of, but to mean that through the process of Transcendence and Inclusion, the higher order or HOLON arise center stage in the awakened mind. 

We are aware of the body, though in higher states of consciousness awareness broadens and expands to transcend [and include] the mere physical vessel. 

It proves the necessity of an absolute Divine Principle in nature.

What of the argument that due to the increasing suffering in one's life, is evidence for the absence of God in nature (physical cosmos)? 


Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on February 9, 2016 at 9:56am

"the higher order or HOLON arise center stage in the awakened mind."

A  very good point of which we are reminded in the SD:

"The AH-HI (Dhyan-Chohans) are the collective hosts of spiritual beings — the Angelic Hosts of Christianity, the Elohim and "Messengers" of the Jews — who are the vehicle for the manifestation of the divine or universal thought and will. They are the Intelligent Forces that give to and enact in Nature her "laws," while themselves acting according to laws imposed upon them in a similar manner by still higher Powers; but they are not "the personifications" of the powers of Nature, as erroneously thought. This hierarchy of spiritual Beings, through which the Universal Mind comes into action, is like an army — a "Host," truly—by means of which the fighting power of a nation manifests itself, and which is composed of army corps, divisions, brigades, regiments, and so forth, each with its separate individuality or life, and its limited freedom of action and limited responsibilities; each contained in a larger individuality, to which its own interests are subservient, and each containing lesser individualities in itself." (SD I:38)

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on December 5, 2015 at 8:55am

SD i xx-xxi

Time and human imagination made short work of the purity and philosophy of these teachings, once that they were transplanted from the secret and sacred circle of the Arhats, during the course of their work of proselytism, into a soil less prepared for metaphysical conceptions than India; i.e., once they were transferred into China, Japan, Siam, and Burmah. How the pristine purity of these grand revelations was dealt with may be seen in studying some of the so-called “esoteric” Buddhist schools of antiquity in their modern garb, not only in China and other Buddhist countries in general, but even in not a few schools in Thibet, left to the care of uninitiated Lamas and Mongolian innovators.

Thus the reader is asked to bear in mind the very important difference between orthodox Buddhism—i.e., the public teachings of Gautama the Buddha, and his esoteric Budhism. His Secret Doctrine, however, differed in no wise from that of the initiated Brahmins of his day. The Buddha was a child of the Aryan soil; a born Hindu, a Kshatrya and a disciple of the “twice born” (the initiated Brahmins) or Dwijas. His teachings, therefore, could not be different from their doctrines, for the whole Buddhist reform merely consisted in giving out a portion of that which had been kept secret from every man outside of the “enchanted” circle of Temple-Initiates and ascetics. Unable to teach all that had been imparted to him—owing to his pledges—though he taught a philosophy built upon the ground-work of the true esoteric knowledge, the Buddha gave to the world only its outward material body and kept its soul for his Elect. (See also Volume II.) Many Chinese scholars among Orientalists have heard of the “Soul Doctrine.” None seem to have understood its real meaning and importance.

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 8, 2015 at 11:05am

Some of the things we might take from these first few pages of introduction to the SD is that there is something called Wisdom or Budh (Budha) and that the spiritual traditions that we know of in our age fall, in a very general way fall, into three main categories irrespective of which particular religion is referred to.

- Esoteric teachings
- Public teachings
- Distorted teachings

The genuine Esoteric Teachings or Knowledge (i.e. those belonging to the Wisdom Religion) are known only to the Initiates and taught only to those who have proved themselves fit and worthy of receiving them. From the writings of HPB and her Teachers it’s clear that a) that there are levels or grades of Knowledge in the Esoteric Teachings themselves and b) that the Initiates may be connected to any of the spiritual and occult traditions.

The Public teachings of the Initiates normally consist of “giving out a portion” of the Wisdom Religion that had up to that point remained secret. No Initiate, not even the Buddha who has achieved the highest form of Adeptship on this planet, is allowed to give out to the world all that is imparted to them in Initiation. However, such an Initiate may yet teach a philosophy of life to the world that is “built upon the ground-work of true esoteric knowledge.” Thus HPB describes the Buddha giving out a portion of the Wisdom Religion and of teaching a philosophy based on such a ground-work true esoteric knowledge.

We might bear in mind that all that was given out to the world at large by HPB and her Teachers falls into this category of ‘Public teachings’ (as must be the case for all religions). Only a small portion of the Wisdom Religion is given out in The Secret Doctrine, it being “an outline of a few fundamental truths.” These are but a few truths, she says, “because that which must remain unsaid could not be contained in a hundred such volumes.” (SD I xxii)

The realm of Distorted Teachings needs, perhaps, little explanation. Ignorance, power, vanity, egotism - all the characteristics of the personality that we are familiar with in ourselves and in the world at large seem to play a part of turning any teaching into what we want it to be, bringing it down to our mundane level rather that raising ourselves to the challenge of discovering and learning to live by underlying universal truths.

While HPB is critical of the way in which the Buddha’s teachings became distorted as time went on, it’s important to remember just how much energy and support both HPB and Olcott (acting under the Master’s instructions) gave to the revival of Buddhism. That the philosophy taught by the Buddha is still valuable two and half thousand years after His ‘passing’ is evident in the extracts below from the ‘Maha Chohan’s Letter’:

“Colonel H.S.O., who works but to revive Buddhism, may be regarded as one who labours in the true path of theosophy, far more than any other man who chooses as his goal the gratification of his own ardent aspirations for occult knowledge. Buddhism, stripped of its superstitions, is eternal truth, and he who strives for the latter is striving for Theos-Sophia, Divine Wisdom, which is a synonym of truth. . . .”

“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. But if we would not be selfish, we must strive to make other people see that truth, to recognize the reality of that transcendental self, the Buddha, the Christ or God of every preacher. This is why even exoteric Buddhism is the surest path to lead men towards the one esoteric truth . . . .”

“. . . how, seeing that the main objects of the T. S. are misinterpreted by those who are most willing to serve us personally, are we to deal with the rest of mankind, with the curse known as the ‘struggle for life’, which is the real and most prolific parent of most woes and sorrows and all crimes? Why has that struggle become the almost universal scheme of the universe? We answer, because no religion, with the exception of Buddhism, has hitherto taught a practical contempt for this earthly life, while each of them, always with that one solitary exception, has through its hells and damnations inculcated the greatest dread of death.”

(‘View of the Chohan on the T.S.’ 1882, source ‘Letter of the Masters of Wisdom, 1st Series’; also in ‘The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett, in chronological sequence, Appendix II)

Apologies for the length -  I wanted to present a larger context to the statements on Buddhism we find in our current study passages.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 8, 2015 at 11:32am

Extremely important points are being made here and they are most appreciated.  The onus of the burden is on the student to rise up to the Teachings.  Not the other way around.  This is why academic circles fall short in their evaluations of these topics.  The history of distorting sacred teachings is a long and sad tale and it is good soul etiquette to "check one's ego at the door" as best one can when discussing these matters.

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 10, 2015 at 8:13am

I'm not sure the problem is to do with academics or academic circles.  I think it more likely that the problem is each one of us - something succinctly summed up in the passage from the Mahatma Letters that Nicholas recently posted in his ‘Treasury of Theosophy’ blog:

‘As for human nature in general, it is the same now as it was a million of years ago: Prejudice based upon selfishness; a general unwillingness to give up an established order of things for new modes of life and thought...pride and stubborn resistance to Truth if it but upsets their previous notions of things, such are the characteristics of your age, and especially of the middle and lower classes.’

(The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, Letter no. 1, Trevor Barker edition)

HPB was rightly highly critical of the western academics (the orientalist translators) of her day who sought to set themselves up as authorities on eastern and ancient religions of which they knew very little about, and who sought to make these ancient traditions fit into their own pre-existing belief patterns.  

I’ve come to know many people over the years who move in academic circles.  I’ve not found them to be essentially any different to you and I or other students of theosophy and spiritual traditions. There are some for whom these philosophies are solely an intellectual pursuit and not something to live their lives by.  Others are deeply passionate about their field of study, the meaning it throws upon our lives and the ideals to aspire to and live by.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on December 9, 2015 at 10:36pm

Nice write-up Peter


Permalink Reply by barbaram on December 12, 2015 at 1:13pm

Thank you for clarifying the different types of teachings in such a concise manner. 

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on December 14, 2015 at 9:36am

Upon reading this one gets the sense of the sanctity of the Teachings.  One gets a sense of the privilege of being aware of and Esoteric tradition and the responsibility to try and protect it from one's own short-comings.  It also impresses upon one the desire to understand, to want to get to the heart and intent of the teachings.  It certainly invokes a healthy dose of humility and gives caution to those who make large claims for themselves by pounding their chests.  At the risk of sounding overly poetic, there is something both as gentle and sweet as a new born child about the teachings and as powerful and determined as the currents in the ocean about it.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on December 20, 2015 at 10:35pm

from 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 Casady on December 22, 2015 at 12:58pm

Here's a nice early definition of Gupta Vidya:

"(4) 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.

This truism, which may be termed elementary mathematics for little boys, has to be recalled in order to refresh the memory of such “adepts” as are too apt to forget that “Christian Kabbalism” is but a fraction of Universal Occult Science. And, if they believe that they have nothing more to learn, then the less they turn to “Eastern Adepts” for information, the better and the less trouble for both. There is but one royal road to “Divine Magic”; neglect and abandon it to devote yourself specially to one of the paths diverging from it, and like a lonely wanderer you will find yourself lost in an inextricable labyrinth. Magic, I suppose, existed millenniums before the Christian era; and, if so, are we to think then, with our too-learned friends, the modern “Western Kabbalists,” that it was all Black Magic, practiced by the “old firm of Devil & Co.”? But, together with every other person who knows something of what he or she talks about, I say that it is nothing of the kind; that J. K. seems to be superbly ignorant even of the enormous difference which exists between a Kabbalist and an Occultist. Is he aware, or not, that the Kabbalist stands, in relation to the Occultist, as a little detached hill at the foot of the Himalayas to Mount Everest?

That what is known as the Jewish Kabbala of Shimon Ben Yochai, is already the disfigured version of its primitive source, the great Chaldaean Book of Numbers. That as the former, with its adaptation to the Jewish Dispensation, its mixed international Angelology and Demonology, its Oriphiels and Raphaels, and Greek Tetragrams, is a pale copy of the Chaldaean, so the Kabbala of the Christian Alchemists and Rosicrucians is nought in its turn but a tortured edition of the Jewish. By centralizing the Occult Power and his course of actions in some one national God or Avatara, whether in Jehovah or Christ, Brahmâ or Mohammed, the Kabbalist diverges the more from the one central Truth. 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. Not he the Prometheus who robs but a portion of the Sacred Fire, and therefore finds himself chained to Mount Caucasus for his intestines to be devoured by vultures, for he has secured God within himself, and depends no more on the whim and caprice of either or evil deities.

True, “Koot Hoomi” mentions Buddha. But it is not because the Brothers hold him in the light of God or even of “a God,” but simply because he is the Patron of the Tibetan Occultists, the greatest of the Illuminati and Adepts, self-initiated by his own Divine Spirit, or “God-Self,” into all the mysteries of the invisible universe. Therefore to speak of imitating “the life of Christ,” or that of Buddha, or Zoroaster, or any other man on earth, chosen accepted by any one special nation for its God and leader, is to show oneself a Sectarian even in Kabbalism, that fraction of the one “Universal Science”—Occultism. The latter is prehistoric and is coeval with intelligence. The Sun shines for the heathen Asiatic as well as for the Christian European, and for the former still more gloriously, I am glad to say."

(HPB CW 266-68) MADAME BLAVATSKY ON “THE HIMALAYAN BROTHERS” [The Spiritualist, London, August, 12, 1881]

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 2, 2016 at 11:45am

Vol 1 xxxiv-xxxv

The Occultists assert that all these exist, safe from Western spoliating hands, to re-appear in some more enlightened age, for which in the words of the late Swami Dayanand Sarasvati, “the Mlechchhas (outcasts, savages, those beyond the pale of Aryan civilization) will have to wait.”

For it is not the fault of the initiates that these documents are now “lost” to the profane; nor was their policy dictated by selfishness, or any desire to monopolise the life-giving sacred lore. There were portions of the Secret science that for incalculable ages had to remain concealed from the profane gaze. But this was because to impart to the unprepared multitude secrets of such tremendous importance, was equivalent to giving a child a lighted candle in a powder magazine.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 4, 2016 at 10:11pm

"the unprepared multitude secrets of such tremendous importance, was equivalent to giving a child a lighted candle in a powder magazine."

Would anyone care to expand on this?

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on January 7, 2016 at 11:32pm

Knowledge is power.  Power can be expended benevolently or malevolently.  Motive is paramount and self-mastery is critical to progressing along the spiritual path.  If the motive is for anything less than the whole of humanity then the snake of self can enter in and lead to ruin.  The mystery schools, no doubt, were aware of this, and therefore made ethical requirements the prerequisites for higher spiritual training.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on January 11, 2016 at 5:51pm

Well played! :-)

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 17, 2016 at 4:58pm

Continuing on in this section:  The Secret Science   SD  1   xxxiv-xxxvii  

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 17, 2016 at 5:00pm

Closing Out that section:

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 26, 2016 at 7:13pm

If there is one reality and the power to perceive that reality is enabled then the idea of new religions does not make much sense.  Transmitters of the same knowledge is a wonderful way of putting this and perhaps the cultural conditions requires different modes and manner of communication but the message is the same.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on January 25, 2016 at 11:39pm

The Perennial Source i  xliv-xlv

The days of Constantine were the last turning-point in history, the period of the Supreme struggle that ended in the Western world throttling the old religions in favour of the new one, built on their bodies. From thence the vista into the far distant Past, beyond the “Deluge” and the Garden of Eden, began to be forcibly and relentlessly closed by every fair and unfair means against the indiscreet gaze of posterity. Every issue was blocked up, every record that hands could be laid upon, destroyed. Yet there remains enough, even among such mutilated records, to warrant us in saying that there is in them every possible evidence of the actual existence of a Parent Doctrine. 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.

This accounts for the necessity under which the writer has laboured to be ever explaining the facts given from the hoariest Past by evidence gathered from the historical period. No other means was at hand, at the risk even of being once more charged with a lack of method and system. The public must be made acquainted with the efforts of many World-adepts, of initiated poets, writers, and classics of every age, to preserve in the records of Humanity the Knowledge of the existence, at least, of such a philosophy, if not actually of its tenets. The Initiates of 1888 would indeed remain incomprehensible and ever a seemingly impossible myth, were not like Initiates shown to have lived in every other age of history. This could be done only by naming Chapter and Verse where may be found mention of these great characters, who were preceded and followed by a long and interminable line of other famous Antediluvian and Postdiluvian Masters in the arts. Thus only could be shown, on semi-traditional and semi-historical authority, that knowledge of the Occult and the powers it confers on man, are not altogether fictions, but that they are as old as the world itself.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 26, 2016 at 7:17pm

"The public must be made acquainted with the efforts of many World-adepts, of initiated poets, writers, and classics of every age, to preserve in the records of Humanity the Knowledge of the existence, at least, of such a philosophy, if not actually of its tenets."

This is a call to action on these very point:

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 29, 2016 at 9:59am

"....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."

Statements like these lead me to believe that Great Teachers like Buddha and Pythagoras turn us back upon ourselves to find the source of secret knowledge within our own consciousness. They point to a path we can walk to discovery a greater life, a richer appreciation of the world and the cosmos.

Permalink Reply by Alex Papandakis on January 30, 2016 at 3:06pm

In the Voice of the Silence we have a statement about turning inwards too: " Look inward Thou Art Buddha."  It is the common message of authentic spiritual teachers.

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on February 5, 2016 at 1:31am

The Secret Doctrine and the Spiritual life in general throws us back upon ourselves.  Who am I? What is the source of my consciousness?  How have I created the blockages that prevent enlightenment and full awakening?  What are the ideas I hold that are inadequate to elevate the mind?  The whole idea of self-induced and self-devised efforts takes on greater and greater meaning as we assume more and more responsibility for our conditions.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on February 4, 2016 at 10:44am

The Upanishads                  SD  1   269-272


"The History of Creation and of this world from
its beginning up to the present time is composed
of seven chapters. The seventh chapter is not yet written."
(T. Subba Row, Theosophist, 1881.)

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.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on February 5, 2016 at 8:46am

The idea I get here is to further explain the "secret" idea in the Secret Doctrine.  The Secret Doctrine is far far more than words in a book.  It seems to be a very internal awareness of the grand scheme of the universe locked within our higher nature.  The only way to understand it is to rise up to it in consciousness it cannot be dragged down without distortion and limitation. One of the great mysteries of HPB is how she can be so humble and so brilliant simultaneously.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on February 8, 2016 at 6:05pm

Twelve Signs of the Zodiac

"The History of Creation and of this world from
its beginning up to the present time is composed
of seven chapters. The seventh chapter is not yet written."

Quite a great article to be read along with Summing Up.  Below is a selection from the quotation, and the link above;


Now to summarise the facts stated in this article, the contents of the first chapter of the history of this universe are as follows:

(1) The Self-existent, eternal Brahman.

(2) Pranava (Aum)  

(3) The androgyne Brahma, or the bisexual Sephira — Adam Kadmon.

(4) The Sacred Tetragram — the four mâtras of Pranava — the four avasthâs — the four states of Brahma — the Sacred Târaka.

(5) The five Brahmâs — the five Buddhas — representing in their totality the Jîvâtma.

(6) The astral light — the holy virgin — the six forces in nature.

(7) The thirty-six Tattvas born of Avidyâ.

(8) The universe in thought — the Swapna Avasthâ — the microcosm looked at from a subjective point of view.

(9) The nine Prajâpatis — the assistants of the Demiurgus. 

[The nine Kabalistic Sephiroths emanated from Sephira, the tenth, and the head Sephiroth are identical. Three trinities or triads with their emanative principle from the Pythagorean mystic Decad, the sum of all which represents the whole Kosmos. – Editor, The Theosophist.]

(10) The shape of the material universe in the mind of the Demiurgus —the DODECAHEDRON.

(11) The fourteen lokas.

(12) The five elements.

The history of creation and of this world from its beginning up to the present time is composed of Seven chapters. The Seventh chapter is not yet completed.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on February 24, 2016 at 4:26pm

From SD 1  p. 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 of Mahamaya, 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 Peter on February 29, 2016 at 6:21am

There would appear to be a strong connection here between the Pre-Existing, Ever-Existing and Phenomenal world with the description of the three eternals which are ONE, which HPB mentions in the Proem of the SD, though we might wonder about the correspondence with the Phenomenal world.  See:

The Occult Catechism contains the following questions and answers :

“ 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.”

“ Explain, oh Lanoo (disciple).” — “ The One is an unbroken Circle (ring) with no circumference, for it is nowhere and everywhere ; the One is the boundless plane of the Circle, manifesting a diameter only during the manvantaric periods ; the One is the indivisible point found nowhere, perceived everywhere during those periods ; it is the Vertical and the Horizontal, the Father and the Mother, the summit and base of the Father, the two extremities of the Mother, reaching in reality nowhere, for the One is the Ring as also the rings that are within that Ring. Light in darkness and darkness in light : the ‘ Breath which is eternal.’ It proceeds from without inwardly, when it is everywhere, and from within outwardly, when it is nowhere — (i.e maya, one of the centres).

SD I 11

Permalink Reply by Peter on February 29, 2016 at 6:31am

"...the PRE-EXISTING (evolved from) the EVER-EXISTING; and the PHENOMENAL"

How might these relate to our (human) sevenfold constitution and our lived experience?

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on March 1, 2016 at 7:45am

This is an interesting question.  How about correlating them with the three states of consciousness in regards to the "lived experience", deep sleep, the dream state and waking?

Permalink Reply by Peter on March 2, 2016 at 3:54am

That's a good thought, Grace. One objection might be that all states of consciousness are by nature subject to change.  They arise and pass away - sooner or later. 

In our human constitution the question is 'Is there a principle (or principles) we might regard as Ever-Existing, Pre-existing and so forth?'

Is there anything in our lived experience (i.e. not just a concept or intuition) that is Ever-existing?

Permalink Reply by barbaram on March 3, 2016 at 8:27pm

"How might these relate to our (human) sevenfold constitution and our lived experience?"

Hi Peter:  It is an interesting question.  I never thought of this correlation.  To think it through, our human constitution is comprised of both the permanent and impermanent components.  The general division is: Spirit (Atma) - Soul (Buddhi, higher Manas) - Matter (Kama Manas, Prana, Linga Sarira, physical).  I guess Spirit belongs to the Ever-Existing because it IS; Soul belongs to the pre-existing since it existed before the present physical incarnation, and matter belongs to the phenomenal for it is transitory.   Our undeveloped consciousness is only aware of the most substantial parts of our being even though all the principles are in existent.    I am not sure what you mean by "our lived experience."  What are your thoughts?

Permalink Reply by Peter on March 6, 2016 at 10:05am

Hi Barbara - I was thinking along similar lines as yourself.  Spirit / Soul / Body.

The Monad (Atma-Buddhi) would relate to the Ever-existing as it lasts throughout even the mahaparanirvana (pralaya) and re-emerges into a new Maha-manvantara. 

The 'Soul' or Reincarnating Ego (Manas) would be the pre-existing.  It is present before every incarnation.  As an entity it lasts only until the end of the Maha-pralaya.

Body, or the mortal aspect (personality and physical body) is the phenomenal aspect which lasts only the length of the lifetime.

By 'lived experience' I was wondering if we felt that there was a corresponding aspect of our experience that might relate to the Ever-existing. For example, in his Meditations, Descartes decided to doubt the existence of everything in his experience - the reliability of his senses, which can be mistaken as to what is real; the recognition that at any time he could be dreaming and his surroundings be nor more than fanciful images; and that there might be an all powerful being, a great Deceiver, that could fool him into believing things were real when in fact everything was completely illusory and non-existent.  Finally, he concluded that only something that really did exist can question its own existence and ask what is real and what is not. That he could even think about and question his own existence meant he must exist, which became 'I think, therefore I am.'

I'm not suggesting Descartes' response is the best or only response to my own question, but it points in the direction of my 'wondering', so to speak.  The Advaitees have a lot to say about 'Awareness' or 'Unconditioned Consciousness' as being the "Ever-existing.'

Just some thoughts.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on March 6, 2016 at 12:31pm

I'd like to comment on these ideas;

"the PRE-EXISTING (evolved from) the EVER-EXISTING; and the PHENOMENAL"

So how is one to qualify one from the other?  Naturally we will certainly fail to pinpoint the "beginning of existence" as it would truly compromise the Theosophical Foundations.  So, how might one generally classify existence?

The Phenomenal is generally speaking, what appears as the sequence of transitory/transactional reality.  This, we are told cannot manifest simply on its own, but only though potentiality locked in something existing prior as it were, the Pre-Existing.  

Peter brings up the important teaching of the Reincarnating Ego, or in another tradition it might be called the Kūṭam.  I personally believe this a a very interesting topic, as this Principle plays both the role of the Child and Parent of Karma, for a lack of better analogy.  Meaning that it gives as well as takes specific impressions that aren't all together foreign to its immediate nature.  It has a higher counterpart- the Unborn.  Note from the Bhagavadgita, 10.3;

यो मामजमनादिं च वेत्ति लोकमहेश्वरम् । असम्मूढः स मर्त्येषु सर्वपापैः प्रमुच्यते ।। 

He who knows me as unborn and beginningless, as the great Lord of the worlds, he among mortals is undeluded, he is liberated from all sins

Here is a brief commentary on the above sloka from T. Subba Rao;

Here he calls himself the unborn: he had no beginning: he is the Eswara of the cosmos. It must not be supposed that the Logos perishes or is destroyed even at the time of cosmic pralaya. Of course it is open to question whether there is such a thing, as cosmic pralaya. We can very well conceive a solar pralaya as probable, we can also conceive that there may be a time when activity ceases throughout the whole cosmos, but there is some difficulty in arguing by analogy from a definite and limited system to and indefinite and infinite one. At any rate, among occultists there is a belief that there will be such a cosmic pralaya, though it may not take place for a number of years that it is impossible for us even to imagine. But even though there may be a cosmic pralaya the Logos will not perish even when it takes place; otherwise at the recommencement of cosmic activity, the Logos will have to be born again, as the present Logos came into existence at the time when the present cosmic evolution commenced. In such a case, Krishna cannot call himself aja (unborn); he can only say this of himself, if the Logos does not perish at the time of cosmic pralaya, but sleeps in the bosom of Parabrahmam, and starts into wakefulness when the next day of cosmic activity commences.

These two, the Phenomenal and Pre-Existing, to my understanding are absolutely co-dependent.  One cant 'exist' without the other. It further comes to reason that these two are seated as raw potentially in the Aja- The Unborn One- Ever-existing.

I believe there is a sutra in the Vedantasutras;

सत्त्वाच्चावरस्य ।। २.१.१६ ।।
 And सत्त्वात् owing to the existence अवरस्य of the posterior one.

And (cause and effect are non-different) because the posterior one has (earlier) existence (in the cause)

Just some ideas...