This group focuses onthe study of H. P. Blavatsky’s magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine.
Study Resources: http://www.universaltheosophy.com/secret-doctrine-study/
The Secret Doctrine Study Group is investigating HPB’s central work through themes and key ideas. We are not going through the book sequentially. Instead we are trying to cover broad themes to help students gain a foothold in the key ideas of the work. Passages from the book will be posted periodically. Students are encouraged to study the passage, and the full section of the book to which it belongs if they so desire.
The Gupta Vidya 2018
January 2, 2018 at 5:28 pm #6724
The Gupta Vidya: Secret Doctrine Study Theme for 2018
“The seeds of Wisdom cannot sprout and grow in airless space. To live and reap experience, the mind needs breadth and depth and points to draw it toward the Diamond Soul. Seek not those points in Maya’s realm; but soar beyond illusions, search the eternal and the changeless SAT, mistrusting fancy’s false suggestions.” — THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE
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The Gupta Vidya 2018
ModeratorTN January 2, 2018 at 5:36 pm #6729
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.
The SD Book i page xix
ModeratorTN January 15, 2018 at 10:17 pm #6807
SD i XX-XIX
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.
ModeratorTN February 2, 2018 at 6:03 pm #6863
SD i xix-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.
ModeratorTN February 12, 2018 at 7:10 pm #6899
SD i 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.
ModeratorTN March 10, 2018 at 7:33 pm #6963
SD vol i, pages XXIV- 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.
The answer to a question which has frequently arisen in the minds of students, when meeting with statements such as this, may be outlined here.
“We can understand,” they say, “the necessity for concealing from the herd such secrets as the Vril, or the rock-destroying force, discovered by J. W. Keely, of Philadelphia, but we cannot understand how any danger could arise from the revelation of such a purely philosophic doctrine, as, e.g., the evolution of the planetary chains.”
ModeratorTN April 2, 2018 at 4:52 pm #7011
SD i page XXV
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.
ModeratorTN May 5, 2018 at 5:19 pm #7084
SD Book i page XXXV-XXXVI
Moreover, there is a well-known fact, a very curious one, corroborated to the writer by a reverend gentleman attached for years to a Russian Embassy—namely, that there are several documents in the St. Petersburg Imperial Libraries to show that, even so late as during the days when Freemasonry, and Secret Societies of Mystics flourished unimpeded in Russia, i.e., at the end of the last and the beginning of the present century, more than one Russian Mystic travelled to Tibet via the Ural mountains in search of knowledge and initiation in the unknown crypts of Central Asia. And more than one returned years later, with a rich store of such information as could never have been given him anywhere in Europe. Several cases could be cited, and well-known names brought forward, but for the fact that such publicity might annoy the surviving relatives of the said late Initiates. Let any one look over the Annals and History of Freemasonry in the archives of the Russian metropolis, and he will assure himself of the fact stated.
ModeratorTN June 2, 2018 at 6:07 pm #7160
This is a corroboration of that which has been stated many times before, and, unfortunately, too indiscreetly. Instead of benefiting humanity, the virulent charges of deliberate invention and imposture with a purpose thrown at those who asserted but a truthful, if even a little known fact, have only generated bad Karma for the slanderers. But now the mischief is done, and truth should no longer be denied, whatever the consequences. Is it a new religion, we are asked? By no means; it is not a religion, nor is its philosophy new; for, as already stated, it is as old as thinking man. Its tenets are not now published for the first time, but have been cautiously given out to, and taught by, more than one European Initiate—especially by the late Ragon.
The SD Book I page xxxvi
JamesParticipantJames June 9, 2018 at 11:37 pm #7187
“Why is it important not to call theosophy a religion?”
Perhaps the first question could be;
Why did the Maha Chohan write … ‘the Theosophical Society was chosen as the corner stone, the foundation of the future religion of humanity.’
Although that idea appears to have been scrapped by 1925 due to all the splits etc.
PeterModeratorPeter June 10, 2018 at 8:16 pm #7188
‘Theosophy, as already said, is the WISDOM-RELIGION.’
(The Key to Theosophy, p 13)
Theosophy, we say, is not a Religion.
Theosophy, we say, is not a Religion. Yet there are, as every one knows, certain beliefs, philosophical, religious and scientific, which have become so closely associated in recent years with the word “Theosophy” that they have come to be taken by the general public for theosophy itself. Moreover, we shall be told these beliefs have been put forward, explained and defended by these very Founders who have declared that Theosophy is not a Religion. What is then the explanation of this apparent contradiction? How can a certain body of beliefs and teachings, an elaborate doctrine, in fact, be labelled “Theosophy” and be tacitly accepted as “Theosophical” by nine tenths of the members of the T. S., if Theosophy is not a Religion? —we are asked.
To explain this is the purpose of the present protest.
It is perhaps necessary, first of all, to say, that the assertion that “Theosophy is not a Religion,” by no means excludes the fact that “Theosophy is Religion” itself. A Religion in the true and only correct sense, is a bond uniting men together—not a particular set of dogmas and beliefs. Now Religion, per se, in its widest meaning is that which binds not only all MEN, but also all BEINGS and all things in the entire Universe into one grand whole. This is our theosophical definition of religion
(Collected Writings vol X, p161; ‘Is Theosophy a Religion?’)
JamesParticipantJames June 30, 2018 at 3:30 am #7215
“Theosophy is Religion” itself This is understandable as it is the source of all major religions, and governed by the Mysteries of the Zodiac as told by HPB.
However, one must remember that this does not mean the ‘Theosophical Society’, or what HPB gave to it, is religion itself. A point often overlooked by students.
Remember she only gave the primary, old, classification of Theosophy to the Society. SD 2-p641 and before.
Therefore one would probably have to take HPB’s information, add to it he Real esoteric seven-fold classification she mentioned but never gave, plus the teachings on the Kalachakra Mandala and Shambhala in order to get close to True Theosophy, or Religion itself.
- This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by James.
Kirk MarzuloParticipantKirk Marzulo June 30, 2018 at 2:12 pm #7217
In the same article that Peter quotes (“Is Theosophy a Religion?”), Blavatsky refers to Thomas Carlyle, the 18th century Scottish philosopher, who described the western religion of his day as a kind of “working for divine wages…a prudential feeling, grounded on mere calculation, a matter of expediency and utility…whereby some smaller quantum of earthly enjoyment may be exchanged for a far larger quantum of celestial enjoyment.” The widely held dogma that a distinct and separate, new soul is created with each human birth and that the eternal destiny of that soul is determined by the actions of a single life, helps to foster such otherworldly self-interest. According to H. P. Blavatsky, such dubious metaphysical assumptions undermines a sense of responsibility for our circumstances and actions, can pervert our ideas of right and wrong, while also justifying and stimulating selfishness instead of encouraging true morality. Perhaps this helps to explain why we find religion to be a source of strife, animosity and even horrendous violence between cultures, instead of that which binds them into a common whole. True religion, we are told, can be found in the Sermon on the Mount as in ethical principles taught by the Buddha: treating others as we would be treated, as our very self, ever “turning the other cheek,” with non-violence and love. “Ethics is the soul of the Wisdom Religion.”
- This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by Kirk Marzulo.
Pierre WoutersModeratorPierre Wouters July 1, 2018 at 6:24 pm #7225
Very well worded Kirk,
HPB mentions somewhere (and I can’t find the ref anymore) that “Ethics is applied metaphysics”.
The misapprehension and lack of application of this statement could – apart from other considerations – lie at the basis of the failure of exoteric religions to live up to their promises as it would provide a thoroughly grounded basis for ethics.
ModeratorTN July 15, 2018 at 7:24 am #7252
SD i XXXVI
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.”†
† “Life of Confucius,” p. 96.
ModeratorTN August 18, 2018 at 10:50 pm #7332
SD i. page 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.
ModeratorTN September 1, 2018 at 8:27 pm #7356
SD i xlv
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
ModeratorTN September 18, 2018 at 6:56 pm #7384
SD i pages 269-70
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.
* “The Vedas have a distinct dual meaning—one expressed by the literal sense of the words, the other indicated by the metre and the swara—intonation—which are as the life of the Vedas. . . . Learned pundits and philologists of course deny that swara has anything to do with philosophy or ancient esoteric doctrines; but the mysterious connection between swara and light is one of its most profound secrets.” (T. Subba Row, Five Years of Theosophy, p. 154.)
ModeratorTN October 6, 2018 at 10:47 pm #7417
SD i page 272
Sri Sankaracharya, the greatest Initiate living in the historical ages, wrote many a Bhâshya on the Upanishads. But his original treatises, as there are reasons to suppose, have not yet fallen into the hands of the Philistines, for they are too jealously preserved in his maths (monasteries, mathams). And there are still weightier reasons to believe that the priceless Bhâshyas (Commentaries) on the esoteric doctrine of the Brahmins, by their greatest expounder, will remain for ages yet a dead letter to most of the Hindus, except the Smârtava Brahmins. This sect, founded by Sankaracharya, (which is still very powerful in Southern India) is now almost the only one to produce students who have preserved sufficient knowledge to comprehend the dead letter of the Bhashyas. The reason of this is that they alone, I am informed, have occasionally real Initiates at their head in their mathams, as for instance, in the “Sringa-giri,” in the Western Ghats of Mysore. On the other hand, there is no sect in that desperately exclusive caste of the Brahmins, more exclusive than is the Smârtava; and the reticence of its followers to say what they may know of the Occult sciences and the esoteric doctrine, is only equalled by their pride and learning.
Moshe ArielParticipantMoshe Ariel October 10, 2018 at 6:09 am #7418
For the last two months, an intense state of continuous Bliss, Peace and Joy is being experienced by this individuated aspect of the One All. Just now reading this below: ““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.” The SD Book i page xix.
This is similar to what is being experienced by this Being. The Consciousness is totally focused on Avalôkitêshvara, I have been repeating the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, and there is a very tenuous connection to the physical vehicle. It is difficult to stand and walk, and constant attention is needed to place each step and keep balanced, otherwise there is tottering and stumbling (the Being does not do drugs or alcohol of course). Practical matters of shopping, paying bills, household chores, etc. are being carried out, but with difficulty, and always in this otherworldly state of Supreme Bliss. The Being is barely in this physical vehicle. There is the experience of constant, indescribable Inner Music “playing” within.
When I read this amazing work, The Secret Doctrine, the Bliss is greatly intensified and the experience of being dissolved in the Inner Music is becoming overwhelming. The intellect does not even remotely understand most of what is written in The Secret Doctrine, but the Essence is what can only be described as Supremely delicious. But not in any physical sense.
The Being in the midst of this experience has posted the above in this Forum for possible feedback or sharing of similar experiences. This experience is counted as Sacred and at the same time Universal. Intensely personal as this is, it does not “belong” exclusively to the Being. Hard to explain. It needs to be shared, but with reverence, not for the Being of course, but for the Ultimate Source expressed. It is requested that this experience be respected as such.
It is with heartfelt wishes that all Beings can experience this state of Supreme Peace that this experience is shared.