Studies in the Secret Doctrine:
The Message of H.P.B.
In the first series of these studies an attempt was made to draw the attention of the reader to the important fact that the message of H.P.B.’s Secret Doctrine was not new, nor did it stand alone. This is a basic principle; without a clear understanding of it, the student of Theosophy is bound to go astray.
If history has taught any lesson it has certainly taught this: every genuine spiritual Message has suffered corruption at the hands of well-meaning but non-intuitive and therefore non-spiritual followers of the Messenger. Such have blundered into separating the Message and the Messenger; in proceeding from the latter to the former; in examining the former in the light of the life-activities of the latter, instead of studying these life-activities in terms of the Message. In the Theosophical Movement of our age history repeats itself and anyone who cares to do so can draw the parallel of its events in the early centuries of the Christian era. The pure teachings of Jesus, which influenced the three cultures of Egypt, Greece and Judea, met the ancient enemy very soon after the passing of the Teacher. The quarrels of Peter and Paul, compromises fatal to the pure Teachings, the hunt for heretics, the rise of Ammonius Saccas and his school are all reproduced in our own Theosophical Movement. What then took more than three hundred years has now been repeated on a higher spiral within half a century. The same story can be told of other Theosophic impulsions; the same drama can be seen enacted elsewhere in other eras.
To make adequate use of that lesson of history in the interests of the pure Teachings of H.P.B., for the preservation in as complete an integrity as is possible for imperfect human nature, no better course can be adopted than to point out reiteratedly this basic principle, to warn ourselves and our co-students against the pitfalls and dangers hinted at above.
The aim of the first series of studies was to show the Message of The Secret Doctrine as ancient and eternal — the latest link in a chain, ever lengthening from the far-off, immemorial past, to a far-off inconceivable future. Its predecessors were links in the chain and all the links were composed of the same substance, however different the outer form and shape of each link. The purpose was to make clear beyond doubt that the Wisdom-Religion is the immortal ego reincarnating periodically in the world of matter, and that it is fatal to mistake the garment of flesh for the pure soul.
The book, The Secret Doctrine, is a ray of the SECRET DOCTRINE, eternal and unevolving, constant and unchanging, consistent and unvarying. The soul and substance of the SECRET DOCTRINE have to be looked for in the body of The Secret Doctrine, with its material organs and organisms. Not the soul in its completion, nor the substance in its entirety have incarnated in the book. Further, let the student make note of the very important fact that the Message of H.P.B.’s Secret Doctrine is not her whole message. Four eternal basic principles have come into incarnation in Isis Unveiled, The Secret Doctrine, The Key to Theosophy, and The Voice of the Silence. The first is like the human voice of conscience, warning and advising us to beware of the dangers of the lower self of the world of matter; then came the monumental volumes which enlighten the human head to think spiritually. The Key to Theosophy enables our hands to act in terms of that thinking, and, lest one-sided activity engendered should push the student into exaggerations, The Voice of the Silence was given.
A proper study of the soul and substance of these four works will not only enable the student to assign proper valuations to the material in which they clothe themselves, but will also help him to appraise H.P.B.’s innumerable articles, descriptive narratives of strange happenings in strange caves and jungles of this world, and thrilling reports of nightmares in the world of dreams. Just as to understand the nature of the soul of one life is to understand the nature of the same soul in other lives, so also a proper valuation of the soul and substance of H.P.B.’s Message brings a correct appreciation of the nature of the Wisdom-Religion — the undying SECRET DOCTRINE.
It is necessary to emphasize the fact of the coherent kinship existing between the different writings of H.P.B. A ludicrous view prevails that there are serious mistakes and significant omissions in Isis Unveiled. On the other hand how many are there who, in studying or applying the golden precepts of The Voice of the Silence, bear in mind the serious and significant fact divulged in the preface of that little volume, that less than half of these deep and profound sayings have been sung? The student of today has to guard himself against certain disadvantages under which he is laboring. During the lifetime of H. P. Blavatsky, and especially after her passing, false notions, wrong thoughts and incorrect teachings — all inconsistent in themselves — have sprung up. Exactly as we suffer from wrong habits contracted in childhood, modern students of Theosophy labor in an atmosphere charged with notions and innovations. One of these is the peculiar heresy of separateness between the component parts of a complete whole — the division made between the books of H.P.B. The process leads to its inevitable nemesis — division between the Message and the Messenger, and then, alas! between different sets of life-activities of the Messenger herself, so that by turn Isis “full of mistakes” is pitted against The Secret Doctrine which is found “inconsistent,” and H.P.B. is parceled into white, grey and black — the spiritual teacher, the questionable medium and the fraudulent trickster, rolled into one.
Therefore, it is essential to strike a note of warning against this prevailing heresy. H.P.B.’s Message is consistent in itself, provided, of course, that the whole Message is taken as a unit; secondly, between that Message and the Messenger, there subsists a consistency. In the first series was labored the point of H.P.B.’s Message being an incarnation of the Ageless Wisdom, in harmony with its previous incarnations. The object of the present series is to show the dovetailing of the teachings of all the writings of H.P.B.The Secret Doctrine cannot be comprehended without an adequate understanding of Isis Unveiled and other writings from the same pen.
Isis Unveiled is a much neglected study. If for many The Secret Doctrine has remained a sealed mystery, or if, for an equally large number of readers, it is but an abracadabra, one of the chief reasons is this neglect of the previous work — a veritable Forerunner, a magnificent “attempt to aid the student to detect the vital principles which underlie the philosophical systems of old.”
My chief and only object was to bring into prominence that the basic and fundamental principles of every exoteric religion and philosophy, old or new, were from first to last but the echoes of the primeval “Wisdom-Religion.” (“Mistaken Notions on the ‘Secret Doctrine’” by H.P.B., Lucifer, June, 1890.)
Though the very opening sentences of Isis clearly indicate the real source from which its contents were derived, though the Volumes are replete with equally clear testimony of the part of the Adepts in its composition, the facts have been ignored or overlooked by students. Consider the following statements:
We may well be taxed with too loose and careless a mode of expression, with a misuse of the foreign language in which we write, with leaving too much unsaid and depending unwarrantably upon the imperfectly developed intuition of the reader. But there never was, nor can there be, any radical discrepancy between the teachings in “Isis” and those of this later period, as both proceed from one and the same source — the ADEPT BROTHERS. (“Seeming ‘Discrepancies’”, The Theosophist, June, 1882.)
While writing Isis, we were not permitted to enter into details; hence — the vague generalities. We are told to do so now — and we do as we are commanded. (“‘Isis Unveiled’ and the ‘Theosophist’ on Reincarnation,” by H.P.B., The Theosophist, August, 1882.)
Although, in view of the later more minute renderings of the esoteric doctrines, it is quite immaterial what may have been written in Isis — an encyclopedia of occult subjects in which each of these is hardly sketched — let it be known at once, that the writer maintains the correctness of every word given out upon the subject in my earlier volumes. (“Theories about Reincarnation and Spirits,” by H.P.B., The Path, November, 1886.)
And what I say and maintain is this: Save the direct quotations and the many afore specified and mentioned misprints, errors and misquotations, and the general make-up of Isis Unveiled, for which I am in no way responsible, (a) every word of information found in this work or in my later writings, comes from the teachings of our Eastern Masters; and (b) that many a passage in these works has been written by me under their dictation. In saying this no supernatural claim is urged, for nomiracle is performed by such a dictation. (“My Books,” by H.P.B., Lucifer, May, 1891.)
These statements ought to urge any reader on to a vigorous study of Isis Unveiled. The same in reference to the Key, which is a book of practical application, as it deals with principles in the light of which our own actions can be directed along the lines laid down. Similarly, in reference to the Voice. The Secret Doctrine cannot be comprehended unless the life is lived according to the golden precepts. Let us see if a system cannot be elaborated for such a study, as recommended by her in “Mistaken Notions on the ‘Secret Doctrine,’” to find out the relationship which exists between Isis and The Secret Doctrine. The former clears the ground of the weeds and dead roots of science and theology. It hints at, suggests and in several places conclusively shows the danger which awaits their sickly and deformed child — spiritualistic and psychical research which inherits the bigotry, conceit and materialism of its father, science, the fanaticism, credulity and superstition of its mother, “revealed” religion. Isis Unveiled is written on the basis that “the next best thing to learning what is true is to ascertain what is not true.” These Volumes show what is false in science, in religion, in psychical phenomena, and thus uncover what is genuine and noble and true. It prepares us to receive “all that can be given out to the world in this century,” which is done in The Secret Doctrine. Just as in Isis exposure of mistakes and falsehoods unveils some wonderful truths, so also in The Secret Doctrine, through the constructive and positive teachings are laid bare the fictions and defects of all three — science, religion and spiritualism. Science deals with Nature primarily; theology with man; each deals partially with both nature and man. Thus science deals with matter and makes man its product. Theology deals with soul, unrelated to material evolution. The psychical creeds are superphysical in their materialism, and unscientific in their dogmatic belief. The cosmogenesis and the anthropogenesis of The Secret Doctrine remove these absurdities and teach how man is part of Nature — which is material, intellectual and spiritual — matter which is living, intelligence which is evolving and spirit which is ensouling — these three making the substance of space, beginningless and endless in manifestation which is periodic. The higher science of living matter, the true psychism of man, the Thinker, the noble religion of Universal Immortality, to which man and matter alike are subservient — these are the sacred themes of the Message of H.P.B.
To study with her these holy subjects so that our minds may be knit closer together and all feel the beneficence and the grace of our common immortality, and realize, however dimly, that within us is the Secret Doctrine — to that great task and noble enterprise all are invited. To learn from the Message of H.P.B. is possible only as we serve it and the present task is, then, to inspire as many as possible to participate in the vindication and recognition of The Secret Doctrine. This can only be done as earnest minds ponder over its contents, and earnest hearts grow aflame to serve.