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H.P. Blavatsky's First Book
ISIS UNVEILED is stated on its title-page to be "a master-key to the mysteries of ancient and modern science and theology." In the body of the work there are said to be seven of these keys to the mysteries of nature and of man, of which one only is given. The volumes are dedicated to "The Theosophical Society which was founded to study the subjects on which they treat." By comparing the work with the three Objects of the Society a clear light may be had on the method of treatment employed. Volume I has for its general subject "Science," and in that respect relates strictly to the "third object." Volume II is entitled "Theology," and relates to the "second object." Since both science and theology relate to the great objects of human inquiry the treatment is interwoven and interblended throughout. And as all inquiry presents two general poles, the ascertainment of facts and the consideration of their meaning and relations, so "Isis" takes up the acquisitions of modern scientific research and the theories and hypotheses built up to account for ascertained physical phenomena. In the same way the revelations and claims of the various religions, particularly the Christian, are examined, and their theologies (or theories to account for metaphysical phenomena) are analyzed. The work is necessarily addressed to the most open-minded of the race, and the method pursued is necessarily adapted to the limitations of those minds. It is not so much the introduction of new evidence that is attempted, as the partial presentation of an entirely new (to Western minds) hypothesis to explain the evidence that already exists in the general fund of human experience, the discoveries of science and the religious history of mankind. In the course of the work it is demonstrated over and over again that the dogmas of the sects are not only mutually contradictory and destructive, but, as well, that sound philosophical principles, correct logic, and the proved facts of modern science are in direct and overwhelming opposition to the claims and pretensions of theology. The same method of examination is also applied to the "working hypotheses" of modern science, and the various theories are tested out by comparison, one with another, all with the facts of experience, and it is conclusively established that, no more than theology, can the philosophy of modern science stand the light of searching investigation. The believer in theology or science is furthermore shown by masses of indisputable testimony that certain facts exist and always have existed, which are in themselves absolutely destructive alike of the claims of orthodox religion and materialistic science; that these facts have been persistently overlooked, ignored or denied, both by the votaries of "revealed religion" and of modern "exact science;" yet that these disregarded facts have at all times been uniformly testified to by the noblest minds of the race no less than by the common belief of mankind. Side by side, therefore, with the introduction of the affirmative evidence of these facts is placed the testimony of the ages as to their bearing on the great subjects of religion, philosophy and science, and the inference is drawn that there has always existed, from the remotest times, a system whose teachings in regard to nature and to man are inclusive of all things and exclusive of nothing. This system Madame Blavatsky denominates the Hermetic philosophy, or WisdomReligion, and declares that her work and mission are a "plea for the recognition of the Wisdom-Religion as the only possible key to the Absolute in science and theology." The work itself is the evidence that she uses the word "plea" in its strictly legal and forensic sense. "Isis" contains the testimony, the analysis of the evidence, the arguments, and the citations of principles, laws and precedents. The work is "submitted to public judgment" upon its inherent reasonableness as to its conclusions, its verifiable accuracy as to the facts, and not upon any assumed authority, any claimed revelation, any arbitrary hypothesis.
Turning ever and anon from the purely inductive method which characterizes the work generally, Madame Blavatsky submits some of the principal tenets of the Wisdom-Religion, which she names THEOSOPHY, and shows that there is more than ample ground, from evidence accessible to the general student, to justify the statements she makes, that the Wisdom-Religion underlies and antedates every religion, every philosophy, every system of thought, every science, known to mankind, and that all these have in point of fact sprung from periodical impartations of portions of the Secret Doctrines by its Adept custodians. "Isis" is in no sense put forward by its writer, however, as an inference, a revelation, or a speculation, although the burden of its mighty contents is necessarily largely assumed to prove that the existence of Adepts and a Wisdom-Religion is the unavoidable inference from the testimony; the prior missions and messages of great Adepts the indubitable source of the great religions and the common belief in gods, saviors and redeemers; their teachings regarding the "mysteries" the real fountain whence have been drawn the materials for the philosophical and ethical treatises of the great writers of all times. And with regard to the much vaunted progress of modern science she shows that everywhere, from the remotest antiquity, there are abundant indications that the arts and sciences as re-discovered in our times, were known and practiced by the "wise men of old;" furthermore, that much was "known" to the ancients of certain sciences and arts now "unknown" even to the most advanced science and scientists of our day. And although religion, philosophy and science became in time polluted with purely human speculations and fancies, "Isis" shows that this does not alter the fact that they all started originally as clear and unadulterated streams from the mother-source. What was originally a teaching depending on knowledge and inspiration degenerated in time into mere dogmas and speculations; what was originally a Teacher of primeval truths became in time an object of veneration and worship as a god or a divine incarnation. With these considerations in mind something may be grasped of the epochal importance of Madame Blavatsky's first great work, and of the leading statements of Occultism embodied in it. Although "Isis Unveiled" has been before the world for nearly half a century few, even among Theosophists, have as yet assimilated more than a few crumbs from this "storehouse of thought." The plan of the work is early stated. The object is not to force upon the public the personal views or theories of the author, nor does it aim at creating a revolution in some department of thought: "It is rather a brief summary of the religions, philosophies, universal traditions of human kind, and the exegesis of the same, in the spirit of those secret doctrines, of which none -- thanks to prejudice and bigotry -- have reached Christendom in so unmutilated a form as to secure it a fair judgment. Hence the unmerited contempt into which the study of the noblest of sciences -- that of the spiritual man -- has gradually fallen. "In undertaking to inquire into the assumed infallibility of Modern Science and Theology, the author has been forced, even at the risk of being thought discursive, to make constant comparison of the ideas, achievements, and pretensions of their representatives with those of the ancient philosophies and religious teachers. Things the most widely separated as to time have thus been brought into immediate juxtaposition, for only thus could the priority and parentage of discoveries and dogmas be determined. In discussing the merits of our scientific contemporaries, their own confessions of failure in experimental research, of baffling mysteries, of missing links in their chains of theory, of inability to comprehend natural phenomena, of ignorance of the laws of the causal world, have furnished the basis for the present study. Especially we will review the speculations and policy of noted authorities in connection with those modern psychological phenomena (Spiritualism) which began at Rochester and have now overspread the world. We wish to show
how inevitable were their innumerable failures, and how they must continue until these pretended authorities go to the Brahmins and Lamaists of the far Orient, and respectfully ask them to impart the alphabet of true science. "Deeply sensible of the Titanic struggle that is now in progress between materialism and the spiritual aspirations of mankind, our constant endeavor has been to gather into our several chapters, like weapons into armories, every fact and argument that can be used to aid the latter in defeating the former. Sickly and deformed child as it now is, the materialism of Today is born of the brutal Yesterday. Unless its growth is arrested it may become our master. To prevent the crushing of these spiritual aspirations, the blighting of these hopes, and the deadening of that intuition which teaches us of a God and a hereafter, we must show our false theologies in their naked deformity, and distinguish between divine religion and human dogmas. Our voice is raised for spiritual freedom, and our plea made for enfranchisement from all tyranny, whether of SCIENCE or THEOLOGY." The work plunges forthwith into the comparison of the ancient Occult tenets both with modern theological dogmas and modern scientific theories. Some of the tenets laid down are as follows: 1. The pre-existence of spiritual man clothed in a body of ethereal matter, and with the ability to commune freely with the now unseen universes. 2. An almost incredible antiquity is claimed for the human race in its various "coats of skin," and the great doctrine of Cycles of Destiny (Karma) is emphasized, as well as that these Cycles do not affect all mankind at one and the same time, thus explaining the rise and fall of civilizations and the existence at one and the same time of the most highly developed races side by side with tribes sunk in savagery. 3. A double evolution, spiritual and intellectual as well as physical, is postulated whose philosophy alone can reconcile spirit and matter and cause each to demonstrate the other mathematically. 4. The doctrine of the Metempsychosis of the spiritual and mental Man is given as the key which will supply every missing link in the theories of the modern evolutionists, as well as the mysteries of the various religions. The lower orders of evolution are declared to have emanated from higher spiritual ones before they develop. It is affirmed that if men of science and theologians had properly understood the doctrine of Metempsychosis in its application to the indestructibility of matter and the immortality of spirit it would have been perceived that this doctrine is a sublime conception. It is demonstrated that there has not been a philosopher of any note who did not hold to this doctrine of Metempsychosis as taught by the Brahmins, Buddhists, and later by the Pythagoreans and the Gnostics, in its esoteric sense. For lack of comprehension of this great philosophical principle the methods of modern science, however exact, must end in nullity. 5. The ancients knew far more concerning certain sciences than our modern savants have yet discovered. Magic is as old as man. The calculations of the ancients applied equally to the spiritual progress of humanity as to the physical. Magic was considered a divine science which led to a participation in the attributes of Divinity itself. "As above, so it is below. That which has been will return again. As in heaven, so on earth." The revolution of the physical world is attended by a like revolution in the world of intellect -- the spiritual evolution proceeding in cycles, like the physical one. The great kingdoms and empires of the world, after reaching the culmination of their greatness, descend again, in accordance with the same law by which they ascended; till, having reached the lowest point, humanity reasserts itself and mounts up once more, the height
of its attainment being, by this law of ascending progression by cycles, somewhat higher than the point from which it had before descended. 6. "Too many of our thinkers do not consider that the numerous changes in language, the allegorical phrases and evident secretiveness of old Mystic writers, who were generally under an obligation never to divulge the solemn secrets of the sanctuary, might have sadly misled translators and commentators. One day they may learn to know better, and so become aware that the method of extreme necessarianism was practiced in ancient as well as in modern philosophy; that from the first ages of man, the fundamental truths of all that we are permitted to know on earth was in the safe keeping of the adepts of the sanctuary; that the difference in creeds and religious practice was only external; and that those guardians of the primitive divine revelation, who had solved every problem that is within the grasp of human intellect, were bound together by a universal freemasonry of science and philosophy, which formed one unbroken chain around the globe." 7. The first chapter of Volume I, from which we have extracted the several statements which we have here numbered for their better massing and comprehension, closes with a forecast, drawn from the study of the past: "The moment is more opportune than ever for the review of old philosophies. Archaeologists, philologists, astronomers, chemists and physicists are getting nearer to the point where they will be forced to consider them. Physical science has already reached its limits of exploration; dogmatic theology sees the springs of its inspiration dry. Unless we mistake the signs, the day is approaching when the world will receive the proofs that only ancient religions were in harmony with nature, and ancient science embraced all that can be known. Who knows the possibilities of the future? An era of disenchantment and rebuilding will soon begin -- nay, has already begun. The cycle has almost run its course; a new one is about to begin, and the future pages of history may contain full evidence, and convey full proof that 'If ancestry can be in aught believed, Descending spirits have conversed with man, And told him secrets of the world unknown.' If we turn now to the twelfth and last chapter of Volume II of "Isis," we shall be confronted with an introductory paragraph, also prophetic at the time of its writing, now all too truly a matter of both theosophical and profane history. She there says, "It would argue small discernment on our part were we to suppose that we have been followed thus far through this work by any but metaphysicians, or mystics of some sort. Were it otherwise, we should certainly advise such to spare themselves the trouble of reading this chapter; for, although nothing is said that is not strictly true, they would not fail to regard the least wonderful of the narratives as absolutely false, however substantiated." The chapter follows with a recapitulation of the principles of natural law, covered by the fundamental propositions of the Oriental philosophy as successively elucidated in the course of the work. She states them in numbered order as follows: 1st. There is no miracle. Everything that happens is the result of law -- eternal, immutable, ever-active. This "immutable law" is frequently referred to throughout the volumes under such terms as cycles, the "law of
compensation," Karma, "self-made destiny," and so on. Its mode of operation is incessantly discussed in treating of the rise and fall of civilizations, successive races of men, earth transformations, the three-fold principle of evolution, Spiritual, Mental, and Physical; the compound nature of man and the universe; and in such terminology as pre-existence, metempsychosis, transmigration, reincarnation, transformation, permutation, emanation, immortality, and after death states and conditions. Constant effort is made to keep before the reader the unvarying principle that spiritual and mental evolution proceeds apace with physical manifestations, and stands to physical evolution in the relation of cause to effect. This is all summarized in proposition 2nd. Nature is triune: there is a visible, objective nature; an invisible, indwelling, energizing nature, the exact model of the other, and its vital principle; and, above these two, spirit, source of all forces, alone eternal and indestructible. The lower two constantly change; the higher third does not. This universal postulate is then applied specifically to human nature and evolution in proposition 3rd. Man is also triune; he has his objective, physical body, his vitalizing astral body (or soul), the real man; and these two are brooded over and illuminated by the third -- the sovereign, the immortal spirit. When the real man succeeds in merging himself with the latter, he becomes an immortal entity. The argument throughout the two large volumes of "Isis" is always that such mergence or union is possible and is the underlying purpose of all evolution; that such beings as Jesus, Buddha and others had in fact arrived at this consummation, and that the real mission of the Founders of all religions is to point mankind to the purpose of mental and spiritual evolution, and give the directions and conditions precedent to the "perfectibility of man." Such exalted beings are by H. P. Blavatsky variously called the sages, the adepts, the Great Souls of all time. Their knowledge of nature and of nature's laws is called in its entirety the Wisdom-Religion, and its practical exemplification is summarized in proposition 4th. Magic, as a science, is the knowledge of these principles, and of the way by which the omniscience and omnipotence of the spirit and its control over nature's forces may be acquired by the individual while still in the body. Magic, as an art, is the application of this knowledge in practice. Granting that great powers exist in nature, and that the conscious control over these powers by metaphysical means may be attained by the incarnated being, it follows that such control may be exercised beneficently or maleficently. Arcane knowledge misapplied is sorcery, or "Black Magic;" beneficently used, true Magic or WISDOM. In either case it constitutes Adeptship, whether of the Right or the Left-hand Path. This is the 5th proposition, and the text of the two volumes contain almost numberless direct and indirect references to celebrated characters in history, tradition and myth who exemplified the two characters of Adeptship. 6th. This proposition sets forth that Mediumship is the opposite of Adeptship. Whereas the Adept actively controls himself and all inferior potencies, the Medium is the passive instrument of foreign influences. There is no more important practical theorem in the whole work. Many, many pages are devoted to discussion of the characteristics, tendencies, practices and fruits of mediumship. Its phenomena, objective and subjective, are dealt with at length. Spiritualism, or mediumship, is shown to have been prevalent in all ages, no matter under what names known, and its recurrence, whether in individual cases or amongst masses of men, is shown to be subject to cyclic law, now more generally known to Theosophical students under its Sanskrit designation of Karma. In Mediumship, as in Adeptship, it is shown that there are two polar antitheses, dependent on the moral character of the medium for the quality and range no less than the effects, good or bad, of its exercise.
The remaining numbered propositions of the last chapter of Volume II will be considered in another connection later on, but their essential nature and implications are contained in the following sentences, without the basic apprehension of which no inquiry into Theosophy and the Theosophical Movement can be fruitful of understanding, however it may afford information: "To sum up all in a few words, MAGIC is spiritual WISDOM; nature, the material ally, pupil and servant of the magician. One common vital principle pervades all things, and this is controllable by the perfected human will. The adept can stimulate the movements of the natural forces in plants and animals in a preternatural degree. Such experiments are not obstructions of nature, but quickenings; the conditions of intenser vital action are given. "The adept can control the sensations and alter the conditions of the physical and astral bodies of other persons not adepts; he can also govern and employ, as he chooses, the spirits of the elements. He cannot control the immortal spirit of any human being, living or dead, for all such spirits are alike sparks of the Divine Essence, and not subject to any foreign domination." The restrictions with which the information conveyed in "Isis" is hedged about, both from the standpoint of the teacher endeavoring to impart and the inquirer endeavoring to learn, and the dangers, known or unknown to the latter, are indicated towards the close of the chapter: "By those who have followed us thus far, it will naturally be asked, to what practical issue this book tends; much has been said about magic and its potentiality, much of the immense antiquity of its practice. Do we wish to affirm that the occult sciences ought to be studied and practiced throughout the world? Would we replace modern spiritualism with the ancient magic? Neither; the substitution could not be made, nor the study universally prosecuted without incurring the risk of enormous public dangers. "We would have neither scientists, theologians nor spiritualists turn practical magicians, but all to realize that there was true science, profound religion, and genuine phenomena before this modern era. We would that all who have a voice in the education of the masses should first know and then teach that the safest guides to human happiness and enlightenment are those writings which have descended to us from the remotest antiquity; and that nobler spiritual aspirations and a higher average morality prevail in the countries where the people have taken their precepts as the rule of their lives. We would have all to realize that magical, i.e., spiritual powers exist in every man, and those few to practice them who feel called to teach, and are ready to pay the price of discipline and self-conquest which their development exacts. "Many men have arisen who had glimpses of the truth, and fancied they had it all. Such have failed to achieve the good they might have done and sought to do, because vanity has made them thrust their personality into such undue prominence as to interpose it between their believers and the whole truth that lay behind. The world needs no sectarian church, whether of Buddha, Jesus, Mahomet, Swedenborg, Calvin, or any other. There being but ONE Truth, man requires but one church -- the Temple of God within us, walled in by matter but penetrable by any one who can find the way; the pure in heart see God. "The trinity of nature is the lock of magic, the trinity of man the key that fits it. Within the solemn precincts of the sanctuary the SUPREME had and has no name. It is unthinkable and unpronounceable; and yet every man finds in himself his god.
"Besides, there are many good reasons why the study of magic, except in its broad philosophy, is nearly impracticable in Europe and America. Magic being what it is, the most difficult of all sciences to learn experimentally -- its acquisition is, practically, beyond the reach of the majority of white-skinned people; and that, whether their effort is made at home or in the East. Probably not more than one man in a million of European blood is fitted -- either physically, morally, or psychologically -- to become a practical magician, and not one in ten millions would be found endowed with all these three qualifications as required for the work. Unlike other sciences, a theoretical knowledge of formulae without mental capacities or soul powers, is utterly useless in magic. The spirit must hold in complete subjection the combativeness of what is loosely termed educated reason, until facts have vanquished cold human sophistry." The concluding pages of "Isis" recites that those best prepared to appreciate occultism are the spiritualists, although, through prejudice, they have hitherto been the bitterest opponents to its introduction to public notice. She sums up thus: "Despite all foolish negations and denunciations, their phenomena are real. Despite, also, their own assertions they are wholly misunderstood by themselves. The totally insufficient theory of the constant agency of disembodied human spirits in their production has been the bane of the Cause. A thousand mortifying rebuffs have failed to open their reason or intuition to the truth. Ignoring the teachings of the past, they have discovered no substitute. We offer them philosophical deduction instead of unverifiable hypothesis, scientific analysis and demonstration instead of undiscriminating faith. Occult philosophy gives them the means of meeting the reasonable requirements of science, and frees them from the humiliating necessity to accept the oracular teachings of 'intelligences,' which as a rule have less intelligence than a child at school. So based and so strengthened, modern phenomena would be in a position to command the attention and enforce the respect of those who carry with them public opinion. Without invoking such help, spiritualism must continue to vegetate, equally repulsed -- not without cause -- both by scientists and theologians. In its modern aspect it is neither a science, a religion, nor a philosophy." With this outline of the teaching of Occultism as contained in "Isis Unveiled;" its overwhelming arraignment out of the mouths of their own exponents, of the religion, science, and philosophy of the day; its outspoken treatment of dogmatic Christianity, of materialistic hypotheses, of the phenomena and theories of spiritualism, the student can begin to comprehend the enormous difficulties faced by H.P.B. in gaining a foothold for the Theosophical Society and a hearing for her teachings of Theosophy. Her task was not that of a teacher in a kindergarten: to meet and lead plastic and unsullied minds eager with interest, unburdened with preconceptions, into new and delightful paths of occupation and learning. Far from it. Rather it was that of the alienist in a mad world, its insane and unsane inhabitants soaked through and through with their several illusions and delusions, each profoundly certain of the wholesomeness and value of his own particular mania, profoundly convinced of the hallucination of all others; each looking at the phenomena of life through the distorted lenses of fundamental misconceptions. Regardless of names and forms, she had to reckon with the fact, from the standpoint of the teachings of Occultism, that everywhere, without a solitary exception, the men of the Western world were fast fixed in false beliefs, taking that to be the Eternal which is not eternal; that to be Soul which is not soul; that to be Pure which is impure; that to be good which is evil. With this corrupted and perverted mind of the race she had to deal, to take it as she found it, to destroy while seeming to create, to create while seeming to destroy. She had to adopt and employ the nomenclature of false religion, false philosophy, false science, false psychology, to inject into it ideas that would infallibly rupture the very foundations upon which Western civilization is builded, while still so safe-guarding her patients that
the civilization should not be wrecked while re-creating its foundations. She had to save whole the life while destroying the very elements upon which it was depending for nutriment. Great as are the difficulties of the physician of the body, they are as nothing to the burden of the physician of souls. She came into a world all mad and intent on the employment as food and medicaments of the very poisons and intoxicants of the soul that have wrecked every prior great civilization. She had to use the old labels, the old formulas and prescriptions, while substituting and compounding ingredients that, if suspected, would have been rejected forthwith and out of hand by those she came but to serve. Looking back from the present basis of tolerated if not accepted ideas, it is only by the contrast that the supreme miracle of her wisdom can be even faintly sensed. The identity of man with the Supreme Spirit, the doctrine of Cycles, the law of Compensation, spiritual and intellectual as well as physical evolution, inherent immortality, metempsychosis, the Spiritual Brotherhood of all beings, Adepts as the culmination of the triple evolutionary scheme in Nature; Spirit and Matter as the eternal dual presentment of evolving Consciousness, the polar aspects of the One Essence -- all these great and supreme ideas she and none other restored to a vital place in human thought. The words existed -- mummied forms from the by-gone Past, wrapped in the thousand cerements and grave-cloths of the sects. As in the Talmudic legend, she breathed upon the clay, breathed into it the breath of life. Or, better, as in the story of Joseph, she made the dead come forth from the tomb, clothed in the habiliments in which the living dead had buried him against a far-off impossible resurrection. H. P. Blavatsky raised the dead, reincarnated the Soul, restored the Spirit to a living issue in a Mind hopelessly enmeshed in Matter as the only reality. Much has been written by Theosophists -- those who owe their all to her and her work -- that the H.P.B. of 1875 was not the H.P.B. of later days; that she, like themselves, was but a student, stumbling, halting, groping, finding her way through failures and mistakes; that it was only in later years that she came to learn of this, of that, of reincarnation among other matters; that many contradictions will be found in "Isis" when compared with her final teachings. C'est pour rire! The inquirer into facts and philosophies has but to read "Isis," to annotate its teachings, to compare them with all her subsequent multifarious writings to see and know for himself beyond all doubts and beyond all peradventure, that the teachings of "Isis" are her unchanging teachings; that not in jot or in tittle is there a contradiction or a disagreement in all she ever wrote; that in "Isis" are the foundational and fundamental statements of Occultism, and all her later writings but extensions, ramifications, the orderly development and unfolding of what is both explicit and implicit in "Isis Unveiled." And that wholesome study and comparison will do more: it will give the student a solid and impregnable standard from which to survey the real nature and character of the Avatar of the nineteenth century; a criterion by which, as well, truly to measure the understanding, the nature and the development of those disciples, students and followers of H.P.B. of whom she might well have repeated in the words of Blake on "certain friends:" "I found them blind; I taught them how to see; And now they neither know themselves nor me." The facts being ascertained, and some faint perception of their significance being grasped, the student needs no interpreter and guide to tell him that obstacles, opposition, misunderstanding, contumely, hatred and
misrepresentation of her and her mission were the necessary and unavoidable concomitants of every step in the progress of the Theosophical Society, its students, its propagandum, no less than in the path of her whose mission it was to be their "presiding deity." The chief of these difficulties in the first decade of the Movement have now to be considered.
by Alvin Boyd Kuhn
[Originally published in Theosophy: A Modern Revival of Ancient Wisdom by Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Chapter V, pp. 115-146. An online edition of the entire book is available as well as a paperback reprint edition by Kessinger Publishing.]
One morning in the summer of 1875 Madame Blavatsky showed her colleague some sheets of manuscript which she had written. She explained: "I wrote this last night 'by order,' but what the deuce it is to be I don't know. Perhaps it is for a newspaper article, perhaps for a book, perhaps for nothing: anyhow I did as I was ordered." She put it away in a drawer and nothing more was said about it for some months. In September of that year she went to Syracuse on a visit to Prof. and Mrs. Hiram Corson, of Cornell University, and while there she began to expand the few original pages. She wrote back to Olcott in New York that "she was writing about things she had never studied and making quotations from books she had never read in all her life; that, to test her accuracy Prof. Corson had compared her quotations with classical works in the University Library and had found her to be right” She had never undertaken any extensive literary production in her life and her unfamiliarity with English at this time was a real handicap. When she returned to the city Olcott took two suites of rooms at 433 West 34th Street, and there she set to work to expound the rudiments of her great science. From 1875 to 1877 she worked with unremitting energy, sitting from morning until night at her desk. In the evenings, after his day's professional labors, Olcott came to her help, aiding her with the English and with the systematic arrangement of the heterogeneous mass of material that poured forth. Later Dr. Alexander Wilder, the Neo-Platonic scholar, helped her with the spelling of the hundreds of classical philological terms she employed. But Madame Blavatsky wrote the book, Isis Unveiled. After the first flush of its popularity it has been forgotten, outside of Theosophic circles. Even among Theosophists, or at any rate in the largest organic group of the Theosophical Society, the book is hardly better known than in the world at large. During the last twenty-five years there has been a tendency in the Society to read expositions of Madame Blavatsky's ponderous volumes rather than the original presentation; neophytes in the organization have been urged to pass up these books as being too recondite and abstruse. It has even been hinted that many things are better understood now than when the Founder wrote, and that certain crudities of dogma and inadequacies of presentation can be avoided by perusing the commentary literature. As a result of this policy the percentage of Theosophic students who know exactly what Madame Blavatsky wrote over fifty years ago is quite small. Thousands of members of the Theosophical Society have grown old in the cult's activities and have never read the volumes that launched the cult ideas. Isis must not, however, be regarded as a text-book on Theosophy. The Secret Doctrine, issued ten years later, has a better claim to that title. Isis makes no formulation, certainly not a systematic one, of the creed of occultism. It is far from being an elucidation or exegesis of the basic principles of what is now known as Theosophy. Isis makes no attempt to organize the whole field of human and divine knowledge, as does The Secret Doctrine. It merely points to the evidence for the existence of that knowledge, and only dimly suggests
the outlines of the cosmic scheme in which it must be made to fit. It is in a sense a panoramic survey of the world literature out of which she essayed in part to draw the system of Theosophy. If Theosophy is to be found in Isis, it is there in seminal form, not in organic expression. Perhaps it were better to say that the book prepared the soil for the planting of Madame Blavatsky's later teaching. Her impelling thought was to reveal the traces, in ancient and medieval history and literature, of a secret science whose principles had been lost to view. She aimed to show that the most vital science mankind had ever controlled had sunk further below general recognition now than in any former times. She would relight the lamp of that archaic wisdom, which would illuminate the darkness of modern scientific pride. Her work, then, was to make a restatement of the occult doctrine with its ancient attestations. This was a gigantic task. It meant little short of a thorough search in the entire field of ancient religion, philosophy, and science, with an eye to the discernment of the mystery tradition, teachings, and practices wherever manifested; and then the collation, correlation, and systematic presentation of this multifarious material in something like a structural unity. The many legends of mystic power, the hundreds of myths and fables, were to be traced to ancient rites, whose far-off symbolism threw light on their significance. It would be not merely an encyclopedia of the whole mythical life of the race, but a digest and codification, so to speak, of the entire mass into a system breathing intelligible meaning and common sense. Her task, in a word, was to redeem the whole ancient world from the modern stigma of superstition, crude ignorance, and childish imagination. In view of the immensity of her undertaking we are forced to wonder whence came the self-assurance that led her to believe she could successfully achieve it. She was sadly deficient in formal education; her opportunities for scholarship and research had been limited; her command of the English language was imperfect. Yet her actual accomplishment pointed to her possession of capital and resources the existence of which has furnished the ground for much of the mystery now enshrouding her life. There seems to be an obvious discrepancy between her qualifications and her product, to account for which diverse theories have been adduced. Just how, when and where Madame Blavatsky gained her acquaintance with practically the entire field of ancient religions, philosophies, and science, is a query which probably can never be satisfactorily answered. The history of many portions of her life before 1873 is unrecorded. We do not know when or where she studied ancient literature. Books from which she quoted were not within her reach when she wrote Isis. Can her knowledge be attributed to a phenomenal memory? Olcott does say: "She constantly drew upon a memory stored with a wealth of recollections of personal perils and adventures and of knowledge of occult science, not merely unparalleled, but not even approached by any other person who had ever appeared in America, so far as I have heard."2 Throughout the two volumes of Isis there are frequent allusions to or actual passages from ancient writings, a list of which includes the following: The Codex Nazareus; the Zohar, the great Kabbalistic work of the Jews; Chaldean3 Oracles; Chaldean Book of Numbers; Psellus' Works; Zoroastrian Oracles; Magical and Philosophical Precepts of Zoroaster; Egyptian Book of the Dead; Books of Hermes; Quiché Cosmogony; Book of Jasher; Kabala of the Tanaim; Sepher Jezira; Book of Wisdom of Schlomah (Solomon); Secret Treatise on Mukta and Badha; The Stangyour of the Tibetans; Desatir (pseudo-Persian4); Orphic Hymns;
Sepher Toldos Jeshu (Hebrew MSS. of great antiquity); Laws of Manu; Book of Keys (Hermetic Work); Gospel of Nicodemus; The Shepherd of Hermas; (Spurious) Gospel of the Infancy; Gospel of St. Thomas; Book of Enoch; The History of Baarlam and Josaphat; Book of Evocations 3 The term Chaldean in these titles is thought by modern scholars to veil an actual Greek origin of the texts in question. The existence of Chaldea and Chaldeans appears to be regarded as highly uncertain. Of the Chaldeans Madame Blavatsky says in The Theosophical Glossary: "Chaldeans, or Kasdim. At first a tribe, then a caste of learned Kabbalists. They were the savants, the magians of Babylonia, astrologers and diviners." Of the Chaldean Book of Numbers she says: "A work which contains all that is found in the Zohar of Simeon BenJochai and much more. . . . It contains all the fundamental principles taught in the Jewish Kabbalistic works, but none of their blinds. It is very rare indeed, there being perhaps only two or three copies extant and these in private hands." 4 Scholars have thrown doubt on the Persian authorship of this book. Madame Blavatsky in the Glossary describes it as "a very ancient Persian work called the Book of Shet. It speaks of the thirteen Zoroasters and is very mystical." (of the Pagodas); Golden Verses of Pythagoras; various Kabbalas; Tarot of the Bohemians. In the realm of more widely-known literature, she uses material from Plato and to a minor extent, Aristotle; quotes the early Greek philosophers, Thales, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Democritus; is conversant with the Neo-Platonist representatives, Ammonius Saccas, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus and Proclus; shows familiarity with Plutarch, Philo, Apollonius of Tyana, the Gnostics, Basilides, Bardesanes, Marcion, and Valentinus. She had examined the Church Fathers, from Augustine to Justin Martyr, and was especially familiar with Irenaeus, Tertullian and Eusebius, whom she charged with having wrecked the true ancient wisdom. Beside this array she draws on the enormous Vedic, Brahmanic, Vedantic, and Buddhistic literatures; likewise the Chinese, Persian, Babylonian, "Chaldean," Syrian, and Egyptian. Nor does she neglect the ancient American contributions, such as the Popul Vuh. Her acquaintance also with the vast literature of occult magic and philosophy of the Middle Ages seems hardly less inclusive. She levies upon Averroës, Maimonides, Paracelsus, Van Helmont, Robert Fludd, Eugenius Philalethes, Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, Roger Bacon, Bruno, Pletho, Mirandolo, Henry More and many a lesser-known expounder of mysticism and magic art. She quotes incessantly from scores of compendious modern works. Because of this show of prodigious learning some students later alleged that Isis was not the work of Madame Blavatsky, but of Dr. Alexander Wilder; others declared that Col. Olcott had written it.5 __________________ 5 It is clear that Madame Blavatsky was not a literary person before the epoch of the writing of Isis. She herself, in the last article for Lucifer that she wrote before her death in 1891, entitled My Books, wrote: 1. When I came to America in 1873 I had not spoken English---which I had learned in my childhood colloquially---for over thirty years. I could understand when I read it, but could hardly speak the language. 2 I had never been at any college, and what I knew I had taught myself; I had never pretended to any scholarship in the sense of modern research; I had then hardly read any scientific European works, knew little
of Western philosophy and sciences. The little which I had studied and learned of these disgusted me with its [continued on bottom of next page]
120 There are three main sources of testimony bearing on the composition of the books: (1) Statements of her immediate associates and co-workers in the writing; (2) Her own version; (3) The evidence of critics who have traced the sources of her materials. First, there is the testimony of her colleague, Olcott, who for two years collaborated almost daily with her in the work. He says: "Whence, then, did H.P.B. draw the materials which comprise Isis and which cannot be traced to accessible literary sources of quotation? From the Astral Light, and by her soul-senses, from her Teachers---the 'Brothers,' 'Adepts,' 'Sages,' 'Masters,' as they have been variously called. How do I know it? By working two years with her on Isis and many more years on other literary work."6 He goes on: "To watch her at work was a rare and never-to-be-forgotten experience. We sat at opposite sides of one big table usually, and I could see her every movement. Her pen would be flying over the page; when she would suddenly stop, look out into space with the vacant eye of the clairvoyant seer, shorten her vision as though to look at something held invisibly in the air before her, and begin copying on the paper what she saw. The quotation finished, her eyes would resume their natural expression, and she would go on writing until again stopped by a similar interruption."7 Still more remarkable is the following: "Most perfect of all were the manuscripts which were written for her while she was sleeping. The beginning of the chapter on the civilization of ancient Egypt (Vol. I., Chapter XIV) is an illustration. We had stopped work the evening before at about 2 A.M. as usual, __________________ materialism, its limitations, narrow cut-and-dried spirit of dogmatism and air of superiority over the philosophies and sciences of antiquity. 3. Until 1874 I had never written one word in English, nor had I published any work in any language. Therefore:--4. I had not the least idea of literary rules. The art of writing books, of preparing them for print and publication, reading and correcting proofs, were so many closed secrets to me. 5. When I started to write that which later developed into Isis Unveiled, I had no more idea than the man in
the moon what would come of it. I had no plan; . . . I knew that I had to write it, that was all.---Old Diary Leaves, Vol. I, p. 223. 6 Old Diary Leaves, Vol. I, p. 208. 7 Ibid., p. 208.
121 both too tired to stop for our usual smoke and chat before parting; she almost fell asleep in her chair, while I was bidding her goodnight; so I hurried off to my bed room. The next morning, when I came down after my breakfast, she showed me a pile of at least thirty or forty pages of beautifully written H.P.B. manuscript, which, she said, she had had written for her by----------, a Master . . . It was perfect in every respect and went to the printers without revision."8 It is the theory of Olcott that the mind of H.P.B. was receptive to the impressions of three or four intelligent entities---other persons living or dead---who overshadowed her mentally, and wrote through her brain. These personages seemed to cast their sentences upon an imperceptible screen in her mind. They sometimes talked to Olcott as themselves, not as Madame Blavatsky. Their intermittent tenancy of her mind he takes as accounting for the higgledy-piggledy manner in which the book was constructed. Each had his favorite themes and the Colonel learned what kind of material to expect when one gave place to another. There was in particular, in addition to several of the Oriental "Sages," a collaborator in the person of an old Platonist---"the pure soul of one of the wisest philosophers of modern times, one who was an ornament to our race, a glory to his country." He was so engrossed in his favorite earthly pursuits of philosophy that he projected his mind into the work of Madame Blavatsky and gave her abundant aid. "He did not materialize and sit with us, nor obsess H.P.B. medium-fashion, he would simply talk with her--psychically, by the hour together, dictating copy, telling her what references to hunt up; answering my questions about details, instructing me as to principles; and, in fact, playing the part of a third person in our literary symposium. He gave me his portrait once---a rough sketch in colored crayons on flimsy paper . . . from first to last his relation to us both was that of a mild, kind, extremely learned teacher and elder friend."9 __________________ 8 Ibid., p. 211. The Countess Wachtmeister testified to similar productions of pages of manuscript in connection with the writing of The Secret Doctrine ten years later. 9 Old Diary Leaves, Vol. I. p. 239.
122 The medieval occultist Paracelsus manifested his presence for a brief time one evening. 10 At another time Madame produced two volumes necessary to verify questions which Olcott doubted.
"I went and found the two volumes wanted, which, to my knowledge, had not been in the house until that very moment. I compared the texts with H.P.B.'s quotation, showed her that I was right in my suspicions as to the error, made the proof correction, and then . . . returned the two volumes to the place on the étagère from which I had taken them. I resumed my seat and work, and when, after while, I looked again in that direction, the books had disappeared."11 As Olcott states, when one or another of these unseen monitors was in evidence, the work went on in fine fashion. But, he notes, when Madame was left entirely to her own devices, she floundered in more or less helpless ineptitude. She would write haltingly, scratch it over, make a fresh start, work herself into a fret and get nowhere. Olcott's testimony, as that of Dr. Wilder, Mr. Judge, Dr. Corson, the Countess Wachtmeister, the two Keightleys, Mr. Fawcett and all the others who at one time or another were in a position to observe Madame Blavatsky at work, must be accepted as sincere. But if anybody could be supposed to know unmistakably what was happening in her mind, that person would be the subject herself. What has she to say? She states decisively that she was not the author, only the writer of her books. In one of her home letters she says, speaking of Isis: "since neither ideas nor teachings are mine." In another letter to Madame Jelihowsky she writes: "Well, Vera, whether you believe me or not, something miraculous is happening to me. You cannot imagine in what a charmed world of pictures and vision I live. I am writing Isis; not writing, rather copying out and drawing that which She personally shows to me. Upon my word, sometimes it seems to me that the ancient __________________ 10 Ibid., p. 240. 11. Ibid., p. 210.
123 goddess of Beauty in person leads me through all the countries of past centuries which I have to describe. I sit with my eyes open and to all appearances see and hear everything real and actual around me, and yet at the same time I see and hear that which I write. I feel short of breath; I am afraid to make the slightest movement for fear the spell might be broken. Slowly century after century, image after image, float out of the distance and pass before me as if in a magic panorama; and meanwhile I put them together in my mind, fitting in epochs and dates, and know for sure that there can be no mistake. Races and nations, countries and cities, which have long disappeared in the darkness of the prehistoric past, emerge and then vanish, giving place to others; and then I am told the consecutive dates. Hoary antiquity makes way for historical periods; myths are explained to me with events and people who have really existed, and every event which is at all remarkable, every newly-turned page of this many-colored book of life, impresses itself on my brain with photographic
exactitude. My own reckonings and calculations appear to me later on as separate colored pieces of different shapes in the game which is called casse-tête (puzzles). I gather them together and try to match them one after the other, and at the end there always comes out a geometrical whole. . . . Most assuredly it is not I who do it all, but my Ego, the highest principle that lives in me. And even this with the help of my Guru and teacher who helps me in everything. If I happen to forget something I have just to address him, and another of the same kind in my thought as what I have forgotten rises once more before my eyes---sometimes whole tables of numbers passing before me, long inventories of events. They remember everything. They know everything. Without them, from whence could I gather my knowledge? I certainly refuse point blank to attribute it to my own knowledge or memory, for I could never arrive alone at either such premises or conclusions. I tell you seriously I am helped. And he who helps me is my Guru."12 In another letter to the same sister Helena assures her relative about her mental condition: "Do not be afraid that I am off my head; all I can say is that someone positively inspires me. . . . More than this; someone enters me. It is not I who talk and write; it is something within me; __________________ 12 Published in The Path, Vol. IX, p. 300.
124 my higher and luminous Self; that thinks and writes for me. Do not ask me, my friend, what I experience, because I could not explain it to you clearly. I do not know myself! The one thing I know is that now, when I am about to reach old age, I have become a sort of storehouse of somebody else's knowledge. . . . Someone comes and envelops me as a misty cloud and all at once pushes me out of myself, and then I am not 'I' any more---Helena P. Blavatsky---but somebody else. Someone strong and powerful, born in a totally different region of the world; and as to myself it is almost as if I were asleep, or lying by not quite conscious---not in my own body, but close by, held only by a thread which ties me to it. However at times I see and hear everything quite clearly; I am perfectly conscious of what my body is saying and doing---or at least its new possessor. I can understand and remember it all so well that afterwards I can repeat it, and even write down his words. . . . At such a time I see awe and fear on the faces of Olcott and others, and follow with interest the way in which he half-pityingly regards them out of my own eyes, and teaches them with my physical tongue. Yet not with my mind, but his own, which enwraps my brain like a cloud. . . . Ah, but I really cannot explain everything!"13 Again writing to her relatives, she states: "When I wrote Isis I wrote it so easily that it was certainly no labor but a real pleasure. Why should I be praised for it? Whenever I am told to write I sit down and obey, and then I can write easily upon almost anything---metaphysics, psychology, philosophy, ancient religions, zoölogy, natural sciences or what not. I never put myself the question: 'Can I write on this subject?' . . .or, 'Am I equal to the task?' but I simply sit down and write. Why? Because someone who knows all dictates to me. My Master and occasionally others whom I knew on my travels years ago. . . . I tell you candidly, that whenever I write upon a subject I know little or nothing of, I address myself to them, and one of them inspires me, i.e., he allows me to simply copy
what I write from manuscripts, and even printed matter, that pass before my eyes, in the air, during which process I have never been unconscious one single instant."14 To her aunt she wrote: __________________ 13 The Path, Vol. IX, p. 266 14 Letter quoted in Mr. Sinnett's Incidents in the Life of Madame Blavatsky, p. 205.
125 "At such times it is no more I who write, but my inner Ego, my 'luminous Self,' who thinks and writes for me. Only see . . . you who know me. When was I ever so learned as to write such things? Whence was all this knowledge?" Whatever the actual authorship of the two volumes may have been, their publication stirred such wide-spread interest that the first editions were swept up at once, and Bouton, the publisher, was taken off guard, there being some delay before succeeding editions of the bulky tomes could be issued. Professional reviewers were not so generous; but the press critics were frankly intrigued into something like praise.15 Years after the publication of Isis, Mr. Emmette Coleman, a former Theosophist and contributor to current magazines, stated that he spent three years upon a critical and exhaustive examination of the sources used by Madame __________________ 15 It is of some interest to see how it was received in 1877. The Boston Transcript says: "It must be acknowledged that she is a remarkable woman, who has read more, seen more and thought more than most wise men. Her work abounds in quotations from a dozen different languages, not for the purpose of vain display of erudition, but to substantiate her peculiar views. Her pages are garnished with footnotes, establishing as her authorities some of the profoundest writers of the past. To a large class of readers this remarkable work will prove of absorbing interest . . . it demands the earnest attention of thinkers and merits an analytic reading." From the New York Independent came the following: "The appearance of erudition is stupendous. References to and quotations from the most unknown and obscure writers in all languages abound; interspersed with allusions to writers of the highest repute, which have evidently been more than skimmed through." This from the New York World: "An extremely readable and exhaustive essay upon the paramount importance of reëstablishing the Hermetic philosophy in a world which blindly believes that it has outgrown it." Olcott's own paper, The New York Daily Graphic, said: "A marvelous book, both in matter and manner of
treatment. Some idea may be formed of the rarity and extent of its contents when the index alone comprises 50 pages, and we venture nothing in saying that such an index of subjects was never before compiled by any human being." The New York Tribune confined itself to saying: "The present work is the fruit of her remarkable course of education and amply confirms her claims to the character of an adept in secret science, and even to the rank of an hierophant in the exposition of its mystic lore." And the New York Herald: "It is easy to forecast the reception of this book. With its striking peculiarities, its audacity, its versatility and the prodigious variety of subjects which it notices and handles, it is one of the remarkable productions of the century."
126 Blavatsky in her various works. He attempted to discredit the whole Theosophic movement by casting doubt upon the genuineness of her knowledge. He accused her of outright plagiarism and went to great pains to collect and present his evidence. In 1893 he published his data. We quote the following passage from his statement: "In Isis Unveiled, published in 1877, I discovered some 2,000 passages copied from other books without proper credit. By careful analysis I found that in compiling Isis about 100 books were used. About 1,400 books are quoted from and referred to in this work; but, from the 100 books which its author possessed, she copied everything in Isis taken from and relating to the other 1,300. There are in Isis about 2,100 quotations from and references to books that were copied, at second-hand, from books other than the originals; and of this number only about 140 are credited to the books from which Madame Blavatsky copied them at secondhand. The others are quoted in such a manner as to lead the reader to think that Madame Blavatsky had read and utilized the original works, and had quoted from them at first-hand,---the truth being that these originals had evidently never been read by Madame Blavatsky. By this means many readers of Isis . . . have been misled into thinking Madame Blavatsky an enormous reader, possessed of vast erudition; while the fact is her reading was very limited, and her ignorance was profound in all branches of knowledge."16 Coleman went on to assert that "not a line of the quotations" made by H.P.B. ostensibly from the Kabala, from the old-time mystics at the time of Paracelsus, from the classical authors, Homer, Livy, Ovid, Virgil, Pliny, and others, from the Church Fathers, from the Neo-Platonists, was taken from the originals, but all from second-hand usage. He charged her with having picked all these passages out of modern books scattered throughout which she found the material from a wide range of ancient authorship. The reader of Isis will readily find her many references to modern authors. Coleman mentioned a half dozen standard works that she used; it is well worth while glancing at a fuller list. She had read, or was more or less familiar with: King's __________________ 16 Appendix to V. S. Solovyoff's A Modern Priestess of Isis (London, 1895), p. 354.
127 Gnostics; Jennings' Rosicrucians; Dunlop's Sod, and Spirit History of Man; Moor's Hindu Pantheon; Ennemoser's History of Magic; Howitt's History of the Supernatural; Salverte's Philosophy of Magic; Barrett's Magus; Col. H. Yule's The Book of Ser Marco Polo; Inman's Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism and Ancient Faiths and Modern; the anonymous The Unseen Universe and Supernatural Religion; Bunsen's Egypt's Place in Universal History; Lundy's Monumental Christianity; Horst's Zauber-Bibliothek; Cardinal Wiseman's Lectures on Science and Religion; Draper's The Conflict of Science with Religion; Dupuis' Origin of All the Cults; Bailly's Ancient and Modern Astronomy; Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Des Mousseaux's Roman Catholic writings on Magic, Mesmerism, Spiritualism; Eliphas Levi's works; Jacolliot's twenty-seven volumes on Oriental systems; Max Müller's, Huxley's, Tyndall's, and Spencer's works. It is hardly to be doubted that Madame Blavatsky culled many of her ancient gems from these works, and she probably felt that it was a matter of minor importance how she came by them. What she was bent on saying was that the ancients had said these things and that they were confirmatory of her general theses. Yet Coleman's findings must not be disregarded. His work brought into clearer light the meagreness of her resources and her lack of scholarly preparation for so pretentious a study. We have adduced the several hypotheses that have been advanced to account for the writing of Isis Unveiled. It must be left for the reader to arrive at what conclusion he can on the basis of the material presented. We pass on to an examination of the contents. A hint as to the aim of the work, is given in the sub-title: A Master-key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology. She says: "The work now submitted to the public judgment is the fruit of a somewhat intimate acquaintance with Eastern Adepts and study of their science. It is a work on magico-spiritual philosophy and occult science. It is an attempt to aid the student to detect the
128 vital principles which underlie the philosophical systems of old."17 She affirms it to be her aim "to show that the pretended authorities of the West must go to the Brahmans and Lamaists of the far Orient and respectfully ask them to impart the alphabet of true science."18 Isis, then, is a glorification of the ancient Orientals. Their knowledge was so profound that we are incredulous when told about it. If we have "harnessed the forces of Nature to do our work," they had subjugated the world to their will. They knew things we have not yet dreamed of. She states: "It is rather a brief summary of the religions, philosophies and universal traditions in the spirit of those secret doctrines of which none,---thanks to prejudice and bigotry---have reached Christendom in so unmutilated a
form as to secure it a fair judgment. Since the days of the unlucky Mediaeval philosophers, the last to write upon these secret doctrines of which they were the depositaries, few men have dared to brave persecution and prejudice by placing their knowledge on record. And these few have never, as a rule, written for the public, but only for those of their own and succeeding times who possessed the key to their jargon. The multitude, not understanding them or their doctrines, have been accustomed to regard them en masse as either charlatans or dreamers. Hence the unmerited contempt into which the study of the noblest of sciences---that of the spiritual man---has gradually fallen."19 She plans to restore this lost and fairest of the sciences. Materialism is menacing man's higher spiritual unfoldment. "To prevent the crushing of these spiritual aspirations, the blighting of these hopes, and the deadening of that intuition which teaches us of a God and a hereafter, we must show our false theologies in their naked deformity and distinguish between divine religion and human dogmas. Our voice is raised for spiritual freedom and our plea made for the enfranchisement from all tyranny, whether of Science or Theology."20 __________________ 17 Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, p. 165. 18 Ibid., Vol. I, p. xiv. 19 Ibid., Vol. I, p. xlii. 20 Ibid., Vol. I, p. xiv.
129 She here sets forth her attitude toward orthodox religionism as well as toward materialistic science. She intimates that since the days of the true esoteric wisdom, mankind has been thrown back and forth between the systems of an unenlightening theology and an equally erroneous science, both stultifying in their influence on spiritual aspiration, both blighting the delicate culture of beauty and joyousness. "It was while most anxious to solve these perplexing problems [Who, where, what is God? What is the spirit in man?] that we came into contact with certain men, endowed with such mysterious powers and such profound knowledge that we may truly designate them as the Sages of the Orient. To their instruction we lent a ready ear. They showed us that by combining science with religion, the existence of God and the immortality of man's spirit may be demonstrated like a problem of Euclid." She adds: "Such knowledge is priceless; and it has been hidden only from those who overlooked it, derided it or denied its existence."21
The soul within escapes their view, and the Divine Mother has no message for them. To become conversant with the powers of the soul we must develop the higher faculties of intuition and spiritual vision.22 __________________ 21 Ibid., Vol. I, Preface, p. 1. 22 Perhaps the following excerpt states the intent of Isis more specifically: "What we desire to prove is that underlying every ancient popular religion was the same ancient wisdomdoctrine, one and identical, professed and practiced by the initiates of every country, who alone were aware of its existence and importance. To ascertain its origin and precise age in which it was matured, is now beyond human possibility. A single glance, however, is enough to assure one that it could not have attained the marvelous perfection in which we find it pictured to us in the relics of the various esoteric systems, except after a succession of ages. A philosophy so profound, a moral code so ennobling, and practical results so conclusive and so uniformly demonstrable, is not the growth of a generation. . . . Myriads of the brightest human intellects must have reflected upon the laws of nature before this ancient doctrine had taken concrete shape. The proofs of this identity of fundamental doctrine in the old religions are found in the prevalence of a system of initiation; in the secret sacerdotal castes, who had the guardianship of mystical words of power, and a public display of a phenomenal control over natural forces, indicating association with preter-human beings. Every approach to the Mysteries of all these nations was guarded with the same jealous care, and in all, the penalty of death was inflicted upon initiates of any degree who divulged secrets entrusted to them."
130 She says that there were colleges in the days of old for the teaching of prophecy and occultism in general. Samuel and Elisha were heads of such academies, she affirms. The study of magic or wisdom included every branch of science, the metaphysical as well as the physical, psychology and physiology, in their common and occult phases; and the study of alchemy was universal, for it was both a physical and a spiritual science. The ancients studied nature under its double aspect and the claim is that they discovered secrets which the modern physicist, who studies but the dead forms of things, can not unlock. There are regions of nature which will never yield their mysteries to the scientist armed only with mechanical apparatus. The ancients studied the outer forms of nature, but in relation to the inner life. Hence they saw more than we and were better able to read meaning in what they saw. They regarded everything in nature as the materialization of spirit. Thus they were able to find an adequate ground for the harmonization of science and religion. They saw spirit begetting force, and force matter; spirit and matter were but the two aspects of the one essence. Matter is nothing other than the crystallization of spirit on the outer periphery of its emanative range. The ancients worshipped, not nature, but the power behind nature. Madame Blavatsky contrasts this fulness of the ancient wisdom with the barrenness of modern knowledge. She characterizes the eighteenth century as a "barren period," during which "the malignant fever of scepticism" has spread through the thought of the age and transmitted "unbelief as an hereditary disease on the nineteenth." She challenges science to explain some of the commonest phenomena of nature; why, for instance, the moon affects insane people, why the crises of certain diseases correspond to lunar changes, why certain flowers alternately open and close their petals as clouds flit across the face of the moon. She says that
science has not yet learned to look outside this ball of dirt for hidden influences which are affecting us day by day. The ancients, she declares, postulated reciprocal relations between the planetary bodies as perfect as those
131 between the organs of the body and the corpuscles of the blood. There is not a plant or mineral which has disclosed the last of its properties to the scientist. She declares that theurgical magic is the last expression of occult psychological science; and denies the "Academicians" "the right of expressing their opinion on a subject which they have never investigated." "Their incompetence to determine the value of magic and Spiritualism is as demonstrable as that of the Fiji Islander to evaluate the labors of Faraday or Agassiz." There was no missing link in the ancient knowledge, no hiatus to be filled "with volumes of materialistic speculation made necessary by the absurd attempt to solve an equation with but one set of quantities." She runs on: "Our 'ignorant' ancestors traced the law of evolution throughout the whole universe. As by gradual progression from the star-cloudlet to the development of the physical body of man, the rule holds good, so from the universal ether to the incarnate human spirit, they traced one uninterrupted series of entities. These evolutions were from the world of spirit into the world of gross matter; and through that back again to the source of all things. The 'descent of species' was to them a descent from the spirit, primal source of all, to the 'degradation of matter.' In this complete chain of unfoldings the elementary, spiritual beings had as distinct a place, midway between the extremes, as Darwin's missing link between the ape and man."23 Modern knowledge posits only evolution; the old science held that evolution was neither conceivable nor understandable without a previous involution. The existence of myriads of orders of beings not human in a realm of nature to which our senses do not normally give us access, and of which science knows nothing at all, is posited in her arcane systems. She catches at Milton's lines to bolster this theory: "Millions of spiritual creatures walk this earth, Unseen both when we sleep and when we wake." She says that if the spiritual faculties of the soul are sharpened by intense enthusiasm and purified from earthly __________________ 23 Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, p. 281.
132 desire, man may learn to see some of these denizens of the illimitable air. The physical world was fashioned on the model of divine ideas, which, like the unseen lines of force radiated
by the magnet, to throw the iron-filings into determinate shape, give form and nature to the physical manifestation. If man's essential nature partakes of this universal life, then it, too, must partake of all the attributes of the demiurgic power. As the Creator, breaking up the chaotic mass of dead inactive matter, shaped it into form, so man, if he knew his powers, could to a degree do the same. To redeem the ancient world from modern scorn Madame Blavatsky had to vindicate magic---with all its incubus of disrepute and ridicule---and lift its practitioners to a lofty place in the ranks of true science. She had to demonstrate that genuine magic was a veritable fact, an undeniable part of the history of man; and not only true, but the highest evidence of man's kinship with nature, the topmost manifestation of his power, the royal science among all sciences! To her view the dearth of magic in modern philosophies was at once the cause and the effect of their barrenness. If they are to be vitalized again, magic must be revived. "That magic is indeed possible is the moral of this book."24 And along with magic she had to champion its aboriginal bed-fellows, astrology, alchemy, healing, mesmerism, trance subjection, and the whole brood of "pseudo-science." "It is an insult to human nature to brand magic and the occult sciences with the name of imposture. To believe that for so many thousands of years one half of mankind practiced deception and fraud on the other half is equivalent to saying that the human race is composed only of knaves and incurable idiots. Where is the country in which magic was not practiced? At what age was it wholly forgotten?"25 She explains magic as based on a reciprocal sympathy between celestial and terrestrial natures. It is based on the mysterious affinities existing between organic and inorganic __________________ 24 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 36. 25 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 14.
133 bodies, between the visible and the invisible powers of the universe. "That which science calls gravitation the ancient and the medieval hermeticists called magnetism, attraction, affinity." She continues: "A thorough familiarity with the occult faculties of everything existing in Nature, visible as well as invisible; their mutual relations, attractions and repulsions; the cause of these traced to the spiritual principle which pervades and animates all things; the ability to furnish the best conditions for this principle to manifest itself, in other words a profound and exhaustive knowledge of natural law---this was and is the basis of magic."26 Out of man's kinship with nature, his identity of constitution with it, she argues to his magical powers: "As God creates, so man can create. Given a certain intensity of will, and the shapes created by the mind become subjective. Hallucinations they are called, although to their creator they are real as any visible object is to any one else. Given a more intense and intelligent concentration of this will, and the forms become
concrete, visible, objective; the man has learned the secret of secrets; he is a Magician."27 She makes it clear that this power is built on the conscious control of the substrate of the material universe. She states that the key to all magic is the formula: "Every insignificant atom is moved by spirit." Magic is thus conditioned upon the postulation of an omnipresent vital ether, electro-spiritual in composition, to which man has an affinity by virtue of his being identical in essence with it. Over it he can learn to exercise a voluntary control by the exploitation of his own psycho-dynamic faculties. If he can lay his hand on the elemental substance of the universe, if he can radiate from his ganglionic batteries currents of force equivalent to gamma rays, of course he can step into the cosmic scene with something of a magician's powers. That such an ether exists she states in a hundred places. She calls it the elementary substance, the Astral Light, the Alkahest, the __________________ 26 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 243. 27 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 62.
134 Akasha. It is the universal principle of all life, the vehicle or battery of cosmic energy. She says Newton knew of it and called it "the soul of the world," the "divine sensorium." It is the Book of Life; the memory of God,--since it never gives up an impression. Human memory is but a looking into pictures on this ether. Clairvoyants and psychometers but draw upon its resources through synchronous vibrations. "According to the Kabalistic doctrine the future exits in the astral light in embryo as the present existed in embryo in the past . . . and our memories are but the glimpses that we catch of the reflections of this past in the currents of the astral light, as the psychometer catches them from the astral emanations of the object held by him."28 Madame Blavatsky goes so far as to link the control of these properties with the tiny pulsations of the magnetic currents emanating from our brains, under the impelling power of will. Thus she attempts to unite magic with the most subtle conceptions of our own advanced physics and chemistry. She thus weds the most arrant of superstitions with the most respected of sciences. The magnetic nature of gravitation is set forth in more than one passage. She wrote: "The ethereal spiritual fire, the soul and the spirit of the all-pervading mysterious ether; the despair and puzzle of the materialists, who will some day find out that that which causes the numberless forces to manifest themselves in eternal correlation is but a divine electricity, or rather galvanism, and that the sun is one of the myriad magnets disseminated through space. . . . There is no gravitation in the Newtonian sense, but only magnetic attraction and repulsion; and it is only by their magnetism that the planets of __________________ 28 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 184. Theosophists appear to be in the habit of using the terms Akasha and Astral Light
more or less synonymously. In the Glossary Madame Blavatsky defines Akasha (Akasa, Akaz) as "the subtle supersensuous spiritual essence which pervades all spaces; the primordial substance erroneously identified with Ether. But it is to Ether what Spirit is to Matter, or Atma to Kamarupa. It is in fact the Universal Space in which lies inherent the eternal Ideation of the Universe in its ever-changing aspects on the plane of matter and objectivity. This power is the . . . same anima mundi on the higher plane as the astral light is on the lower."
135 the solar system have their motions regulated in their respective orbits by the still more powerful magnetism of the sun; not by their weight or gravitation. . . . The passage of light through this (cosmic ether) must produce enormous friction. Friction generates electricity and it is this electricity and its correlative magnetism which forms those tremendous forces of nature. . . . It is not at all to the sun that we are indebted for light and heat; light is a creation sui generis, which springs into existence at the instant when the deity willed." She "laughs at the current theory of the incandescence of the sun and its gaseous substance. . . . The sun, planets, stars and nebulae are all magnets. . . . There is but One Magnet in the universe and from it proceeds the magnetization of everything existing."29 It is this same universal ether and its inherent magnetic dynamism that sets the field for astrology, as a cosmic science. Of this she says that astrology is a science as infallible as astronomy itself, provided its interpreters are as infallible as the mathematicians. She carries the law of the instantaneous interrelation of everything in the cosmos to such an extent that, quoting Eliphas Levi, "even so small a thing as the birth of one child upon our insignificant planet has its effect upon the universe, as the whole universe has its reflective influence upon him." The bodies of the entire universe are bound together by attractions which hold them in equilibrium, and these magnetic influences are the bases of astrology. With so much cosmic power at his behest, man has done wonders; and we are asked to accept the truth of an amazing series of the most phenomenal occurrences ever seriously given forth. They range over so varied a field that any attempt at classification is impossible. Of physical phenomena she says that the ancients could make marble statues sweat, and even speak and leap! They had gold lamps which burned in tombs continuously for seven hundred to one thousand years without refueling! One hundred and seventy-three authorities are said to have testified to the existence of such lamps. Even "Aladdin's magical lamp __________________ 29 Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, p . 271 ff.
136 has also certain claims to reality." There was an asbestos oil whose properties, when it was rubbed on the skin, made the body impervious to the action of fire. Witnesses are quoted as stating that they observed natives in Africa who permitted themselves to be fired at point blank with a revolver, having first precipitated around them an impervious layer of astral or akashic substance. Cardinal de Rohan's testimony is adduced to the
effect that he had seen Cagliostro make gold and diamonds. The power of the evil eye is enlarged upon and instances recounted of persons hypnotizing, "charming," or even killing birds and animals with a look. She avers that she herself had seen Eastern Adepts turn water into blood. Observers are quoted who reported a rope-climbing feat in China and Batavia, in which the human climbers disappeared overhead, their members fell in portions on the ground, and shortly thereafter reunited to form the original living bodies! Stories are narrated of fakirs disemboweling and re-embowling themselves. She herself saw whirling dancers at Petrovsk in 1865, who cut themselves in frenzy and evoked by the magical powers of blood the spirits of the dead, with whom they then danced. Twice she was nearly bitten by poisonous snakes, but was saved by a word of control from a Shaman or conjurer. The close affinity between man and nature is illustrated by the statement that in one case a tree died following the death of its human twin. Speaking of magical trees, she several times tells of the great tree Kumboum, of Tibet, over whose leaves and bark nature had imprinted ten thousand spiritual maxims. The magical significance of birthmarks is brought out, with remarkable instances. She dwells at length on the inability of medical men to tell definitely whether the human body is dead or not, and cites a dozen gruesome tales of reawakening in the grave. This takes her into vampirism, which she establishes on the basis of numerous cases taken mostly from Russian folklore. It is stated that the Hindu pantheon claimed 330,000,000 types of spirits. Moses was familiar with electricity; the Egyptians had a high order of music and chess over five
137 thousand years ago; and anaesthesia was known to the ancients. Perpetual motion, the Elixer of Life, the Fountain of Youth and the Philosopher's Stone are declared to be real. She adduces in every case a formidable show of testimony other than her own. And back of it all is her persistent assertion that purity of life and thought is a requisite for high magical performance. "A man free from worldly incentives and sensuality may cure in such a way the most 'incurable' diseases, and his vision may become clear and prophetic."30 "The magic power is never possessed by those addicted to vicious indulgences."31 Phenomena come, she feels, rather easily; spiritual life is harder won and worthier. "With expectancy, supplemented by faith, one can cure himself of almost any morbific condition. The tomb of a saint; a holy relic; a talisman; a bit of paper or a garment that has been handled by a supposed healer; a nostrum, a penance; a ceremonial; a laying on of hands; or a few words impressively pronounced---will do. It is a question of temperament, imagination, self-cure."32 "While phenomena of a physical nature may have their value as a means of arousing the interest of materialists, and confirming, if not wholly, at least inferentially, our belief in the survival of our souls, it is questionable whether, under their present aspect, the modern phenomena are not doing more harm than good."33 Theosophists themselves often quarrel with Isis because it seems to overstress bizarre phenomena. They should see that Volume I of the book aims to show the traces of magic in ancient science, in order to offset the
Spiritualist claims to new discoveries, and to attract attention to the more philosophic ideas underlying classic magic. Volume II labors to reveal the presence of a vast occultism behind the religions and theologies of the world. Again the contention is that __________________ 30 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 210. 31 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 218. 32 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 216. 33 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 218.
138 the ancient priests knew more than the modern expositor, that they kept more concealed than the present-day theologian has revealed. Modern theology has lost its savor of early truth and power, as modern technology no longer possesses the "lost arts." Paganism was to be vindicated as against ecclesiastical orthodoxies. She believed that her instruction under the Lamas or Adepts in Tibet had given her this key, and that therefore the whole vast territory of ancient religion lay unfruitful for modern understanding until she should come forward and put the key to the lock. The "key" makes her in a sense the exponent and depository of "the essential veracities of all the religions and philosophies that are or ever were." "Myth was the favorite and universal method of teaching in archaic times."34 We can not be oblivious of the use made by Plato of myths in his theoretical constructions. "Fairy tales do not exclusively belong to nurseries; all mankind---except those few who in all ages have comprehended their hidden meaning, and tried to open the eyes of the superstitious---have listened to such tales in one shape or other, and, after transforming them into sacred symbols, called the product Religion."35 "There are a few myths in any religious system but have an historical as well as a scientific foundation. Myths, as Pococke ably expresses it, 'are now found to be fables just in proportion as we misunderstand them; truths, in proportion as they were once understood.'"36 The esotericism of the teachings of Christ and the Buddha is manifest to anyone who can reason, she declares. Neither can be supposed to have given out all that a divine being would know. "It is a poor compliment paid the Supreme, this forcing upon him four gospels, in which, contradictory as they often are, there is not a single narrative, sentence or peculiar expression, whose __________________ 34 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 493.
35 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 406. 36 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 431.
139 parallel may not be found in some older doctrine of philosophy. Surely the Almighty---were it but to spare future generations their present perplexity---might have brought down with Him, at His first and only incarnation on earth, something original---something that would trace a distinct line of demarcation between Himself and the score or so of incarnate Pagan gods, who had been born of virgins, had all been saviors, and were either killed or were otherwise sacrificed for humanity."37 She says that not she but the Christian Fathers and their successors in the church have put their divine Son of God in the position of a poor religious plagiarist! Ancient secret wisdom was seldom written down at all; it was taught orally, and imparted as a priceless tradition by one set of students to their qualified successors. Those receiving it regarded themselves as its custodians and they accepted their stewardship conscientiously. To understand the reason for esotericism in science and religion in earlier times, Madame Blavatsky urges us to recall that freedom of speech invited persecution. "The Rosicrucian, Hermetic and Theosophical Western writers, producing their books in epochs of religious ignorance and cruel bigotry, wrote, so to say, with the headman's axe suspended over their necks, or the executioner's fagots laid under their chairs, and hid their divine knowledge under quaint symbols and misleading metaphors."38 To give lesser people what they could not appropriate, to stir complacent conservatism with that threat of disturbing old established habitudes which higher knowledge always brings, was unsafe in a world still actuated by codes of arbitrary physical power. High knowledge had to be esoteric until the progress of general enlightenment brought the masses to a point where the worst that could happen to the originator of revolutionary ideas would be the reputation of an idiot, instead of the doom of a Bruno or a Joan. Madame Blavatsky was willing to be regarded as an idiot, but __________________ 37 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 337. 38 Quoted in Old Diary Leaves, Vol. I, p. 106.
her Masters could not send her forth until autos-da-fe had gone out of vogue. We have seen in an earlier chapter that the Mystery Religions of the Eastern Mediterranean world harbored an esotericism that presumably influenced the formulation of later systems, notably Judaism and Christianity. In recent decades more attention has been given to the claims of these old secret societies. St. Paul's affiliation with them is claimed by Theosophists, and his obvious indebtedness to them is acknowledged by some students of early Christianity. It is impossible for Madame Blavatsky to understand the Church's indifference to its origins, and she arrays startling columns of evidence to show that this neglect may be fatal. The Mystery Schools, she proclaims, were not shallow cults, but the guardians of a deep lore already venerable. "The Mysteries are as old as the world, and one well versed in the esoteric mythologies of various nations, can trace them back to the days of the Ante-Vedic period in India."39 She does not soften her animosity against those influences and agencies that she charges with culpability for smothering out the Gnosis. The culprit in the case is Christianity. "For over fifteen centuries, thanks to the blindly-brutal persecution of those great vandals of early Christian history, Constantine and Justinian, ancient wisdom slowly degenerated until it gradually sank into the deepest mire of monkish superstition and ignorance. The Pythagorean 'knowledge of things that are'; the profound erudition of the Gnostics; the world- and time-honored teachings of the great philosophers; all were rejected as doctrines of Antichrist and Paganism and committed to the flames. With the last seven Wise Men of the Orient, the remnant group of Neo-Platonists, Hermias, Priscianus, Diogenes, Eulalius, Damaskius, Simplicius and Isodorus, who fled from the fanatical persecutions of Justinian to Persia, the reign of wisdom closed. The books of Thoth . . . containing within their sacred pages the spiritual and physical history of the creation and progress of our world, were left to mould in oblivion and contempt for ages. They found no interpreters in Christian Europe; the Philalethians, or wise __________________ 39 Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, p. 98.
141 'lovers of truth' were no more; they were replaced by the light-fleers, the tonsured and hooded monks of Papal Rome, who dread truth, in whatever shape and from whatever quarter it appears, if it but clashes in the least with their dogmas."40 She speaks of the "Jesuitical and crafty spirit which prompted the Christian Church of the late third century to combat the expiring Neo-Platonic and Eclectic Schools. The Church was afraid of the Aristotelian dialectic and wished to conceal the true meaning of the word daemon, Rasit, asdt (emanations); for if the truth of the emanations were rightly understood, the whole structure of the new religion would have crumbled along with the Mysteries."41
This motive is stressed again when she says that the Fathers had borrowed so much from Paganism that they had to obliterate the traces of their appropriations or be recognized by all as merely Neo-Platonists! She is keen to point out the value of the riches thus thrown away or blindly overlooked, and to show how Christianity has been placed at the mercy of hostile disrupting forces because of its want of a true Gnosis. She avers that atheists and materialists now gnaw at the heart of Christianity because it is helpless, lacking the esoteric knowledge of the spiritual constitution of the universe, to combat or placate them. Gnosticism taught man that he could attain the fulness of the stature of his innate divinity; Christianity substituted a weakling's reliance upon a higher power. Had Christianity held onto the Gnosis and Kabbalism, it would not have had to graft itself onto Judaism and thus tie itself down to many of the developments of a merely tribal religion. Had it not accepted the Jehovah of Moses, she says, it would not have been forced to look upon the Gnostic ideas as heresies, and the world would now have had a religion richly based on pure Platonic philosophy and "surely something would then have been gained." Rome itself, Christianized, paid a heavy penalty for spurning the wisdom of old: __________________ 40 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 32. 41 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 34.
142 "In burning the works of the theurgists; in proscribing those who affected their study; in affixing the stigma of demonolatry to magic in general; Rome has left her exoteric worship and Bible to be helplessly riddled by every free-thinker, her sexual emblems to be identified with coarseness, and her priests to unwittingly turn magicians and sorcerers in their exorcisms. Thus retribution, by the exquisite adjustment of divine law, is made to overtake this scheme of cruelty, injustice and bigotry, through her own suicidal acts."42 Yet Christianity drew heavily from paganism. It erected almost no novel formulations. Christian canonical books are hardly more than plagiarisms of older literatures, she affirms, compiled, deleted, revised, and twisted. She believed that the first chapters of Genesis were based on the "Chaldean" Kabbala and an old Brahmanical book of prophecies (really later than Genesis). The doctrine of the Trinity as purely Platonic, she says. It was Irenaeus who identified Jesus with the "mask of the Logos or Second Person of the Trinity." The doctrine of the Atonement came from the Gnostics. The Eucharist was common before Christ's time. Some Neo-Platonist, not John, is alleged to have written the Fourth Gospel. The Sermon on the Mount is an echo of the essential principles of monastic Buddhism. Jesus is torn away from allegiance to the Jewish system and stands neither as its product nor its Messiah. Wresting him away from Judaism, and likewise from the emanational Trinity, both of which rôles were thrust upon him gratuitously by the Christian Fathers, she declares him to have been a Nazarene, i.e., a member of the mystic cult of Essenes of Nazars, which perpetuated Oriental systems of the Gnosis on the shores of the Jordan. "One Nazarene sect is known to have existed some 150 years B.C. and to have lived on the banks of the Jordan, and on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea, according to Pliny and Josephus. But in King's 'Gnostics'
we find quoted another statement by Josephus from verse 13 which says that the Essenes had been established on the shores of the Dead Sea 'for thousands of ages' before Pliny's time."43 __________________ 42 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 121 43 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 139.
143 Jesus, one of this cult, had become adept in the occult philosophies of Egypt and Israel, and endeavored to make of the two a synthesis, drawing at times on more ancient knowledge from the old Hindu doctrines. He was simply a devout occultist and taught among the people what they could receive of the esoteric knowledge, reserving his deeper teachings for his fellows in the Essene monasteries. He had learned in the East and in Egypt the high science of theurgy, casting out of demons, and control of nature's finer forces, and he used these powers upon occasion. He posed as no Messiah or Incarnation of the Logos, but preached the message of the anointing (Christos) of the human spirit by its baptismal union with the higher principles of our divine nature.44 In short, Madame Blavatsky leaves to Christianity little but the very precarious distinction of having "copied all its rites, dogmas and ceremonies from paganism" save two that can be claimed as original inventions---the doctrine of eternal damnation (with the fiction of the Devil) "and the one custom, that of the anathema." "The Bible of the Christian Church is the latest receptacle of this scheme of disfigured allegories which have been erected into an edifice of superstition, such as never entered into the conceptions of those from whom the Church obtained her knowledge. The abstract fictions of antiquity, which for ages had filled the popular fancy with but flickering shadows and uncertain images, have in Christianity assumed the shapes of real personages and become historical facts. Allegory metamorphosed, becomes sacred history, and Pagan myth is taught to the people as a revealed narrative of God's intercourse with His chosen people."45 The final proposition which Isis labors to establish is that the one source of all the wisdom of the past is India. Pythag__________________ 44 A wealth of curious citations is drawn up behind these positions. The whole Passion Week story is stated to be the reproduction of the drama of initiation into the Mysteries, and not to have taken place in historical fact. And practically every other chapter of Christ's life story is paralleled in the lives of the twenty or more "World Saviors," including Thoth, Orpheus, Vyasa, Buddha, Krishna, Dionysus, Osiris, Zoroaster, Zagreus, Apollonius, and others. 45 Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, p. 406.
oreanism, she says, is identical with Buddhistic teachings. "The laws of Manu are the doctrines of Plato, Philo, Zoroaster, Pythagoras and the Kabala." She quotes Jacolliot, the French writer: "This philosophy, the traces of which we find among the Magians, the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, the Hebrew Kabalists, and the Christians, is none other than that of the Hindu Brahmans, the sectarians of the pitris, or the spirits of the invisible worlds which surround us."46 She, with the key in her hand, sees the solution of the problem of comparative religion as an easy one. "While we see the few translators of the Kabala, the Nazarene Codex and other abstruse works, hopelessly floundering amid the interminable pantheon of names, unable to agree as to a system in which to classify them, for the one hypothesis contradicts and overturns the other, we can but wonder at all this trouble, which could be so easily overcome. But even now, when the translation and even the perusal of the ancient Sanskrit has become so easy as a point of comparison, they would never think it possible that every philosophy--whether Semitic, Hamitic or Turanian, as they call it, has its key in the Hindu sacred works. Still, facts are there and facts are not easily destroyed."47 "What has been contemptuously termed Paganism was ancient Wisdom replete with Deity. . . . Pre-Vedic Brahmanism and Buddhism are the double source from which all religions spring; Nirvana is the ocean to which all tend."48 She says there are many parallelisms between references to Buddha and to Christ. Many points of identity also exist between Lamaico-Buddhistic and Roman Catholic ceremonies. The idea here hinted at is the underlying thesis of the whole Theosophic position. Successive members of the great Oriental Brotherhood have been incarnated at intervals in the history of mankind, each giving out portions of the one central doctrine, which therefore must have a common base. The puzzling identities found in the study of __________________ 46 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 38. 47 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 227. 48 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 639.
145 Comparative Religion thus find an explanation in the identity of their authorship. Mrs. Annie Besant later elaborated this view in the early pages of her work, Esoteric Christianity. She contrasts it with the commonly accepted explanation of religious origins of the academicians of our day. Summing up this position she writes: "The Comparative Mythologists contend that the common origin is a common ignorance, and that the loftiest religious doctrines are simply refined expressions of the crude and barbarous guesses of savages, of
primitive men, regarding themselves and their surroundings. Animism, fetishism, nature-worship---these are the constituents of the primitive mud out of which has grown the splendid lily of religion. A Krishna, a Buddha, a Lao-Tze, a Jesus, are the highly civilized, but lineal descendants of the whirling medicine-men of the savage. God is a composite photograph of the innumerable gods who are the personifications of the forces of nature. It is all summed up in the phrase: Religions are branches from a common trunk---human ignorance. "The Comparative Religionists consider, on the other hand, that all religions originated from the teachings of Divine Men, who gave out to the different nations, from time to time, such parts of the verities of religion as the people are capable of receiving, teaching ever the same morality, inculcating the use of similar means, employing the same significant symbols. The savage religions---animism and the rest---are degenerations, the results of decadence, distorted and dwarfed descendants of true religious beliefs. Sun-worship and pure forms of nature worship were, in their day, noble religions, highly allegorical, but full of profound truth and knowledge. The great Teachers . . . form an enduring Brotherhood of men, who have risen beyond humanity, who appear at certain periods to enlighten the world, and who are the spiritual guardians of the human race. This view may be summed up in the phrase: Religions are branches from a common trunk---Divine Wisdom."49 This is the view of religions which Madame Blavatsky presented in Isis. Religions, it would say, never rise; they only degenerate. Theosophic writers 50 are at pains to point __________________ 49 Dr. Annie Besant: Esoteric Christianity, p. 8. 50 E.g., cf. C. W. Leadbeater: The Christian Creed.
146 out that once a pure high religious impulse is given by a Master-Teacher, it tends before long to gather about it the incrustations of the human materializing tendency, under which the spiritual truths are obscured and finally lost amid the crudities of literalism. Then after the world has blundered on through a period of darkness the time grows ripe for a new revelation, and another member of the Spiritual Fraternity comes into terrestrial life. Madame Blavatsky says: "The very corner-stone of their (Brahmans' and Buddhists') religious systems is periodical incarnations of the Deity. Whenever humanity is about merging into materialism and moral degradation, a Supreme Being incarnates himself in his creature selected for the purpose, . . . Christna saying to Arjuna (in the Bhagavad Gita): 'As often as virtue declines in the world, I make myself manifest to save it.'"51 Madame Blavatsky stated that she was in contact with several of these supermen, who sent her forth as their messenger to impart, in new form, the old knowledge. __________________ 51 Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, p. 535.
How "Isis Unveiled" Was Written.
By Alexander Wilder, M. D.
From The Word, May 1908 (7:2) *The authorship of "Isis Unveiled" has sometimes been questioned. Some persons have claimed it for themselves. The one individual best able to bear witness, from among all who had personal knowledge of the authorship, is Alexander Wilder, physician and scholar, the most able of the Platonists. To-day, at 85 years, he has the buoyancy of youth, the mental virility of manhood, and all with his Platonic "enthusiasm." -- H. W. P. One morning in the autumn of 1876, I saw in the New York "Tribune" the mention of a work in process of publication styled "Art-Magic," which would treat of recondite subjects. Having from earlier years been interested in such matters, I wrote to the address there given and received a reply from Mrs. HardingeBritton. Besides answering my inquiry, she told me of the forming of a Theosophical Society, then taking place. But I did not pursue this clue. I had become disgusted with individual pretensions to superior powers, and unusual names have for me no attraction. Some weeks later, however, learning that the book had been printed, I called upon Mrs. Britton and received a copy. She stated that the author did not give his name, and that he would not require the payment which I was to make, paying a compliment to my intellectual qualifications as something unusual in this field. The book was very interesting to me, and contained many valuable nuggets in relation to arcane matters. Unfortunately, there was no index, and the omission of an index takes away half the usefulness of a book to a student. There was no allusion in the book to the Theosophical Society, and I had no curiosity to know about the organization. At that time I had been editing several publications for Mr. J. W. Bouton, a bookseller in New York, and was lecturing and contributing papers for one or two periodicals. Other engagements and associations had been laid aside. I had barely heard of Madame Blavatsky, but in no connection with anything relating to Theosophy, or other subject that I knew anything about. She had been described as having introduced herself to an acquaintance as a "rushing Russian," and her manner had attracted attention. Nothing more was elicited at that time. On a pleasant afternoon, in early autumn, some months later, I was alone in the house. The bell was rung, and I answered at the door. Colonel Henry S. Olcott was there with an errand to myself. I did not recognize him, as I had never had any occasion to make his acquaintance, but he having had some governmental business with one of my employers several years before, had known me ever since. He had never suspected, however, that I took any interest whatever in unusual subjects; so completely successful had I been in keeping myself unknown even to those who from daily association imagined that they knew me very thoroughly. A long service in journalism, familiar relations with public men, and active participation in political matters, seemed to have shut out from notice an ardent passion for mystic speculation, and the transcendental philosophy. I think that Colonel Olcott had himself been taken somewhat by surprise. He had been referred to me by Mr. Bouton. Madam Blavatsky had compiled a work upon occult and philosophic subjects, and Mr. Bouton had been asked in relation to undertaking its publication. Why it had been referred to me I could never well understand. Mr. Bouton had taken passage for England a few days before, and I had visited him several times, even going over from Newark to bid him farewell the morning
that he left. Yet he had not said a word to me about the manuscript. Did he really expect me to read it, or was he merely endeavoring to shirk having anything to do with it without actually refusing outright? I am now inclined to the opinion that he referred Colonel Olcott to me to evade saying "No." At the time, however, I supposed that, although the mode of proceeding was not that of a man of business, Mr. Bouton really meant that I should examine the work, and I agreed to undertake the task. It was truly a ponderous document and displayed research in a very extended field, requiring diligence, familiarity with the various topics, as well as a purpose to be fair to the writer. Regarding myself as morally obligated to act for the advantage of Mr. Bouton, I showed no favor beyond what I believed justice to demand. I regarded it a duty to be severe. In my report to him, I stated that the manuscript was the product of great research, and that so far as related to current thinking, there was a revolution in it, but I added that I deemed it too long for remunerative publishing. Mr. Bouton, however, presently agreed to publish the work. I never learned the terms, but subsequent occurrences led me to presume that they were not carefully considered. He procured the copyright in his own name, which enabled him to control the price, and he refused every proposition afterward to transfer the ownership to the author, or to cheapen the cost. He placed the manuscript again in my hands, with instructions to shorten it as much as it would bear. This was a discretionary power that was far from agreeable. It can hardly be fair that a person acting solely in behalf of the publisher should have such authority over the work of an author. Nevertheless, I undertook the task. While abridging the work, I endeavored in every instance to preserve the thought of the author in plain language, removing only such terms and matter as might be regarded as superfluous, and not necessary to the main purpose. In this way, enough was taken out to fill a volume of respectable dimensions. In doing all this, I consulted only what I supposed to be Mr. Bouton's advantage, and believed that he so regarded it, as I had only his instructions. But it proved to be only a "labor of love." Colonel Olcott was very desirous that I should become acquainted with Madam Blavatsky. He appeared to hold her in high regard closely approaching to veneration, and to consider the opportunity to know her a rare favor for any one. I was hardly able to share his enthusiasm. Having a natural diffidence about making new acquaintances, and acting as a critic upon her manuscript, I hesitated for a long time. Finally, however, these considerations were passed over and I accompanied him to their establishment in Forty-seventh Street. It was a "flat," that unhomelike fashion of abode that now extends over populous cities, superseding the household and family relationship wherever it prevails. The building where they lived had been "transmogrified" for such purposes, and they occupied a suite of apartments on an upper floor. The household in this case comprised several individuals, with separate employments. They generally met at mealtime, together with such guests from elsewhere as might happen to be making a visit. The dining room was furnished in simple style with no affectation of anything unusual or extraordinary. Perhaps, I ought to add that later in the year following, this condition was quite considerably modified. The autumn of 1879 was characterized, as I have never since observed it, by the richness of color in the foliage. Numerous parties visited the woods around to gather the tinted leaves for ornamental purposes. One of the inmates of the flat, a foreigner who was in rapport with the Theosophical fraternity, had in this way, procured a large quantity and set herself to use them to decorate the dining room. She made several emblematic figures, the double triangle being the principal one of these. Then she followed with an Oriental landscape extending the length of the apartment. There were to be seen the figures of an elephant, a monkey, and other creatures,
and a man standing as if contemplating the scene. This decoration remained through the winter till the household had broken up. I then brought it away to Newark and set it up in a hall. Here it remained several years. It was there when Mr. G. R. S. Mead visited me. I sent it afterward to Miss Caroline Hancock at Sacramento, and she in turn presented it to the Theosophical Society at San Francisco. Doubtless it has long since met the fate of wornout furniture. But it had notoriety in its earlier days, from the admiration of visitors for its ingenuity and oddness of conception, and descriptions of it were published in several newspapers. The study in which Madam Blavatsky lived and worked was arranged after a quaint and very primitive manner. It was a large front room, and being on the side next the street, was well lighted. In the midst of this was her "den," a spot fenced off on three sides by temporary partitions, writing desk and shelves for books. She had it as convenient as it was unique. She had but to reach out an arm to get a book, paper or other article that she might desire, that was within the enclosure. The place could not accord with a vivid sense of beauty, except after the ancient Greek conception that beauty is fitness for its purpose, everything certainly being convenient and handy. In this place Madam Blavatsky reigned supreme, gave her orders, issued her judgments, conducted her correspondence, received her visitors and produced the manuscript of her book. She did not resemble in manner or figure what I had been led to expect. She was tall, but not strapping; her countenance bore the marks and exhibited the characteristics of one who had seen much, thought much, traveled much, and experienced much. Her figure reminded me of the description which Hippokrates has given to the Scyths, the race from which she probably descended. Her dress I do not feel competent to describe, and in fact never noticed so as to be able to remember. I am a man and seldom observant of a woman's attire. My attention is given to the individual, and unless the clothing should be strikingly different from the current style, I would be unable to speak of it intelligently or intelligibly. All that I have to say is that she was completely dressed. Her appearance was certainly impressive, but in no respect was she coarse, awkward, or ill-bred. On the other hand she exhibited culture, familiarity with the manners of the most courtly society and genuine courtesy itself. She expressed her opinions with boldness and decision, but not obtrusively. It was easy to perceive that she had not been kept within the circumscribed limitations of a common female education; she knew a vast variety of topics and could discourse freely upon them. In several particulars, I presume that I never fairly or fully understood her. Perhaps this may have extended further than I am willing to admit. I have heard tell of her profession of superhuman powers and of extraordinary occurrences that would be termed miraculous. I, too, believe, like Hamlet, that there are more things in heaven and earth than our wise men of this age are willing to believe. But Madam Blavatsky never made any such claim to me. We always discoursed of topics which were familiar to both, as individuals on a common plane. Colonel Olcott often spoke to me as one who enjoyed a grand opportunity, but she herself made no affectation of superiority. Nor did I ever see or know of any such thing occurring with anyone else. She professed, however, to have communicated with personages whom she called "the Brothers," and intimated that this, at times, was by the agency, or some means analogous to what is termed "telepathy." It is not necessary to show or insist that this mode of communication has been known and even carried on from antiquity. The Khabar is well known in the Orient. I have supposed that an important condition for ability to hold such intercourse was abstinence from artificial stimulation such as comes from the use of flesh as food, alcoholic drink and other narcotic substances. I do not attach any specific immorality to these things, but I have conjectured that such abstemiousness was essential in order to give the mental powers full play, and to the noetic faculty free course without impediment or contamination from lower influence. But Madam Blavatsky displayed no such asceticism. Her table was well furnished, but without profusion, and after a
manner not differing from that of other housekeepers. Besides, she indulged freely in the smoking of cigarettes, which she made as she had occasion. I never saw any evidence that these things disturbed, or in any way interfered with her mental acuteness or activity. At my first visit, her reception was courteous and even friendly. She seemed to become acquainted at once. She spoke of the abridgements which I had made of her manuscript, extolling what I had done far beyond what it deserved. "What had been taken out was 'flapdoodle,' " she declared. My judgment, certainly, had not been so severe as that. I had not looked for defects, or found them, but only to ascertain how the manuscript might be "boiled down," without affecting the general purpose. In other cases, it has been my rule to scrutinize unprinted manuscript in quest of faults, but to look when it has been printed, to find out its meaning and merits. In this instance, however, I had aimed only to shorten without marring the work. It should be stated, however, as a fact in the publication of this work, that Madam Blavatsky continued to add matter, after Mr. Bouton began the undertaking, and I think that much of the second volume was then written. I have no recollection of much of it except in proof sheets at a later period. It was no easy matter to give the publication a fitting title. I do not remember that my services were asked in this matter, and certainly they would not have been worth the asking. It is a department in which I am particularly weak. Nor do I think the name unexceptionable which was adopted. Mr. Bouton is entitled to that distinction. He was a skilful caterer in the bookselling world to which he belonged, but he had business ability rather than a sense of fitness. He once published the treatise of R. Payne Knight on Ancient Art and added pictures relating solely to Hindu mythology, entirely foreign to the subject. This work of Madam Blavatsky is largely based upon the hypothesis of a prehistoric period of the Aryan people in India, and in such a period the veil or the unveiling of Isis can hardly be said to constitute any part. On the contrary, it is a dramatic representation peculiar to the religion and wisdom of Egypt and perhaps is allied to the Syrian Hyksos enormities. Certainly the problems of Egyptian lore are to be considered with other pens than those with which " Isis Unveiled " was written. After the work had been printed and placed on sale, there was discussion in regard to the actual authorship. Many were unwilling to acknowledge that Madam Blavatsky could be sufficiently well informed or intellectually capable of such a production. True that women like Frances Burney had composed romances of high merit. Miss Farley had conducted successfully the " Lowell Offering." Mary Somerville had written on Physical Science, and Harriet Martineau on Political Economy. A clergyman in New York, a member of the Russian Greek Church, I have been told, affirmed that I was the actual author. That report, however, can hardly have gone far. It would be refuted after the manner that the late Henry Ward Beecher put a stop to a similar one. He tells us that when Uncle Tom's Cabin was published there were many who insisted that he, and not Mrs. Stowe was the author. "Then," says Mr. Beecher, "I wrote Norwood," which entirely disposed of the matter. So, too, nobody familiar with my style of writing would ever impute to me the authorship of Isis Unveiled. I would hesitate, likewise, to be considered in any noteworthy sense as an editor of the work. It is true that after Mr. Bouton had agreed to become the publisher, I was asked to read the proof sheets and make sure that the Hebrew words and terms belonging to other languages were correctly given by the printer, but I added nothing, and do not remember that I ventured to control anything that was contributed to the work. Without her knowledge and approval, such action would have been reprehensible.
While she was engaged in the work, she had many books relating to the various topics, evidently for consultation. There were Jacolliot's work on India, Bunsen's Egypt, Ennemoser's History of Magic and others. I had myself written papers upon a variety of subjects for the Phrenological Journal and other periodicals, and she had procured many of them. We often discussed the topics, and their various characteristics, for she was a superior conversationalist and at home on every matter about which we discoursed. She spoke the English language with the fluency of one perfectly familiar with it, and who thought in it. It was the same to me as though talking with any man of my acquaintance. She was ready to take the idea as it was expressed, and uttered her own thoughts clearly, concisely and often forcibly. Some of the words which she employed had characteristics which indicated their source. Any thing which she did not approve or hold in respect she promptly disposed of as "flapdoodle." I have never heard or encountered the term elsewhere. Not even the acts or projects of Colonel Olcott escaped such scathing, and in fact he not unfrequently came under her scorching criticism. He writhed under it, but, except for making some brief expression at the time, he did not appear to cherish resentment. In regard to the genuineness of her authorship, a story was once told me, which has been imagined by some to have a direct relation to the matter. I suppose this to be the occasion of several letters addressed to me upon the subject. My informant was the late Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson of Boston. Mrs. Thompson was a woman of wealth, abounding with benevolent purposes, but eager for novelties that were more or less visionary, shifting from one pursuit to another, and accessible to flattery. For example, she gave the money which enabled a medical college to hold several lecture terms, and then let the enterprise die out; she paid for building a chapel for the sessions of the Summer School of Philosophy at Concord, and then tired of the enterprise; she aided Dr. Newbrough with money to print his new bible Oahspe, and employed the artist, Mr. Frank Carpenter, to paint the picture of President Lincoln and his cabinet, which she presented to Congress. The wealth which her husband had bequeathed to her became a bait for all manner of parasites to seek her, and flattery artfully bestowed was often like the magical words: "Open, sesame," sure to find the way to her purse. But she quickly dropped one for another. For a little time she was attracted to Madam Blavatsky. This was somewhat to be wondered at, for it is hard to conceive that Madam Blavatsky flattered anybody. She did not hesitate to tell Henry Ward Beecher when he was at the height of his popularity, that he was not an honest public teacher. It might be questioned whether Mrs. Thompson herself was quite sincere. I remember meeting her one day at dinner at the flat. A statement which I made was imputed by Colonel Olcott to the "Astral light." Some days later, I saw Mrs. Thompson at her own premises, and she asked me my opinion in a manner that impressed me that she was hardly straightforward in her relations with the Theosophical household. A year or so afterward, they had left New York for India. Mrs. Thompson had become an inmate of the family of Dr. Newbrough on West 34th Street. He was endeavoring to push the "new Bible" into circulation. I called there one day by invitation, and learning that she had rooms in the house, paid her my respects. In our conversation, Madam Blavatsky was mentioned, and Mrs. Thompson spoke of her in these terms: "If Madam Blavatsky should come in at that door I should kiss her affectionately. At the same time I believe her to be a perfect humbug."'
She then related the following story: Baron de Palm, a German gentleman, who spent some time in this country, had died in Roosevelt Hospital. He had devoted much attention to arcane subjects, and had written upon them. He was intimate with the party on 47th Street, and made them recipients of his property, but with the assurance that his body should be cremated. There was a woman in the household who seems to have become unfriendly and ready to talk at random. She told Mrs. Thompson that after the death of the Baron she was with Madam Blavatsky while examining the contents of his trunks. One of these, the woman said, was full of manuscripts. Madam Blavatsky looked at a few of the pages, and then hastily closed the trunk, making an effort to divert attention in another direction. Mrs. Thompson apparently believed that this manuscript was the material of the work Isis Unveiled. Certainly she endeavored to give me that impression. But I am not apt at taking hints, and do not like others to suppose that I imply what I do not explicitly say. The giving of hints is hardly an honorable practice; it is an evasion, and often simply the affectation of knowing something beyond which is directly communicated. I never made use of this story, and repeated it only to Dr. R. B. Westbrook, of Philadelphia, and to Colonel Olcott when I next met him in New York. Several individuals have written letters, as though I knew something that would discredit the sincerity of Madam Blavatsky and the genuineness of the originality of Isis Unveiled. My reply was that she had always dealt justly with me, and I had no disposition to speak unkindly of her. I mean always to avoid being sycophantic or credulous, but I will not recompense fair treatment by evil or unfriendly speaking. It will readily be perceived that there was really no evidence sufficient to warrant the imputing of the authorship of Isis Unveiled to Baron de Palm. I do not know whether, being of foreign birth, he could write fluently in the English language. It is not known that the manuscript in the trunk was written for publication, or was in any proper book form. Indeed, I have never been informed whether he contemplated such a work, or even that he had sufficient capacity. All this would require to be taken for granted, before it would be permissible to presume any imposture in the authorship. The manuscript which I handled I am very sure was in the handwriting of Madam Blavatsky herself. Anybody who was familiar with her, would, upon reading the first volume of Isis Unveiled, not have any difficulty in recognizing her as the author. Nor was the manuscript, voluminous as it was, sufficiently extensive to include a large trunk full of written paper. Besides, a full third, or even more, of what was published, was written by Madam Blavatsky after Mr. Bouton had set about putting the work in type. She was by no means expert in preparing her material. She patched and changed, making a very large bill for "alterations." Indeed, she never actually finished the work, the publisher declared to me, till he told her that she must stop. It had been desired of me that I should read the proofsheets. It was not my province to dictate or even suggest what should be included in the work, and I do not remember taking exception but once. She had described certain medical treatment, with apparent approval, in which mercury was a factor. To this drug I entertain a lifelong antipathy. I have seen individuals "railroaded" out of life by its use as medicine, and others crippled hopelessly. My protestations may have induced her to qualify her eulogy. She always treated me with courtesy. When her work was most urgent, or she had been wearied with visitors, she commanded the woman at the door to turn off all callers. That prohibition was repeatedly spoken to me, but as she heard my voice, she would call out to admit me. This occurred when the call was not a matter of business. She was ready in conversation, and was at home on any topic, however abstruse. Few persons in any
walk of life are as well supplied with material for discourse. Even Colonel Olcott, who was by no means inferior or commonplace, was not her equal except in his own profession. Believing that the main body of the work would not be sufficiently attractive to purchasers, I urged her to include in it accounts of the marvellous things which she had observed in India. But this she invariably declined to do, saying that it was not permitted by "the Brothers." That was a tribunal that I could not question; my wisdom in the matter was that of the market-place. But she was always ready to hear what I had to say, whether in relation to her work, or to philosophic questions, or to subjects of everyday life. When the printer had placed everything in type, I was employed to prepare the index. Others must judge whether this was done with fidelity. As the author paid for this, and the publisher refrained from advancing a cent for all that I had done in the matter, though careful to make sure of all the proceeds from the sales, it is but just to render the acknowledgement where it is due. The work was finally completed, and Isis Unveiled was duly issued. The household began at once to make arrangements for leaving New York. Madam Blavatsky visited the Bureau of Naturalization and there became a citizen of the United States. This astonished me, partly because I knew her to be contemplating to leave the country permanently, and partly because she had freely criticized our ways of doing and our politics. She explained that the American nation had the best government. There were probably matters of law involved that I did not know about. Colonel Olcott was a skillful lawyer, and had been employed by the administration at Washington to ferret out alleged violations of law, he knew what would be necessary abroad for a safeguard. As the party after their arrival in India became objects of suspicion as possible spies of the Russian Government, it is not unlikely that the precaution was wise. Madam Blavatsky wrote to me several times after their arrival at Bombay. She told of many matters of interest to a student in comparative religions, such as I am, and her letters were entertaining as well as instructive. But as time passed, new duties took the place of old recollections. Such events occurred as the break with Dayananda, the leader of the Arya Samaj, an alliance unnatural for Americans of Protestant antecedents, who do not like any one to exercise dominion over their religious beliefs. The Theosophist, however, came regularly to me and was preserved from its first number. This enabled me to keep track of the party, and their doings -till the closing of their present earthly career.
Th Secr Do he ret octrine e
by Alvi Boyd Kuhn in
[Originally pu ublished in Theoso ophy: A Modern R Revival of Ancien Wisdom nt by Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Chapter VIII, p 194-231. An online edition of the entire book A , pp. f is available as w as a paperbac reprint edition by Kessinger Pu well ck n ublishing.]
The Secret Doctrine sets forth what pu t urports to be t root know the wledge out of w which all religi ion, philosoph hy, and scienc have grown The sub-title ce n. e---"The Synt thesis of Scien Religion, a Philosoph reveals the nce, and hy" e daring aim and scope of the undertak m f king. It is an effort to presen and align ce nt ertain fundam mental principl in les such a way as to render possible a syn y nthesis of all knowledge. volume deals with cosmogen w nesis, the seco with anthr ond ropogenesis. A third, to dea with the live of al es The first v the great o occultists dow the ages, wa in form for the press, as t wn as testified to by the Keightley who typed t ys, the manuscrip and by Alic L. Cleather and others, b never came to the public A fourth wa projected an pt, ce but e c. as nd almost ent tirely written, but likewise w to oblivion instead of to the printer A third volu went r. ume, issued fiv ve years after H.P.B.'s deat under the e r th editorship of M Annie Be Mrs. esant, is made up of some other writings of Madame B Blavatsky, dea aling in part w the Esoter Section, bu is not regard by close st with ric ut ded tudents as hav ving been the o original third volume. v e ses mmentary on The Stanzas of Dzyan,1 whi H.P.B. alle f ich eged to be a The whole book profess to be a com fragment o Tibetan sac writings o two types, o cosmologi of cred of one ical, the other ethical and d r devotional. The Secret Doc ctrine elucidate the former s es section of the Stanzas, and her later work The Voice of the Silence, th k, f he latter. The Stanzas of Dz e zyan are of gre antiquity, she claimed, d eat drawn from th Mani Koum he m________ ___________ 1 The wor Dzyan pres rd sents some ety ymological diff fficulties. Mad dame Blavatsky in the Glossa states that y ary Dzyan (als written Dzy and Dzen) is a corruptio of the Sanskrit Dhyana, meaning med so yn on ditation. In Tibetan, le earning is called Dzin.
195 boum, 2 o sacred script of the Dzun or ngarians, 3 in t north of T the Tibet. She is no sure of thei origin, but s ot ir says she was pe ermitted to me emorize them during her re m esidence in the Forbidden L e Land. They show a close par rallel with the P Prajna Paramit Sutras of H ta Hindu sacred lo ore. rges Stanzas herself or plagiarized them from some source. M f d Max There are of course char that she invented the S reported to ha said that in this matter s was either a remarkable forger or that she has made the ave n she t e Müller is r most valua gift to arc able cheological res search in the O Orient. She sa herself in the Preface: ays uths ward as a revel lation; nor do the author claim the pos oes sition of a reve ealer "These tru are in no sense put forw
of mystic lore, now made public for the first time in the world's history. For what is contained in this work is to be found scattered throughout thousands of volumes embodying the scriptures of the great Asiatic and early European religions, hidden under glyph and symbol, and hitherto left unnoticed because of this veil. What is now attempted is to gather the oldest tenets together and to make of them one harmonious and unbroken whole. The sole advantage which the __________________ 2 This document (spelled variously Koumboum, Kumbum, Kounboum, etc.) was a Buddhist text connected with the Koumboum monastery, in Tibet. On the monastery grounds grew the sacred Tree of Tibet, the 'tree of the ten thousand images,' as Huc describes it. . . . "Tradition has it that it grew out of the hair of Tsonkapa, who was buried on that spot. . . . In the words of the Abbé Huc, who lived several months with another missionary, named Gabet, near this phenomenal tree: 'Each of its leaves in opening, bears either a letter or a religious sentence, written in sacred characters, and these letters are, of their kind, of such a perfection that the type-foundries of Didot contain nothing to excel them. Open the leaves, which vegetation is about to unroll, and you will there discover, on the point of appearing, the letters or the distinct words which are the marvel of this unique tree. Turn your attention from the plant to the bark of its branches, and new characters will meet your eyes! Do not allow your interest to flag; raise the layers of this bark and still other characters will show themselves below those whose beauty has surprised you. For, do not fancy that these superposed layers repeat the same printing. No, quite the contrary; for each lamina you lift presents to view its distinct type. How, then, can we suspect jugglery? I have done my best in that direction to discover the slightest trace of human trick, and my baffled mind could not retain the slightest suspicion.' Yet promptly the kind French Abbé suspects---the Devil."---Quoted from Madame Blavatsky, article Kounboum in The Theosophical Glossary. 3 The Dzungarians were a section of the Mongolian Empire at its height, whose name now remains only as the name of a mountain range. They have disappeared geographically.
196 writer has over her predecessors, is that she need not resort to personal speculation and theories. For this work is a partial statement of what she herself has been taught by more advanced students, supplemented in a few details only, by the results of her own study and observation."4 Near the end of her Introductory she printed in large type, quoting Montaigne: "I have here made only a nosegay of culled flowers, and have brought nothing of my own but the string that ties them." Then she adds: "Pull the 'string' to pieces, if you will. As for the nosegay of facts---you will never be able to make away with these. You can only ignore them and no more." In the Introductory she presents once more the thesis of esotericism as the method used throughout former history for the preservation and propagation of the precious deposit of the Ancient Wisdom. She affirms that
under the sandswept plains of Tibet, under many a desert of the Orient, cities lie buried in whose secret recesses are stored away the priceless books that the despoiling hands of the bigot would have tossed into the flames. Books which held the key to thousands of others yet extant, she alleges, unaccountably disappeared from view---but are not lost. There was a "primeval revelation," granted to the fathers of the human race, and it still exists. Furthermore, it will reappear. But unless one possesses the key, he will never unlock it, and the profane world will search for it in vain. The Golden Legend traces its symbolic pattern mysteriously through the warp and woof of the oldest literatures, but only the initiated will see it. A strange prophecy is dropped as she passes on. "The rejection of these teachings may be expected and must be accepted beforehand. No one styling himself a 'scholar,' in whatever department of exact science, will be permitted to regard these teachings seriously. They will be derided and rejected a priori in this century; but only in this one. For in the twentieth century of __________________ 4 Page vii.
197 our era scholars will begin to recognize that the Secret Doctrine has neither been invented nor exaggerated, but on the contrary, simply outlined; and finally that its teachings antedate the Vedas."5 Her book is not the Secret Doctrine in its entirety, but a select number of fragments of its fundamental tenets. But it will be centuries before much more is given out. The keys to the Zodiacal Mysteries "must be turned seven times before the whole system is divulged." One turn of the key was given in Isis. Several turns more are given in The Secret Doctrine. "The Secret Doctrine is not a treatise, or a series of vague theories, but contains all that can be given out to the world in this century."6 She is to deal with the entire field of life, in all its manifestations, cosmic, universal, planetary, earthly, and human. Omnipresent eternal life is assumed as given, without beginning or end, yet periodical in its regular manifestations. It is always in being for Itself, yet for us it comes into and goes out of existence with periodical rhythm. Its one absolute attribute, which is itself, is eternal causeless motion, called the "Great Breath." Life eternal exhales and inhales, and this action produces the universes and withdraws them. It is in regular and harmonious succession either passive or active. These conditions are the "Days" and "Nights" of Brahm, when, so to say, universal life is either awake or asleep. This characteristic of the One Life stamps everything everywhere with the mark of an analogous process. No work of Life is free from this law. It is the immutable law of the All and of every part of the All. It is the universal law of Karma, and makes reincarnation the method of life expression everywhere. Life swings eternally back and forth between periods of activity and rest. Upon inaugurating an active period after a "Night" of rest, life begins to expand, and continues until it fills all space with cosmical __________________ 5 The Secret Doctrine, Introductory, p. xxxvii. 6 Ibid., p. xxxviii.
198 creation; in turn, at the end of this activity, it contracts and withdraws all the energy within itself. The Secret Doctrine is an account of the activities of the One Life from the beginning of one of these periods of reawakening to its end, treating the cosmic processes generally, and the earth and human processes specifically. It is the cryptic story of how the universe is created, whence it emanates, what Powers fashion it, whither it goes and what it means. The period of universal rest is known in esoteric circles as "Pralaya,"7 the active period as a "Manvantara."8 A description of the Totality of Things is nothing but an account of the Life Force alternating, shuttle-like, between these two conditions. The universe comes out of the Great Being and disappears into it. Life repeats in any form it takes the metaphor of this process. It vacillates forever between the opposite poles of Unity and Infinity, noumenon and phenomenon, absoluteness and relativity, homogeneity and heterogeneity, reality and appearance, the unconditional and the conditioned, the dimensionless and the dimensioned, the eternal and the temporal. What Life is when not manifest to us is as indescribable, as unthinkable as is space. The Absolute---God---is just this Space. Space is neither a "limitless void" nor a "conditioned fulness," but both. It appears void to finite minds, yet is the absolute container of all that is. Where the universe goes when it dissolves---and still remains in being---is where anything else goes when it dissolves,---into solution. Not in a purely mechanical sense, yet that too. It goes from infinite particularity back into the one genus, from form back to formlessness, from differentiation back to homogeneity. Matter goes to bits, finer, finer, till it is __________________ 7 Pralaya, as given in Sanskrit dictionaries, means "dissolution, reabsorption, destruction, annihilation, death"; especially the destruction of the whole world at the end of a Kalpa; also "fainting, loss of sense of consciousness; sleep." It apparently is derived from the Sanskrit stem li, one of whose meanings is to disappear or vanish. Madame Blavatsky describes Pralaya in the Glossary as "a period of obscuration or repose--planetary, cosmic or universal---the opposite of Manvantara." 8 Manvantara (Manu plus antara, between) is described as the period or age of a Manu. It comprised a period of 4,320,000 human years, supposedly the period intervening between two Manus.
199 held in solution in the infinite sea of pure Non-Being. It goes from actuality to latency. Occultism is the study of the worlds in their latent state; material science is the study of the same worlds in their actual or manifest condition. Or, to use Aristotelian terms, since no attributes can be predicated of pure potentiality, matter is privation. Matter is sheer possibility, with no capacity but to be acted upon, shaped, formed, impregnated. Nothing can be affirmed of it save that it is, and even then it is not as matter, but the pure essence, germ, or root of matter. It is just the Absolute, i.e., freed from all marks of differentiation. Since nothing can be asserted of it, it is pure negation, non-being. Absolute being, paradoxically, ultimately equals
non-being. Being has so far retreated from actuality that it ends in sheer Be-ness. The eternal "dance of life" is a rhythmic movement of the All from Be-ness to Being, through the path of Becoming. This brings us to the famous three fundamentals of the Secret Doctrine, the three basic principles of the Sacred Science. They are: 1. The Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Immutable Principle, on which all speculation is impossible--beyond the range and reach of thought---the One Absolute Reality, Infinite Cause, the Unknowable, the Unmoved Mover and Rootless Root of all---pure Be-ness---Sat. It is symbolized in esotericism under two aspects, Absolute Space and Absolute Motion; the latter representing unconditioned Consciousness. The impersonal reality of the cosmos is the pure noumenon of thought. Parabrahm (Be-ness) is out of all relation to conditioned existence. In Sanskrit, parabrahman means "the Supreme Spirit of Brahma." Whenever the life of Parabrahm deploys into manifestation, it assumes a dual aspect, giving rise to the "pairs of opposites," or the polarities of the conditioned universe. The One Life splits into Spirit-Matter, Subject-Object. The contrast and tension of these two aspects are essential to hold the universes in manifestation. Without cosmic substance cosmic ideation would not manifest as individual self-consciousness, since only through matter can there be effected a focus of
200 this undifferentiated intelligence to form a conscious being. Similarly cosmic matter apart from cosmic ideation, would remain an empty abstraction. Madame Blavatsky here introduces the conception of a force whose function it is to effect the linkage between spirit and matter. This is an energy named Fohat (supposedly a Tibetan term), which becomes at once the solution of all mind-body problems. It is the "bridge" by which the "Ideas" existing in the Divine Intelligence are impressed on cosmic substance as the "Laws of Nature." It is the Force which prescribes form to matter, and gives mode to its activity. It is the agent of the formative intelligences, the various sons of the various trinities, for casting the creations into forms of "logical structure." 2. The periodical activity already noted, which makes Space the "playground of numberless universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing," the rhythmic pulse which causes "the appearance and disappearance of worlds like a regular tidal ebb and flow." This second fundamental affirms that absolute law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, which physical science has noted and recorded in all departments of nature, and which the old science termed the Law of Karma. It has been treated briefly above, and a later chapter will trace its operations in nature more fully. 3. The identity and fundamental unity of all individual Souls with the universal Over-Soul, the microcosm with the macrocosm. The history of the individual or personalized Soul is thus of necessity a miniature or copy of the larger life of the universe, a pilgrimage through the worlds of matter and sense, under the cyclic karmic law,---"cycles of necessity" and incarnation. In fact individual self-consciousness is only acquirable by the Spirit, in its separated though still divine aspect---the Soul---by an independent conscious existence that brings it in contact with every elementary form of the phenomenal world. This demands of it a "descent into matter" to its lowest and most inert forms, and a re-ascent through every rising grade until immaterial conditions are once more attained. The road downward and
201 upward is marked by seven steps, grades or planes of cosmic formation, on each of which man acquires a nature and faculties consonant with the type of structure of the atom there encountered. On the downward arc (or Involution, a process unknown to modern science which deals only with Evolution), Life undergoes at each step an increased degree of differentiation; and the naming of the various potentialities emerging into potencies, gives us the dualities, the trinities, the tetractys, and the numberless hierarchies of the ancient Greeks and Orientals. The Gods, the Mothers-Fathers-Sons, Spirits, Logoi, Elohim, Demiurges, Jehovahs, Pitris, Aeons, are but names of the Intelligent Forces that are first emanated from the impregnated womb of time. The first emanated principles are sexless, but sex is introduced (in symbolic form) as soon as the dual polarization of Spirit-Matter takes place. The whole story of the Cosmogenesis (Volume I) is a recital of the scheme according to which the primal unity of unmanifest Being breaks up into differentiation and multiformity and so fills space with conscious evolving beings. Thus the three fundamentals express respectively the Be-ness, the Becoming, and the Being of the everlasting That, which is Life. The First Stanza describes the state of the Absolute during Pralaya, the "Night of Brahm," when nothing is in existence, but everything only is. Such a description can obviously be only a grouping of symbolisms. The only fit symbol of the Absolute is darkness, "brooding over the face of the deep" (Space). It is the night of Life, and all Nature sleeps. The worlds were not. The only description is privative. Time was not; mind was not; "the seven ways to bliss," or the evolutionary paths, were not; the "causes of misery," of the worlds of illusion, were not; even the hierarchies who would direct the "new wheel," were not. The first differentiation of the That, viz., Spirit, had not been made. ("That" is a reminiscence of the phrase tat tvam asi "that [i.e., the All] thou art," found in the Indian Upanishads.) Matter was not; but only its formless essence.
202 Nature had thus slept for "seven eternities," however they may have been registered in a timeless consciousness; for time was not, since there was no differentiation, hence no succession. Mind was not, having no organ to function through. All was noumenon. The Great Breath, on whose outgoing energy worlds sprang into existence, had not yet gone forth. The universe was a blank; metaphysics had not begun to generate physics; the universe held in solution had not yet begun to precipitate into crystallization. All life was hidden in the formless embrace of the protyle, or primal substance. Darkness is the "Father of Lights," but the Son had not yet been born. When day dawns, Father (Spirit) and Mother (Substance) unite to beget their Son, who will then cleave the Cimmerian darkness and issue forth to flood all space. Stanza II continues the description of the sleeping universe, pointing, however, to the signs of reawakening. "The hour had not yet struck; the ray had not yet flashed into the germ; the mother-lotus had not yet swollen." From the darkness soon would issue the streak of dawn, splitting open by its light and warmth the shell of each atom of virgin matter, and letting issue thence the Seven Creators, who will fashion the universe. In the Mundane Egg the germ of life was deposited from the preceding Manvantaras, and the Divine Energy,
brooding over it for aeons, caused it to hatch out its brood of new worlds. In immaterial form within the germ dwelt the archetypal ideas, the (Platonic) memories of former experiences, which will determine the form of the new structures as the Divine Architects of the worlds. All things on earth are but patterns of things in the heavens; spiritual ideas crystallized into concretion on the plane of manifestation --- "sermons in stones." The lotus is the symbol of esoteric teaching because its seed contains a miniature of the future plant, and because, like man, it lives in three worlds, the mud (material), the water (typifying the emotional), and the air (spiritual). Creation starts with incubation. The Cosmic Egg must be fertilized ere it can be hatched. A ray, or first emanation,
203 from the Darkness opens the womb of the Mother (Primal Substance), and it then emanates as three, FatherMother-Son, which, with the energy of Fohat makes the quaternary. Thus occultism explains all the mysteries of the trinity and the Immaculate Conception. The first dogma of Occultism is universal unity under three aspects. The Son was born from virgin (i.e., unproductive, unfertilized) matter (Root Substance, the Mother), when the latter was fecundated by the Father (Spirit). The archetypal ideas do not imply a Divine Ideator, nor the Divine Thought a Divine Thinker. The Universe is Thought itself, reflected in a manifested material. But the Universe is the product, or "Son," which during the prologue of the drama of the creation lies buried in the Divine Thought. The latter has "not yet penetrated unto the Divine Bosom." Stanza III rings with the concluding vibrations of the seventh eternity as they thrill through boundless space, sounding the cock-crow of a new Manvantaric daybreak. The Mother (Substance) swells, expanding from within. The vibration sweeps along, impregnating the quiescent germs of life in the whole expanse. Darkness gives out light; light drops into virgin matter, opening every bud. Divine Intelligence impregnates chaos. The germs float together into the World-Egg, the ancient symbol of Nature fructified. The aggravation of units of matter under the impulse of dynamic spirit is symbolized by the term "curdling." Pure Spirit curdles pure matter into the incipient granules of hyle, or substance. The serpent symbol is prominent in the early cosmology, typifying at different times the eternity, infinitude, regeneration and rejuvenation of the universe, and also wisdom. The familiar serpent with its tail in its mouth was a symbol not only of eternity and infinitude, but of the globular form of all bodies shaped out of the fire mist. In general the "fiery serpent" represented the movement of Divine Wisdom over the face of the waters, or primary elements. The text of the whole doctrine of the early stages, in fact, of the entire creative process, is the statement
"that there is but One Universal Element, infinite, unborn and undying, and that all the rest---as the world of phenomena---are but so many various differentiated aspects and transformations of that One, from Cosmical down to micro-cosmical effects, from superhuman down to human and sub-human beings, the totality in short of objective existence."9 Naturally but one tiny segment of all that activity is cognizable by man, whose perceptive powers are limited to a small range of vibratory sensitivity. Only that part of nature which comes within hail of his sense equipment, only the expressions of life which take physical form, are known (directly) to him. Were it not, says Theosophy, for the fact that superhuman beings, whose cognitive powers have been vastly extended beyond ordinary human capacity, have imparted to those qualified to receive it information relative to the upper worlds and the inner realities of nature, we would know nothing of cosmology. "In order to obtain clear perception of it, one has first of all to admit the postulate of a universally diffused, omnipresent, eternal Deity in Nature; secondly, to have fathomed the meaning of electricity in its true essence; and thirdly, to credit man with being a septenary symbol, on the terrestrial plane, of the One Great Unit, (the Logos), which is itself the seven-vowelled sign, the Breath, crystallized into the Word."10 Madame Blavatsky starts with the Absolute, the All-That-Is, not even the One, but the No-Number. In Stanza IV we see this primordial essence awakening to activity. It emanates or engenders the One, the homogeneous substrate of all. It in turn projects or splits itself into the Two, Father-Mother, and these, interacting, produce the "Sons" or Rays, who by their word of power, the "Army of the Voice" (the laws of nature), build the worlds of the universe. These sons are always seven in number, and their created works are thus given a seven-fold constitution. Christians know them as the Seven Logoi, or the Seven __________________ 9 The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 75. 10 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 83.
205 Archangels. These carry the differentiation of the one cosmic substrate to its furthest extent in the production of the ninety-two or more elements of our globe, which their forces weld into an infinity of combinations to compose our structural earth. All the physical forces we know, light, heat, cold, fire, water, gas, earth, ether, are the progeny of the great universal agent, Fohat, which we know under its form of electricity. Electricity is the universal agent employed by the Sons of God to create and uphold our world. In bold outline this is the whole story. But Madame Blavatsky supplies a wealth of detail and a richness of illustration that go far to clarify the various phases of the process and the diversified agents coöperating in it. When the One has created the Two---Spirit and Matter---the allegory goes on to say, the interaction of these Two "spin a web whose upper end is fastened to Spirit and the lower one to Matter." This web is the universe, ranging in constituent elements from coarse matter up to vibrant Spirit. Yet Spirit and Matter are but two phases of one and the same Prime Element.
Cosmic Fire, Fohat, Divine Electricity, energizes the universe. But to the natural concept of electricity the occult science adds the property of intelligence. Cerebration is attended by electrical phenomena, it is said. Humanity is a materialized and as yet imperfect expression of the seven hierarchical Devas, or the seven conscious intelligent powers in nature. The planetary deities, or the planets as living beings, are fundamental in the Theosophic view, as to the Aristotelian and ancient Greek view generally. Mankind is but repeating the history of precedent life units, which have risen to celestial heights and magnitudes. The forms of created life are all determined by the geometrical forms in the minds of the Intelligences. "Nature geometrizes universally in all her manifestations." There is an inherent law by which nature coördinates or correlates all her geometrical forms, and her compound elements; and in it there is no room for chance. The worlds are all subject
206 to Rulers or Regents, and the apparent deviations from precise natural programs are due to voluntary actions on the part of those great Beings who, like ourselves, are in the cycle of experience and evolution. The Solar Logoi can err in their spheres as we in ours. Some of the exceptional oddities in nature are the effects of their efforts to experiment and learn. The "Lipika" ("scribes") "write" the eternal records of nature on the imperishable scroll of the Akashic ether. They are the "amanuenses of the Eternal Ideation," who copy the archetypal ideas and imprint them on the material substance. They write the Book of Eternal Life and exercise an influence on the science of horoscopy. Stanza V elaborates in more detail the creative process, controlled by the various "sevens," the "Breaths" (prana, basic category in Indian philosophy) and the "Sons." The Doctrine teaches that to become a fully conscious divine "god," the spiritual primeval Intelligence must pass through the human stage. And "human" in this usage is not limited to the humanity of our globe, but applies also to the numberless other mortal incarnations of varying types on other planets. A human state is one in which Intelligence is embodied in a condition of material organization in which there is established an equilibrium between matter and spirit,--and this state is reached in the middle point of the Fourth Round on each chain of globes, or when spirit is most deeply enmeshed in matter, and is ready to begin its emergence. The hierarchical entities must have won for themselves the right of divinity through self-experience, as we are doing. "The 'Breath' or first emanation becomes a stone, the stone a plant, the plant an animal, the animal a man, the man a spirit and the spirit a god." All the great planetary gods were once men, and we men shall in the future take our places in the skies as Lords of planets, Regents of galaxies and wielders of fire-mist! As our human wills (the divine elements in us) are now masters over small potencies, so our expanded Intelligences will direct vast elemental energies, and worlds will arise under the impulsion of our thought. There is room in
space for us all. The "flaming fire" (electricity) shall be our minister, to flash at our bidding. The "fiery wind" is the incandescent cosmic dust which follows the impulsion of the will as iron filings follow a magnet. Yet this cosmic dust is "mind-stuff," has the potentiality of self-consciousness in it, and is, like the Monad of Leibnitz, a universe in itself and for itself. "It is an atom and an angel." Fohat is the universal fiery agent of Divine Will, and the electricity we know is one aspect, not by any means the highest, of it. In a higher state Fohat is the "objectivized thought of the gods," the Word made flesh. In another aspect he is the Universal Life Force, solar energy. He is said to take "three and seven strides through the seven regions above and the seven below," which is taken to mean the successive waves of vital force impregnating the seven levels of nature. "God is a living Fire,"---the Christians are fire-worshippers, too, says Madame Blavatsky. God is the One Flame. It burns within every material thing. The ultimate essence of each constituent part of the compounds of nature is unitary, whether in the spiritual, the intellectual or the physical world. In order that the One may become the many, there must be a principium individuationis, and this is provided by the qualities of matter. A spark of Divine Fire, so to speak, is wrapped in a vesture of matter, which circumscribes the energies of spirit with a "Ring Pass-Not." Each embodied Monad or Spiritual Ego looks out through its sense windows to perceive another Ego; but perceives only the material garment of that Ego. The process of evolution will make this garment thinner, so that the inner splendor of the Self can be seen luminously through it. The fiery energy of the great planetary beings, our author says, will never "run down," as it is constantly being fed by intra-cosmic fuel, a theory which Prof. Millikan has made familiar in recent days. Stanza VI carries out the further stages of differentiation of the life principle in its first or virgin forms. Man's physical body is but one of seven constituents of his being, and a planet likewise presents only its outer garment, its physical
208 vehicle, to our view. The stars, as beings, are septenary, having astral, mental, and spiritual bodies in addition to their physical globes. It is affirmed that this septiform constitution of man, which makes him an analogue of the great cosmic beings and of the cosmos itself, is to be taken as the true significance of the Biblical phrase "man, the image and likeness of God." The more real or more spiritual essences of the being of both man and stars are not visible to sense. The life impulsion animating man contacts the material world only in and through his physical body; the same thing is true of the chain of globes. Both man and the planet have one physical body on the material plane, two on the vital etheric plane, two on the mental plane, and two on the upper plane of spirit. The latter two are beyond the powers of human ken, and to us are material only in the sense that they are not entirely devoid of differentiation. They are still vestures of spirit, not spirit itself. But they are the first garments of "pure" spirit. A life wave, in man or planet, comes forth from spirit, enters one after the other the bodies of increasing material density, until it has descended to a perfect equilibrium between matter and spirit, in the gross physical or fourth body; and then begins its ascent through three other vehicles of increasingly tenuous organization. And it runs seven times round each cycle of bodies and dwells for milliards of years in each of the seven kingdoms of nature, the mineral, vegetable, animal, and human, and three sub-mineral kingdoms of an elementary character, not known to science. The waves of life pass successively from one globe to another, lifting one into active existence as another goes "dead." They traverse
the seven globes of a chain like a great spiral serpent, revolving like a barber's pole, every turn of the axis carrying a kingdom of nature one stride higher. For instance, hitting Globe A of the chain the impulsion builds up the mineral kingdom there; as this first wave swings onward to Globe B (where it builds the mineral kingdom for it) the second impulsion hits Globe A and lifts the mineral kingdom erected by the previous wave into the vegetable evolution. As the first wave leaps over from Globe
209 B to Globe C, to start mineral life there, the second wave has brought the vegetable kingdom to Globe B, and the animal kingdom on Globe A. The fourth outgoing of force will introduce the mineral world on Globe D, the vegetable on Globe C, the animal on Globe B, and the human on Globe A. After the human come the superhuman or spiritual evolutions. The detailed explanation of the entire cycle of birth, growth, life, and death of solar systems is of such complexity that it is the work of years for the Theosophic student to grasp it with any clearness. It is immensely involved, so that charts and graphs are generally resorted to. The student is referred to standard Theosophic works for the minutiae of this subject. We can but note here the principles of the system and some of their implications. The earth, as the one visible representative of its six invisible principles, has to live through seven Rounds. The first three take it through the process of materialization; the fourth fully crystallizes it, hardens it; the last three take it gradually out of physical, back to ethereal and finally spiritual form. The Fourth Globe of each chain is thus always the nadir of the process of involution, and the Fourth Round is always the time in which this process is consummated. The earth is now a little past the nethermost point of material existence, as we have passed the middle of the Fourth Round. We have finished the descending arc and have begun our return to Deity, both the globe and the human family on it. Exiles from God, prodigal sons in a far country, we have set out on our homeward journey. Man came on our globe at the beginning of the Fourth Round in the present series of life cycles and races, following the evolution of the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms thereon. Every life cycle on our earth brings into being seven Root Races. The First Root Race were the progeny of "celestial men," or the Lunar Pitris, 11 of which again there are seven hierarchies. __________________ 11 The word Pitris commonly means "fathers, ancestors, progenitors." Madame Blavatsky, however, on the authority of her Mahatmic instructors, employs the term in a wider sense. She uses it in a racial sense. In the Glossary she speaks of the Pitris as "the ancestors or creators of mankind. They are of the seven classes, three [continued on bottom of next page]
210 Human Egos continue to come into the stream of our evolution on earth up to the Fourth Round. But at this point the door into the human kingdom closes. Those Monads who have not reached the human kingdom by this time will find themselves so far behind that they will have to wait over, in a state of suspended vitality, until the next wave bears them onward. But for their loss of opportunity on this chain they will be rewarded
by becoming men on a higher chain altogether. The hosts of Monads are divided into three classes: Lunar Pitris, present Men, and the laggards. The first class are advanced Egos who reached "Manhood" in the First Round. The laggards are those who come in last, and are still in an undeveloped state. The Moon is the parent of our Earth---and this in spite of the fact that it is our satellite. It is older, and its spirit has passed from its now lifeless body into our planet. In brief, the Earth is the new body or reincarnation of the Moon,---or more correctly, of that great Spirit which tenanted the Moon aeons ago. Madame Blavatsky uses the apt illustration of a mother circling around her child's cradle, to vindicate the anomaly of a parent body in a satellitic relation to its offspring. There exists in nature a triple evolutionary scheme, or three separate schemes of evolution, which proceed contemporaneously in our system and are inextricably interblended at every point. These are the Monadic, the intellectual, and the physical. Here again analogy steps in to clarify thought. As man is a Monad, or spark of the Infinite Essence, which is evolving in connection both with a principle of mind and a physical body, so nature is a combination of three streams of development. The higher part must find its way to growth through connection with the lower and __________________ of which are incorporeal. In popular theology they are said to be created from Brahma's side. . . . The Pitris are not the ancestors of the present living men, but those of the human kind or Adamic races; the spirits of the human races, which on the great scale of descending evolution preceded our races of men, and they were physically, as well as spiritually, far superior to our modern pigmies. In Manava Dharma Shastra they are called the Lunar Ancestors."
211 the lowest. But each of these three evolutions has its own laws, and the interconnection of them all in man makes him the complex being he is. Every speck of matter strives to reach its model in man; and every man aspires to be a self-conscious Monad. Out of this assertion of a threefold nature in man grows one of the unique conceptions of Theosophy: that Man, a divine spiritual Monad, is in this evolution dwelling in and controlling (if he has learned how to prevent it controlling him) the body of an animal. And the body is the animal's, not man's, in the strict sense. The body has its own type of consciousness, primal urgings, its own independent soul, but no intellect or spiritual nature. Through its association with us in the same house it is supposed to develop in a way it could never do unaided, first a mind and later the inkling of spirituality. But every organism has its principle, and the soul of the animal is capable of attending to those functions which pertain to the life of the body. Hence, the commonplace functions of our bodies are regulated by a cerebration which is so far from being directly our own that we are at any rate totally unconscious of it. This amounts to saying that our subconscious, or the operations of our sympathetic, as distinguished from our cerebral, nervous system, is the "soul" of our animal mate. The hope of the animal lies in his fairly ready susceptibility to training, so that he is able quickly to take up by an automatism whatever "we" do habitually.
Theosophy affirms that man has to control, not his own lower nature, but a lower order of being whose body he is tenanting. Theosophists point to the development of a child as corroborative of this theory. Before mind develops, the child is an animal simply. Later comes intellect, and after more time comes spirituality. Man is not simple; he is a congeries of individuals in association. As the individual's unfoldment in his own life is a recapitulation of the growth of humanity as a unit, it follows the same order of evolution. The great Creative Lords did not implant the principle of mind in our
212 order until, in the Fourth Race, appropriate bodies had been built up. We are only now beginning to evolve spiritual faculty. The so-called Fall "was the fall of Spirit into generation, not the fall of mortal man." Madame Blavatsky undertakes to show that on this point of theology, as on that of the Virgin Birth, Christian doctrine is childishly literal-minded. It has taken a fact of cosmology, which like all others in ancient thought had been symbolized in various forms, and rendered it in a literal historical sense. The "Falls" are but phases of the universal "descent into matter," which appears under several aspects, one being the general outgoing of spirit into the material worlds, another the "fall of the angels" and a third the "fall of man." The taint of sexuality associated with certain conceptions of man's fall is a reference to the fact that when the spiritual Monads who descended to earth to inhabit the bodies of a lower race (the animals spoken of above), they were of necessity forced into sexual procreation, whereas they had propagated by powers of the intellectualized will in their previous high estate. Then in regard to the Satans, the Serpents, the Dragons, the Devils, the Demons, the Demiurges, the Adversaries, Madame Blavatsky delves deep into ancient lore to prove that, when read properly in their esoteric meaning, all the old legends of the Evil Ones, the Powers of Darkness, refer to no essentially evil beings, great or small, but to the Divine Wisdom of the Sons of Light (all light emanates from darkness) who impregnate the universe with the principle of intelligence. Adam's eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree gave him knowledge of good and evil. This can mean only that beings of a "pure" spiritual nature represented symbolically by resident life in Eden or Paradise, sought, through incarnation in physical bodies in a material world, the opportunity to bring the latent intelligence in their divine nature to actualization in self-conscious knowledge. Dragons are always found guarding a tree---the tree of knowledge. "When the Church, therefore, curses Satan, it curses the cosmic reflection of God; it anathematizes God made manifest in matter
213 or in the objective; it maledicts God, or the ever-incomprehensible Wisdom, revealing itself as Light and Shadow, good and evil in nature in the only manner comprehensible to the limited intellect of man."12
"Satan, once he ceases to be viewed in the superstitious dogmatic unphilosophical spirit of the Churches, grows into the grandiose image of one who made of terrestrial a divine Man; who gave him . . . the law of the Spirit and Life and made him free from the sin of ignorance, hence of death."13 All references to Satan stood for an aspect of nature that was evil only as the negative pole of electricity is evil, i.e., as it stands in opposition to the positive, a necessary and benignant phase of activity. "Deus est Demon inversus." The globes, or their constituent matter, go through seven fundamental transformations in their life history: (1), the homogeneous; (2), the aëriform and radiant (gaseous); (3), curd-like (nebulous); (4), atomic, ethereal (beginning of differentiation); (5), germinal, fiery; (6), vapory (the future Earth); (7), cold, depending on the sun for life. When the worlds are populated and the Monads have entered the human chain, certain great beings who have risen to knowledge on other chains supervise the instruction of the oncoming races, keeping closely in touch with the spiritual condition of the unenlightened masses. Either they themselves descend into the world or they send forth lesser teachers to keep alive the seed of spiritual wisdom. Kapila, Hermes, Enoch, Orpheus, Krishna were a few of their emissaries. They voluntarily forego their own higher evolution, at least temporarily, "to form the nursery for future human adepts," during the rest of our cycle. Stanza VII goes into the numerology of the primal and later hierarchies, and gives the inner cosmological significance of the numbers. Two, of course, symbolizes the polarization of original essence into the duality of Spirit-Matter. Three refers to the triune constitution of the Divine Men, or Planetary Beings, who manifest the union of the three __________________ 12 The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, p. 235. 13 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 198.
214 highest principles, Atma-Buddhi-Manas, 14 in one organism. Man on his plane reflects this trinitarian union. The quaternaries represent the cardinal points which square the circle of infinity and typify manifestation. Four sometimes also stands for the basic states of elementary essence, or the four perceptible planes of material existence, earth, water, air, and ether. Five is the symbol of man in his present stage of evolutionary development, as he stands in the fifth lap of his progression round the spiral, and has consequently developed five of his ultimate seven capacities. This accounts for his having five senses, five fingers and toes. The pentacle or five-pointed star is often his symbol. The six-pointed star refers to the six forces or powers of nature, all synthesized by the seventh or central point in the star. Seven is, of course, the number of life in its final form of organization on the material plane. This is because the Logoi created man in their own septenary image. Man is really, in his totality, a sevenfold being, or a being made up of the union of seven distinct constituent parts. His threefold nature is a truth for his present status only. He is sevenfold potentially, threefold actually. This means that of his seven principles only the lower three have been brought from
latency to activity, as he is engaged in awakening to full function his fourth or Buddhic principle. At the faroff summit of his life in the seventh Round he will have all his seven principles in full flower, and will be the divine man he was before---only now conscious of his divinity. At the end of each Round, "when the seventh globe is reached the nature of everything that is evolving returns to the condition it was in at its starting point--__________________ 14 The term Atma-Buddhi-Manas is the Theosophical manner of designating the "higher triplicity" in man, the union of the three higher principles which constitutes him an individual Ego. If one were to say, man is composed of mind, soul and spirit in his higher nature, it would roughly approximate the Theosophic description. Sanskrit dictionaries give Atma as meaning, "breath, life, soul"; Buddhi as meaning "intelligence, reason, intellect, mind, discernment, judgment, the power of forming and retaining conceptions and general notions; perception, apprehension, understanding"; and Manas as "the principle of mind or spirit."
215 plus, every time, a new and superior degree in the states of consciousness."15 The theory of an inner permanent unit of life, repeatedly touching the outer material worlds in order to gain experience, is symbolized in Theosophy by the Sutratma ("thread-soul"), or string of pearls. The permanent life principle is the thread running through all, and the successive generations in matter are the beads strung along it. To understand these postulations, we must envisage man as dwelling only partially in the physical embodiment, and having segments of his constitution in the invisible worlds. In the latter lies the groundplan of his earth life, shaped by his previous life histories. The present physical life will contribute its quota of influence to modify that ground-plan when it becomes in turn the determinant of his succeeding incarnation. The Sabbath, according to Madame Blavatsky, has an occult significance undreamed of by our theologians. It means the rest of Nirvana, and refers to the seventh or final Round of each emanation through the planes of nature. But the Sabbath should be as long as the days of activity. A passage in a footnote says that the introductory chapters of Genesis were never meant to represent even a remote allegory of the creation of our earth. They "embrace a metaphysical conception of some indefinite period in the eternity, when successive attempts were being made by the law of evolution at the formation of universes. The idea is plainly stated in the Zohar."16 Had its purpose been to give the true genesis, the narrative would have followed the outline laid down in The Secret Doctrine. The creation in which Adam Kadmon ("Primal Man") has a part, did not take place on our earth, but in the depths of primordial matter. The theory is adduced that each Round of the emanational wave of life engenders one of the four elements, of which
__________________ 15 The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 103. 16 Ibid., p. 246.
216 the Greeks spoke so much. The First Round developed one element, "one-dimensional space," fiery energy. The Second Round brought forth the second element, air. Matter in the Second Round was two-dimensional. The Third Round brought water, and the Fourth produced earth in its hard encrusted state. The Fifth will beget ether, the gross body of the immaterial Akasha. 17 The senses of man in that distant day will be refined to the point at which responsiveness to ethereal vibrations will be general. Our range of cognition will be thus vastly enhanced, for whole realms of nature's life now closed to us because of our low pitch of faculty, will then be opened up. Phenomena manifesting the permeability of matter will be to our higher senses then a daily commonplace. We will have X-ray vision, so that we shall be able "to see into the heart of things." If man's nature is sevenfold, so is his evolution. The seven principles in him are enumerated as "the Spiritual or Divine; the psychic or semi-divine; the intellectual; the passional; the instinctual or cognitional; the semicorporeal; and the purely material or physical. All these evolve and progress cyclically, passing from one into another . . . one in their ultimate essence, seven in their aspects." An important point is made by the expounder of Occultism as to the way in which we should think of all spirits in the supersensible and the sub-sensible worlds. Those superior to us have all been men, whether in this or former evolutions on other globes or in other Manvantaras; and those below us, the elementaries, nature spirits, will be men in the future. If a spirit has intelligence he must have got it in the human stage, where alone that principle is developed. Spirits are not to be regarded as exotic products of nature, beings of a __________________ 17 "The fourth dimension of space" enters the discussion at this point. The phrase should be, says the writer, "the fourth dimension of matter in space," since obviously space has no dimensions. The dimensions, or characteristics of matter are those determinations which the five senses of man give to it. Matter has extension, color, motion (molecular), taste, and smell; and it is the development of the next sense in man---normal clairvoyance---that will give matter its sixth characteristic, which she calls permeability. Extension---which covers all concepts of dimension in our world---is limited to three directions. Only when man's perceptive faculties unfold will there be a real fourth dimension.
217 foreign universe, creatures of a type unrelated to ourselves. They are either our lower or our higher brothers. "The whole order of nature evinces a progressive march toward a higher life. There is design in the action of the seemingly blindest forces. The whole process of evolution with its endless adaptations, is a proof of this."18
All nature is animated and controlled by lofty Intelligences, who could not be supposed to act with less of conscious design than ourselves. Design is exhibited everywhere in the universe, in proportion to the degree of intelligence evolved. There is no blind chance in the cosmos, but only varying grades of intelligence. The laws of nature are inviolable, but individual beings of every grade of intelligence move and act amid those laws, learning gradually to bring their actions into harmony with them. The deus implicitus within each of us---in every atom---must become the deus explicitus, and the difficulties and risks of the process are commensurate with its glorious rewards. Some of these Intelligences are veritable genii who preside over our lives. They are our good or evil demons. Hermes says "they imprint their likeness on our souls, they are present in our nerves, our marrow, our veins and our very brain substance. At the moment when each of us receives life and being he is taken in charge by the genii (Elementals) who preside over births. . . . The genii have then the control of mundane things and our bodies serve them as instruments."19 Part II of Book One begins with an analysis of the evolution of Symbolism. No traditional folk lore, according to Madame Blavatsky, has ever been pure fiction; it represented a natural form of primitive language. Ideography was a stage of growth in the art of human communication. Symbolism was no mere intellectual device of idealistic algebra, but a natural idiom of thought. Mythology was a primitive pictographic mode of conveying truths. An ideograph could be understood "in any language." __________________ 18 The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 277. 19 Quoted in The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 295.
218 A later development of this art brought the mystery language, or particular set of symbols to represent the esoteric truths. The cross, the lamb, the bull, the hawk, the serpent, the dragon, the sword, the circle, the square, the triangle, and many other signs were adopted for special significances. There are seven keys, however, to the mystery tongue, and some of them, as well as the knowledge of how to turn them, have been lost. Only in Tibet, it is maintained, is the code still intact. No religion was ever more than a chapter or two of the entire volume of archaic mysteries. No system except Eastern Occultism was ever in possession of the full secret, with its seven keys. There is a chapter on the Mundane Egg, which in all theologies is taken to represent the prototype of life hidden in the lotus symbol. Here we find a special sacredness attributed to the letter M, as symbolizing water, i.e., waves, or the great deep, the sea of prime substance. And such sacred names as Maitreya, Makara, Messiah, Metis, Mithras, Monad, Maya, Mother, Minerva, Mary, Miriam and others are said to carry the hidden significance of the letter. The Moon and its place in symbolism is the subject of a chapter. All the lunar goddesses had a dual aspect, the one divine, the other infernal. All were the virgin mothers of an immaculately born Son,---the sun. Here, as nearly everywhere else, Christian dogmas and terms are traced to
an origin in pagan ideas. The Satan myth is again taken up in a separate chapter, where it is said that the only diabolical thing about it are its perversions under Christian handling. The Sevens are given more thorough elucidation in another chapter. There were seven creations, or rather creation had seven stages. The first was that of the Divine Mind, Universal Soul, Infinite Intellect; the second was the first differentiation of indiscrete Substance; the third was the stage of organic evolution. These three steps were sub-mineral, and had yet brought nothing visible to being. The fourth brought the minerals; the fifth brought animals, in germ form; the sixth produced sub-human divinities, and the seventh
219 crowned the work with man. Man is thus the end and apex of the evolutionary effort. Man completes all forms in himself. But esoterically there is a primary creation and a secondary creation, and each is sevenfold. The first created Spirit, the second Matter. Madame Blavatsky traces the working of the septenates in nature through many forms not commonly thought of. Many normal and abnormal processes have one or more weeks (seven days) as their period, such as the gestation of animals, the duration of fevers, etc. "The eggs of the pigeon are hatched in two weeks; those of the fowl in three; those of the duck in four; those of the goose in five; and those of the ostrich in seven." We are familiar with the incidence of seven in many aspects of physics, in color, in sound, the spectrum; in chemistry, in the law of atomic weights; in physiology; in nature. Madame Blavatsky cites a long list of the occurrence of the mystic number in the ceremonials, cosmologies, architecture, and theologies of all nations. Scientific authorities are adduced by the author to corroborate her contention that the material universe is ordered on a system which has seven as its constitutional groundplan. "The birth, growth, maturity, vital functions . . . change, diseases, decay, and death, of insects, reptiles, fishes, birds, mammals and even of man, are more or less controlled by a law of completion in weeks," or seven day periods.20 From the seven colors of the rainbow to the seven-year climacterics in man's life and his allotted seven decades on earth, all the living universe seems to run in sevens and reflects the sevenfold nature of the precosmic patterns of things. Volume II concerns the planetary history of our earth, the inception of human life on it, and the evolution of the latter through the previous races up to now. Humanity is assigned an age on the globe of infinitely greater length than __________________ 20 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 311. Quoted from H. Grattan Guinness, F. R. G. S.: The Approaching End of the Age.
the science of her day was willing to concede, which even outstretches the ampler figures set down by contemporary science. We must start with the earth's place in the solar cosmos. As will be recalled, our planet is the one physically perceptible (to ordinary human vision) globe of a chain of seven (the six others being of rarefied impalpable materials), this chain being itself but one of seven, each of which has a physical representative revolving about our sun. These physical globes are subject to the cyclic law which brings to them successive waves of vivification and sterility, and this law operates as well with all the productions of life on the globe as with the globe itself. The story of man then becomes that of a succession of great world races preceding the present one, with the various continents inhabited by each, and the form, the condition and the progress of mankind in each manifestation. Evolution is postulated as the working modus, but it is evolution in cycles, not in a straight line. The very beginning of life on our planet occurred with the first impact upon it of the initial life wave in the First Round. But this first wave brought life only in the form and to the degree of mineral organizations. When that life impetus passed on to the next globe in the septenary chain to integrate mineral structure there, the second wave struck the earth and carried evolution forward from the mineral to the vegetable stage. The third crest carried life on into the animal kingdom; and the Fourth Round then became the epoch of the entry of man on the scene. The advent of man on the physical or fourth globe of every planetary chain is coincident with the Fourth Round, because the middle of that round is the central point---three and one-half--in a seven series, and man's life represents the perfect balance between spirit and matter. This point would be reached at the exact half-way mark, where the impulsion of life energy would have spent itself in the outward or downward direction (from spirit to matter), and the energies in play would begin to gather force for the rebound or return of spirit, bearing
221 matter with it to "its home on high." The middle of the Fourth Round, therefore, would find a perfect balance established between the spiritual and the physical; and that point would be located in the middle of the fourth sub-race of the fourth root-race of human life on the earth. As we are now in the fifth sub-race (the Anglo-Saxon) of the fifth root-race (the Aryan), we are by some millions of years past the turning point of our cosmical destiny. On the reascending arc spirit slowly reasserts itself at the expense of the physical. At the close of the seventh Round at the end of the Manvantara, the Monad will find itself again free from matter, as it was in the beginning, but with the rich treasure of experience stowed safely away in indestructible consciousness, to become in turn the germ of growth in the next Manvantara. On the descending arc the pressure is centrifugal for spirit, centripetal for matter; the ascending path will see these conditions reversed. Downward, the spirit was being nailed on the cross of matter and buried; upward, it is the gradual resurrection of spirit and the transfiguration of matter. Our fifth race is struggling to liberate itself from the inhibitions of matter; the sixth will take us far from flesh and material inertia. The cycle of spirituality will begin, when all humans are Adepts. 21 Henceforward spirit will emerge victorious as it has the whole weight of cosmic "gravity" on its
side. This is the cosmic meaning of Easter. The account in Genesis of the appearance of man is not far awry, but must be read esoterically, and in several different senses. It is in no sense the record of the Primary Creation, which brought the heavenly hierarchies into purely noumenal existence; it is that of the Secondary Creation, in which the Divine Builders bring cosmical systems into material form. The accounts given in the Puranas and the older literature are of precosmic creation; the one given in Genesis is only of the cosmic or phenomenal creation. The former deal with a spiritual genesis, the latter only with a material genesis. __________________ 21 The races of "intelligent" animals and semi-human apes will then be advanced to our present station.
222 Man was the first of mammalian creatures to arrive in the Fourth Round. He came in the first race of the Round, several hundred million years ago. But he was not then the kind of being he is now. He was not then compounded of three elements, body, mind, and spirit. His body was being organized by the slow accretion of material around a purely ethereal or astral matrix or shell, provided for the purpose by the Lunar Pitris, in successive sojourns in the mineral, vegetable, and animal realms, during the three preceding Rounds. These Lunar progenitors started his mundane existence by furnishing first the nucleating shell and the earthly house made ready for occupancy finally by the living Monad, the indestructible spark of the Eternal Fire. The latter is the true being, Man himself. But at this early time he was, comparatively speaking, in the condition of formless spiritual essence. He had not yet come to live in a physical body, but was hovering over the scene, awaiting the preparation of that body by the forces guiding material evolution. He was temporarily clothed in ethereal forms, which became more densely material as he descended toward the plane of embodiment. He, a Divine Spirit, descended to meet the material form, which rose to become his fit vehicle. The two can not be conjoined, however,---the gap between crass materiality and sheer spirit being too great---without the intermediating offices of a principle that can stand between them and eventually unify them. This principle is Manas or Mind. As Fohat in the cosmos links spirit with matter, so Manas in the microcosmic man brings a Divine Monad into relation with a physical form. The complete conjunction of all three of these principles in one organism was not effected by nature until the middle of the Third Root-Race. Then only can the life of man properly be said to have begun. That date was eighteen million years ago. Men then first became "gods," responsible for good and evil, divine beings struggling with the conditions of terrestrial life, undergoing further tutelage in the school of experience under the teachers, Nature and Evolution. They were the Kumaras, "princes," "virgin youths"---beings
223 dwelling on the planes of spiritual passivity, who yet yearned for the taste of concrete life, and whose further evolution made necessary their descent into material condition on earth. They were the rebels (against inane quiescence), spirits longing for activity, the angels who "fell" down to earth (not to hell), but only to rise with man to a state higher than their former angelhood. They stepped down into their earthly encasement in the Fourth Round. Their prospective physical bodies were not ready till then.
Humanity had run the course of two races before having developed a physical body comparable to the ones we are familiar with. What and where were these two races? The first is given no specific name, but it inhabited the "Imperishable Sacred Land," about which there is little information. It was a continent that lay in a quarter of the globe where the climate was suited to the forms of life then prevalent. At the end of its long history it was sunk by great cataclysms beneath the ocean. Men in this race were boneless, their bodies plastic; in fact "organisms without organs." In due time the second great continent appeared, to be the home of the Second Race, the Hyperboreans. This, we are told, lay around the present region of the North Pole. But the climate then was equable and even tropical, owing to the position of the earth's axis, which was then at a quite decided angle of divergence from the present inclination. The author claims that the axis had twice shifted radically; that Greenland once had a torrid climate and luxuriant vegetation. Spitzbergen and Nova Zembla are mentioned as remnants of the Hyperborean Land. The Third Race was the Lemurian, and it occupied a vast continent extending south from the Gobi Desert and filling the area of the Indian Ocean, west to Madagascar and east to New Zealand. Madame Blavatsky gives its boundaries with considerable explicitness. Australia is one of its remnants and the much-discussed Easter Island another. Some of the Australian aborigines, some races in China, and some islanders, are lingering descendants of the Lemurians. It was destroyed mainly by fire, and eventually submerged.
224 As it sank its successor arose in the Atlantic Ocean and became the seat of Fourth Race civilization. This is the fabled Atlantis, to which Plato and the ancient writers have alluded, the existence of which Madame Blavatsky says was a general tradition among the early nations.22 The Azores, Cape Verde, Canary Islands and Teneriffe are the highest peaks of the alleged Atlantean Land. The Fourth Race flourished there some 850,000 years ago, though the last portion, the island of Poseidonis, north of the Sahara region, carried the surviving remnant of the race to a watery doom only eleven thousand years ago. This final cataclysm became the basis of the world-wide deluge myth. The later Lemurians and the Atlanteans were men like the present humanity, fully compounded of mind, body, and spirit or soul. They had reached in some lines (the mechanical and the psycho-spiritual) a development far higher than our own, wielding psychic forces with which we are not generally familiar and having, beside airships, a more ready method of tapping electric and super-electric forces. In the early centuries of the race's history its members were gigantic in stature, and Madame Blavatsky uses this assertion to explain the historical riddle of the erection of the Druidical temples, the pyramids, and other colossal forms of their architecture. 23 It must be understood that the races overlapped in temporal history, the former ones being progenitors of their successors. Nature never makes sudden leaps over unbridged gaps. Her progressions are gradual. Many circum__________________ 22 Ignatius Donnelley endeavored to substantiate the claims for its existence in an elaborate work, Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, some sixty or seventy years ago. By tracing numberless similarities in the languages, customs, and ideas of Old World civilizations with those of Central America he adduced a formidable body of
evidence pointing to the former existence of a linking area. Madame Blavatsky counts more heavily than science has done upon this authority. Soundings have revealed the presence of a great raised plateau on the ocean floor at about one-third the depth of the general main, extending from Northern Brazil toward Ireland. 23 She assigns a tentative date of 78,000 years ago for the erection of the great pyramid of Cheops, reaching this conclusion from reasoning and calculations based on the Dendera Zodiac, which indicates that three sidereal years (25,686 years each) had passed since the pole star was in a position suggested by the various features of the great pile's construction.
225 Mediterranean nations were descendants of the Atlanteans, and a few degenerate Lemurian stocks yet linger on. Nor were their several continents annihilated at one stroke. Portions of the old lands remained long after the new ones had risen from the waters. This permitted migrations and the continuity of propagation. The races were in no sense special creations, but attained distinct differentiations through the modifying influences of time and environment. The Atlanteans permitted their ego-centric development to outstrip their spiritual progress, fell into dangerous practices of sorcery and magic, and through the operation of karmic law their civilization had to be blotted out, so that a more normal evolution of the Egos involved could be initiated under new conditions in succeeding races. The Fifth Race, our present Aryan stock, took its rise in northern Asia, spread south and west, and ran the course that is known to history. The Anglo-Saxon is the fifth sub-race of the seven that will complete the life of this Root-Race. The beginnings of the sixth sub-race are taking form in America, we are told. Mentality is the special characteristic of human development which our fifth sub-race is emphasizing. Each race, so to say, sounds in its life one note in a scale of seven. This in outline is the story of the five races and their continental homes. Two other great races are yet to appear, before the cosmic life impulses complete their expenditure of energy in this Fourth Round. At the termination of that period the present humanity will have reached the end of its allotted cycle of evolution and the life impulse will withdraw from our globe. The latter will lose its living denizens and its own life and will be left in a condition of deadness or pralaya, to await the return of the wave on its fifth swing round the chain of spheres. Back in the first race the "propagation of the species" was, strictly speaking, creation, not generation. The phrase, "fall into generation," applicable to the Asuras (demons) or Kumaras who descended into earthly bodies for physical experience, has been wrongly linked with "the fall of the angels." It was the procedure which ensued at that stage of
226 evolution, occurring in the middle of the Third Race period, when spiritual methods of propagation were superseded by sexual ones. Until then the attraction of the sexes was not the incentive, or the condition
precedent, to breeding, for there were no sexes. Man was male-female, hermaphroditic. Before that he was asexual, and earlier still he was sexless. Coition was by no means the only method employed by nature to carry life forward. There were several other methods prior to this, and there will be others succeeding it in the long course of growth. To the men of the First Race sex union was impossible since they did not possess physical bodies. Their bodies were astral shells. They were wraiths, umbrae, only ethereal counterparts of dense bodies. In matter of such tenuity, subject largely to the forces of will, procreation amounted to a renewal of old tissue rather than the upbuilding of a new body exterior to the old. Reproduction was thus a re-creation, a constant or periodical rejuvenation. The Stanzas state that the humanity of that First Race never died. Its members simply renewed their life, revivified their organisms, from age to age. The serpent was used as a sacred symbol for many reasons, and one of them is that it periodically casts off an old exterior garment and emerges a new creature from within. This process is somewhat analogous to what took place with the First Race men. Each individual at stated periods, by the exercise of some potency of the creative will described as abstract meditation, extruded from his form a new version of itself. Such bodies could not be affected by climate or temperature. The First Race men were known as the Mind-Born. Among the Second Race, the Hyperboreans, reproduction was still spiritual, but of a form designated asexual. The early part of the race were the "fathers of the Sweat-Born," the latter part were the Sweat-Born themselves. These terms, taken from Sanskrit literature, will have no meaning for the materialist. Yet she declares that analogues are not wanting in nature. The process comes closest to what is known in biology as "budding". The astral form
227 clothing the spiritual Monad, at the season of reproduction, "extrudes a miniature of itself from the surrounding aura. This germ grows and feeds on the aura till it becomes fully developed, when it gradually separates from its parent, carrying with it its own sphere of aura; just as we see living cells reproducing their like by growth and subsequent division into two."24 The process of reproduction had seven stages in each race, and this was one of them. Each covered aeons of time. The later Second and early Third Race men were oviparous and hermaphroditic. Man in this race became androgyne. But there were two stages of androgynous development. In the first stage, in the late Second and early Third Races, reproduction took place by a modification of the budding process. The first exudations of spores had separated from the parent and then grown to the size of the latter, becoming a reproduction of the old. Later the ejected spores developed to such a form that instead of being but miniature copies of the parents, they became an embryo or egg of the latter. This egg was formed within the organism, later extruded, and after a period it burst its shell, releasing the young offspring. But it was not fully androgyne, for the reason that it required no fertilization by a specialized male aspect or organ of the parent. It was a process midway between the Self-Born and the Sex-Born. Later on this process had become so modified by gradual evolution that the embryonic egg produced by one portion of the parent organism remained inert and unproductive until fructified by the positively polarized
elements segregated in another portion of the procreator's body. Thus was developed the method of fertilization of the ovum by the male organs, when both were contained within the same organism. It seems that the Third Race was marked by three distinct divisions, consisting of three orders of men differently procreated. "The first two were produced by an oviparous __________________ 24 The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II. p. 117.
228 method presumably unknown to modern Natural History." The infants of the two earlier forms were entirely sexless, "shapeless even for all one knows, but those of the later races were born androgynous." "It is in the Third Race that the separation of the sexes occurred. From being previously asexual, Humanity became distinctly hermaphroditic or bisexual; and finally the man-bearing eggs began to give birth, . . . first to beings in which one sex predominated over the other, and finally to distinct men and women. Enos, the son of Seth, represents the first true men---and---women humanity. Adam represents the pure spiritual or androgyne races, who then separating into man and woman, becomes Jah-Heva in one form or race, and Cain and Abel (male and female) in its other form, the double-sexed Jehovah. Seth represents the later Third Race."25 Thus man, at one time more spiritual than physical, started by creating through the inner powers of his mind, and again in the distant future he will be destined to create by spiritual will,---Kriyasakti.26 Creation, we are told, "is but the result of will acting on phenomenal matter." There are yet many mysteries in sex which humanity will bring to light as it unfolds its knowledge of the spiritual control of nature. Madame Blavatsky weaves into her story the Promethean myth, the war of the Titans against Zeus being interpreted to mean the rebellion of the Asuras and Kumaras against the inertia and passivity of an unfruitful spiritual state, and their consequent drive for physical incarnation. This myth was the Greek version of "the war in heaven" and the succeeding "fall of the angels." The author ridicules the idea that mankind lacked fire in its common form before Prometheus brought it from heaven. The "fire" he brought as a divine gift was "the opening of man's spiritual percep__________________ 25 The sexless (First) race was Adam solus. Then came the Second Race; Adam-Eve, or Jah-Heva, inactive androgynes; and finally the Third, or the "separating hermaphrodite," Cain and Abel, who produced the Fourth, Seth-Enos, etc.---The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, p. 134. 26 Kriyasakti means "capacity to act, a sakti or supernatural power as appearing in actions." By Madame Blavatsky the term is taken as meaning creative power or capability of doing work.
tions." In the Greek allegory Zeus represents the hosts of the primal progenitors, the Pitris, or "Fathers" who created man senseless and without mind, who provided the first element of his nature, the chhaya or astral shell about which as a nucleus his material form was to be aggregated, this combination later to receive the gift of mind and later still that of divine monadic individuality or spirit. These Pitris represented the lower host, who were masters of all the purely blind cosmic and "titanic forces"; Prometheus typified the higher host, or the devas possessing the higher intellectual and spiritual fire. Prometheus, then, added to mindless man his endowment of intellect and spiritual wisdom. But once united with the lower being to render it the service of raising it to eventual Godhead, the divine Titan fell under the partial dominance of the fleshly nature, and suffered the humiliation of having to procreate by sexual union. This procreation was not unnatural, not immoral, not a sin and shame intrinsically; but it was a comparative degradation for beings who formerly created by free spiritual will. The vulture torture of the legend is only the constant preying of the carnal nature upon the higher man. "This drama of the struggle of Prometheus with the Olympian tyrant, sensual Zeus, one sees enacted daily within our actual mankind; the lower passions chain the higher aspirations to the rock of matter, to generate in many cases the vulture of sorrow, pain and repentance. "The divine Titan is moved by altruism, but the mortal man by selfishness and egoism in every instance."27 The gift of Prometheus thus became "the chief cause, if not the sole origin of evil," since it joined in an unstable equilibrium in one organism the free will and spiritual purity of the angel hosts with the heavy surgings of the bestial nature; linked divine aspiration with sensual appetence. Theosophists view this situation as the ground of man's whole moral struggle. The Promethean gift, the sacrifice of the devas for the apotheosis of humanity, was received 18,000,000 years ago. __________________ 27 The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, p. 517.
230 It is significant that it came at the epoch of the separation of the sexes. This fact would appear to indicate that the independent privilege of procreation, involving the free action of two organisms, could not well be vouchsafed to man until he was possessed of the power of discriminative wisdom. This middle period of the Third Race thus marks the definite beginning of human life on the globe, as the principle of manas (Sanskrit man, to think) was essential to constitute the complete thinking entity. These Titans or Kumaras were themselves of seven grades of development, and as they took birth in different racial and national groups, their varying natures at once gave differentiation to the human divisions. Madame Blavatsky uses this situation to explain the origin of racial differences. It will be noted that Madame Blavatsky's account of human racial progression explains how the first life came onto the earth. Her postulations enable her to declare that life came hither not from the outside, from another planet, but emerged from the inner or ethereal vestures of its physical embodiment. Life does not come from
a place, but from a state or condition. Life and its materials are everywhere; but the two need to pass from a static to an active relation to each other, and wherever certain processes of interaction between the two take place, there living things appear. They emerge from behind the veil of invisibility. Their localization on earth or elsewhere is simply a matter of some fundamental principle of differentiation. A great cosmical process analogous to a change of temperature will bring a cloud before our eyes where none was before. Life, says Madame Blavatsky, comes here in ethereal forms, from ethereal realms, and takes on physical semblance after it is here. All life evolved by concretion out of the fire-mist. The pathway of life is not from the Moon, Mars, Venus, or Mercury to the Earth, but from the metaphysical to the physical. Esoteric ethnology extends the periodic law to world geography in keeping with the moral evolution of the races.
231 "Our globe is subject to seven periodical entire changes which go pari passu with the races. For the Secret Doctrine teaches that during this Round there must be seven terrestrial pralayas, three occasioned by the change in the inclination of the earth's axis. It is a law which acts at its appropriate time and not at all blindly, as science may think, but in strict accordance and harmony with karmic law. In occultism this inexorable law is referred to as "the Great Adjuster."28 There have already been four such axial disturbances; when the old continents---save the first one---were sucked in the oceans. The face of the globe was completely changed each time; the survival of the fittest races and nations was secured through timely help; and the unfit ones---the failures---were disposed of by being swept off the earth. "If the observer is gifted with the faintest intuition, he will find how the weal and woe of nations is intimately connected with the beginning and close of this sidereal cycle of 25,868 years."29 In each case the continent destroyed met its fate in consequence of racial degeneration or degradation. This was notably the lot of Atlantis, the Fourth Race home. As Lemuria succumbed to fire and Atlantis to water, the Aryan Race may expect that fiery agencies (doubtless subterranean convulsions of the earth's crust) will prove its undoing. __________________ 28 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 328. 29 Ibid., p. 330.
The Six Fundamental Propositions of The Secret Doctrine
By John P. Van Mater
The first volume of H. P. Blavatsky's masterwork, The Secret Doctrine, treats of the birth and evolution of universes, suns, and planets with all their kingdoms, stretching from the elemental lives or forces, up through the mineral, vegetable, animal, and human kingdoms. Above mankind, according to ancient tradition, are spiritual kingdoms stretching up to the great cosmic gods whose immanent activities constitute the law and harmony of the cosmos. The second volume treats of the origin and destiny of the human race in conjunction with all the other earth kingdoms with which we are familiar. Prominent in this volume is a discussion of the awakening of the human mind by more highly evolved beings. Interspersed with these subjects are wondrous insights into sciences now asleep or only partly awake, such as the many-layered interpretation of legend, myth, and symbol. Also discussed is the story of initiation and the Mystery schools which existed in all parts of the world, places where stage by stage, first by instruction, discipline, and purification, and later through actual experience, the disciple might achieve within himself the birth of his inner god, an achievement which over many cycles every person may aspire to and will in time succeed in bringing about. Commencing with volume one, the birth of worlds is based on what Blavatsky terms three fundamental propositions. The first one projects a picture of the ultimate, unknowable cause from which everything is born and to which all things eventually return: An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable Principle on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought -- in the words of Mandukya [Upanishad] "unthinkable and unspeakable." -- The Secret Doctrine 1:14 Ancient peoples refused to give attributes to this principle: the Jews called it 'eyn soph (the Boundless), the Hindus tat (That). It cannot be called large or small, good or evil, for these terms apply only to finite things. Its aspects are given as infinite space, eternal duration, and unending motion. The second proposition Blavatsky phrases as follows: The Eternity of the Universe in toto as a boundless plane; periodically "the playground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing,..." ...the absolute universality of that law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow, which physical science has observed and recorded in all departments of nature. An alternation such as that of Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking, is a fact so common, so perfectly universal and without exception, that it is easy to comprehend that in it we see one of the absolutely fundamental laws of the universe. -- Ibid. 1:16-17 While the first proposition conveys a picture of the boundless source of all, the second proposition sets the pattern for all manifested existence -- whether atoms, humans, gods, or universes -- which issue forth from
their inner essence. Many of the old philosophies speak of a ray from the Unknowable fecundating chaos or the mother principle, so that out of chaos is born the cosmos, the manifested worlds. Here we have the trinity -- Father, Mother, Son; Father, Holy Spirit, Son; Osiris, Isis, Horus; Parabrahman, Mulaprakriti, Brahman. The third proposition pertains to those aspects of life with which we are the most directly involved: The fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over-Soul, ...and the obligatory pilgrimage for every Soul -- a spark of the former -- through the Cycle of Incarnation (or "Necessity") in accordance with Cyclic and Karmic law,... In other words, no...(divine Soul) can have an independent (conscious) existence before the spark...has (a) passed through every elemental form of the phenomenal world of that Manvantara, and (b) acquired individuality, first by natural impulse, and then by self-induced and self-devised efforts (checked by its Karma), thus ascending through all the degrees of intelligence, from the lowest to the highest Manas (mind), from mineral and plant, up to the holiest archangel (Dhyani-Buddha). The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations. -- 1:17 The range of beings stretches from the tiniest subatomic particle and below to the grandest universe or clusters of universes and beyond. And since every unit is a consciousness or monad of infinite potential, the cosmos is infilled with divine intelligences of all types, all seeking to unfold themselves through evolution by means of repeated imbodiments. Blavatsky sought to reintroduce the concept of a living universe governed by cause and effect, or karma. When we are born, we come freighted with karma out of the past. We are that karma. In previous incarnations we have made ourselves what we now are, and are in the process of making ourselves what we shall one day become in future incarnations. When the universe is reborn, it seeks its rebirth by means of all the lesser lives of which it is composed, just like man with his atoms and lesser units when he reincarnates. The new universe is the karma of the old universe. All beings, then, are sparks of the universal essence or oversoul at various levels in their self-unfoldment or evolution, which takes place through repeated imbodiments: Everything in the Universe, throughout all its kingdoms, is conscious: i.e., endowed with a consciousness of its own kind and on its own plane of perception. We men must remember that because we do not perceive any signs -- which we can recognize -- of consciousness, say, in stones, we have no right to say that no consciousness exists there. There is no such thing as either "dead" or "blind" matter, as there is no "Blind" or "Unconscious" Law. -- 1:274 When the scroll of earth unrolled, all the lives of earth were unrolled with it, starting at a very ethereal level. Earth reimbodied itself by means of its lesser lives, and all the kingdoms of nature were present at the outset, including ourselves. However, neither earth nor its kingdoms resembled even remotely what we see about us today, for then everything was ethereal, spiritual, astral, not physical as now. Planetary evolution takes place in a series of pulsations or "rounds." Blavatsky speaks of seven or more of these rounds for the earth. With each succeeding round, the earth grew more material until it reached its most material phase, which is roughly where we are today in the fourth round. In this round on this physical globe each of the kingdoms has successively dominated earth. For millions of years mineral activity was most intense and then, as the mineral efflorescence subsided, the lives of the plant kingdom eventually became dominant. Overlapping the era of
plant dominance and gradually superseding it was the animal kingdom, which climaxed and declined, giving way to a new insurgence, our own human life-wave. Three further propositions are given in volume two, having to do with life on this physical globe in the fourth round: As regards the evolution of mankind, the Secret Doctrine postulates three new propositions, which stand in direct antagonism to modern science as well as to current religious dogmas: it teaches (a) the simultaneous evolution of seven human groups on seven different portions of our globe; (b) the birth of the astral, before the physical body: the former being a model for the latter; and (c) that man, in this Round, preceded every mammalian -- the anthropoids included -- in the animal kingdom. -- 2:1 For tens of millions of years mankind was more astral than physical. And although the seven primeval races appeared simultaneously, they did so in seed or germ, one by one to flower, each on its own continental system. Each such root-race had numerous subraces, family and tribal races, and other smaller subdivisions. We are now approaching the midpoint of the fifth root-race. In Works and Days (lines 147-234) Hesiod mentions the five races that have thus far appeared, and also the four ages, the Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Iron, and said that we are now in the Iron Age and our fifth race. Similar descriptions are given in the ZendAvesta, the Puranas, the Eddas, the Popul Vuh, and other ancient works. When we study these accounts of earlier races, we should bear in mind that we are reading about ourselves, for those past races were the scenes of our previous striving. Each great root-race flourishes upon its own system of continents. The continent of the first race, "The Imperishable Sacred Land," is said to have been located at the North Pole. The second or Hyperborean race occupied a horseshoe-shaped continent in the far north. The third (Lemurian) and fourth (Atlantean) races inhabited continents, large portions of which may now be under the oceans, buried under deserts, or may still be in use as parts of existing continents. Because root-races endure for millions of years, the continents they live on vary greatly during their lifespan. Each race is born from the midpoint of its parent race, from its most material cycle or kali yuga. When a race has entered its kali yuga, the seeds of the next race begin increasingly to appear. Eventually as these seeds become numerous, they are separated geographically, and portions of the old continents become uninhabitable and begin to break up or submerge. In the case of the fifth race, Central Asia was the cradleland for those fleeing from Atlantean depravity. There our young race enjoyed its Golden and Silver ages in a series of splendid civilizations. Our own root-race is now entering its kali yuga or midpoint. Perhaps the most important evolutionary event insofar as humanity is concerned took place in the third rootrace and is remembered in all the world's religions and legendary histories. When the human vehicle was ready, the heretofore slumbering human mind awakened. The Greeks expressed it as Prometheus stealing from the gods the fire of mind for mankind. In the Far East the manasaputras or Sons of Mind were said to have incarnated in humanity and thus awakened it into mental life and self-awareness, qualities which distinguish the human from the animal. These superior beings had evolved beyond the human stage in a previous cosmic cycle and returned to inflame the latent human mind. Christian mythology remembers it in the story of Lucifer, the Lightbringer, who was on the right hand of God and cast out to make his way to the Garden of Eden: Lucifer, the Christian Prometheus, who as a serpent tempted Eve with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Thereafter humans possessed the power to choose; they could sow and reap
karma in a far more potent manner than before. There could no longer be an Eden or idyllic mindless life, for humanity now had self-conscious mind. Interestingly, anthropologist Loren Eiseley, while going through a museum in which the supposed human ancestors were depicted, found himself strangely disappointed. Somewhere along the line, he felt, there must have occurred a sudden mitosis of the brain -- one moment a higher mammal and in the next thinking man. Alfred Russel Wallace felt that human evolution was not so much bodily as mental; our evolution took place primarily in the mind and its vehicle the brain. Wallace also believed that no evolution could take place without the intercession of superior beings. Worldwide legends of divine teachers instructing early mankind in the arts and sciences, taken in conjunction with the incarnation in man of his manasaputra or higher self, would certainly have brought about spectacular physiological changes, separating man from all the other mammals. This is confirmed by embryology, for the human brain trebles in size during the first year after birth, something no other mammal succeeds in achieving. We see here how physiology confirms human history, and how the old myths can be found to have a basis in scientific fact. One of the magnificent achievements of The Secret Doctrine is that Blavatsky does not speak merely in generalities, but quotes from the major scriptures and authors of the ages -- East, Mideast, and West, ancient and modern -- to illustrate step by step, as she develops her theme, what the greatest minds of the human race have said about the points she is then discussing. The two volumes contain quotes from about 1,200 authors and scriptures, some referred to many times. Many who have looked into these references realize that although we may have read and reread certain passages, it is only when Blavatsky sheds her penetrating light upon them that we can see, for the first time perhaps, their real import. This is particularly true of those from ancient times, which are often fragmentary and highly symbolic. As we read in them the great events of cosmogenesis and evolution, we note how closely they parallel one another. Blavatsky insisted that these ideas were not her own, but simply what she had been taught. She never claimed credit for anything except a knowledge of the principles of the ancient wisdom as known and taught through the ages. This, however, is the running thread without which all the quotations in the world would be aimless and misleading. It is because she had the esoteric philosophy in the forefront of her mind that she could produce a Secret Doctrine and cull the literatures of the world to illustrate its ageless universality. The Secret Doctrine is an enormous creative achievement. The substance of these volumes is a portion of the wisdom of the ages, pure and distilled. The universe surrounds us on every side. It was born as we were born, has its life, and one day, like us, will die and then, after a lapse of cosmic time, seek its rebirth. It therefore has a history and a destiny over and above that which we now see and investigate; and the same is true of mankind. What is the relationship between man the microcosm and the all-embracing cosmos? This in brief is The Secret Doctrine.
The "Secret Doctrine" and its Study
Being extracts from the notes of personal teachings given by H.P. Blavatsky. to private pupils during the years 1888 to 1891, included in a large MSS volume left to me by my father, who was one of the pupils. -- P.G.B. Bowen 
"H.P. Blavatsky." was especially interesting upon the matter of "The Secret Doctrine" during the past week. I had better try to sort it all out and get it safely down on paper while it is fresh in my mind. As she said herself it may be useful to someone thirty or forty years hence.  First of all then, "The Secret Doctrine" is only quite a small fragment of the Esoteric Doctrine known to the higher members of the Occult Brotherhoods. It contains, she says, just as much as can be received by the World during this coming century. This raised a question -- which she explained in the following way: -"The World" means Man living in the Personal Nature. This "World" will find in the two volumes of the S.D. all its utmost comprehension can grasp, but no more. But this is not to say that the Disciple who is not living in "The World" cannot find any more in the book than the "World" finds. Every form, no matter how crude, contains the image of its "creator" concealed within it. So likewise does an author's work, no matter how obscure, contain the concealed image of the author's knowledge. From this saying I take it that the S.D. must contain all that H.P. Blavatsky. knows herself, and a great deal more than that, seeing that much of it comes from men whose knowledge is immensely wider than hers. Furthermore, she implies unmistakably that another may well find knowledge in it which she does not possess herself. It is a stimulating thought to consider that it is possible that I myself may find in H.P.B.'s words knowledge of which she herself is unconscious. She dwelt on this idea a good deal. X said afterwards: "H.P. Blavatsky. must be losing her grip," meaning, I suppose, confidence in her own knowledge. But ---- and ---- and myself also, see her meaning better, I think. She is telling us without a doubt not to anchor ourselves to her as the final authority, nor to anyone else, but to depend altogether upon our own widening perceptions. (Later note on above: -- I was right. I put it to her direct and she nodded and smiled. It is worth something to get her approving smile!) -- (Sgd.) Robert Bowen. At last we have managed to get H.P. Blavatsky. to put us right on the matter of the study of the S.D. Let me get it down while it is all fresh in mind. Reading the S.D. page by page as one reads any other book (she says) will only end us in confusion. The first thing to do, even if it takes years, is to get some grasp of the "Three Fundamental Principles" given in the Proem. Follow that up by study of the Recapitulation -- the numbered items in the Summing Up to Vol. I. (Part 1.). Then take the Preliminary Notes (Vol. II.) and the Conclusion (Vol. II.).  H.P. Blavatsky. seems pretty definite about the importance of the teaching (in the Conclusion) relating to the times of coming of the Races and Sub-Races. She put it more plainly than usual that there is really no such thing as a future "coming" of races. "There is neither COMING nor PASSING, but eternal BECOMING," she says. The Fourth Root Race is still alive. So are the Third and Second and First -- that is their
manifestations on our present plane of substance are present. I know what she means, I think, but it is beyond me to get it down in words. So likewise the Sixth Sub-Race is here, and the Sixth Root Race, and the Seventh, and even people of the coming ROUNDS. After all that's understandable. Disciples and Brothers and Adepts can't be people of the everyday Fifth Sub-Race, for the race is a state of evolution.  But she leaves no question but that, as far as humanity at large goes we are hundreds of years (in time and space) from even the Sixth Sub-Race. I thought H.P. Blavatsky. showed a peculiar anxiety in her insistence on this point. She hinted at "dangers and delusions"  coming through ideas that the New Race had dawned definitely on the World. According to her the duration of a Sub-Race for humanity at large coincides with that of the Sidereal Year (the circle of the earth's axis -- about 25,000 years.) That puts the new race a long way off. We have had a remarkable session on the study of the S.D. during the past three weeks. I must sort out my notes and get the result safely down before I lose them. She talked a good deal about the "Fundamental Principle."  She says: If one imagines that one is going to get a satisfactory picture of the constitution of the Universe from the S.D. one will get only confusion from its study. It is not meant to give any such final verdict on existence, but to LEAD TOWARDS THE TRUTH. She repeated this latter expression many times. It is worse than useless going to those whom we imagine to be advanced students (she said) and asking them to give us an "interpretation" of the S.D. They cannot do it. If they try, all they give are cut and dried exoteric renderings which do not remotely resemble the Truth. To accept such interpretation means anchoring ourselves to fixed ideas, whereas Truth lies beyond any ideas we can formulate or express. Exoteric interpretations are all very well, and she does not condemn them so long as they are taken as pointers for beginners, and are not accepted by them as anything more. Many persons who are in, or who will in the future be in the T.S. are of course potentially incapable of any advance beyond the range of a common exoteric conception. But there are, and will be others, and for them she sets out the following and true way of approach to the S.D. Come to the S.D. (she says) without any hope of getting the final Truth of existence from it, or with any idea other than seeing how far it may lead TOWARDS the Truth. See in study a means of exercising and developing the mind never touched by other studies. Observe the following rules: 1. No matter what one may study in the S.D. let the mind hold fast, as the basis of its ideation to the following ideas  (a) The FUNDAMENTAL UNITY OF ALL EXISTENCE. This unity is a thing altogether different from the common notion of unity -- as when we say that a nation or an army is united; or that this planet is united to that by lines of magnetic force or the like. The teaching is not that. It is that existence is ONE THING, not any collection of things linked together. Fundamentally there is ONE BEING. This Being has two aspects, positive and negative. The positive is Spirit, or CONSCIOUSNESS. The negative is SUBSTANCE, the subject of consciousness. This Being is the Absolute in its primary manifestation. Being absolute there is nothing outside it. It is All-Being. It is indivisible, else it would not be absolute. If a portion could be separated, that remaining could not be absolute, because there would at once arise the question of COMPARISON between it and the separated part. Comparison is incompatible with any idea of
absoluteness. Therefore it is clear that this fundamental One Existence, or Absolute Being must be the Reality in every form there is. I said that though this was clear to me I did not think that many in the Lodges would grasp it. "Theosophy," she said, "is for those who can think, or for those who can drive themselves to think, not mental sluggards." H.P. Blavatsky. has grown very mild of late. "Dumskulls!" used to be her name for the average student. The Atom, the Man, the God (she says) are each separately, as well as all collectively, Absolute Being in their last analysis, that is their REAL INDIVIDUALITY. It is this idea which must be held always in the background of the mind to form the basis for every conception that arises from study of the S.D. The moment one lets it go (and it is most easy to do so when engaged in any of the many intricate aspects of the Esoteric Philosophy) the idea of SEPARATION supervenes, and the study loses its value. (b) The second idea to hold fast to is that THERE IS NO DEAD MATTER. Every last atom is alive. It cannot be otherwise since every atom is itself fundamentally Absolute Being. Therefore there is no such thing as "spaces" of Ether, or Akasha, or call it what you like, in which angels and elementals disport themselves like trout in water. That's the common idea. The true idea shows every atom of substance no matter of what plane to be in itself a LIFE. (c) The third basic idea to be held is that Man is the MICROCOSM. As he is so, then all the Hierarchies of the Heavens exist within him. But in truth there is neither Macrocosm nor Microcosm but ONE EXISTENCE. Great and small are such only as viewed by a limited consciousness. (d) Fourth and last basic idea to be held is that expressed in the Great Hermetic Axiom. It really sums up and synthesizes all the others: As is the Inner, so is the Outer; as is the Great so is the Small; as it is above, so it is below; there is but One Life and Law; and he that worketh it is ONE. Nothing is Inner, nothing is Outer; nothing is Great, nothing is Small; nothing is High, nothing is Low, in the Divine Economy. No matter what one takes as study in the S.D. one must correlate it with those basic ideas. I suggested that this is a kind of mental exercise which must be excessively fatiguing. H.P. Blavatsky. smiled and nodded. One must not be a fool (she said) and drive oneself into the madhouse by attempting too much at first. The brain is the instrument of waking consciousness, and every conscious mental picture formed means change and destruction of the atoms of the brain. Ordinary intellectual activity moves on well beaten paths in the brain, and does not compel sudden adjustments and destructions in its substance. But this new kind of mental effort calls for something very different -- the carving out of new "brain paths," the ranking in different order of the little brain lives. If forced injudiciously it may do serious physical harm to the brain.
This mode of thinking (she says) is what the Indians call Jnana Yoga. As one progresses in Jnana Yoga one finds conceptions arising which though one is conscious of them, one cannot express nor yet formulate into any sort of mental picture. As time goes on these conceptions will form into mental pictures. This is a time to be on guard and refuse to be deluded with the idea that the new found and wonderful picture must represent reality. It does not. As one works on one finds the once admired picture growing dull and unsatisfying, and finally fading out or being thrown away. This is another danger point, because for the moment one is left in a void without any conception to support one, and one may be tempted to revive the cast-off picture for want of a better to cling to. The true student will, however, work on unconcerned, and presently further formless gleams come, which again in time give rise to a larger and more beautiful picture than the last. But the learner will now know that no picture will ever represent the Truth. This last splendid picture will grow dull and fade like the others. And so the process goes on, until at last the mind and its pictures are transcended and the learner enters and dwells in the World of NO FORM, but of which all forms are narrowed reflections. The True Student of The Secret Doctrine is a Jnana Yogi, and this Path of Yoga is the True Path for the Western student. It is to provide him with sign posts on that Path that the Secret Doctrine has been written.  (Later note: -- I have read over this rendering of her teaching to H.P. Blavatsky. asking if I have got her aright. She called me a silly Dumskull to imagine anything can ever be put in words aright. But she smiled and nodded as well, and said I had really got it better than anyone else ever did, and better than she could do it herself). I wonder why I am getting all this. It should be passed to the world, but I am too old ever to do it. I feel such a child to H.P. Blavatsky. yet I am twenty years older than her in actual years. She has changed much since I met her two years ago. It is marvelous how she holds up in the face of dire illness. If one knew nothing and believed nothing, H.P. Blavatsky. would convince one that she is something away and beyond body and brain. I feel, especially during these last meetings since she has become so helpless bodily that we are getting teachings from another and higher sphere. We seem to feel and KNOW what she says rather than hear it with our bodily ears. X said much the same thing last night.
The Writing of The Secret Doctrine
By Kirby Van Mater
There can be no separation between the writings of H. P. Blavatsky and the growth in comprehension of the work of The Theosophical Society by its adherents. As the first teachings of the ancient wisdom -- barely sketched in HPB's earliest major work, Isis Unveiled, were assimilated, a natural demand was made for a more complete exposition of the philosophy. Likewise the Society's objectives and principles, as enunciated from time to time, became more defined and inclusive of the work envisioned for the Society by those responsible for its beginnings. The true founders of the TS were HPB's teachers, and it was in large measure from them that the subject matter in Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine was called forth.
Isis Unveiled was commenced in the summer of 1875, a few months before the formation of the TS, although at the time HPB did not know what was to become of the growing pile of manuscripts. Later, in September, as H. S. Olcott records, "She wrote me that it was to be a book on the history and philosophy of the Eastern Schools and their relations with those of our own times." (Old Diary Leaves, I: 203.) In mid-December 1878, a year after the publication of Isis, H. P. Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott left New York for India where she carried on her work for the next six years. They soon made the acquaintance of A. P. Sinnett, editor of the Anglo-Indian newspaper, The Pioneer. Subsequent correspondence with HPB's teachers -- two Eastern Adepts known as M and KH -- had a profound effect on him. As a direct result of the inspiration and teaching he had received, and also because of certain phenomena he had personally witnessed, in 1881 Sinnett published The Occult World and two years later Esoteric Buddhism, two important books which were to produce a considerable stir in various parts of the world. However, in a few instances Sinnett's interpretation of the teachings was incorrect. He also had difficulty in understanding why there were apparent differences in the philosophical expression of theosophy as given by his Adept-correspondents and by HPB in Isis. He did not comprehend that in Isis HPB had been limited as to how much of the ancient wisdom she could give forth. That was in 1877 when the membership had little grasp of the magnitude of theosophy. Within the next five or six years, the time had come to reveal more of the esoteric philosophy and to devise a terminology suitable for Western understanding. KH wrote to Sinnett in 1882: It [Isis] really ought to be re-written for the sake of the family honour. . . . Don't you see that everything you find in Isis is delineated, hardly sketched -- nothing completed or fully revealed. Well the time has come, but where are the workers for such a tremendous task? -- The Mahatma Letters to A. P Sinnett, letter XXc, 130-1 Nevertheless, starting with the January 1884 issue of the Journal of The Theosophical Society [Supplement to The Theosophist], monthly advertisements appeared describing The Secret Doctrine as being a new version of Isis Unveiled. That summer in England two students (Mohini M. Chatterjee and Laura C. Holloway) began writing Man: Fragments of Forgotten History. Even before it was published this exposition of theosophical philosophy proved unsatisfactory. On January 9, 1885, HPB was given the "plan" for the great work, The Secret Doctrine. Olcott writes: On the following night -- as my Diary entry states -- "H. P. B. got from her Teacher the plan for her Secret Doctrine, and it is excellent. Oakley and I tried our hands at it [HPB's notes and papers on revision of Isis] yesterday, but this is much better." Meanwhile, the accumulation of materials for the book had long been going on. It will be news to some that this was not originally intended to be a new book, but only a recasting and amplification of Isis Unveiled, with the late T. Subba Row, B.A., B.L., as co-editor with H.P.B. As first advertised in the Theosophist, it was to have been issued in monthly parts of 77 pages each, and to have run to about twenty parts. This new scheme, given her by her Teacher, changed this programme, and the gradual building up of the present grand work was the result (One purpose of The Secret Doctrine was to correct errors in philosophy in Esoteric Buddhism and Man: Fragments of Forgotten History). -- ODL, III: 199-200 The previous year, in February 1884, HPB, Olcott, and four companions had left Bombay for Europe. While they were away a carefully planned attack was begun against HPB and indirectly the Theosophical Society by Alexis and Emma Coulomb (who had been taken into the headquarters at Adyar) and the editors of the Christian College Magazine in Madras. HPB was charged with forgery in producing letters from her teachers as
well as trickery in the production of phenomena. The effect of this attack was immediate worldwide publicity and the return to India of both Olcott and Blavatsky by year's end. At this time the Society for Psychical Research sent to India a young man named Richard Hodgson to investigate and report on the situation. In their efforts not to cause more publicity and expose the names of the Mahatmas to public eye, Olcott and the TS Council at Adyar left HPB undefended, and thus by their silence virtually implied her guilt. HPB strenuously objected; the honor of the Society and of her teachers was at stake. She had wished to go to court in order to vindicate her teachers and the work they had sent her to do. But Olcott threatened HPB with his resignation if she did not abide by the decision of the Special Judicial Committee (Annual Convention TS, Dec. 1884; cf. Lucifer, Aug. 15, 1891 [VIII: 447]). Eventually her already poor health broke down. On March 21 HPB tendered her resignation as Corresponding Secretary, and on the 31st on doctor's orders she left India, hopefully to recover sufficiently to finish her Secret Doctrine. As she was boarding the steamer, Subba Row asked HPB to continue writing and send him through Olcott every week what she had written, as he would then "make notes and commentaries" (The Theosophist, March 1925, 784). Even on the open sea, she received "pages of manuscript referring to The Secret Doctrine" (cf. Constance Wachtmeister, Reminiscences of H. P. Blavatsky and "The Secret Doctrine," letter of F. Hartmann to Mrs. Vera Johnston, June 2nd, 1893, 109). She stayed about three months in Italy, at Torre del Greco and Rome, and later in Switzerland, finally settling at Wurzburg, Germany in early August. On October 28, 1885, HPB wrote Olcott that she had "not much time now . . . but shall in a month or two send you the first six sections." (ODL, III: 317). But no real work was done until December when Countess Wachtmeister came to be a companion and helper to HPB. Saved now from continual interruptions which had plagued her previously, HPB was able to keep a schedule of writing day after day through the long hours. In the months that followed only three times was the Countess able to prevail upon her to leave the apartment. But December was hardly over when HPB received the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research based on Hodgson's investigations in India. This account was as unfair to her as was the earlier attack by the Coulombs and the Christian College Magazine. (The April 1986 Journal of the Society for Psychical Research printed an article entitled "J'ACCUSE: An Examination of the Hodgson Report of 1885" by Vernon Harrison, a senior member of the SPR and an acknowledged expert on handwriting and forgery. Dr. Harrison's critique concludes (p. 309): "[Richard Hodgson's] report is riddled with slanted statements, conjecture advanced as fact or probable fact, uncorroborated testimony of unnamed witnesses, selection of evidence and downright falsity. . . . His case against Madame H. P. Blavatsky is not proven.") It is difficult to imagine the impact of this report upon HPB. Countess Wachtmeister relates: "This," she cried, "is the Karma of the Theosophical Society, and it falls upon me. I am the scapegoat. I am made to bear all the sins of the Society, and now that I am dubbed the greatest impostor of the age, and a Russian spy into the bargain, who will listen to me or read The Secret Doctrine?" -- Wachtmeister, Reminiscences, 26
On January 6, 1886, HPB wrote to Olcott that The Secret Doctrine would be the vindication of herself and her teachers. For Secret Doctrine is entirely new. There will not be there 20 pages quoted by bits from Isis. . . . In four Parts -- Archaic, Ancient, Mediaeval and Modern Periods. Each Part 12 chapters, with Appendices and a Glossary of terms at the end. Countess here, and she sees I have almost no books. Master and Kashmiri (M and KH) dictating in turn. She copies all. -- Theos., Aug. 1931, 667 HPB stayed at Wurzburg from August 1885 till May 1886. About the end of April she decided to spend the summer months at Ostende, Belgium, with her sister and niece. However, en route Gustav and Mary Gebhard persuaded her to visit their home at Elberfeld, Germany, and while there HPB injured her leg. It was not until July that she settled in Ostende where the Countess soon joined her, and once again the writing for the SD continued without interruption. In the evening after her day's work, HPB was not averse to reading to visitors what she had written if she felt they would be interested. She also gave sections of the manuscript to different individuals to read. Eight pages were sent to Sinnett to share with Sir William Crookes, the most eminent chemist of his day in England and also a theosophist. On a number of occasions manuscripts were mailed to Adyar both from Wurzburg and Ostende. At one time HPB sent a large section to Olcott, warning him and Subba Row not to lose it. Do, however, as you please, . . . and if you want to add write the addition on page and pin it to the page you add to. Remember, this is my last great work. I could not rewrite it if lost to save my life or that of the Society which is more. -- Theos., March 1925, 790 In Old Diary Leaves (III: 385), Olcott writes that the SD manuscript of Volume I arrived in December 1886, but that Subba Row would not work on it as originally agreed upon because, as he said, there were so many errors he would have to rewrite it. HPB, much distressed, carefully went over the material again making many corrections. Earlier, on October 21, she had written Olcott that in the spring she would go to London because of the availability of books at the Museum for checking, and also she would have proofreaders among the members there. Later, when Subba Row flatly refused to look at the material, HPB asks what should she do now without his help for the second volume, "where I have any number of Sanskrit words and sentences, and the esoteric meaning of any number of exoteric Hindu allegories from their Cosmogony and Theogony . . ." Please answer immediately. The whole almost is given by the "old gentleman" and Master and there are wonderful things there I tell you. But someone must see to the Sanskrit and the corrections of the exoteric renderings. -- Ibid., 787 In England at this time, a number of members of Sinnett's London Lodge were not satisfied with the existing state of affairs. They felt that a new impulse was needed for public work (Bertram Keightley, Reminiscences of H.P.B., 1931, and Archibald Keightley, "From Ostende To London," The Path, November 1892, 245), and they decided to write HPB individually about the problem. Each received a long letter in return in which, among other things, she explained the urgency for her to finish The Secret Doctrine before taking up other
activities. Nevertheless, early in 1887 Bertram Keightley went to Ostende to see HPB, who asked him "to took over parts of the MSS." She agreed to come to London at the end of April, provided lodging and other matters could be arranged. Soon after, Dr. Archibald Keightley (Uncle of Bertram, although one year younger) went to Ostende to visit HPB, who likewise gave him some of the SD to read. But hardly had he returned to England when news came of HPB's grave illness. Her physician and friends thought this time she would surely die but, as she had done in India in February 1885, she again miraculously recovered. Almost immediately thereafter she announced that the next phase of her work was to be carried on in England, both as regards The Secret Doctrine and the Theosophical Society. Learning of this, the Keightleys went to Ostende in the last weeks of April to prepare for the move. She was to stay at the small home of Mrs. Mabel Cook (Mabel Collins), Maycot, Upper Norwood, London. HPB, describes her move in a card to William Q. Judge: Maycot, Crownhill. Upper Norwood. London C. S. May 7th. "Oh thy prophetic Soul!" Didn't know old HPB was for 17 days hovering between life & death; drawn irresistibly, by the charm beyond the latter & held by her coat-tails by the Countess & some London Lodges? Nice intuitional friend. Anyhow, saved once more, & once more stuck into the mud of life right with my classical nose. Two Keightleys & Thornton (a dear, real new Theosophist) came to Ostende, packed me up, books, kidneys & gouty legs & carried me across the water partially in steamer, partially in invalid chair & the rest in train to Norwood in one of the cottages of which here I am, living (rather vegetating) in it till the Countess returns. Write here "1000 words for the Path"? I'll TRY, old man. Very, very seedy & weak; but rather better after the mortal disease which cleansed me if it did not carry me off. Love & sincere, as usual, & for ever. Yours in heaven & hell. "O.L." HPB. -- Archives, Theosophical Society, Pasadena. As soon as possible she was at her desk and work went on as usual. The task of readying the SD for publication fell mainly to the Keightleys. Bertram Keightley wrote that on arriving in England HPB asked them what they wished to do and after hearing their replies remarked, "All right, then, . . . here you are -- get to work right away" (BK, Reminisences, 7). With that she gave them the entire manuscript to go through and advise her about arranging it. It made a pile over three feet high and was, as Archibald Keightley relates, "in detached sections, . . . with no definite arrangement, much of which had been patiently and industriously copied by the Countess Wachtmeister." After prolonged consultations the plan submitted to HPB became the present division of the volumes and contents. Other material having no place in the order and plan was to be saved for the future. They worked through the summer "reading, re-reading, copying, and correcting" (Wachtmeister, Reminiscences, 97, 91, 98). There were many quotations to be verified at the British Museum or wherever else they might be located. It should be mentioned that the Stanzas of Dzyan, on which The Secret Doctrine is based, had little commentary in the first drafts of the book. To HPB they were perfectly understandable, but for the student explanations were needed. A plan was arrived at whereby a Stanza was written out on a blank sheet of paper, and questions pinned to it, to which HPB would write answers. Often she demanded clarifications of the questions before attempting her comments. Yet with all this work on the SD going on, HPB founded a new magazine, Lucifer, the first issue of which appeared in September 1887. That same month she moved to larger quarters at 17 Lansdowne Road. The spirit and enthusiasm of those working with her show up clearly in the following extract from a letter dated May 28, 1887, from Bertram Keightley to W. Q. Judge:
H. P. B. is fairly well & working away right hard at the Secret Doctrine; which is awfully good & I am sure you will be immensely pleased with it. Tho' I date this from Linden Gardens, I am staying with HPB at Maycot, Crown Hill, Upper Norwood. S.E. where I expect she will be for the next two or three months. We have got a scheme on foot for establishing HPB in winter quarters near London where she can live in peace & gather the real workers in the Society around her. But whether it will succeed or even ever be really begun I cannot tell. All I know is that we shall do our level best to bring it about. Still do not mention anything about it; as "there's many a slip twixt the cup & the lip" & these things are best kept quiet till actually done. Anyway we mean a real effort to put new life into this dull L.L. [London Lodge] & the new Magazine, is the first step. The title at present in favour is "Lucifer: the Lightbearer," but no final decision has yet been come to. At any rate we mean to do two things: to make HPB as comfortable as we can & to prove to her that there are some at least who really appreciate her ceaseless self-sacrifice & untiring exertions for the Cause. -- Archives, TS, Pasadena. After much cutting, pasting, and typing of clear copies of most of Volumes I and II, the manuscript finally was sent to press. Then came the task of proofreading, and this too had its challenges, as Archibald Keightley recalled: The Secret Doctrine began to be printed and in this and in Lucifer Mme. Blavatsky's idiosyncrasy of regarding page-proof as being equivalent to manuscript, led to much argument and expense. It was not merely that she would divide a page after the type was all locked in the forms and insert a quantity of fresh matter, but she would with much care and precision of scissors cut out and then paste in a single sentence in an entirely different place. Woe betide the zealous sub-editor who protested on behalf of the printers and the provision of funds. "Off with his head" or his metaphysical scalp were the orders of the Queen of our wonderland. Nevertheless the account for corrections of the Secret Doctrine came to more than the original cost of setting up! -- "Reminiscences of H. P. Blavatsky," Theosophical Quarterly (VIII: 30), 115 HPB had long been disappointed with her financial arrangements with J. W. Bouton of New York for the publication of Isis Unveiled and, in consequence, she was determined to have financial control of The Secret Doctrine in both the United States and England. In May 1888 she asked W. Q. Judge to secure copyright in her name in the United States for her book, and to publish it in the U.S. either from "stereo plates, or only the moulds" sent from England (Letter, Bertram Keightley to W. Q. Judge, May 29, 1888, countersigned by HPB [Archives, TS, Pasadena]). Judge, after consultation with J. W. Lovell (of John W. Lovell Co. of New York), wrote Bert Keightley that the best method to follow for 1,000 sheets or more was for London to ship printed sheets, to be folded, collated, and bound in the U.S. (Letter, J. W. Lovell to W. Q. Judge, June 12, 1888, and Letter, WQJ to BK, June 22, 1888 [Archives, TS, Pasadena]). Copyright could be obtained in HPB's name as she was an American citizen, if all particulars about the book were furnished as requested. However, HPB was to understand "that the emission of the American and English editions should be simultaneous" (Letter, WQJ to BK, June 22, 1888 [Archives, TS, Pasadena]). After delays in England the sheets, folded and collated, for 1,000 copies of the first volume of the SD arrived in New York City on the steamer Britannia, Friday, October 19th. Judge wrote that the deadline of October 27th for "publishing" probably could not be met by him (Letter, WQJ to BK, October 19, 1888 [Archives, TS, Pasadena]). Finally, on October 31st H. P. Blavatsky cabled Judge asking "Have you published?" Judge cabled back "Yes, Book Out Nov 1" (Archives, TS, Pasadena). Volume II was published December 28th.
Questions as to who wrote The Secret Doctrine and how it was written have been asked ever since the book appeared. HPB made no claim for the entire production. As she explained to Sinnett in her letter of March 3, 1886: There's a new development and scenery, every morning. I live two lives again. Master finds that it is too difficult for me to be looking consciously into the astral light for my S.D. and so, it is now about a fortnight, I am made to see all I have to as though in my dream. I see large and long rolls of paper on which things are written and I recollect them. -- The Letters of H. P Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, 194 The Master KH gives further insight into the writing of the SD in his letter to Olcott, August 1888: I have also noted, your thoughts about the "Secret Doctrine". Be assured that what she has not annotated from scientific and other works, we have given or suggested to her. Every mistake or erroneous notion, corrected and explained by her from the works of other theosophists was corrected by me, or under my instruction. It is a more valuable work than its predecessor [Isis], an epitome of occult truths that will make it a source of information and instruction for the earnest student for long years to come. -- Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, No. 19, 1:47, 5th ed. The co-authorship of The Secret Doctrine is also made plain in joint letters from the Mahatmas M and KH to Dr. Hubbe-Schleiden, received by him in Germany in early January 1886. Copies of these letters in Masters' handwriting were sent by HPB to Judge in America for his future use. He printed them with explanations in the April 1893 issue of The Path. The letters are reproduced on the following pages. Any work, of course, must stand on its merit rather than on the means by which it was produced. Every reader must judge for himself how well HPB carried out her purposes. As she states in her Preface, The Secret Doctrine was "written in the service of humanity, and by humanity and the future generations it must be judged." As the last sentences of Volume II indicate, HPB had two further volumes in preparation to be issued if the reception of the first volumes warranted it. These were never published and one can only surmise that more time was needed to comprehend the material already given out. She did, however, produce The Voice of the Silence, a small book of precepts drawn from "the same series as that from which the 'Stanzas' of the Book of Dzyan were taken, on which the Secret Doctrine is based." These present a noble conduct of life for those who would make themselves of greater service to mankind, and it was hoped that perhaps some few might find access to that inner knowledge to which she had pointed the way. As to Volumes III and IV, who is to say they will ever be issued. Today, a century after the publication of The Secret Doctrine, other egos are creating a new world. The teachings they call forth for the next century will be in answer to their karma and the karma of their times. If HPB's writings have produced any effect, it may be found in the deeper spiritual yearning among an ever greater number to bring about the Universal Brotherhood for which she so labored and sacrificed.
On the Monad
A Collation from H. P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine
Stanza III. describes the Re-awakening of the Universe to life after Pralaya. It depicts the emergence of the "Monads" from their state of absorption within the ONE; the earliest and highest stage in the formation of "Worlds," the term Monad being one which may apply equally to the vastest Solar System or the tiniest atom (Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, 21). The Monads are not discrete principles, limited or conditioned, but rays from that one universal absolute Principle (S.D. II, 167). Now what is a "Monad"? And what relation does it bear to an Atom? ... "None whatever, ... to the atom or molecule as existing in the scientific conception at present." (S.D. I, 177.) The gods of the ancients, the monads -- from Pythagoras down to Leibnitz -- and the atoms of the present materialistic schools ... are only a compound unit, or a graduated unity like the human frame, which begins with body and ends with spirit. In the occult sciences they can be studied separately, but never mastered unless viewed in their mutual correlations during their life-cycle, and as a Universal Unity during Pralayas. ... Philosophy ... could never have formed its conception of a logical, universal, and absolute Deity if it had no Mathematical Point within the Circle to base its speculations upon (S.D. I, 613). ..."the unity of the divine Essence"... was exemplified by the plane of the boundless Circle ... the Point (the real, esoteric LOGOS) or the Pythagorean MONAD. For the Greek Monas signifies "Unity" in its primary sense (S.D. I, 614). To the Eastern Occultist ... in the real world, which is a Unity of Forces, there is "a connection of all matter in the plenum," ... This is symbolized in the Pythagorean Triangle. It consists of ten points inscribed pyramidlike (from one to the last four) within its three lines, and it symbolizes the Universe in the famous Pythagorean Decad. The upper single dot is a Monad, and represents a Unit-Point which is the Unity from whence all proceeds, and all is of the same essence with it. While the ten dots within the triangle represent the phenomenal world, the three sides of the equilateral triangle which enclose the pyramid of dots are the barriers of noumenal Matter, or Substance, that separate it from the world of Thought. ... Even mathematics pure and simple proceed from the Universal to the particular, from the mathematical, hence indivisible Point, to solid figures. The teaching originated in India, and was taught in Europe by Pythagoras (S.D. I, 615-16). Those unable to seize the difference between the monad -- the Universal Unit -- and the Monads or the manifested Unity, as also between the ever-hidden and revealed LOGOS, or the Word, ought never to meddle in philosophy, let alone the Esoteric Sciences (S.D. I, 614). The MONAD emerges from its state of spiritual and intellectual unconsciousness; and, skipping the first two planes -- too near the ABSOLUTE to permit of any correlation with anything on a lower plane -- it gets
direct into the plane of Mentality. But there is no plane in the whole universe with a wider margin, or a wider field of action in its almost endless gradations of perceptive and apperceptive qualities, than this plane, which has in its turn an appropriate smaller plane for every "form," from the "mineral" monad up to the time when that monad blossoms forth by evolution into the DIVINE MONAD. But all the time it is still one and the same Monad, differing only in its incarnations, throughout its ever succeeding cycles of partial or total obscuration of spirit, or the partial or total obscuration of matter -- two polar antitheses -- as it ascends into the realms of mental spirituality, or descends into the depths of materiality (S.D. I, 175).
As the spiritual Monad is One, Universal, Boundless and Impartite, whose rays, nevertheless, form what we, in our ignorance, call the "Individual Monads" of men, so the Mineral Monad -- being at the opposite point of the circle -- is also One -- and from it proceed the countless physical atoms, which Science is beginning to regard as individualized (S.D. I, 177-78). [Monadic] evolution -- viewed from its several standpoints -- i.e., as the universal and the individualized Monad; and the chief aspects of the Evolving Energy, after differentiation -- the purely Spiritual, the Intellectual, the Psychic and the Physical -- may be thus formulated as an invariable law; a descent of Spirit into Matter, equivalent to an ascent in physical evolution; a re-ascent from the depths of materiality towards its status quo ante, with a corresponding dissipation of concrete form and substance up to the LAYA state ... (S.D. I, 620). The Monads ... are treated from the standpoint of their individuality, as atomic Souls, before these atoms descend into pure terrestrial form. For this descent into concrete matter marks the medial point of their own individual pilgrimage. Here, losing in the mineral kingdom their individuality, they begin to ascend through the seven states of terrestrial evolution to that point where a correspondence is firmly established between the human and Deva (divine) consciousness (S.D. I, 619). "There are seven kingdoms. The first group comprises three degrees of elementals, or nascent centres of forces -- from the first stage of differentiation of (from) Mulaprakriti (or rather Pradhâna, primordial homogeneous matter) to its third degree -- i.e., from full unconsciousness to semi-perception; the second or higher group embraces the kingdoms from vegetable to man; the mineral kingdom thus forming the central or turning point in the degrees of the "Monadic Essence," considered as an evoluting energy. Three stages (sub-physical) on the elemental side; the mineral kingdom; three stages on the objective physical side -- these are the (first or preliminary) seven links of the evolutionary chain." (S.D. I, 176). ... what is called collectively Monads by Leibnitz ... may be separated into three distinct Hosts, which, counted from the highest planes, are firstly, "gods," or conscious, spiritual Egos; the intelligent architects, who work after the plan in the Divine Mind. Then come the Elementals, or Monads, who form collectively and unconsciously the grand Universal Mirrors of everything connected with their respective realms. Lastly, the atoms, or material molecules, which are informed in their turn by their apperceptive monads, just as every cell in the human body is so informed. ... There are shoals of such informed atoms which, in their turn, inform the molecules; an infinitude of monads, or Elementals proper, and countless spiritual Forces -- Monadless, for they are pure incorporealities, except under certain laws, when they assume a form -- not necessarily human. Whence the substance that clothes them -- the apparent organism they evolve around their centres? The Formless ("Arupa") Radiations, existing in the harmony of Universal Will, and being what we term the
collective or the aggregate of Cosmic Will on the plane of the subjective Universe, unite together an infinitude of monads -- each the mirror of its own Universe -- and thus individualize for the time being an independent mind, omniscient and universal; and by the same process of magnetic aggregation they create for themselves objective, visible bodies, out of the interstellar atoms. For atoms and Monads, associated or dissociated, simple or complex, are, from the moment of the first differentiation, but the principles, corporeal, psychic and Spiritual, of the "Gods," ... to the eye of the Seer, the higher Planetary Powers appear under two aspects: the subjective -- as influences, and the objective -- as mystic FORMS, ... Spirit is matter on the seventh plane; matter is Spirit -- on the lowest point of its cyclic activity; and both -- are MAYA. (S.D. I, 632-33).
Now the Monadic, or rather Cosmic, Essence (if such a term be permitted) in the mineral, vegetable, and animal, though the same throughout the series of cycles from the lowest elemental up to the Deva Kingdom, yet differs in the scale of progression. It would be very misleading to imagine a Monad as a separate Entity trailing its slow way in a distinct path through the lower Kingdoms, and after an incalculable series of transformations flowering into a human being; in short, that the Monad of a Humboldt dates back to the Monad of an atom of horneblende. Instead of saying a "Mineral Monad," the more correct phraseology in physical Science, which differentiates every atom, would of course have been to call it "the Monad manifesting in that form of Prakriti called the Mineral Kingdom." The atom, as represented in the ordinary scientific hypothesis, is not a particle of something, animated by a psychic something, destined after aeons to blossom as a man. But it is a concrete manifestation of the Universal Energy which itself has not yet become individualized; a sequential manifestation of the one Universal Monas. The ocean (of matter) does not divide into its potential and constituent drops until the sweep of the life-impulse reaches the evolutionary stage of man-birth. The tendency towards segregation into individual Monads is gradual, and in the higher animals comes almost to the point. The Peripatetics applied the word Monas to the whole Kosmos, in the pantheistic sense; and the Occultists, while accepting this thought for convenience sake, distinguish the progressive stages of the evolution of the concrete from the abstract by terms of which the "Mineral, Vegetable, Animal (etc.), Monad" are examples. The term merely means that the tidal wave of spiritual evolution is passing through that arc of its circuit. The "Monadic Essence" begins to imperceptibly differentiate towards individual consciousness in the Vegetable Kingdom. As the Monads are uncompounded things, as correctly defined by Leibnitz, it is the spiritual essence which vivifies them in their degrees of differentiation, which properly constitutes the Monad -- not the atomic aggregation, which is only the vehicle and the substance through which thrill the lower and the higher degrees of intelligence (S.D. I, 178-79). The "human" Monad, whether immetallized in the stone-atom, or invegetallized in the plant, or inanimalized in the animal, is still and ever a divine, hence also a HUMAN Monad. It ceases to be human only when it becomes absolutely divine. The terms "mineral," "vegetable" and "animal" monad are meant to create a superficial distinction: there is no such thing as a Monad (jiva) other than divine, and consequently having been, or having to become, human. And the latter term has to remain meaningless unless the difference is well understood (S.D. II, 185-86). The Monad is a drop out of the shoreless Ocean beyond, or, to be correct, within the plane of primeval differentiation. It is divine in its higher and human in its lower condition -- the adjectives "higher" and "lower" being used for lack of better words -- and a monad it remains at all times, save in the Nirvanic state, under whatever conditions, or whatever external forms. As the Logos reflects the Universe in the Divine Mind, and the manifested Universe reflects itself in each of its Monads, as Leibnitz put it, repeating an
Eastern teaching, so the MONAD has, during the cycle of its incarnations, to reflect in itself every root-form of each kingdom. Therefore the Kabalists say correctly that "MAN becomes a stone, a plant, an animal, a man, a Spirit, and finally God. Thus accomplishing his cycle or circuit and returning to the point from which he had started as the heavenly MAN." But by "Man" the divine Monad is meant, and not the thinking Entity, much less his physical body (S.D. II, 186).
On our nascent globe ... The Monad or Jiva ... is, first of all, shot down by the law of Evolution into the lowest form of matter -- the mineral. After a sevenfold gyration encased in the stone (or that which will become mineral and stone in the Fourth Round), it creeps out of it, say, as a lichen. Passing thence, through all the forms of vegetable matter, into what is termed animal matter, it has now reached the point in which it has become the germ, so to speak, of the animal, that will become the physical man. All this, up to the Third Round, is formless, as matter, and senseless, as consciousness. For the Monad or Jiva per se cannot be even called spirit: it is a ray, a breath of the ABSOLUTE, or the Absoluteness rather, and the Absolute Homogeneity, having no relations with the conditioned and relative finiteness, is unconscious on our plane. Therefore, besides the material which will be needed for its future human form, the monad requires (a) a spiritual model, or prototype, for that material to shape itself into; and (b) an intelligent consciousness to guide its evolution and progress, neither of which is possessed by the homogeneous monad, or by senseless though living matter. ... It is only when, from a potential androgyne, man has become separated into male and female, that he will be endowed with this conscious, rational, individual Soul, (Manas) "the principle, or the intelligence, of the Elohim," ... while the monad is cycling on downward into matter, these very Elohim -or Pitris, the lower Dhyan-Chohans -- are evolving pari passu with it on a higher and more spiritual plane, descending also relatively into matter on their own plane of consciousness, when, after having reached a certain point, they will meet the incarnating senseless monad, encased in the lowest matter, and blending the two potencies, Spirit and Matter, the union will produce that terrestrial symbol of the "Heavenly Man" in space -- PERFECT MAN. ... Though one and the same thing in their origin, Spirit and Matter, when once they are on the plane of differentiation, begin each of them their evolutionary progress in contrary directions - Spirit falling gradually into matter, and the latter ascending to its original condition, that of a pure spiritual substance (S.D. I, 246-47). ... the Occult teaching says, "Nothing is created, but is only transformed. Nothing can manifest itself in this universe -- from a globe down to a vague, rapid thought -- that was not in the universe already; everything on the subjective plane is an eternal IS; as everything on the objective plane is an ever becoming -- because transitory." The monad ... is here rendered as the Atma in conjunction with Buddhi and the higher Manas. This trinity is one and eternal, the latter being absorbed in the former at the termination of all conditioned and illusive life. The monad, then, can be traced through the course of its pilgrimage and its changes of transitory vehicles only from the incipient stage of the manifested Universe. In Pralaya, or the intermediate period between two manvantaras, it loses its name, as it loses it when the real ONE self of man merges into Brahm in cases of high Samadhi (the Turiya state) or final Nirvana; ... For Buddhi (the Anandamaya sheath) is but a mirror which reflects absolute bliss; and, moreover, that reflection itself is yet not free from ignorance, and is not the Supreme Spirit, being subject to conditions, being a spiritual modification of Prakriti, and an effect; Atma alone is the one real and eternal substratum of all -- the essence and absolute knowledge -- the Kshetragna. It is called in
the Esoteric philosophy "the One Witness," and, while it rests in Devachan, is referred to as "the Three Witnesses to Karma." (S.D. I, 570-71).
It now becomes plain that there exists in Nature a triple evolutionary scheme, for the formation of the three periodical Upadhis; or rather three separate schemes of evolution, which in our system are inextricably interwoven and interblended at every point. These are the Monadic (or spiritual), the intellectual, and the physical evolutions. These three are the finite aspects or the reflections on the field of Cosmic Illusion of ATMA, the seventh, the ONE REALITY. 1. The Monadic is, as the name implies, concerned with the growth and development into still higher phases of activity of the Monad in conjunction with:-2. The Intellectual, represented by the Manasa-Dhyanis (the Solar Devas, or the Agnishwatta Pitris) the "givers of intelligence and consciousness" to man and:-3. The Physical, represented by the Chhayas of the lunar Pitris, round which Nature has concreted the present physical body. This body serves as the vehicle for the "growth" (to use a misleading word) and the transformations through Manas and -- owing to the accumulation of experiences -- of the finite into the INFINITE, of the transient into the Eternal and Absolute. Each of these three systems has its own laws, and is ruled and guided by different sets of the highest Dhyanis or "Logoi." Each is represented in the constitution of man, the Microcosm of the great Macrocosm; and it is the union of these three streams in him which makes him the complex being he now is (S.D. I, 181). Metaphysically speaking, it is of course an absurdity to talk of the "development" of a Monad, or to say that it becomes "Man." ... It stands to reason that a MONAD cannot either progress or develop, or even be affected by the changes of states it passes through. It is not of this world or plane, and may be compared only to an indestructible star of divine light and fire, thrown down on to our Earth as a plank of salvation for the personalities in which it indwells. It is for the latter to cling to it; and thus partaking of its divine nature, obtain immortality (S.D. I, 174-75 fn.). Exoteric Hindu books mention seven classes of Pitris, and among them two distinct kinds of Progenitors or Ancestors: the Barhishad and the Agnishwatta; ... But esoteric philosophy explains ... the Agnishwatta Pitris are devoid of fire (i.e., of creative passion), because too divine and pure ... whereas the Barhishad, being the lunar spirits more closely connected with Earth, became the creative Elohim of form, or the Adam of dust (S.D. II, 77-78). ... the Agnishwatta, ... hence [were] unable to create physical man, having no double, or astral body, to project, since they were without any form, ... Yet it is they alone who could complete man, i.e., make of him a selfconscious, almost a divine being -- a god on Earth. The Barhishad, though possessed of creative fire, were devoid of the higher MAHAT-mic element. Being on a level with the lower principles -- those which precede gross objective matter -- they could only give birth to the outer man, or rather to the model of the physical, the astral man. ... it was those [Agnishwatta] who would not multiply, who sacrificed themselves to the good and salvation of Spiritual Humanity. For, to complete the septenary man, to add to his three lower principles
and cement them with the spiritual Monad -- which could never dwell in such a form otherwise than in an absolutely latent state -- two connecting principles are needed: Manas and Kama. ... These are then those "Flames" (the Agnishwatta) who, ... were destined to incarnate as the Egos of the forthcoming crop of Mankind. The human Ego is neither Atman nor Buddhi, but the higher Manas: the intellectual fruition and the efflorescence of the intellectual self-conscious Egotism -- in the higher spiritual sense (S.D. II, 78-79).
1. Everything in the metaphysical as in the physical Universe is septenary. Hence every sidereal body, every planet, whether visible or invisible, is credited with six companion globes. ... The evolution of life proceeds on these seven globes or bodies from the 1st to the 7th in Seven ROUNDS or Seven Cycles. 2. These globes are formed by a process which the Occultists call the "rebirth of planetary chains (or rings)."... 3. Our Earth, as the visible representative of its invisible superior fellow globes, its "lords" or "principles" ... has to live, as have the others, through seven Rounds. During the first three, it forms and consolidates; during the fourth it settles and hardens; during the last three it gradually returns to its first ethereal form: it is spiritualised, so to say. 4. Its Humanity develops fully only in the Fourth -- our present Round (S.D. I, 158-59). Now, it must be remembered that the Monads cycling round any septenary chain are divided into seven classes or hierarchies according to their respective stages of evolution, consciousness, and merit. ... in the Seventh Round on the Lunar chain, when Class 7, the last, quits Globe A, that Globe, instead of falling asleep, as it had done in previous Rounds, begins to die (to go into its planetary pralaya); and in dying it transfers successively ... its "principles," or life-elements and energy, etc., one after the other to a new "layacentre," which commences the formation of Globe A of the Earth Chain. A similar process takes place for each of the Globes of the "lunar chain" one after the other, each forming a fresh Globe of the "earth chain." Our Moon was the fourth Globe of the series, and was on the same plane of perception as our Earth. But Globe A of the lunar chain is not fully "dead" till the first Monads of the first class have passed from Globe G or Z, the last of the "lunar chain," into the Nirvana which awaits them between the two chains; and similarly for all the other Globes as stated, each giving birth to the corresponding globe of the "earth chain." Further, when Globe A of the new chain is ready, the first class or Hierarchy of Monads from the Lunar chain incarnate upon it in the lowest kingdom, and so on successively. The result of this is, that it is only the first class of Monads which attains the human state of development during the first Round, since the second class, on each planet, arriving later, has not time to reach that stage. Thus the Monads of Class 2 reach the incipient human stage only in the Second Round, and so on up to the middle of the Fourth Round. But at this point -and on this Fourth Round in which the human stage will be fully developed -- the "Door" into the human kingdom closes; and henceforward the number of "human" Monads, i.e., Monads in the human stage of development, is complete. For the Monads which had not reached the human stage by this point will, owing to the evolution of humanity itself, find themselves so far behind that they will reach the human stage only at the close of the seventh and last Round. They will, therefore, not be men on this chain, but will form the humanity of a future Manvantara and be rewarded by becoming "Men" on a higher chain altogether, thus
receiving their Karmic compensation. To this there is but one solitary exception, for very good reasons, of which we shall speak farther on.... It thus becomes apparent how perfect is the analogy between the processes of Nature in the Kosmos and in the individual man. The latter lives through his life-cycle, and dies. His "higher principles," corresponding in the development of a planetary chain to the cycling Monads, pass into Devachan, which corresponds to the "Nirvana" and states of rest intervening between two chains. The Man's lower "principles" are disintegrated in time and are used by Nature again for the formation of new human principles, and the same process takes place in the disintegration and formation of Worlds (S.D. I, 171-73).
What, it may be asked, are the "Lunar Monads," ... they are Monads, who, having ended their life-cycle on the lunar chain, which is inferior to the terrestrial chain, have incarnated on this one. ... The last word of the mystery is divulged only to the adepts, but it may be stated that our satellite is only the gross body of its invisible principles. ... there are 7 Earths, so there are 7 Moons, the last one alone being visible (S.D. I, 179). It is, then, the Moon that plays the largest and most important part, as well in the formation of the Earth itself, as in the peopling thereof with human beings. The "Lunar Monads" or Pitris, the ancestors of man, become in reality man himself. They are the "Monads" who enter on the cycle of evolution on Globe A, and who, passing round the chain of planets, evolve the human form ... At the beginning of the human stage of the Fourth Round on this Globe, they "ooze out" their astral doubles from the "ape-like" forms which they had evolved in Round III. And it is this subtle, finer form, which serves as the model round which Nature builds physical man. These "Monads" or "divine sparks" are thus the "Lunar" ancestors, the Pitris themselves. For these "Lunar Spirits" have to become "Men" in order that their "Monads" may reach a higher plane of activity and self-consciousness, i.e., the plane of the Manasa-Putras, those who endow the "senseless" shells, created and informed by the Pitris, with "mind" in the latter part of the Third Root-Race (S.D. I, 180-81). "Nature," the physical evolutionary Power, could never evolve intelligence unaided -- she can only create "senseless forms," ... It is the Manasa-Dhyanis who fill up the gap, and they represent the evolutionary power of Intelligence and Mind, the link between "Spirit" and "Matter" -- in this Round (S.D. I, 181-82).
The Monadic Host may be roughly divided into three great classes:-1. The most developed Monads (the Lunar Gods or "Spirits," called, in India, the Pitris), whose function it is to pass in the first Round through the whole triple cycle of the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms in their most ethereal, filmy, and rudimentary forms, in order to clothe themselves in, and assimilate, the nature of the newly formed chain. They are those who first reach the human form (if there can be any form in the realm of the almost subjective) on Globe A in the first Round. It is they, therefore, who lead and represent the human element during the second and third Rounds, and finally evolve their shadows at the beginning of the Fourth Round for the second class, or those who come behind them.
2. Those Monads that are the first to reach the human stage during the three and a half Rounds, and to become men. 3. The laggards; the Monads which are retarded, and which will not reach, by reason of Karmic impediments, the human stage at all during this cycle or Round, save one exception ... Now the evolution of the external form or body round the astral is produced by the terrestrial forces, just as in the case of the lower kingdoms; but the evolution of the internal or real MAN is purely spiritual. It is now no more a passage of the impersonal Monad through many and various forms of matter -- endowed at best with instinct and consciousness on quite a different plane -- as in the case of external evolution, but a journey of the "pilgrim-soul" through various states of not only matter but Self-consciousness and self-perception, or of perception from apperception (S.D. I, 174-75). The most developed Monads (the lunar) reach the human germ-stage in the first Round; become terrestrial, though very ethereal human beings towards the end of the Third Round, remaining on it (the globe) through the "obscuration" period as the seed for future mankind in the Fourth Round, and thus become the pioneers of Humanity at the beginning of this, the Fourth Round. Others reach the Human stage only during later Rounds, i.e., in the second, third, or first half of the Fourth Round. And finally the most retarded of all, i.e., those still occupying animal forms after the middle turning-point of the Fourth Round -- will not become men at all during this Manwantara. They will reach to the verge of humanity only at the close of the seventh Round to be, in their turn, ushered into a new chain after pralaya -- by older pioneers, the progenitors of humanity, or the Seed-Humanity (Sishta), viz., the men who will be at the head of all at the end of these Rounds. ... the Fourth [Globe] has no "sister" Globe on the same plane as itself, and it thus forms the fulcrum of the "balance" represented by the whole chain. It is the sphere of final evolutionary adjustments, the world of Karmic scales, the Hall of Justice, where the balance is struck which determines the future course of the Monad during the remainder of its incarnations in the cycle. And therefore it is, that, after this central turning-point has been passed in the Great Cycle, -- i.e., after the middle point of the Fourth Race in the Fourth Round on our Globe -- no more Monads can enter the human kingdom. The door is closed for this Cycle and the balance struck (S.D. I, 182). The only exceptions to the rule ... are the "dumb races," whose Monads are already within the human stage, in virtue of the fact that these "animals" are later than, and even half descended from man, their last descendants being the anthropoid and other apes. These "human presentments" are in truth only the distorted copies of the early humanity (S.D. I, 183).
"Its (the atom's) involution and evolution, its external and internal growth and development, have all one and the same object -- man; man, as the highest physical and ultimate form on this earth; the MONAD, in its absolute totality and awakened condition -- as the culmination of the divine incarnations on Earth." (S.D. I, 183.) ... man -- or rather his Monad -- has existed on the earth from the very beginning of this Round. But, up to our own Fifth Race, the external shapes which covered those divine astral doubles changed and consolidated with every sub-race; the form and physical structure of the fauna changing at the same time, as they had to be
adapted to the ever-changing conditions of life on this globe during the geological periods of its formative cycle. And thus shall they go on changing with every Root Race and every chief sub-race down to the last one of the Seventh in this Round (S.D. I, 183-84). "The inner, now concealed, man, was then (in the beginnings) the external man. The progeny of the Dhyanis (Pitris), he was 'the son like unto his father.' Like the lotus, whose external shape assumes gradually the form of the model within itself, so did the form of man in the beginning evolve from within without. After the cycle in which man began to procreate his species after the fashion of the present animal kingdom, it became the reverse. The human foetus follows now in its transformations all the forms that the physical frame of man had assumed throughout the three Kalpas (Rounds) during the tentative efforts at plastic formation around the monad by senseless, because imperfect, matter, in her blind wanderings. In the present age, the physical embryo is a plant, a reptile, an animal, before it finally becomes man, evolving within himself his own ethereal counterpart, in his turn. In the beginning it was that counterpart (astral man) which, being senseless, got entangled in the meshes of matter." But this "man" belongs to the fourth Round. As shown, the MONAD had passed through, journeyed and been imprisoned in, every transitional form throughout every kingdom of nature during the three preceding Rounds. But the monad which becomes human is not the Man. In this Round -- with the exception of the highest mammals after man, the anthropoids destined to die out in this our race, when their monads will be liberated and pass into the astral human forms (or the highest elementals) of the Sixth and the Seventh Races, and then into lowest human forms in the fifth Round -- no units of either of the kingdoms are animated any longer by monads destined to become human in their next stage, but only by the lower Elementals of their respective realms. The last human Monad incarnated before the beginning of the 5th Root-Race. The cycle of metempsychosis for the human monad is closed, for we are in the Fourth Round and the Fifth Root-Race (S.D. I, 184-85). It can never be too often repeated, that the full-blown human Monads have to be first disposed of, before the new crop of candidates appears on this Globe at the beginning of the next cycle. Thus there is a lull; and this is why, during the Fourth Round, man appears on Earth earlier than any animal creation, ... But what the Occultists have never admitted, nor will they ever admit, is that man was an ape in this or in any other Round; or that he ever could be one, however much he may have been "ape-like." (S.D. I, 187.) Up to the Fourth Round, and even to the later part of the Third Race in this Round, Man -- if the everchanging forms that clothed the Monads during the first three Rounds and the first two and a half races of the present one can be given that misleading name -- is, so far, only an animal intellectually. It is only in the actual midway Round that he develops in himself entirely the fourth principle as a fit vehicle for the fifth. But Manas will be relatively fully developed only in the following Round, when it will have an opportunity of becoming entirely divine until the end of the Rounds (S.D. II, 161-62).
Of the succession of Races ... "First come the SELF-EXISTENT on this Earth. They are the 'Spiritual Lives' projected by the absolute WILL and LAW, at the dawn of every rebirth of the worlds. These LIVES are the divine 'Sishta,' (the seed-Manus, or the Prajâpati and the Pitris)."
From these proceed-1. The First Race, the "Self-born," which are the (astral) shadows of their Progenitors. The body was devoid of all understanding (mind, intelligence, and will). The inner being (the higher self or Monad), though within the earthly frame, was unconnected with it. The link, the Manas, was not there as yet. 2. From the First (race) emanated the second, called the "Sweat-born" and the "Boneless." This is the Second RootRace, endowed by the preservers (Râkshasas) and the incarnating gods (Asuras and the Kumâras) with the first primitive and weak spark (the germ of intelligence) ... And from these in turn proceeds:-3. The Third Root-Race, the "Two-fold" (Androgynes). The first Races hereof are shells, till the last is "inhabited" (i.e., informed) by the Dhyanis (S.D. II, 164-65). This Third Race is sometimes called collectively "the Sons of Passive Yoga," i.e., it was produced unconsciously by the second Race, which, as it was intellectually inactive, is supposed to have been constantly plunged in a kind of blank or abstract contemplation, as required by the conditions of the Yoga state. In the first or earlier portion of the existence of this third race, while it was yet in its state of purity, the "Sons of Wisdom," who, as will be seen, incarnated in this Third Race, produced by Kriyasakti a progeny called the "Sons of Ad" or "of the Fire-Mist," the "Sons of Will and Yoga." They were a conscious production, as a portion of the race was already animated with the divine spark of spiritual, superior intelligence (S.D. I, 207). It was by ... Kriyasakti -- the mysterious power of thought which enables it to produce external, perceptible, phenomenal results by its own inherent energy. The ancients held that any idea will manifest itself externally, if one's attention (and Will) is deeply concentrated upon it ... The Third Race had thus created the so-called SONS OF WILL AND YOGA, or the "ancestors" (the spiritual forefathers) of all the subsequent and present Arhats, or Mahatmas, in a truly immaculate way. They were indeed created, not begotten, as were their brethren of the Fourth Race, who were generated sexually after the separation of sexes, the Fall of Man. ... They were the "holy seed-grain" of the future Saviours of Humanity (S.D. II, 173). The archaic commentaries explain ... that, of the Host of Dhyanis, whose turn it was to incarnate as the Egos of the immortal, but, on this plane, senseless monads -- that some "obeyed" (the law of evolution) immediately when the men of the Third Race became physiologically and physically ready, i.e., when they had separated into sexes. ... Those, on the other hand, who, jealous of their intellectual freedom (unfettered as it then was by the bonds of matter), said:-- "We can choose ... we have wisdom," and incarnated far later -- these had their first Karmic punishment prepared for them. They got bodies (physiologically) inferior to their astral models, because their chhayas had belonged to progenitors of an inferior degree in the seven classes. As to those "Sons of Wisdom" who had "deferred" their incarnation till the Fourth Race, which was already tainted (physiologically) with sin and impurity, they produced a terrible cause, the Karmic result of which weighs on them to this day. It was produced in themselves, and they became the carriers of that seed of iniquity for aeons to come, because the bodies they had to inform had become defiled through their own procrastination. This was the "Fall of the angels," because of their rebellion against Karmic Law. The "fall of man" was no fall, for he was irresponsible (S.D. II, 228).
We now come to an important point with regard to the double evolution of the human race. The Sons of Wisdom, or the spiritual Dhyanis, had become "intellectual" through their contact with matter, because they had already reached, during previous cycles of incarnation, that degree of intellect which enabled them to become independent and self-conscious entities, on this plane of matter. They were reborn only by reason of Karmic effects. They entered those who were "ready," and became the Arhats, or sages ... It does not mean that Monads entered forms in which other Monads already were. They were "Essences," "Intelligences," and conscious spirits; entities seeking to become still more conscious by uniting with more developed matter. Their essence was too pure to be distinct from the universal essence; but their "Egos," or Manas (since they are called Manasaputra, born of "Mahat," or Brahmâ) had to pass through earthly human experiences to become all-wise, and be able to start on the returning ascending cycle. ... It is not in the course of natural law that man should become a perfect septenary being, before the seventh race in the seventh Round. Yet he has all these principles latent in him from his birth. Nor is it part of the evolutionary law that the Fifth principle (Manas), should receive its complete development before the Fifth Round. All such prematurely developed intellects (on the spiritual plane) in our Race are abnormal; they are those whom we call the "Fifth-Rounders." Even in the coming seventh Race, at the close of this Fourth Round, while our four lower principles will be fully developed, that of Manas will be only proportionately so. This limitation, however, refers solely to the spiritual development. The intellectual, on the physical plane, was reached during the Fourth Root-Race. Thus, those who were "half ready," who received "but a spark," constitute the average humanity which has to acquire its intellectuality during the present Manvantaric evolution, after which they will be ready in the next for the full reception of the "Sons of Wisdom." While those which "were not ready" at all, the latest Monads, which had hardly evolved from their last transitional and lower animal forms at the close of the Third Round, remained the "narrow-brained" of the Stanza. This explains the otherwise unaccountable degrees of intellectuality among the various races of men -- the savage Bushman and the European -- even now. Those tribes of savages, whose reasoning powers are very little above the level of the animals, are not the unjustly disinherited, or the unfavoured, as some may think -- nothing of the kind. They are simply those latest arrivals among the human Monads, which were not ready: which have to evolve during the present Round, as on the three remaining globes (hence on four different planes of being) so as to arrive at the level of the average class when they reach the Fifth Round. One remark may prove useful, as food for thought to the student in this connection. The MONADS of the lowest specimens of humanity (the "narrowbrained" savage South-Sea Islander, the African, the Australian) had no Karma to work out when first born as men, as their more favoured brethren in intelligence had. The former are spinning out Karma only now; the latter are burdened with past, present, and future Karma. In this respect the poor savage is more fortunate than the greatest genius of civilized countries (S.D. II, 167-68). Occultism teaches that -- (a) the life-atoms of our (Prâna) life-principle are never entirely lost when a man dies. That the atoms best impregnated with the life-principle (an independent, eternal, conscious factor) are partially transmitted from father to son by heredity, and partially are drawn once more together and become the animating principle of the new body in every new incarnation of the Monads. Because (b), as the individual Soul is ever the same, so are the atoms of the lower principles (body, its astral, or life double, etc.), drawn as they are by affinity and Karmic law always to the same individuality in a series of various bodies (S.D. II, 671-72).
"Pilgrim" is the appellation given to our Monad (the two in one) during its cycle of incarnations. It is the only immortal and eternal principle in us, being an indivisible part of the integral whole -- the Universal Spirit, from which it emanates, and into which it is absorbed at the end of the cycle. When it is said to emanate from the one spirit, an awkward and incorrect expression has to be used, for lack of appropriate words in English. ... (S.D. I, 16-17 footnote). The Monad becomes a personal ego when it incarnates; and something remains of that personality through Manas, when the latter is perfect enough to assimilate Buddhi (S.D. I, 245). That which propels towards, and forces evolution, i.e., compels the growth and development of Man towards perfection, is (a) the MONAD, or that which acts in it unconsciously through a force inherent in itself; and (b) the lower astral body or the personal SELF. The former, whether imprisoned in a vegetable or an animal body, is endowed with, is indeed itself, that force. Owing to its identity with the ALL-FORCE, which, as said, is inherent in the Monad, it is all-potent on the Arupa, or formless plane. On our plane, its essence being too pure, it remains all-potential, but individually becomes inactive: e.g., the rays of the Sun, which contribute to the growth of vegetation, do not select this or that plant to shine upon. Uproot the plant and transfer it to a piece of soil where the sunbeam cannot reach it, and the latter will not follow it. So with the Atman: unless the higher Self or EGO gravitates towards its Sun -- the Monad -- the lower Ego, or personal Self, will have the upper hand in every case (S.D. II, 109-110). Starting upon the long journey immaculate; descending more and more into sinful matter, and having connected himself with every atom in manifested Space -- the Pilgrim, having struggled through and suffered in every form of life and being, is only at the bottom of the valley of matter, and half through his cycle, when he has identified himself with collective Humanity. This, he has made in his own image. In order to progress upwards and homewards, the "God" has now to ascend the weary uphill path of the Golgotha of Life. It is the martyrdom of self-conscious existence. Like Visvakarman he has to sacrifice himself to himself in order to redeem all creatures, to resurrect from the many into the One Life. Then he ascends into heaven indeed; where, plunged into the incomprehensible absolute Being and Bliss of Paranirvana, he reigns unconditionally, and whence he will re-descend again at the next "coming," ... (S.D. I, 268). For, however limitless -- from a human standpoint -- the paranirvanic state, it has yet a limit in Eternity. Once reached, the same monad will re-emerge therefrom, as a still higher being, on a far higher plane, to recommence its cycle of perfected activity. The human mind cannot in its present stage of development transcend, scarcely reach this plane of thought. It totters here, on the brink of incomprehensible Absoluteness and Eternity (S.D. I, 266).
The Voice of the Silence
Translated by "H.P.B."
Selected Extracts Compiled and rearranged by Daniel H. Caldwell
During a trip to Fontainebleau, France in July, 1889, H. P. Blavatsky wrote the major part of the devotional, mystical work The Voice of the Silence, based on excerpts from an Eastern scripture, The Book of the Golden Precepts, which she had learned by heart during her training in the East. At this time Annie Besant and Herbert Burrows visited H.P.B. Mrs. Besant gives a vivid account of how H.P.B. wrote the Voice: "I spent a day or two at Fontainebleau with H. P. Blavatsky, who had gone abroad for a few weeks’ rest. There I found her translating the wonderful fragments from 'The Book of the Golden Precepts,' now so widely known under the name of The Voice of the Silence. She wrote it swiftly, without any material copy before her. I sat in the room while she was writing it. I know that she did not write it referring to any books, but she wrote it down steadily, hour after hour, exactly as though she were writing either from memory or from reading it where no book was and in the evening made me read it aloud to see if the 'English was decent.' Herbert Burrows was there, and Mrs. Candler, a staunch American Theosophist, and we sat round HPB while I read. The translation was in perfect and beautiful English, flowing and musical; only a word or two could we find to alter, and she looked at us like a startled child, wondering at our praises—praise that any one with the literary sense would endorse if they read that exquisite prose poem." [Besant, Annie. The Masters. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1977, pp. 32–3.] In the beginning of August, 1889, HPB went to Jersey, an island off the south coast of England. G.R.S. Mead, who went to visit her there, gives another account concerning the Voice: "One day, shortly after my arrival, HPB came into my room unexpectedly with a manuscript and handed it to me, saying, 'Read that, old man, and tell me what you think of it.' It was the MS of the third part of the Voice of the Silence, and while I read she sat and smoked her cigarettes, tapping her foot on the floor, as was often her habit. I read on, forgetting her presence in the beauty and sublimity of the theme until she broke in upon my silence with, 'Well?' I told her it was the grandest thing in all our Theosophical literature and tried, contrary to my habit, to convey in words some of the enthusiasm that I felt. But even then HPB was not content with her work and expressed the greatest apprehension that she had failed to do justice to the original in her translation and could hardly be persuaded that she had done well." [Some of Her Pupils. In Memory of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1891, pp. 31–5.]
To members of her Esoteric School, H.P.B. wrote in November 1889: "Read the 'Voice,' I say. It was written for, and dedicated to you, by Masters' special orders. Therein you will find all your inquiries anticipated and answered." [Blavatsky, H.P. Collected Writings. Volume XII. Wheaton, Illinois: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980, p. 505.]
Of teachers there are many; the MASTER-SOUL is one, Alaya, the Universal Soul. Live in that MASTER as ITS ray in thee. Live in thy fellows as they live in IT. All is impermanent in man except the pure bright essence of Alaya. Man is its crystal ray; a beam of light immaculate within, a form of clay material upon the lower surface. That beam is thy life-guide and thy true Self, the Watcher and the silent Thinker. Thou hast to saturate thyself with pure Alaya, become as one with Nature's Soul-Thought. At one with it thou art invincible; in separation, thou becomest the playground of Samvriti, origin of all the world's delusions. Thou hast to learn to part thy body from thy mind, to dissipate the shadow, and to live in the eternal. For this, thou hast to live and breathe in all, as all that thou perceivest breathes in thee; to feel thyself abiding in all things, all things in SELF. Thou shalt not separate thy being from BEING, and the rest, but merge the Ocean in the drop, the drop within the Ocean. So shalt thou be in full accord with all that lives; bear love to men as though they were thy brother-pupils, disciples of one Teacher, the sons of one sweet mother.
Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance. And she will open wide before thee the portals of her secret chambers, lay bare before thy gaze the treasures hidden in the very depths of her pure virgin bosom. Unsullied by the hand of matter she shows her treasures only to the eye of Spirit -- the eye which never closes, the eye for which there is no veil in all her kingdoms. Then will she show thee the means and way, the first gate and the second, the third, up to the very seventh. And then, the goal -- beyond which lie, bathed in the sunlight of the Spirit, glories untold, unseen by any save the eye of Soul.
Three Halls, O weary pilgrim, lead to the end of toils. Three Halls, O conqueror of Mara, will bring thee through three states into the fourth and thence into the seven worlds, the worlds of Rest Eternal. If thou would'st learn their names, then hearken, and remember. The name of the first Hall is IGNORANCE -- Avidya. It is the Hall in which thou saw'st the light, in which thou livest and shalt die. If thou would'st cross the first Hall safely, let not thy mind mistake the fires of lust that burn therein for the Sunlight of life. The WISE ONES tarry not in pleasure-grounds of senses. This earth, O ignorant Disciple, is but the dismal entrance leading to the twilight that precedes the valley of true light -- that light which no wind can extinguish, that light which burns without a wick or fuel. Shun ignorance, and likewise shun illusion. Avert thy face from world deceptions; mistrust thy senses, they are false. But within thy body -- the shrine of thy sensations -- seek in the Impersonal for the "eternal man"; and having sought him out, look inward: thou art Buddha. Thy shadows live and vanish; that which in thee shall live for ever, that which in thee knows, for it is knowledge, is not of fleeing life: it is the man that was, that is, and will be, for whom the hour shall never strike. The name of Hall the second is the Hall of Learning. In it thy Soul will find the blossoms of life, but under every flower a serpent coiled. If thou would'st cross the second safely, stop not the fragrance of its stupefying blossoms to inhale. If freed thou would'st be from the Karmic chains, seek not for thy Guru in those Mayavic regions. The WISE ONES heed not the sweet-tongued voices of illusion. And having learnt thine own Agnyana, flee from the Hall of Learning. This Hall is dangerous in its perfidious beauty, is needed but for thy probation. Beware, Lanoo, lest dazzled by illusive radiance thy Soul should linger and be caught in its deceptive light. This light shines from the jewel of the Great Ensnarer, (Mara). The senses it bewitches, blinds the mind, and leaves the unwary an abandoned wreck. The name of the third Hall is Wisdom, beyond which stretch the shoreless waters of AKSHARA, the indestructible Fount of Omniscience. Seek for him who is to give thee birth, in the Hall of Wisdom, the Hall which lies beyond, wherein all shadows are unknown, and where the light of truth shines with unfading glory.
That which is uncreate abides in thee, Disciple, as it abides in that Hall. If thou would'st reach it and blend the two, thou must divest thyself of thy dark garments of illusion. Stifle the voice of flesh, allow no image of the senses to get between its light and thine that thus the twain may blend in one. If through the Hall of Wisdom, thou would'st reach the Vale of Bliss, Disciple, close fast thy senses against the great dire heresy of separateness that weans thee from the rest.
Strive with thy thoughts unclean before they overpower thee. Use them as they will thee, for if thou sparest them and they take root and grow, know well, these thoughts will overpower and kill thee. Beware, Disciple, suffer not, e'en though it be their shadow, to approach. For it will grow, increase in size and power, and then this thing of darkness will absorb thy being before thou hast well realized the black foul monster's presence. The ladder by which the candidate ascends is formed of rungs of suffering and pain; these can be silenced only by the voice of virtue. Woe, then, to thee, Disciple, if there is one single vice thou hast not left behind. For then the ladder will give way and overthrow thee; its foot rests in the deep mire of thy sins and failings, and ere thou canst attempt to cross this wide abyss of matter thou hast to lave thy feet in Waters of Renunciation. Beware lest thou should'st set a foot still soiled upon the ladder's lowest rung. Woe unto him who dares pollute one rung with miry feet. The foul and viscous mud will dry, become tenacious, then glue his feet unto the spot, and like a bird caught in the wily fowler's lime, he will be stayed from further progress. His vices will take shape and drag him down. His sins will raise their voices like as the jackal's laugh and sob after the sun goes down; his thoughts become an army, and bear him off a captive slave. Kill thy desires, Lanoo, make thy vices impotent, ere the first step is taken on the solemn journey. Strangle thy sins, and make them dumb for ever, before thou dost lift one foot to mount the ladder. Do not believe that lust can ever be killed out if gratified or satiated, for this is an abomination inspired by Mara. It is by feeding vice that it expands and waxes strong, like to the worm that fattens on the blossom's heart. Kill out desire; but if thou killest it take heed lest from the dead it should again arise.
Having become indifferent to objects of perception, the pupil must seek out the rajah of the senses, the Thought-Producer, he who awakes illusion. The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real. Let the Disciple slay the Slayer.
Silence thy thoughts and fix thy whole attention on thy Master whom yet thou dost not see, but whom thou feelest. Merge into one sense thy senses, if thou would'st be secure against the foe. 'Tis by that sense alone which lies concealed within the hollow of thy brain, that the steep path which leadeth to thy Master may be disclosed before thy Soul's dim eyes. The light from the ONE Master, the one unfading golden light of Spirit, shoots its effulgent beams on the disciple from the very first. Its rays thread through the thick dark clouds of matter. Now here, now there, these rays illumine it, like sun-sparks light the earth through the thick foliage of the jungle growth. But, O Disciple, unless the flesh is passive, head cool, the soul as firm and pure as flaming diamond, the radiance will not reach the chamber , its sunlight will not warm the heart, nor will the mystic sounds of the Akasic heights reach the ear, however eager, at the initial stage 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" who treads the winds above the waves, whose step touches not the waters.
Before thou set'st thy foot upon the ladder's upper rung, the ladder of the mystic sounds, thou hast to hear the voice of thy inner GOD in seven manners. The first is like the nightingale's sweet voice chanting a song of parting to its mate. The second comes as the sound of a silver cymbal of the Dhyanis, awakening the twinkling stars. The next is as the plaint melodious of the ocean-sprite imprisoned in its shell. And this is followed by the chant of Vina. The fifth like sound of bamboo-flute shrills in thine ear. It changes next into a trumpet-blast. The last vibrates like the dull rumbling of a thunder-cloud. The seventh swallows all the other sounds. They die, and then are heard no more.
When the six are slain and at the Master's feet are laid, then is the pupil merged into the ONE, becomes that ONE and lives therein.
He who would hear the voice of Nada, "the Soundless Sound," and comprehend it, he has to learn the nature of Dharana. Unless thou hearest, thou canst not see. Unless thou seest thou canst not hear. To hear and see this is the second stage. ...... When the disciple sees and hears, and when he smells and tastes, eyes closed, ears shut, with mouth and nostrils stopped; when the four senses blend and ready are to pass into the fifth, that of the inner touch -then into stage the fourth he hath passed on. And in the fifth, O slayer of thy thoughts, all these again have to be killed beyond reanimation. Withhold thy mind from all external objects, all external sights. Withhold internal images, lest on thy Soullight a dark shadow they should cast. Thou art now in DHARANA, the sixth stage. Fix thy Soul's gaze upon the star whose ray thou art, the flaming star that shines within the lightless depths of ever-being, the boundless fields of the Unknown. Thy Soul-gaze centre on the One Pure Light. When thou hast passed into the seventh, O happy one, thou shalt perceive no more the sacred three, for thou shalt have become that three thyself. Thyself and mind, like twins upon a line, the star which is thy goal, burns overhead. The three that dwell in glory and in bliss ineffable, now in the world of Maya have lost their names. They have become one star, the fire that burns but scorches not, that fire which is the Upadhi of the Flame. And this, O Yogi of success, is what men call Dhyana, the right precursor of Samadhi. And now thy Self is lost in SELF, thyself unto THYSELF, merged in THAT SELF from which thou first didst radiate. Where is thy individuality, Lanoo, where the Lanoo himself? It is the spark lost in the fire, the drop within the ocean, the ever-present Ray become the all and the eternal radiance. And now, Lanoo, thou art the doer and the witness, the radiator and the radiation, Light in the Sound, and the Sound in the Light.
And now, rest 'neath the Bodhi tree, which is perfection of all knowledge, for, know, thou art the Master of SAMADHI -- the state of faultless vision. Behold! thou hast become the light, thou hast become the Sound, thou art thy Master and thy God. Thou art THYSELF the object of thy search: the VOICE unbroken, that resounds throughout eternities, exempt from change, from sin exempt, the seven sounds in one, the VOICE OF THE SILENCE.
Compassion is no attribute. It is the LAW of LAWS -- eternal Harmony, Alaya's SELF; a shoreless universal essence, the light of everlasting Right, an fitness of all things, the law of love eternal. The more thou dost become at one with it, thy being melted in its BEING, the more thy Soul unites with that which IS, the more thou wilt become COMPASSION ABSOLUTE. Now bend thy head and listen well, O Bodhisattva -- Compassion speaks and saith: "Can there be bliss when all that lives must suffer? Shalt thou be saved and hear the whole world cry?" Thou shalt attain the seventh step and cross the gate of final knowledge but only to wed woe -- if thou would'st be Tathagata, follow upon thy predecessor's steps, remain unselfish till the endless end. Thou art enlightened -- Choose thy way.
The Mah hatmas and T s Their Letter rs
by Alvi Boyd Kuhn in
[Originally pu ublished in Theoso ophy: A Modern R Revival of Ancien Wisdom nt by Alvin Boyd Kuhn Chapter VI, pp 147-175. An o A n, p. online edition of the entire book is available as w as a paperbac reprint edition by Kessinger Pu well ck n ublishing.]
The Maste whom The ers eosophy prese to us are s ents simply high-ra anking students in life's school of experience. They are m members of ou own evolut ur tionary group, not visitants from the celes spheres. T , stial They are supermen only in tha they have attained knowl at a ledge of the la of life and mastery over its forces with which we ar still aws d h re struggling. They are also termed by T o Theosophists t "just men made perfect," the finished products of o the d our perience, thos more earnes souls of our own race who have pressed forward to attain the fulne of se st o d ess terrene exp the stature of Christ, th prize of the high calling o God in Chr e he of risthood. They are not Gods come down to y earth, but earthly morta risen to the status of Chr als e rists. They ask from us no r k reverence, no w worship; they no b h d der nciples of Trut and Fact, an to th nd demand n allegiance but that which it is expected we shall rend to the prin the nobilit of life. They are our "Eld Brothers," not distant de ty y der eities; and will even make th presence heir known to us and grant us the privileg of cooperating with them when we hav shown ours ge m ve selves capable of unselfishly for mankind. Th are not our Masters in th sense of holding lordship over us; they are hey r he p y working u the "Masters of Wisdom and Compa m assion." Moved by an infinit sympathy w the whole human race they d te with e unced their rig to go forw to more s ght ward splendid conq quests in the ev volutionary fie and have eld, have renou remained in touch with man in order to throw the weight of the personal force on the sid of progress. h r eir de ank hatmas must n be underrated because t not they still fall u under the categ gory of human n But the ra of the Mah beings. Th have accum hey mulated vast s stores of know wledge about the life of man and the unin
148 verse; abou the meanin and purpose of evolution the methods of progress; t rationale o the expansio of ut ng n; s the of on the powers latent in the Ego; the choice and attainment of ends and values in life; and the a e achievement o of d evelopment. U Upon all these questions whi affect the l and happi ich life iness beauty and grandeur in individual de of mortals they possess competent kn s c nowledge whic they are wil ch lling to impar to qualified students. The rt ey have by virtue of their own force of character mastered every hum problem, perfected the growth in o man , eir ained control over all the na o atural forces of life. They sta at the culm f and mination of al human ende ll eavor. beauty, ga They have lifted mortal up to imm e lity mortality, have carried huma e anity aloft to d divinity. Thro ough the mediatorsh of the Christos, or spiri hip itual principle in them, they have reconci the carnal nature of ma his y iled l an, animal sou with the es ul, ssential divinit of his highe Self. And th if they hav been lifted up, stand pati ty er hey, ve iently eager to dr all men unto them. raw Blavatsky's exp ploitation of t Adepts (or their exploita the r ation of her) is a startling ev in the mo s vent odern Madame B religious d drama. It was a unique proc cedure and too the world b surprise. To be sure, Indi and Tibet, even ok by o ia
China, were familiar with the idea of supermen. India had its Buddhas, Boddhisatvas, and Rishis. But what not even India was prepared to view without suspicion was that several of the hierarchical Brotherhood should carry on a clandestine intercourse with a nondescript group, made up of a Russian, an American, and several Englishmen, and issue to them fragments of the ancient lore for broadcasting to the incredulous West, which would mock it, scorn it, and trample it underfoot. It was only justified, according to Madame Blavatsky, by certain considerations which influenced the final decision of the Great White Brotherhood Council. Majority opinion was against the move; but the minority urged that two reasons rendered it advisable. The guillotine and the fagot pile had been eliminated from the historical forms of martyrdom; and, secondly, the esotericism of the doctrines was, in a manner,
149 an automatic safety device. The teachings would appeal to those who were "ready" for them; their meaning would soar over the heads of those for whom they were not suited. The matter was decided affirmatively, we are informed, by the assumption of full karmic responsibility for the launching of the crusade by the two Adepts, Morya and Koot Hoomi Lal Singh. The latter, in the early portion of his present incarnation, had been a student at an English University and felt that he had found sufficient reliability on the part of intelligent Europeans to make them worthy to receive the great knowledge. Morya, we are told, had taken on Madame Blavatsky as his personal attaché, pupil or chela. She had earned in former situations the right to the high commission of carrying the old truth to the world at large in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. It is hinted that Madame Blavatsky had formed a close link with the Master Morya in former births, when she was known to him as a great personage. It is also said that she was herself kept from full admission to the Brotherhood only by some special "Karma" which needed to be "worked out" in a comparatively humble station and personality during this life. She said the Masters knew what she was accountable for, though it was not the charlatanism the world at large charged her with. We are led to assume that the Master Morya exercised a guardianship over her in early life, and later, that he occasionally manifested himself to her, giving her suggestions and encouragement. One or two of these encounters with her Master are recorded. She met him in his physical body in London in 1851. In one of her old note-books, which her aunt Madame Fadeef sent to her in Wurzburg in 1885, there is a memorandum of her meeting with Morya in London. The entry is as follows: "Nuit memorable. Certaine nuit par un clair de lune que se couchait a---Ramsgate---12 aout, 1851,---lorsque je rencontrai le Maitre de mes reves." Hints are thrown out as to other meetings on her travels, and we are told that she studied ancient philosophy and 150
science under the Master's direct tutelage in Tibet covering periods aggregating at least seven years of her life. The testimony of Col. Olcott is no less precise. He says: "I had ocular proof that at least some of those who worked with us were living men, from having seen them in the flesh in India, after having seen them in the astral body in America and in Europe; from having touched and talked with them. Instead of telling me that they were spirits, they told me they were as much alive as myself, and that each of them had his own peculiarities and capabilities, in short, his complete individuality. They told me that what they had attained to I should one day myself acquire, how soon would depend entirely on myself; and that I might not anticipate anything whatever from favor, but, like them, must gain every step, every inch, of progress by my own exertions."1 The fact that the Masters were living human beings made their revelations of cosmic and spiritual truth, say the Theosophists, more valuable than alleged revelations from hypothetical Gods in other systems of belief. That their knowledge is, in a manner of speaking, human instead of heavenly or "divine" should give it greater validity for us. The Mahatmas were, it is said, in direct contact with the next higher grades of intelligent beings standing above them in the hierarchical order, so that their teachings have the double worth of high human and supernal authority. This, occultists believe, affords the most trustworthy type of revelation. It was not until the two Theosophic Founders had reached India, in whose northernmost vastnesses the members of the Great White Brotherhood were said to maintain their earthly residence, that continuous evidence of their reality and their leadership was vouchsafed. The Theosophic case for Adept revelation rests upon a long-continued correspondence between persons (Mr. A. P. Sinnett, mainly, Mr. A. O. Hume, Damodar and others in minor degree) of good intelligence, but claiming no mystical or psychical illumination, and the two Mahatmas, K.H. and M. Sinnett, Editor of The Pioneer, at Simla in northern India, was an English __________________ 1 Old Diary Leaves, Vol. I, of June, 1893.
151 journalist of distinction and ability. Although he had manifested no special temperamental disposition toward the mystical or occult, he was the particular recipient of the attention and favors of the Mahatmas over a space of three or four years, beginning about 1879. It was at his own home in Simla, later at Allahabad, that most of the letters were received, addressed to him personally. Most, if not all, were in answer to the queries which he was permitted, if not invited, to ask his respected teachers. Mr. Sinnett's book, The Occult World, was the first direct statement to the West of the existence of the Masters and their activity as sponsors for the Theosophical Society. He undertook the onerous task of vindicating, as far as argument and the phenomenal material in his hands could, the title of these supermen to the possession of surpassing knowledge and sublime wisdom. His work supplemented that of Madame Blavatsky in Isis, yet it went beyond the latter in asserting the connection of the Theosophical Society with an alleged association of perfected individuals. It put the Theosophical Society squarely on record as an organization, not merely for the purpose of eclectic research, but standing for the promulgation of a body of
basic truths of an esoteric sort and arrogating to itself a position of unique eminence in a spiritual world order. In the Introduction to The Occult World Mr. Sinnett elaborates his apologetic for the general theory of Mahatmic existence and knowledge. Fundamental for his argument is, of course, the theory of reincarnational continuity of development which would enable individual humans, through long experience, to attain degrees of learning far in advance of the majority of the race. But his "proofs" of both the existence and the superior knowledge of these exceptional beings are offered in the book itself, in which his experience with them, and the material of some of their letters to him, are presented. His introductory dissertation is a justification of the Mahatmic policy of maintaining their priceless knowledge in futile obscurity within the narrow confines of their exclusive Brotherhood. He then attempts to rectify
152 our scornful point of view as regards esotericism. Of the superlative wisdom of the Masters he posits his own direct knowledge. The Brothers are to him empirically real. But the logical justification of their attitude of seclusion and aloofness, or worse, of their selfish appropriation of knowledge which it must be assumed would be of immense social value if disseminated, is the point upon which he chiefly labors. "There is a school of philosophy," he says, "still in existence of which modern culture has lost sight . . . modern metaphysics, and to a large extent modern physical science, have been groping for centuries blindly after knowledge which occult philosophy has enjoyed in full measure all the while. Owing to a train of fortunate circumstances I have come to know that this is the case; I have come into contact with persons who are heirs of a greater knowledge concerning the mysteries of Nature and humanity than modern culture has yet evolved. . . . Modern science has accomplished grand results by the open method of investigation, and is very impatient of the theory that persons who have attained to real knowledge, either in science or metaphysics, could have been content to hide their light under a bushel. . . . But there is no need to construct hypotheses in the matter. The facts are accessible if they are sought for in the right way."2 Spiritual science is foremost with the Adepts; physical science being of secondary importance. The main strength of occultism has been devoted to the science of metaphysical energy and to the development of faculties in man, not instruments outside him, which will yield him actual experimental knowledge of the subtle powers in nature. It aims to gain actual and exact knowledge of spiritual things which, under all other systems, remain the subject of speculation or blind religious faith. Summing up the extraordinary powers which Adeptship gives its practitioners, he says they are chiefly the ability to dissociate consciousness from the body, to put it instantaneously in rapport with other minds anywhere on the earth, __________________ 2 A. P. Sinnett: The Occult World, p. 1.
and to exert magical control over the sublimated energies of matter. Occultism postulates a basic differentiation between the principles of mind, soul, and spirit, and gives a formal technique for their interrelated development. It has evolved a practique, also, based on the spiritual constitution of matter, which, it alleges, vastly facilitates human growth. The skilled occultist is able to shift his consciousness from one to another plane of manifestation. In short, his control over the vibrational energies of the Akasha makes him veritably lord of all the physical creation. The members of the Brotherhood remain in more or less complete seclusion among the Himalayas because, as they have said, they find contact with the coarse heavy currents of ordinary human emotionalism---violent feeling, material grasping, and base ambitions---painful to their sensitive organization. This great fraternity is at once the least and most exclusive body in the world; it is composed of the world's very elect, yet any human being is eligible. He must have demonstrated his possession of the required qualifications, which are so high that the average mortal must figure on aeons of education before he can knock at the portals of their spiritual society. The road thither is beset with many real perils, which no one can safely pass till he has proven his mastery over his own nature and that of the world. "The ultimate development of the adept requires amongst other things a life of absolute physical purity, and the candidate must, from the beginning, give practical evidence of his willingness to adopt this. He must . . . for all the years of his probation, be perfectly chaste, perfectly abstemious, and indifferent to physical luxury of every sort. This regimen does not involve any fantastic discipline or obtrusive asceticism, nor withdrawal from the world. There would be nothing to prevent a gentleman in ordinary society from being in some of the preliminary stages of training without anybody about him being the wiser. For true occultism, the sublime achievement of the real adept, is not attained through the loathsome asceticism of the ordinary Indian fakeer, the yogi of the woods and wilds, whose dirt accumulates with his sanctity---of
154 the fanatic who fastens iron hooks into his flesh or holds up an arm till it withers."3 How did the Mahatmas impart their teaching? Mr. Sinnett was the channel of transmission, and to him the two Masters sent a long series of letters on philosophical and other subjects, they themselves remaining in the background. The Mahatma Letters themselves, as originally received by Mr. Sinnett, were not published until 1925.4 Sinnett, early in his acquaintance with the Masters, asked K.H. for the privilege of a personal interview with him. The Master declined. His messages came in the form of long letters which dropped into his possession by facile means that would render the Post Office authorities of any nation both envious and sceptical. The correspondence began when Madame Blavatsky suggested that Mr. Sinnett write certain questions which were on his mind in a letter addressed to K.H., saying she would dispatch it to him, several hundred miles distant, by the exercise of her magnetic powers. She would accompany it with the request for a reply. The idea in Mr. Sinnett's mind was one which he thought, could the Adept actually carry it out, would demonstrate at one stroke the central theses of occultism and practically revolutionize the whole trend of human thinking. His suggestion to K.H. in that first letter was that the Mahatma should use his superior power to reproduce in far-off India, on the same morning on which it issued from the press, a full copy of the London Times. Madame Blavatsky disintegrated the missive and wafted its particles to the hermit in the mountains. The answer came in two days. The test of the London newspaper, he wrote, was inadmissible
precisely because "it would close the mouths of the sceptics." The world is unprepared for so convincing a demonstration of supernormal powers, he argued, because, on the one hand the event would throw the principles and formulae of science __________________ 3 Ibid., p. 14. More detailed requirements in the way of preparation for Adeptship will be set forth when we undertake the general critique of the occult life, in Chapter XI. 4 In 1883 he published the general outlines of the cosmology involved in their communications in a work called Esoteric Buddhism.
155 into chaos, and on the other, it would demolish the structure of the concepts of natural law by the restoration of the belief in "miracle." The result would thus be disastrous for both science and faith. Incompetent as the thesis of mechanistic naturalism is to provide mortals with the ground of understanding of the deeper phenomena of life and mind, it does less harm on the whole than would a return to arrant superstition such as must follow in the wake of the wonder Sinnett had proposed. The Master asked his correspondent if the modern world had really thrown off the shackles of ignorant prejudice and religious bigotry to a sufficient extent to enable it to withstand the shock that such an occurrence would bring to its fixed ideas. If this one test were furnished, he went on, Western incredulity would in a moment ask for others and still others; shrewd ingenuity would devise ever more bizarre performances; and since not all the millions of sceptics could be given ocular demonstrations, the net outcome of the whole procedure would be confusion and unhappiness. The mass of humanity must feel its way slowly toward these high powers, and the premature exhibition of future capacity would but overwhelm the mind and unsettle the poise of people everywhere. Mr. Sinnett replied, venturing to believe "that the European mind was less hopelessly intractable than Koot Hoomi had represented it." The Master's second letter continued his protestations: "The Mysteries never were, never can be, put within reach of the general public, not, at least, until the longed-for day when our religious philosophy becomes universal. At no time have more than a scarcely appreciable minority of men possessed Nature's secret, though multitudes have witnessed the practical evidences of the possibility of their possession." Letters followed on both sides, Mr. Sinnett taking advantage of many opportunities afforded by varying circumstances in each case to fortify his assurance that Madame Blavatsky herself was not inditing the replies in the name of the Adept. Frequently replies came, containing specific reference to detailed matters in his missives, when she had not been out
156 of his sight during the interim between the despatch and the return. The letters came and went as well when she was hundreds of miles away. The answers would often be found in his locked desk drawer, sometimes
inside his own letter, the seal of which had not been broken. On occasion the Mahatma's reply dropped from the open air upon his desk while he was watching. Madame Blavatsky and the Master both explained the method by which the letters were written. Theoretically, they were not written at all, but "precipitated." Among the Adept's occult or "magical" powers is that of impressing upon the surface of some material, as paper, the images which he holds vividly before his mind. He may thus impress or imprint a photograph, a scene, or a word, or sentence, upon parchment. He uses materials, of course, paper, ink or pencil graphite. But in his ability to disintegrate atomic combinations of matter, he can seize upon the material present, or even at a distance, and "precipitate" or reintegrate it, in conformity with the lines of his strong thought-energies. He can thus image a sentence, word for word, in his mind, and then pour the current of atomic material into the given form of the letters, upon the plane of the paper. The idiosyncrasies of his own chirography would be carried through the mental process. K.H., we are told, always used blue ink or blue pencil, while the epistles from M. always came in red. Specimens of the two handwritings are given in the frontispiece of the Mahatma Letters. The art of occult precipitation appears still more marvelous when we are told by Madame Blavatsky that the Adept did not attend to the actual precipitation himself but delegated it to one of his distant chelas, who caught his Master's thought-forms in the Astral Light and set them down by the chemical process which he had been taught to employ. The Master thus needed only to think vividly the words of his sentences, so as to impress them upon the mind of his pupil, and the latter did the rest. This was explained by H.P.B. in an article, Lodges of Magic, in Lucifer, Oct., 1888, while she was being accused of issuing false messages from the Master.
157 "For it is hardly one out of one hundred 'Occult' letters that is ever written by the hand of the Masters in whose names and on whose behalf they are sent, as the Masters have neither need nor leisure to write them; and that when a Master says: 'I wrote that letter,' it means only that every word in it was dictated by him and impressed under his direct supervision. Generally they make their chela . . . write (or precipitate) them. It depends entirely upon the chela's state of development how accurately the ideas may be transmitted and the writing model imitated. Thus the non-adept recipient is left in the dilemma of uncertainty whether if one letter is false, all may not be." For example, when a Mr. Henry Kiddle, an American lecturer on Spiritualism, accused the writer of the Mahatma Letters of having plagiarized whole passages from his lecture delivered at Mt. Pleasant, New York, in 1880, a year prior to the publication of The Occult World, the Master K.H. explained in a letter to Mr. Sinnett that the apparent forgery of words and ideas came about through a bit of carelessness on his part in the precipitation of his ideas through a chela. While dictating the letter to the latter, he had caught himself "listening in" on Mr. Kiddle's address being delivered at the moment in America; and as a consequence the chela took down portions of the actual lecture as reflected from the mind of K.H. Mr. Sinnett used the opportunity thus given him to draw from the Mahatma an outline of a portion of the esoteric philosophy and science which was presumed to be in his custody. The Master exhibited readiness to comply with Mr. Sinnett's requests for information upon all vital and important matters. Koot Hoomi tells Sinnett first that the world must prepare itself for the manifestation of phenomenal
elements in constantly augmenting volume and force. The age of miracles, he says, is not past; it really never was. Plato was right in asserting that ideas ruled the world; and as the human mind increases its receptivity to larger ideas, the world will advance, revolutions will spring from the spreading ferment, creeds and powers will crumble before their onward march.
158 The duty set before intelligent people is to sweep away as much as possible of the dross left by our pious forefathers to make ready for the apotheosis of human life. The great new ideas "touch man's true position in the universe, in relation to his previous and future births; his origin and ultimate destiny; the relation of the mortal to the immortal; of the temporary to the eternal; of the finite to the infinite; ideas larger, grander, more comprehensive, recognizing the universal reign of Immutable Law, unchanging and unchangeable in regard to which there is only an Eternal Now, while to uninitiated mortals time is past or future as related to their finite existence on this material speck of dirt. This is what we study and what many have solved."5 Many old idols must be dethroned, chief of all being that of an anthropomorphized Deity, with its train of debasing superstitions. "And now," says K.H., "after making due allowance for evils that are natural and that cannot be avoided . . . I will point out the greatest, the chief cause of nearly two thirds of the evils that pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power. It is religion, under whatever form and in whatever nation. It is the sacerdotal caste, the priesthood and the churches; it is in those illusions that man looks upon as sacred that he has to search out the source of that multitude of evils which is the great curse of humanity and that almost overwhelms mankind. Ignorance created gods and cunning took advantage of the opportunity. Look at India and look at Christendom and Islam, at Judaism and Fetichism. It is priestly imposture that rendered these Gods so terrible to man; it is religion that makes of him the selfish bigot, the fanatic that hates all mankind outside his own sect without rendering him any better or more moral for it. It is belief in God and Gods that makes two-thirds of humanity the slaves of a handful of those who deceive them under the false pretence of saving them. . . . Remember the sum of human misery will never be diminished unto that day when the better portion of humanity destroys in the name of Truth, Morality and universal Charity the altars of their false Gods."6 __________________ 5 Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, p. 24. 6 Ibid., p. 57.
159 He goes on to clarify and delimit his position:
"Neither our philosophy nor ourselves believe in a God, least of all in one whose pronoun necessitates a capital G. Our philosophy falls under the definition of Hobbes. It is preeminently the science of effects by their causes and of causes by their effects, and since it is also the science of things deduced from first principle, as Bacon defines it, before we admit any such principle we must know it, and have no right to admit even its possibility. . . . Therefore we deny God both as philosophers and as Buddhists. We know there are planetary and other spiritual lives, and we know there is in our system no such thing as God, either personal or impersonal. Parabrahm is not a God, but absolute immutable law, and Ishwar is the effect of Avidya (ignorance) and Maya (illusion), ignorance based on the great delusion. The word 'God' was invented to designate the unknown cause of those effects which man has ever admired or dreaded without understanding them, and since we claim---and that we are able to prove what we claim---i.e., the knowledge of that cause and causes, we are in a position to maintain there is no God or Gods behind them."7 The causes assigned to phenomena by the Mahatmas, he says, are natural, sensible, supernatural, unintelligible, and unknown. The God of the theologians is simply an imaginary power, that has never yet manifested itself to human perception. The cause posited by the Adept is that power whose activities we behold in every phenomenon in the universe. They are pantheists, never agnostics. The Deity they envisage is everywhere present, as well in matter as elsewhere. "In other words we believe in Matter alone, in matter as visible nature and matter in its invisibility as the invisible omnipresent omnipotent Proteus with its unceasing motion which is its life, and which nature draws from herself, since she is the great whole outside of which nothing can exist. . . . The existence of matter, then, is a fact; the existence of motion is another fact, their self-existence and eternity or indestructibility is a third fact. And the idea of pure Spirit as a Being or an Existence---give it whatever name you will---is a chimera, a gigantic absurdity."8 __________________ 7 Ibid., p. 52. 8 Ibid., p. 56.
160 Furthermore, says K.H., your conceptions of an all-wise Cosmic Mind or Being runs afoul of sound logic on another count. You claim, he says, that the life and being of this God pervades and animates all the universe. But even your own science predicates of the cosmic material ether that it, too, already permeates all the ranges of being in nature. You are thus putting two distinct pervading essences in the universe. You are postulating two primordial substances, two basic elemental essences, where but one can be. Why posit an imaginary substrate when you already have a concrete one? Find your God in the material you are sure is there; do not forge a fiction and put it outside of real existence to account for that existence. Why constitute a false God when you have a real Universe? There is an illimitable Force in the universe, but even this Force is not God, since man may learn to bend it to his will. It is simply the visible and objective expression of the absolute substance in its invisible and subjective form.
From this strict and inexorable materialism K.H. seems to relent a moment when he says to Mr. Hume: "I do not protest at all, as you seem to think, against your theism, or a belief in abstract ideal of some kind, but I cannot help asking you, how do you or can you know that your God is all-wise, omnipotent and loveful, when everything in nature, physical and moral, proves such a being, if he does exist, to be quite the reverse of all you say of him? Strange delusion and one which seems to overpower your very intellect!"9 The intricate problem, then, of how the blind and unintelligent forces of matter in motion do breed and have bred "highly intelligent beings like ourselves" "is covered by the eternal progression of cycles, and the process of evolution ever perfecting its work as it goes along." Intelligence lies somehow in the womb of matter, and evolution brings it to birth. Matter and spirit, we must constantly be reminded, are but the two polar aspects of the One Substance. The great philosophical problem of whether reality is monistic or pluralistic finds clear statement and elucidation __________________ 9 Ibid., p. 141.
161 in the Letters. It can be gathered from all the argument of K.H. that primordial nature is a monism, but that when the hidden energy, or sheer potentiality, of the unit principle deploys into action, or what the occultists speak of as manifestation, it splits, first into a duality, or polarization, and then into an infinity of modifications arising from varying intensities of vibration and modes of combination. Through the spectacles of time and space we see life as multiple; could we be freed from the limitations of our sensorium, however, we could see life whole, as a single essence. Non-polarized force is, in any terms of our apperceptive nature, an impossibility and a nonentity; pure spirit is a sheer abstraction. Spirit must be changed into matter, to be seen. It is a silly philosophy which would exalt spirit and debase matter, as many ascetic or idealistic religious systems have done. Matter is the garment of spirit, and needs but to be beautified and refined. Spirit is helpless without it. "Bereaved of Prakriti, Purusha (Spirit) is unable to manifest itself, hence ceases to exist--becomes nihil."10 Likewise Spirit is necessary to the faintest stir of life in matter. "Without Spirit or Force even that which Science styles as 'not-living' matter, the so-called mineral ingredients which feed plants, could never have been called into form."11 Form will vanish the moment spirit is withdrawn from it. "Matter, force and motion are the trinity of physical objective nature, as the trinitarian unity of spirit-matter is that of the spiritual or subjective nature. Motion is eternal because spirit is eternal. But no modes of motion can ever be conceived unless they are in conjunction with matter."12 "Unconscious and non-existing when separated, they become consciousness and life when brought
together,"13 says K.H. in reference to the two poles of being. If the spirit or force were to fail, the electron would cease to swirl about __________________ 10 Ibid., p. 142. 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid. 13 Ibid., p. 71.
162 the proton, the atom would collapse, the worlds would vanish. The world is an illusion in the same way that the solid appearance of the revolving spokes of a wheel is an illusion. Stop the swirl, and the universe not only collapses---it goes out of manifestation. A novel and startling corollary of the teaching that the forces of nature are "blind unconscious" laws, is seen in the query of K.H. to Mr. Hume, whether it had ever occurred to him that "universal, like finite human mind, might have two attributes or a dual power---one, the voluntary and conscious, and the other the involuntary and unconscious, or the mechanical power. To reconcile the difficulty of many theistic and anti-theistic propositions, both these powers are a philosophical necessity. . . . Take the human mind in connection with the body. Man has two distinct physical brains; the cerebrum . . . the source of the voluntary nerves; and the cerebellum---the fountain of the involuntary nerves which are the agents of the unconscious or mechanical powers of the mind to act through. And weak and uncertain as may be the control of man over his involuntary, such as the blood circulation, the throbbings of the heart and respiration, especially during sleep---yet how far more powerful, how much more potential appears man as master and ruler over the blind molecular motion . . . than that which you will call God shows over the immutable laws of nature. Contrary in that to the finite, the 'infinite mind' . . . exhibits but the functions of its cerebellum."14 That Master admits that he is arguing the case for such a duality of cosmic mental function only on the basis of the theory that the macrocosm is the prototype of the microcosm, and that the high planetary spirits themselves have no more concrete evidence of the operation of a "cosmic cerebrum" than we have. The Master has taken many pages to detail to Mr. Sinnett the information relative to the evolution of the worlds from the nebular mist, and the outline of the whole cosmogonic scheme. As this will be dealt with more fully in our review of The Secret Doctrine, it need only be glanced at __________________ 14 Ibid., p. 137.
163 here to give coherence to the material in the Letters. Force or spirit descends into matter and creates or organizes the universes. Its immersion in the mineral kingdom marks the lowest or grossest point of its descent, and from there it begins to return to spirit, carrying matter up with it to self-consciousness. Impulsions of life energy emanate from "the heart of the universe" and go quivering through the various worlds, vivifying them and bringing to each in turn its fitting grade of living organisms. Thus came the races of men on our Earth, which is now harboring its Fifth great family, the Aryan. What is of great interest in the scheme of Theosophy is that "At the beginning of each Round, when humanity reappears under quite different conditions than those afforded by the birth of each new race and its sub-races, a 'Planetary' has to mix with these primitive men, and to refresh their memories and reveal to them the truths they knew during the preceding Round. Hence the confused traditions about Jehovahs, Ormazds, Osirises, Brahms and the tutti quanti. But that happens only for the benefit of the First Race. It is the duty of the latter to choose the fit recipients among its sons, who are 'set apart'---to use a Biblical phrase---as the vessels to contain the whole stock of knowledge to be divided among the future races and generations until the close of that Round. . . . Every race has its Adepts; and with every new race we are allowed to give them as much of our knowledge as the men of that race deserve. The last seventh race will have its Buddha, as every one of its predecessors had."15 And then Koot Hoomi undertakes to meet the inevitable query: What comes out of the immense machinery of the cycles and globes and rounds? __________________ 15 Ibid., p. 167. "En passant to show you that not only were not the 'Races' invented by us, but that they are a cardinal dogma with the Lama Buddhists, and with all who study our esoteric doctrines, I send you an explanation on a page or two of Rhys Davids' Buddhism,---otherwise incomprehensible, meaningless and absurd. It is written with the special permission of the Chohan (my Master) and---for your benefit. No Orientalist has ever suspected the truths contained in it, and---you are the first Western man (outside Tibet) to whom it is now explained."---The Mahatma Letters, p. 158.
164 "What emerges at the end of all things is not only 'pure and impersonal spirit,' but the collected 'personal' remembrances" . . .16 The individual, imperishable, will enjoy the fruits of its collective lives. If the Mahatma's attempt to solve the eternal riddle of the "good" of earthly life is not so complete and satisfactory as might have been wished, we at least gather from this interesting passage that its ultimate meaning can be ascertained only by our personal experience with every changing form and aspect of life itself. We must taste of all the modes of existence. This inflicts upon us the "cycle of necessity," the imperative
obligation to tread the weary wheel of life on all the globes. We will know the "good" of it all only by living through it. There is no vindication for ethics, for religion, for philosophy, for teleology and optimism, save in life and experience itself. Reason, dialectic, can do nothing for us if life does not first furnish us the material content of the good. All we can do is look to life with the confident expectation that its processes will justify our wishes. We must in the end stand on faith. If life prove not ultimately sweet to the tasting, no rationalization will make it so. We are assured, however, that the unit of personal consciousness built up in the process of cosmic evolution is never annihilated, but expands until it becomes inclusive of the highest. It enjoys the fruitage of its dull incubations in the lower worlds in its ever-enhancing capacities for a life "whose glory and splendor have no limits." But, says K.H. immortality is quite a relative matter. Man, being a compound creature, is not entirely immortal. You know, he reminds us, that the physical body has no immortality. Neither the etheric double nor the kama rupa (astral body), nor yet the lower manasic (mental) principle survive disintegration. Only the Ego in the causal body holds its conscious existence between lives on earth. Even the planetary spirits, high as they are in the scale of being, suffer breaks in their conscious life,---the periods of pralaya. In the true sense of the term only the one life has absolute __________________ 16 Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, p. 158.
165 immortality, for it is the only existence which has neither beginning nor end, nor any break in its continuity. All lower aspects and embodiments have immortality, but with periodic recessions into inanition. The problem of evil received treatment at K.H.'s hands, and is summarized in the statement that "Evil has no existence per se and is but the absence of good and exists but for him who is made its victim. It proceeds from two causes, and no more than good is it an independent cause in nature. Nature is destitute of goodness or malice; she follows only immutable laws, when she either gives life and joy or sends suffering and death and destroys what she has created. Nature has an antidote for every poison and her laws a reward for every suffering. The butterfly devoured by a bird becomes that bird, and the little bird killed by an animal goes into a higher form. It is the blind law of necessity and the eternal fitness of things, and hence cannot be called evil in Nature. The real evil proceeds from human intelligence and its origin rests entirely with reasoning man who dissociates himself from Nature. Humanity then alone is the true source of evil. Evil is the exaggeration of good, the progeny of human selfishness and greediness. Think profoundly and you will find that save death---which is no evil but a necessary law, and accidents which will always find their reward in a future life---the origin of every evil, whether small or great, is in human action, in man whose intelligence makes him the one free agent in Nature. It is not Nature that creates diseases, but man. . . . Food, sexual relations, drink, are all natural necessities of life; yet excess in them brings on disease, misery, suffering, mental and physical. . . . Become a glutton, a debauchee, a tyrant, and you become the originator of diseases, of human suffering and misery. Therefore it is neither Nature nor an imaginary Deity that has to be blamed, but human nature made vile by selfishness."17
It will be of interest to hear what K.H. says about "heaven." "It (Devachan)18 is an ideated paradise in each case, of the __________________ 17 Ibid., p. 52. 18 Devachanna would be equivalent to the Sanskrit devachhanna, hidden (abode) of the gods. On page 373 of the Mahatma Letters the Master K.H. writes: "The meaning of the terms 'Devachan' and 'Deva-Loka,' is identical; 'chan' and 'loka'
166 Ego's own making, and by him filled with the scenery, crowded with the incidents and thronged with the people he would expect to find in such a sphere of compassionate bliss."19 Man makes his own heaven or hell, and is in it while he is making it. It is subjective; only, Theosophy postulates a certain (refined and sublimated) objectivity to the forms of our subjectivity. Man does in heaven only what he does on earth---forms a conception and then hypostatizes or reifies it. Only, in the case of nirvanic states, the reification is instantaneously externalized. On earth it is a slower formation. The "Summerland" of the Spiritualists is but the objectification of the Ego's buoyant dreams, when freed from the heavy limitations of the earth body. "In Devachan the dreams of the objective life become the realities of the subjective."20 This means that the ideal creations, the highest aspirations of man on earth, become the substance of his actual consciousness in heaven. They are the only elements of his normal human mind that are pitched at a vibration rate high enough to impress the matter or stuff of his permanent body, and hence they alone cause a repercussion or response in his pure subjective consciousness when the lower bodies are lost. On this theory the day dreams and the ideal longings of the human soul become the most vital and substantial, and abiding, activities of his psychic life. The only memories of the earth life that intrude into this picture of heavenly bliss are those connected with the feelings of love and hate. "Love and hatred are the only immortal feelings, the only survivors from the wreck of the Ye-damma or phenomenal world."21 __________________ equally signifying place or abode. Deva is a word too indiscriminately used in Eastern writings, and is at times merely a blind." Deva may be roughly translated as "the shining one" or god. Devachan written alternatively Deva-Chan) is thus used to signify "the abode of the gods." Theosophists interchange it with our term "heaven-world." 19 Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, p. 179.
20 Ibid., p. 197. 21 Ibid., p. 187.
167 All other feelings function at too low a rate to register on the ethereal body of the Devachanee, and are lost. "Out of the resurrected past nothing remains but what the Ego has felt spiritually---that was evolved by and through, and lived over by his spiritual faculties---be it love or hatred."22 Suicides, says K.H., must undergo a peculiar discipline following their premature death. Since they have arbitrarily interrupted a cycle of nature before its normal completion, the operation of law requires that they hang suspended, so to speak, in a condition of near-earthly existence until what would have been their natural life-term has expired. "The suicides who, foolishly hoping to escape life, found themselves still alive, have suffering enough in store for them from that very life. Their punishment is in the intensity of the latter."23 Their distress consists, it seems, in remaining within the purview of their earthly life without being able to express its impulses. They are often tempted to enjoy life again by proxy, i.e., through mediums or by efforts at a sort of vampiristic obsession. Victims of death by accident have a happier fate. They are more quickly released from earth's lure to partake of the lethal existence in the higher Devachan. All those souls who do not slip down into the eighth sphere---Avichi---through a "pull" of the animal nature which proved too strong for their spiritual fibre to resist, go on to the Devachan---to Heaven. To the Theosophist heaven is not "that bourne from which no traveler e'er returns," nor is access to it a matter of even rare exception. Millions of persons in earth life have had glimpses through its portals, in sleep, trance, catalepsis, anaesthesia, hypnosis, or in the open-eyed mystic's vision. It is a realm of sweet surcease from pain and sorrow, of happiness without alloy. But it is far from being the same place, or from providing identically the same experience, for every soul. Each one's heaven is determined by the capacities for spiritual enjoyment developed on earth. Only the spiritual senses survive. __________________ 22 Ibid., p. 187. 23 Ibid., p. 183.
168 To enrich heaven one must have laid up spiritual treasure on earth. Furthermore, the life there is not without break. The released Ego does not loll away an eternal existence there, but after due rest returns to earth. Nor is
his enjoyment of the Devachan the same in each sojourn there. He bites deeper into the bliss of heaven each time he takes his flight from body. The constant enrichment of his experience in the upper spheres provides a never-ending novelty. To Mr. Sinnett's assertion that a mental condition of happiness empty of sensational, emotional, and lower mental (manasic) content would be an intolerable monotony K.H. replies by asking him if he felt any sense of monotony during that one moment in his life when he experienced the utmost fulness of conscious being. Devachan is like that, he assured the complainant, only much more so. As our climatic moments in this life seem by their ineffable opulence to swallow up the weary sense of the time-drag, so the ecstatic consciousness of the heaven state is purged of all sense of ennui or successive movement. To put it succinctly, there is no sense of time in which to grow weary. "No; there are no clocks, no timepieces in Devachan, . . . though the whole Cosmos is a gigantic chronometer in one sense . . . I may also remind you in this connection that time is something created entirely by ourselves; that while one short second of intense agony may appear, even on earth, as an eternity to one man, to another, more fortunate, hours, days and sometimes whole years may seem to flit like one brief moment. . . . But finite similes are unfit to express the abstract and the infinite; nor can the objective ever mirror the subjective. . . . To realize the bliss in Devachan, or the woes in Avitchi, you have to assimilate them---as we do. . . . Space and time may be, as Kant has it, not the product but the regulators of the sensations, but only so far as our sensations on earth are concerned, not those in Devachan. . . Space and time cease to act as 'the frame of our experience' 'over there.'"24 The land of distinctions is transcended and the here and there merge into the everywhere, as the everywhere into the here and there, and the now and then into the now. __________________ 24 Ibid., p. 194.
169 Koot Hoomi is sure that the materialistic attitudes of the Occidental mind have played havoc with the subtle spirituality embodied in Eastern religions, in the effort at translation and interpretation. "Oh, ye Max Müllers and Monier Williamses, what have ye done with our philosophy?"25 You can not take the higher spiritual degrees by mere study of books. Progress here has to do largely with the development of latent powers and faculties, the cultivation of which is attended with some dangers. In this juncture it avails the student far more to be able to call upon the personal help of a kindly guardian who is truly a Master of the hidden forces of life, than to depend upon his own efforts, however consecrated. Each grade in the hierarchy of evolved beings stands ready to tutor the members of the class below. "The want of such a 'guide, philosopher and friend' can never be supplied, try as you may. All you can do is to prepare the intellect: the impulse toward 'soul-culture must be furnished by the individual. Thrice fortunate they who can break through the vicious circle of modern influence and come above the vapors! . . . Unless regularly initiated and trained---concerning the spiritual insight of things and the supposed revelations
made unto man in all ages from Socrates down to Swedenborg . . . no self-tutored seer or clairvoyant ever saw or heard quite correctly."26 The Master Morya has a word to say to Sinnett about "the hankering of occult students after phenomena" of a psychic nature. It is a maya 27 against which, he says, they have always been warned. It grows with gratification; the Spiritualists, he says, are thaumaturgic addicts. It adds no force to metaphysical truth that his own and K.H.'s letters __________________ 25 Ibid., p. 241 26 Ibid., p. 255. 27 Maya, a word frequent in several schools of Indian Philosophy, commonly used to denote the illusory or merely phenomenal character of man's experience which he gains through his sense equipment. It is often identified with avidya or ajnana and contrasted with Brahmavidya or knowledge of truth and reality, in their unconditioned form.
170 drop into Sinnett's lap or come under his pillow. If the philosophy is wrong a "wonder" will not set it right. Spiritual knowledge, made effective for growth, is the desideratum. Trance mediumship, he reiterates, is itself both undesirable and unfruitful. No mind should submit itself passively to another. "We do not require a passive mind, but on the contrary are seeking for those most active." Nothing can give the student insight save the unfolding of his own inner powers. Much of the Adept's writing to Sinnett has to do with the conditions of probation and "chelaship" in the master science of soul-culture. He says there are certain rigid laws the fulfilment of which is absolutely essential to the disciple's secure advancement. They have to do with self-mastery, meditation, purity of life, fixity of purpose. These laws, which at first seem to the neophyte to bar his path, will be seen, as he persists in obedience to them, to be the road to all he can ask. But no one can break them without becoming their victim. Too eager expectation on the part of the aspirant is dangerous. It disturbs the balance of forces. "Each warmer and quicker throb of the heart wears so much life away. The passions, the affections, are not to be indulged in by him who seeks to know; for they wear out the earthly body with their own secret power; and he who would gain his aim must be cold."28 A hint as to the occult desirability of vegetarianism is dropped in the sentence: "Never will the Spiritualists find reliable trustworthy mediums and Seers (not even to a degree) so long as the latter and their 'circle' will saturate themselves with animal blood and the millions of infusoria of the fermented fluids."29 Arcane knowledge has always been presented in forms such that only the most determined aspirants could grasp the meanings. K.H. interjects that Sir Isaac Newton understood the principles of occult philosophy but
"withheld his knowl__________________ 28 Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, p. 274. 29 Ibid., p. 276.
171 edge very prudently for his own reputation." The "scientific" attitude of mind is declared to be unpropitious for the attainment of clear insight into truth, and the pretensions of modern scientists that they comprehend "the limits of the natural" receive some of the Master's irony. "Oh, century of conceit and mental obscuration!" he jeers. "All is secret for them as yet in nature. Of man---they know but the skeleton and the form . . . their school science is a hotbed of doubts and conjectures."30 Furthermore, "to give more knowledge to a man than he is fitted to receive is a dangerous experiment." In his ignorance or his passion he may make a use of it fatal both to himself and those about him. The Adepts, it appears also, have their own reasons for not wishing to impart knowledge more rapidly than the pupil can assimilate it. The misuse of knowledge by the pupil always reacts upon the initiator; the Teacher becomes responsible in a measure for the results. The Master would only hinder and complicate his own progress by indiscreet generosity to his chela. As one means of lightening this responsibility the chela is required, when accepted, to take a vow of secrecy covering every order he may receive and the specific information imparted. The Master knows whether the vow is ever broken, without a question being put. The prime qualification for the favor of receiving the great knowledge is rectitude of motive. Wisdom must be sought only for its serviceability to Brotherhood and progress, not even as an end in itself: "The quality of wisdom ever was and will be yet for a long time---to the very close of the fifth race---denied to him who seeks the wealth of the mind for its own sake, and for its own enjoyment and result, without the secondary purpose of turning it to account in the attainment of material benefits."31 The applicant for chelaship is tested---unknown to himself---in subtle ways before he is accepted, and often after__________________ 30 Ibid., p. 281. 31 Ibid., p. 305.
wards, too. It is not a system of secret espionage, but a method of drawing out the inner nature of the neophytes, so that they may become self-conquerors. K.H. reminds Sinnett that the efforts of theosophic adherents to restore or propagate esoteric doctrines have ever been met by the determined opposition of the vested ecclesiastical interests, which have not scrupled to resort to forgery of documents, alleged confessions of fraud, or other villainous subterfuge, to crush out the "heresy." "Some of you Theosophists are now wounded only in your 'honor' or your purses, but those who held the lamp in previous generations paid the penalty of their lives for their knowledge."32 He points out, too, the distressful state into which certain over-eager aspirants have brought themselves by "snatching at forbidden power before their moral nature is developed to the point of fitness for its exercise." He says: "it would be a sorry day for mankind" if any sharper or deadlier powers---such as those the high Adepts are privileged to wield---were put in the hands of those unaccustomed to use them, or morally untrustworthy. K.H. volunteers to explain the occult significance of the interlaced black and white triangles in the circle which forms part of the monogram on the seal of the Theosophical Society. The Jewish Kabbalists viewed the insignia as Solomon's Seal. It is "a geometrical synthesis of the whole occult doctrine." "The two interlaced triangles . . . contain the 'squaring of the circle,' the 'philosophical stone,' the great problems of Life and Death, and---the Mystery of Evil."33 The upward-pointing triangle is Wisdom concealed, and the downward-pointing one is Wisdom revealed---in the phenomenal world. "The circle indicates the bounding, circumscribing quality of the All, the Universal Principle which expands . . . to embrace all things." __________________ 32 Ibid., p. 322. 33 Ibid., p. 337
173 The three sides represent the three gunas, or finite attributes. The double triangles likewise symbolize the Great Passive and the Great Active principles, the male and female, Purusha (Spirit) and Prakriti (Matter).34 The one triangle points upward to Spirit, the other downward to Matter, and their interlacing represents the conjunction of Spirit and Matter in the manifested universe. The six points of the two triangles, with the central point, yield the significant Seven, the symbol of Universal Being. Manifestation of the Absolute Life creates universes, and starts evolutionary processes; but, says K.H. to Sinnett,
"neither you nor any other man across the threshold has had or ever will have the 'complete theory' of Evolution taught him; or get it unless he guesses it for himself. . . . Some---have come very near to it. But there is always . . . just enough error . . . to prove the eternal law that only the unshackled Spirit shall see the things of the Spirit without a veil."35 Pride of intellect grows enormously more dangerous the farther one goes toward the higher realms; and after that is overcome spiritual pride raises its head. An average mortal finds his share of sin and misery rather equally distributed over his life; but a chela has it concentrated all within one period of probation. One who essays the higher peaks of knowledge must overcome a heavier drag of moral gravitation than one who is content to walk the plain. From a purely political standpoint it is interesting to note that in 1883 K.H. had taken hold of a project to launch in India a journal to be named "The Phoenix," which, with Mr. Sinnett as editor, was to function as an agent for the cultivation of native Hindu patriotism, of which the Master saw a sore need in India's critical situation at that time. Native princes were looked to for financial support, as well as Theosophists, and propaganda for the venture had already been set in motion. But K.H. declares that his __________________ 34 The terms Purusha and Prakriti are employed in the Sankhya school of Indian philosophy to designate spirit and matter as the two opposing phases of the one life when in active manifestation. 35 Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, p. 348.
174 closer inspection of the situation and his discovery of the wretched political indifference of his countrymen made the enterprise dubious, financially and spiritually. He then ordered Sinnett to drop it entirely, as he saw certain failure ahead. The Mahatma Letters, in the latter portion, go deeply into the affairs of the London Lodge, T. S., which Mr. Sinnett had founded on his return to England, and they even advise as to the "slate" of officers to stand for election. There was a factional grouping in the Lodge at the time, the Kingsford-Maitland party standing for Christian esotericism as against the paramount influence of the Tibetan Masters, whose existence was regarded by them as at least hypothetical; and the Sinnett wing adhering closely to H.P.B. and her Adepts. Mrs. Anna B. Kingsford had had a series of communications in her own right from high teachers, which K.H. himself stated were in accord with his own doctrine. These were published in a volume, The Perfect Way. The Master counsels harmony between the two parties, preaching, with Heraclitus, that harmony is the equilibrium established by the tension of two opposing forces. Much or most of the substance of the later Letters is personal, touching Sinnett's relations with persons of prominence in the Theosophical movement. The Adepts make no claim to omniscience---they themselves are in turn disciples of higher and grander beings whom they speak of as the Dhyan Chohans,36 and whom they rank next to the "planetaries"---but they assert their ability to look from any distance into the secret minds of Sinnett's associates as well as into his own. They gave him the benefit of this spiritual "shadowing" to guide
him in the Society's affairs. Many complimentary things are said to Mr. Sinnett for his encouragement; but he is not spared personal criticism __________________ 36 Of the Dhyan Chohans Madame Blavatsky speaks in the Glossary as follows: "The Lords of Light," the highest gods, answering to the Roman Catholic Archangels, the divine intelligences charged with the supervision of Kosmos. Dhyan is a Sanskrit term signifying "wisdom" or "illumination," but the name Chohans seems to be more obscure in origin, and is probably Tibetan, used in the general sense of "Lords" of "Masters."
175 of the sharpest sort. He is told that his attitude of Western pride stands in the way of his true spiritual progress. While his admirable qualities have won him the distinction of being used as a literary aid to the Mahatmas, still he is pronounced far from eligible for chelaship. Much of the material in the Letters, being of a quite personal and intimate nature, was, to be sure, never intended for publication; in fact, was again and again forbidden publication. But the Sinnett estate was persuaded, in 1925, to give out the Letters for the good they might be expected to do in refutation of the many bizarre divergencies which Neo-Theosophy was making from the original teachings. Their publication came at the conclusion of the half-century period of the existence of the Theosophical Society and was supposed to terminate an old and begin a new cycle with some exceptional significance such as Theosophists attribute to times and tides in the flow of things. To most Theosophists the existence of the Masters and the contents of their teaching form the very cornerstone of their systematic faith. And ultimately they point to the wisdom and spirituality displayed in the Letters themselves as being sufficient vindication of that faith.
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