The Theosophical Publishing House Ltd 1980
ISBN 0 7229 10029
Second Edition (revised) 1990
68 Great Russell Street, London WCIB 3BU
Adyar, India; Wheaton, USA
Printed by Leighton Printing Company,
London N7 8DH, UK.

Esoteric Philosophy

from the writings of

H.P. Blavatsky

Arranged with a Foreword and Notes by
Ianthe H. Hoskins


7 Foreword
11 One Fundamental Law
15 Four Basic Ideas
19 Three Fundamental Propositions
27 Six Numbered Items
37 Five Proven Facts
43 Three New Propositions
47 The Secret Doctrine: Conclusion
55 Isis Unveiled: A Ten-Point Summary
61 Appendix A: The Secret Doctrine and its study
68 Appendix B: Glossary



The particular task that Madame Blavatsky undertook in her writings was to bring to the attention of the western world the teachings of the Wisdom tradition, the Sacred Science of the east. Repeatedly she affirmed both the antiquity and the universality of these teachings, known since the early centuries of our era as Theosophy. For herself she claimed only the role of writer and transmitter.

The way in which she saw her task is plainly stated in the Preface to her greatest work, The Secret Doctrine, published in 1888;

These truths are in no sense put forward as a revelation; nor does the author claim the position of a revealer 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 work of collecting and publishing all Madame Blavatsky's writings is now nearing completion, to make a total of some nineteen or twenty substantial volumes. The compiler of these Collected Writings, her great-nephew Boris de Zirkoff, informs the reader that a letter published in the New York Daily Graphic on 30 October 1874 was the first article definitely known to be from her pen. In 1877 her first major work, Isis Unveiled, appeared in two large volumes. It was followed eleven years later by the two volumes of The Secret Doctrine. Her last books, The Voice of the Silence and The Key to Theosophy, were published in 1889. If one bears in mind her long and frequent travels and the poor state of her health, with periods of severe illness, this enormous literary output in under seventeen years - and in a language that was not her own - seems little less than miraculous. It is to be noted that, although some letters and articles are awaiting publication in the Collected Writings, the great books have been continuously in print throughout the hundred or so years that have elapsed since their first appearance.

With such a mass of material, in which the topics range from Biblical symbolism to Darwinian theory, from an examination of antediluvian flora and fauna to quotations from the sacred texts of Hinduism and the Kabalah, as well as from 19th century philosophers, theologians and scientists, it would be difficult if not impossible for the reader to extract the essential framework of the theosophical system. However, Madame Blavatsky herself comes to the student's rescue by setting out here and there in numbered statements the principles on which that system is based. The collection of these statements presented here is intended to serve as an Ariadne's thread through the vast labyrinth of information, description, explanation, criticism, commentary and personal instruction that constitutes her well-nigh inexhaustible gift to posterity.

Where should the student begin? During Madame Blavatsky's last years, there gathered round her in London a group of earnest members of The Theosophical Society who applied themselves seriously to the study of The Secret Doctrine, questioning her and pressing her for further elucidation of the teaching. Happily for us, much of this oral instruction was taken down and later published in the Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, now forming the second half of Volume X of the Collected Writings. In addition to this, there is a small but invaluable collection of notes written down at the time by one member of the group, Commander Robert Bowen, and brought to light some forty years later by his son, Captain P.G. Bowen. Initially printed in 1932 in Theosophy in Ireland, these notes have since been published separately as a booklet entitled Madame Blavatsky on How to Study Theosophy; they are reproduced herein Appendix A.

It is from these notes that we learn not only the way in which, in her view, one should approach the study, the attitude and expectations one should bring to it, but further, the order in which the essential statements are to be taken before embarking on the whole work. In addition, she places before the student the basic ideas which he should keep permanently in mind. Her presentation of these ideas, together with the sections of the work to which she calls especial attention, form the greater part of this present collection.

Isis Unveiled is admittedly a diffuse and disorderly compilation, displaying extraordinary erudition in a woman who had had no formal education and whose travelling library seems to have consisted of no more than two or three dozen volumes. It is a mass of curiosities, of information and critical commentary on a truly vast range of subjects, of profound knowledge of the occult tradition in its many forms, but the material is presented in some confusion and often in a sharply polemic tone which declares its contemporary setting. At the end of Volume II, Madame Blavatsky summarizes in ten numbered items the essential elements of the teaching she has sought to lay before the reader. Although this was her first attempt to set out an orderly statement of the fundamental principles of the esoteric philosophy enunciated in her work, the relevant passage is here given last, for the reason that, as will be seen, she had not at that time clearly distinguished between the broad principles and the secondary material, that is, the working out of the principles in particulars. In speaking of her occult instructors she used the name of Masters, because it was from them, as she explicitly states in The Key to Theosophy, that she derived all her knowledge of the theosophical system. Nevertheless, it was left entirely to her to use the knowledge communicated to her as best she could, organizing the material and developing literary skills in the doing.

In preparing the passages for this collection, the three editions of The Secret Doctrine in current use have been consulted, and references are given to all three, in date order, thus: First Edition 1888/Third Edition 1893/Adyar 6-vol. Editions. As the aim here is to present the basic teaching in the most readable form, some discretion has been exercised in modifying the use of punctuation, capital letters and italics, where this has been thought appropriate to facilitate first acquaintance with the text. Each extract is preceded by an introductory note, and a Glossary of terms is given in Appendix B.

The listing of those ideas that must be recognized as fundamental to the theosophical system is to some extent arbitrary. So we find that Madame Blavatsky presents the student of Theosophy with three fundamental propositions, four basic ideas, a summary of six numbered points, a further five proven facts, and the ten items recapitulating the essentials of Isis Unveiled. Yet, above and beyond all lists and enumerations of principles, there must ever be the affirmation of the ONE - the nameless Reality from which and in which all things have their being. As there can be no understanding of Theosophy without constant reference back to this fundamental Unity, the unequivocal statement of the Unity has been placed first in this selection of extracts.





Esoteric philosophy insists that beneath the manifold world of our experience there is a single Reality, the source and cause of all that ever was, is and is to be. The great exponent of the Vedic tradition, Shri Shankaracharya, puts it simply: no matter what shape may be given to the moulded clay, the reality of the object remains always the clay, its name and form being but transitory appearances. So likewise all things, having issued from the One Supreme, are themselves that Supreme in their essential nature. From highest to lowliest, from vastest to most minute, the infinite phenomena of the manifested universe are the One, clothed in name and form.

This teaching of the fundamental Unity is the hallmark of the theosophical system. It follows that no doctrine based on an ultimate duality - of spirit and matter for ever separate, of God and man as essentially distinct, of good and evil as eternal realities - can have a place in Theosophy.


The radical unity of the ultimate essence of each constituent part of compounds in Nature - from star to mineral atom, from the highest Dhyaan Chohan to the smallest infusorium, in the fullest acceptation of the term, and whether applied to the spiritual, intellectual or physical worlds - this unity is the one fundamental law in Occult Science.
(v1 p120)

The Secret Doctrine
v1 p120 First Edition 1888
v1 p145 Third Edition 1893
v1 p179 Adyar 6-vol. Edition




In the course of the oral instruction given to her students in London and recorded in Commander Bowen's notes (see Appendix A), Madame Blavatsky repeated many times that the study of The Secret Doctrine could not give a final and complete picture of the universe. It is meant, she said, to 'LEAD TOWARDS THE TRUTH'. As an aid to progressive understanding, she then outlined four basic ideas which the student should never lose from view. Being given spontaneously, these ideas are presented in simpler language than in the great works and may therefore serve as a preparation for some of the more complex phraseology of the fuller statements.


Observe the following rules:--

No matter what one may study in the SD, let the mind hold fast, as the basis of its ideation, to the following ideas:

No matter what one takes as study in the SD, one must correlate it with those basic ideas.
How to Study Theosophy (see Appendix A)



In the Bowen notes, Madame Blavatsky advises the student that `the first thing to do, even if it takes years, is to get some grasp of the "Three Fundamental Principles" given in Proem' - the masterly prelude to The Secret Doctrine. The statement of the three principles is introduced with a similar insistence on their primary importance, and again, in concluding their presentation, Madame Blavatsky affirms that these are the foundation ideas of the theosophical tradition.

The Secret Doctrine is in large part a commentary on selected stanzas from an ancient work, the Book of Dzyan. Following modern usage, the title of her book is always given in italics, while her references to the age-old esoteric philosophy are left as in the original edition, with initial capitals, the Secret Doctrine.


Before the reader proceeds to the consideration of the Stanzas from the Book of Dzyan which form the basis of the present work, it is absolutely necessary that he should be made acquainted with the few fundamental conceptions which underlie and pervade the entire system of thought to which his attention is invited. These basic ideas are few in number, but on their clear apprehension depends the understanding of all that follows; therefore no apology is required for asking the reader to make himself familiar with these first, before entering on the perusal of the work itself. (v1 p13)

The Secret Doctrine establishes three fundamental propositions:


Such are the basic conceptions on which the Secret Doctrine rests.

The Secret Doctrine
v1 p13-20
v1 p42-48
v1 p79-85




The study of the Three Fundamental Propositions, advises Madame Blavatsky, should be followed by that of the numbered items in the Summing Up at the end of Volume I (Part I). It would seem to have been her intention to gather together in a few orderly paragraphs the essential features of the Secret Doctrine so far presented. She begins, however, in the first of the numbered paragraphs, with a reference back to the Introductory section of the work, in which she had assembled a great range of evidence that establishes beyond doubt the existence of an esoteric tradition. Furthermore, arriving at the sixth numbered paragraph, she refuses to confine herself to mere recapitulation, and adds a considerable amount of explanatory information about those Hierarchies of Beings through whose agency `the Universe is worked and guided'. Even so, she reverts more than once to the fundamental law of the whole system, the essential Oneness of existence.

SUMMING UP - Six Numbered Items

The writer of the present statement must be prepared beforehand to meet with great opposition and even the denial of such statements as are brought forward in this work. Not that any claim to infallibility, or to perfect correctness in every detail of all that is herein written, has ever been put forward. Facts are there, and they can hardly be denied. But, owing to the intrinsic difficulties of the subjects treated of, and the almost insurmountable limitations of the English tongue, as of all other European languages, to express certain ideas, it is more than probable that the writer has failed to present the explanations in the best and clearest form; yet all that could be done, under every adverse circumstance, has been done, and this is the utmost that can be expected of any writer. (v1 p272)

Let us recapitulate and show, by the vastness of the subjects expounded, how difficult, if not impossible, it is to do them full justice.

The Secret Doctrine
v1 p272-278
v1 p293-298
v1 p316-320




Once again, Madame Blavatsky seeks to emphasize certain important aspects of the teaching, underlining what has already been explained and expanding the statement of fundamentals with further commentary and quotation. So to the six numbered paragraphs of the Summing Up are added five more items which are introduced as "proven facts".

The words in square brackets [] are given thus in the text, being Madame Blavatsky's clarification of the quoted passages.


Whatever may be the destiny of these actual writings in a remote future, we hope to have so far proven the following facts:

The Secret Doctrine
v1 p279-282
v1 p300-303
v1 p322-325.




The first volume of The Secret Doctrine has as its subject matter the becoming of the Cosmos - "Cosmogenesis". The second volume (Vol. III in the Adyar 6-vol. editions) is concerned with the becoming of Man - "Anthropogenesis". Its first section, like that of the preceding volume, is based on stanzas "drawn from the same Archaic Records as the Stanzas on Cosmogony". As an indication of its main theme, the Preliminary Notes which serve as an introduction to the further stanzas and commentaries are preceded by a passage from Isis Unveiled. Provocative and challenging to the leaders of contemporary scientific and religious thought, the extract prepares the reader for the seemingly revolutionary ideas about the story of Man that are offered in the occult record.

In the Bowen notes, Madame Blavatsky draws the student's attention to these Preliminary Notes, which begin with a statement of three new propositions concerning the evolution of Man.


Modern Science insists upon the doctrine of evolution; so do human reason and the Secret Doctrine, and the idea is corroborated by the ancient legends and myths, and even by the Bible itself when it is read between the lines. We see a flower slowly developing from a bud, and the bud from its seed. But whence the latter, with all its predetermined programme of physical transformation, and its invisible, therefore spiritual, forces which gradually develop its form, colour and odour? The word evolution speaks for itself. The germ of the present human race must have pre-existed in the parent of this race, as the seed, in which lies hidden the flower of next summer, was developed in the capsule of its parent flower; the parent may be but slightly different, but it still differs from its future progeny. The antediluvian ancestors of the present elephant and lizard were, perhaps, the mammoth and plesiosaurus: why should not the progenitors of our human race have been the "giants" of the Vedas, the Voluspa, and the Book of Genesis? While it is positively absurd to believe the "transformation of species" to have taken place according to some of the more materialistic views of the evolutionists, it is but natural to think that each genus, beginning with the molluscs and ending with man, has modified from its own primordial and distinctive form.

Isis Unveiled
v1 p152-153


The Stanzas, with the Commentaries thereon, in this Volume, are drawn from the same Archaic Records as the Stanzas on Cosmogony in Volume I .....

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.

[A footnote to this proposition is indicative of the vast range of ancient traditions from which corroboration of the Archaic Records may be adduced. It reads.-]

See Genesis ii, 19. Adam is formed in verse 7, and in verse 19 it is said: "Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them". Thus man was created before the animals; for the animals mentioned in Chapter i are the signs of the Zodiac, while the man, "male and female", is not man, but the Host of the Sephiroth, FORCES or Angels, "made in his [God's] image and after his likeness". The Adam, man, is not made in that likeness, nor is it so asserted in the Bible. Moreover, the Second Adam is esoterically a septenary which represents seven men, or rather groups of men. For the first Adam, the Kadmon, is the synthesis of the ten Sephiroth. Of these, the upper Triad remains in the Archetypal World as the future "Trinity", while the seven lower Sephiroth create the manifested material world; and this septennate is the Second Adam. Genesis, and the mysteries upon which it was fabricated, came from Egypt. The "God" of the 1st chapter of Genesis is the Logos, and the "Lord God" of the 2nd chapter the Creative Elohim, the lower Powers. (v2 p1-2)

The Secret Doctrine
v2 p1-2
v2 p1
v3 p15




In the Bowen notes (see page 63 below), Madame Blavatsky suggests that an initial study programme should include the Conclusion (Vol. II). From the subject matter to which she there refers - "the times of coming of the Races and Sub-Races" - it is evident that the Conclusion to which the student's attention is directed is the one which occurs at the end of Part I of the second Volume. The passages that follow are selected from that part of the work, which carries the heading CONCLUSION.


Enough was said to show that evolution in general, events, mankind, and everything else in Nature, proceeds in cycles. We have spoken of seven Races, five of which have nearly completed their earthly career, and have claimed that every Root-Race, with its sub-races and innumerable family divisions and tribes, was entirely distinct from its preceding and succeeding race. This will be objected to, on the authority of uniform experience in the question of Anthropology and Ethnology. Man was - save in colour and type, and perhaps a difference in facial peculiarities and cranial capacity - ever the same under every climate and in every part of the world, say the Naturalists: ay, even in stature. This, while maintaining that man descends from the same unknown ancestor as the ape, a claim that is logically impossible without an infinite variation of stature and form, from his first evolution into a biped. The very logical persons who maintain both propositions are welcome to their paradoxical views. Once more we address only those who, doubting the general derivation of myths from "the contemplation of the visible workings of external nature" .. think it, "less hard to believe that these wonderful stories of gods and demi-gods, of giants and dwarfs, of dragons and monsters of all descriptions, are transformations, than to believe them to be inventions." It is only such "transformations" in physical nature, as much as in the memory and conceptions of our present mankind, that the Secret Doctrine teaches. It confronts the purely speculative hypotheses of modern Science, based upon the experience and exact observations of barely a few centuries, with the unbroken tradition and records of its Sanctuaries; and brushing away that tissue of cobweb-like theories, spun in the darkness that covers a period of hardly a few milleniums back, and which Europeans call their "History", the Old Science says to us: Listen, now, to my version of the memoirs of Humanity. (v2 p443)

The human Races are born one from the other, grow, develop, become old and die. Their sub-races and nations follow the same rule. If your all-denying modern science and so-called philosophy do not contest that the human family is composed of a variety of well- defined types and races, it is only because the fact is undeniable; no one would say that there was no external difference between an Englishman, an African negro, and a Japanese or Chinaman. On the other hand it is formally denied by most naturalists that mixed human races, ie, the seeds for entirely new races, are any longer formed in our days ...

Nevertheless our general proposition will not be accepted. It will be said that whatever forms man has passed through in the long pre- historic Past, there are no more changes for him (save certain variations, as at present) in the future. Hence that our Sixth and Seventh Root-Races are fictions.

To this it is again answered: How do you know? Your experience is limited to a few thousand years, to less than a day in the whole age of Humanity and to the present types of the actual continents and isles of our Fifth Race. How can you tell what will or will not be? Meanwhile, such is the prophecy of the Secret Books and their no uncertain statements.

Since the beginning of the Atlantean Race many million years have passed, yet we find the last of the Atlanteans, still mixed up with the Aryan element, 11,000 years ago. This shows the enormous overlapping of one race over the race which succeeds it, though in characters and external type the elder loses its characteristics, and assumes the new features of the younger race. This is proved in all the formations of mixed human races. Now, Occult philosophy teaches that even now, under our new eyes, the new Race and Races are preparing to be formed, and that it is in America that the transformation will take place, and has already silently commenced.

Pure Anglo-Saxons hardly three hundred years ago, the Americans of the United States have already become a nation apart, and, owing to a strong admixture of various nationalities and inter-marriage, almost a race sui generis, not only mentally, but also physically. "Every mixed race, when uniform and settled, has been able to play the part of a primary race in fresh crossings," says de Quatrefages: "Mankind, in its present state, has thus been formed, certainly, for the greatest part, by the successive crossing of a number of races at present undetermined. (The Human Species, page 274)

Thus the Americans have become in only three centuries a "primary race", pro tem., before becoming a race apart, and strongly separated from all other now existing races. They are, in short, the germs of the Sixth sub-race, and in some few hundred years more, will become most decidedly the pioneers of that race which must succeed to the present European or fifth sub-race, in all its new characteristics. After this, in about 25,000 years, they will launch into preparations for the seventh sub-race; until, in consequence of cataclysms - the first series of those which must one day destroy Europe, and still later the whole Aryan race (and thus affect both Americas), as also most of the lands directly connected with the confines of our continent and isles - the Sixth Root-Race will have appeared on the stage of our Round. When shall this be? Who knows save the great Masters of Wisdom, perchance, and they are as silent upon the subject as the snow-capped peaks that tower above them. All we know is, that it will silently come into existence . . . The Fifth will overlap the Sixth Race for many hundreds of millenniums, changing with it slower than its new successor, still changing in stature, general physique, and mentality, just as the Fourth overlapped our Aryan Race, and the Third had overlapped the Atlanteans.

This process of preparation for the Sixth great Race must last throughout the whole sixth and seventh sub-races ... But the last remnants of the Fifth Continent will not disappear until some time after the birth of the new Race; when another and new dwelling, the sixth continent, will have appeared above the new waters on the face of the globe, so as to receive the new stranger. To it also will emigrate and settle all those who shall be fortunate enough to escape the general disaster. When this shall be - as just said - it is not for the writer to know. Only, as nature no more proceeds by sudden jumps and starts, than man changes suddenly from a child into a mature man, the final cataclysm will be preceded by many smaller submersions and destructions both by wave and volcanic fires. The exultant pulse will beat high in the heart of the race now in the American zone, but there will be no more Americans when the Sixth Race commences; no more, in fact, than Europeans; for they will have now become a new race, and many new nations. Yet the Fifth will not die, but survive for a while: overlapping the new Race for many hundred thousands of years to come, it will become transformed with it - slower than its new successor - still getting entirely altered in mentality, general physique, and stature. Mankind will not grow again into giant bodies as in the case of the Lemurians and the Atlanteans; because while the evolution of the Fourth Race led the latter down to the very bottom of materiality in its physical development, the present Race is on its ascending arc; and the Sixth will be rapidly growing out of its bonds of matter, and even of flesh.

Thus it is the mankind of the New world - one by far the senior of our Old one, a fact men had also forgotten - of Patala (the Antipodes, or the Nether World, as America is called in India), whose mission and Karma it is, to sow the seeds for a forthcoming, grander, and far more glorious Race than any of those we know of at present. The Cycles of Matter will be succeeded by Cycles of Spirituality and a fully developed mind. On the law of parallel history and races, the majority of the future mankind will be composed of glorious Adepts. Humanity is the child of cyclic Destiny, and not one of its Units can escape its unconscious mission, or get rid of the burden of its co-operative work with nature. Thus will mankind, race after race, perform its appointed cycle-pilgrimage. Climates will, and have already begun, to change, each tropical year after the other dropping one sub-race, but only to beget another higher race on the ascending cycle; while a series of other less favoured groups - the failures of nature - will, like some individual men, vanish from the human family without even leaving a trace behind.


The Secret Doctrine
v2 p437-446
v2 p455-465
v3 p434-444




It would seem that Madame Blavatsky had constantly in mind, in preparing her first major work for publication, the need to demonstrate to the educated reader of her day that what she had to say was indeed "no new candidate for the world's attention". Each chapter of Isis Unveiled is introduced by a selection of extracts from respected sources ancient and contemporary, which demonstrate that neither the attitudes displayed nor the information given by her were without precedent. The final chapter is headed by several such quotations, of which one is given here. The chapter begins with an attempt to summarize the main features of the oriental philosophy as presented in the two volumes of Isis. However, as indicated earlier, Madame Blavatsky was at this period experimenting with the mass of material at her command and trying to find out how to give it to the world. Consequently, there is no clear sifting of fundamental principles from secondary detail and illustration. The contrast between this first attempt at a numbered summary and the later statements in The Secret Doctrine is striking evidence of her own development as both pupil and teacher.


A Ten-point Summary

"The problem of life is man. Magic, or rather Wisdom, is the evolved knowledge of the potencies of man's interior being; which forces are Divine emanations, as intuition is the perception of their origin, and initiation our induction into that knowledge .... We begin with instinct: the end is OMNISCIENCE".(v2 p587)
A. Wilder

It would argue small discernment on our part were we to suppose that we had 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.

To comprehend the principles of natural law involved in the several phenomena hereinafter described, the reader must keep in mind the fundamental propositions of the oriental philosophy which we have successively elucidated. Let us recapitulate very briefly: 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. (v2 p590)

Isis Unveiled
v2 p587-590




Notes recorded by Commander Robert Bowen in 1891, less than three weeks before the death of Madame Blavatsky.

H.P.B. was specially 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 SD all its utmost comprehension can grasp, but no more. But this was 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 SD must contain all that H.P.B. 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.B. must be losing her grip," meaning, I suppose, confidence in her own knowledge. But Y and Z 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.B. to put us right on the matter of the study of the SD. Let me get it down while it is all fresh in mind.

Reading the SD page by page as one reads any other book (she says) will only end in confusion. The first thing to do, even if it takes years, is to get some grasp of the "Three Fundamental Principles" given in 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.B. 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.B. 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 SD during the past three weeks. I must sort out my notes and get the results safely down before I lose them.

She talked a good deal more 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 SD, 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 SD. 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 SD.

Come to the SD (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:--

No matter what one may study in the SD, let the mind hold fast, as the basis of its ideation, to the following ideas:

No matter what one takes as study in the SD, one must correlate it with those basic ideas.

I suggest that this is a kind of mental exercise which must be exceedingly fatiguing. H.P.B. 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 The Secret Doctrine has been written.

[Later note: I have read over this rendering of her teaching to H.P.B., asking if I have got her aright. She called me a silly Dumskull to imagine anything can ever be put into 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.B., yet I am twenty years older than her in actual years.

She has changed much since I met her two years ago. It is marvellous how she holds up in the face of dire illness. If one knew nothing and believed nothing, H.P.B. 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.

(Sgd.) Robert Bowen,
Cmdr. R.N.

19th April, 1891.

expanded GLOSSARY

*s mark entries from H. P. Blavatsky's Theosophical Glossary
{to enable 7-bit encoding and easy pronunciation, long vowels have been doubled, rather than use diacritic marks}

* aakaasha
The subtle, spiritual essence which pervades all space.
appearing as unreal, unreal
* dhyaan chohans
The divine Intelligences charged with the super- vision of the Kosmos (cf. Archangels).
* dzyan
Wisdom, divine Knowledge.
* kaarana
* karma
literally, action; universal law of cause and effect which governs rebirth and the world of samsara
the fruits of actions
bondage of reaction
born of work
by work
in action
the result of an action
the result of an action
the results of all activities
who are attached to fruitive work
in all activities
m. perversity of action, perverse action, mistake
* mahat
Universal Intelligence and Consciousness, cosmic consciousness
great man
* manas
Mind; the reincarnating principle in man, the Higher Ego, the reasoning ability of the mind
by the mind
* manvantara
A period of manifestation or cosmic activity, n. epoch, the period or age of a Manu (it comprises about 71 {mahaa-yugas} [q.v.], which are held equal to 12,000 years of the gods or 4,320,000 human years or 1/14th of a day of Brahma
* maayaa
Illusion; the cosmic power which renders phenomenal existence possible.
* mulaprakriti
Undifferentiated substance; the root of matter.
* naastika
Atheist, or rather, one who does not worship any gods or idols.
in a pure state of spiritual existence
higher, universal, beyond, supreme, other
* parabrahman
Beyond Brahman; the impersonal, nameless universal Principle; the Absolute.
highest purpose
* prakriti
Nature in general, as original substance.
(eternal nature)
* pralaya
A period of rest between manvantaras or periods of activity
* purusha
in summary
the apparent reality of the aggregate
empirical truth
* sat
The one ever-present Reality; the divine Essence or Be-ness.
good or useful work particularly helpful to many
inner strength, orderliness, the quality of goodness in everything natural, pure, steady, goodness, illumination, the mode of goodness
honesty, truth
satyasya satyam
the true of the true
true limitation
* upaadhi
A basis or vehicle of something less material than itself.


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