Four key concepts that students should bear in mind when approaching The Secret Doctrine, as dictated by HP Blavatsky to Captain Robert Bowen, 1 are reproduced below. A few selections from The Secret Doctrine have been added after the second and fourth; and a predictably witty analysis from the epigrammatic Éliphas Lévi, after latter concept.
Come to the S.D. 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 [theosophical] 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 S.D. let the mind hold fast, as the basis of its ideation, to the following ideas.
If these ideas are kept in mind at all times, they will gradually open up the “Divine Eye” 3 or Devaksha to their secret content.
A higher faculty belonging to the higher life must see, and it is truly impossible to force it upon one’s understanding — merely in words. One must see with his spiritual eye, hear with his Dharmakayic ear, feel with the sensations of his Ashta-vijnana (spiritual “I”) before he can comprehend this doctrine fully; otherwise it may but increase one’s “discomfort,” and add to his knowledge very little. — Master KH
The first idea is] 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. The 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. . . . The Atom, the Man, the God 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.
The second idea to hold fast 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” or Ether, or Akasha, or call it what you like, in which angels and elementals disport themselves like trout in water. That’s a common idea. The true idea shows every atom of substance no matter of what plane to be is itself a LIFE. 2 . . . Now the Occultists, [a] who trace every atom in the universe, whether an aggregate or single, to One Unity, or Universal Life; [b] who do not recognise that anything in Nature can be inorganic; [c] who know of no such thing as dead matter — the Occultists are consistent with their doctrine of Spirit and Soul when speaking of memory in every atom, of will and sensation.
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.
[The] fourth and last basic idea to be held is that expressed in the Great Hermetic Axiom. It really sums up and synthesises 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.”
. . . the only true Ariadne’s thread that can lead us, through the inextricable paths of her domain, toward her primal and final mysteries. Nature, as a creative potency, is infinite, and no generation of physical scientists can ever boast of having exhausted the list of her ways and methods, however uniform the laws upon which she proceeds.2 . . . the first law in nature is uniformity in diversity, and the second — analogy.3 “As above, so below.”
But it has to be studied in its minutest details and, “to be turned seven times,” before one comes to understand it. Occult philosophy is the only science that can teach it.
. . . no Eastern Initiate would speak of spheres “above us, between the earth and the airs,” even the highest, as there is no such division or measurement in occult speech, no “above” as no “below,” but an eternal “within,” within two other withins, or the planes of subjectivity merging gradually into that of terrestrial objectivity — this being for man the last one, his own plane.
Analogy is the final word of science and the first word of faith. Harmony consists in equilibrium, and equilibrium subsists by the analogy of contraries. Absolute unity is the supreme and final reason of things. Now, this reason can neither be one person nor three persons; it is a reason, and reason eminently. To create equilibrium, we must separate and unite — separate by the poles, unite by the centre. To reason upon faith is to destroy faith; to create mysticism in philosophy is to assail reason. Reason and faith, by their nature, mutually exclude one another, and they unite by analogy. Analogy is the sole possible mediator between the finite and infinite. Dogma is the ever ascending hypothesis of a presumable equation. . . . The analogy of contraries is the connection of light and shade, of height and hollow, of plenum and void. . . . Analogy is the key of all secrets of nature and the sole fundamental reason of all revelations.
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