Emanating from the highest realms of sentient existence, and irrigated by Compassion and Charity immortal throughout the ages, arose a stupendous body of occult knowledge that explains the interplay of Non-being, Being, and Becoming. This corpus of inner wisdom is variously referred to as Archaic Wisdom-Religion, Aletheia, Atma-Vidya, Eclectic Philosophy, Esoteric Knowledge, Secret or Heart Doctrine, Theosophia.5 Being the quintessence of our spiritual inheritance, it unravels the mystery of Consciousness and helps sincere enquirers to learn the Science of Life and practice the Art of Living. But only those of exceptional moral purity and loyalty to its cause and aim “may approach nearer to It, and receive, in that state, true knowledge and wonderful insight.” 6 That knowledge is the Wisdom of Love. It is the common property of all men.
These are not mere words, they are Divine Truths. They sustain Heaven and Earth. Their veracity has been corroborated by the experience of an unbroken line of Higher and Lower Avatars, Gautama Buddha and his Incarnations, Rishis and Mahatmans, Thinkers and Metaphysicians who promulgate them from generation to generation orally and through certain texts that, on account of the reverence in which they are held as well as their antiquity, are referred to as sacred: they touch the heart and enlighten the mind.
It is to guide Humanity through the deepening darkness and dangers of our age that in 1875 a group of GREAT SOULS launched the modern Theosophical Movement
. . . to show that Nature is not a “fortuitous concurrence of atoms,” and to assign to man his rightful place in the scheme of the Universe.
HP Blavatsky, its chief exponent and author, has assembled in The Secret Doctrine the oldest tenets of Asiatic and early European religions, as well as the major schools of philosophy, into a breathtaking comparative exegesis of the world’s most profound mysteries — carefully stripped of blinds, superstitions, dead letter interpretations, and purposeful distortions. “Its teachings antedate the Vedas.” 1 One month before his death, George William Russell (Æ) confided to his close friend Sean O’Faolain:
“The real source of her influence is to be found in The Secret Doctrine, a book on the religions of the world suggesting or disclosing an underlying unity between all great religions.” Having “bathed in” that work and other writings of H.P.B., he said: “I marvelled what I could have done to merit birth in an age wherein such wisdom was on offer to all who could beg, borrow, or steal a copy of those works.”
Blavatsky’s intellectual power, clarity, and philosophical finesse are unparalleled. She follows “precisely that method of investigation which is termed by Spinoza ‘the scientific method.’ It starts from, and proceeds only on ‘principles clearly defined and accurately known,’ and is therefore ‘the only one’ which can lead to true knowledge.” 3 In his Theory of Scientific Method, Spinoza expounds how abstract ideas can be seized by concrete minds:
So long as we are dealing with the Investigation of things, we must never infer anything from abstractions, and we shall take very great care not to mix up the things that are only in the intellect with those that are real. But the best conclusion will have to be drawn from some particular affirmative essence, or, from a true and legitimate definition. For from universal axioms alone the intellect cannot descend to singulars, since axioms extend to infinity, and do not determine the intellect to the contemplation of one singular thing rather than another.
Pre-eminent in the firmament of Eternal Ideals and Truths that have been brought into the open for the first time by the authors of The Secret Doctrine are three universal conceptions, three stars guiding and lighting Humanity’s or the Great Orphan’s 5 homeward journey. They inform and confirm all other doctrines. Their philosophy may be summarised as follows:
Cosmogenesis (First Proposition). The Universe is underpinned by an Omnipresent Reality, One and Secondless, Attributeless, Eternal, Impersonal, Perfect Consciousness. Although Parentless Itself, It is the Universal Parent of All. It is That of the Chhandogya Upanishad, the Parabrahman of the Vedantist, The One Life of the Buddhist, The Absolute of Hegel. That contains within Itself the root of self-consciousness and the substratum of matter, different aspects of which It, the Infinite, exhibits periodically “to the perception of finite Minds” 1 through:
• First Logos: Unconscious Universal Mind, or Divine Intelligence in potentia, an ever-concealed fount and origin of powers and potencies.
• Second Logos: Semiconscious Universal Mind, or Dawn of Intelligence.
• Third Logos: Conscious Universal Mind, or Light of Intelligence and Life, a Son of Necessity.
On the plane of manifestation, Spirit and Matter or duality pre-eminently, are two illusionary aspects of One Reality. They are inseparable, interdependent, and interchangeable permutations of One Consciousness, the One and only Capacity of Perception ever reflecting upon Itself through the selfmodifying apperceptions of lower minds.
Law governs Cosmos and Man (Second Proposition). Volitional impulses from a quenchless desire for self-analysing reflection give rise to an eternal procession of Divine Consciousness unfolding from Darkness to Light, through countless worlds and planets, cycles and epicycles. At the end of a premeditated duration, the objective world withdraws and regresses Klein bottle-like into the subjectivity of Itself.
The appearance and disappearance of the Universe are pictured as outbreathing and inbreathing of the “Great Breath,” which is eternal, and which, being Motion, is one of the three aspects of the Absolute — Abstract Space and Duration being the other two.
Periodicity is indissolubly linked with Necessity. Compassion, Necessity, and Periodicity constitute the highest “deity” or LAW that human intellect can ever hope to approximate. Their unmanifested essence is Universal Love and Harmony. And the ever-pulsating Great Heart that in contracting forgets and in expanding remembers the TRUTH of Truths, brings about the “Eternity of the Pilgrim” or Man.
Man is that noble endogenous plant which grows, like the palm, from within without.
Amnesia and memory of the One Reality alternate within us cyclically as day and night, consciousness and unconsciousness. Life goes around in circles like the flow of blood that, when the Central Spiritual Heart contracts, is thrust away from Be-ness; and when It expands, Life returns the experience of Being into the adytum of Non-Being.
Anthropogenesis (Third Proposition). Once more, from the Circle of Infinity or Zero arises a Circle of Necessity or relative finiteness. It marks the dawn of another Manvantara, or Consciousness’ recurring pilgrimage to the deepest recesses of materiality before rising from the bowels of the underworld, onward and upward, to higher realms of Unconscious Immateriality.
By successive incarnations and by the toils and drudgery of life, souls keep spiralling up toward their immortal counterpart. Individually, men are companions along a journey of Self-discovery, of finding Self through self. Collectively, Man is One, a Son of Necessity.
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 1 . . . and acquired individuality, first by natural impulse, and then by self-induced and self-devised efforts (checked by its Karma).
This periodic apostasy of the Great Mind, from the asylum of unconscious subjectivity to the discord of conscious objectivity (that we all know too well) endows every part with
. . . Infinite Potency born from the concealed Potentiality.
Eventually, those who understood the purpose and fundamental integrity of life will begin renouncing their worldly egos by acting altruistically for the whole. Only then will they be able to identify anew with the “Over Soul” of Love, Truth, and Wisdom, and bring back the nectar of personal experience to the Spiritual Heart.
Just as, at the close of the cycle of the sidereal year [25,868 years], the heavenly bodies return to the same relative positions as they occupied at its outset, so at the close of the cycle of Initiation the inner man has regained the pristine state of divine purity and knowledge from which he set out on his cycle of terrestrial incarnation.
This onward and upward march “from mineral and plant, up to the holiest archangel” 5 is our Natural Duty, Religion, and Ultimate Destiny. Metaphysically, humanity is an emanation of the World’s Soul here on Earth; Mystically, she is the “Love of Gods.”
To sum up, we are dual aspects of One Reality. Our consciousness is an individualised modification of One Consciousness, ever shifting between wakefulness and dreamless sleep, forgetfulness and remembrance, life and death. An appreciation of our shared ancestry and vital link with the One Life and Soul inspires loyalty to the “heart of all mankind,” and kindles respect of each other in thought and deed — untainted by personal interest. For, we are our brother’s keepers. This is what is meant by living Theosophy. A true Theosophist . . .
. . . is one who makes Theosophy a living power in his life.
“I speak by thy tongue, and thou speakest to Me. Though Mortals below imagine that thou speakest to them,” says the Desatir.
My light is on thy countenance:
COMMENTARY — The light which I have given is on thy face, that whoever sees it may know that it proceeds from Me, and may discover the light of My unity.
And do thou speak precisely according to My words.
My word is on thy tongue:
COMMENTARY — Since I am the Creator of Speech, and thou hast no word but mine.
Me thou seest, Me thou hearest, Me thou smellest, Me thou tastest, Me thou touchest.
COMMENTARY — For in everything, and in every action thou hast Me in thee: and findest My Light in every thing and in every place: and perceivest the grandeur of the Unity of My Being by all its shadows: and comprehendest all the splendour of My existence, and hearest My word from all in every thing, and has tasted the flavour of My knowledge, and art nigh unto Me.
What thou sayest that I say: and thy acts are My acts.
And I speak by thy tongue, and thou speakest to Me:
Though Mortals below imagine that thou speakest to them.
COMMENTARY — Thou art so devoted to Me that thou attendest to none else
These awe-inspiring cosmic ultimates of The Secret Doctrine are reliable signposts to the perennial “archaic Wisdom-Religion.” 3 They point the way to “mutual-culture before self-culture to begin with” 4 and hopefully to selfactualisation, not “self-realisation.” Lofty concepts such as Franz Hartmann’s “shining centre,” or William Quan Judge’s “presiding spirit,” can disperse the smog of materialism if pondered upon with “an open mind, a pure heart, an eager intellect.”
Without a spiritual recognition of the fundamental principles of Nature, a seeking from a superficial point of view for a discovery of the mysteries of being is like an unfruitful wandering in a fog. It resembles a search from the periphery of a sphere of unknown extent for a centre whose locality is unknown; while if we have once a correct conception of the situation of that shinning centre, its light will act as a guiding star in our wanderings through the fogs which pervade the realm of phenomena.
. . . the substratum, or support, for the whole Cosmos, is the presiding spirit, and all the various changes in life, whether of a material nature or solely in mental states, are cognizable because the presiding spirit within is not modifiable. Were it otherwise, then we would have no memory, for with each passing event, we, becoming merged in it, could not remember anything, that is, we would see no changes. There must therefore be something eternally persisting, which is the witness and perceiver of every passing change, itself unchangeable. All objects, and all states of what western philosophers call Mind, are modifications, for in order to be seen or known by us, there must be some change, either partial or total, from a precedent state. The perceiver of these changes is the inner man — Arjuna-Krishna.
When the law of ethical causation (karman-action), implicit in the Second Proposition, and the law of activity ever alternating with rest (yugas-cycles) are assimilated, personal responsibility is restored and hope dawns for the sore-footed traveller. When the sober condition of the Third Proposition is enacted, self-reliance energises inner growth by strengthening Will. By the intuition of the spiritual soul (buddhi-manas) the worldly soul begins perceiving the “One Life for All” and acting accordingly, and with alacrity. Thus, action becomes altruism as much as “inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin.”
The power and far-reaching significance of these deceptively simple ideas cannot be fully grasped without effortful study, unyielding perseverance, and thoughtful application. Living the life commanded by Theosophy will one day afford a mystical perception of the Great Self within, the “Heavenly Man.” Then we will all live for each other, forgetting ourselves in the midst of so many selves who, as formerly and forever, are but our own . . . phantasms of thinking throblets . . .
See how Charles Kingsley tempts Hypatia, the Alexandrian expounder of Plato and Plotinus, to speak the Unspeakable:
From It and for It the universal Soul thrills through the whole Creation, doing the behests of that Reason from which it overflowed, unwillingly, into the storm and crowd of material appearances; warring with the brute forces of gross matter, crushing all which is foul and dissonant to itself, and clasping to its bosom the beautiful, and all wherein it discovers its own reflex; impressing on it its signature, reproducing from it its own likeness, whether star, or daemon, or soul of the elect: — and yet, as the poet hints in anthropomorphic language, haunted all the while by a sadness — weighed down amid all its labours by the sense of a fate — by the thought of that First One from whom the Soul is originally descended; from whom it, and its Father the Reason before it, parted themselves when they dared to think and act, and assert their own free will.1 Ay. To believe in the old creeds, while everyone else is dropping away from them . . . To believe in spite of disappointments . . . To hope against hope . . . To show oneself superior to the herd, by seeing boundless depths of living glory in myths which have become dark and dead to them . . . To struggle to the last against the new and vulgar superstitions of a rotting age, for the faith of my forefathers, for the old gods, the old heroes, the old sages who gauged the mysteries of heaven and earth — and perhaps to conquer — at least to have my reward! To be welcomed into the celestial ranks of the heroic — to rise to the immortal gods, to the ineffable powers, onward, upward ever, through ages and through eternities, till I find my home at last, and vanish in the glory of the Nameless and the Absolute One!
Smile if you will. But ask me not to teach you things unspeakable, above all sciences, which the word-battle of dialectic, the discursive struggles of reason can never reach, but which must be seen only, and when seen confessed to be unspeakable. Hence, . . . thou sneering Cynic! — hence, thou sense-worshipping Stoic, who fanciest that the soul is to derive her knowledge from those material appearances which she herself creates! . . . and yet no: stay and sneer if you will. It is but a little time — a few days longer in this prison-house of our degradation, and each thing shall return to its own fountain; the blood-drop to the abysmal heart, and the water to the river, and the river to the shining sea; and the dew-drop which fell from heaven shall rise to heaven again, shaking off the dust-grains which weighed it down, thawed from the earth-frost which chained it here to herb and sward, upward and upward ever through stars and suns, through gods, and through the parents of the gods, purer and purer through successive lives, till it enters The Nothing, which is The All, and finds its home at last.
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