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.
THREE FUNDAMENTAL PROPOSITIONS
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:
1. 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 the Mandukya, "unthinkable and unspeakable".
To render these ideas clearer to the general reader, let him set out with the postulate that there is One Absolute Reality which ante- cedes all manifested, conditioned Being. This Infinite and Eternal Cause - dimly formulated in the "Unconscious" and "Unknowable" of current European philosophy - is the Rootless Root of "all that was, is, or ever shall be". It is of course devoid of all attributes and is essentially without any relation to manifested, finite Being. It is "Be-ness" rather than Being (Sat in Sanskrit) and is beyond all thought or speculation.
This Be-ness is symbolized in the Secret Doctrine under two aspects. On the one hand, absolute Abstract Space, representing bare subjectivity, the one thing which no human mind can either exclude from any conception, or conceive of by itself. On the other, Absolute Abstract Motion representing Unconditioned Consciousness. Even our western thinkers have shown that consciousness is inconceivable to us apart from change, and motion best symbolizes change, its essential characteristic. This latter aspect of the One Reality is also symbolized by the term "the Great Breath", a symbol sufficiently graphic to need no further elucidation. Thus, then, the first fundamental axiom of the Secret Doctrine is this metaphysical ONE ABSOLUTE - BE-NESS - symbolized by finite intelligence as the theological Trinity.
Parabrahman, the One Reality, the Absolute, is the field of Absolute Consciousness, i.e., that Essence which is out of all relation to conditioned existence, and of which conscious existence is a conditioned symbol. But once that we pass in thought from this (to us) Absolute Negation, duality supervenes in the contrast of Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter, Subject and Object.
Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter are, however, to be regarded not as independent realities but as the two facets or aspects of the Absolute, Parabrahman, which constitute the basis of conditioned Being, whether subjective or objective.
Considering this metaphysical triad as the Root from which proceeds all manifestation, the Great Breath assumes the character of Pre-cosmic Ideation. It is the fons et origo of Force and of all individual consciousness, and supplies the guiding intelligence in the vast scheme of cosmic evolution. On the other hand, Pre- cosmic Root-Substance (Mulaprakriti) is that aspect of the Absolute which underlies all the objective planes of Nature.
Just as Pre-cosmic Ideation is the root of all individual consciousness, so Pre-cosmic Substance is the substratum of matter in the various grades of its differentiation.
Hence it will be apparent that the contrast of these two aspects of the Absolute is essential to the existence of the "Manifested Universe". Apart from Cosmic Substance, Cosmic Ideation could not manifest as individual consciousness, since it is only through a vehicle (in Sanskrit upaadhi) of matter that consciousness wells up as "I am I", a physical basis being necessary to focus a ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity. Again, apart from Cosmic Ideation, Cosmic Substance would remain an empty abstraction, and no emergence of consciousness could ensue.
The manifested universe, therefore, is pervaded by duality, which is, as it were, the very essence of its EX-istence as "manifestation". But just as the opposite poles of Subject and Object, Spirit and Matter, are but aspects of the One Unity in which they are synthesized, so, in the manifested universe, there is "that" which links Spirit to Matter, Subject to Object.
This something, at present unknown to Western speculation, is called by occultists Fohat. It is the "bridge" by which the Ideas existing in the Divine Thought are impressed on Cosmic Substance as the "laws of Nature". Fohat is thus the dynamic energy of Cosmic Ideation; or, regarded from the other side, it is the intelligent medium, the guiding power of all manifestation, the "Thought Divine" transmitted and made manifest through the Dhyaan Chohans, the Architects of the visible world. Thus from Spirit, or Cosmic Ideation, comes our Consciousness; from Cosmic Substance, the several vehicles in which that Consciousness is individualized and attains to self - or reflective - consciousness, while Fohat, in its various manifestations, is the mysterious link between Mind and Matter, the animating principle electrifying every atom into life.
The following summary will afford a clearer idea to the reader:
(1) The ABSOLUTE: the Parabrahman of the Vedantins or the One Reality, SAT, which is both Absolute Being and Non-Being.
(2) The first manifestation, the impersonal and, in philosophy, Unmanifested Logos, the precursor of the "manifested" ......
(3) Spirit-Matter, LIFE; the "Spirit of the Universe", Purusha and Prakriti, or the second Logos.
(4) Cosmic Ideation, MAHAT or Intelligence, the Universal World-Soul; the Cosmic Noumenon of Matter, the basis of the intelligent operations in and of Nature ......
The ONE REALITY; its dual aspects in the conditioned universe.
Further, the Secret Doctrine affirms:
2. The Eternity of the Universe in toto as a boundless plane, periodically "the playground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing", called "the manifesting stars" and the "sparks of Eternity". "The Eternity of the Pilgrim" is like a wink of the Eye of Self-Existence (Book of D7yan). "The appearance and disappearance of Worlds is like a regular tidal ebb of flux and reflux".
This second assertion of the Secret Doctrine is 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 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.
Moreover, the Secret Doctrine teaches:
3. The fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over- Soul, the latter being itself an aspect of the Unknown Root; 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, during the whole term. In other words, no purely spiritual Buddhi (divine Soul) can have an independent (conscious) existence before the spark which issued from the pure Essence of the Universal Sixth Principle - or the OVER-SOUL - 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, from mineral and plant, up to the holiest Archangel (Dhyaani-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. This is why the Hindus say that the Universe is Brahman and Brahma, for Brahman is in every atom of the universe, the six Principles in Nature being all the outcome - the variously differentiated aspects - of the SEVENTH and ONE, the only Reality in the Universe whether cosmic or micro-cosmic; and also why the permutations, psychic, spiritual and physical, on the plane of manifestation and form, of the Sixth (Brahma the vehicle of Brahman) are viewed by metaphysical antiphrasis as illusive and maayaavic. For although the root of every atom individually and of every form collectively is that Seventh Principle or the One Reality, still, in its manifested phenomenal and temporary appearance, it is no better than an evanescent illusion of our senses.(v1 p17-18)
Such are the basic conceptions on which the Secret Doctrine rests.
The Secret Doctrine
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