Gently to hear, kindly to judge.
Since the appearance of Theosophical literature in England, it has become customary to call its teachings “Esoteric Buddhism.” And, having become a habit—as an old proverb based on daily experience has it—“Error runs down an inclined plane, while Truth has to laboriously climb its way up hill.”
Old truisms are often the wisest. The human mind can hardly remain entirely free from bias, and decisive opinions are often formed before a thorough examination of a subject from all its aspects has been made. This is said with reference to the prevailing double mistake (a) of limiting Theosophy to Buddhism; and (b) of confounding the tenets of the religious philosophy preached by Gautama, the Buddha, with the doctrines broadly outlined in Esoteric Buddhism. Any thing more erroneous than this could hardly be imagined. It has enabled our enemies to find an effective weapon against Theosophy, because, as an eminent Pâli scholar very pointedly expressed it, there was in the volume named “neither Esotericism nor Buddhism.” The esoteric truths, presented in Mr. Sinnett's work, ceased to be esoteric from the moment they were made public; nor did the book contain the religion of Buddha, but simply a few tenets from a hitherto hidden teaching, which are now explained and supplemented by many more in the present volumes. And even the latter, though giving out many fundamental tenets from the Secret Doctrine of the East, raise but a small corner of the dark veil. For no one, not even the greatest living Adept, would be permitted to, or could—even if he would—give out promiscuously to a mocking, unbelieving world that which has been so effectually concealed from it for long æons and ages.
Esoteric Buddhism was an excellent work with a very unfortunate title, though it meant no more than does the title of this work, The Secret Doctrine. It proved unfortunate, because people are always in the habit of judging things by their appearance rather than by their meaning, and because the error has now become so universal, that even most of the Fellows of the Theosophical Society have fallen victims to the same misconception. From the first, however, protests were raised by Brâhmans and others against the title; and, in justice to myself, I must add that Esoteric Buddhism was presented to me as a completed volume, and that I was entirely unaware of the manner in which the author intended to spell the word “Budh-ism.”
This has to be laid directly at the door of those who, having been the first to bring the subject under public notice, neglected to point out the difference between “Buddhism”—the religious system of ethics preached by the Lord Gautama, and so named from his title of Buddha, the “Enlightened”—and “Budhism,” from Budha, Wisdom, or Knowledge (Vidyâ), the faculty of cognizing, from the Sanskrit root Budh, to know. We Theosophists of India are ourselves the real culprits, although, at the time, we did our best to correct the mistake.1 To avoid this deplorable misnomer was easy; the spelling of the word had only to be altered, and by common consent both pronounced and written “Budhism,” instead of “Buddhism.” Nor is the latter term correctly spelt and pronounced, as it ought to be called, in English, Buddhaïsm, and its votaries “Buddhaïsts.”
This explanation is absolutely necessary at the beginning of a work like the present. The Wisdom-Religion is the inheritance of all the nations, the world over, in spite of the statement made in Esoteric Buddhism2 that “two years ago (i.e., in 1883), neither I, nor any other European living, knew the alphabet of the Science, here for the first time put into a scientific shape,” etc. This error must have crept in through inadvertence. The present writer knew all that is “divulged” in Esoteric Buddhism, and much more, many years before it became her duty (in 1880) to impart a small portion of the Secret Doctrine to two European gentlemen, one of whom was the author of Esoteric Buddhism; and surely the present writer has the undoubted, though to her, rather equivocal, privilege of being a European by birth and education. Moreover, a considerable part of the philosophy expounded by Mr. Sinnett was taught in America, even before Isis Unveiled was published, to two Europeans and to my colleague, Colonel H. S. Olcott. Of the three teachers the latter gentleman has had, the first was a Hungarian Initiate, the second an Egyptian, the third a Hindû. As permitted, Colonel Olcott has given out some of this teaching in various ways; if the other two have not, it has been simply because they were not allowed, their time for public work having not yet come. But for others it has, and the appearance of Mr. Sinnett's several interesting books is a visible proof of the fact. Moreover, it is above everything important to keep in mind that no Theosophical book acquires the least additional value from pretended authority.
di, or dhi Budha, the One, or the First, and Supreme Wisdom, is a term used by ryâsanga in his secret treatises, and now by all the mystic Northern Buddhists. It is a Sanskrit term, and an appellation given by the earliest ryans to the Unknown Deity; the word “Brahmâ” not being found in the Vedas and the early works. It means the Absolute Wisdom, and dibhûta is translated by Fitzedward Hall, “the primeval uncreated cause of all.” Æons of untold duration must have elapsed, before the epithet of Buddha was so humanized, so to speak, as to allow of the term being applied to mortals, and finally appropriated to one whose unparalleled virtues and knowledge caused him to receive the title of the “Buddha of Wisdom Unmoved.” Bodha means the innate possession of divine intellect or understanding; Buddha, the acquirement of it by personal efforts and merit; while Buddhi is the faculty of cognizing, the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the Ego, the discernment of good and evil, also divine conscience, and the Spiritual Soul, which is the vehicle of tmâ. “When Buddhi absorbs our Ego-tism (destroys it) with all its Vikâras, Avalokiteshvara becomes manifested to us, and Nirvâna, or Mukti, is reached,” Mukti being the same as Nirvana, i.e., freedom from the trammels of Mâyâ or Illusion. Bodhi is likewise the name of a particular state of trance-condition, called Samâdhi, during which the subject reaches the culmination of spiritual knowledge.
Unwise are those who, in their blind and, in our age, untimely hatred of Buddhism, and, by reäction, of Budhism, deny its esoteric teachings, which are those also of the Brâhmans, simply because the name suggests what to them, as Monotheists, are noxious doctrines. Unwise is the correct term to use in their case. For in this age of crass and illogical materialism, the Esoteric Philosophy alone is calculated to withstand the repeated attacks on all and everything man holds most dear and sacred in his inner spiritual life. The true philosopher, the student of Esoteric Wisdom, entirely loses sight of personalities, dogmatic beliefs and special religions. Moreover, Esoteric Philosophy reconciles all religions, strips every one of its outward human garments, and shows the root of each to be identical with that of every other great religion. It proves the necessity of a Divine Absolute Principle in Nature. It denies Deity no more than it does the sun. Esoteric Philosophy has never rejected God in Nature, nor Deity as the absolute and abstract Ens. It only refuses to accept any of the gods of the so-called monotheistic religions, gods created by man in his own image and likeness, a blasphemous and sorry caricature of the Ever-Unknowable. Furthermore, the records we mean to place before the reader embrace the esoteric tenets of the whole world since the beginning of our humanity, and Buddhistic Occultism occupies therein only its legitimate place, and no more. Indeed, the secret portions of the Dan or Janna (Dhyâna)3 of Gautama's metaphysics—grand as they appear to one unacquainted with the tenets of the Wisdom-Religion of antiquity—are but a very small portion of the whole. The Hindû reformer limited his public teachings to the purely moral and physiological aspect of the Wisdom-Religion, to ethics and man alone. Things “unseen and incorporeal,” the mysteries of Being outside our terrestrial sphere, the great Teacher left entirely untouched in his public lectures, reserving the Hidden Truths for a select circle of his Arhats. The latter received their Initiation at the famous Saptaparna Cave (the Sattapanni of Mahâvansa) near Mount Baibhâr (the Webhâra of the Pâli MSS.). This cave was in Râjâgriha, the ancient capital of Magadha, and was the Cheta Cave of Fa-hian, as is rightly suspected by some archaeologists.4
Time and human imagination made short work of the purity and philosophy of these teachings, once that they were transplanted from the secret and sacred circle of the Arhats, during the course of their work of proselytism, into a soil less prepared for metaphysical conceptions than India; i.e., once they were transferred into China, Japan, Siam, and Burmah. How the pristine purity of these grand revelations was dealt with may be seen in studying some of the so-called “esoteric” Buddhist schools of antiquity in their modern garb, not only in China and other Buddhist countries in general, but even in not a few schools of Tibet, which have been left to the care of uninitiated Lamas and Mongolian innovators.
Thus the reader is asked to bear in mind the very important difference between orthodox Buddhism—i.e., the public teachings of Gautama, the Buddha—and his esoteric Budhism. His Secret Doctrine, however, differed in no wise from that of the initiated Brahmans of his day. The Buddha was a child of ryan soil, a born Hindû, a Kshatriya and a disciple of the Twice-born (the initiated Brâhmans) or Dvîjas. His teachings, therefore, could not be different from their doctrines, for the whole Buddhist reform consisted merely in giving out a portion of that which had been kept secret from every man outside of the “enchanted” circle of ascetics and Temple-Initiates. Unable, owing to his pledges, to teach all that had been imparted to him, though the Buddha taught a philosophy built upon the ground-work of the true esoteric knowledge, he gave to the world only its outward material body and kept its soul for his Elect. Many Chinese scholars among Orientalists have heard of the “Soul-Doctrine.” None seem to have understood its real meaning and importance.
That doctrine was preserved secretly—too secretly, perhaps—within the sanctuary. The mystery that shrouded its chief dogma and aspiration—Nirvâna—has so tried and irritated the curiosity of those scholars who have studied it, that, unable to solve it logically and satisfactorily by untying its Gordian knot, they have cut it through by declaring that Nirvâna means absolute annihilation.
Toward the end of the first quarter of this century a distinct class of literature appeared in the world, which with every year became more defined in its tendency. Being based, soi-disant, on the scholarly researches of Sanskritists and Orientalists in general, it was considered scientific. Hindû, Egyptian, and other ancient religions, myths, and emblems were made to yield anything the symbologist wanted them to yield, and thus often the rude outward form was given out in place of the inner meaning. Works, most remarkable for their ingenious deductions and speculations, circulo vicioso—foregone conclusions generally taking the place of premisses in the syllogisms of more than one Sanskrit and Pâli scholar—appeared rapidly in succession, over-flooding the libraries with dissertations on phallic and sexual worship rather than on real symbology, and each contradicting the other.
This is the true reason, perhaps, why the outline of a few fundamental truths from the Secret Doctrine of the Archaic Ages is now permitted to see the light, after long millenniums of the most profound silence and secrecy. I say advisedly “a few truths,” because that which must remain unsaid could not be contained in a hundred such volumes, nor could it be imparted to the present generation of Sadducees. But even the little that is now given is better than complete silence upon these vital truths. The world of to-day, in its mad career towards the unknown, which the Physicist is too ready to confound with the unknowable, whenever the problem eludes his grasp, is rapidly progressing on the reverse plane to that of spirituality. It has now become a vast arena, a true valley of discord and of eternal strife, a necropolis, wherein lie buried the highest and the most holy aspirations of our Spirit-Soul. That soul becomes with every new generation more paralyzed and atrophied. The “amiable infidels and accomplished profligates” of Society, spoken of by Greeley, care little for the revival of the dead sciences of the past; but there is a fair minority of earnest students who are entitled to learn the few truths that may be given to them now; and now much more than ten years ago, when Isis Unveiled appeared, or even when the later attempts to explain the mysteries of esoteric science were published.
One of the greatest and perhaps the most serious objection to the correctness and reliability of the whole work will be the preliminary Stanzas. How can the statements contained in them be verified? True, though a great portion of the Sanskrit, Chinese, and Mongolian works quoted in the present volumes is known to some Orientalists, yet the chief work—that one from which the Stanzas are given—is not in the possession of European Libraries. The Book of Dzyan (or Dzan) is utterly unknown to our Philologists, or at any rate was never heard of by them under its present name. This is, of course, a great drawback to those who follow the methods of research prescribed by official Science; but to students of Occultism, and to every genuine Occultist, this will be of little moment. The main body of the doctrines given, however, is found scattered throughout hundreds and thousands of Sanskrit MSS., some already translated—disfigured in their interpretations, as usual—others still waiting their turn. Every scholar, therefore, has an opportunity of verifying the statements herein made, and of checking most of the quotations. A few new facts, new to the profane Orientalist only, and passages quoted from the Commentaries will be found difficult to trace. Several of the teachings also have hitherto been transmitted orally, yet even these in every instance are hinted at in the almost countless volumes of Brâhmanical, Chinese and Tibetan temple-literature.
However it may be, and whatsoever is in store for the writer through malevolent criticism, one fact is quite certain. The members of several esoteric schools—the seat of which is beyond the Himâlayas, and whose ramifications may be found in China, Japan, India, Tibet, and even in Syria, and also South America—claim to have in their possession the sum total of sacred and philosophical works in MSS. and print, all the works, in fact, that have ever been written, in whatever language or character, since the art of writing began, from the ideographic hieroglyphs down to the alphabet of Cadmus and the Devanâgari.
It has been constantly claimed that, ever since the destruction of the Alexandrian Library,5 every work of a character that might lead the profane to the ultimate discovery and comprehension of some of the mysteries of the Secret Science, owing to the combined efforts of the members of these Brotherhoods, has been diligently searched for. It is added, moreover, by those who know, that once found all such works were destroyed, save three copies of each which were preserved and safely stored away. In India, the last of these precious manuscripts were secured and hidden during the reign of the Emperor Akbar.
Prof. Max Müller shows that no bribes or threats of Akbar could extort the original text of the Vedas from the Brâhmans, and yet boasts that European Orientalists have it.6 That Europe has the complete text is exceedingly doubtful, and the future may have very disagreeable surprises in store for the Orientalists.
It is maintained, furthermore, that every sacred book of this kind, the text of which was not sufficiently veiled in symbolism, or which had any direct references to the ancient mysteries, was first carefully copied in cryptographic characters, such as to defy the art of the best and cleverest palæographer, and then destroyed to the last copy. During Akbar's reign, some fanatical courtiers, displeased at the Emperor's sinful prying into the religions of the infidels, themselves helped the Brâhmans to conceal their MSS. Such was Badáoní, who had an undisguised horror of Akbar's mania for idolatrous religions.
Badáoní, in his Muntakhab at Tawarikh, writes:
As they [the Shramana and Brâhmans] surpass other learned men in their treatises on morals and on physical and religious sciences, and reach a high degree in their knowledge of the future, in spiritual power, and human perfection, they brought proofs based on reason and testimony, ... and inculcated their doctrines so firmly ... that no man ... could now raise a doubt in his Majesty even if mountains were to crumble to dust, or the heavens were to tear asunder.... His Majesty relished inquiries into the sects of these infidels, who cannot be counted, so numerous they are, and who have no end of revealed books.7
This work “was kept secret and, was not published till the reign of Jahángír.”
Moreover in all the large and wealthy Lamasaries, there are subterranean crypts and cave-libraries, cut in the rock, whenever the Gonpa and Lhakhang are situated in the mountains. Beyond the Western Tsaydam, in the solitary passes of Kuen-lun there are several such hiding-places. Along the ridge of Altyn-tag, whose soil no European foot has ever trodden so far, there exists a certain hamlet, lost in a deep gorge. It is a small cluster of houses, a hamlet rather than a monastery, with a poor-looking temple in it, and one old Lama, a hermit, living near by to watch it. Pilgrims say that the subterranean galleries and halls under it contain a collection of books, the number of which, according to the accounts given, is too large to find room even in the British Museum.
According to the same tradition the now desolate regions of the waterless land of Tarim—a veritable wilderness in the heart of Turkestan—were in days of old covered with flourishing and wealthy cities. At present, a few verdant oases only relieve its dread solitude. One such, carpeting the sepulchre of a vast city buried under the sandy soil of the desert, belongs to no one, but is often visited by Mongolians and Buddhists. The tradition also speaks of immense subterranean abodes, of large corridors filled with tiles and cylinders. It may be an idle rumour, and it may be an actual fact.
All this will very likely provoke a smile of doubt. But before the reader rejects the truthfulness of the reports, let him pause and reflect over the following well-known facts. The collective researches of Orientalists, and especially of late years the labours of students of Comparative Philology and the Science of Religion, have enabled them to ascertain that an incalculable number of MSS., and even of printed works known to have existed, are now to be no more found. They have disappeared without leaving the slightest trace behind them. Were they works of no importance they might, in the natural course of time, have been left to perish, and their very names would have been obliterated from human memory. But this is not so, for, as now ascertained, most of them contained the true keys to works still extant, and now entirely incomprehensible, for the greater portion of their readers, without these additional volumes of commentaries and explanations.
Such, for instance, are the works of Lao-tse, the predecessor of Confucius. He is said to have written nine hundred and thirty books on ethics and religions, and seventy on magic, one thousand in all. His great work, however, the Tao-te-King, the heart of his doctrine and the sacred scripture of the Tao-sse, has in it, as Stanislas Julien shows, only “about 5,000 words,”8 hardly a dozen of pages; yet Professor Max Müller finds that “the text is unintelligible without commentaries, so that M. Julien had to consult more than sixty commentators for the purpose of his translation, the earliest going back as far as the year 163 b.c.”, and not earlier, as we see. During the four centuries and a half that preceded this “earliest” of the commentators there was ample time to veil the true Lao-tse doctrine from all but his initiated priests. The Japanese, among whom are now to be found the most learned of the priests and followers of Lao-tse, simply laugh at the blunders and hypotheses of European Chinese scholars; and tradition affirms that the commentaries to which our Western Sinologues have access are not the real occult records, but intentional veils, and that the true commentaries, as well as almost all the texts, have long disappeared from the eyes of the profane.
Of the works of Confucius we read:
If we turn to China, we find that the religion of Confucius is founded on the Five King and the Four Shu books—in themselves of considerable extent and surrounded by voluminous Commentaries, without which even the most learned scholars would not venture to fathom the depth of their sacred canon.9
But they have not fathomed it; and this is the complaint of the Confucianists, as a very learned member of that body, in Paris, complained in 1881.If our scholars turn to the ancient literature of the Semitic religions, to the Scriptures of Chaldea, the elder sister and instructress, if not the fountain-head of the Mosaic Bible, the basis and starting-point of Christianity, what do they find? To perpetuate the memory of the ancient religions of Babylon, to record the vast cycle of astronomical observations of the Chaldean Magi, to justify the tradition of their splendid and preëminently occult literature, what now remains? Only a few fragments, which are said to be by Berosus.
These, however, are almost valueless, even as a clue to the character of what has disappeared, for they passed through the hands of his Reverence, the Bishop of Cæsarea—that self-constituted censor and editor of the sacred records of other men's religions—and they doubtless to this day bear the mark of his eminently veracious and trustworthy hand. For what is the history of this treatise on the once grand religion of Babylon?
It was written in Greek for Alexander the Great, by Berosus, a priest of the temple of Belus, from the astronomical and chronological records preserved by the priests of that temple—records covering a period of 200,000 years—and is now lost. In the first century b.c. Alexander Polyhistor made a series of extracts from it, which are also lost. Eusebius (270-340 a.d.) used these extracts in writing his Chronicon. The points of resemblance—almost of identity—between the Jewish and the Chaldean scriptures,10 made the latter most dangerous to Eusebius, in his rôle of defender and champion of the new faith which had adopted the former scriptures and together with them an absurd chronology.
Now it is pretty certain that Eusebius did not spare the Egyptian synchronistic tables of Manetho—so much so that Bunsen11 charges him with mutilating history most unscrupulously, and Socrates, a historian of the fifth century, and Syncellus, vice-patriarch of Constantinople in the beginning of the eighth, denounce him as the most daring and desperate forger. Is it likely, then, that he dealt more tenderly with the Chaldean records, which were already menacing the new religion, so rashly accepted?
So that, with the exception of these more than doubtful fragments, the entire Chaldean sacred literature has disappeared from the eyes of the profane as completely as the lost Atlantis. A few facts that were contained in the Berosian History are given later on, and may throw great light on the true origin of the Fallen Angels, personified by Bel and the Dragon.
Turning now to the oldest specimen of ryan literature, the Rig Veda, the student if he strictly follows in this the data furnished by the Orientalists themselves, will find that although the Rig Veda contains only about 10,580 verses, or 1,028 hymns, yet in spite of the Brâhmanas and the mass of glosses and commentaries, it is not understood correctly to this day. Why is this so? Evidently because the Brâhmanas, “the scholastic and oldest treatises on the primitive hymns,” themselves require a key, which the Orientalists have failed to secure.
What, again, do the scholars say of Buddhist literature? Do they possess it in its completeness? Assuredly not. Notwithstanding the 325 volumes of the Kanjur and Tanjur of the Northern Buddhists, each volume, we are told, “weighing from four to five pounds,” nothing, in truth, is known of real Lamaïsm. Yet the sacred canon is said in the Saddharmâlankâra12 to contain 29,368,000 letters, or, exclusive of treatises and commentaries, five or six times the amount of the matter contained in the Bible, which, as Professor Max Müller states, rejoices in only 3,567,180 letters. Notwithstanding, then, these 325 volumes (in reality there are 333, the Kanjur comprising 108, and Tanjur 225 volumes), “the translators, instead of supplying us with correct versions, have interwoven them with their own commentaries, for the purpose of justifying the dogmas of their several schools.”13 Moreover, “according to a tradition preserved by the Buddhist schools, both of the South and of the North, the sacred Buddhist Canon comprised originally 80,000 or 84,000 tracts, but most of them were lost, so that there remained but 6,000”—as the Professor tells his audience. Lost, as usual—for Europeans. But who can be quite sure that they are likewise lost for Buddhists and Brâhmans?
Considering the reverence of the Buddhists for every line written upon Buddha and the Good Law, the loss of nearly 76,000 tracts does seem miraculous. Had it been vice versâ, every one acquainted with the natural course of events would subscribe to the statement that, of these 76,000, 5,000 or 6,000 treatises might have been destroyed during the persecutions in, and emigrations from, India. But as it is well ascertained that the Buddhist Arhats began their religious exodus, for the purpose of propagating the new faith beyond Kashmir and the Himâlayas, as early as the year 300 before our era,14 and reached China in the year 61 a.d.,15 when Kashyapa, at the invitation of the Emperor Ming-ti, went there to acquaint the “Son of Heaven” with the tenets of Buddhism, it does seem strange to hear the Orientalists speaking of such a loss as though it were really possible. They do not seem to allow for one moment the possibility that the texts may be lost only for the West and for themselves, or that the Asiatic people should have the unparalleled boldness to keep their most sacred records out of the reach of foreigners, thus refusing to deliver them to the profanation and misuse even of races so “vastly superior” to themselves.
Judging by the expressed regrets and numerous confessions of almost every one of the Orientalists,16 the public may feel sufficiently sure, (a) that the students of ancient religions have indeed very few data upon which to build such final conclusions as they generally do about the old faiths, and (b) that such lack of data does not in the least prevent them from dogmatizing. One would imagine that, thanks to the numerous records of the Egyptian theogony and mysteries, preserved in the classics and in a number of ancient writers, the rites and dogmas of Pharaonic Egypt, at least, ought to be well understood; better, at any rate, than the too abstruse philosophies and Pantheism of India, of whose religion and language Europe had hardly any idea before the beginning of the present century. Along the Nile and on the face of the whole country, there stand to this hour, yearly and daily exhumed, ever fresh relics which eloquently tell their own history. Still it is not so. The learned Oxford Philologist himself confesses the truth by saying:
We see still standing the pyramids, and the ruins of temples and labyrinths, their walls covered with hieroglyphic inscriptions, and with the strange pictures of gods and goddesses. On rolls of papyrus, which seem to defy the ravages of time, we have even fragments of what may be called the sacred books of the Egyptians. Yet, though much has been deciphered in the ancient records of the mysterious race, the mainspring of the religion of Egypt and the original intention of its ceremonial worship are far from being fully disclosed to us.17
Here again the mysterious hieroglyphic documents remain, but the keys by which alone they become intelligible have disappeared.
In fact so little acquainted are our greatest Egyptologists with the funerary rites of the Egyptians and the outward marks of the difference of sex on the mummies, that it has led to the most ludicrous mistakes. Only a year or two ago, one of this kind was discovered at Boulaq, Cairo. The mummy of what was considered the wife of an unimportant Pharaoh, has, thanks to an inscription found on an amulet hung round its neck, turned out to be that of Sesostris—the greatest King of Egypt!
Nevertheless, having found that “there is a natural connection between language and religion”; and that “there was a common ryan religion before the separation of the ryan race; a common Semitic religion before the separation of the Semitic race; and a common Turanic religion before the separation of the Chinese and the other tribes belonging to the Turanian class”; having, in fact, discovered only “three ancient centres of religion” and “three centres of language”; and though as entirely ignorant of those primitive religions and languages as of their origin—the Professor does not hesitate to declare “that a truly historical basis for a scientific treatment of the principal religions of the world” has been gained!
A “scientific treatment” of a subject is no guarantee for its “historical basis”; and with such scarcity of data on hand, no Philologist, even among the most eminent, is justified in giving out his own conclusions for historical facts. No doubt, the eminent Orientalist has thoroughly proved to the world's satisfaction that, according to the phonetic rules of Grimm's law, Odin and Buddha are two different personages, quite distinct from each other, and has proved it scientifically. When, however, he takes the opportunity of saying in the same breath that Odin “was worshipped as the supreme deity during a period long anterior to the age of the Veda and of Homer,”18 he has not the slightest “historical basis” for it, but makes history and fact subservient to his own conclusions, which may be very “scientific” in the sight of Oriental scholars, but yet very wide of the mark of actual truth. The conflicting views of the various eminent Philologists and Orientalists, from Martin Haug down to Prof. Max Müller himself, on the subject of chronology, in the case of the Vedas, are an evident proof that the statement has no “historical” basis to stand upon, “internal evidence” being very often a Jack-o'-lantern, instead of a safe beacon to follow. Nor has the Science of modern Comparative Mythology any better argument to bring forward to crush the contention of those learned writers who have insisted for the last century or so that there must have been “fragments of a primeval revelation, granted to the ancestors of the whole race of mankind ... preserved in the temples of Greece and Italy.” For this is what all the Eastern Initiates and Pandits have been proclaiming to the world from time to time. And while a prominent Singhalese priest assured the writer that it was well known that the most important tracts, belonging to the Buddhist sacred canon, were stored away in countries and places inaccessible to the European Pandits, the late Svâmi Dayanand Sarasvatî, the greatest Sanskritist of his day in India, assured some members of the Theosophical Society of the same fact with regard to ancient Brâhmanical works. When told that Professor Max Müller had declared to the audiences of his Lectures that the theory “that there was a primeval preternatural revelation granted to the fathers of the human race, finds but few supporters at present”—the holy and learned man laughed. His answer was suggestive. “If Mr. ‘Moksh Mooller’ [as he pronounced the name], were a Brâhman, and came with me, I might take him to a gupa cave [a secret crypt] near Okhee Math, in the Himâlayas, where he would soon find out that what crossed the Kâlapani [the black waters of the ocean] from India to Europe were only the bits of rejected copies of some passages from our sacred books. There was a ‘primeval revelation,’ and it still exists; nor will it ever be lost to the world, but will reäppear; though the Mlechchhas will of course have to wait.”
Questioned further on the point, he would say no more. This was at Meerut, in 1880.
No doubt the mystification played by the Brâhmans upon Colonel Wilford and Sir William Jones, in the last century, at Calcutta, was cruel, but it had been well deserved, and no one was more to blame in that affair than the missionaries and Colonel Wilford himself. The former, on the testimony of Sir William Jones himself,19 were silly enough to maintain that “the Hindûs were even now almost Christians, because their Brahmâ, Vishnu and Mahesha were no other than the Christian trinity.”20 It was a good lesson. It made the Oriental scholars doubly cautious; but perchance it has also made some of them too shy and, in its reäction, has caused the pendulum of foregone conclusions to swing too much the other way. For “that first supply from the Brâhmanical market,” in answer to the demand of Colonel Wilford, has now created an evident necessity and desire in the Orientalists to declare nearly every archaic Sanskrit manuscript so modern as to give the missionaries full justification for availing themselves of their opportunity. That they do so and to the full extent of their mental powers, is shown by the absurd attempts of late to prove that the whole Purânic story about Krishna was plagiarized by the Brâhmans from the Bible! But the facts cited by the Oxford Professor in his Lectures concerning the now famous interpolations, for the benefit, and later on to the sorrow, of Colonel Wilford, do not at all interfere with the conclusions to which one who studies the Secret Doctrine must unavoidably come. For, if the results show that neither the New nor even the Old Testament borrowed anything from the more ancient religion of the Brâhmans and Buddhists, it does not follow that the Jews have not borrowed all they knew from the Chaldean records, the latter being mutilated later on by Eusebius. As to the Chaldeans, they assuredly got their primitive learning from the Brâhmans, for Rawlinson shows an undeniably Vedic influence in the early mythology of Babylon; and Colonel Vans Kennedy has long ago justly declared that Babylonia was, from her origin, the seat of Sanskrit and Brâhman learning. But all such proofs must lose their value, in the presence of the latest theory worked out by Prof. Max Müller. What it is everyone knows. The code of phonetic laws has now become a universal solvent for every identification and “connection” between the gods of many nations. Thus, though the Mother of Mercury (Budha, Thot-Hermes, etc.) was Maia, the mother of Gautama Buddha, also Mâyâ, and the mother of Jesus, likewise Mâyâ (Illusion, for Mary is Mare, the Sea, the great Illusion symbolically)—yet these three characters have no connection, nor can they have any, since Bopp has “laid down his code of phonetic laws.”
In their efforts to collect together the many skeins of unwritten history, it is a bold step for our Orientalists to take, to deny à priori everything that does not dove-tail with their special conclusions. Thus, while new discoveries are daily made of great arts and sciences having existed far back in the night of time, yet even the knowledge of writing is refused to some of the most ancient nations, and they are credited with barbarism instead of culture. Nevertheless traces of an immense civilization, even in Central Asia, are still to be found. This civilization is undeniably prehistoric. And how can there be civilization without a literature in some form, without annals or chronicles? Common sense alone ought to supplement the broken links in the history of departed nations. The gigantic and unbroken wall of the mountains that hem in the whole table-land of Tibet, from the upper course of the river Khuan-Khé down to the Karakorum hills, witnessed a civilization during millenniums of years, and should have strange secrets to tell mankind. The eastern and central portions of these regions—the Nan-chan and the Altyn-tag—were once upon a time covered with cities that could well vie with Babylon. A whole geological period has swept over the land, since those cities breathed their last, as the mounds of shifting sand and the sterile and now dead soil of the immense central plains of the basin of Tarim testify. The borderlands alone are superficially known to the traveller. Within those table-lands of sand there is water, and fresh oases are found blooming there, wherein no European foot has ever yet ventured, or trodden the now treacherous soil. Among these verdant oases there are some which are entirely inaccessible even to the profane native traveller. Hurricanes may “tear up the sands and sweep whole plains away,” they are powerless to destroy that which is beyond their reach. Built deep in the bowels of the earth, the subterranean stores are secure; and as their entrances are concealed, there is little fear that anyone would discover them, even should several armies invade the sandy wastes where—
Not a pool, not a bush, not a house is seen,
And the mountain-range forms a rugged screen
Round the parch'd flats of the dry, dry desert....
But there is no need to send the reader across the desert, when the same proofs of ancient civilization are found even in comparatively populated regions of the same country. The oasis of Tchertchen, for instance, situated about 4,000 feet above the level of the river Tchertchen-Darya, is now surrounded in every direction by the ruins of archaic towns and cities. There, some 3,000 human beings represent the relics of about a hundred extinct nations and races, the very names of which are now unknown to our ethnologists. An anthropologist would feel more than embarrassed to class, divide and subdivide them; the more so, as the respective descendants of all these antediluvian races and tribes themselves know as little of their own forefathers as if they had fallen from the moon. When questioned about their origin, they reply that they know not whence their fathers had come, but had heard that their first, or earliest, men were ruled by the great Genii of these deserts. This may be put down to ignorance and superstition, yet in view of the teachings of the Secret Doctrine, the answer may be based upon primeval tradition. Alone the tribe of Khoorassan claims to have come from what is now known as Afghanistan, long before the days of Alexander, and brings legendary lore to that effect in corroboration. The Russian traveller Colonel (now General) Prjevalsky found quite close to the oasis of Tchertchen the ruins of two enormous cities, the oldest of which, according to local tradition, was destroyed 3,000 years ago by a hero and giant, and the other by Mongolians in the tenth century of our era.
The emplacement of the two cities is now covered, owing to shifting sands and the desert wind, with strange and heterogeneous relics; with broken china and kitchen utensils and human bones. The natives often find copper and gold coins, melted silver ingots, diamonds, and turquoises, and what is the most remarkable—broken glass.... Coffins of some undecaying wood, or material, also, within which beautifully preserved embalmed bodies are found.... The male mummies are all extremely tall powerfully built men with long wavy hair.... A vault was found with twelve dead men sitting in it. Another time, in a separate coffin, a young girl was discovered by us. Her eyes were closed with golden discs, and the jaws held firm by a golden circlet running from under the chin across the top of the head. Clad in a narrow woollen garment, her bosom was covered with golden stars, the feet being left naked.21
To this, the famous traveller adds that all along their way on the river Tchertchen they heard legends about twenty-three towns buried ages ago by the shifting sands of the deserts. The same tradition exists on the Lob-nor and in the oasis of Kerya.
The traces of such civilization, and these and like traditions, give us the right to credit other legendary lore, warranted by well educated and learned natives of India and Mongolia who speak of immense libraries reclaimed from the sand, together with various relics of ancient Magic Lore, which have all been safely stowed away.
To recapitulate. The Secret Doctrine was the universally diffused religion of the ancient and prehistoric world. Proofs of its diffusion, authentic records of its history, a complete chain of documents, showing its character and presence in every land, together with the teaching of all its great Adepts, exist to this day in the secret crypts of libraries belonging to the Occult Fraternity.
This statement is rendered more credible by a consideration of the following facts: the tradition of the thousands of ancient parchments saved when the Alexandrian library was destroyed; the thousands of Sanskrit works which disappeared in India in the reign of Akbar; the universal tradition in China and Japan that the true ancient texts with the commentaries, which alone make them comprehensible, amounting to many thousands of volumes, have long passed out of the reach of profane hands; the disappearance of the vast sacred and occult literature of Babylon; the loss of those keys which alone could solve the thousand riddles of the Egyptian hieroglyphic records; the tradition in India that the real secret commentaries which alone make the Vedas intelligible, though no longer visible to profane eyes, still remain for the Initiate, hidden in secret caves and crypts; and an identical belief among the Buddhists, with regard to their secret books.
The Occultists assert that all these exist, safe from Western spoliating hands, to reäppear in some more enlightened age, for which, in the words of the late Svâmi Dayanand Sarasvatî, “the Mlechchhas [outcasts, savages, those beyond the pale of ryan civilization] will have to wait.”
For it is not the fault of the Initiates that these documents are now “lost” to the profane; nor was their policy dictated by selfishness, or any desire to monopolise the life-giving sacred lore. There were portions of the Secret Science that for incalculable ages had to remain concealed from the profane gaze. But this was because the imparting to the unprepared multitude secrets of such tremendous importance was equivalent to giving a child a lighted candle in a powder magazine.
The answer to a question which has frequently arisen in the minds of students, when meeting with statements such as this, may well be outlined here.
We can understand, they say, the necessity for concealing from the herd such secrets as the Vril, or the rock-destroying force, discovered by J. W. Keely, of Philadelphia, but we cannot understand how any danger could arise from the revelation of such a purely philosophical doctrine, for instance, as the evolution of the Planetary Chains.
The danger was that such doctrines as the Planetary Chain, or the seven Races, at once give a clue to the seven-fold nature of man, for each principle is correlated to a plane, a planet, and a race, and the human principles are, on every plane, correlated to seven-fold occult forces, those of the higher planes being of tremendous power. So that any septenary division at once gives a clue to tremendous occult powers, the abuse of which would cause incalculable evil to humanity; a clue which is, perhaps, no clue to the present generation—especially to Westerns, protected as they are by their very blindness and ignorant materialistic disbelief in the occult—but a clue which would, nevertheless, have been very real in the early centuries of the Christian era to people fully convinced of the reality of Occultism, and entering a cycle of degradation which made them rife for abuse of occult powers and sorcery of the worst description.
The documents were concealed, it is true, but the knowledge itself and its actual existence was never made a secret of by the Hierophants of the Temples, wherein the MYSTERIES have ever been made a discipline and stimulus to virtue. This is very old news, and was repeatedly made known by the great Adepts, from Pythagoras and Plato down to the Neo-Platonists. It was the new religion of the Nazarenes that wrought a change for the worse in the policy of centuries.
Moreover, there is a well-known fact—a very curious one, corroborated to the writer by a reverend gentleman attached for years to a Russian Embassy—that there are several documents in the St. Petersburg Imperial Libraries to show that, even so late as the days when Freemasonry and Secret Societies of Mystics flourished without hindrance in Russia, namely at the end of the last and the beginning of the present century, more than one Russian Mystic travelled to Tibet viâ the Ural Mountains in search of knowledge and initiation in the unknown crypts of Central Asia. And more than one returned years later, with a rich store of information such as could never have been given him anywhere in Europe. Several cases could be cited and well-known names brought forward, but for the fact that such publicity might annoy the surviving relatives of the late Initiates referred to. Let any one look over the annals and history of Freemasonry in the archives of the Russian metropolis, and he will assure himself of the fact above stated.
This is a corroboration of what has been stated many times before, unfortunately, too indiscreetly. Instead of benefiting humanity, the virulent charges of deliberate invention and imposture with a purpose, hurled at those who asserted a veritable, even if a little known fact, have only generated bad Karma for the slanderers. But now the mischief is done, and truth should no longer be denied, whatever the consequences.
Is Theosophy a new religion, we are asked? By no means; it is not a “religion,” nor is its philosophy “new”; for, as already stated, it is as old as thinking man. Its tenets are not now published for the first time, but have been cautiously given out to, and taught by, more than one European Initiate—especially by the late Ragon.
More than one great scholar has stated that there never was a religious founder, whether ryan, Semitic or Turanian, who had invented a new religion, or revealed a new truth. These founders were all transmitters, not original teachers. They were the authors of new forms and interpretations, while the truths upon which their teachings were based were as old as mankind. Thus out of the many truths revealed orally to man in the beginning, preserved and perpetuated in the Adyta of the temples through initiation, during the Mysteries and by personal transmission, they selected one or more of such grand verities—actualities visible only to the eye of the real Sage and Seer, and revealed them to the masses. Thus every nation received in its turn some of the said truths, under the veil of its own local and special symbolism, which, as time went on, developed into a more or less philosophical cultus, a Pantheon in mythical disguise. Therefore is Confucius, a very ancient legislator in historical chronology, though a very modern sage in the world's history, shown by Dr. Legge22 to be emphatically a transmitter, not a maker. As he himself says, “I only hand on: I cannot create new things. I believe in the ancients and therefore I love them.”23
The writer loves them too, and therefore believes in these ancients, and the modern heirs to their Wisdom. And believing in both, she now transmits that which she has received and learnt herself, to all those who will accept it. As to those who may reject her testimony—the great majority—she will bear them no malice, for they will be as right in their way in denying, as she is right in hers in affirming, since they look at Truth from two entirely different stand-points. Agreeably with the rules of critical scholarship, the Orientalist has to reject à priori whatever evidence he cannot fully verify for himself. And how can a Western scholar accept on hearsay that which he knows nothing about? Indeed, that which is given in these volumes is selected from oral, as much as from written teachings. This first instalment of the esoteric doctrines is based upon Stanzas, which are the records of a people unknown to ethnology. They are written, it is claimed, in a tongue absent from the nomenclature of languages and dialects with which philology is acquainted; are said to emanate from a source repudiated by Science—to-wit, Occultism; and finally they are offered through an agency, incessantly discredited before the world by all those who hate unwelcome truths, or have some special hobby of their own to defend. Therefore, the rejection of these teachings may be expected, and must be expected beforehand. No one styling himself a “scholar,” in whatever department of exact Science, will permit himself to regard these teachings seriously. They will be derided and rejected à priori in this century, but only in this one. For in the twentieth century of 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. This is no pretension to prophecy, but simply a statement based on the knowledge of facts. Every century an attempt is being made to show the world that Occultism is no vain superstition. Once the door is permitted to remain a little ajar, it will be opened wider with every new century. The times are ripe for a more serious knowledge than hitherto permitted, though still, even now, very limited.
For have not even the Vedas been derided, rejected and called “a modern forgery” even so recently as fifty years ago? Was not Sanskrit proclaimed at one time the progeny of, and a dialect derived from, the Greek, according to Lemprière and other scholars? About 1820, as Prof. Max Müller tells us, the sacred books of the Brâhmans, of the Magians, and of the Buddhists, “were all but unknown, their very existence was doubted, and there was not a single scholar who could have translated a line of the Veda ... of the Zend Avesta, or ... of the Buddhist Tripitaka, and now the Vedas are proved to be the work of the highest antiquity, whose ‘preservation amounts almost to a marvel’.”
The same will be said of the Secret Archaic Doctrine, when undeniable proofs are given of its existence and records. But it will be centuries before much more is given from it. Speaking of the keys to the Zodiacal Mysteries as being almost lost to the world, it was remarked by the writer some ten years ago in Isis Unveiled that: “The said key must be turned seven times before the whole system is divulged. We will give it but one turn, and thereby allow the profane one glimpse into the mystery. Happy he, who understands the whole!”
The same may be said of the whole Esoteric System. One turn of the key, and no more, was given in Isis Unveiled. Much more is explained in these volumes. In those days the writer hardly knew the language in which the work was written, and the disclosure of many things, freely spoken about now, was forbidden. In Century the Twentieth, some disciple more informed, and far better fitted, may be sent by the Masters of Wisdom to give final and irrefutable proofs that there exists a Science called Gupta Vidyâ; and that, like the once mysterious sources of the Nile, the source of all religions and philosophies now made known to the world has been for many ages forgotten and lost to men, but it is at last found.
Such a work as this has to be introduced with no simple preface, but with a volume rather—one that would give facts, not mere disquisitions, since 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.
It would be worse than useless to publish in these pages even those portions of the esoteric teachings that have now escaped from confinement, unless the genuineness and authenticity, or at any rate the probability, of the existence of such teachings were first established. Such statements as will now be made, have to be shown as warranted by various authorities, such as ancient philosophers, classical writers and even certain learned Church Fathers, some of whom knew these doctrines because they had studied them, had seen and read works written upon them; and some of whom had even been personally initiated into the ancient Mysteries, during the performance of which the arcane doctrines were allegorically enacted. The writer will have to give historical and trustworthy names, and to cite well-known authors, ancient and modern, of recognized ability, good judgment, and truthfulness, as also to name some of the famous proficients in the secret arts and science, together with the mysteries of the latter, as they are divulged, or rather partially presented before the public in their strange archaic form.
How is this to be done; what is the best way for achieving such an object, has been the ever-recurring question. To make our plan clearer, an illustration may be attempted. When a tourist, coming from a well-explored country, suddenly reaches the borderland of a terra incognita, hedged in, and shut out from view by a formidable barrier of impassable rocks, he may still refuse to acknowledge himself baffled in his exploratory plans. Ingress beyond is forbidden. But if he cannot visit the mysterious region personally, he may still find a means of examining it from as short a distance as can be arrived at. Helped by his knowledge of the landscapes left behind, he can get a general and pretty correct idea of the transmural view, if he will only climb to the loftiest summit of the altitudes in front of him. Once there, he can gaze at it at his leisure, comparing that which he dimly perceives with that which he has just left below, now that he is, thanks to his own efforts, beyond the line of the mists and the cloud-capped cliffs.
Such a point of preliminary observation, cannot in these two volumes be offered to those who would like to get a more correct understanding of the mysteries of the pre-archaic periods given in the texts. But if the reader has patience, and will glance at the present state of beliefs and creeds in Europe, compare and check it with what is known to history of the ages directly preceding and following the Christian era, then he will find all this in a future volume of the present work.
In the latter volume a brief recapitulation will be made of all the principal Adepts known to history, and the downfall of the Mysteries will be described, after which began the disappearance and the systematic and final elimination from the memory of men of the real nature of Initiation and the Sacred Science. From that time its teachings became occult, and Magic sailed but too often under the venerable but frequently misleading name of Hermetic Philosophy. As real Occultism had been prevalent among the Mystics during the centuries that preceded our era, so Magic, or rather Sorcery, with its Occult Arts, followed the beginning of Christianity.
However great and zealous the fanatical efforts, during these early centuries, to obliterate every trace of the mental and intellectual labour of the Pagans, they were a failure; but the same spirit of the dark demon of bigotry and intolerance has ever since systematically perverted every bright page written in the pre-Christian periods. Even history, in her uncertain records, has preserved enough of that which has survived to throw an impartial light upon the whole. Let, then, the reader tarry a little while with the writer on the spot of observation selected. He is asked to give all his attention to that millennium of the pre-Christian and the post-Christian periods, divided by the year One of the Nativity. This event—whether historically correct or not—has nevertheless been made to serve as a first signal for the erection of manifold bulwarks against any possible return of, or even a glimpse into, the hated religions of the Past; hated and dreaded, because throwing such a vivid light on the novel and intentionally veiled interpretation of what is now known as the “New Dispensation.”
However superhuman the efforts of the early Christian Fathers to obliterate the Secret Doctrine from the very memory of man, they all failed. Truth can never be killed; hence the failure to sweep away entirely from the face of the earth every vestige of that ancient Wisdom, and to shackle and gag every witness who testified to it. Let one only think of the thousands, perhaps millions, of MSS. burnt; of monuments, with their too indiscreet inscriptions and pictorial symbols, pulverized to dust; of the bands of early hermits and ascetics roaming about among the ruined cities of Upper and Lower Egypt, in desert and mountain, valley and highland, seeking for and eager to destroy every obelisk and pillar, scroll or parchment they could lay their hands on, if only it bore the symbol of the Tau, or any other sign borrowed and appropriated by the new faith—and he will then see plainly how it is that so little has remained of the records of the past. Verily, the fiendish spirit of fanaticism of early and mediæval Christianity and of Islam has loved from the first to dwell in darkness and ignorance; and both have made
... the sun like blood, the earth a tomb,
The tomb a hell, and hell itself a murkier gloom!
Both creeds have won their proselytes at the point of the sword; both have built their churches on heaven-kissing hecatombs of human victims. Over the gateway of Century I of our era, the ominous words “The Karma of Israel,” fatally glowed. Over the portals of our own, the future seer may discern other words, that will point to the Karma for cunningly made-up history, for events purposely perverted, and for great characters slandered by posterity, mangled out of recognition, between the two cars of Jagannâtha—Bigotry and Materialism; one accepting too much, the other denying all. Wise is he who holds to the golden mid-point, who believes in the eternal justice of things.
Says Faizi Díwán, the “witness to the wonderful speeches of a freethinker who belongs to a thousand sects”:
In the assembly of the day of resurrection, when past things shall be forgiven, the sins of the Ka'bah will be forgiven for the sake of the dust of Christian churches.
To this, Professor Max Müller replies:
The sins of Islam are as worthless as the dust of Christianity; on the day of resurrection both Muhammadans and Christians will see the vanity of their religious doctrines. Men fight about religion on earth; in heaven they shall find out that there is only one true religion—the worship of God's Spirit.24
In other words, “There is No Religion [or Law] Higher Than Truth”—(Satyât Nâsti Paro Dharmah)—the motto of the Mahârâjah of Benares, adopted by the Theosophical Society.
As already said in the Preface, The Secret Doctrine is not a version of Isis Unveiled, as originally intended. It is rather a volume explanatory of the latter, and, though entirely independent of the earlier work, an indispensable corollary to it. Much of what was in the former work could hardly be understood by Theosophists in those days. The Secret Doctrine will now throw light on many a problem left unsolved in the first work, especially on the opening pages, which have never been understood.
As it was concerned simply with the philosophies within historical times and the respective symbolism of the fallen nations, only a hurried glance could be thrown at the panorama of Occultism in the two volumes of Isis. In the present work, detailed cosmogony and the evolution of the four Races that preceded our fifth-race Humanity are given, and now two large volumes explain that which was stated only on the first page of Isis Unveiled alone, and in a few allusions scattered hither and thither throughout that work. Nor can the vast catalogue of the Archaic Sciences be attempted in the present volumes, before we have disposed of such tremendous problems as cosmic and planetary Evolution, and the gradual development of the mysterious humanities and races that preceded our Adamic Humanity. Therefore, the present attempt to elucidate some mysteries of the Esoteric Philosophy has, in truth, nothing to do with the earlier work. The writer must be allowed to illustrate what is said by an instance.
Volume I of Isis begins with a reference to an “old book”:
So very old that our modern antiquarians might ponder over its pages an indefinite time, and still not quite agree as to the nature of the fabric upon which it is written. It is the only original copy now in existence. The most ancient Hebrew document on occult learning—the Siprah Dzeniouta—was compiled from it, and that at a time when the former was already considered in the light of a literary relic. One of its illustrations represents the Divine Essence emanating from Adam25 like a luminous arc proceeding to form a circle; and then, having attained the highest point of its circumference, the ineffable Glory bends back again, and returns to earth, bringing a higher type of humanity in its vortex. As it approaches nearer and nearer to our planet, the Emanation becomes more and more shadowy, until upon touching the ground it is as black as night.
This very old book is the original work from which the many volumes of Kiu-ti were compiled. Not only the latter and the Siphrah Dzeniouta, but even the Sepher Jetzirah26—the work attributed by the Hebrew Kabalists to their Patriarch Abraham (!), the Shu-king, China's primitive Bible, the sacred volumes of the Egyptian Thoth-Hermes, the Purânas in India, the Chaldean Book of Numbers and the Pentateuch itself, are all derived from that one small parent volume. Tradition says, that it was taken down in Senzar, the secret sacerdotal tongue, from the words of Divine Beings, who dictated it to the Sons of Light, in Central Asia, at the very beginning of our Fifth Race; for there was a time when its language (the Senzar) was known to the Initiates of every nation, when the forefathers of the Toltec understood it as easily as the inhabitants of the lost Atlantis, who inherited it, in their turn, from the sages of the Third Race, the Mânushis, who learnt it direct from the Devas of the Second and First Races. The illustration spoken of in Isis relates to the evolution of these Races and of our fourth- and fifth-race Humanity in the Vaivasvata Manvantara, or Round; each Round being composed of the Yugas of the seven periods of Humanity; four of which are now passed in our Life-Cycle, the middle point of the fifth being nearly reached. This illustration is symbolical, as every one can well understand, and covers the ground from the beginning. The old book, having described cosmic evolution and explained the origin of everything on earth, including physical man, after giving the true history of the Races, from the First down to our own Fifth Race, goes no further. It stops short at the beginning of the Kali Yuga, just 4,989 years ago, at the death of Krishna, the bright Sun-god, the once living hero and reformer.
But there exists another book. None of its possessors regard it as very ancient, as it was born with, and is only as old as the Black Age, namely, about 5,000 years. In about nine years hence, the first cycle of the first five millenniums, that began with the great cycle of the Kali Yuga, will end. And then the last prophecy contained in that book—the first volume of the prophetic record for the Black Age—will be accomplished. We have not long to wait, and many of us will witness the dawn of the New Cycle, at the end of which not a few accounts will be settled and squared between the races. Volume II of the prophecies is nearly ready, having been in preparation since the time of Buddha's grand successor, Shankarâchârya.
One more important point must be noticed, one that stands foremost in the series of proofs given of the existence of one primeval, universal Wisdom—at any rate for Christian Kabalists and students. The teachings were, at least, partially known to several of the Fathers of the Church. It is maintained, on purely historical grounds, that Origen, Synesius, and even Clemens Alexandrinus, had themselves been initiated into the Mysteries before adding to the Neo-Platonism of the Alexandrian school that of the Gnostics, under the Christian veil. More than this, some of the doctrines of the secret schools, though by no means all, were preserved in the Vatican, and have since become part and parcel of the Mysteries, in the shape of disfigured additions made to the original Christian programme by the Latin Church. Such is the now materialised dogma of the Immaculate Conception. This accounts for the great persecutions set on foot by the Roman Catholic Church against Occultism, Masonry, and heterodox Mysticism generally.
The days of Constantine were the last turning-point in history, the period of the supreme struggle, that ended in the Western world throttling the old religions in favour of the new one, built on their bodies. From thence the vista into the far distant past, beyond the Deluge and the Garden of Eden, began to be forcibly and relentlessly shut out by every fair and unfair means from the indiscreet gaze of posterity. Every issue was blocked up, every record upon which hands could be laid, destroyed. Yet there remains enough, even among such mutilated records, to warrant us in saying that there is in them every requisite evidence of the actual existence of a Parent Doctrine. Fragments have survived geological and political cataclysms, to tell the story; and every survival shows evidence that the now secret Wisdom was once the one fountain head, the ever-flowing perennial source, from which were fed all the streamlets—the later religions of all nations—from the first down to the last. This period, beginning with Buddha and Pythagoras at the one end and finishing with the Neo-Platonists and Gnostics at the other, is the only focus left in History wherein converge for the last time the bright rays of light streaming from the æons of times gone by, unobscured by the hand of bigotry and fanaticism.
This accounts for the necessity under which the writer has laboured of ever explaining the facts given from the hoariest past by evidence gathered from the historical period, even at the risk of being once more charged with a lack of method and system. No other means was at hand. The public must be made acquainted with the efforts of many world-adepts, of initiated poets and writers in the classics of every age, to preserve in the records of humanity the knowledge at least of the existence of such a philosophy, if not actually of its tenets. The Initiates of 1888 would indeed remain incomprehensible and even a seemingly impossible myth, were not like Initiates shown to have lived in every other age of history. This could be done only by naming chapter and verse where mention may be found of these great characters, who were preceded and followed by a long and interminable line of other famous antediluvian and postdiluvian Masters in the arts. Thus only could it be shown, on semi-traditional and semi-historical authority, that occult knowledge and the powers it confers on man, are not altogether fictions, but that they are as old as the world itself.
To my judges, past and future, therefore—whether they are serious literary critics, or those howling dervishes in literature who judge a book according to the popularity or unpopularity of the author's name, who, hardly glancing at its contents, fasten like lethal bacilli on the weakest points of the body—I have nothing to say. Nor shall I condescend to notice those crack-brained slanderers—fortunately very few in number—who, hoping to attract public attention by throwing discredit on every writer whose name is better known than their own, foam and bark at their very shadows. These, having first maintained for years that the doctrines taught in the Theosophist, and which culminated in Esoteric Buddhism, had been all invented by the present writer, have finally turned round, and denounced Isis Unveiled and the rest as a plagiarism from Éliphas Lévi (!), Paracelsus (!!), and, mirabile dictu, Buddhism and Brâhminism (!!!). As well charge Renan with having stolen his Vie de Jésus from the Gospels, and Max Müller his Sacred Books of the East or his Chips from the philosophies of the Brâhmans and of Gautama, the Buddha. But to the public in general and the readers of The Secret Doctrine I may repeat what I have stated all along, and which I now clothe in the words of Montaigne:
Gentlemen, “I have here made only a nosegay of culled flowers, and have brought nothing of my own but the string that ties them.”
Pull the “string” to pieces and cut it up in shreds, 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.
We may close with a parting word concerning this first volume. In an introduction prefacing chapters dealing chiefly with cosmogony, certain subjects brought forward may be deemed out of place, but one more consideration added to those already given has led me to touch upon them. Every reader will inevitably judge the statements made from the stand-point of his own knowledge, experience, and consciousness, basing his judgment on what he has already learnt. This fact the writer is constantly obliged to bear in mind; hence, also the frequent references in this first volume to matters which, properly speaking, belong to a later part of the work, but which could not be passed by in silence, lest the reader should look upon it as a fairy tale indeed—a fiction of some modern brain.
Thus, the Past shall help to realize the Present, and the latter to better appreciate the Past. The errors of the day must be explained and swept away, yet it is more than probable—nay in the present case it amounts to certitude—that once more the testimony of long ages and of history will fail to impress any but the very intuitional—which is equal to saying the very few. But in this as in all like cases, the true and the faithful may console themselves by presenting the sceptical modern Sadducee with the mathematical proof and memorial of his obdurate obstinacy and bigotry. There still exists somewhere in the archives of the French Academy, the famous law of probabilities worked out by certain mathematicians for the benefit of sceptics by an algebraical process. It runs thus: If two persons give their evidence to a fact, and thus impart to it each of them 5/6 of certitude; that fact will have then 35/36 of certitude; i.e., its probability will bear to its improbability the ratio of 35 to 1. If three such evidences are joined together the certitude will become 215/216. The agreement of ten persons giving each 1/2 of certitude will produce 1023/1024, etc., etc. The Occultist may remain satisfied with such certitude, and care for no more.
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