The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
March 2001 Vol. 4 Issue 1
In 1888 H. P. Blavatsky produced her important book, The Secret Doctrine – an extensive dissertation on universal principles in human thought. As she explains in the Preface:
. . . it is perhaps desirable to state unequivocally that the teachings, however fragmentary and incomplete, contained in these volumes, belong neither to the Hindu, the Zoroastrian, the Chaldean, nor the Egyptian religion, neither to Buddhism, Islam, Judaism nor Christianity exclusively. The Secret Doctrine is the essence of all these. Sprung from it in their origins, the various religious schemes are now made to merge back into their original element, out of which every mystery and dogma has grown, developed, and become materialized . . .
The range of subject matter in The Secret Doctrine is impressive. Volume I, Cosmogenesis, treats of the birth and death of worlds, and Volume II, Anthropogenesis, of the birth and evolution of man. The first section in each volume is given to comments on the Stanzas of Dzyan; the second, based on the first, to symbols and glyphs; and the third, in the light of parts one and two, to science.
It is difficult to assess the immense influence that The Secret Doctrine has had on world consciousness over the last hundred years. What Blavatsky wrote did indeed presage a change in the thought-life of mankind. – Kirby Van Mater
Theosophical University Press is adding two new online titles: Dâmodar: The Writings of a Hindu Chela compiled by Sven Eek, and The Chalchiuhite Dragon by Kenneth Morris.
The first book is a collection of articles, letters, answers to questions, and other material written by Damodar K. Mavalankar, a principal co-worker of Helena Blavatsky and Henry Olcott in India. He helped edit the newly-founded Theosophist magazine and acted as Assistant Recording Secretary of the Society from 1879 until he left for Tibet in 1885. Based on the 1940 TUP edition, this work also includes biographical notes, comments about Damodar from the letters of Blavatsky and her teachers, and "A Hindu Chela's Diary" edited by W. Q. Judge from some of Damodar's letters.
The Chalchiuhite Dragon, subtitled "A Tale of Toltec Times," is a novel centering on the birth of Quetzalcoatl. On Christmas Day in 1925 Katherine Tingley asked Kenneth Morris if he would write something on a pre-Columbian subject. He began investigating Central American history and legends, looking for "the spiritual and the beautiful which might be historically possible, too." In his view "Toltecs were to Aztecs much as Greeks are to ourselves: Quetzalcoatl was the Pythagoras of the Toltecs." The author died shortly after completing the manuscript in 1935, but the book was not published until 1992. Included are an informative Afterword by Douglas A. Anderson as well as a Glossary.
The Theosophy Northwest site has added an interesting booklet by Allan J. Stover on "Cycles of Earth History and the Ice Ages," originally published in the 1940s as part of the Theosophical University Series.
This month "The Fundamental Propositions of The Secret Doctrine" is our subject. What are the basic concepts underlying Theosophy? The Secret Doctrine by H. P. Blavatsky begins with "a few fundamental conceptions which underlie and pervade the entire system of thought." Those which begin the first volume are:
Volume two opens with three more concerning humanity:
Our discussion will explore these key ideas, and such topics as their relation to religions, philosophies, and science, and their bearing on human life. Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
The topics for the monthly discussion group for the next few months are:
The three fundamental principles as H. P. Blavatsky outlines them in The Secret Doctrine are the very basis, the three foundation stones, on which the entire structure of the modern presentation of the ancient wisdom rests.
Blavatsky writes as follows on page 14 of the first volume of The Secret Doctrine: "The Secret Doctrine establishes three fundamental propositions: (a) An Omni-present, 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."
Blavatsky says that this principle in its esse is beyond the reach of human thought. Obviously true, because it is boundless Infinitude; it is That, Tat to use the words of the Hindu Veda. Consequently it is everywhere, it is all that is, all that ever was, all that ever will be, the fountain of everything, the great source, the inexpressible source, the ineffable source, from which everything flows forth, and into which everything finally returns, atoms and gods, worlds and everything on and in them. It is boundless life, boundless space, boundless duration, frontierless and beginningless, and without limiting extensional dimensions of any kind, because it contains them all.
There is not a word about God here. It is not personal nor is it impersonal – this "principle" as Blavatsky calls it – because it includes both personalities and impersonalities and is beyond both.
The second fundamental proposition she describes as follows on page 16 of the first volume of The Secret Doctrine:
"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 Dzyan).
"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 common, 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"
– in the boundless, infinite, frontierless spaces of Space.
The second proposition sets forth that there appear from time to time in regular and periodic successions, like an ebb and flow, worlds and beings continuous throughout eternity, manvantara and pralaya: the appearance and disappearance of incalculable numbers of universes in all grades, in all degrees and stages, of spiritual evolution and of vital-astral-physical evolution.
This ebb and flow, this flux and reflux, this appearance and disappearance, of solar systems, of galaxies, and of individual suns or planets, is as evident in the interior planes and spheres, in the invisible realms, as it is on and in our own astral-vital-physical plane. Periodicity or universal cyclical action is the keynote, the key-thought, therefore, of the second great fundamental principle.
Now comes the third fundamental proposition. This proposition appears on pages 17 and 18 of the first volume of The Secret Doctrine. "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."
The third postulate is that the universe and all in it are one immense, eternal organism. This third fundamental pro-position tells us not merely that the universe is one with all that is in it, but more particularly that the being of man – his body, his bodies; his soul, his souls; and his spirit – is but the offspring, the fruitage of forces.
These three fundamental propositions are the very heart of the ancient wisdom, and therefore of occultism. The first is the Boundless; then second the periodical appearance of the universes and of the gods; then third the fundamental identity of every entity, of every thing, with the Boundless..