Theosophical University Press Online Edition
“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 be hardly imagined. It has enabled our enemies to find an effective weapon against theosophy; because, as an eminent Pali scholar very pointedly expressed it, there was in the volume named “neither esotericism nor Buddhism.” The esoteric truths, presented in Mr. Sinnett’s work, had ceased to be esoteric from the moment they were made public; nor did it contain the religion of Buddha, but simply a few tenets from a hitherto hidden teaching which are now supplemented by many more, enlarged and explained in the present volumes. But 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 aeons 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 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 Brahmins 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 named after his title of Buddha, “the Enlightened” — and Budha, “Wisdom,” or knowledge (Vidya), 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. (See Theosophist, June, 1883.) 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, Buddhaism, and its votaries “Buddhaists.”
This explanation is absolutely necessary at the beginning of a work like this one. The “Wisdom Religion” is the inheritance of all the nations, the world over, though the statement was made in “Esoteric Buddhism” (Preface to the original Edition) that “two years ago (i.e. 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. For the present writer knew all that which 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 Hindu. 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. It is above everything important to keep in mind that no theosophical book acquires the least additional value from pretended authority.
In etymology Adi, and Adhi Budha, the one (or the First) and “Supreme Wisdom” is a term used by Aryasanga in his Secret treatises, and now by all the mystic Northern Buddhists. It is a Sanskrit term, and an appellation given by the earliest Aryans to the Unknown deity; the word “Brahma” not being found in the Vedas and the early works. It means the absolute Wisdom, and “Adi-bhuta” is translated “the primeval uncreated cause of all” by Fitzedward Hall. AEons 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, “divine conscience” also; and “Spiritual Soul,” which is the vehicle of Atma. “When Buddhi absorbs our Ego-tism (destroys it) with all its Vikaras, Avalokiteshvara becomes manifested to us, and Nirvana, or Mukti, is reached,” “Mukti” being the same as Nirvana, i.e., freedom from the trammels of “Maya” or illusion. “Bodhi” is likewise the name of a particular state of trance condition, called Samadhi, 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 re-action, of “Budhism,” deny its esoteric teachings (which are those also of the Brahmins), simply because the name
suggests what to them, as Monotheists, are noxious doctrines. Unwise is the correct term to use in their case. For the Esoteric philosophy is alone calculated to withstand, in this age of crass and illogical materialism, the repeated attacks on all and everything man holds most dear and sacred, in his inner spiritual life. The true philosopher, the student of the 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 an absolute Divine 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 “Jan-na”* (“Dhyan”) 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 Hindu 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 mystery 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 Mahavansa) near Mount Baibhar (the Webhara of the Pali MSS.). This cave was in Rajagriha, the ancient capital of Mogadha, and was the Cheta cave of Fa-hian, as rightly suspected by some archaeologists.†
Time and human imagination made short work of the purity and philo-
* Dan, now become in modern Chinese and Tibetan phonetics ch’an, is the general term for the esoteric schools, and their literature. In the old books, the word Janna is defined as “to reform one’s self by meditation and knowledge,” a second inner birth. Hence Dzan, Djan phonetically, the “Book of Dzyan.”
† Mr. Beglor, the chief engineer at Buddhagaya, and a distinguished archaeologist, was the first, we believe, to discover it.
sophy 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 in Thibet, 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 Brahmins of his day. The Buddha was a child of the Aryan soil; a born Hindu, a Kshatrya and a disciple of the “twice born” (the initiated Brahmins) or Dwijas. His teachings, therefore, could not be different from their doctrines, for the whole Buddhist reform merely consisted in giving out a portion of that which had been kept secret from every man outside of the “enchanted” circle of Temple-Initiates and ascetics. Unable to teach all that had been imparted to him — owing to his pledges — though he taught a philosophy built upon the ground-work of the true esoteric knowledge, the Buddha gave to the world only its outward material body and kept its soul for his Elect. (See also Volume II.) 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 aspirations — Nirvana — has so tried and irritated the curiosity of those scholars who have studied it, that, unable to solve it logically and satisfactorily by untying the Gordian knot, they cut it through, by declaring that Nirvana meant absolute annihilation.
Toward the end of the first quarter of this century, a distinct class of literature appeared in the world, which became with every year more defined in its tendency. Being based, soi-disant, on the scholarly researches of Sanskritists and Orientalists in general, it was held scientific. Hindu, Egyptian, and other ancient religions, myths, and emblems were made to yield anything the symbologist wanted them to
yield, thus often giving out the rude outward form in place of the inner meaning. Works, most remarkable for their ingenious deductions and speculations, in circulo vicioso, foregone conclusions generally changing places with premisses as in the syllogisms of more than one Sanskrit and Pali scholar, appeared rapidly in succession, over-flooding the libraries with dissertations rather on phallic and sexual worship 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 “a few truths,” advisedly, 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 those vital truths. The world of to-day, in its mad career towards the unknown — which it is too ready to confound with the unknowable, whenever the problem eludes the grasp of the physicist — is rapidly progressing on the reverse, material plane 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,” or even the later attempts to explain the mysteries of esoteric science, were published.
One of the greatest, and, withal, 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, if a great portion of the Sanskrit, Chinese, and Mongolian works quoted in the present volumes are known to some Orientalists, 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 the students of Occultism, and to every genuine Occultist, this will be of little moment. The main body of the Doctrines given is found scattered throughout hundreds and thousands of Sanskrit MSS., some already translated — disfigured in their interpretations, as usual, — others still awaiting 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 those are in every instance hinted at in the almost countless volumes of Brahminical, 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 Himalayas, and whose ramifications may be found in China, Japan, India, Tibet, and even in Syria, besides South America — claim to have in their possession the sum total of sacred and philosophical works in MSS. and type: all the works, in fact, that have ever been written, in whatever language or characters, since the art of writing began; from the ideographic hieroglyphs down to the alphabet of Cadmus and the Devanagari.
It has been claimed in all ages that ever since the destruction of the Alexandrian Library (see Isis Unveiled, Vol. II., p. 27), every work of a character that might have led the profane to the ultimate discovery and comprehension of some of the mysteries of the Secret Science, was, owing to the combined efforts of the members of the Brotherhoods, diligently searched for. It is added, moreover, by those who know, that once found, save three copies left and stored safely away, such works were all destroyed. In India, the last of the precious manuscripts were secured and hidden during the reign of the Emperor Akbar.*
It is maintained, furthermore, that every sacred book of that kind, whose text was not sufficiently veiled in symbolism, or which had any
* Prof. Max Muller shows that no bribes or threats of Akbar could extort from the Brahmans the original text of the Veda; and boasts that European Orientalists have it (Lecture on the “Science of Religion,” p. 23). Whether Europe has the complete text is very doubtful, and the future may have very disagreeable surprises in store for the Orientalists.
direct references to the ancient mysteries, after having been carefully copied in cryptographic characters, such as to defy the art of the best and cleverest palaeographer, was also 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 Brahmans to conceal their MSS. Such was Badaoni, who had an undisguised horror for Akbar’s mania for idolatrous religions.*
Moreover in all the large and wealthy lamasaries, there are subterranean crypts and cave-libraries, cut in the rock, whenever the gonpa and the lhakhang are situated in the mountains. Beyond the Western Tsay-dam, in the solitary passes of Kuen-lun† there are several such hiding places. Along the ridge of Altyn-Toga, 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, with 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.‡
All this is very likely to provoke a smile of doubt. But then, before
* Badaoni wrote in his Muntakhab at Tawarikh: “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) . . . As they (the Sramana and Brahmins) surpass other learned men in their treatises on morals, 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.” This work “was kept secret, and was not published till the reign of Jahangir.” (Ain i Akbari, translated by Dr. Blochmann, p. 104, note.)
† Karakorum mountains, Western Tibet.
‡ According to the same tradition the now desolate regions of the waterless land of Tarim — a true wilderness in the heart of Turkestan — were in the days of old covered with flourishing and wealthy cities. At present, hardly a few verdant oases relieve its dead solitude. One such, sprung on the sepulchre of a vast city swallowed by and buried under the sandy soil of the desert, belongs to no one, but is often visited by Mongolians and Buddhists. The same tradition 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.
the reader rejects the truthfulness of the reports, let him pause and reflect over the following well known facts. The collective researches of the Orientalists, and especially the labours of late years of the students of comparative Philology and the Science of Religions have led them to ascertain as follows: An immense, incalculable number of MSS., and even printed works known to have existed, are now to be found no more. 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 it is not so; for, as now ascertained, most of them contained the true keys to works still extant, and entirely incomprehensible, for the greater portion of their readers, without those additional volumes of Commentaries and explanations. Such are, for instance, the works of Lao-tse, the predecessor of Confucius.*
He is said to have written 930 books on Ethics and religions, and seventy on magic, one thousand in all. His great work, however, the heart of his doctrine, the “Tao-te-King,” or the sacred scriptures of the Taosse, has in it, as Stanislas Julien shows, only “about 5,000 words” (Tao-te-King, p. xxvii.), hardly a dozen of pages, yet Professor Max Muller finds that “the text is unintelligible without commentaries, so that Mr. 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., 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 the 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 since disappeared from the eyes of the profane.
* “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.” (Lectures on the “Science of Religion,” p. 185. Max Muller.) 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 one turns to the ancient literature of the Semitic religions, to the Chaldean Scriptures, the elder sister and instructress, if not the fountain-head of the Mosaic Bible, the basis and starting-point of Christianity, what do the scholars 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 eminently occult literature, what now remains? — only a few fragments, 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 Caesarea — that self-constituted censor and editor of the sacred records of other men’s religions — and they doubtless bear to this day the mark of his eminently veracious and trustworthy hand. For what is the history of this treatise on the once grand religion of Babylon?
Written in Greek by Berosus, a priest of the temple of Belus, for Alexander the Great, from the astronomical and chronological records preserved by the priests of that temple, and covering a period of 200,000 years, it is now lost. In the first century B.C. Alexander Polyhistor made a series of extracts from it — also lost. Eusebius used these extracts in writing his Chronicon (270-340 A.D.). The points of resemblance — almost of identity — between the Jewish and the Chaldean Scriptures,* made the latter most dangerous to Eusebius, in his role of defender and champion of the new faith which had adopted the Jewish Scriptures, and with them an absurd chronology. It is pretty certain that Eusebius did not spare the Egyptian Synchronistic tables of Manetho — so much so that Bunsen† charges him with mutilating history most unscrupulously. And Socrates, a historian of the fifth century, and Syncellus, vice-patriarch of Constantinople (eighth century), both 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?
* Found out and proven only now, through the discoveries made by George Smith (vide his “Chaldean account of Genesis”), and which, thanks to this Armenian forger, have misled all the civilized nations for over 1,500 years into accepting Jewish derivations for direct Divine Revelation!
† Bunsen’s “Egypt’s Place in History,” vol. i. p. 200
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 in Part II. of Vol. II., and may throw a great light on the true origin of the Fallen Angels, personified by Bel and the Dragon.
Turning now to the oldest Aryan literature, the Rig-Veda, the student will find, following strictly in this the data furnished by the said Orientalists themselves, that, although the Rig-Veda contains only “about 10,580 verses, or 1,028 hymns,” in spite of the Brahmanas and the mass of glosses and commentaries, it is not understood correctly to this day. Why is this so? Evidently because the Brahmanas, “the scholastic and oldest treatises on the primitive hymns,” themselves require a key, which the Orientalists have failed to secure.
What do the scholars say of Buddhist literature? Have they got it in its completeness? Assuredly not. Notwithstanding the 325 volumes of the Kanjur and the Tanjur of the Northern Buddhists, each volume we are told, “weighing from four to five pounds,” nothing, in truth, is known of Lamaism. Yet, the sacred canon of the Southern Church is said to contain 29,368,000 letters in the Saddharma alankara,* or, exclusive of treatises and commentaries, “five or six times the amount of the matter contained in the Bible,” the latter, in the words of Professor Max Muller, rejoicing only in 3,567,180 letters. Notwithstanding, then, these “325 volumes” (in reality there are 333, 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.”† 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,” the professor tells his audiences. “Lost” as usual for Europeans. But who can be quite sure that they are likewise lost for Buddhists and Brahmins?
Considering the sacredness for the Buddhists of every line written
* Spence Hardy, “The Legends and Theories of the Buddhists,” p. 66.
† “Buddhism in Tibet,” p. 78.
upon Buddha or his “Good Law,” the loss of nearly 76,000 tracts does seem miraculous. Had it been vice versa, every one acquainted with the natural course of events would subscribe to the statement that, of these 76,000, five or six thousand treatises might have been destroyed during the persecutions in, and emigrations from, India. But as it is well ascertained that Buddhist Arhats began their religious exodus, for the purpose of propagating the new faith beyond Kashmir and the Himalayas, as early as the year 300 before our era,* and reached China in the year 61 A.D.† 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 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 of races even so “vastly superior” to themselves.
Owing to the expressed regrets and numerous confessions of almost every one of the Orientalists (See Max Muller’s Lectures for example) 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 religions, and (b) that such lack of data does not prevent them in the least from dogmatising. 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 ought to be well understood at least; 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, exhumed yearly and daily, fresh relics which eloquently tell their own history. Still it is not so. The learned Oxford philologist himself confesses the truth by saying that “Though . . . we see still standing the Pyramids, and the ruins of temples and labyrinths, their walls
* Lassen, (“Ind. Althersumkunde” Vol. II, p. 1,072) shows a Buddhist monastery erected in the Kailas range in 137 B.C.; and General Cunningham, earlier than that.
† Reverend T. Edkins, “Chinese Buddhism.”
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 that 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.”* Here again the mysterious hieroglyphic documents remain, but the keys by which alone they become intelligible have disappeared.
Nevertheless, having found that “there is a natural connection between language and religion”; and, secondly, that there was a common Aryan religion before the separation of the Aryan race; a common Semitic religion before the separation of the Semitic race; and a common Turanian religion before the separation of the Chinese and the other tribes belonging to the Turanian class; having, in fact, only discovered “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 those 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 proved thoroughly to the world’s satisfaction, that according to Grimm’s law of phonetic rules, Odin and Buddha are two different personages, quite distinct from each other, and he has shown 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” (Compar. Theol., p. 318), he has not the slightest “historical basis” for it. He makes history and fact subservient to his
* So little acquainted are our greatest Egyptologists with the funerary rites of the Egyptians and the outward marks of the difference of sexes made on the mummies, that it has led to the most ludicrous mistakes. Only a year or two since, one of that kind was discovered at Boulaq, Cairo. The mummy of what had been considered the wife of an unimportant Pharaoh, has turned out, thanks to an inscription found on an amulet hung on his neck, to be that of Sesostris — the greatest King of Egypt!
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 on the subject of chronology, in the case of the Vedas, of the various eminent philologists and Orientalists, from Martin Haug down to Mr. Max Muller himself, 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 proof to show, that 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,” were entirely wrong. For this is what all the Eastern Initiates and Pundits have been proclaiming to the world from time to time. While a prominent Cinghalese priest assured the writer that it was well known that the most important Buddhist tracts belonging to the sacred canon were stored away in countries and places inaccessible to the European pundits, the late Swami Dayanand Sarasvati, the greatest Sanskritist of his day in India, assured some members of the Theosophical Society of the same fact with regard to ancient Brahmanical works. When told that Professor Max Muller 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 Brahmin, and came with me, I might take him to a gupta cave (a secret crypt) near Okhee Math, in the Himalayas, where he would soon find out that what crossed the Kalapani (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 reappear; though the Mlechchhas will of course have to wait.”
Questioned further on this point, he would say no more. This was at Meerut, in 1880.
No doubt the mystification played, in the last century at Calcutta, by the Brahmins upon Colonel Wilford and Sir William Jones was a cruel one. But it had been well deserved, and no one was more to be blamed
in that affair than the Missionaries and Colonel Wilford themselves. The former, on the testimony of Sir William Jones himself (see Asiat. Res., Vol. I., p. 272), were silly enough to maintain that “the Hindus were even now almost Christians, because their Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesa were no other than the Christian trinity.”* It was a good lesson. It made the Oriental scholars doubly cautious; but perchance it has also made some of them too shy, and caused, in its reaction, the pendulum of foregone conclusions to swing too much the other way. For “that first supply on the Brahmanical market,” made for 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 to the missionaries full justification for availing themselves of the 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 Puranic story about Chrishna was plagiarized by the Brahmins from the Bible! But the facts cited by the Oxford Professor in his Lectures on the “Science of Religion,” concerning the now famous interpolations, for the benefit, and later on to the sorrow, of Col. 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 Brahmans 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 Brahmans, for Rawlinson shows an undeniably Vedic influence in the early mythology of Babylon; and Col. Vans Kennedy has long since justly declared that Babylonia was, from her origin, the seat of Sanskrit and Brahman learning. But all such proofs must lose their value, in the presence of the latest theory worked out by Prof. Max Muller. What it is everyone knows. The code of phonetic laws has now become a universal solvent for every identification and “connection” between
* See Max Muller’s “Introduction to the Science of Religion.” Lecture On False Analogies in comparative Theology, pp. 288 and 296 et seq. This relates to the clever forgery (on leaves inserted in old Puranic MSS.), in correct and archaic Sanskrit, of all that the Pundits of Col. Wilford had heard from him about Adam and Abraham, Noah and his three sons, etc., etc.
the gods of many nations. Thus, though the Mother of Mercury (Budha, Thot-Hermes, etc.), was Maia, the mother of Buddha (Gautama), also Maya, and the mother of Jesus, likewise Maya (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, a priori, everything that does not dovetail 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, even the knowledge of writing is refused to some of the most ancient nations, and they are credited with barbarism instead of culture. Yet the 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, unbroken wall of the mountains that hem in the whole table-land of Tibet, from the upper course of the river Khuan-Khe down to the Kara-Korum hills, witnessed a civilization during millenniums of years, and would have strange secrets to tell mankind. The Eastern and Central portions of those regions — the Nan-Schayn and the Altyne-taga — 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 native profane 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 in such oases, there is little fear that anyone should 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-D’arya, is surrounded with the ruins of archaic towns and cities in every direction. 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 know as little of their own forefathers themselves, 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 as 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 was, according to local tradition, ruined 3,000 years ago by a hero and giant; and the other by the 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 waving 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.” (From a lecture by N. M. Prjevalsky.) 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, when they speak of immense libraries reclaimed from the sand, together with various reliques 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 old 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 Veda 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 re-appear in some more enlightened age, for which in the words of the late Swami Dayanand Sarasvati, “the Mlechchhas (outcasts, savages, those beyond the pale of Aryan 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 to impart 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 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 philosophic doctrine, as, e.g., the evolution of the planetary chains.”
The danger was this: Doctrines such 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 the 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 had never been made a secret of by the Hierophants of the Temple, wherein 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 Neoplatonists. 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 — namely, that there are several documents in the St. Peters-
burg Imperial Libraries to show that, even so late as during the days when Freemasonry, and Secret Societies of Mystics flourished unimpeded in Russia, i.e., at the end of the last and the beginning of the present century, more than one Russian Mystic travelled to Tibet via 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 such information 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 said late Initiates. 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 stated.
This is a corroboration of that which has been stated many times before, and, unfortunately, too indiscreetly. Instead of benefiting humanity, the virulent charges of deliberate invention and imposture with a purpose thrown at those who asserted but a truthful, if even 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 it 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 Aryan, 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 the latter were based were as old as mankind. Selecting one or more of those grand verities — actualities visible only to the eye of the real Sage and Seer — out of the many orally revealed to man in the beginning, preserved and perpetuated in the adyta of the temples through initiation, during the Mysteries and by personal transmission — they revealed these truths 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. Legge* — who calls him “emphatically a transmitter, not a maker” — as saying: “I only hand on: I cannot create new things. I believe in the ancients and therefore I love them.”† (Quoted in “Science of Religions” by Max Muller.)
The writer loves them too, and therefore believes in the 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, — i.e., 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 a 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; it is claimed that they are written in a tongue absent from the nomenclature of languages and dialects with which philology is acquainted; they are said to emanate from a source (Occultism) repudiated by science; 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 accepted beforehand. No one styling himself a “scholar,” in whatever department of exact science, will be permitted to regard these teachings seriously. They will be derided and rejected a 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.‡ Have not the latter been derided, rejected, and
* Lun Yu (§ 1 a) Schott. “Chinesische Literatur,” p. 7.
† “Life of Confucius,” p. 96.
‡ 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 [[Footnote continued on next page]]
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 Lempriere and other scholars? About 1820, Prof. Max Muller tells us, the sacred books of the Brahmans, 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’ (Lecture on the Vedas).
The same will be said of the Secret Archaic Doctrine, when proofs are given of its undeniable existence and records. But it will take 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 in “Isis Unveiled” some ten years ago 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.” 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-Vidya; and that, like the once-mysterious sources of the Nile, the source of all religions and philosophies now known to the world has been for many ages forgotten and lost to men, but 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
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] is no vain superstition. Once the door permitted to be kept 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 very limited, so far.
portions of the esoteric teachings that have now escaped from confinement, unless the genuineness and authenticity — at any rate, the probability — of the existence of such teachings was first established. Such statements as will now be made, have to be shown warranted by various authorities: those of ancient philosophers, classics 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, along 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? was 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 landscapes left behind him, 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 efforts, beyond the line of the mists and the cloud-capped cliffs.
Such a point of preliminary observation, for those who would like to get a more correct understanding of the mysteries of the pre-archaic periods given in the texts, cannot be offered to them in these two volumes. But if the reader has patience, and would 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 Volume III. of this work.
In that 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 final and systematic 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 those early centuries, to obliterate every trace of the mental and intellectual labour of the Pagans, it was a failure; but the same spirit of the dark demon of bigotry and intolerance has perverted systematically and ever since, every bright page written in the pre-Christian periods. Even in her uncertain records, history 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 which divided the pre-Christian and the post-Christian periods, 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 new 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, and perhaps millions, of MSS. burnt; of monuments, with their too indiscreet inscriptions and pictorial symbols, pulverised 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, valleys and highlands, seeking for and eager to destroy every obelisk and pillar, scroll or parchment they could lay their hands on, if it only 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 spirits of fanaticism, of early and mediaeval Christianity and of Islam, have from the first loved 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 Jagannatha — 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 Faigi Diwan, the “witness to the wonderful speeches of a free-thinker 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 Muller 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.”*
In other words — “There is no religion (or law) higher than truth” — “SATYAT NASTI PARO DHARMAH” — the motto of the Maharajah 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 a volume explanatory of
* “Lectures on the Science of Religion,” by F. Max Muller, p. 257.
it rather, and, though entirely independent of the earlier work, an indispensable corollary to it. Much of what was in Isis 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.
Concerned simply with the philosophies within our 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 on the first page of Isis Unveiled alone, and in a few allusions scattered hither and thither throughout that work. Nor could 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. As an instance, the writer must be allowed to illustrate what is said.
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 Siphrah 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 Adam* 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.”
* The name is used in the sense of the Greek word [[anthropos]].
The “very old Book” is the original work from which the many volumes of Kiu-ti were compiled. Not only this latter and the Siphrah Dzeniouta but even the Sepher Jezirah,* the work attributed by the Hebrew Kabalists to their Patriarch Abraham (!), the book of Shu-king, China’s primitive Bible, the sacred volumes of the Egyptian Thoth-Hermes, the Puranas in India, and 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 the Divine Beings, who dictated it to the sons of Light, in Central Asia, at the very beginning of the 5th (our) race; for there was a time when its language (the Sen-zar) 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 3rd Race, the Manushis, who learnt it direct from the Devas of the 2nd and 1st Races. The “illustration” spoken of in “Isis” relates to the evolution of these Races and of our 4th and 5th 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 5th being nearly reached. The 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 the Fifth (our) race, goes no further. It stops short at the beginning of the Kali Yuga just 4989 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,
* Rabbi Jehoshua Ben Chananea, who died about A.D. 72, openly declared that he had performed “miracles” by means of the Book of Sepher Jezireh, and challenged every sceptic. Franck, quoting from the Babylonian Talmud, names two other thaumaturgists, Rabbis Chanina and Oshoi. (See “Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin,” c. 7, etc.; and “Franck,” pp. 55, 56.) Many of the Mediaeval Occultists, Alchemists, and Kabalists claimed the same; and even the late modern Magus, Eliphas Levi, publicly asserts it in print in his books on Magic.
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, Sankaracharya.
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 the 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 been themselves 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 closed by every fair and unfair means against the indiscreet gaze of posterity. Every issue was blocked up, every record that hands could be laid upon, destroyed. Yet there remains enough, even among such mutilated records, to warrant us in saying that there is in them every possible 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, at which were fed all its 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 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 aeons of time gone by, unobscured by the hand of bigotry and fanaticism.
This accounts for the necessity under which the writer has laboured to be ever explaining the facts given from the hoariest Past by evidence gathered from the historical period. No other means was at hand, at the risk even of being once more charged with a lack of method and system. The public must be made acquainted with the efforts of many World-adepts, of initiated poets, writers, and classics of every age, to preserve in the records of Humanity the Knowledge of the existence, at least, of such a philosophy, if not actually of its tenets. The Initiates of 1888 would indeed remain incomprehensible and ever 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 may be found mention of these great characters, who were preceded and followed by a long and interminable line of other famous Antediluvian and Post-diluvian Masters in the arts. Thus only could be shown, on semi-traditional and semi-historical authority, that knowledge of the Occult 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 Eliphas Levi (!), Paracelsus (!!), and, mirabile
dictu, Buddhism and Brahmanism (!!!) As well charge Renan with having stolen his Vie de Jesus from the Gospels, and Max Muller his “Sacred Books of the East” or his “Chips” from the philosophies of the Brahmins and 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 Volume I. In an Introduction prefacing a Part dealing chiefly with Cosmogony, certain subjects brought forward might be deemed out of place, but one more consideration added to those already given have 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, based 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 Book 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 down on this work as a fairy tale indeed — a fiction of some modern brain.
Thus, the Past shall help to realise 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 — and in the present case it amounts to certitude — that once more the testimony of long ages and of history will fail to impress anyone 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 an algebraical process for the benefit of sceptics by certain mathematicians. 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, and care for no more.