The Theosophical
Society in Australia

With International Headquarters at Adyar, Chennai, India.

Foundations Of Esoteric Philosophy

Articles & Texts

Select Download above

Foundations of Esoteric Philosophy from the writings of H.P. Blavatsky

Arranged with a Foreword and Notes by

Ianthe H. Hoskins


One Fundamental Law
Four Basic Ideas
Three Fundamental Propositions
Six Numbered Items
Five Proven Facts
Three New Propositions
The Secret Doctrine: Conclusion
Isis Unveiled: A Ten-Point Summary
Appendix A: The Secret Doctrine and its study
Appendix B: Glossary

Editors note: Previous Publishing Information
The Theosophical Publishing House Ltd 1980
ISBN 0 7229 10029
Second Edition (revised) 1990
Printed by Leighton Printing Company,
London N7 8DH, UK
The Theosophical Publishing House Ltd
68 Great Russell Street, London WCIB 3BU
Adyar, India;                                                  Wheaton, USA

 Editors note for this online edition:

The word ‘Man’ in the third object of The Theosophical Society and as used in the writings of H.P.B. has a technical meaning in metaphysics, referring to collective degrees of consciousness expressed through subtle vehicles of matter, though one consciousness in reality—expressed at the Temple at Delphi as ‘Oh Man, know thyself, and thou shalt know the Universe and the Gods’. It is etymologically derived from a Proto-Indo-European root meaning ‘thinker’; is related to the sanskrit words Manas, meaning ‘mind’ and also Manu, the human progenitor of all humanity; is related to Mahat ‘divine mind’; and Men ‘to think’, the basis of the words ‘mental’, ‘manage’ etc; and therefore here is inclusive of ALL people. In some countries, the objects are generally printed with the expression ‘the human being’ as a substitution for the word ‘Man’, even though Homo Sapien means ‘wise man’ and Human means “of or belonging to Man” in the sense of Humankind, all of us. 

Back to Contents


The particular task that Madame Blavatsky undertook in her writings was to bring to the attention of the western world the teachings of the Wisdom tradition, the Sacred Science of the east. Repeatedly she affirmed both the antiquity and the universality of these teachings, known since the early centuries of our era as Theosophy. For herself she claimed only the role of writer and transmitter.

The way in which she saw her task is plainly stated in the Preface to her greatest work, The Secret Doctrine, published in 1888;

These truths are in no sense put forward as a revelation; nor does the author claim the position of a revealer of mystic lore, now made public for the first time in the world's history. For what is contained in this work is to be found scattered throughout thousands of volumes embodying the scriptures of the great Asiatic and early European religions, hidden under glyph and symbol, and hitherto left unnoticed because of this veil. What is now attempted is to gather the oldest tenets together and to make of them one harmonious and unbroken whole.

The work of collecting and publishing all Madame Blavatsky's writings is now nearing completion, to make a total of some nineteen or twenty substantial volumes. The compiler of these Collected Writings, her great-nephew Boris de Zirkoff, informs the reader that a letter published in the New York Daily Graphic on 30 October 1874 was the first article definitely known to be from her pen. In 1877 her first major work,  Isis Unveiled, appeared in two large volumes. It was followed eleven years later by the two volumes of The Secret Doctrine. Her last books, The Voice of the Silence and The Key to Theosophy, were published in 1889. If one bears in mind her long and frequent travels and the poor state of her health, with periods of severe illness, this enormous literary output in under seventeen years—and in a language that was not her own—seems little less than miraculous. It is to be noted that, although some letters and articles are awaiting publication in the Collected Writings, the great books have been continuously in print throughout the hundred or so years that have elapsed since their first appearance.

With such a mass of material, in which the topics range from Biblical symbolism to Darwinian theory, from an examination of antediluvian flora and fauna to quotations from the sacred texts of Hinduism and the Kabalah, as well as from 19th century philosophers, theologians and scientists, it would be difficult if not impossible for the reader to extract the essential framework of the theosophical system. However, Madame Blavatsky herself comes to the student's rescue by setting out here and there in numbered statements the principles on which that system is based. The collection of these statements presented here is intended to serve as an Ariadne's thread through the vast labyrinth of information, description, explanation, criticism, commentary and personal instruction that constitutes her well-nigh inexhaustible gift to posterity.

Where should the student begin? During Madame Blavatsky's last years, there gathered round her in London a group of earnest members of The Theosophical Society who applied themselves seriously to the study of The Secret Doctrine, questioning her and pressing her for further elucidation of the teaching. Happily for us, much of this oral instruction was taken down and later published in the Transactions of The Blavatsky Lodge, now forming the second half of Volume X of the Collected Writings. In addition to this, there is a small but invaluable collection of notes written down at the time by one member of the group, Commander Robert Bowen, and brought to light some forty years later by his son, Captain P.G. Bowen. Initially printed in 1932 in Theosophy in Ireland, these notes have since been published separately as a booklet entitled Madame Blavatsky on How to Study Theosophy; they are reproduced herein Appendix A.

It is from these notes that we learn not only the way in which, in her view, one should approach the study, the attitude and expectations one should bring to it, but further, the order in which the essential statements are to be taken before embarking on the whole work. In addition, she places before the student the basic ideas which he should keep permanently in mind. Her presentation of these ideas, together with the sections of the work to which she calls especial attention, form the greater part of this present collection.

Isis Unveiled is admittedly a diffuse and disorderly compilation, displaying extraordinary erudition in a woman who had had no formal education and whose travelling library seems to have consisted of no more than two or three dozen volumes. It is a mass of curiosities, of information and critical commentary on a truly vast range of subjects, of profound knowledge of the occult tradition in its many forms, but the material is presented in some confusion and often in a sharply polemic tone which declares its contemporary setting. At the end of Volume II, Madame Blavatsky summarizes in ten numbered items the essential elements of the teaching she has sought to lay before the reader. Although this was her first attempt to set out an orderly statement of the fundamental principles of the esoteric philosophy enunciated in her work, the relevant passage is here given last, for the reason that, as will be seen, she had not at that time clearly distinguished between the broad principles and the secondary material, that is, the working out of the principles in particulars. In speaking of her occult instructors she used the name of Masters, because it was from them, as she explicitly states in The Key to Theosophy, that she derived all her knowledge of the theosophical system. Nevertheless, it was left entirely to her to use the knowledge communicated to her as best she could, organizing the material and developing literary skills in the doing.

In preparing the passages for this collection, the three editions of The Secret Doctrine in current use have been consulted, and references are given to all three, in date order, thus: First Edition 1888/Third Edition 1893/Adyar 6-vol. Editions. As the aim here is to present the basic teaching in the most readable form, some discretion has been exercised in modifying the use of punctuation, capital letters and italics, where this has been thought appropriate to facilitate first acquaintance with the text. Each extract is preceded by an introductory note, and a Glossary of terms is given in Appendix B.

The listing of those ideas that must be recognized as fundamental to the theosophical system is to some extent arbitrary. So we find that Madame Blavatsky presents the student of Theosophy with three fundamental propositions, four basic ideas, a summary of six numbered points, a further five proven facts, and the ten items recapitulating the essentials of  Isis Unveiled. Yet, above and beyond all lists and enumerations of principles, there must ever be the affirmation of the ONE—the nameless Reality from which and in which all things have their being. As there can be no understanding of Theosophy without constant reference back to this fundamental Unity, the unequivocal statement of the Unity has been placed first in this selection of extracts.


Back to Contents



Esoteric philosophy insists that beneath the manifold world of our experience there is a single Reality, the source and cause of all that ever was, is and is to be. The great exponent of the Vedic tradition, Shri Shankaracharya, puts it simply: no matter what shape may be given to the moulded clay, the reality of the object remains always the clay, its name and form being but transitory appearances. So likewise all things, having issued from the One Supreme, are themselves that Supreme in their essential nature. From highest to lowliest, from vastest to most minute, the infinite phenomena of the manifested universe are the One, clothed in name and form.

This teaching of the fundamental Unity is the hallmark of the theosophical system. It follows that no doctrine based on an ultimate duality—of spirit and matter for ever separate, of God and man as essentially distinct, of good and evil as eternal realities—can have a place in Theosophy.


The radical unity of the ultimate essence of each constituent part of compounds in Nature—from star to mineral atom, from the highest Dhyān Chohan to the smallest infusorium, in the fullest acceptation of the term, and whether applied to the spiritual, intellectual or physical worlds—this unity is the one fundamental law in Occult Science.

The Secret Doctrine v1 p120 First Edition 1888 v1 p145 Third Edition 1893 v1 p179 Adyar 6-vol. Edition

Back to Contents



In the course of the oral instruction given to her students in London and recorded in Commander Bowen's notes (see Appendix A), Madame Blavatsky repeated many times that the study of The Secret Doctrine could not give a final and complete picture of the universe. It is meant, she said, to 'LEAD TOWARDS THE TRUTH'. As an aid to progressive understanding, she then outlined four basic ideas which the student should never lose from view. Being given spontaneously, these ideas are presented in simpler language than in the great works and may therefore serve as a preparation for some of the more complex phraseology of the fuller statements.


Observe the following rules:--

No matter what one may study in the SD, let the mind hold fast, as the basis of its ideation, to the following ideas:

(a) The FUNDAMENTAL UNITY OF ALL EXISTENCE. This unity is a thing altogether different from the common notion of unity—as when we say that a nation or an army is united; or that this planet is united to that by lines of magnetic force or the like. The teaching is not that. It is that existence is ONE THING, not any collection of things linked together. Fundamentally there is ONE Being. The BEING has two aspects, positive and negative. The positive is Spirit, or CONSCIOUSNESS. The negative is SUBSTANCE, the subject of consciousness. This Being is the Absolute in its primary manifestation. Being absolute there is nothing outside it. It is ALL-BEING. It is indivisible, else it would not be absolute. If a portion could be separated, that remaining could not be absolute, because there would at once arise the question of COMPARISON between it and the separated part. Comparison is incompatible with any idea of absoluteness. Therefore it is clear that this fundamental ONE EXISTENCE, or Absolute Being, must be the Reality in every form there is.

The Atom, the Man, the God, are each separately, as well as all collectively, Absolute Being in their last analysis, that is their REAL INDIVIDUALITY. It is this idea which must be held always in the background of the mind to form the basis for every conception that arises from study of the SD. The moment one lets it go (and it is most easy to do so when engaged in any of the many intricate aspects of the Esoteric Philosophy) the idea of SEPARATION supervenes, and the study loses its value.

(b) The second idea to hold fast is that THERE IS NO DEAD MATTER. Every last atom is alive. It cannot be otherwise, since every atom is itself fundamentally Absolute Being. Therefore there is no such thing as "spaces" of Ether, or Ākāsha, or call it what you like, in which angels and elementals disport themselves like trout in water. That's a common idea. The true idea shows every atom of substance, no matter of what plane, to be in itself a LIFE.

(c) The third basic idea to be held is that Man is the MICROCOSM. As he is so, then all the Hierarchies of the Heavens exist within him. But in truth there is neither Macrocosm nor Microcosm but ONE EXISTENCE. Great and small are such only as viewed by a limited consciousness.

(d) Fourth and last basic idea to be held is that expressed in the Great Hermetic Axiom. It really sums up and synthesizes all the others.

As is the Inner, so is the Outer; as is the Great, so is the Small; as it is above, so it is below; there is but ONE LIFE AND LAW; and he that worketh it is ONE. Nothing is Inner, nothing is Outer; nothing is GREAT, nothing is Small; nothing is High, nothing is Low, in the Divine Economy.

No matter what one takes as study in the SD, one must correlate it with those basic ideas.

How to Study Theosophy (see Appendix A)

Back to Contents



In the Bowen notes, Madame Blavatsky advises the student that `the first thing to do, even if it takes years, is to get some grasp of the "Three Fundamental Principles" given in Proem'—the masterly prelude to The Secret Doctrine. The statement of the three principles is introduced with a similar insistence on their primary importance, and again, in concluding their presentation, Madame Blavatsky affirms that these are the foundation ideas of the theosophical tradition.

The Secret Doctrine is in large part a commentary on selected stanzas from an ancient work, the Book of Dzyan. Following modern usage, the title of her book is always given in italics, while her references to the age-old esoteric philosophy are left as in the original edition, with initial capitals, The Secret Doctrine.


Before the reader proceeds to the consideration of the Stanzas from the Book of Dzyan which form the basis of the present work, it is absolutely necessary that he should be made acquainted with the few fundamental conceptions which underlie and pervade the entire system of thought to which his attention is invited. These basic ideas are few in number, but on their clear apprehension depends the understanding of all that follows; therefore no apology is required for asking the reader to make himself familiar with these first, before entering on the perusal of the work itself. (v1 p13)

The Secret Doctrine establishes three fundamental propositions:

1. An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Immutable PRINCIPLE, on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought—in the words of the Mandukya, "unthinkable and unspeakable".

To render these ideas clearer to the general reader, let him set out with the postulate that there is One Absolute Reality which ante- cedes all manifested, conditioned Being. This Infinite and Eternal Cause—dimly formulated in the "Unconscious" and "Unknowable" of current European philosophy—is the Rootless Root of "all that was, is, or ever shall be". It is of course devoid of all attributes and is essentially without any relation to manifested, finite Being. It is "Be-ness" rather than Being (Sat in Sanskrit) and is beyond all thought or speculation.

This Be-ness is symbolized in The Secret Doctrine under two aspects. On the one hand, absolute Abstract Space, representing bare subjectivity, the one thing which no human mind can either exclude from any conception, or conceive of by itself. On the other, Absolute Abstract Motion representing Unconditioned Consciousness. Even our western thinkers have shown that consciousness is inconceivable to us apart from change, and motion best symbolizes change, its essential characteristic. This latter aspect of the One Reality is also symbolized by the term "the Great Breath", a symbol sufficiently graphic to need no further elucidation. Thus, then, the first fundamental axiom of The Secret Doctrine is this metaphysical ONE ABSOLUTE—BE-NESS—symbolized by finite intelligence as the theological Trinity.

Parabrahman, the One Reality, the Absolute, is the field of Absolute Consciousness, i.e., that Essence which is out of all relation to conditioned existence, and of which conscious existence is a conditioned symbol. But once that we pass in thought from this (to us) Absolute Negation, duality supervenes in the contrast of Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter, Subject and Object.

Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter are, however, to be regarded not as independent realities but as the two facets or aspects of the Absolute, Parabrahman, which constitute the basis of conditioned Being, whether subjective or objective.

Considering this metaphysical triad as the Root from which proceeds all manifestation, the Great Breath assumes the character of Pre-cosmic Ideation. It is the fons et origo of Force and of all individual consciousness, and supplies the guiding intelligence in the vast scheme of cosmic evolution. On the other hand, Pre- cosmic Root-Substance (Mūlaprakriti) is that aspect of the Absolute which underlies all the objective planes of Nature.

Just as Pre-cosmic Ideation is the root of all individual consciousness, so Precosmic Substance is the substratum of matter in the various grades of its differentiation.

Hence it will be apparent that the contrast of these two aspects of the Absolute is essential to the existence of the "Manifested Universe". Apart from Cosmic Substance, Cosmic Ideation could not manifest as individual consciousness, since it is only through a vehicle (in Sanskrit upādhi) of matter that consciousness wells up as "I am I", a physical basis being necessary to focus a ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity. Again, apart from Cosmic Ideation, Cosmic Substance would remain an empty abstraction, and no emergence of consciousness could ensue.

The manifested universe, therefore, is pervaded by duality, which is, as it were, the very essence of its EX-istence as "manifestation". But just as the opposite poles of Subject and Object, Spirit and Matter, are but aspects of the One Unity in which they are synthesized, so, in the manifested universe, there is "that" which links Spirit to Matter, Subject to Object.

This something, at present unknown to Western speculation, is called by occultists Fohat. It is the "bridge" by which the Ideas existing in the Divine Thought are impressed on Cosmic Substance as the "laws of Nature". Fohat is thus the dynamic energy of Cosmic Ideation; or, regarded from the other side, it is the intelligent medium, the guiding power of all manifestation, the "Thought Divine" transmitted and made manifest through the Dhyān

Chohans, the Architects of the visible world. Thus from Spirit, or Cosmic Ideation, comes our Consciousness; from Cosmic Substance, the several vehicles in which that Consciousness is individualized and attains to self—or reflective—consciousness, while Fohat, in its various manifestations, is the mysterious link between Mind and Matter, the animating principle electrifying every atom into life.

The following summary will afford a clearer idea to the reader:

(1) The ABSOLUTE: the Parabrahman of the Vedantins or the One Reality, SAT, which is both Absolute Being and Non-Being.
(2) The first manifestation, the impersonal and, in philosophy, Unmanifested Logos, the precursor of the "manifested" ......
(3) Spirit-Matter, LIFE; the "Spirit of the Universe", Purusha and Prakriti, or the second Logos.
(4) Cosmic Ideation, MAHAT or Intelligence, the Universal World-Soul; the Cosmic Noumenon of Matter, the basis of the intelligent operations in and of Nature ......
The ONE REALITY; its dual aspects in the conditioned universe.

Further, The Secret Doctrine affirms:

2. The Eternity of the Universe in toto as a boundless plane, periodically "the playground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing", called "the manifesting stars" and the "sparks of Eternity". "The Eternity of the Pilgrim" is like a wink of the Eye of Self-Existence (Book of Dzyan). "The appearance and disappearance of Worlds is like a regular tidal ebb of flux and reflux".

This second assertion of The Secret Doctrine is the absolute universality of that law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow, which physical science has observed and recorded in all departments of nature. An alternation such as that of Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking, is a fact so perfectly universal and without exception, that it is easy to comprehend that in it we see one of the absolutely fundamental laws of the Universe.

Moreover, The Secret Doctrine teaches:

3. The fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over- Soul, the latter being itself an aspect of the Unknown Root; and the obligatory pilgrimage for every Soul—a spark of the former—through the Cycle of Incarnation (or "Necessity") in accordance with cyclic and karmic law, during the whole term. In other words, no purely spiritual Buddhi (divine Soul) can have an independent (conscious) existence before the spark which issued from the pure Essence of the Universal Sixth Principle—or the OVER-SOUL—has (a) passed through every elemental form of the phenomenal world of that Manvantara, and (b) acquired individuality, first by natural impulse, and then by self-induced and self-devised efforts, checked by its Karma, thus ascending through all the degrees of intelligence, from the lowest to the highest Manas, from mineral and plant, up to the holiest Archangel (Dhyāni-Buddha). The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric Philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations. This is why the Hindus say that the Universe is Brahman and Brahma, for Brahman is in every atom of the universe, the six Principles in Nature being all the outcome—the variously differentiated aspects—of the SEVENTH and ONE, the only Reality in the Universe whether cosmic or micro-cosmic; and also why the permutations, psychic, spiritual and physical, on the plane of manifestation and form, of the Sixth (Brahma the vehicle of Brahman) are viewed by metaphysical antiphrasis as illusive and māyāvic. For although the root of every atom individually and of every form collectively is that Seventh Principle or the One Reality, still, in its manifested phenomenal and temporary appearance, it is no better than an evanescent illusion of our senses.

Such are the basic conceptions on which The Secret Doctrine rests.

The Secret Doctrine v1 p13-20 v1 p42-48 v1 p79-85

Back to Contents



The study of the Three Fundamental Propositions, advises Madame Blavatsky, should be followed by that of the numbered items in the Summing Up at the end of Volume I (Part I). It would seem to have been her intention to gather together in a few orderly paragraphs the essential features of The Secret Doctrine so far presented. She begins, however, in the first of the numbered paragraphs, with a reference back to the Introductory section of the work, in which she had assembled a great range of evidence that establishes beyond doubt the existence of an esoteric tradition. Furthermore, arriving at the sixth numbered paragraph, she refuses to confine herself to mere recapitulation, and adds a considerable amount of explanatory information about those Hierarchies of Beings through whose agency `the Universe is worked and guided'. Even so, she reverts more than once to the fundamental law of the whole system, the essential Oneness of existence.

SUMMING UP—Six Numbered Items

The writer of the present statement must be prepared beforehand to meet with great opposition and even the denial of such statements as are brought forward in this work. Not that any claim to infallibility, or to perfect correctness in every detail of all that is herein written, has ever been put forward. Facts are there, and they can hardly be denied. But, owing to the intrinsic difficulties of the subjects treated of, and the almost insurmountable limitations of the English tongue, as of all other European languages, to express certain ideas, it is more than probable that the writer has failed to present the explanations in the best and clearest form; yet all that could be done, under every adverse circumstance, has been done, and this is the utmost that can be expected of any writer. (v1 p272)

Let us recapitulate and show, by the vastness of the subjects expounded, how difficult, if not impossible, it is to do them full justice.

1. The Secret Doctrine is the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages, and its cosmogony alone is the most stupendous and elaborate of all systems, even as veiled in the exotericism of the Puranas. But such is the mysterious power of occult symbolism, that the facts which have actually occupied countless generations of initiated seers and prophets to marshal, set down and explain, in the bewildering series of evolutionary progress, are all recorded on a few pages of geometrical signs and glyphs. The flashing gaze of those seers has penetrated into the very kernel of matter, and recorded the soul of things there, where an ordinary profane observer, however learned, would have perceived but the external work of form. But modern science believes not in the "soul of things", and hence will reject the whole system of ancient cosmogony. It is useless to say that the system in question is no fancy of one or several isolated individuals; that it is an uninterrupted record, covering thousands of generations of seers, whose respective experiences were made to test and verify the traditions, passed on orally by one early race to another, of the teachings of higher and exalted Beings, who watched over the childhood of Humanity; that for long ages the "Wise Men" of the Fifth Race, of the stock saved and rescued from the last cataclysm and shifting of continents, had passed their lives in learning, not teaching. How did they do so? It is answered: by checking, testing, and verifying, in every department of Nature, the traditions of old by the independent visions of great Adepts; that is to say, men who have developed and perfected their physical, mental, psychic and spiritual organizations to the utmost possible degree. No vision of one Adept was accepted till it was checked and confirmed by the visions—so obtained as to stand as independent evidence—of other Adepts, and by centuries of experience.

2. The fundamental law in that system, the central point from which all emerges, around and towards which all gravitates, and upon which is hung all its philosophy, is the One Homogeneous Divine SUBSTANCE-PRINCIPLE, the One Radical Cause.

..... Some few, whose lamps shone brighter, have been led From cause to cause to nature's secret head, And found that one first Principle must be .....

It is called "Substance-Principle", for it becomes "substance" on the plane of the manifested universe, an illusion, while it remains a "principle" in the beginningless and endless, abstract, visible and invisible SPACE. It is the omnipresent Reality, impersonal, because it contains all and everything. Its impersonality is the fundamental conception of the system. It is latent in every atom in the universe, and is the universe itself.

3. The universe is the periodical manifestation of this unknown Absolute Essence. To call it "essence", however, is to sin against the very spirit of the philosophy. For though the noun may be derived in this case from the verb esse, "to be", yet IT cannot be identified with a being of any kind, that can be conceived by human intellect. IT is best described as neither Spirit nor Matter, but both. Parabrahman and Mūlaprakriti are One, in reality, yet two in the universal conception of the manifested, even in the conception of the One Logos, its first manifestation, to which ..... IT appears from the objective standpoint as Mūlaprakriti, and not as Parabrahman; as its veil, and not the One Reality hidden behind, which is unconditioned and absolute.

4. The universe, with everything in it, is called MĀYĀ, because all is temporary therein, from the ephemeral life of a fire-fly to that of the sun. Compared to the eternal immutability of the ONE, and the changelessness of that Principle, the universe, with its evanescent ever-changing forms, must be necessarily, in the mind of a philosopher, no better than a will-o'-the-wisp. Yet the Universe is real enough to the conscious beings in it, which are as unreal as it is itself.

5. Everything in the universe, throughout all its kingdoms, is CONSCIOUS, i.e., endowed with a consciousness of its own kind and on its own plane of perception. We men must remember that, simply because we do not perceive any signs which we can recognize of consciousness, say, in stones, we have no right to say that no consciousness exists there. There is no such thing as either "dead" or "blind" matter, as there is no "blind" or "unconscious" law. These find no place among the conceptions of Occult Philosophy. The latter never stops at surface appearances, and for it the noumenal essences have more reality than their objective counterparts; wherein it resembles the system of the mediaeval Nominalists, for whom it was the universals that were the realities, and the particulars which existed only in name and human fancy.

6. The universe is worked and guided, from within outwards. As above, so it is below; as in heaven, so on earth; and man, the microcosm and miniature copy of the macrocosm, is the living witness to this Universal Law and to the mode of its action. We see that every external motion, act, gesture, whether voluntary or mechanical, organic or mental, is produced and preceded by internal feeling or emotion, will or volition, and thought or mind. As no outward motion or change, when normal, in man's external body, can take place unless provoked by an inward impulse, given through one of the three functions named, so with the external or manifested universe. The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, and who—whether we give them one name or another, whether we call them Dhyān Chohans or Angels—are "messengers" in the sense only that they are the agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws. They vary infinitely in their respective degrees of consciousness and intelligence, and to call them all pure Spirits without any of the earthly alloy "which time is wont to prey upon" is only to indulge in poetical fancy. For each of these Beings either was, or prepares to become, a man, if not in the present, then in a past or a coming cycle (Manvantara). They are perfected, when not incipient, men; and in their higher, less material spheres differ morally from terrestrial human beings only in that they are devoid of the feeling of personality and of the human emotional nature—two purely earthly characteristics. The former, or the "perfected", have become free from these feelings, because (a) they have no longer fleshly bodies—an ever-numbing weight on the Soul; and (b) the pure spiritual element being left untrammelled and more free, they are less influenced by māyā than man can ever be, unless he is an Adept who keeps his two personalities—the spiritual and the physical—entirely separated. The incipient Monads, having never yet had terrestrial bodies, can have no sense of personality or EGO-ism. That which is meant by "personality" being a limitation and relation, or, as defined by Coleridge, "individuality existing in itself but with a nature as a ground", the term cannot of course be applied to non-human entities; but, as a fact insisted upon by generations of Seers, none of these Beings, high or low, have either individuality or personality as separate Entities, i.e., they have no individuality in the sense in which a man says, "I am myself and no one else"; in other words, they are conscious of no such distinct separateness as men and things have on earth. Individuality is the characteristic of their respective Hierarchies, not of their units, and these characteristics vary only with the degree of the plane to which those Hierarchies belong: the nearer to the region of homogeneity and the One Divine, the purer and the less accentuated is that individuality in the Hierarchy. They are finite in all respects, with the exception of their higher principles—the immortal Sparks reflecting the Universal Divine Flame, individualized and separated only on the spheres of Illusion by a differentiation as illusive as the rest. They are "Living Ones", because they are the streams projected on the Kosmic screen of Illusion from the ABSOLUTE LIFE; Beings in whom life cannot become extinct before the fire of ignorance is extinct in those who sense these "Lives". Having sprung into being under the quickening influence of the uncreated beam, the reflection of the great Central Sun that radiates on the shores of the river of life, it is the inner Principle in them which belongs to the waters of immortality, while its differentiated clothing is as perishable as man's body. Therefore Young was right in saying that

Angels are men of a superior kind ......

and no more. They are neither "ministering" nor "protecting" angels, nor are they "Harbingers of the Most High"; still less the "Messengers of wrath" of any God such as man's fancy has created. To appeal to their protection is as foolish as to believe that their sympathy may be secured by any kind of propitiation; for they are, as much as man himself is, the slaves and creatures of immutable Karmic and Kosmic Law. The reason for this is evident. Having no elements of personality in their essence, they can have no personal qualities such as are attributed by men, in exoteric religions, to their anthropomorphic God—a jealous and exclusive God, who rejoices and feels wrathful, is pleased with sacrifice, and is more despotic in his vanity than any finite foolish man. Man ..... being a compound of the essences of all these celestial Hierarchies, may succeed in making himself, as such, superior, in one sense, to any Hierarchy or Class, or even combination of them. "Man can neither propitiate nor command the Devas", it is said. But, by paralyzing his lower personality, and arriving thereby at the full knowledge of the non-separateness of his Higher SELF from the One Absolute SELF, man can, even during his terrestrial life, become as "One of Us". Thus it is by eating of the fruit of knowledge, which dispels ignorance, that man becomes like one of the Elohim, or the Dhyānis; and once on their plane, the Spirit of Solidarity and perfect Harmony, which reigns in every Hierarchy, must extend over him and protect him in every particular.

The chief difficulty which prevents men of science from believing in divine as well as in nature spirits is their materialism. The main impediment before the Spiritualist which hinders him from believing in the same, while preserving a blind belief in the "Spirits" of the Departed, is the general ignorance of all, except some occultists and Kabalists, about the true essence and nature of matter. It is on the acceptance or rejection of the theory of the unity of all in Nature, in its ultimate Essence, that mainly rests the belief or unbelief in the existence around us of other conscious beings, besides the Spirits of the Dead. It is on the right comprehension of the primeval evolution of Spirit-Matter and its real Essence that the student has to depend for the further elucidation in his mind of the Occult Cosmogony, and for the only sure clue which can guide his subsequent studies.

In sober truth, as just shown, every so-called "Spirit" is either a disembodied or a future man. As from the highest Archangel (Dhyān Chohan) down to the last conscious "Builder" (the inferior class of Spiritual Entities), all such are men, having lived aeons ago, in other Manvantaras, on this or other Spheres, so the inferior, semi-intelligent and non-intelligent Elementals are all future men. The fact alone, that a Spirit is endowed with intelligence, is a proof to the occultist that such a Being must have been a man, and acquired his knowledge and intelligence throughout the human cycle. There is but one indivisible and absolute Omniscience and Intelligence in the universe, and this thrills throughout every atom and infinitesimal point of the whole Kosmos, which has no bounds, and which people call SPACE, considered independently of anything contained in it. But the first differentiation of its reflection in the manifested world is purely spiritual, and the beings generated in it are not endowed with a consciousness that has any relation to the one we conceive of. They can have no human consciousness or intelligence before they have acquired such, personally and individually. This may be a mystery, yet it is a fact in Esoteric Philosophy, and a very apparent one too.

The whole order of Nature evinces a progressive march towards a higher life. There is design in the action of the seemingly blindest forces. The whole process of evolution with its endless adaptations is a proof of this. The immutable laws that weed out the weak and feeble species to make room for the strong, and which ensure the "survival of the fittest", though so cruel in their immediate action, all are working toward the grand end. The very fact that adaptations do occur, that the fittest do survive in the struggle for existence, shows that what is called "unconscious Nature" is in reality an aggregate of forces, manipulated by semi-intelligent beings (Elementals), guided by High Planetary Spirits (Dhyān Chohans), whose collective aggregate forms the manifested verbum of the unmanifested LOGOS, and constitutes at one and the same time the MIND of the universe and its immutable LAW. (v1 p277-278)

The Secret Doctrine v1 p272-278 v1 p293-298 v1 p316-320

Back to Contents



Once again, Madame Blavatsky seeks to emphasize certain important aspects of the teaching, underlining what has already been explained and expanding the statement of fundamentals with further commentary and quotation. So to the six numbered paragraphs of the Summing Up are added five more items which are introduced as "proven facts".

The words in square brackets [] are given thus in the text, being Madame Blavatsky's clarification of the quoted passages.


Whatever may be the destiny of these actual writings in a remote future, we hope to have so far proven the following facts:

1. The Secret Doctrine teaches no Atheism, except in the sense underlying the Sanskrit word nāstika, a rejection of idols, including every anthropomorphic god. In this sense every occultist is a Nāstika.

2. It admits a Logos, or a collective "Creator" of the Universe; a Demi-urgos, in the sense implied when one speaks of an architect as the "creator" of an edifice, whereas that architect has never touched one stone of it, but, furnishing the plan, has left all the manual labour to the masons; in our case the plan was furnished by the Ideation of the universe, and the constructive labour was left to the Hosts of intelligent Powers and Forces. But that Demiurgos is no personal Deity—i.e., an imperfect, extra-cosmic God, but only the aggregate of the Dhyān Chohans and the other forces.

3. The Dhyān Chohans are dual in their character, being composed of (a) the irrational brute energy inherent in matter, and (b) the intelligent Soul, or cosmic Consciousness, which directs and guides that energy, and which is the Dhyān Chohanic Thought reflecting the Ideation of the Universal Mind. This results in a perpetual series of physical manifestations and moral effects on earth, during manvantaric periods, the whole being subservient to Karma. As that process is not always perfect, and since, however many proofs it may exhibit of a guiding Intelligence behind the veil, it still shows gaps and flaws, and even results very often in evident failures¾therefore, neither the collective Host (Demiurgos), nor any of the working Powers individually, are proper subjects for divine honours or worship. All are entitled to the grateful reverence of humanity, however, and man ought to be ever striving to help the divine evolution of Ideas, by becoming to the best of his ability a co-worker with Nature in the cyclic task. The ever unknowable and incognizable Kārana alone, the Causeless Cause of all causes, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart—invisible, intangible, unmentioned, save through the "still small voice" of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls, making their Spirit the sole mediator between them and the Universal Spirit, their good actions the only priests, and their sinful intentions the only visible and objective sacrificial victims to the Presence.

"When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are ... but enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret". Matt. VI, 5, 6. Our Father is within us "in secret", our Seventh Principle in the "inner chamber" of our soul-perception. The Kingdom of God and of Heaven is within us, says Jesus, not outside. Why are Christians so absolutely blind to the self-evident meaning of the words of wisdom they delight in mechanically repeating?

4. Matter is eternal. It is the upādhi, or physical basis, for the One Infinite Universal Mind to build thereon its ideations. Therefore the esotericists maintain that there is no inorganic or "dead" matter in Nature, the distinction between the two made by Science being as unfounded as it is arbitrary and devoid of reason. Whatever Science may think, however—and exact science is a fickle dame, as we all know by experience—Occultism knows and teaches differently, as it has done from time immemorial, from Manu and Hermes down to Paracelsus and his successors.

Thus Hermes the Thrice Great, Trismegistus, says:

Oh my son, matter becomes; formerly it was, for matter is the vehicle of becoming. Becoming is the mode of activity of the uncreate and foreseeing God. Having been endowed with the germ of becoming, [objective] matter is brought into birth, for the creative force fashions it according to the ideal forms. Matter not yet engendered had no form; it becomes when it is put into operation.

The Virgin of the World

To this the late Dr. Anna Kingsford, the able translator and compiler of the Hermetic Fragments, remarks in a footnote; "Dr. Menard observes that in Greek the same word signifies to be born and to become. The idea here is that the material of the world is in its essence eternal, but that before creation or 'becoming' it is in a passive and motionless condition. Thus it 'was' before being put into operation; now it 'becomes', that is, it is mobile and progressive". And she adds the purely Vedantic doctrine of the Hermetic philosophy that "Creation is thus the period of activity [Manvantara] of God, who, according to Hermetic thought [or which, according to the Vedantin], has two modes—Activity or Existence, God evolved (Deus explicitus), and Passivity of Being [Pralaya], God involved (Deus implicitus). Both modes are perfect and complete, as are the waking and sleeping states of man. Fichte, the German philosopher, distinguished Being (Sein) as One, which we know only through existence (Dasein) as the Manifold. This view is thoroughly Hermetic. The 'Ideal Forms' ....are the archetypal or formative ideas of the Neo-Platonists, the eternal and subjective concepts of things subsisting in the Divine Mind prior to 'creation' or becoming."

Or as in the philosophy of Paracelsus:

"Everything is the product of one universal creative effort ....There is nothing dead in Nature. Everything is organic and living, and consequently the whole world appears to be a living organism".

Franz Hartmann, Paracelsus.

5. The universe was evolved out of its ideal plan, upheld through Eternity in the unconsciousness of that which the Vedantins call Parabrahman. This is practically identical with the conclusions of the highest western philosophy, "the innate, eternal and self-existing Ideas" of Plato, now reflected by Von Hartmann. The "Unknowable" of Herbert Spencer bears but a faint resemblance to that transcendental Reality believed in by occultists, often appearing merely a personification of a "force behind phenomena"—an infinite and eternal Energy, from which all things proceed, whereas the author of the Philosophy of the Unconscious has come (in this respect only) as near to solution of the great Mystery as mortal man can. Few have been those, whether in ancient or mediaeval philosophy, who have dared to approach the subject or even hint at it. Paracelsus mentions it inferentially, and his ideas are admirably synthesized by Dr. F. Hartmann in his Paracelsus.

All the Christian Kabalists understood well the Eastern root idea. The active Power, the "Perpetual Motion of the Great Breath", only awakens Kosmos at the dawn of every new Period, setting it into motion by means of the two contrary Forces—the centripetal and the centrifugal forces, which are male and female, positive and negative, physical and spiritual, the two being the one Primordial Force—and thus causing it to become objective on the plane of Illusion. In other words, that dual motion transfers Kosmos from the plane of the Eternal Ideal into that of finite manifestation, or from the noumenal to the phenomenal plane. Everything that is, was and will be eternally IS, even the countless forms, which are finite and perishable only in their objective but not in their ideal Form. They existed as Ideas, in the Eternity, and when they pass away, will exist as reflections. Occultism teaches that no form can be given to anything, either by Nature or by man, whose ideal type does not already exist on the subjective plane; more than this, that no form or shape can possibly enter man's consciousness, or evolve in his imagination, which does not exist in prototype, at least as an approximation. Neither the form of man, nor that of any animal, plant or stone, has ever been "created", and it is only on this plane of ours that it commenced "becoming", that is to say, objectivizing into its present materiality, or expanding from within outwards, from the most sublimated and supersensuous essence into its grossest appearance. Therefore our human forms have existed in the Eternity as astral or ethereal prototypes, according to which models the Spiritual Beings, or Gods, whose duty it was to bring them into objective being and terrestrial life, evolved the protoplasmic forms of the future Egos from their own essence. After which, when this human upādhi or basic mould was ready, the natural terrestrial forces began to work on these supersensuous moulds, which contained, besides their own, the elements of all the past vegetable and future animal forms of this globe. Therefore man's outward shell passed through every vegetable and animal body before it assumed the human shape. 

The Secret Doctrine v1 p279-282 v1 p300-303 v1 p322-325.

Back to Contents



The first volume of The Secret Doctrine has as its subject matter the becoming of the Cosmos—"Cosmogenesis". The second volume (Vol. III in the Adyar 6-vol. editions) is concerned with the becoming of Man—"Anthropogenesis". Its first section, like that of the preceding volume, is based on stanzas "drawn from the same Archaic Records as the Stanzas on Cosmogony". As an indication of its main theme, the Preliminary Notes which serve as an introduction to the further stanzas and commentaries are preceded by a passage from  Isis Unveiled. Provocative and challenging to the leaders of contemporary scientific and religious thought, the extract prepares the reader for the seemingly revolutionary ideas about the story of Man that are offered in the occult record.

In the Bowen notes, Madame Blavatsky draws the student's attention to these Preliminary Notes, which begin with a statement of three new propositions concerning the evolution of Man.


Modern Science insists upon the doctrine of evolution; so do human reason and the Secret Doctrine, and the idea is corroborated by the ancient legends and myths, and even by the Bible itself when it is read between the lines. We see a flower slowly developing from a bud, and the bud from its seed. But whence the latter, with all its predetermined programme of physical transformation, and its invisible, therefore spiritual, forces which gradually develop its form, colour and odour? The word evolution speaks for itself. The germ of the present human race must have pre-existed in the parent of this race, as the seed, in which lies hidden the flower of next summer, was developed in the capsule of its parent flower; the parent may be but slightly different, but it still differs from its future progeny. The antediluvian ancestors of the present elephant and lizard were, perhaps, the mammoth and plesiosaurus: why should not the progenitors of our human race have been the "giants" of the Vedas, the Voluspa, and the Book of Genesis? While it is positively absurd to believe the "transformation of species" to have taken place according to some of the more materialistic views of the evolutionists, it is but natural to think that each genus, beginning with the molluscs and ending with man, has modified from its own primordial and distinctive form.

 Isis Unveiled v1 p152-153


The Stanzas, with the Commentaries thereon, in this Volume, are drawn from the same Archaic Records as the Stanzas on Cosmogony in Volume I .....

As regards the evolution of mankind, The Secret Doctrine postulates three new propositions, which stand in direct antagonism to modern science as well as to current religious dogmas. It teaches: (a) the simultaneous evolution of seven human groups on seven different portions of our globe; (b) the birth of the astral before the physical body, the former being a model for the latter; and (c) that man, in this Round, preceded every mammalian—the anthropoids included—in the animal kingdom.

[A footnote to this proposition is indicative of the vast range of ancient traditions from which corroboration of the Archaic Records may be adduced. It reads.-]

See Genesis ii, 19. Adam is formed in verse 7, and in verse 19 it is said: "Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them". Thus man was created before the animals; for the animals mentioned in Chapter i are the signs of the Zodiac, while the man, "male and female", is not man, but the Host of the Sephiroth, FORCES or Angels, "made in his [God's] image and after his likeness". The Adam, man, is not made in that likeness, nor is it so asserted in the Bible. Moreover, the Second Adam is esoterically a septenary which represents seven men, or rather groups of men. For the first Adam, the Kadmon, is the synthesis of the ten Sephiroth. Of these, the upper Triad remains in the Archetypal World as the future "Trinity", while the seven lower Sephiroth create the manifested material world; and this septennate is the Second Adam. Genesis, and the mysteries upon which it was fabricated, came from Egypt. The "God" of the 1st chapter of I is the Logos, and the "Lord God" of the 2nd chapter the Creative Elohim, the lower Powers. (v2 p1-2)

The Secret Doctrine v2 p1-2 v2 p1 v3 p15

Back to Contents



In the Bowen notes (see APPENDIX A below), Madame Blavatsky suggests that an initial study programme should include the Conclusion (Vol. II). From the subject matter to which she there refers—"the times of coming of the Races and Sub-Races"—it is evident that the Conclusion to which the student's attention is directed is the one which occurs at the end of Part I of the second Volume. The passages that follow are selected from that part of the work, which carries the heading CONCLUSION.


Enough was said to show that evolution in general, events, mankind, and everything else in Nature, proceeds in cycles. We have spoken of seven Races, five of which have nearly completed their earthly career, and have claimed that every Root-Race, with its sub-races and innumerable family divisions and tribes, was entirely distinct from its preceding and succeeding race. This will be objected to, on the authority of uniform experience in the question of Anthropology and Ethnology. Man was—save in colour and type, and perhaps a difference in facial peculiarities and cranial capacity—ever the same under every climate and in every part of the world, say the Naturalists: ay, even in stature. This, while maintaining that man descends from the same unknown ancestor as the ape, a claim that is logically impossible without an infinite variation of stature and form, from his first evolution into a biped. The very logical persons who maintain both propositions are welcome to their paradoxical views. Once more we address only those who, doubting the general derivation of myths from "the contemplation of the visible workings of external nature" … think it, "less hard to believe that these wonderful stories of gods and demi-gods, of giants and dwarfs, of dragons and monsters of all descriptions, are transformations, than to believe them to be inventions." It is only such "transformations" in physical nature, as much as in the memory and conceptions of our present mankind, that the Secret Doctrine teaches. It confronts the purely speculative hypotheses of modern Science, based upon the experience and exact observations of barely a few centuries, with the unbroken tradition and records of its Sanctuaries; and brushing away that tissue of cobweb-like theories, spun in the darkness that covers a period of hardly a few milleniums back, and which Europeans call their "History", the Old Science says to us: Listen, now, to my version of the memoirs of Humanity. (v2 p443)

The human Races are born one from the other, grow, develop, become old and die. Their subraces and nations follow the same rule. If your all-denying modern science and so-called philosophy do not contest that the human family is composed of a variety of well- defined types and races, it is only because the fact is undeniable; no one would say that there was no external difference between an Englishman, an African, and a Japanese or Chinaman. On the other hand it is formally denied by most naturalists that mixed human races, ie, the seeds for entirely new races, are any longer formed in our days ...

Nevertheless our general proposition will not be accepted. It will be said that whatever forms man has passed through in the long pre- historic Past, there are no more changes for him (save certain variations, as at present) in the future. Hence that our Sixth and Seventh Root-Races are fictions.

To this it is again answered: How do you know? Your experience is limited to a few thousand years, to less than a day in the whole age of Humanity and to the present types of the actual continents and isles of our Fifth Race. How can you tell what will or will not be? Meanwhile, such is the prophecy of the Secret Books and their no uncertain statements.

Since the beginning of the Atlantean Race many million years have passed, yet we find the last of the Atlanteans, still mixed up with the Aryan element, 11,000 years ago. This shows the enormous overlapping of one race over the race which succeeds it, though in characters and external type the elder loses its characteristics, and assumes the new features of the younger race. This is proved in all the formations of mixed human races. Now, Occult philosophy teaches that even now, under our new eyes, the new Race and Races are preparing to be formed, and that it is in America that the transformation will take place, and has already silently commenced.

Pure Anglo-Saxons hardly three hundred years ago, the Americans of the United States have already become a nation apart, and, owing to a strong admixture of various nationalities and inter-marriage, almost a race sui generis, not only mentally, but also physically. "Every mixed race, when uniform and settled, has been able to play the part of a primary race in fresh crossings," says de Quatrefages: "Mankind, in its present state, has thus been formed, certainly, for the greatest part, by the successive crossing of a number of races at present undetermined. (The Human Species, page 274)

Thus the Americans have become in only three centuries a "primary race", pro tem., before becoming a race apart, and strongly separated from all other now existing races. They are, in short, the germs of the Sixth sub-race, and in some few hundred years more, will become most decidedly the pioneers of that race which must succeed to the present European or fifth sub-race, in all its new characteristics. After this, in about 25,000 years, they will launch into preparations for the seventh sub-race; until, in consequence of cataclysms—the first series of those which must one day destroy Europe, and still later the whole Aryan race (and thus affect both Americas), as also most of the lands directly connected with the confines of our continent and isles—the Sixth Root-Race will have appeared on the stage of our Round. When shall this be? Who knows save the great Masters of Wisdom, perchance, and they are as silent upon the subject as the snow-capped peaks that tower above them. All we know is, that it will silently come into existence . . . The Fifth will overlap the Sixth Race for many hundreds of millenniums, changing with it slower than its new successor, still changing in stature, general physique, and mentality, just as the Fourth overlapped our Aryan Race, and the Third had overlapped the Atlanteans.

This process of preparation for the Sixth great Race must last throughout the whole sixth and seventh sub-races ... But the last remnants of the Fifth Continent will not disappear until some time after the birth of the new Race; when another and new dwelling, the sixth continent, will have appeared above the new waters on the face of the globe, so as to receive the new stranger. To it also will emigrate and settle all those who shall be fortunate enough to escape the general disaster. When this shall be—as just said—it is not for the writer to know. Only, as nature no more proceeds by sudden jumps and starts, than man changes suddenly from a child into a mature man, the final cataclysm will be preceded by many smaller submersions and destructions both by wave and volcanic fires. The exultant pulse will beat high in the heart of the race now in the American zone, but there will be no more Americans when the Sixth Race commences; no more, in fact, than Europeans; for they will have now become a new race, and many new nations. Yet the Fifth will not die, but survive for a while: overlapping the

new Race for many hundred thousands of years to come, it will become transformed with it—slower than its new successor—still getting entirely altered in mentality, general physique, and stature. Mankind will not grow again into giant bodies as in the case of the Lemurians and the Atlanteans; because while the evolution of the Fourth Race led the latter down to the very bottom of materiality in its physical development, the present Race is on its ascending arc; and the Sixth will be rapidly growing out of its bonds of matter, and even of flesh.

Thus it is the mankind of the New world—one by far the senior of our Old one, a fact men had also forgotten—of Pātāla (the Antipodes, or the Nether World, as America is called in India), whose mission and Karma it is, to sow the seeds for a forthcoming, grander, and far more glorious Race than any of those we know of at present. The Cycles of Matter will be succeeded by Cycles of Spirituality and a fully developed mind. On the law of parallel history and races, the majority of the future mankind will be composed of glorious Adepts. Humanity is the child of cyclic Destiny, and not one of its Units can escape its unconscious mission, or get rid of the burden of its co-operative work with nature. Thus will mankind, race after race, perform its appointed cycle-pilgrimage. Climates will, and have already begun, to change, each tropical year after the other dropping one sub-race, but only to beget another higher race on the ascending cycle; while a series of other less favoured groups—the failures of nature—will, like some individual men, vanish from the human family without even leaving a trace behind.

Such is the course of Nature under the sway of KARMIC LAW: of the ever-present and the ever-becoming Nature. For, in the words of a Sage, known only to a few Occultists:- "The Present is the Child of the Past; the Future, the begotten of the Present. And yet, O present moment! Knowest thou not that thou Hast no parent, nor canst thou have a child: that thou art ever begetting but thyself? Before thou hast even begun to say `I am the progeny of the departed moment, the child of the past,' thou hast become that past itself. Before thou utterest the last syllable, behold! thou art no more the Present but verily that Future. Thus are the Ppast, the Present, and the Future, the ever-living trinity in one—the Mahāmāyā of the Absolute IS."

The Secret Doctrine v2 p437-446 v2 p455-465 v3 p434-444

Back to Contents



It would seem that Madame Blavatsky had constantly in mind, in preparing her first major work for publication, the need to demonstrate to the educated reader of her day that what she had to say was indeed "no new candidate for the world's attention". Each chapter of  Isis Unveiled is introduced by a selection of extracts from respected sources ancient and contemporary, which demonstrate that neither the attitudes displayed nor the information given by her were without precedent. The final chapter is headed by several such quotations, of which one is given here. The chapter begins with an attempt to summarize the main features of the oriental philosophy as presented in the two volumes of Isis. However, as indicated earlier, Madame Blavatsky was at this period experimenting with the mass of material at her command and trying to find out how to give it to the world. Consequently, there is no clear sifting of fundamental principles from secondary detail and illustration. The contrast between this first attempt at a numbered summary and the later statements in The Secret Doctrine is striking evidence of her own development as both pupil and teacher.

A Ten-point Summary

"The problem of life is man. Magic, or rather Wisdom, is the evolved knowledge of the potencies of man's interior being; which forces are Divine emanations, as intuition is the perception of their origin, and initiation our induction into that knowledge .... We begin with instinct: the end is OMNISCIENCE".(v2 p587)

A. Wilder

It would argue small discernment on our part were we to suppose that we had been followed thus far through this work by any but metaphysicians, or mystics of some sort. Were it otherwise, we should certainly advise such to spare themselves the trouble of reading this chapter; for, although nothing is said that is not strictly true, they would not fail to regard the least wonderful of the narratives as absolutely false, however substantiated.

To comprehend the principles of natural law involved in the several phenomena hereinafter described, the reader must keep in mind the fundamental propositions of the oriental philosophy which we have successively elucidated. Let us recapitulate very briefly:

1st. There is no miracle. Everything that happens is the result of law—eternal, immutable, ever active. Apparent miracle is but the operation of forces antagonistic to what Dr. W. B. Carpenter, F.R.S.(Fellow of the Royal Society)—a man of great learning but little knowledge—calls "the well-ascertained laws of nature". Like many of his class, Dr. Carpenter ignores the fact that there may be laws once "known", now unknown to science.

2nd. Nature is triune: there is a visible, objective nature; an invisible, indwelling, energizing nature, the exact model of the other and its vital principle; and, above these two, spirit, source of all forces, alone eternal and indestructible. The lower two constantly change; the higher third does not.

3rd. Man is also triune; he has his objective, physical body; his vitalizing astral body (or soul), the real man; and these two are brooded over and illuminated by the third—the sovereign, the immortal spirit. When the real man succeeds in merging himself with the latter, he becomes an immortal entity.

4th. Magic, as a science, is the knowledge of these principles and of the way by which the omniscience and omnipotence of the spirit and its control over nature's forces may be acquired by the individual while still in the body. Magic, as an art, is the application of this knowledge in practice.

5th. Arcane knowledge misapplied is sorcery; beneficently used, true magic or WISDOM.

6th. Mediumship is the opposite of adeptship; the medium is the passive instrument of foreign influences, the adept actively controls himself and all inferior potencies.

7th. All things that ever were, that are, or that will be, have their record upon the astral light, or tablet of the unseen universe; the initiated adept, by using the vision of his own spirit, can know all that has been known or can be known.

8th. Races of men differ in spiritual gifts as in colour, stature or any other external quality; among some peoples seership naturally prevails, among others mediumship. Some are addicted to sorcery and transmit its secret rules of practice from generation to generation, with a range of psychical phenomena, more or less wide, as the result.

9th. One phase of magical skill is the voluntary and conscious withdrawal of the inner man (astral form) from the outer man (physical body). In the cases of some mediums withdrawal occurs, but it is unconscious and involuntary. With the latter the body is more or less cataleptic at such times; but with the adept the absence of the astral form would not be noticed, for the physical senses are alert and the individual appears only as though in a fit of abstraction—"a brown study", as some call it.

10th. The corner-stone of MAGIC is an intimate practical knowledge of magnetism and electricity, their qualities, correlations and potencies. Especially necessary is a familiarity with their effects in and upon the animal kingdom and man. There are occult properties in many other minerals equally as strange as that in the lodestone, which all practitioners of magic must know, and of which so-called exact science is wholly ignorant. Plants also have like mystical properties in a most wonderful degree, and the secrets of the herbs, of dreams and enchantments are only lost to European science, and needless to say, too, are unknown to it, except in a few marked instances, such as opium and hashish. Yet the psychical effects of even these few upon the human system are regarded as evidences of a temporary mental disorder. The women of Thessaly and Epirus, the female hierophants of the rites of Sabazius, did not carry their secrets away with the downfall of their sanctuaries. They are still preserved, and those who are aware of the nature of Soma know the properties of other plants as well.

To sum up all in a few words, MAGIC is spiritual WISDOM; nature, the material ally, pupil and servant of the magician. One common vital principle pervades all things, and this is controllable by the perfected human will. The adept can stimulate the movements of the natural forces in plants and animals in a preternatural degree. Such experiments are not obstructions of nature, but quickenings; the conditions of intenser vital action are given.

The adept can control the sensations and alter the conditions of the physical and astral bodies of other persons not adepts; he can also govern and employ as he chooses the spirits of the elements. He cannot control the immortal spirit of any human being, living or dead, for all such spirits are alike sparks of the Divine Essence and not subject to any foreign domination.

 Isis Unveiled v2 p587-590

Back to Contents



Notes recorded by Commander Robert Bowen in 1891, less than three weeks before the death of Madame Blavatsky.

H.P.B. was specially interesting upon the matter of The Secret Doctrine during the past week.

I had better try to sort it all out and get it safely down on paper while it is fresh in my mind. As she said herself, it may be useful to someone thirty or forty years hence.

First of all then, The Secret Doctrine is only quite a small fragment of the Esoteric Doctrine known to the higher members of the Occult Brotherhoods. It contains, she says, just as much as can be received by the World during this coming century. This raised a question—which she explained in the following way:-

"The World" means Man living in the Personal Nature. This "World" will find in the two volumes of the SD all its utmost comprehension can grasp, but no more. But this was not to say that the Disciple who is not living in "The World" cannot find any more in the book than the "World" finds. Every form, no matter how crude, contains the image of its "creator" concealed within it. So likewise does an author's work, no matter how obscure, contain the concealed image of the author's knowledge. From this saying I take it that the SD must contain all that H.P.B. knows herself, and a great deal more than that, seeing that much of it comes from men whose knowledge is immensely wider than hers. Furthermore, she implies unmistakably that another may well find knowledge in it which she does not possess herself. It is a stimulating thought to consider that it is possible that I myself may find in H. P.B.'s words knowledge of which she herself is unconscious. She dwelt on this idea a good deal. X said afterwards: "H.P.B. must be losing her grip," meaning, I suppose, confidence in her own knowledge. But Y and Z and myself also, see her meaning better, I think. She is telling us without a doubt not to anchor ourselves to her as the final authority, nor to anyone else, but to depend altogether upon our own widening perceptions.

[Later note on above: I was right. I put it to her direct and she nodded and smiled. It is worth something to get her approving smile!—(Sgd.) Robert Bowen.]

At last we have managed to get H.P.B. to put us right on the matter of the study of the SD. Let me get it down while it is all fresh in mind.

Reading the SD page by page as one reads any other book (she says) will only end in confusion. The first thing to do, even if it takes years, is to get some grasp of the "Three Fundamental Principles" given in Proem. Follow that up by study of the Recapitulation—the numbered items in the Summing Up to Vol. I (Part 1). Then take the Preliminary Notes (Vol. II) and the Conclusion (Vol. II).

H.P.B. seems pretty definite about the importance of the teaching (in the Conclusion) relating to the times of coming of the Races and Sub-Races. She put it more plainly than usual that there is really no such thing as a future "coming" of races. "There is neither COMING nor PASSING, but eternal BECOMING," she says. The Fourth Root Race is still alive. So are the Third and Second and First—that is, their manifestations on our present plane of substance are present. I know what she means, I think, but it is beyond me to get it down in words. So likewise the Sixth Sub-Race is here, and the Sixth Root Race, and the Seventh, and even people of the coming ROUNDS. After all, that's understandable. Disciples and Brothers and Adepts can't be people of the everyday Fifth Sub-Race, for the race is a state of evolution.

But she leaves no question but that, as far as humanity at large goes, we are hundreds of years (in time and space) from even the Sixth Sub-Race. I thought H.P.B. showed a peculiar anxiety in her insistence on this point. She hinted at "dangers and delusions" coming through ideas that the New Race had dawned definitely on the World. According to her the duration of a Sub-Race for humanity at large coincides with that of the Sidereal Year (the circle of the earth's axis—about 25,000 years). That puts the new race a long way off.

We have had a remarkable session on the study of the SD during the past three weeks. I must sort out my notes and get the results safely down before I lose them.

She talked a good deal more about the "FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE". She says: If one imagines that one is going to get a satisfactory picture of the constitution of the Universe from the SD, one will get only confusion from its study. It is not meant to give any such final verdict on existence, but to LEAD TOWARDS THE TRUTH. She repeated this latter expression many times.

It is worse than useless going to those whom we imagine to be advanced students (she said) and asking them to give us an "interpretation" of the SD. They cannot do it. If they try, all they give are cut and dried exoteric renderings which do not remotely resemble the TRUTH. To accept such interpretation means anchoring ourselves to fixed ideas, whereas TRUTH lies beyond any ideas we can formulate or express. Exoteric interpretations are all very well, and she does not condemn them so long as they are taken as pointers for beginners, and are not accepted by them as anything more. Many persons who are in, or who will in the future be in the T.S. are of course potentially incapable of any advance beyond the range of a common exoteric conception. But there are, and will be others, and for them she sets out the following and true way of approach to the SD.

Come to the SD (she says) without any hope of getting the final Truth of existence from it, or with any idea other than seeing how far it may lead TOWARDS the Truth. See in study a means of exercising and developing the mind never touched by other studies. Observe the following rules:--

No matter what one may study in the SD, let the mind hold fast, as the basis of its ideation, to the following ideas:

(a) The FUNDAMENTAL UNITY OF ALL EXISTENCE. This unity is a thing altogether different from the common notion of unity—as when we say that a nation or an army is united; or that this planet is united to that by lines of magnetic force or the like. The teaching is not that. It is that existence is ONE THING, not any collection of things linked together. Fundamentally there is ONE BEING. The BEING has two aspects, positive and negative. The positive is Spirit, or CONSCIOUSNESS. The negative is SUBSTANCE, the subject of consciousness. This Being is the Absolute in its primary manifestation. Being absolute there is nothing outside it. It is ALL-BEING. It is indivisible, else it would not be absolute. If a portion could be separated, that remaining could not be absolute, because there would at once arise the question of COMPARISON between it and the separated part. Comparison is incompatible with any idea of absoluteness. Therefore it is clear that this fundamental ONE EXISTENCE, or Absolute Being, must be the REALITY in every form there is.

I said that though this was clear to me I did not think that many in the Lodges would grasp it. "Theosophy," she said, "is for those who can think, or for those who can drive themselves to think, not mental sluggards." H.P.B. has grown very mild of late. "Dumskulls" used to be her name for the average student.

The Atom, the Man, the God (she says) are each separately, as well as all collectively, Absolute Being in their last analysis, that is their REAL INDIVIDUALITY. It is this idea which must be held always in the background of the mind to form the basis for every conception that arises from study of the SD. The moment one lets it go (and it is most easy to do so when engaged in any of the many intricate aspects of the Esoteric Philosophy) the idea of SEPARATION supervenes, and the study loses its value.

(b) The second idea to hold fast to is that THERE IS NO DEAD MATTER. Every last atom is alive. It cannot be otherwise since every atom is itself fundamentally Absolute Being. Therefore there is no such thing as "spaces" of Ether, or Ākāsha, or call it what you like, in which angels and elementals disport themselves like trout in water. That's a common idea. The true idea shows every atom of substance no matter of what plane to be in itself a LIFE.

(c) The third basic idea to be held is that Man is the MICROCOSM. As he is so, then all the Hierarchies of the Heavens exist within him. But in truth there is neither Macrocosm nor Microcosm but ONE EXISTENCE. Great and small are such only as viewed by a limited consciousness.

(d) Fourth and last basic idea to be held is that expressed in the Great Hermetic Axiom. It really sums up and synthesizes all the others.

As is the Inner, so is the Outer; as is the Great, so is the Small; as it is above, so it is below: there is but ONE LIFE AND LAW; and he that worketh it is ONE. Nothing is Inner, nothing is Outer; nothing is GREAT, nothing is Small; nothing is High; nothing is Low, in the Divine Economy.

No matter what one takes as study in the SD, one must correlate it with those basic ideas.

I suggest that this is a kind of mental exercise which must be exceedingly fatiguing. H.P.B. smiled and nodded. One must not be a fool (she said) and drive oneself into the madhouse by attempting too much at first. The brain is the instrument of waking consciousness and every conscious mental picture formed means change and destruction of the atoms of the brain. Ordinary intellectual activity moves on well beaten paths in the brain, and does not compel sudden adjustments and destructions in its substance. But this new kind of mental effort calls for something very different—the carving out of "new brain paths", the ranking in different order of the little brain lives. If forced injudiciously it may do serious physical harm to the brain.

This mode of thinking (she says) is what the Indians call Jnana Yoga. As one progresses in Jnana Yoga, one finds conceptions arising which, though one is conscious of them, one cannot express nor yet formulate into any sort of mental picture. As time goes on these conceptions will form into mental pictures. This is a time to be on guard and refuse to be deluded with the idea that the new found and wonderful picture must represent reality. It does not. As one works on, one finds the once admired picture growing dull and unsatisfying, and finally fading out or being thrown away. This is another danger point, because for the moment one is left in a void without any conception to support one, and one may be tempted to revive the cast-off picture for want of a better to cling to. The true student will, however, work on unconcerned, and presently further formless gleams come, which again in time give rise to a larger and more beautiful picture than the last. But the learner will now know that no picture will ever represent the TRUTH. This last splendid picture will grow dull and fade like the others. And so the process goes on, until at last the mind and its pictures are transcended and the learner enters and dwells in the World of NO FORM, but of which all forms are narrowed reflections.

The True Student of The Secret Doctrine is a Jnāna Yogi, and this Path of Yoga is the True Path for the Western student. It is to provide him with sign posts on that Path that the The Secret Doctrine has been written.

[Later note: I have read over this rendering of her teaching to H.P.B., asking if I have got her aright. She called me a silly Dumskull to imagine anything can ever be put into words aright.

But she smiled and nodded as well, and said I had really got it better than anyone else ever did, and better than she could do it herself].

I wonder why I am getting all this. It should be passed to the world, but I am too old ever to do it. I feel such a child to H.P.B., yet I am twenty years older than her in actual years.

She has changed much since I met her two years ago. It is marvellous how she holds up in the face of dire illness. If one knew nothing and believed nothing, H.P.B. would convince one that she is something away and beyond body and brain. I feel, especially during these last meetings since she has become so helpless bodily, that we are getting teachings from another and higher sphere. We seem to feel and KNOW what she says rather than hear it with our bodily ears. X said much the same thing last night.

(Sgd.) Robert Bowen,

19th April, 1891.                                             Cmdr. R.N.

Back to Contents



Notes based on H.P. Blavatsky Theosophical Glossary

The subtle, spiritual essence which pervades all space.

Dhyān Chohans
The divine Intelligences charged with the supervision of the Kosmos (cf. Archangels).


Action; the Law of cause and effect.

Universal Intelligence and Consciousness,

Mind; the reincarnating principle in man, the Higher Ego.

A period of manifestation or cosmic activity,

Illusion; the cosmic power which renders phenomenal existence possible.

Undifferentiated substance; the root of matter.

Atheist, or rather, one who does not worship any gods or idols.

Beyond Brahman; the impersonal, nameless universal Principle; the Absolute.

Nature in general, as original substance.

A period of rest between manvantaras or periods of activity


The one ever-present Reality; the divine Essence or Be-ness.

A basis or vehicle of something less material than itself.


You might be interested in...


Life-affirming books by David Bohm, Ramana Maharshi, Aldous Huxley and others

Theosophy and Islam

Transmission of knowledge, the types of knowledge, and the notion of brotherhood

Theosophy and Science

Where do they meet, and where do they part company?


Discover a range of books that explore the topic of ecology and spirituality.