Setting the Stage
An introduction to the "Body of Knowledge" known as Theosophy
Part 56 - Youth-companions' Forum
THEOSOPHY, Vol. 24, No. 5, March, 1936
(Pages 211-214; Size: 12K)
WHAT is the nature of the records from which the historical teachings regarding the evolution of the races as given in The Secret Doctrine are derived?
(a) The very same Secret Doctrine itself gives the answer to this question in the following pages:
"The Secret Doctrine was the universally diffused religion of the ancient and prehistoric world. Proof 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" (I, xxxiv). "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" (I, xxiii).
"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 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" (I, xxxiv v). "It is useless to say that the system in question is no fancy of one or several isolated individuals. That it is the uninterrupted record covering thousands of generations of Seers whose respective experiences were made to test and to verify the traditions passed 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; i.e., men who have developed and perfected their physical, mental, psychic, and spiritual organisations 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 experiences" (I, 272-3).
(b) Humanity and the stars are inextricably bound together. The history of the world is written in the stars and recorded in the Zodiac; the key to understanding the heavenly bodies is in the keeping of Masters, Initiates, who know the secret doctrine. The doctrine is the accumulated wisdom of the ages. Many races and nations were born and left no trace, but Masters have records of all. Facts which have occupied countless generations to set down and explain are all recorded on a few pages of geometrical signs and glyphs. Archaic manuscripts and palm leaves, made immune to water, fire and air, are hidden in secret caves and crypts, beyond the reach of Western despoilers and will re appear in a more enlightened age. Very few fragments have come to light regarding the ancient Aryan, Chaldean, the Buddhist and Semitic religions. Orientalists in their researches have been led to believe that many manuscripts which were known to have existed have somehow disappeared and they have difficulty in deciphering inscriptions and hieroglyphics. This lack of data, however, has not deterred them from forming dogmatic conclusions about the ancients.
If these records are hidden in crypts and secret places, how is it that H.P.B. could write The Secret Doctrine while she was in Europe?
(a) By "knowledge" in our modern world is generally meant an all around acquaintance with philosophies, religions, arts and sciences, so far as they are recorded. "Knowledge" in Theosophy means an inner realization of the universal principles which govern the whole of life, and then, further, the application of these principles as the basis, in particular instances. In other words, according to the occult teaching, knowledge presupposes the realization that there exists a universal plane of causation besides our manifested plane of effects.
Modern scientists observe and study the movements of the heavenly bodies, but reasoning from particular instances, are unable to see mans relation to the heavenly bodies, whereas, Masters, who reason from universals to particulars, know both the movements of the stars and their connection with man. Thus they are able to foretell events. Such a one is Mme. H. P. Blavatsky, and regardless of where she lived -- being a Knower -- she could write the Secret Doctrine. Books and records do not produce events; they merely record them. And even were all physical records to be destroyed, knowledge or truth, would still exist, because it is eternal.
(b) The ordinary conception of knowledge is "an all round acquaintance with religions, philosophies, arts, sciences and histories as so far recorded, together with that which our senses give us in regard to the external material world." On the other hand, knowledge in the occult sense "implies full identification of the mind, for any length of time, with whatever object or subject it is directed to." The quotes are from W. Q. Judge. The former is relative knowledge, the latter, Absolute knowledge. H.P.B. had the power of Absolute knowledge.
To understand how she could write the Secret Doctrine without having the actual records before her requires a fundamental knowledge of the Astral Light. The Astral Light, roughly described, is a plane of matter above the physical, highly tenuous, and electric magnetic, capable of recording permanently the minutest impressions from the psychical, mental, and physical planes. Thus, the Astral Light is the Universal register of all thoughts, actions, and feelings. If H.P.B. wished to utilize records not easily accessible to her because she was in Europe, she had but to direct her Mind to the Astral impression or counterpart of those records and the knowledge in them was hers.
Do general historical cycles reflect perceptibly the treatment accorded by races and peoples to Messengers of the Masters and their acceptance or rejection of the Message?
The history of one race and nation is not essentially very different from that of the others. The cycle of rise and fall of civilizations is common to all nations, peoples and ages. Though in externals races may differ ever so much, essentially, in character the true criterion -- all are quite similar. Were this not so, there would now be at least one race, one people, whose civilization had kept ALIVE the true teachings of the Great White Lodge1 of the Masters. What need would there be for the repetition of the Message from age to age? It would appear therefore that what applies to one race and people applies more or less to all.
The inability of individuals to correctly evaluate events in the making is reflected on a large scale by the failure of humanity in general to recognize a Messenger and to truly apprehend His Message. Almost invariably the course of events follows the same definite pattern: primarily, the abuse and rejection of the Message and the Messenger; secondly, the failure of those entrusted with the Message to abide by their trust; finally, the rise of priest craft over the dead ashes of the real Teachings. That this has been the sorry cycle of events for untold ages is witnessed by the comment of Krishna, the Great Spiritual Teacher of many centuries ago. "This exhaustless doctrine of Yoga I formerly taught unto Vivaswat; Vivaswat communicated it to Manu and Manu made it known unto Ikshwaku; ... until at length in the course of time the mighty art was lost, O harasser of thy foes!"
It is more than coincidence that the loss of the true Teachings is always followed (as shown in historical cycles) by the decline and subsequent fall of the civilization concerned. This is inevitable. Such is the sad fate of the once illustrious China, for the real meaning of the Teachings of Confucius, Lao Tse and Buddha are lost to her. Likewise with India, whose magnificent traditions, so hard to parallel, remain scattered and torn amid the many sects and creeds of the day. As for the Western world, little need be said of Christendom, for its actions and fruits speak for themselves.
It is of the utmost importance to the Theosophist to heed the warnings of H. P. Blavatsky and to keep the Message intact, as well as to guard against "personality," the bane of the original Theosophical Society. For, "The Karma of ages is being compressed into years; the history of the Theosophical Movement -- inaugurated indubitably in full knowledge of this very thing -- has recapitulated in fifty years, for good or evil, the usual religious course of millenniums," says the Magazine THEOSOPHY, Vol. XXI, p. 267.
COMPILERS NOTE: I added this footnote; it was not in the article. If it doesnt paint an accurate enough picture, or is incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot it and point it out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.
"Great White Lodge" has nothing to do with skin color, and everything to do with White & Black, as in the following contrasting samples: Truth & Falsity, Light & Dark, Good & Evil, Love & Hate, Wisdom & Ignorance, etc.