SD: Proem, Introductory, Study
Aug 29, 1999 04:21 PM
by W. Dallas TenBroeck
STUDY OF THE SECRET DOCTRINE
In reading the Proem and the Introductory to the Secret Doctrine one
begins to realize how formidable such a study appears on first
contact. Many have felt daunted. But there is no cause for this as
it can be done and those who have been working at it can show us that
there are a few easy steps that all can take to make this easier.
We are doing an important thing in approaching "The Text-book of the
Let us first gather together some of the most important points that
Theosophy asks us to consider:
UNITY OF ALL IN ALL
1. Our Universe is a unity of units: Universal Brotherhood. Each
Human is the center of his own universe, and this includes every other
being. There is only One UNIVERSAL SPIRIT. Everything is a part of
it, and lives in it.
2. All, from Star to Human to Atom, bathe in the same potentials, and
share in each other on the level of the atomic and electro-magnetic
the same "matter;" but each expresses these in their own individual
Objectives and Goals
3. All individual paths of life tend to converge on a common "Goal."
It is the faculty of Wisdom that is sought. But for each this "goal"
is individual, and inescapably, each decides on their own way and
method. Yet in spite of diversity there is always cooperation with
all the rest.
4. For this reason all events that involve many individuals, show
analogies in form and in circumstance. From these are framed the
cycles of ebbs and surges of civilization. The greatest as well as
the smallest cycles arise from the universal Cycles of activity in
Manifestation, and repose in Non-manifestation. Everything is
periodic. Every being on its awakening "returns" to the place where
it left off its active life and work. Nothing is ever destroyed.
Karma - a Law of Harmony and Justice
5. The Universe is observed to operate with perfect economy under
uniform laws of cause/effect. The balance of these is a continuous
harmony. Science recognizes and records laws in all departments.
Nature contains everything and provides for everything. Scientists
study the working of Nature. Every plan depends on the working of
just and uniform laws. Chance does not exist.
6. Karma expresses the balancing of all causes to their effects in
Nature, this operates uniformly and continuously. Mankind, (and every
individual in it) and, because of their independent Mind, and the
power of independent choice, carve their own "path of living." Among
men, Law is termed ethics, and, our secret motive rules all karmic
7. Because of their individuality [the conscious Mind-Soul], humans
reincarnate, each in pursuit of their own set goal. This dynamic
harmony of units offers to those who can read the Akasic records, an
accurate knowledge of any and all aspects of the history of mankind in
the past, and from this the future of individuals and civilizations
can be deduced. No human being can ever be totally annihilated even
though the body may be killed. No one is totally isolated from others.
Selfishness is an impossible, an illogical concept.
8. When Wisdom is acquired, it includes an understanding of this
essential unity, and requires a voluntary dedication of one's life to
the service to others; and of absolute personal harmlessness. Karma
is the law of moral balance - and that is cooperation.
THE THREE FUNDAMENTALS
9. Three Fundamental Ideas form the base of Nature's Theosophy
Theos-deity, Sophia-wisdom ] :
1. Deity is Universal Spirit. All beings share equally in it. None
can be "destroyed."
2. Law operates everywhere and causes manifestation as well as
individual reincarnation. The components of all beings replace
themselves cyclically, and, universality is a fact.
3. Progression in consciousness, and awareness is universal. Many
stages are recognized. The individual being [ Monad, or "Life-atom" ]
is indestructible. The Goal of experience [evolution] is Wisdom --
Knowledge of all aspects of the Universe. This process demands a
study of one's own Self.
10. Life indestructible ever progresses towards Wisdom.
WHAT DOES THE SECRET DOCTRINE TEACH ?
1. It is a study of universal Nature, and of one's self.
2. It studies the relations between these two. It views every action
from the view-point of motive, and therefore regards the moral basis
of every word or act as most significant. Karma, as effect, arises
from this alone. It advocates the close supervision of the emotional
and desire faculty. [SD II 79-80]
3. It seeks verification of evidence advanced by the work and
perceptions of, not only one's self, but by others. It constantly
asks the questions: Why, When, How, Were and to Whom? It demands
answers based only on truth and fact, and treats all opinions with
caution. It teaches us to THINK.
4. It is the recorded history of such observations--in all departments
of Nature. It is the basis of all sciences, philosophies and
religions. No one can lay claim to "originality," since Nature
already contains all. [SD I 267]
5. Verification demands that all observations, or theories be
carefully cross-checked by many others. Every living being is engaged
in this universal process. [SD I 272-3] Each being, beginning with
the atom in which resides a basic consciousness, retains a permanent
record of all its experiences. This is called knowledge or Wisdom.
VISIBLE AND INVISIBLY NATURE.
6. Universal Nature, is composed of the visible and the invisible
aspects of life. Underlying the material physical is the
psychic-astral, and underlying that the "desire-nature." Superior to
the desire-nature is the Mind. Behind the Mind is
Discrimination-Wisdom. Finally, the Real Man-the Higher Self-Monad --
exists, and it is a "ray" of the One SPIRIT--the Undeniable ROOT of
7. The realm of force, power and energy underlies all forms. What are
these? How can we discover them in us and elsewhere?
8. Cycles and laws unify the diversities seen in nature and reconcile
all levels of awareness/consciousness.
CONSCIOUSNESS and the MONAD
9. A single Consciousness underlies each being, whether this be called
an "atom," a "human," a "planet," or a Star. It operates in every
level of perception (or consciousness) and records, as memory, all
10. Man's "Spirit" is one with the "Universal Spirit." Every being in
the whole Universe is a MONAD. It is a point of CONSCIOUSNESS. It is
the junction of Spirit and Matter as a "ray" of that ONE SOURCE in
manifestation. With it is associated the MIND. This , because it is
independent of both, is able to observe their interaction at all
points, as Intelligence gradually develops over a vast period of time.
THEOSOPHICAL GROUPS, SOCIETIES, etc...
10. Students of Theosophy group together for mutual study. Down the
years many designations were adopted to name them.
Their conjoint study is signalized by and through the common
objectives defined here, regardless of the nomenclature they devised
for recording or for communication. In past eras, they were called
Elder Brothers, Adepts, Prophets, Philosophers, Gnostics, Mystagogues,
Platonists, Masons, Initiates, Masters of Wisdom, Builders,
Astrologers, Alchemists, Rosicrucians, Brothers of Light and Fire,
Fire Philosophers, Kabalists, Pythagoreans, Neo-Platonists,
Analogeticists, Cathars, Sufis, Hermeticists, Transcendentalists,
Healers, Theurgists, Theosophers, Yogis...all these are some of the
designations that have been used in the past and also in the present.
PROGRAM FOR STUDYING THE SECRET DOCTRINE
Some additional suggestions of a practical nature may be offered based
on experience of many students. We have mentioned that prior to the
actual page by page study, certain basic concepts and ideas ought to
be made to reside in the memory of all who approach the Secret
The most important are accessed by a preliminary reading of these few
SD Vol. 1 Preface, . . . vii - viii
Introductory . . xvii - xlvii
Proem . . . 1 - 24
The actual Stanzas: . Vol. I 26 - 34
Summing up . . 269 - 299
Cyclic Evolution & Karma 634 - 647
SD Vol. 2 Preliminary Notes . 1 - 12
The actual Stanzas: . Vol. 2 14 - 21
Reincarnation . . 302 - 306
Conclusion . . 437 - 446
Conclusion Vol. 2 . 794 - 798
It can be noted that ISIS UNVEILED preceded the SECRET DOCTRINE by
about 11 years. It serves as an excellent introduction to the themes
that are more deeply developed in the SECRET DOCTRINE, and therefor it
ought to be read first.
ISIS UNVEILED -- 1877
In 1877, "Isis Unveiled" was published. It serves as a compendium of
evidence showing how the psychic and the spiritual nature underlies
and rules the physical. In addition to that ISIS draws attention to
literary evidence relating to philosophical and spiritual events that
antiquity as well as modernity have recorded.
It offers a few basic concepts, to serve as a basis, prior to the
actual study of the "Secret Doctrine." These are assembled in "The
Ocean of Theosophy," and "The Key to Theosophy." They will also be
found in the "Bhagavad Gita," and "The Voice of the Silence," in the
"Dhammapada," and in "Patanjali's Yoga Sutras," as well as in other
It should always be born in mind that ours is an infinitely sensitive
Universe. Every being in it is indestructible in essence. All
evolution tends to develop an individualized mind in Mankind.
Evolution is continuous and an eternal process. The Universe is ruled
by just and impersonal Laws which are immutable, educative and
protective to all in their ultimate fairness and total accuracy.
SECRET DOCTRINE - 1888.
In 1888 "The Secret Doctrine" was issued. It records information
inclusive of that in Isis Unveiled, and subsequent information
elicited, and printed in article form in the early Theosophical
magazines: The "Theosophist," "Path," and "Lucifer." It exposes the
moral Universe which is always interior to the physical one.
The "Stanzas of the Book of Dzyan" (Wisdom) form the basis for both
"The Secret Doctrine," and "The Voice of the Silence," hence both
books should be studied together, as they supplement each-other.
"The Voice of the Silence" points to the path of discipline that has
to be adopted by those who choose to become spiritual.
The "Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge" is a book that should be
consulted for explanations made by HPB to her pupils who assembled -
the first 200 pages of Vol. 1 of the SD are considered.
"Studies in the Secret Doctrine," by B. P. Wadia is a book that brings
together valuable articles originally printed in "Theosophy," and "The
Theosophical Movement" magazines.
A small pamphlet "Some Observations on the Study of the Secret
Doctrine" by P. G. Bowen ought also be read. It includes some
suggestions by HPB on the study of the SD.
The most ancient record of the statements, facts, and observations
that form the body of "The Secret Doctrine" are in existence,
fragmentarily, in ancient Indian literature.
To assist students who are unfamiliar with Sanskrit, Tibetan, Pali,
and other ancient languages, it is advisable to employ "The
Theosophical Glossary" by HPB, as ancient terms of philosophy are
frequently used technically in the book. English does not easily
convey the refinements which those ancient terms give. The acquiring
of a vocabulary will make easier the transfer of ideas, and if one
studies ancient texts, they will help in understanding them.
Preliminary to each class it would be well if each student reads in
advance several pages of what will be considered, so that familiarity
will make study easier. It would be a good idea to keep a note book
available for references that are made in the course of study.
An excellent "Index" to the SD is available. The student will find
that it makes his base of understanding easier, as all important
subjects are referenced.
"Isis Unveiled" and an Index are also available for correlative study.
It may be a good idea to read about 3 to 5 pages each meeting, but not
be restricted to a fixed format, since, probably, time will be spent
in amplifying many of the statements made. All advance research will
be much appreciated. If questions can be brought to the study period
it is of great value to all. The Theosophical Glossary and the SD
Index are most useful for additional information, reference and to
amplify statements to be read.
It is most important to understand that each student is making his own
approach to the subject-matter of the S D. No one is an "authority;"
but the consideration of the study made, and the ideas advanced by
others will be found most helpful to all. "Windows of opportunity"
may thus be opened each for the rest.
CORRESPONDENCE AND ANALOGY
A Universal Law that operates in Nature and Man is called
"correspondence and analogy." This is because both Man and Nature are
7-fold: Broadly expressed, these are : Spirit - Wisdom - Mind -
Desire - Vitality - Astral Body - Physical Body.
MANKIND IS THE KEY FACTOR IN ALL EVOLUTION
Mankind represents, as a whole the arena for the interaction of two of
the greatest forces that ever propel forward all evolution: Mind and
Kama, (desire) engaged in free decision making. [SD II 79-80, 167,
"That which propels towards, and forces evolution, i.e., compels the
growth and development of Man towards perfection, is
(a) the Monad, or that which acts in it unconsciously through a force
inherent in itself; and
b) the lower astral body or the personal Self.
The former, whether imprisoned in a vegetable or an animal body, is
endowed with, is indeed itself, that force. Owing to its identity
with the all-force, which, as said, is inherent in the Monad, it is
all-potent on the Arupa, or formless plane...the rays of the Sun,
which contribute to the growth of vegetation, do not select this or
that plant to shine upon...So with the Atman: unless the higher Self
or ego gravitates towards its Sun--the Monad--the lower Ego, or
personal Self, will have the upper hand in every case. For it is this
Ego, with its fierce Selfishness and animal desire to live a Senseless
life (Tanha), which is "the maker of the tabernacle," as Buddha calls
it in the Dhammapada..." (SD II 109-110) [see also SD I 174-5fn, 619,
THE ANCIENT SOURCE == THE PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY
"The Secret Doctrine is the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages, and its
cosmogony alone is the most stupendous and elaborate sys-tem...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, to 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...the system in
question is no fancy of one or several isolated individuals...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...the Wise Men of the Fifth Race...saved and rescued from
the last cataclysm and shifting of continents, had passed their lives
in learning, not teaching...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 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." [SD I 272-273]
SD 1 - Questions on the Introductory -- for use in Study Class
1. Is the "Secret Doctrine" the same as the book: "The Secret Doctrine
2. What is offered in the book ?
3. What has the author (writer) done ?
4. What is the aim of the book ?
5. Have you looked at the "Table of Contents ?" What appeals to you ?
What do you not know about ?
6. Have you read ahead of the class ? Are you using the Glossary and
the Index to discover extensions to matter referred to in the pages we
have read ( "Preface", "Introductory" ) ?
7. Will you, bring questions and observations ?
8. What is "authority ?" Where is it found ?
9. Is any of the wisdom of the "Secret Doctrine" restricted ?
10. What are the most ancient sources from which information can be
11. What would "revelation" mean ? Where does it come from ? Has any
one or any group sole rights to it ?
12. What is the relation between the "Secret Doctrine" and "Occultism
13. Does the possession of wisdom require a religion ?"
14. How are "Mysticism" and "Occultism" related ?
15. How are the findings of "occultism," "mysticism," and the "secret
Doctrine" represented [ is there a special "language" in which they
are conveyed ?
16. Why is knowledge about the tenets and basic ideas found in the
"Secret Doctrine" so vague, so confused ? Can this be discovered and
codified, so as to be rational ?
17. What is the value of "testimony ?"
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