Pondering HPB and The Secret Doctrine

Ananya Sri Ram – USA  

Theosophy Ananya 2

As we approach the third biennial forum on The Secret Doctrine (held October 26-29 2023 at the Krotona Institute of Theosophy in Ojai, California and via Zoom), it seems appropriate to highlight just a few thoughts about H. P. Blavatsky’s monumental work with help from the Quest book H.P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine. It may be safe to say that some members of the TS are familiar with the work known as The Secret Doctrine, but have little understanding of what the secret doctrine is. This does not diminish either the curiosity about the work, nor does it hinder serious students of Theosophy from delving into the maze of it. Study classes, self-study courses, articles, as well as several books have been designed to help guide students in their study of The Secret Doctrine. The question always remains: where does one begin?

It might seem inane to say, but The Secret Doctrine is not a book to be read as one would read a story from beginning to end. It requires a mindset of a different quality. The teachings, as HPB herself has written, are not hers, but are the threads of innumerable works from innumerable sources given on the ancient wisdom. The everyday mind cannot understand that which is not from the everyday mind. The teachings are from those exalted beings, not of our mundane small world, who lived according to the esoteric or occult laws. The beauty of The Secret Doctrine is that it not only explains how the universe came into Being, but how that Beingness is what sees, hears, touches, tastes, and smells through the use of the physical form.

As Sri Mahadeva Ashish states in the article “The Secret Doctrine as a Contribution to World Thought,” ‘The power that raised man from dust is, in the last analysis, the same as the power that looks through the eyes, hears through the ears, and touches with the hands.’

The difficulty we have is our everyday mind separates everything around us. It cannot fathom the unity of all life—of every thing that surrounds us. Even the bricks that make our buildings are created by that Beingness that sees and feels the brick. “There is no dead matter,” HPB writes. This is the basic barrier that keeps us from understanding many of the basic teachings of Theosophy. If we had a complete and total realization that there is only “ONE LIFE, eternal, invisible, yet omnipresent, without beginning or end . . . the one self-existing REALITY,” and that this “boundless and immutable Principle, on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception,” we would no longer see the world as separate from ourselves. We have fleeting moments of this oneness, but as The Voice of the Silence states “the mind is the slayer of the Real.” We must slay the slayer.

Through a disciplined practice we can slowly strengthen the Buddhic quality within. This vesture allows us to see what is considered “unseen” and “to know” that which is not obvious. It is often considered an intuitive quality, but there is a vast difference between working from the Buddhic and working from that which allows intuition. The Buddhic quality within knows the oneness of all life. It is imbued with the divine. There are plenty of people with intuitive abilities, but few of a Buddhic nature. Our attachments cloud our ability to see things without a filter or judgment.

It is this Buddhic quality we must bring forth in order to approach the teachings of The Secret Doctrine. This is why the student is encouraged to take their time with its study. Like the slow process of evolution that humanity has gone through to reach the present time, we must allow patience for the insights to come to the surface. This is not always easy as Sri Mahadeva Ashish states from the same article mentioned above, “Any traveler of the spiritual path ought to know that his road will lead him away from the well-trodden ways of gregarious mean and into the deep and unfrequented jungles of the mind. It makes not the slightest difference where one’s teaching comes from; one cannot blame the teaching for the beasts that lurk in one’s private jungle. By whatever path one goes, sooner or later tensions are going to arise.”

This may seem like another barrier, but when looked at from another perspective, we may find ourselves taking the first step to an everlasting journey. Keeping the realization in mind that all life is one, we understand that humanity lies within us, not outside ourselves. We are forever looking outside for the answers to the struggles we face in the manifested world. To know that the struggles we have within are reflected without can be a startling, but helpful realization. HPB states, “Although linked to all other by the One Life, each man exists at the same time as an individual Self, a partial expression of the One Infinite Reality. We may thus raise our eyes not to an external far away Creator, but to the spark of God within. . . Those who worship before it, ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls. . .”

Here we have a greater clue to the life needed in order to peel away the excrescences that the physical world lays upon us. HPB could not have summed it up better than in The Golden Stairs. Each step a step toward the virtues needed to live a life in union with the divine by questioning societal beliefs and letting go of anything that causes even a prick of separation of any kind. In “Man—the Miracle of Miracles” Helen V. Zahara writes, “H.P. Blavatsky tells us that many of the difficulties which beset mankind, which many people attribute to Providence, would disappear if men would work in brotherliness and harmony, instead of in disunity and conflict. She says: ‘Were no man to hurt his brother, Karma-Nemesis would have neither cause to work for, nor weapons to act through. It is the constant presence in our midst of every element of strife and opposition, and the division of races, nations, tribes, societies and individuals into Cains and Abels, wolves and lambs, that is the chief cause of the ‘ways of Providence’ . . . If one breaks the laws of Harmony . . . one must be prepared to fall into the chaos oneself has produced.’”

Karma, the exquisite law of balance and harmony, can be our greatest guide should we keep such a law in mind, knowing we are setting our own course for the future. Zahara astutely writes, “The pilgrimage for every soul is said to be obligatory, and we read that at first evolution is governed by natural impulse. But then suddenly we are introduced to the idea of self-induced and self-devised efforts, which each soul makes after having acquired individuality. There then enters the action of free will, the results of which, however, are subject to the law of karma.” In other words, everything around us is evolving. Every thing. Even when it seems like humanity is going backwards, we are evolving because we have no choice. Everything is designed to evolve. Like an escalator that continues upward, we ride along because we have no choice. What we do choose is how we want to ride the escalator. That is where our free will comes into play.

Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, One Infinite Reality, Karma, Buddhi, Be-ness, Beingness, these are all concepts that if pondered seriously, can lead a student to a place of wonder and joy, especially knowing who we are is no different than the beauty that lies before us. How can we not marvel at this incredible system of which we are a part? To know that we hold our own destiny within, with a guide like The Secret Doctrine without, is an encouraging prompt to any student of Theosophy.  May we be forever grateful to the teacher who made this possible, H.P. Blavatsky.

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