OCCULTISM AND CONTENTION
Jan 10, 2006 04:15 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
1/10/2006 3:44 AM
Occasionally one discovers objections and arguments that seem futile – many
years ago an early student of THEOSOPHY wrote:
OCCULTISM AND CONTENTION
The brief and concise outline of the philosophy of occultism given in the
Introduction to the SECRET DOCTRINE is therefore very significant, and the
student who desires to apprehend that which follows in these two large
volumes ought to study this outline very carefully.
No subsequent proposition, no principle in the life of man, can be correctly
understood apart from it.
The subject-matter following is necessarily fragmentary, but the outline is
both inclusive and philosophical, and if one reasons logically and follows
the plainest analogies he can never go far astray.
The relation of mind to brain, of thought to consciousness, of life to
matter, and of man to Nature and to Deity, is there clearly defined; not,
indeed, in all its details, but in a philosophical modulus, to be worked out
in reason and in life.
The all-pervading Life, the cyclic or periodical movements, the periods of
action and of repose, and the intimate relations and inter-dependences of
all things apply to Cosmos, and equally to every atom in its vast embrace.
Students sometimes complain that they cannot understand, that the subject is
so vast, and so deep and intricate, and not made clear. lIt is because they
do not realize what they have undertaken.
Occultism can neither be taught nor learned in "a few easy lessons." The
"object lessons" sometimes given by H.P.B., almost always misunderstood and
misapplied, though often explained at the time, served as often to excite
vulgar curiosity and personal abuse as to arrest attention and study.
If, before the advent of the T.S. in the face of the creeds of Christendom,
the materialism of science, the indifferences and supercilious scorn of
Agnosticism, and the babel of spiritualism, it had been proposed to begin at
the foundations and reconstruct our entire knowledge of Nature and of man;
to show the unity and the foundations of the worlds religions; to eliminate
from science all its "missing links"; to make Agnosticism gnostic; and to
place the science of psychology and the nature and laws of mind and soul
over against "Mediumship"; it would have been held as an herculean task, and
declared impossible of accomplishment.
Now that the thing has virtually been accomplished and this body of
knowledge presented to the world, people think it strange that they cannot
compass it all, as the poet Burns is said to have written some of his
shorter poems, "while standing on one leg!"
Again, people complain at the unfamiliar terms and the strange words
imported from foreign languages. Yet if one were to undertake the study of
physics, chemistry, music, or medicine, quite as great obstacles have to be
overcome. Is it a strange thing, then, that the science that includes all
these, and undertakes to give a synthesis of the whole realm of Nature and
of life, should have its own nomenclature?
Beyond all these necessary and natural obstacles, there is another, viz.,
that contentious spirit that disputes and opposes every point before it is
fairly stated or understood.
Suppose one ignorant of mathematics were to proceed in the same manner and
say, "I don't like that proposition," "I don't see why they turn a six
upside down to make a nine," "Why don't two and two make five?", and so on,
how long would it take such a one to learn mathematics?
In the study of the Secret Doctrine it is not a matter of likes or dislikes,
of belief or unbelief, but solely a matter of intelligence and
understanding. He who acknowledges his ignorance and yet is unwilling to lay
aside his likes and dislikes, and even his creeds and dogmas, for the time,
in order to see what is presented in its own light and purely on its merits,
has neither need nor use for the Secret Doctrine.
Even where a greater number of propositions are accepted or "believed" and a
few are rejected, the synthetic whole is entirely lost sight of.
But, says some one, this is a plea for blind credulity, and an attempt to
bind the mind and the conscience of man to a blind acceptance of these
doctrines. No one but the ignorant or the dishonest can make such an
assertion in the face of the facts.
Listen to the following from p. xix, Introduction to the Secret Doctrine.
"It is above everything important to keep in mind that no theosophical book
acquires the least additional value from pretended authority." S D I xix
If that be advocating blind credulity, let the enemies of the T.S. make the
most of it. If any authority pertains to the Secret Doctrine, it must be
sought inside, not outside. It must rest on its comprehensiveness, its
completeness, its continuity and reasonableness; in other words, on its
philosophical synthesis, a thing missed alike by the superficial and the
contentious, by the indolent, the superstitious, and the dogmatic.
“O wise man: you have asked rightly. Now listen carefully. The illusive
fancies arising from error are not conclusive.
The great and peaceful ones live regenerating the world like the coming of
spring, and after having themselves crossed the ocean of embodied existence,
help those who try to do the same thing, without personal motives.”
--Crest Jewel of Wisdom [Shankaracharya]
[From: SYNTHESIS OF OCCULT SCIENCE -- W Q J Art I p. 23 ]
[From: INTRODUCTION TO THE SECRET DOCTRINE
[xvii] Old truisms are often the wisest. The human mind can hardly remain
entirely free from bias, and decisive opinions are often formed before a
thorough examination of a subject from all its aspects has been made. …
… Sinnett’s work, had ceased to be esoteric from the moment they were made
public; nor did it contain the religion of Buddha, but simply a few tenets
from a hitherto hidden teaching which are now supplemented by many more,
enlarged and explained in the present volumes. But even the latter, though
giving out many fundamental tenets from the SECRET DOCTRINE of the East,
raise but a small corner of the dark veil.
For no one, not even the greatest living adept, would be permitted to, or
could—even if he would—give out promiscuously, to a mocking, unbelieving
world, that which has been so effectually concealed from it for long æons
and ages. …
[xviii] The “Wisdom Religion” is the inheritance of all the nations,
the world over, … the present writer knew all that which is “divulged” in
“Esoteric Buddhism”— and much more — many years before it became her duty
(in 1880) to impart a small portion of the Secret Doctrine to two European
gentlemen, one of whom was the author of “Esoteric Buddhism”; and surely the
present writer has the undoubted, though to her, rather equivocal, privilege
of being a European, by birth and education.
Moreover, a considerable part of the philosophy expounded by Mr. Sinnett was
taught in America, even before Isis Unveiled was published, to two Europeans
and to my colleague, Colonel H. S. Olcott. Of the three teachers the latter
gentleman has had, the first was a Hungarian Initiate, the second an
Egyptian, the third a Hindu.
As permitted, Colonel Olcott has given out some of this teaching in various
ways; if the other two have not, it has been simply because they were not
allowed: their time for public work having not yet come. …It is above
everything important to keep in mind that no theosophical book acquires the
least additional value from pretended authority.
In etymology Adi, and Adhi Budha, the one (or the First) and “Supreme
Wisdom” is a term used by Aryasanga in his Secret treatises, and now by all
the mystic Northern Buddhists…. It means the absolute Wisdom, and
“Adi-bhuta” is translated “the primeval uncreated cause of all” by
Fitzedward Hall. …“Buddha,” the acquirement of it by personal effortsand
merit; while Buddhi is the faculty of cognizing the channel through which
divine knowledge reaches the “Ego,” the discernment of good and evil,
“divine conscience” also; and “Spiritual Soul,” which is the vehicle of
For the Esoteric philosophy is alone calculated to withstand, inthis
age of crass and illogical materialism, the repeated attacks on all and
everything man holds most dear and sacred, in his inner spiritual life.
The true philosopher, the student of the Esoteric Wisdom, entirely loses
sight of personalities, dogmatic beliefs and special religions. Moreover,
Esoteric philosophy reconciles all religions, strips every one of its
outward, human garments, and shows the root of each to be identical with
that of every other great religion.
It proves the necessity of an absolute Divine Principle in nature. It denies
Deity no more than it does the Sun. Esoteric philosophy has never rejected
God in Nature, nor Deity as the absolute and abstract Ens.
It only refuses to accept any of the gods of the so-called monotheistic
religions, gods created by man in his own image and likeness, a blasphemous
and sorry caricature of the Ever Unknowable.
Furthermore, the records we mean to place before the reader embrace the
esoteric tenets of the whole world since the beginning of our humanity, and
Buddhistic occultism occupies therein only its legitimate place, and no
more. Indeed, the secret portions of the “Dan” or “Jan-na”* (“Dhyan”) of
Gautama’s metaphysics—grand as they appear to one unacquainted with the
tenets of the Wisdom Religion of antiquity—are but a very small portion of
the whole. …
Thus the reader is asked to bear in mind the very important difference
between orthodox Buddhism—i.e., the public teachings of Gautama the Buddha,
and his esoteric Budhism. His Secret Doctrine, however, differed in no wise
from that of the initiated Brahmins of his day. The Buddha was a child of
the Aryan soil; a born Hindu, a Kshatrya and a disciple of the “twice born”
(the initiated Brahmins) or Dwijas.
His teachings, therefore, could not be different from their doctrines, for
the whole Buddhist reform merely consisted in giving out a portion of that
which had been kept secret from every man outside of the “enchanted” circle
of Temple-Initiates and ascetics. Unable to teach all that had been imparted
to him—owing to his pledges—though he taught a philosophy built upon the
ground-work of the true esoteric knowledge, the Buddha gave to the world
only its outward material body and kept its soul for his Elect….
That doctrine was preserved secretly—too secretly, perhaps—within the
sanctuary. The mystery that shrouded its chief dogma and
aspirations—Nirvana—has so tried and irritated the curiosity of those
scholars who have studied it, that, unable to solve it logically and
satisfactorily by untying the Gordian knot, they cut it through, by
declaring that Nirvana meant absolute annihilation…
This is the true reason, perhaps, why the outline of a few fundamental
truths from the Secret Doctrine of the Archaic ages is now permitted to see
the light, after long millenniums of the most profound silence and secrecy.
I say “a few truths,” advisedly, because that which must remain unsaid could
not be contained in a hundred such volumes, nor could it be imparted to the
present generation of Sadducees. But, even the little that is now given is
better than complete silence upon those vital truths.
The world of to-day, in its mad career towards the unknown—which it is too
ready to confound with the unknowable, whenever the problem eludes the grasp
of the physicist—is rapidly progressing on the reverse, material plane of
spirituality. It has now become a vast arena—a true valley of discord andof
eternal strife—a necropolis, wherein lie buried the highest and the most
holy aspirations of our Spirit-Soul. That soul becomes with every new
generation more paralyzed and atrophied. … but there is a fair minority of
earnest students who are entitled to learn the few truths that may be given
to them now; and now much more than ten years ago, when “Isis Unveiled,” or
even the later attempts to explain the mysteries of esoteric science, were
One of the greatest, and, withal, the most serious objection to the
correctness and reliability of the whole work will be the preliminary
STANZAS: “How can the statements contained in them be verified?” True, if a
great portion of the Sanskrit, Chinese, and Mongolian works quoted in the
present volumes are known to some Orientalists, the chief work—that one from
which the Stanzas are given—is not in the possession of European Libraries.
The Book of Dzyan (or “Dzan”) is utterly unknown to our Philologists, or at
any rate was never heard of by them under its present name… but to the
students of Occultism, and to every genuine Occultist, this will be of
The main body of the Doctrines given is found scattered throughout hundreds
and thousands of Sanskrit MSS., some already translated—disfigured in their
interpretations, as usual,—others still awaiting their turn. Every scholar,
therefore, has an opportunity of verifying the statements herein made, and
of checking most of the quotations.
A few new facts (new to the profane Orientalist, only) and passages quoted
from the Commentaries will be found difficult to trace. Several of the
teachings, also, have hitherto been transmitted orally: yet even those are
in every instance hinted at in the almost countless volumes of Brahminical,
Chinese and Tibetan temple-literature.” S D I xviii – xxii ]
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