"The True Student of The Secret Doctrine is a Jnana 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 Secret
Doctrine has been written." - H.P.B.
Being extracts from the notes of personal teachings given
by H.P. Blavatsky to private pupils during
the years 1888 to 1891, included in a large
MSS volume left to me by my father, who
was one of the pupils. - P.G.B. Bowen.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
H.P. Blavatsky was especially 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 S.D. all its utmost comprehension
can grasp, but no more. But this is 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 S.D. must contain
all that H.P. Blavatsky 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. Blavatsky. must be losing her grip," meaning,
I suppose, confidence in her own knowledge.
But - and - 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. Blavatsky to
put us right on the matter of the study of the
S.D. Let me get it down while it is all fresh
"Reading the S.D. page by page as one reads any
other book" (she says) "will only end us in
confusion. The first thing to do, even if
it takes years, is to get some grasp of the
"Three Fundamental Principles" given in the
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.
H.P. Blavatsky 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"
"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
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. Blavatsky 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 S.D. during the
past three weeks. I must sort out my notes and
get the result safely down before I lose them.
She talked a good deal about the "Fundamental Principle."
"If one imagines that one is going to get a satisfactory
picture of the constitution of the Universe
from the S.D. 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 S.D. 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 S.D.
"Come to the S.D. (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:
1. No matter what one may study in the S.D. 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. This 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. Blavatsky. 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 S.D. 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
(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 Akasha, or call it what you like, in which
angels and elementals disport themselves like
trout in water. That's the 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;
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
No matter what one takes as study in the S.D. one
must correlate it with those basic ideas."
I suggested that this is a kind of mental exercise
which must be excessively fatiguing. H.P. Blavatsky.
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 Jnana
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
Secret Doctrine has been written." 
(Later note: - I have read over this rendering of
her teaching to H.P. Blavatsky. asking if I
have got her aright. She called me a silly Dumskull
to imagine anything can ever be put in 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
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. Blavatsky,
yet I am twenty years older than her in actual
She has changed much since I met her two years ago.
It is marvelous how she holds up in the face
of dire illness. If one knew nothing and believed
nothing, H.P. Blavatsky. 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, Cmdr. R.N.19th April, 1891.
 One of the great modern teachers
of Jnana Yoga was Ramana Maharshi.
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