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Theosophy

An Introduction to The Secret Doctrine

Harvey TordoffAn introduction to Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine by Harvey Tordoff, author of O Lanoo! - The Secret Doctrine Unveiled.

"This massive study of man, of nature, of spiritual evolution, of the essence of reality is an astonishing document." -- The Book Reader, May/June 1988

This quote is remarkable for the reaction of the reviewer; it takes a special kind of book to astonish 100 years after publication. 'The Secret Doctrine' was published simultaneously in London and New York in November 1888. Blavatsky, a self-educated woman, subtitled it 'The Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy'.

The gulf between these three branches of study had been widening ever since the so-called 'Age of Reason'. Men of learning wanted to separate, segregate and specialise. Only in recent years has it been recognised that there has to be an integration of ideas if we are to understand the complex organism that is Planet Earth. In 'The Doctrine' Blavatsky integrates ideas from different cultures, different societies and different ages to provide a complete picture of evolution on Earth and Man's place in the Universe.

Her first major book, 'Isis Unveiled', was published in 1877, and at the time of writing Blavatsky probably thought it would be her life's work. But later she described it as confused and in 1884 started writing articles that would lead to a revision of 'Isis'. Then in 1885 she was 'given' the plan for The Doctrine' and this took precedence over 'Isis'. It was to follow the verses of the ancient Book of Dzyan with many long and complex digressions. 'Dzyan' contained the history of the Universe and the journey of the pilgrim-soul through the Ages of Man, which Blavatsky separated into two volumes: Cosmogenesis and Anthropogenesis.

The first volume starts before the "Big Bang" of creation and weaving deftly between myth, religion and science describes the solidifying of matter in the physical universe. The focus shifts from cosmic to our own solar system, and then to life on earth, which leads into the second volume. Here, the story is the journey of the Pilgrim-Soul, through nebulous states of existence into the physical ages of mankind: the Ages of Lemuria and Atlantis, and the present. Many of the statements will be familiar, as Blavatsky sets out to demonstrate that all the modern religions stem from the same source, but the overall picture is a complete working hypothesis of God, Mankind and the Universe.

Blavatsky claims that she was merely one of three co-authors, the other two (referred to as 'M' and 'KH') were adepts, or Masters, that she had met earlier in her life. She described the process in correspondence:

"There's a new development and scenery, every morning. I live two lives again. I am made to see all I have to as though in my dream. I see large and long roles of paper on which things are written and I recollect them."

There are many eyewitness accounts making particular comment on the numerous occasions where Blavatsky quoted specifically and accurately from obscure books not in her possession. Whether she was in communication with her Masters, or whether she had a phenomenal memory, seems now less important than the "astonishing document" itself.

'The Doctrine' was written at a difficult period in Blavatsky's life. She and the Theosophical Society were under attack for 'forgery and trickery', and she was seriously ill. She left India for Europe, writing on the voyage and then in Germany, Belgium and England. On two occasions she confounded the doctors with 'miraculous' recoveries which were, she said, for the sole purpose of completing 'The Doctrine'.

The finished manuscripts, handwritten and unsorted, made a pile three feet high. Originally they contained little commentary on the Stanzas of 'Dzyan' as Blavatsky thought they were perfectly understandable, but she was persuaded to add explanations by way of answering her proof readers' specific questions. Even when the printers proofs had been prepared, she used scissors and paste to make further revisions, running up a bill for amendments that was higher than the cost of setting up the original print.

In the Preface Blavatsky declares her aim:

"To show that Nature is not a fortuitous concurrence of atoms, and to assign to man his rightful place in the scheme of the Universe; to rescue from degradation the archaic truths which are the basis for all religions; and to uncover the fundamental unity from which they all spring."


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RELATED BOOKS
O Lanoo! - The Secret Doctrine Unveiled
O Lanoo! - The Secret Doctrine Unveiled
by Harvey Tordoff

O Lanoo! reveals the essence of Blavatsky's seminal work The Secret Doctrine, finally making this vast and complex work fully accessible to all spiritual seekers.

More info
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Harvey Tordoff left a career in international finance at the end of the 1980s to live in relative seclusion with his wife on a lake promontory in the North of England.

For seven years, with great patience and persistence, Harvey studied Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine, extracting the essence of this comprehensive and complex work to write the highly acclaimed O Lanoo! - The Secret Doctrine Unveiled.