THE THEOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVE
Chapter 13 of Genesis Unveiled
© Ian Lawton 2003
In the search for corroboration of my interpretation of the ancient texts and traditions regarding our forgotten race, it is now time to move away from the boundaries of science that have so far dominated this part of the work, and on to less reliable but nevertheless related areas of study. The first is the worldview of the theosophists, and in particular of the person who founded their movement in 1875, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.
I do not have the space here to go into great detail about her life, and in any case a number of excellent reference works are freely available.[i] I should note, however, that she traveled extensively in India and the Far East before returning to England to write her best-known works, Isis Unveiled in 1877 and The Secret Doctrine in 1888. Both are massive two-volume compilations that stretch to more than fifteen hundred pages each, and they are well referenced. However, they are also extremely hard work to read, not so much because of the length but because of Blavatsky’s prose style, a deficiency that can only in part be attributed to the fact that English was not her native tongue. In any case, the latter is broadly accepted as her more definitive masterwork, and it is on its contents that we will mainly concentrate.
Attitudes towards her work have always tended to polarize into either complete and devotional support or total rejection, whereas in my view the correct approach, as we so often find, is to tread a middle path. The rejections, especially in the early days of theosophy, were partly based on a fundamental antipathy to her broadly esoteric and particularly anti-Christian views, and as a result two charges were leveled at her: first, that she was a fraud who pretended to telepathically channel much of her material from Eastern ‘masters’ who never existed; and second, that she was a rampant plagiarist. Accordingly, if we are to allow any of her material to stand, we must first assess the validity of these accusations.
In his 1994 study The Masters Revealed, K. Paul Johnson uses archive material to demonstrate that Blavatsky’s masters were in fact real adepts from all parts of the world, whom she had met on her foreign travels. He also demonstrates that she had very good reasons for concealing their identity. On the one hand, some of her Indian masters were heavily involved in political independence movements, and on the other all genuine adepts have a tendency toward privacy and secrecy. As she herself noted in correspondence:[ii]
Well, I told him the whole truth. I said to him that I had known Adepts, the ‘Brothers’, not only in India and beyond Ladakh, but in Egypt and Syria – for there are ‘Brothers’ there to this day. The names of the ‘Mahatmas’ were not even known at the time, since they are called so only in India. That, whether they were called Rosicrucians, Qabalists, or Yogis – Adepts were everywhere Adepts – silent, secret, retiring, and who would never divulge themselves entirely.
However, her letters also reveal that she and her co-founder of the Theosophical Society, Colonel Henry Olcott, spent considerable time in private accusing each other of being responsible for the exaggeration of the nature of the masters, and of their elevation to godlike and superhuman status. There is little doubt that Blavatsky herself had encouraged this in the early days in order to gain attention for the movement, even to the extent of amazing her followers by ‘materializing’ supposed letters from the masters in midair, and other trickery. Moreover, it would appear that once the genie was out of the bottle not even she could put it back – although it is impossible to determine whether or not her apparent contrition towards the end of her life was genuine.[iii]
Although late on in her life and in private Blavatsky herself admitted to a degree of trickery, she also emphasized that her works should be taken on their merits alone – and this would appear to be a fair approach for us to adopt. And as a general observation they do not have the appearance of being channeled to any significant degree, replete as they are with footnoted references.
But even if they were not channeled, to what extent were they perhaps plagiarized from a variety of sources in a more prosaic fashion? William Coleman, an ardent spiritualist and contemporary critic of Blavatsky, was the first to suggest that, for example, in Isis Unveiled she had referenced some fourteen hundred works even though she only possessed about one hundred in her own library – the latter observation being confirmed by Olcott.[iv] In other words, she was being criticized for providing the primary references only, and for not crediting her secondary sources.
However, this is a trait of all authors of scholarly and even nonscholarly works – including, I freely admit, myself. It certainly does not amount to plagiarism. Moreover, the intention is usually to provide the most original source for the interested reader or researcher to check if they so wish. That having been said, I would add two riders to this that are of more general application. First, where a researcher is consistently using a secondary source, it is only proper to give it at least a general credit. Second, and even more important, we should recognize that this practice can lead to errors and inaccuracies being perpetuated. For this reason, if there is any doubt as to the validity of a secondary source, the primary source should undoubtedly be located and consulted – and, where appropriate, the primary source before that, all the way back as far as possible. This is something many revisionist historians in particular would do well to learn and practice more assiduously, because many of their predecessors have not been averse to distortion of source material, or even downright fabrication from scratch, as I have repeatedly discovered.
None of this makes Blavatsky either an outright plagiarist or a complete charlatan. In fact, we might note that she was in her mid-fifties when she decided to work all hours of the day and night to produce The Secret Doctrine, having already achieved considerable notoriety with Isis Unveiled, and further that she had already come close to death through ill health before and did so again in the middle of this Herculean labor. Moreover, arguably the effort did kill her because, after completing a few shorter works, she died only three years later. So, accepting that her underlying motives for her work were probably to a large extent genuine, despite her admitted surface trickery, let us see what she really had to say.
The Book of Dzyan
Much of The Secret Doctrine is based on stanzas from the enigmatic and supposedly extremely ancient Book of Dzyan – the provenance of which we will consider shortly – and on Blavatsky’s accompanying commentaries. The two volumes are split into ‘Cosmogenesis’ and ‘Anthropogenesis’, with the stanzas in the former largely based on the Eastern worldview of the hidden and cyclic nature of the universe as a whole that we have already discussed to some extent and will consider in greater detail in Part 3. In particular, Blavatsky reveals the extent to which a Hindu worldview informs much of her work in that at the time of writing she believed us to be 4989 years into the kali yuga of what she refers to as the Vaisasvata manvantara.[v]
In applying this cyclic view to the human race she reveals herself to be categorically opposed to evolutionary theory, and I have already given my reasons for regarding this as a complete misinterpretation of the original esoteric foundation of the cyclic worldview. Nevertheless, the most interesting stanzas from the anthropological section of the Book of Dzyan, which describe the ‘root races’ on which Blavatsky concentrates in her second volume, can, in my view, be reinterpreted and found to have a fair degree of consistency with my main themes – particularly if we adopt the more spiritual and less physical approach to world cycles that I have already expounded in Part 1:[vi]
18. The First were the sons of Yoga. Their sons the children of the Yellow Father and the White Mother.
19. The Second Race was the product by budding and expansion, the asexual from the sexless. Thus was, O Lanoo, the Second Race produced.
20. Their fathers were the Self-born. The Self-born, the Chhaya from the brilliant bodies of the Lords, the Fathers, the Sons of Twilight.
21. When the Race became old, the old waters mixed with the fresher waters. When its drops became turbid, they vanished and disappeared in the new stream, in the hot stream of life. The outer of the First became the inner of the Second. The old Wing became the new Shadow, and the Shadow of the Wing.
Blavatsky admits that the first ‘self-born’ race were only ethereal beings with no physical body, which is entirely consistent with our understanding of advanced discarnate souls. As for the second ‘sweat-born’ race, she suggests in her commentary that they were ‘the most heterogeneous gigantic semi-human monsters – the first attempts of material nature at building human bodies’.[vii] This is of course reminiscent of the legends of hybrids that I rejected in Part 1, but it is certainly not borne out by the stanzas themselves. However, they do make it clear that they were asexual and were not generated by any normal reproductive means, which in my view suggests that if these stanzas have any validity at all they at least indicate that the second race was also made up of ethereal beings.
22. Then the Second evolved the Egg-born, the Third. The sweat grew, its drops grew, and the drops became hard and round. The Sun warmed it; the Moon cooled and shaped it; the wind fed it until its ripeness. The white swan from the starry vault overshadowed the big drop. The egg of the future race, the Man-swan of the later third. First male-female, then man and woman.
23. The self-born were the Chhayas: the Shadows from the bodies of the Sons of Twilight.
Blavatsky suggests that this third ‘egg-born’ race was the first to become fully physically manifest, and then to split into male and female allowing for sexual reproduction. Is it possible that these stanzas should be interpreted to mean that it was during this stage of the evolution of humankind that advanced souls attempted to incarnate for the first time? This view certainly seems to be reinforced by the ensuing stanzas:
24. The Sons of Wisdom, the Sons of Night, ready for rebirth, came down, they saw the vile forms of the First Third. ‘We can choose’, said the Lords, ‘we have wisdom.’ Some entered the Chhaya. Some projected the Spark. Some deferred till the Fourth. From their own Rupa they filled the Kama. Those who entered became Arhats. Those who received but a spark, remained destitute of knowledge; the spark burned low. The third remained mind-less. Their Jivas were not ready. These were set apart among the Seven. They became narrow-headed. The Third were ready. ‘In these shall we dwell’, said the Lords of the Flame.
25. How did the Manasa, the Sons of Wisdom, act? They rejected the Self-born. They are not ready. They spurned the Sweat-born. They are not quite ready. They would not enter the first Egg-born.
26. When the Sweat-born produced the Egg-born, the twofold and the mighty, the powerful with bones, the Lords of Wisdom said: ‘Now shall we create.’
27. The Third Race became the Vahan of the Lords of Wisdom. It created ‘Sons of Will and Yoga’, by Kriyasakti it created them, the Holy Fathers, Ancestors of the Arhats.
28. From the drops of sweat; from the residue of the substance; matter from dead bodies of men and animals of the wheel before; and from cast-off dust, the first animals were produced.
29. Animals with bones, dragons of the deep, and flying Sarpas were added to the creeping things. They that creep on the ground got wings. They of the long necks in the water became the progenitors of the fowls of the air.
30. During the Third Race the boneless animals grew and changed: they became animals with bones, their Chhayas became solid.
31. The animals separated the first. They began to breed. The two-fold man separated also. He said: ‘Let us as they; let us unite and make creatures.’ They did.
32. And those which had no spark took huge she-animals unto them. They begat upon them dumb Races. Dumb they were themselves. But their tongues untied. The tongues of their progeny remained still. Monsters they bred. A race of crooked red-hair-covered monsters going on all fours. A dumb race to keep the shame untold.
These stanzas appear somewhat confusing and self-contradictory, in that one moment they describe the third race in positive terms as ‘the sons of will and yoga’, and the next as ‘mindless’ and ‘dumb’. However, Blavatsky’s commentaries describe a bewildering array of seven subraces within each root race, and seven further branches or families within each subrace – the origins of all of which are not described, except inasmuch as they appear to derive from different levels of advancement in the incarnating ‘monads’.[viii] In general terms, however, the stanzas seem to bear out the idea of multiple and unsuccessful incarnation attempts that I put forward when discussing the various creation traditions from around the world in Part 1. In particular, we find the ethereal beings arguing over whether or not the human form of this race is ‘ready’ for them to incarnate into, and also the suggestion that at least some of the race remained ‘dumb’ – which is highly reminiscent of the other traditions in which, as we have seen, early humans are ‘silent’ or ‘cannot speak to praise their creators’. As for the suggestion in the stanzas that this race bred with animals to create yet more hybrid monsters, and Blavatsky’s further assertion in her commentaries that in general it was a race of giants, my view is again that these elements are equivalent to certain aspects of the Hindu and Judaeo-Christian traditions that I have already rejected.
33. Seeing which, the Lhas who had not built men, wept, saying:–
34. ‘The Amanasa have defiled our future abodes. This is karma. Let us dwell in the others. Let us teach them better, lest worse should happen.’ They did.
35. Then all men became endowed with Manas. They saw the sin of the mindless.
36. The Fourth Race developed speech.
37. The One became Two; also all the living and creeping things that were still one, giant fish-birds and serpents with shell-heads.
If my previous assumptions are correct, this fourth race that developed speech for the first time must surely be regarded as the ‘golden race’ that we have already met in so many other traditions – emerging when modern humankind had finally advanced, intellectually and psychologically, to a sufficient degree to furnish the advanced incarnating souls with an appropriate physical shell. However, as we would expect, the theme of their subsequent debasement rings out loud and clear:
38. Thus two by two on the seven zones, the Third Race gave birth to the Fourth-Race men; the gods became no-gods; the sura became a-sura.
39. The first, on every zone, was moon-colored; the second yellow like gold; the third red; the fourth brown, which became black with sin.[[ix]] The first seven human shoots were all of one complexion. The next seven began mixing.
40. Then the Fourth became tall with pride. We are the kings, it was said; we are the gods.
41. They took wives fair to look upon. Wives from the mindless, the narrow-headed. They bred monsters. Wicked demons, male and female, also Khado (dakini), with little minds.
42. They built temples for the human body. Male and female they worshipped. Then the Third Eye acted no longer.
43. They built huge cities. Of rare earths and metals they built, and out of the fires vomited, out of the white stone of the mountains and of the black stone, they cut their own images in their size and likeness, and worshipped them.
44. They built great images nine yatis high, the size of their bodies. Inner fires had destroyed the land of their fathers. The water threatened the Fourth.
45. The first great waters came. They swallowed the seven great islands.
46. All Holy saved, the Unholy destroyed. With them most of the huge animals, produced from the sweat of the earth.
This contains all the traditions with which we are already familiar – the preoccupation with the material, the loss of the ‘third eye’ of spirituality, and the eventual destruction by flood, which also eliminates most large animals. Again, however, I would argue against the repeated notion that this race bred with inferiors to produce monsters. Meanwhile, the suggestion that they built ‘huge cities’ is clearly open to interpretation.
47. Few men remained: some yellow, some brown and black, and some red remained. The moon-colored were gone forever.
48. The Fifth produced from the holy stock remained; it was ruled over by the first divine Kings...
49... who re-descended, who made peace with the Fifth, who taught and instructed it.
And so, finally, we come to the fifth race. This stanza clearly suggests that there were a number of survivors of the catastrophe who went on to found our current race. Moreover, we appear to have clear confirmation that the first ‘divine kings’ were a new group of angelic souls that deliberately incarnated at this time to help to rebuild and to reassert a spiritual worldview. This is a possibility that, as we have already seen in Part 1, is additional to and not inconsistent with the more prosaic idea that certain of the physical survivors would have been more advanced and better equipped to lead the rebuilding process.
Apart from the specific distortions in the stanzas and in Blavatsky’s commentary to which I have already alluded, there are a number of more important general areas in which I believe she makes fundamental mistakes.
Blavatsky argues that, until the middle of the third root race, there was no normal sexual reproduction. This forces her into all sorts of pseudoscientific contortions about how these evolutionary changes came about. Worse still, she makes out that the changeover to normal sexual reproduction in some way forced ‘the creative gods, compelled by karmic law, to incarnate in mindless men’.[x] This statement is not explained, but how much easier it is to regard all living things as having separate souls of varying degrees of advancement, which incarnate in physical bodies that are produced by normal sexual means. And to regard the first and second root races as purely spiritual rather than physical entities. End of story, no further complications required.
In a similar vein, certain Eastern and Western schools of thought postulate complex hierarchies of ‘angels’ and ‘demons’, or in our terms souls or ethereal beings. This is more or less consistent with my main themes, but the attempts made by Blavatsky and other commentators to explain the various levels – and especially their actions, interrelationships and various disagreements in different epochs and on different planes – leave the head spinning.
Moreover, the same traditions describe humans as having a multilayered constitution, with the soul, spirit and mind all regarded as separate aspects from the physical body. It may well be that personally I have yet to properly appreciate the essential differences between these aspects – particularly between the spirit and the soul – but it seems clear that most modern commentators, Blavatsky included, again manage to tie themselves and their readership into terrible knots with their attempts to explain these differentiations and to apply them in their writing.[xi] So again, is it naive to attempt to simplify the whole thing, and merely to appreciate the difference between the temporal physical body and its associated human intellect or mind on the one hand, and the ethereal soul on the other; and also between intuitive ‘right brain’ awareness – deriving from a connection to a higher self or universal consciousness – and rational ‘left brain’ thought? How much understanding do we lose by sticking with these simplifications? I suspect not that much, and that for most people the picture is made considerably clearer.
This tendency to overcomplicate is inherent not just in Blavatsky’s work, but also in almost all esoteric and occult literature. It seems that the more complications are introduced, and the more obscure the result, the more the author is credited with superior levels of occult wisdom. Despite the fact that we are clearly dealing with sometimes complex issues that do not always lend themselves easily to explanation by the written word, it may be time for us to question this approach – and to suggest that, at least to a certain degree, if writers cannot properly explain themselves, then the chances are that they are obfuscating to conceal their own lack of understanding. Of course, broadly speaking I apply this only to writers of relatively modern times who have not had to code their words to avoid charges of heresy. But this is the motive behind my attempt to differentiate between the basic, relatively uncomplicated ‘spiritual worldview’, and the more complex ‘esoteric worldview’ that we examine more fully in Part 3.
Although the stanzas make no mention of timescales, Blavatsky suggests that the third, fourth and fifth root races emerged approximately eighteen, five, and one million years ago respectively.[xii] In some senses it would be possible for us to ignore both the cyclical and the anti-evolutionary aspects of her anthropological interpretations, and to go with these timescales, especially inasmuch as the first two root races were only ethereal beings anyway. Moreover, the suggestion that the third or fourth subrace of the third root race was the first to became fully physically manifest, a full eighteen million years ago, could be seen in terms of them being mere primitive hominids at this stage of the physical evolution process; and she does suggest that this first fully physical race did not, for example, have the power of speech.[xiii]
However, she argues that their use of telepathy allowed them to build cities, and that the fourth root race – which emerged some five million years ago – went on to develop a fully technologically advanced civilization. This latter distortion of Blavatsky’s apart, we can still see that her timescales, influenced as they are by the Hindu world cycles, are hopelessly out of step with what we know about human evolution and the development of advanced culture; and that we would have to take a much more condensed view of them if we were to attempt to place any reliance on our revised interpretation of the stanzas, which of course make no mention of timescales themselves.
Blavatsky’s view of the world cycles as related to humanity are in any case somewhat at odds with the conventional Hindu view in that she suggests that each ‘round’ or manvantara is ‘composed of the yugas of the seven periods of humanity’.[xiv] If we refer back to Figure 3 this makes little apparent sense, because there are approximately seventy and not seven maha yugas, or yuga cycles, in a manvantara.
Moreover, she suggests that from about the midpoint of the fourth race the previous gradual descent into materiality and debasement is reversed, so that the remaining races become progressively more spiritual again, until the seventh once more consists of ethereal beings only.[xv] This has clear echoes of the Jain traditions we reviewed in Part 1, except their ‘wheel’ has fourteen ‘spokes’ and not seven, so we see something of a mixture in her work. However, given my views about the way in which modern humanity – although supposedly representing the fifth root race that is on the upward return path – is increasingly repeating the mistakes of its predecessors by focusing on the material at the expense of the spiritual, I regard such a view as wishful thinking in the extreme. This is precisely why I believe it is fundamentally incorrect to think of the progress of souls in terms of rigid calendrical cycles, because I reiterate that the whole issue of karmic advancement is governed by choices and not by predestiny. There may be a general outline karmic plan that, for example and to simplify matters, the group of souls represented by the human race should go through a process of devolving onto the material plane and then gradually evolving back onto the ethereal plane, but I would suggest not only that the timescales are flexible, but also that even the entire outcome could be jeopardized by us making the wrong karmic choices and repeating the degenerative mistakes of our predecessors.
We can see that only one flood is described in the stanzas, which is broadly what we would expect given our own view of these themes. However, Blavatsky suggests this was a major flood that destroyed the last large peninsula of Atlantis about 850,000 years ago, and that there have been numerous others. For example, she asserts that the lesser flood of about 12,000 years ago only destroyed the final small island remnants of the continent.[xvi]
More troubling is the fact that she uses her belief in the Hindu world cycles to postulate that the earth is karmically disrupted by axial shifts at regular intervals.[xvii] I need not comment further on the fact that I do not support the theory of catastrophes occurring at set intervals, whether by axial shift or otherwise.
Blavatsky is, in general, almost as scathing about the limitations of science and scientists as she is, for example, about the dogmatic and narrow-minded Christian church; but this does not prevent her from attempting to justify her assertions about human evolution and geology on pseudoscientific grounds, quoting the work of scientists when it suits her cause.[xviii] These attempts are not particularly impressive, however, even allowing for the state of scientific knowledge at the time. Moreover, as we have seen, her views are entirely at odds with the findings of modern archaeology, geology and other disciplines.
Fallen Angel Themes
Turning now specifically to what Blavatsky has to say about the fallen angels, she suggests that the disagreement between the ethereal beings as to when to incarnate, as described in the seventh stanza of the Book of Dzyan, lies behind many of their later negative portrayals.[xix] Of course, one aspect of the ‘fall’ is their descent into materiality, and I have already suggested that it just may be that in the ethereal realms there was some disagreement about the possible consequences for the karmic balance of the ‘angels’ if they incarnated too early in forms that were not sufficiently advanced. Nevertheless, I continue to emphasize that the other aspect of the fall is the subsequent spiritual debasement of the human race as a whole. As we saw in Part 1, these two are undoubtedly confused in the Judaeo-Christian narratives, and to some extent Blavatsky’s analysis supports my attempts to disentangle them.
In her usual style, however, she cannot help but further confuse the issue herself. For example, she suggests that an additional aspect of the fallen angel narratives, based on the inference in the tenth stanza, is that some of the fourth root race bred with the ‘wrong stock’ – that is, the ‘fair to look upon’ but ‘mindless’ ancestors of the more degenerate members of the previous third race – to create yet more inhuman monsters.[xx] This is clearly similar to the distorted and negative Judaeo-Christian tradition of the fallen angels ‘taking wives’ from among the ‘fair daughters of men’, but she compounds this distortion by portraying the biblical Nephilim as one of the last products of these unholy unions, and describing them as ‘hairy, dumb monsters’.[xxi]
An Archaic Manuscript?
Leaving the distortions of Blavatsky’s commentaries aside, and concentrating once again on the Book of Dzyan itself, it is extremely difficult to assess whether the stanzas are a literary device used by her to provide enhanced impact, or translations of extracts from a genuine ancient text. At the outset she suggests that ‘an archaic manuscript, a collection of palm leaves made impermeable to water, fire, and air... is before the writer’s eye.’[xxii] She adds:[xxiii]
The Book of Dzyan is utterly unknown to our Philologists, or at any rate was never heard of by them under its present name... The main body of the Doctrines given is found scattered throughout hundreds and thousands of Sanskrit manuscripts.
She then goes on to describe how, despite a variety of religious zealots’ attempts to destroy all copies of ancient esoteric works, all the most ancient manuscripts ever written are preserved in secret lamaseries in Tibet, and copies of a number of them are in the vaults of the Vatican, although clearly they are inaccessible to the general public.[xxiv] This is an intriguing possibility that I raised previously, but it does not help us particularly with our current quest to establish whether or not the Book of Dzyan itself is a genuine source.
In The Secret Doctrine Blavatsky mentions ‘an old book’ that she had referred to at the beginning of Isis Unveiled as ‘the original work from which the many volumes of Kiu-ti were compiled’.[xxv] Moreover, in an article entitled ‘The Secret Books of Lam-Rim and Dzyan’ published only after her death, she states the following:[xxvi]
The Book of Dzyan – from the Sanskrit word ‘Dhyana’ (mystic meditation) – is the first volume of the Commentaries upon the seven secret folios of Kiu-te, and a Glossary of the public works of the same name. Thirty-five volumes of Kiu-te for exoteric purposes and the use of the laymen may be found in the possession of the Tibetan Gelugpa Lamas, in the library of any monastery; and also fourteen books of Commentaries and Annotations on the same by the initiated Teachers.
Strictly speaking, those thirty-five books ought to be termed ‘The Popularized Version’ of The Secret Doctrine, full of myths, blinds, and errors; the fourteen volumes of Commentaries, on the other hand – with their translations, annotations, and an ample glossary of Occult terms, worked out from one small archaic folio, the Book of the Secret Wisdom of the World – contain a digest of all the Occult Sciences. These, it appears, are kept secret and apart, in the charge of the Teshu-Lama, of Shigatse. The Books of Kiu-te are comparatively modern, having been edited within the last millennium, whereas, the earliest volumes of the Commentaries are of untold antiquity.
In 1981 theosophical scholar David Reigle managed to identify the Books of Kiu-te as a portion of the Tibetan Sacred Canon known as the Kanjur.[xxvii] Blavatsky specifically mentions this work twice in The Secret Doctrine, and in particular the Kala Chakra, which is the first tantra of it.[xxviii] According to Reigle, this is the only Buddhist tantra that bears any resemblance to the subject matter of The Secret Doctrine. However, he has been unable to trace any of the stanzas themselves to the laghu or ‘abridged’ version of the Kala Chakra, which is the only one commonly available, and he suggests that the mula or ‘root’ version, which is referred to in other Buddhist writings, probably does contain them but is accessible only to initiates. In other words, it remains deliberately concealed from the general public, just as Blavatsky suggests. We might also note that Blavatsky regularly quotes extracts from supposedly original commentaries on the Book of Dzyan throughout The Secret Doctrine.
If the stanzas from the Book of Dzyan are of genuine antiquity, I trust that I have done enough to demonstrate that it is possible to interpret them as largely supportive of the themes I expounded in Part 1 – despite the few obvious distortions they contain. If one day Reigle’s hopes were to be fulfilled, and the Tibetan lamas were to feel the time was right to divulge their most secret texts – in the form not of commentaries but of the supposedly ancient original stanzas on which they are based – it would be interesting to see if these distortions were still there. If they were, then I would still question their antiquity and degree of insight – because I am firmly of the belief that, if we go back far enough, there would have been adepts who would have known not to mix cyclical cosmology with human evolution and history on this planet, except by introducing the appropriate spiritual and esoteric angle to it. Whether they ever wrote this message down before it became distorted is, of course, a question that may never be answered. However, we in the revisionist history movement can and should do our best to ensure that such distortions are eradicated, and that the potential original message is once again available for consideration.
Of course we are still left with the possibility that the stanzas are merely the products of Blavatsky’s own pen, created to support a mishmash worldview deriving from Tibetan, Hindu, Jain and many other influences. If this were the case, she has merely managed to exaggerate and perpetuate a number of distortions that, as we have seen, these sources appear to contain. But even then, and however much we may disagree with her views on human history and evolution, there are still a few pearls of esoteric wisdom in her more general cosmological work that are very much consistent with various ideas that we will examine further in Part 3.
[i] See Genesis Unveiled bibliography for details.
[ii] ‘Letters of HPB to Hartmann’, The Path, March 1896, pp. 368–70; cited in Johnson, The Masters Revealed (State University of New York Press, 1994), introduction, pp. 9–10.
[iv] Coleman, ‘The Sources of Madame Blavatsky’s Writings’, in A Modern Priestess of Isis (London, 1895), appendix C, p. 354; cited in McCann, Mark, and Medway, Gareth, ‘Plagiarism in Occult Literature’, Fortean Studies 5 (1998), pp. 136–7. It is relatively easy to identify the sources Blavatsky used by referring to the comprehensive indexes appended to all later publications of her work.
[v] Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine (Theosophical University Press, 1988), volume 1, Introductory, p. xliii.
[vi] All the quoted stanzas from the Book of Dzyan can be found in ibid., volume 2, part 1, pp. 17–21. The selection and numbering of the stanzas extracted from the original source is entirely Blavatsky’s own. I have not reproduced stanzas 1 to 4 here, and apparently there are others that she has herself omitted.
[vii] Ibid., volume 2, part 1, p. 138.
[viii] Ibid., volume 2, part 1, pp. 249 and 434–5.
[ix] I have no wish to enter a lengthy debate about the extent to which Blavatsky herself may or may not have been a racist; nor do I wish to devote time to exploring how her undoubted emphasis on the Aryan race was terribly distorted by some of her successors – particularly the occult-inspired Nazi regime in Germany. She does, however, emphasize that this particular expression – black with sin – is merely a ‘figure of speech’ in the stanzas. See ibid., volume 2, part 1, p. 408, footnote.
[x] Ibid., volume 2, part 1, p. 198.
[xi] Ibid., volume 1, part 1, pp. 241–5.
[xii] Ibid., volume 2, Preliminary notes, pp. 9–10.
[xiii] Ibid., volume 2, part 1, pp. 198–9.
[xiv] Ibid., volume 1, Introductory, p. xliii.
[xv] Ibid., volume 2, part 1, p. 300.
[xvi] Ibid., volume 2, Preliminary notes, pp. 8–10.
[xvii] Ibid., volume 2, part 1, pp. 274 and 350.
[xviii] The entirety of ibid., volume 2, part 3, is devoted to ‘scientific’ matters.
[xix] Ibid., volume 2, part 1, pp. 228–30.
[xx] Ibid., volume 2, part 1, pp. 286–7.
[xxi] Ibid., volume 2, part 3, p. 775. We should however recall from a previous note to part 1 that the Enochian Book of Giants also makes the mistake of accusing the fallen angels of bestiality.
[xxii] Ibid., volume 1, Proem, p. 1.
[xxiii] Ibid., volume 1, Introductory, pp. xxii–xxiii.
[xxiv] Ibid., volume 1, Introductory, pp. xxiii–xxiv and xliv (the pertinent extracts are reproduced in Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald, Giza: The Truth (Virgin, 1999), chapter 5, pp. 237–42).
[xxv] Ibid., volume 1, Introductory, p. xliii.
[xxvi] Blavatsky’s Collected Writings (Quest Books, 1960–80), volume 14, p. 422; cited in an article by David Pratt entitled ‘The Book of Dzyan’ at http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dp5/dzyan.htm.
[xxvii] See Reigle, The Books of Kiu-te (Wizards Bookshelf, 1983) and Blavatsky’s Secret Books (Wizards Bookshelf, 1999).
[xxviii] Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, volume 1, Introductory, p. xxvii, and part 1, p. 52, footnote.