THEOSOPHY, Vol. 60, No. 7, May, 1972
(Pages 201-207; Size: 22K)


TRUTH is stranger than fiction, and this world-old adage finds its application in the case in hand. The wisdom of the archaic ages or the "Secret Doctrine" embodied in the Oriental Kabala -- of which the Rabbinical is but an abridgement -- did not die out with the last eclectic school. The Gnosis lingers still on earth, and its votaries are many, albeit unknown. Secret brotherhoods have been mentioned by more than one great author. If they have been regarded as mere fictions of the novelist, that fact has only helped the "brother-adepts" to keep their incognito the more easily. Throughout the interminable ages we find now and then men who more or less succeed in uniting themselves "with God," as the expression goes -- with their own spirit, as we ought to translate. The Buddhists call such men Arhats: they in whom evil desire is entirely destroyed.

From the very day when the first mystic found the means of communication between this world and the worlds of the invisible hosts, between the sphere of matter and that of pure spirit, he concluded that to abandon this mysterious science to the profanation of the rabble was to lose it. An abuse of it might lead mankind to speedy destruction; it was like surrounding a group of children with explosives and furnishing them with matches. The first self-made adept initiated but a select few, and kept silence with the multitudes. He recognized his God and felt the great Being within himself. The Atman, the Self, the mighty Lord and Protector, once that man knew him as the "I am," the Ego Sum, showed his full powers to him who could recognize the "still small voice." From the days of the primitive man described by the first Vedic poet, down to our modern age, there has not been a philosopher worthy of the name who did not carry in the silent sanctuary of his heart the grand and mysterious truth. If initiated, he learned it as a sacred science. If otherwise, then like Socrates repeating to himself, as well as to his fellow-men, the noble injunction "O man, know thyself," he succeeded in recognizing his God within himself.

Things "unseen and incorporeal," the mystery of Being outside our terrestrial sphere, Buddha left entirely untouched in his public lectures, reserving the hidden truths for a select circle of his Arhats. This latter was the name first given to the Jain and subsequently to the Buddhist holy men initiated into the esoteric mysteries. The Arhat is one who has entered the best and highest path, and is thus emancipated from rebirth. At his death he is never reincarnated but invariably attains Nirvana, the world of cause, in which all deceptive effects or delusions of our senses disappear. It means the certitude of personal immortality in Spirit, not in Soul -- which as a finite emanation must certainly disintegrate its particles, a compound of human sensations, passions, and yearning for some objective kind of existence; before the immortal spirit of the Ego is quite freed and henceforth secure against further transmigration in any form. And how can man ever reach this state so long as the Upadana, that state of longing for life, does not disappear from the sentient being, from the Ahankara clothed, however, in a sublimated body? It is the Upadana or the intense desire which produces WILL, and it is will which develops force, and the latter generates matter or an objective form. Thus the disembodied Ego, through this sole undying desire in him, unconsciously furnishes the conditions of his successive self-procreation in various forms, which depend on his mental state and karma, the good or bad deeds of his preceding existence commonly called merit and demerit.

This is why the Master recommended to his mendicants the cultivation of the four degrees of Dhyana, the noble "Path of the Four Truths," i.e., that gradual acquirement of stoical indifference for either life or death. That state of spiritual self-contemplation during which man utterly loses sight of his physical and dual individuality, composed of soul and body; and, uniting himself with his third and higher immortal Self, the real and heavenly man merges, so to say, into the divine Essence, whence his own spirit proceeded like a spark from the common hearth. Thus the Arhat, the holy mendicant, can reach Nirvana while yet on earth; and his spirit, totally freed from the trammels of the "psychical, terrestrial, devilish wisdom," as James calls it, and being in its own nature omniscient and omnipotent, can on earth through the sole power of his thought (Kriyashakti) produce the greatest of phenomena.

There are four grades of initiation mentioned in exoteric works, which are known respectively in Sanskrit as Scrotapanna, Sagardagan, Anagamin, and Arhan -- the four paths to Nirvana in this, our fourth Round, bearing the same appellations. The "Arhan," though he can see the past, the present and the future, is not yet the highest initiate, for the Adept himself, the initiated candidate, becomes chela (pupil) to a higher Initiate. Three further grades have to be conquered by the Arhan who would reach the apex of the ladder of Arhatship. There are those who have reached it even in this fifth race of ours, but the faculties necessary for the attainment of these higher grades will be fully developed in the average ascetic only at the end of this root-race, and in the Sixth and Seventh. Thus there will always be initiates and the profane till the end of this minor Manvantara, the present life-cycle.

Said Buddha: "No Arhat, oh mendicant, can reach absolute knowledge before he becomes one with Paranirvana. Parakalpita and Paratantra are his two great enemies." Parakalpita is error, made by those unable to realize the emptiness and illusionary nature of all; who believe something to exist which does not -- e.g., the Non-Ego. Paratantra is that, whatever it is, which exists only through a dependent or causal connection, and which has to disappear as soon as the cause from which it proceeds is removed -- e.g., the light of a wick. Destroy or extinguish it, and light disappears. One feels a serious doubt whether, with all its intellectual acuteness, our age is destined to discover in each Western nation even one solitary, uninitiated scholar or philosopher capable of fully comprehending the spirit of archaic philosophy. Nor can one be expected to, before the real meaning of these terms, the alpha and omega of our Eastern esotericism, the words Sat and Asat -- so freely used in the Rig-Veda and elsewhere -- is thoroughly assimilated. Without this key to the Aryan wisdom, the cosmogony of the Rishis and the Arhats is in danger of remaining a dead letter to the average orientalist. Asat is not merely the negation of Sat, nor is it the "not yet existing"; for Sat is in itself neither the "Existent" or "being." SAT is immutable, the ever present, changeless and eternal root, from and through which all proceeds. But it is far more than the potential force in the seed which propels onward the process of development, or what is now called evolution. It is the ever-becoming, though the never-manifesting. Sat is born from Asat, and Asat is begotten by Sat: the perpetual motion in a circle, truly; yet a circle that can be squared only at the supreme Initiation, at the threshold of Paranirvana.

Dangma, in Tibetan, means a purified soul, one who has become the highest adept or rather a Mahatma, so called. The "opened eye" of the Dangma is the inner spiritual eye of the seer, and the faculty which manifests through it is not clairvoyance as ordinarily understood, i.e., the power of seeing at a distance. It is rather the faculty of spiritual intuition, through which direct and certain knowledge is obtainable. This faculty is intimately connected with the "third eye," which mythological tradition ascribes to certain races of men. Thus, e.g., by their spiritual sight the adepts, and even some sensitives and seers, are always able to discern, in a greater or smaller degree, the presence and close proximity to us of Beings pertaining to other spheres of life. Those of the (spiritually) higher worlds, communicate only with those terrestrial mortals -- the adepts -- who ascend to them, through individual efforts, on to the higher plane they are occupying. Such great adept astronomers were the scientists of the earliest races of the Aryan stock, that they seem to have known far more about the races of Mars, and Venus even, than the modern anthropologist knows of those of the early stages of the earth. The adept may read the future in an elemental monad, but he has to draw for his object a great number of them, as each monad represents only a portion of the kingdom it belongs to. There is a transcendental set of causes put in motion -- so to speak -- in the occurrence of these phenomena, which, not being in relation to our narrow range of cognition, can only be traced to their source and their nature, and understood by the spiritual faculties of the adept. It is taught that there is an inherent law -- not only in the primordial, but also in the manifested matter on our phenomenal plane -- by which Nature correlates her geometrical forms, and later also her compound elements; and in which there is no place for accident or chance. It is a fundamental law in occultism that there is no rest or cessation of motion in Nature. It is the knowledge of this law that permits and helps the Arhat to perform his Siddhis, or various phenomena, such as disintegration of matter, the transport of objects from one plane to another.

The earliest initiates and adepts, or the "Wise Men," for whom it is claimed that they were initiated into the mysteries of Nature by the Universal Mind, represented by the highest angels (Dhyanis), were named the "Serpents of Wisdom" and "Dragons." In the Yogacharya system of the contemplative Mahayana school, Alaya is both the Universal Soul (Anima Mundi) and the Self of a progressed Adept. "He who is strong in the Yoga can introduce at will his Alaya by means of meditation into the true nature of existence." The Secret Doctrine teaches that man -- man in the future of his evolutionary journey -- will pass through strange transformations. Even the "War in Heaven" of every scripture is shown, in one of its significations, to have meant and referred to those terrible struggles in store for the candidate for adeptship, between himself and his (by magic) personified human passions, when the inner enlightened man had either to slay them or fail. In the former case he became the "Dragon-Slayer," as having happily overcome all the temptations; and a "Son of the Serpent" and a Serpent himself, having cast off his old skin and been born in a new body, thus becoming a Son of Wisdom and Immortality in Eternity. In the symbology of cosmogony, it is taught that in the course of time the seven-headed or septenary Dragon-Logos was split up, so to speak, into four heptanomic parts or twenty eight portions. Each lunar week has a distinct occult character in the lunar months; each day of the twenty-eight has its special characteristics; as each of the twelve constellations, whether separate or in combination with other signs, has an occult influence either for good or for evil. This represents the sum of knowledge that man can acquire on this earth. Yet few are those who acquire it, and still fewer are the wise men who get to the root of knowledge symbolized by the great Root Dragon, the spiritual Logos of these visible signs. But those who do, receive the name of "Dragons," and they are the "Arhats of the Four Truths of the 28 Faculties," or attributes, and have always been so called.

An adept must refuse to impart the conditions and means which lead to the correlation of the elements, whether psychic or physical, that may produce a hurtful result as well as a beneficent one. But he is ever ready to impart to the earnest student the secret of the ancient thought in anything that regards history concealed under mythological symbolism, and thus to furnish a few more landmarks toward a retrospective view of the past, as containing useful information with regard to the origin of man, the evolution of the races and geognosy.

But why do not the adepts reveal all that they know? To this one might answer: "Why should they, since one knows beforehand that no man of science will accept, even as an hypothesis, let alone as a theory or axiom, the facts imparted. Have they so much as accepted or believed in the A B C of the Occult philosophy contained in the theosophical works and periodicals? Has not even the little which was given, been ridiculed and derided? ..." Notwithstanding such an unenviable prospect, a mass of facts is given in the present work -- The Secret Doctrine. Yet, many are the candidates at the doors of those who are supposed to know the path that leads to the secret brotherhoods. The great majority are refused admittance; and these turn away, interpreting the refusal as an evidence of the non-existence of any such secret society. Of the minority accepted, more than two-thirds fail upon trial. The seventh rule of the ancient Rosicrucian brotherhoods, which is universal among all true secret societies: "the Rosy-Crux becomes and is not made," is more than the generality of men can bear to have applied to them. But let no one suppose that of the candidates who fail, any will divulge to the world even the trifle they may have learned, as some Masons do. None know better than themselves how unlikely it is that a neophyte should ever talk of what was imparted to him. Thus these societies will go on and hear themselves denied without uttering a word -- until the day shall come for them to throw off their reserve and show how completely they are masters of the situation!

In what age were there no Occultists and no Adepts? Travelers have met them on the shores of the sacred Ganges, brushed against them in the silent ruins of Thebes, and in the mysterious departed chambers of Luxor. They have been encountered in the caves of Elephanta and on the arid desolate plains of the Great Sahara. Historical memoirs have recorded their presence in brilliantly illuminated salons of European aristocracy. They may be found everywhere, but make themselves known only to those who have devoted their lives to unselfish study and are not likely to turn back. Also, there are numbers of these mystic brotherhoods which have naught to do with "civilized" countries and it is in their unknown communities that are concealed the skeletons of the past. These adepts could, if they chose, lay claim to strange ancestry, and exhibit verifiable documents that would explain many a mysterious page in both sacred and profane history. Had the keys to the hieratic writings and the secret of Egyptian and Hindu symbolism been known to the Christian Fathers, they would not have allowed a single monument of old to stand unmutilated. And yet, if we are well informed -- and we think we are -- there was no one such in all Egypt, but that the secret records of its hieroglyphics were carefully registered by the sacerdotal caste. These records still exist, though "not extant" for the general public, though perhaps the monuments may have passed away forever out of human sight.

H. P. Blavatsky states that the adepts have each their Dhyani-Buddha, their elder "twin Soul," and they know it -- calling it "Father-Soul" and "Father-Fire." It is only at the last and supreme initiation, however, that they learn it when placed face to face with the bright "Image." Elsewhere she states that there were those among the highest epoptæ (initiated) of the greater Mysteries (of Greece, and all other countries) who knew nothing of their last and dreaded rite -- the voluntary transfer of life from hierophant to candidate. Once that an adept was initiated into the last and most solemn mystery of the life-transfer, the awful seventh rite of the great sacerdotal operation, which is the highest theurgy, he belonged no more to this world. His soul was free thereafter, and the seven mortal sins lying in wait to devour his heart -- as the soul, liberated by death, would be crossing the seven halls and seven staircases -- could hurt him no more, alive or dead. He had passed the "twice seven trials" and twelve labors of the final hour.

It is under the direct, silent guidance of the Maha-Guru that all the other less divine Teachers and instructors of mankind became, from the first awakening of human consciousness, the guides of early Humanity.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


Unity of everything in the universe implies and justifies our belief in the experience of a knowledge at once scientific, philosophical and religious, showing the necessity and actuality of the connection of man and all things in the universe with each other; which knowledge, therefore, becomes essentially RELIGION, and must be called in its integrity and universality by the distinctive name of WISDOM-RELIGION.

It is from this WISDOM-RELIGION that all the various individual "Religions" (erroneously so-called) have sprung, forming in their turn offshoots and branches, and also all the minor creeds, based upon and always originated through some personal experience in psychology. Every such religion, or religious offshoot, be it considered orthodox or heretical, wise or foolish, started originally as a clear and unadulterated stream from the Mother-Source. The fact that each became in time polluted with purely human speculations and even inventions, due to interested motives, does not prevent any from having been pure in its early beginnings.


...and this is the separate item that followed the first printing of the above article, in June, 1960, as stated in the footnote. I felt it was useful to include it here also:


If I have not made matters clear, let me try again. That the world came to its present state from the hand of God or nature, as easily as your will moves your hand, that Not-Being passed smoothly into Being, is no certain truth. That it emerged from the womb of nothingness at a word, who can tell us this? What reason have we for thinking that it was an easy thing to call into existence a universe of conscious and interacting intelligences, to harmonize their desires, to attain perfection in such an enterprise in a moment of time? It may well be that to attain to man's mind and soul a great circle was required, like the great circle sailed by mariners. So hard a thing it may have been to found the state of man. 


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(1) NOTE.--Collated from standard Theosophical writings. Reprinted from THEOSOPHY for June, 1960.
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