The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy

H.P. Blavatsky‘s Masterpiece unites science and religion in a unique synthesis. It changed my life and my world view completely and I read it several times, especially the first volume. The Secret Doctrine contains many of the themes of the modern New Age movement like: karmic evolution, Atlantis, parapsychology, Unity of All Life/everything, unity of all religions etc.

Blavatsky’s great contribution to spiritual understanding worldwide. She united religion and science at a time when the two words seemed to mean opposite things (as they often do now).

Blavatsky taught Holism before the word was invented

Holistic thought is basically the fact that everything is both interconnected and (ultimately) goes back to ONE source. Holistic thought is the opposite of reductionist thinking: Reductionist thinking explains things by explaining the part. In holistic thinking the context is stressed.

What you (probably) did not know about The Secret Doctrine

Although both volumes were first published in 1888, H.P. Blavatsky started writing 1879

  • The Secret Doctrine was meant to be a rewrite of Isis Unveiled, Blavatsky’s first book
  • The book came out in two separate volumes, but as early as 1884 people had subscribed to installments which never came out. Instead the subscribers just received the book itself
  • Blavatsky was ill during most of the writing
  • Blavatsky was also publicly denounced by the SPR while writing the Secret Doctrine – it’s a wonder the book got finished at all, given the amount of stress she was under
  • Much of the book was written based on visions she got from her Mahatmas
  • After Blavatsky thought she was finished, she had two associates (the Keightley’s) look it over – they rearranged the whole thing and added questions that Blavatsky then answered

Ideas expressed in The Secret Doctrine:

  1. All is ONE
    The source of everything is the oneness of the universe, which includes matter and consciousness.
  2. Evolution of consciousness
    Human consciousness is part of the general cycle of evolution of universal consciousness.
  3. Ultimate Truth unites science and religion
  4. Consciousness is graded
    There are several levels of consciousness. Mind is only one of them. Intuition, divine thought and emotion are others.
  5. Karma
    Karma as a law of nature: the ethical law of cause and effect
  6. Soul of individual is one with the Soul of the Universe
    In the words of Advaita Vedanta: Atman is Brahman
  7. What we see is illusion
    The universe is fundamentally different from the way it appears to us.
  8. Akasha
    There is a cosmic record on the Astral Plane of everything that happens
  9. People are different – and that’s OK
    People should be judged on their spiritual worth, not the color of their skin.

The Third Volume of the Secret Doctrine

This controversial third volume of the Secret Doctrine was published by Annie Besant after Blavatsky’s demise in 1891 ‘from papers found in her desk’. Some feel Besant edited the material too much. Others feel this is the first volume of the Secret Doctrine as Blavatsky had meant to write it (before editors got int the way).

The first half is as good an introduction into theosophical thought as you’ll find – ideas jump off every page while it’s also very compelling reading. The second half is Blavatsky’s Esoteric Instructions to her students. This part is probably edited by Besant more. Still, also very thought provoking.

Also available on kindle