Place has been given to Mr. Sinnett's admirably written article "Esoteric Teaching" for two good reasons: first, because he requested its publication, and second, because the theme is excellent and the time propitious. But by its appearance the PATH is not bound to the conclusions of the learned author.
Roughly summarizing the history of the recrudescence of the teaching of the Lodge for this century, we find H. P. B. publicly beginning it, though guardedly, in Isis Unveiled as herself the messenger of the real Teachers behind. At that time (1875) she gave private teachings (1) in America to certain persons. Then in India in the Theosophist, with H. P. B. as editor, it proceeds to further unfolding in articles entitled "Fragments of Occult Truth". It is a pity this name was not preserved and used for the book which the "Fragments" afterwards became — Esoteric Buddhism. Later the Occult World came out in 1884, and also Esoteric Buddhism. During all this time H. P. B. was doing her own work with others, explaining the same philosophy as was given to Mr. Sinnett, and contributed to literature the Key to Theosophy and the Secret Doctrine. The fact — not denied by Mr. Sinnett or anyone — is that the letters from the Masters from which the matter for Esoteric Buddhism was taken came in the main through H. P. B., for although it is true she "showed surprise" to Mr. Sinnett on seeing certain things communicated to him in letters from the Masters, the surprise was not at teachings which were new to her, but surprise that they were divulged at all, for she knew the teaching, inasmuch as she taught it under pledge as far back as from 1875 to 1878 in America.
In her Secret Doctrine, availing herself of the same teachers to whom she introduced Mr. Sinnett, she corrected two errors into which she said he had fallen, i.e., respecting Devachan and our companion planets. It is a perfectly unthinkable proposition to say that she was not advised by the Masters when writing the Secret Doctrine. I who saw many of the Masters' letters in 1888 in reference to the Secret Doctrine certainly cannot give up the evidence of my inner and outer senses. I know as surely as I know any fact that the same teachers were giving her in 1887 and 1888, as before, information for that book, in black upon white, and I am certain they dictated the corrections given in Secret Doctrine upon the points now before us. Evidence, eye-sight, and tradition confirm it, for in 1876 to 1878 I was given by her the same theories and the clue to the misunderstanding which a desire for consistency as to mere words has now aroused.
Even in 1888 it was not the time to make the point precisely clear to the public. Times have rule in occult teaching more than most readers — or writers — of theosophical books suspect. But the clue was given, a broad hint was thrown out. It is now the time when what I was told in 1876 and 1878 by the Masters through H. P. B. may be told, since the prohibition put personally upon me has been withdrawn.
The questions repeating Mars and Mercury — and I might add those which might have been but were not put about Venus — did touch upon other questions on the outskirts of higher initiations and which never are and never will be answered before the right time. The statement in the Master's letter to Mr. Sinnett that the questions put by the latter approached too near to secrets of higher initiations did not, it is true, refer directly to these questions about Mars and Mercury, but that does not alter the fact that all the questions then propounded on this planetary subject touched the delicate area; and whether Mr. Sinnett or anyone else liked it or not, attention had to be drawn off even at the risk of creating a temporary confusion on the topic. But in 1888 time had rolled on further, and now it is 1893 and nearer and nearer to another cycle. The clue may now be given. It may be noticed, if readers will observe, that the many questions raised in reference to Mars and Mercury served the additional purpose of so distracting the attention of questioners that hardly any queries were raised about the subject of "Cycles" on which the Masters had the completest information but about which the Lodge is more careful to remain silent than in respect to other points — yet the cycles are more important and have more bearing on life than Mars and Mercury. Mars, Mercury, and Venus have a special and direct relation to this earth and its invisible companions. Those three visible spheres have to do with certain cosmic principles and lines of influence in and on the earth, while the remaining visible planets of the Solar System have not the same relation. Read it thus, as taught before Mr. Sinnett was in the T. S., and as repeated in the Secret Doctrine:
The unseen companions of your earth are united with it in mass, though different as to quality of substance. The visible planets of your Solar System which have a relation special and peculiar to Earth are Mars, Mercury, and Venus. But what that peculiar — nay wonderful — relation is do not ask, for we will not tell you. If while the current is open you persist in the question, you will arouse in yourselves a perplexity which the answer obtained will not relieve. Is there not a spirit of irritation, of rage, and another of wisdom and active judgment in man and Nature which may relate to visible planets which are not an actual part of earth's own special family? This is as far as we will now go.
The whole misunderstanding hinges on the word "relation". It was a word which led up to many things. The presence of Mars and Mercury in the sky presents a relation to the earth, yet they have another relation to it which Saturn, Jupiter, and so on have not, while the latter bear the same relation to us of proximity as do the first. Admit the proposed construction above given, and at once there is complete concordance between Esoteric Buddhism and Secret Doctrine as to esoteric divulgements. But continue the controversy to try and show that Esoteric Buddhism had not a single blunder, and perplexities of all sorts impossible to relieve will spring up on every hand. The Masters have commended the book, and well so, as it is made up from their letters. But that does not prevent one making slight mistakes, as, for instance, the one that all men stay in devachan for 1500 years. This is not the fact, nor is it according to reason. And I make bold to say that it is not 1500 years since I was last in devachan, but much less; and this assertion is made on personal knowledge supported by confirmatory statement from the same Masters. But it is true that the general run of the human race stays in devachan for the average time of 1500 years of mortal time.
Mars, Mercury, Venus, then, are a part of our system in the sense of having an extremely important relation and influence with the human race and its planets, and having that in mind it was quite permissible for the teacher to reply that Mars and Mercury belong to our system.
1. Moreover, a considerable part of the philosophy expounded by Mr. Sinnett was taught in America before Isis Unveiled was published to two Europeans and to my colleague, Col. Olcott. — Secret Doctrine, vol. I, p. xix. (return to text)
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