An Approach to “The Secret
Doctrine”, By H. P. Blavatsky
Steven H. Levy
The symbolic wheel of life
In the Proem of “The Secret Doctrine” (SD), by Helena P. Blavatsky [1], the Unknown and Unknowable Root of all being is represented to the finite mind of the student as abstract unconditioned space.
Co-eternal with the one reality, space, is primordial homogeneous substance representing the conditioned fullness of space. Space is also dynamic and in eternal motion. It is ever coming, going and becoming. Any point in space, being inseparable from the whole in reality, is one in essence with the Root of all being, permeated with homogeneous substance, and forever becoming.
It is subject to the same universal law of ebb and flow observed as periodicity, re-embodiment, and cause and effect. Each point in space is a mirror reflecting the potentiality of the absolute one reality.
In the realm of mathematics, 0 (zero) is like the one unconditioned reality. It has no conditioned value in itself. It has no direct influence on the conditioned value of other numbers either when it is added or subtracted. Yet, without 0, no other numbers can have the possibility of existence, value, or influence on other numbers. The potentiality and potency of all numbers have their root in the 0 that has no root or direct influence. The latent and potential influence of 0 becomes manifested and potent with the appearance of 1 (one). The infinite variety and influence of all numbers are all possible because of permutations and transformations of the number 1. In mathematics, every different number has its root in 1, and that 1 has its root in 0. The 1 is a unity and a duality.
The first breath of change in a period of manifestation is the ideation or active formation of the ideal plan of the universe from its latent potential state in the absolute one reality. This manifested ideation working through and with manifested homogeneous substance is a unity and a duality since neither can manifest without the other. It may be called the Universal Over-Soul, itself an aspect of the Unmanifested Root. Like the relationship of 1 to all other numbers in mathematics, every individual Soul is identical with it in essence and origin and owes its manifested existence to it. Like the point in space, each and every soul reflects like a mirror the potentiality of the Universal Over-Soul and the unlimited potentiality of the absolute Unknown Root.
Evolution is the gradual manifestation and development of the potentiality of every soul. As the potentiality of every soul is unlimited there can be no beginning or ending to the process of evolution, but there can be periods of time during which the soul reaches a relative stage of “greatness” The Third Fundamental Proposition of The Secret Doctrine teaches the evolutionary process that each soul must go through. The evolutionary “cycle of necessity” for the pilgrim soul is governed by periodicity, re-embodiment, and cause and effect. Three reasons are given why the process is called the “cycle of necessity”.
The first reason is that the evolution of soul is governed by the same law that governs the universe. “The Secret Doctrine” teaches the progressive development of everything, worlds as well as atoms; and this stupendous development has neither conceivable beginning nor imaginable end. Our “Universe” is only one of an infinite number of Universes, all of them “Sons of Necessity”, because links in the great Cosmic chain of Universes, each standing in the relation of an effect as regards its predecessor, and being a cause as regards its successor. (SD, vol. I, p. 43)
The second reason the process is called the “cycle of necessity” is because no soul, a spark of the Universal Over-Soul, can have an individual and independent conscious existence before passing through all the different kingdoms of the phenomenal world of material forms. Conscious existence in all its degrees requires a material form, and independent self-conscious existence requires a human form. There is a universal process of ebb and flow that provides a natural impulse whereby the ideation in the Universal Over-Soul is gradually manifested in more dense and differentiated forms of matter. As the soul is one in essence and origin with the Universal Over-Soul, the natural impulse towards conscious existence in form comes from within the soul itself. It is the soul that brings forth the different degrees of form necessary for its evolutionary progress. In the Esoteric Philosophy the spark of Universal Over-Soul is called the Monad. “The Monad has to pass through its mineral, vegetable and animal forms, before the Light of the Logos is awakened in the animal man”. (SD, vol. II, p. 42)
The third reason the process is called the “cycle of necessity” is because once the light of self-conscious mind is lit up in the human form, it is necessary for further individual progress in conscious awareness to be accomplished by self-induced and self-devised efforts checked by the lawful effects of previous self-induced causes. In the human condition, the spiritual stream of evolution, whereby the ideal potentiality within the monad is gradually unfolded from within outward and manifested in material form, and the physical stream of evolution whereby more complex and differentiated forms are manifested to provide a suitable material basis for the expression of consciousness of the monad, are blended with the intellectual stream of evolution. In other words, once the human stage of evolution is reached the further impulse to spiritual, physical, and intellectual evolution is provided by self-conscious choices and efforts within the mind. Therefore, this aspect of the Third Fundamental Proposition is called the Pivotal Doctrine. At this pivotal point, human evolution and the evolution of nature is influenced by the transformation and growth of mind in the human being from lower degrees to higher degrees of intelligence. This can only be won by personal effort and merit.
An excerpt from “The Secret Doctrine” will further illustrate the issue:
“Moreover, the Secret Doctrine teaches (…) the fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over-Soul, the latter being itself an aspect of the Unknown Root; and the obligatory pilgrimage for every Soul – a spark of the former – through the Cycle of Incarnation (or ‘Necessity’) in accordance with Cyclic and Karmic law, during the whole term. In other words, no purely spiritual Buddhi (divine Soul) can have an independent (conscious) existence before the spark which issued from the pure Essence of the Universal Sixth principle, – or the OVER-SOUL, – has (a) passed through every elemental form of the phenomenal world of that Manvantara, and (b) acquired individuality, first by natural impulse, and then by self-induced and self-devised efforts (checked by its Karma), thus ascending through all the degrees of intelligence, from the lowest to the highest Manas, from mineral and plant, up to the holiest archangel (Dhyani-Buddha). The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations. This is why the Hindus say that the Universe is Brahma and Brahmâ, for Brahma is in every atom of the universe, the six principles in Nature being all the outcome – the variously differentiated aspects – of the SEVENTH and ONE, the only reality in the Universe whether Cosmical or micro-cosmical; and also why the permutations (psychic, spiritual and physical), on the plane of manifestation and form, of the sixth (Brahmâ the vehicle of Brahma) are viewed by metaphysical antiphrasis as illusive and Mayavic. For although the root of every atom individually and of every form collectively, is that seventh principle or the one Reality, still, in its manifested phenomenal and temporary appearance, it is no better than an evanescent illusion of our senses.” (SD, vol. I, pp. 17-18)
It is a paradox, that although we experience a phenomenal and temporary existence that is, as H.P.B. states above, no better than an illusion to the senses compared to the One Reality, any real evolutionary progress spiritually, intellectually, and physically must be brought about by replacing the false ideas that arise in the mind due to the illusion of separateness with enduring wisdom that can be added to the permanent spiritual part of our nature like pearls on a string.
With so many evidences of self-delusion, one may wonder how we are to proceed by self-induced and self-devised effort. There is hope. As mind beings we have the ability and choice to see beyond the apparent illusions of the senses and witness in the phenomena of our existence evidence of what is real. Life as we know it is real enough for us. This world is part of our cycle of necessity because in it and only in it can we learn that the interdependence of life is real, law is real, and evolution is real. In spite of many failures, if we choose to keep trying, we will also learn that the perfectibility of human nature is real.
[1] “The Secret Doctrine”, Helena P.  Blavatsky, Theosophy Company, Los Angeles, two volumes.
In September 2016, after a careful analysis of the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to form the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, whose priorities include the building of a better future in the different dimensions of life.