Transformation: Vital Essence of HPB's Secret Doctrine

Part 2

by Aryel Sanat

(Posted on the Internet with permission of the author)

This Part 2 of my paper is also documented much more fully in several books I have written on this subject, none of them published to date. As in the first paper, the material given here comes primarily from three of those books: The Stanzas of Zen. A Commentary on H.P. Blavatsky's Translation of The Stanzas of Dzyan; H.P. Blavatsky's Stanzas of Dzyan: Ancient Source for Tibetan Buddhism and the Jewish Kabbalah?; and Transformation: Central Teaching of the New Age and the Perennial Philosophy. If the Secret Doctrine were not about transformation -- as the rest of her writings have been shown to be -- then there would be two mutually exclusive and thoroughly incompatible teachings in HPB's corpus. What follows shows that there is only one teaching running throughout the writings of HPB and her teachers.


The first series of the Stanzas of Dzyan, comprising the first volume of the Secret Doctrine, deals with the subject of cosmogenesis, the source of the cosmos. "Cosmos" usually refers to the universe as an ordered whole. So it is understandable that most students should have thought it referred to just that. But in the Secret Doctrine, as well as in its etymology, the word can refer interchangeably to a microcosm or to a macrocosm. Further, the constant injunction of the Esoteric Science is to begin -- and continue throughout one's studies -- by understanding that cosmos which is oneself. It refers to "any complete and orderly system." As HPB put it in the Secret Doctrine,

The history of Cosmic Evolution, as traced in the Stanzas, is, so to say, the abstract algebraical formula of that evolution... The Stanzas, therefore, give an abstract formula which can be applied mutatis mutandi, to all evolution: to that of our tiny Earth, to that of the Chain of Planets of which that Earth forms one, to the Solar Universe to which that Chain belongs and so on, in an ascending scale, till the mind reels and is exhausted in the effort.1

Further on, she explained how what is said about "Chains" or "Rounds," applies equally to an individual human being. In the process of spelling out the significance of Chains and Rounds, she adds:

It thus becomes apparent how perfect is the analogy between the processes of Nature in the Kosmos and in the individual man. The latter lives through his life-cycle, and dies. His "higher principles," corresponding in the development of a Planetary Chain to the cycling Monads, pass into Devachan, which corresponds to the Nirvana and states of rest intervening between two Chains. The man's lower "principles" are disintegrated in time, and are used by Nature again for the formation of new human principles; the same process also taking place in the disintegration and formation of Worlds. Analogy is thus the surest guide to the comprehension of the Occult teachings.2

As if to let the careful student know what is intended in that passage, she goes on to say the proper way to research Rounds and Chains is to follow along the lines of Zen and Taoism, schools well-known for their radically psychological, non-conceptual approach:

This is one of the "seven mysteries of the Moon," and it is now revealed. The seven "mysteries" are called by the Japanese Yama-booshis, the mystics of the Lao-Tse sect and the ascetic monks of Kyoto, the Dzendoo -- the Seven Jewels." 3

HPB is clearly telling us that to travel far, one must begin where one is. Imagining one is elsewhere, and on a mental journey, will not do. One must use one's own two feet to walk the distance. In esoteric research, one starts by understanding who and what one is, not according to some conceptual system (for one is beginning, and not yet prepared to understand the significance of any system). As HPB expressed it in the very first paper she issued when she founded the Esoteric School of Theosophy,

[T]o arrive at the macrocosmical, you must begin by the microcosmical, i.e., you must study MAN, the microcosm.4

The word "microcosm" implies the existence of a macrocosm. So self-knowledge has a far more comprehensive meaning in this context, than in conventional systems of psychology. As HPB clarified in her paper,

The ancient occult axiom, "Know Thyself," must be familiar to every student; but few if any have apprehended the real meaning of this wise exhortation of the Delphic Oracle. You all know your earthly pedigree, but who of you has ever traced all the links of heredity, astral, psychic and spiritual, which go to make you what you are? Many have written and expressed their desire to unite themselves with their Higher Ego, yet none seem to know the indissoluble link connecting their "Higher Egos" with the One Universal Self.
For all purposes of Occultism, whether practical or purely metaphysical, such knowledge is absolutely requisite.
...Let us study Man, therefore; but if we separate him for one moment from the Universal Whole, or view him in isolation, from a single aspect, apart from the "Heavenly Man" -- the Universe symbolized by Adam Kadmon or his equivalents in every philosophy -- we shall either land in Black Magic or fail most ingloriously in our attempt.5


The cosmogenesis referred to in the first volume of the Secret Doctrine is thus not likely to be merely a metaphysical chimera. The Secret Doctrine's first volume can best be understood if it is taken to be about the source of that cosmos which humanity is, and about the transformation that takes place once there is a direct perception of the microcosm/macrocosm. So the study of cosmogony is the study of oneself. The study of the "macrocosm," without the preliminary of understanding oneself, would seem to be reserved exclusively for frivolous persons, for mere scholars and their surrogates. According to what HPB said in the quotes cited above, it is not possible for anyone to understand what "macrocosm" refers to, without a thorough understanding of the microcosm. That is, there must have been initiation, transformation, first. Only then is one in a position to even consider any question having to do with the macrocosm.

Anyone serious about understanding the nature of the cosmos must begin by understanding his or her own limitations, his or her own capacities. But the "study" of the self is unlike any other, first of all because it leads to the study of everything that is; nay it is the study of everything that is. Also, and perhaps more importantly, it requires the use of faculties that tend to be kept dormant in our more or less spiritually primitive society. Of course, the Secret Doctrine is easily available, and anyone can read it and interpret it whimsically, to reflect pet theories and expectations. That is the exoteric way of reading and studying it. The esoteric way of studying it, according to what HPB said, as in the "Bowen notes," implies a transformation. As she put it, in Bowen's words:

If one imagines that one is going to get a satisfactory picture of the constitution of the Universe from the S.D. one will get only confusion from its study. It is not meant to give any such final verdict on existence, but to LEAD TOWARDS THE TRUTH. She repeated this latter expression many times.
It is worse than useless going to those whom we imagine to be advanced students (she said) and asking them to give us an "interpretation" of the S.D. They cannot do it. If they try, all they give are cut and dried exoteric renderings which do not remotely resemble the TRUTH. To accept such interpretation means anchoring ourselves to fixed ideas, whereas TRUTH lies beyond any ideas we can formulate or express. Exoteric interpretations are all very well, and she does not condemn them so long as they are taken as pointers for beginners, and are not accepted by them as anything more. Many persons who are in, or who will in the future be in the T.S. are of course potentially incapable of any advance beyond the range of a common exoteric conception. But there are, and will be others, and for them she sets out the following and true way of approach to the S.D.
Come to the S.D. (she says) without any hope of getting the final Truth of existence from it, or with any idea other than seeing how far it may lead TOWARDS the Truth. See in study a means of exercising and developing the mind never touched by other studies.6

Can we exercise and develop the mind never touched by other studies? Does that not say rather clearly that the real esoteric study is not in books? Is it not asserting, with some urgency, that there must be transformation before one can even begin the real study of the Secret Doctrine? In Part 1, it was already shown how without transformation there cannot be theosophy, according to all other major HPB works. As Part 2 is showing, the Secret Doctrine is no exception: There are not two mutually exclusive teachings in HPB's work: The Secret Doctrine and the rest of her opus are of one cloth.

There are at least three main indicators of the truth of the proposition that the essence of the Secret Doctrine is human transformation. One of these is to be found in the text itself of the Secret Doctrine. A second may be deduced from the explicit connection HPB makes between the Voice of the Silence and the Stanzas of Dzyan. A third indicator comes from the recently discovered fact that the Stanzas are either culled from, or are the source for, the Kalachakra Tantra -- the most highly regarded esoteric teaching of Tibet. Each of these indicators will be explored briefly.

The Stanzas of Dzyan

The meaning of the word "Dzyan" is provided by HPB and her teachers in the Secret Doctrine. She refers to the "Book of Dzyan -- from the Sanskrit word 'Dhyan' (mystic meditation)."7 Her use of the word "mystic" to qualify what kind of meditation is meant, suggests that she was not referring to the Sanskrit word dhyana as meaning simply "meditation." She seems to be pointing to a way of perceiving and a way of being that are what takes place in psychological and spiritual transformation.

Indeed, the Secret Doctrine says: "Dan, in modern Chinese and Tibetan phonetics Ch'an, is the general term for the esoteric schools and their literature," and that the related word Janna was defined in the old texts as "a second inner birth."8 In other words, what the authors of the Secret Doctrine mean by "mystic meditation" as a translation of "Dzyan," and what the Stanzas of Dzyan are therefore about, is human transformation, the "second inner birth" that takes place mystically, not as the result of a practice or of the acceptance of certain ideas.

So this main source of all theosophical teaching might be presented with a more meaningful name to a contemporary audience: The Stanzas of Zen. Dzyan, according to Blavatsky, is a synonym of the Japanese "zen," which has now come in common usage in all languages. In the Theosophical Glossary, for instance, she offered for "Dzyan" the alternate spellings "Dzyn" and "Dzen," at a time when Zen was all but unknown outside of Japan, and when therefore there was not set rule for how to spell the word in European languages.9 HPB speaks of Zen elsewhere (for instance, as quoted above) as a major esoteric school, and as foundational for understanding what the esoteric teaching is really about. Unfortunately, the original intention behind Zen seems to have been largely lost: It is now identified by many as a method to enlightenment, and with paraphernalia and protocol. Methods and systems, however, are mechanical, timebound, and therefore are not transformative. They come from the conditioned mind.

The Stanzas of Dzyan can then be seen as being principally a book of koans (to appropriately borrow a term from Zen) about the nature of the life of transformation. Koans are statements that make no sense from the point of view of the ordinary mind, and often imply contradictions. The roshi gives a koan to the disciple, whose work consists of "solving" the "riddle." It is not rare for a disciple to take several years of intense daily meditation, before the meaning of the koan becomes clear, due to the opening up of more comprehensive states of awareness than the logical mind. They hopefully provoke the ruminative chaos that might help accelerate the brain's thoroughly giving up on itself. Thereby is created the space for the mystical mind to manifest in that true state of meditation of primary interest to all of the world's perennial schools.

Space and nirvana

The first stanza, which consists of nine verses (or slokas), is particularly important for understanding the psychological tenor of the work as a whole, because it gives keys to its transformational approach to life in general. If one begins by looking carefully at an expression used in the first verse, and to a word that comes up in the last two, the psychological meaning of the stanza as a whole comes to light. The first sloka says:

The Eternal Parent, wrapped in her Ever-Invisible Robes, had slumbered once again for Seven Eternities.10

"The Eternal Parent," HPB states in her commentary, refers to "Space." That space, as we shall see, is a cognate of the Buddhist sunyatta, which refers to psychological emptiness, and to nirvana -- the final and supreme psychological emptiness. The Space of this first sloka, then, refers to the eminently empty state of awareness found in an adept, in a transformed human being. That, in any case, is what is stated in slokas eight and nine, which suggest the first stanza refers to states of awareness found in a Dangma. The word "Dangma," according to HPB,

[M]eans a purified soul, one who has become a Jivanmukta, the highest Adept, or rather a Mahatma so-called.11

It is important to look at part of what verse eight says, since it makes the statement that an Adept, that is, a transformed human being, someone who lives beyond the field of pettiness, can have a direct sensation (or be in a state) of "Space":

...Life pulsated unconscious in Universal Space, throughout that All-Presence, which is sensed by the Opened Eye of Dangma.12

Yet, in the many papers published initially as the "controversial" third volume of the third (1897) edition of the Secret Doctrine, and which provide numerous important clues for understanding what HPB's work is about, we are told that "Space" is one and the same with nirvana. If so, an understanding of "Space" can only take place in a transformed human being, since no one else is in a position to "sense" nirvana. Nirvana refers, in Buddhism and in the Secret Doctrine, to the total and radical annihilation of the world of the conditioned mind. This seems to mean this is not "a subject" anyone, even a transformed human being, can write or talk about. If one wants to know what "Space" refers to, there seems to be only one way to do so: To be in a state of awareness and being in which there is no conditioned mind. There does not seem to be any other way of "studying" what "Space" means. As HPB expresses it in her "controversial" volume, after providing the text of a speech given by the Buddha which appears in the second Book of Commentaries (the Stanzas of Dzyan are excerpts from the first).

The reader will remember the just-quoted words are what Buddha Sang-gyas (or Pho) is alleged by the Tibetan Occultists to have taught: there are three eternal things in the Universe -- the Law, Nirvana, and Space. The Buddhists of the Southern Church claim, on the other hand, that Buddha held only two things as eternal -- Akasha and Nirvana. But Akasha being the same as Aditi, and both being translated "Space," there is no discrepancy so far, since Nirvana as well as Moksha, is a state. Then in both cases the great Kapilavastu Sage unifies the two, as well as the three, into one eternal Element, and ends by saying that even "that One is a Maya" to one who is not a Dang-ma, a perfectly purified Soul.13

So according to the authors of the Secret Doctrine, "Space" is but another word for "nirvana." Based on other statements in the Secret Doctrine and elsewhere, there is reason to believe that Space actually refers to what in Buddhism is called paranirvana -- or paranishpanna, a word also used in the Stanzas. Mahayana Buddhism makes the distinction because "nirvana" is identified by the mind as an opposite of "samsara," the world of the conditioned mind. "Paranishpanna," (or Space, if one prefers to use the language of the Secret Doctrine), refers then to the same thing as nirvana, except that there is no connotation of duality, such as might arise from the mind's insidious tendency towards creating dichotomies at every opportunity. It should be noted further, that immediately after the last quote, the very first thing the authors do is to point out the futility of speaking, or thinking, or writing about "Space" as if it were a concept:

To the man of science who regards Space as simply a mental representation, a conception of something existing pro forma, and having no real being outside our mind, Space per se is verily an illusion. He may fill the boundless interstellar Space with an "imaginary" ether, nevertheless Space for him is an abstraction. Most of the metaphysicians of Europe are as wide of the mark, from the purely Occult standpoint, of a correct comprehension of "Space," as are the Materialists, though the erroneous conceptions of both of course differ widely.14

So the "man of science," the "European metaphysician," and the "Materialist" have one thing in common: They all attempt to consider "Space" as a proper subject for conceptual speculation and discussion. That is why they are all "wide of the mark, from the purely Occult standpoint." Yet that, precisely, is what has been done in each and every commentary of the Secret Doctrine to date. Anyone acquainted with what is meant by nirvana in Buddhism (which is said by HPB and her teachers to be based on the "Space" of Occultism), would immediately see the absurdity and forlornness of making any such attempt.

The Voice of the Silence

According to the Voice of the Silence, understanding the inner doctrine comes only to those involved in the life of transformation. Its first fragment puts the reader on notice that the book is for people already engaged in transformation:

These instructions are for those ignorant of the dangers of the lower Iddhi [siddhi].15

Most of humanity is oblivious to siddhis (psychic faculties), whether "lower" or "higher." The Voice is stating at the outset that it is addressed to people who know about siddhis, and who understand the difference between the "lower" and the "higher." Anyone else reading this book will not know what it is about, since the siddhis spoken of are not a proper subject for mere intellectual curiosity. Therefore, the implication here is that these fragments are meant for those already engaged in a way of life that is radically different from that of the mainstream. It also suggests that the Voice is about to provide some guidelines for, or descriptions of, the life of transformation. The Voice is unequivocal about the first thing that must be done: The conditioned mind has to go. Its preliminary admonitions express in no uncertain terms that if the conditioned mind is, then what the book says is not of much use to the reader:

He who would hear the voice of N_da, "the Soundless Sound," and comprehend it, he has to learn the nature of Dh_rana.
Having become indifferent to objects of perception, the pupil must seek out the rajah of the senses, the Thought-Producer, he who awakes illusion.
The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real.
Let the Disciple slay the Slayer.16

So, according to this preliminary admonition, anyone who cannot "become indifferent to objects of perception," is not in a position to begin the study of the Voice of the Silence properly. As is shown below, the same applies to the Secret Doctrine (and therefore to any aspect of theosophy), since HPB identifies both works as coming from the same original initiatory text.

Being and Non-Being

The Voice of the Silence, like the Stanzas of Dzyan, stresses the necessity for the radical psychological transformation that is implied in giving up the life of attachments to, and identifications with, the things most valued by the world:

Saith the Great Law: -- "In order to become the KNOWER of ALL-SELF thou hast first of SELF to be the knower." To reach the knowledge of that SELF, thou hast to give up Self to Non-Self, Being to Non-Being, and then thou canst repose between the wings of the GREAT BIRD. Aye, sweet is rest between the wings of that which is not born, nor dies, but is the AUM throughout eternal ages.17

Non-Being does not refer to absolute non-existence, as early Western Buddhist scholars believed about nirvana. On the contrary, this verse of the Voice states that giving up "Being" implies entering a much richer life. As the Stanzas put it:

The Causes of Existence had been done away with; the Visible that was, and the Invisible that is, rested in Eternal Non-Being -- the One Being.18

What is meant by "Being" in the Stanzas and the Voice is the life that we are all accustomed to in society as it has been constituted for millenia, including the present. It is a life controlled completely by fear, pettiness, and destructive violence at all levels. That life, which most of us hold on to with both hands, is the Being that must be given up in order to find the bliss of Non-Being, the One Being.

The Voice points to a radical mutation from what we have been up to now in evolution. It is a mutation from desperately pursuing the status quo of stress and violence, to being more interested in bringing about harmony between the networks of life. Again, theories will be of precious little help in this process. If one believes that there are seven planes in nature, that "life is one," that there is reincarnation and karma, but one is a daily active participant in the life of the world, then one is engaged in degeneration, and in its continuation.

The Voice of the Silence, then, is not meant for mere conceptual speculation, which includes theories about what transformation is supposed to be about. This is, without question, a book of advice for anyone seriously involved already on the path of yoga, on the path of transformation. And since according to HPB the Secret Doctrine comes from the same source, one would expect exactly the same strictures should be true of it. As she clarified in the Voice,

The work from which I here translate forms part of the same series as that from which the "Stanzas" of the Book of Dzyan were taken, on which The Secret Doctrine is based. Together with the great mystic work called Paramartha, which, the legend of Nagarjuna tells us, was delivered to the great Arhat by the N_gas or "Serpents" (in truth a name given to the ancient Initiates), the "Book of the Golden Precepts" claims the same origin.19

If the Voice seems on the surface to be more clearly a book about inner mutation than the Stanzas, it may be only because the latter has been interpreted for so long as if it were treating of concepts exclusively.


Perennial schools have always spoken of time as at the center of what needs to be resolved in theosophical work. In Tibetan Buddhism, for instance, some of the deepest teachings are to be found -- as acknowledged by all its schools -- in the Kalachakra Tantra. The Secret Doctrine says:

[The] Kalachakra [Tantra] [is] the most important work in the Gyut [or (D)gyu] division of the Kanjur, the division of mystic knowledge.20

And as David Reigle has shown in his landmark work, there is an intimate relationship between the Kalachakra Tantra and the Stanzas of Dzyan. The "Gyut" division of the Kanjur that HPB and her teachers speak of in that quote, is referring to the "Book(s) of Kiu-Te," as Reigle demonstrated. As is stated in the Secret Doctrine,

The Book of Dzyan -- from the Sanskrit word "Dhyan" (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.21

That is truly remarkable. It connects the Kalachakra Tantra and the Stanzas of Dzyan, on which -- according to HPB and her teachers -- the theosophical teaching is based. The Kalachakra lineage is about the ending of psychological time. So the connection suggests the ending of psychological time is at the heart of what the theosophical teaching is essentially about. Given its connection with the Stanzas of Dzyan, the Kalachakra Tantra is placed by Reigle as the most critical text available, so far, from a theosophical perspective. As he said in his magnificent and historical contribution to a truer understanding of the Secret Doctrine,

The name Shambhala has always been linked with the Ageless Wisdom, but perhaps less well-known to Western students is the special link between Shambhala and Kalachakra. The historical basis for this connection has here been made apparent. It has not however, been pointed out that of the Books of Kiu-te... only the Kalachakra came from Shambhala in the North... So Kalachakra is known specifically as the Teaching of Shambhala.22

And Shambhala is the source for the theosophical teaching, according to HPB and her teachers. Edwin Bernbaum, in his now classic study of Shambhala, said:

Because of their focus on attaining enlightenment, the inhabitants of Shambhala devote most of their time to the study and practice of the highest wisdom known to Tibetan Buddhism -- the Kalachakra, or "Wheel of Time." This is the most complex and secret of the Tibetan teachings; lamas will reveal its inner essence only to those initiated into it, and they add that even among initiates only a very few outside Shambhala can understand the deep symbolism of its texts and meditation.23

"Kalachakra" means "the wheel of time." The art, literature and philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism center on it. Nirvana (freedom from conditioning) takes place upon ending the wheel of time. In The Tibetan Book of the Dead, W.Y. Evans-Wentz (a profound student of the Secret Doctrine) shows the significance for Tibetan Buddhism of breaking through the wheel of time or "Wheel of Life," as he calls it here. Speaking of the Bardo or after-death states according to Tibetan Buddhism, he says that

Then -- the after-death dream ending as the Intermediate State exhausts itself for the percipient, the thought-forms of his mental-content all having shown themselves to him like ghostly spectres in a nightmare -- he passes on from the Intermediate State into the equally illusionary state called waking, or living, either in the human world or in one of the many mansions of existence, by being born there. And thus revolves the Wheel of Life, until the one who is bound on it breaks his own bonds through Enlightenment, and there comes, as the Buddha proclaims, the Ending of Sorrow.24

So the wheel of time is identified as what the Buddha called the world of dukkha, anicca, and anatta. Dukkha is suffering and frustration. Anicca says everything that exists, is impermanent, fleeting. Anatta says there is no permanent self, either; that there is no permanent me separated from the rest of that which is. By contrast, the world of conditioning always makes the unwarranted assumption that the "I" is permanent, and that "the world (allegedly) outside" the "I" is also permanent. So dukkha, anicca, and anatta, make up "the wheel of time." This is one way of expressing the essence of the Kalachakra tradition, the most sacred in that lineage.

"Time was not"

HPB says the Stanzas of Dzyan is the world's most ancient manuscript, the basis for all perennial works and schools. At the outset, it deals with time. Since the Secret Doctrine is a commentary on the Stanzas, that means the ending of time is a central teaching of the Secret Doctrine. Stanza 1 describes poetically the state of awareness of an unconditioned human being. As in the Yoga Sutras and other major perennial works, the first sloka gives an overall description, the context, of what follows. So the second sloka is the most critical, in that it points to the nature of the work at hand for the candidate. It describes a condition that must be present in an unconditioned being:

Time was not, for it lay asleep in the infinite bosom of duration.25

That is, in the state of awareness of an unconditioned human being, in a divine-like, theosophical state of awareness, the non-existence of time is a done thing. It is a finished fact: No time. It is from such divine-like states of awareness, in which there is no time, that theosophy springs from. "Theosophy... is not 'Wisdom of God,' as translated by some, but Divine Wisdom such as that possessed by the gods."26 Theosophy happens exclusively in theosophical states of awareness.

The commentary distinguishes "time" from "duration." It says there is such a thing as "duration," a sequence of events. First one thing happens, then another, so one event comes after the other. We could call that "chronological time." The Secret Doctrine's "duration," is time "by the clock." With duration, or "time by the clock," the perennial teaching has no issue, because there is none. The "problematic" time, with which the Kalachakra lineage and all other perennial schools are concerned, is not "duration," this "time by the clock." Rather, it is the Secret Doctrine's "time." As the Secret Doctrine commentary puts it,

"Time" is only an illusion produced by the succession of our states of consciousness as we travel through Eternal Duration, and it does not exist where no consciousness exists in which the illusion can be produced, but "lies asleep." 27

"Lies Asleep," refers to the first sloka, which described poetically the state of awareness of an unconditioned being: The emptiness (sunyatta in Buddhism and sunya in the Yoga Sutras) In which an unconditioned being lives, is called "the Eternal Parent [Space]." And the freed-of-conditioning state is poetically said to have "slumbered once again for seven eternities." In such a state of awareness, as clarified in the commentary, "no consciousness exists in which the illusion [of time] can be produced, but 'lies asleep.'" So it is to such a state the commentary above refers to. The first sloka described unconditioned states of awareness thus:

The Eternal Parent [Space], wrapped in her ever-invisible robes, had slumbered once again for seven eternities.28

So "duration" is not problematic. It is "time," "psychological time," that is problematic. That (psychological) time is to be distinguished from chronological time, the Secret Doctrine's "duration." Psychological time (the Secret Doctrine's "time") is the time referred to in the Kalachakra lineage as the one calling out for its ending. This is the time meant in "the wheel of time" (as in "kalachakra"). This may be why the Voice of the Silence is addressing itself -- in its own words -- to the "Yogi of 'Time's Circle'": The Voice is for kalachakra yogis!29 Which means the Stanzas -- and therefore the Secret Doctrine -- are also meant for kalachakra yogis, for the transformed, for those living in theosophical states of awareness, in which alone "Time was not." Anyone else would be in no position to understand what the Secret Doctrine is about, according to HPB's numerous statements, in every one of her major writings, including the Secret Doctrine. The point is that the ending of time, the ending of the me -- with all its conditioning, robotic logic, and expectations -- is at the heart of theosophical teaching. We can all see psychological time is variable. What is it that makes psychological time variable? Why does it expand and contract? Psychological time expands or contracts because we have expectations about how things ought to be. As HPB put it,

"Time" is only an illusion produced by the succession of our states of consciousness as we travel through Eternal Duration, and it does not exist where no consciousness exists in which the illusion can be produced, but "lies asleep."30

If we expect a pleasure in the near future, time may not move fast enough. If we expect a painful experience soon, time may seem to move like a sprinting juggernaut. Our expectations are unrelated to what takes place. What takes place, does so in chronological time, at its appointed "time." But psychological time tries to change what is. It superimposes expectations on it. Psychological time is the conditioned me.

If all this is seen candidly, simply accepting facts for what they are (and without expectations), something different may take place. In such a case, the seeing itself would imply a transformation, a qualitatively different switch from the conventional way of life. It is such a switch that ancient initiations were meant to bring about. That transformation, according to HPB and her teachers -- as documented above, and elsewhere -- is what theosophy consists of.


  1. H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 6 vols., Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1971 [1888], vol 1, p. 85.

  2. H.P. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 226.

  3. H.P. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 226.

  4. H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, 15 vols., vol. XII, 1889-1890, Wheaton: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980, p. 517; see also Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 5, p. 419.

  5. H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, op. cit., vol. XII, pp. 515-516, 517; see also Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 5, pp. 417-418, 419.

  6. P.G. Bowen, Madame Blavatsky on How to Study Theosophy, London: Theosophical Publishing House, n.d. [1932], pp. 7-8.

  7. H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, op. cit., vol. XIV, p. 422; see also Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 5, p. 389.

  8. H.P. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 44.

  9. H.P. Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary, London: The Theosophical Publishing Society, 1892, entry "Dzyan."

  10. H.P. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 91.

  11. H.P. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 118 fn.

  12. H.P. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 92.

  13. H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, op. cit., vol. XIV, p. 411; see also Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 5, p. 381.

  14. H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, op. cit., vol. XIV, p. 411; see also Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. t, p. 381.

  15. H.P. Blavatsky, The Voice of the Silence, Golden Jubilee Edition, Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1959 [1889], fragment 1, p. 117.

  16. H.P. Blavatsky, Voice of the Silence, op. cit., fragments 2-5, p. 117.

  17. H.P. Blavatsky, Voice of the Silence, op. cit., fragment 19, pp. 121-122.

  18. H.P. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol 1, p. 91 (Stanza 1.7).

  19. H.P. Blavatsky, Voice of the Silence, op. cit., Preface, pp. 106-107.

  20. H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, op. cit., vol. XIV, p. 402; see also Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 5, p. 375.

  21. H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, op. cit., vol. XIV, p. 422; see also Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 5, p. 389.

  22. David Reigle, The Books of Kiu-Te. Or, The Tibetan Buddhist Tantras. A Preliminary Analysis, San Diego: Wizards Bookshelf, 1983, p. 36.

  23. Edwin Bernbaum, The Way to Shambhala, Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1980, p. 10.

  24. W.Y. Evans-Wentz, The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Or, the After-Death Experiences on the Bardo Plane, according to Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup's English Rendering, New York: Oxford University Press, 1967 [1927], p. 17. The Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup was not only knowledgeable of the Secret Doctrine, like Evans-Wentz, but in a position to confirm the genuineness of some of HPB's statements regarding esoteric Tibetan teachings.

  25. H.P. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 110.

  26. H.P. Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy, being a clear exposition, in the form of question and answer, of the ethics, science, and philosophy for the study of which the Theosophical Society has been founded, Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1946 [1889], p. 1.

  27. H.P. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 110.

  28. H.P. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 109.

  29. H.P. Blavatsky, Voice of the Silence, op. cit., fragment 131, p. 153.

  30. H.P. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 110.

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