Secret Instructions - NO. IIIa
E. S. T. INSTRUCTION
The following "Preliminary Explanations" were written by H. P. B.
at the time of a grave crisis, or rather a series of crises, through which the
T.S. passed in 1889-90. Treachery within the E.S. itself and persistent and
relentless attacks on the T.S. from without, especially in America, necessitated
the striking of a fresh keynote and giving directions for the closing up of
the ranks of the E.S. At the time of re-printing the Instructions in London
in 1890-1, certain portions of these "Preliminary Explanations" dealing
with the details of the matter were purposely omitted by those of H.P.B.'s pupils
who were constituted the Editors, these portions being deemed by them of too
personal a character to remain. This was done when H.P.B. was too ill to super-vise,
without her sanction, and, as she afterwards said, much against her wishes.
The "Preliminary Explanations" are therefore, now printed exactly
as they originally stood, those portions previously omitted being now put between
PRELIMINARY EXPLANATIONS TO NO. III OF THE INSTRUCTIONS.
Brothers and Sisters in Theosophy:
MANY of you who, having joined the E.S., expected to receive their papers every
two months, at least, but received only those for Jan.-Feb. and March-April,
must have felt disappointed, perhaps displeased. For this I am sincerely sorry,
but owing to the present state of things in America, treachery from the first,
and still worse treachery recently, the betrayal of one who joined the E.S.
with the determined object of getting possession of its supposed secrets, in
order to upset the Theosophical Society, and, by crushing me, crush the E.S.
out of existence, has put an unavoidable stop to the teachings.
You have read in my "open letter" to all Theosophists the true and
sad his¬tory of an ex-brother, who, whether from personal or other motive
consented to undertake the mission of a Judas. Though having failed in finding
out what he so diligently sought in coming to London he has nevertheless, since
then, done us the greatest harm by substituting falsehoods and slander for facts,
and even succeeded in turning several honorable men away from us. (Since I have
written this two more prominent members from Boston have been upset by the joint
efforts of our enemies' "league", and dropped out of the field, laboring
under the most false suggested impressions). How, then, could I continue under
such circumstances? Yet I had begun preparing No. III of the papers, which would
have been sent to you long ago had not a third obstacle arisen.
A full organization was necessary, and our Brother W. Q. Judge, together with
a few of the American Council of the E.S., kindly undertook it. But now the
poisonous shafts of our persevering enemies are turned against him; and it is,
as I know, partly owing to the sane slanderous and underhand work that several
of you have refused to comply with the new rules issued by him in my name. Of
the chief reason however, for stopping the teachings, few, except those in my
immediate surroundings know, and you have to learn it now. Of the fact that
no such large and ever-growing body, as the E.S. has now become and could remain
without its traitors, secret and open, I was aware from the beginning.
I know that the task I had undertaken would lead to more obloquy and misrepresentations
for me than ever; that it was sure to create a large amount of bad feeling among
the members of the main (exoteric) body of the T. S., which would be finally
vented in particular, if not solely, upon myself. All came to pass as I knew
it would. But if it is in a great measure owing to this that the delivery of
instruction was delayed, it was not as said the sole reason. There came a more
serious impediment - to me the bitterest of all.
I received two letters and a reproof from the Masters. These reached me in
no such way as to allow the hope that it was less serious than had at first
appeared. That which I received both times, was a letter in plain language,
sent by post and mailed quite prosaically at the Sikkhim frontier, one in March,
the other in August. The last of these left me no ephemeral hope that I had
misunderstood or even exaggerated the facts. In their first, the Masters were
displeased, and in their last, which arrived just as the news of K. A. Lane's
treachery came from New York, that displeasure became more apparent.
It was at the end of August, and I was told to keep No. III of the papers back
until further developments, and then to make those portions of the contents
of the Masters' letter that related to the E.S. known to all its members of
both continents, without even omitting to show them how mistaken and dangerous
had been my policy in the E.S. from its beginning.
I had been warned by the Council and my trusted friends, of the danger there
was in admitting such a number of persons, scattered so widely over the whold,
who, it was added knew me not, except by hearsay, and each of whom I had no
other means, as they supposed of studying than through their auras and photographs.
I myself realized that danger, but had no means of averting it, since the "Book
of the Discipline and Rules" states that: "No one shall be refused
admission, or the chance of learning the Truth and thereby improving his life,
only because some one or even all of his neighbors think ill of him."
Such is the rule. Therefore, the larger the number of applicants who take the
pledge, the greater the possibility of helping the masses. A member of the T.S.
may be utterly unfit for the higher Science and never grasp the true teachings
of Occultism, and Esoteric Philosophy; but yet, if he has the true spark and
faith in the real presence of the HIGHER SELF in him, he will remain loyal to
his pledge and will try to model his life in accordance with the rules of the
E.S., and thereby become nobler and better in every case.
Membership in the E.S. and "pledges" sent, accepted, and signed are
no warrants for a high success, nor do these pledges aim at making of every
student an Adept or a magician. They are simply the seeds in which lurks the
potentiality of every Truth, the germ of that progress which will be the heirloom
of only the seventh perfect Race. A handful of such seeds was entrusted to me
by the keepers of these Truths, and it is my duty to sow them, where I perceive
a possibility of growth. It is the parable, of the Sower put once more into
practice, and a fresh lesson to be derived from its view application. The seeds
that fall into good ground will bring forth fruit an hundred fold, and thus
repay in each case the waste of those seeds which will have fallen by the wayside,
on stony hearts and among the thorns of human passions.
It is the duty of the Sower to choose the best soil for the future crops. But
he is held responsible only so far as the ability is directly connected with
the failures, and that such are solely due to it, it is the Karma of the individual
who receives the seed by asking for them, that will repay or punish those who
fail in their duties to their HIGHER SELF. Nature is ever struggling
even in its so-called Inorganic and inanimate kingdoms towards progress and
perfectibility towards production; how much more the nature of conscious thinking
man! Each of us, if his nature is not productive or deep enough perse,
may borrow and derive material for soil from the seeds themselves which he receives;
and every one has the means to avoid the scorching sun, and to force the seeds
to strike root, or prevent the thorns choking them with a very little effort
indeed. Therefore my mistake did not lie in that I accepted readily the applications
to join the E.S. Nor have I sinned even in accepting men and worsen of whom
I have not felt quite sure, though the opportunity of discerning their inner
nature was possible and given to me in almost every instance. I have not sinned
in this, I say, as some think, because the rules teach again that the grand
ethics taught in the Aryasanga school are not for the benefit or perfection
of saints, but verily of sinners, who need moral and intellectual help. In what
particular, then, have I failed to do my duty? Simply this, as I am shown: I
have begun to give out Eastern teachings to those who were unacquainted with
Eastern discipline; to Westerns who, had they been thoroughly versed in the
laws of that discipline so unfamiliar to Christian-born people, would have thought
twice before joining the E.S.
Being taught to rely on their Savior and scape-goat instead of themselves,
they have never stopped to think that their salvation and future incarnation
depend entirely upon themselves, and that every transgression against the Holy
ghost (their Higher Self) will indeed become unpardoned in their present life
- or their next incarnation; for Karma is there to watch their actions,
and even thoughts. In short, I have begun to instruct them in spelling before
I had taught them the letters of the Occult alphabet. Instead of solemnly warning
those who signed their pledges that by breaking it and becoming guilty of that
which they had sworn to avoid, they incurred thereby the most dangerous responsibilities,
entailing sooner or later the most terrible consequences, and proving this to
them by living examples from their own and other people's lives, I left them
to, their own devices.
Instead of such warning, I had given out to them the preliminary knowledge
that leads to the most hidden secrets of nature and the old Wisdom-Religion
- and which but a very few can appreciate. I have finally neglecting to prepare
them by first placing each and all on a twelve months or so, probation, given
them an opportunity of going quite unconsciously to themselves, astray. It is
in consequence of this that there has been such a number of members caring for
nothing but new instructions to amuse them, and several backsliders who have
already done tie greatest harm to the T.S. let alone the E.S. This is the result
and consequence of my neglect to conform with and enforce the rules; and I now
confess it, in all humility, to all my friends who will read this. How true
are these words in Master's letter:
"Experience but too clearly proves that any departure from the time
honored rules for the government and instructions, of the discipline to suit
Western custom and prejudices, is a fatal policy." "Before, the pupil
can be taught he must learn how to conduct himself as regards the world, his
teacher, the sacred science, and his INNER SELF”, the letter adds,
quoting the Eastern aphorism that : - "The ruffled water-surface reflects
naught but broken images". The Master meaning that, so long as the learners
have not mastered their world-passions, and remain ignorant of the Truth, their
unprepared minds will perceive everything in the light of their worldly, not
of their truly spiritual esoteric judgment.
"How can they be expected then", it asks, "to see aught
but the broken Truths, that such judgment is sure to suggest and distort the
more? Violation of ancient usages is sure to result in evil". How
true are these words is shown in our own case. For what have the violations
of that time-honored usage which prohibits to speak in public or before the
ignorant masses, of sacred things, of which we, the two Founders, have been
guilty, brought upon the T.S. and individual aspirants, even before the E.S.
had been established, but grief and scandal?
In blind foolishness, without warrant and reflection, have we, Col. Olcott
and I, chiefest of all, lifted some of the veils of Truth, given some flitting
glimpses of the secret laws of Nature and of Being, to a blind, ignorant, sense-ruled
public, and thus provoked the hatred, deepened the skepticism, and excited the
malevolent activity of many opponents who, otherwise would have left us alone.
Ah, friends, it was a wise law and a prudent restriction, that ancient rule
that kept the sacred but dangerous knowledge (dangerous because it cuts both
ways), confined to the few, and these few pledged by a vows, which, if broken
led them almost to perdition. But to this few who run the greater risk.
Some of the Theosophists, yet quite recently almost adorers of the T.S. and
especially of its Masters, have lost or are losing unconsciously to themselves,
their moral balance; some because of the venomous words spoken in their ears
by traitors, while others are flinging aside to the four winds their good Karmic
chances, and turning into bitter and unprincipled enemies. Of the rude public
one should have expected this, but from friends, brothers and associates! Well,
as it now appears, so far as the members of the E.S. are concerned, it is in
a great measure, if not entirely my fault; and it is a bitter drought that Karma
compels me to drink out of her iron cup.
Had I, instead of showiing such hopeful confidence and belief in the inviolability
of people's word of honor, and almost a blind faith that the sacredness of their
pledge would prove the surest guarantee of the good faith of any pledged member;
had I, instead of that, gone on the old Occult lines of the Eastern discipline,
such things as have taken place could never have happened. But I never permitted
myself to even dream that a double pledge of such sanctity as the one taken
in the name of the HIGHER SELF could ever be broken, however little one may
make even of his "most sacred word of honor". Even in the few cases
when a dark and "ominous aura around the face of a photograph plainly warned
me, I still tried to hope against all hope. I could not bring myself to believe
any man or woman capable of such deliberate treachery. I rejected as an evil,
sinful thought the idea that conscious depravity could ever remain on the best
of terms with a man, after the signing of such a sacred promise; and I have
learned now for the first time the possibility of what has been truthfully dubbed
by some Theosophists "only a lip-pledge".
Had I strictly enforced the rules, I would have, no doubt lost the two-thirds
of our pledged members - those who had signed it as they would any circular
letter - but then, at least, those few who will remain true to their vows to
the bitter end, would have more profited than they have now. Having omitted
however, the usual precautions of the probationary, I have but myself to thank;
and therefore, it is but just that I should also be myself the first to suffer
from it at the hands of the inexorable Karmic law. For this, iron-clad as I
have been made by daily and almost hourly unjust attacks, I would have cared
but very little; but that which I deplore the most - with a bitterness few of
you will ever realize - is the fact that such a number of thoroughly earnest,
good and sincere men and women should be made to suffer for the guilt of the
few. For though but a fault of omission on my part, still that guilt, as I feel,
is due to my neglect. Behold! My Karma appeared as a warning almost from the
beginning of the E.S.
I had started well. Several of those whom I knew to be entirely unfitted to
take the pledge have been refused from the first; but I proved unable to withstand
their prayers when certain of them declared to me that it was their "last
chance in life". The "pledge fever" made short work of their
promises. One broke her vows only four days after signing her pledge, becoming
guilty of the blackest treachery and disloyalty to her RICHER SELF. And when
I could no longer keep in the E.S. either herself or her friend, the two convulsed
the whole Society with their calumnies and falsehoods. Then it was that the
old wondering query, "How is it that poor H.P.B., not withstanding the
Masters at her back, and her insight, is so evidently unable to know her friends
from her foes?" ran once more around Theosophical circles, both here and
Brothers, if you will judge from appearances, and from the worldly stand-point
you are right; but if you take the trouble of looking into the inner causes
producing outward results, you will find that you are decidedly wrong. That
you should no longer do me injustice, let me explain what I mean. Take for instance
for granted (you who still doubt at moments in your hearts) that I am doing
the work of a real living Master. And if I am, then surely I would not have
been entrusted with such a mission, unless I had pledged myself irrevocably
to the laws of the Ethics, Science and Philosophy THEY teach. Come whatever
may, I have to abide by these laws and rules even in the face of condemnation
Now if the law, in common legislature even, holds that no person should be
condemned before his guilt is proven or becomes manifest, how much more strict
must this law be in our Occult Code, Have I the right - in special cases when
I see that a person has in him the germs of or even a decided proclivity toward
evil doing, deception, ingratitude or revenge, that, in short he is not a reliable
man or woman, but that on the other hand, he is earnest and sincere, for the
time being, in his interest and sympathy for Theosophy and Occultism, have I
the right, I ask, to deny him the chance of becoming a better man, merely out
of fear that he may one day turn round? I will say more.
Knowing as I do, that no earthly force combined can destroy the T.S. and its
truths, even if they can and do in each case, hurt more or less my outward and
musterable personality, that shell that I am solemnly pledged to use as a buffer
of the cause I serve, have I the right think you, out of mere personal cowardice
and its self-defense, to refuse to anyone the chance of profiting by the truths
I can teach him and thereby becoming better?
That many are called but few are chosen, is something I knew from the beginning:
but he who speaks the truth is turned out of nine cities, is an old saying;
and that the man (especially the woman) who preaches new truths, whether in
religion or science, is stoned and made a martyr by those, to whom they are
unwelcome - all this is what I have bargained for and no more. Let me give you
an illustration out of real life.
When the notorious Madame Coulomb came to me in Bombay with her husband, to
ask for bread and shelter, though I had net her in Cairo, and knew her to be
a treacherous and wicked and lying woman, never-the-less I gave her all she
needed because such was my duty. But when, in course of time, I saw she hated
me, envied my position and influence, and slandered me to my friends while flattering
me to my face, my human nature revolted.
We were very poor then poorer even in fact than we are now, both the Society
and ourselves, and to keep two enemies at our expense seemed hard. Then I applied
to my Guru and Master, who was then three days distant from Bombay and submitted
to his decision whether it was right and theosophical to keep two such serpents
in the house; for she, at any rate, if not her husband threatened the whole
Society. Should you know the answer I received? These are the words verbatim,
the reply beginning with an aphorism from the Book of Precepts:
"If thou findest a hungry Serpent creeping into thy house, seeking
for food and out of fear it should bite thee, instead of offering it milk thou
turnest it out to suffer and starve, thou turnest from the Path of Compassion.
Thou acteth the faint-hearted and the selfish. You know went on the message,
"that you are PERSONALLY threatened; you have still to learn that SO LONG
AS THERE ARE THREE MEN WORTHY OF OUR LORD'S MESSING, IN THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
- IT CAN NEVER BE DESTROYED. - Your two Karmas (hers and mine) run in two opposite
directions. Shall you, out of abject fear of that, which may, come, blend the
two (Karmas) and become as she is? - They are homeless and hungry; shelter and
feed them, then, if you would not become participant in her Karma."
Since then, I have acted more then ever on this principle of trying to help
every one irrespective of what I personally have to suffer for it. It is not,
therefore, the utter incapacity for right discrimination in me, but something
quite different which compelled me to lay aside all thought of possible consequences
in this case of selection of fit members of the E.S. No; I sinned on a different
plane. Neglecting to profit by my personal experience, I allowed myself in this
instance to be more prompted by an easily-understood delicacy and regard for
Western feeling than by my duty. In one word I was loath to apply to Western
students the rigorous rules and discipline of the Eastern school; afraid of
seeing any demand on my part of strict submission to the rules, misinterpreted
into a desire of claiming papal despotic authority.
(Note) - And just because I have ever avoided to exercise my legitimate authority
in the E.S. and sinned thereby, I am now punished at the hands of an earnest
and sincere member of the E.S. who has just resigned and is now denouncing in
print, over his signature, these whom he is pleased to call my, ‘personal
worshippers’ for ‘hero worship’, and of calling out to the
T.S. on my behalf, "Behold your god - bow and worship!" This is supremely
unjust, and I hope in no case whatever true. The protest originated in the sudden
unwillingness of this member whose fine and sensitive nature has been worked
upon in that direction by our enemies, to submit to the rules worked out by
the Council of the American E. S. - rules absolutely obligatory to give with
the pledged members, and which have to be followed or I will have to give up
the Esoteric instructions altogether. Now I ask, if a member once signed his
pledge without protest, why should he object to repeat it once more to his Lodge,
the members of which have to be pledged to each other for common and mutual
security? Karmic work all around, I say, "Pledge fever" is raging.
Read your pledges and the Preliminary Memoranda and study them; and then, finding
the amount of authority you have yourself conferred on me by signing the pledge
- say honestly which of you, if any, can come and complain, not only that I
have ever abused, but even used that authority over any practitioner? In one
case only - that of a friend who could hardly misinterpret my action - I have
insisted that he should leave for a certain time America. And to emphasize this
the more, no sooner have I heard from several of those members in whom I have
the greatest confidence, that the pledge, as now worded, was open to a dead-letter
construction, than I have immediately altered it, of which I now notify you.
The 2nd and 3rd clauses now stand:
(2) I pledge myself to support before the whole world, the Theosophical movement,
and those of its leaders and members, in whom I place full confidence; and in
particular to obey, without cavil or delay, the order given through the Head
of the Section to all that concerns my Theosophical duties and esoteric work,
so far as my pledge to my Higher Self and my conscience work.
(Note) As this qualification may possibly be abused, the decision shall rest
with seven of the members of the E.S. as arbitrators, four of whom shall be
chosen by the Probationer and three by the Head of the Section. The above rule
will be incorporated in the Preliminary Mem.).
(3) I pledge myself, never to listen, without protest, to any evil thing spoken
falsely, or yet unproven, against a brother Theosophist and to abstain from
(Note) - The 2nd and 3rd clauses of the original pledge ran as follows:
(2) "I pledge myself to support, before the world, the Theosophical movement,
its leaders and its members; and In partic1ar to obey without cavil or delay,
the orders of the Head of the Esoteric Section on all that concerns my relations
with the theosophical movement".
(3) "I pledge myself never to listen, without protest, to any evil thing
spoken of a brother Theosophist, and to abstain from condemning others.
I have done this because I think it is right to explain the true spirit of
the pledge. But it is precisely the unwillingness in me to ever guide any one
more than it is strictly necessary that is now shown as having been productive
of evil, and as that wherein my fault lies. As the same letter says, addressing
"You have spoken to them before their ear was trained to listen, and
began showing things, before the eye of the learner was prepared to see. And
just for this reason, hearing but indistinctly and seeing each in his own way,
more than one has turned and tried to rend you for your pains."
And now I sincerely hope that you will - some of you at least - learn a lesson
from my weakness, and show your appreciation of this by not judging me too unkindly
if I now change somewhat my policy. For I have either to do so, or to drop the
Esoteric teachings altogether, for those at any rate, who will disagree with
this arrangement. To avoid repeating the mistake, this is what I propose doing.
Each paper will be sent as higherto, only it will appear as a supplement to
the Ethics and teachings which will impart the rules of Discipline and the laws
of Discipleship, as is the case of all Probationers.
Those who accept the new arrangement will have to study the latter or they
cannot receive any more teachings from me. For as sayeth the Book of Discipline
in the Schools of Dyzan: "Speak not the mysteries to the common vulgar,
nor the casual friend or new disciple. With prudent eye to the possible consequences,
keep LOCKED WITHIN YOUR BREAST the teachings received, until you find a listener
who will understand your words and sympathize with your aspirations."
This does not mean that you are at liberty to repeat what you have learned to
any one whom you believe to answer that description, but that you can exchange
views with your co-disciples who are pledged as you are yourself.
I can do no better, I believe, than to give at once some of the oral and written
precepts from the same book above mentioned, and as pointed out by the Master.
"1. - To the earnest disciple his Teacher takes the place of Father
and Mother, For, whereas, they give him his body and his faculties; its life
and casual form, the Teacher shows him how to develop the inner faculties in
the acquisition of the Eternal Wisdom.”
"2. - To the Disciple each Fellow-Disciple becomes a Brother
and Sister, a portion of himself. (So shalt thou be in full accord with
all that lives; bear love to men as though they were thy brother pupils, disciples
of one Teacher, the sons of one sweet mother. Vide. No. III. in Voice of the
Silence, p. 49). For his interests and aspirations are theirs, his welfare
interwoven with theirs, his progress helped or hindered by their intelligence,
morality, and behavior through the intimacy brought about by their co-discipleship”
"3. - A co-disciple cannot backslide or fall out of the line without
affecting those who stand firm through the sympathetic tie between themselves
and the psychical currents between them and the teacher.”
"4. - Woe to the deserter, woe also to all who help to bring his soul
to the point where desertion first presents itself before his mind's eye as
the lesser of the two evils. Gold in the crucible is he who stands the MELTING
HEAT OF TRIAL, and lets only the dross be burnt out of his heart; accursed by
Karmic action will find himself he, who throws dross into the melting pot of
discipleship for the debasement of his fellow-pupil. As the members to the body,
so are the disciples to each other, and to the Head and the Heart which teach
and nourish them with the life-stream of Truth.”
"5. - As the limbs defend the head and heart of the body they belong
to, so have the disciples to defend the head and the heart of the body they
belong to from injury."
(to be continued)
H. P. B.