Category:Eastern Esotericism Reading

Secret Instructions - NO. IIIa


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 square brackets.



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 in America.

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 to death.

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 condemning others.
(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 me:

"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.

This article comes from Esotericism Readings

The URL for this story is: