The Secret Doctrine, Volume I. Cosmogenesis
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The Secret Doctrine: Cosmogenesis by Helena Blavatsky is the first volume in a 3 volume set of books dealing with Theosophy and occult ideas. In this volume, the author sets out her views on the origin of the universe, and of evolution. Blavatsky uses the Hindu concept of cosmology as she attempts to show that the discoveries of science had been previously predicted by ancient texts.
The book is split into 3 parts: Part 1. Cosmic Evolution, which includes the 'Seven Stanzas From The Book Of Dzyan' as well as commentaries on them.
Part 2. The Evolution Of Symbolism, which includes the chapters; Symbolism and Ideographs; The Mystery Language and Its Keys; Primordial Substance and Divine Thought; Chaos: Theos: Kosmos; On the Hidden Deity, Its Symbols and Glyphs; The Mundane Egg; The Days and Nights of Brahmâ; The Lotus, as a Universal Symbol; The Moon; Deus Lunus, Phœbe; Tree, Serpent, and Crocodile Worship; Demon est Deus Inversus; The Theogony of the Creative Gods; The Seven Creations; The Four Elements; and, On Kwan-Shi-Yin and Kwan-Yin.
Part 3. On Occult And Modern Science which includes the chapters: Reasons for These Addenda' Modern Physicists are Playing at Blind Man's Buff; Is Gravitation a Law?; The Theories of Rotation in Science; The Masks of Science. Physics Or Metaphysics?; An Attack on the Scientific Theory of Force by a Man of Science; Life, Force, or Gravity; The Solar Theory; The Coming Force. Its Possibilities And Impossibilities; On the Elements and Atoms; Ancient Thought in Modern Dress; Scientific and Esoteric Evidence for, and Objections to, the Modern Nebular Theory; Forces—Modes of Motion or Intelligences; Gods, Monads and Atoms; Cyclic Evolution and Karma; The Zodiac and its Antiquity; and, Summary of the Position.
This book has 551 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1893.
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Excerpt from 'The Secret Doctrine, Volume I. Cosmogenesis'
Since the appearance of Theosophical literature in England, it has become customary to call its teachings “Esoteric Buddhism.” And, having become a habit—as an old proverb based on daily experience has it—“Error runs down an inclined plane, while Truth has to laboriously climb its way up hill.”
Old truisms are often the wisest. The human mind can hardly remain entirely free from bias, and decisive opinions are often formed before a thorough examination of a subject from all its aspects has been made. This is said with reference to the prevailing double mistake (a) of limiting Theosophy to Buddhism; and (b) of confounding the tenets of the religious philosophy preached by Gautama, the Buddha, with the doctrines broadly outlined in Esoteric Buddhism. Any thing more erroneous than this could hardly be imagined. It has enabled our enemies to find an effective weapon against Theosophy, because, as an eminent Pâli scholar very pointedly expressed it, there was in the volume named “neither Esotericism nor Buddhism.” The esoteric truths, presented in Mr. Sinnett's work, ceased to be esoteric from the moment they were made public; nor did the book contain the religion of Buddha, but simply a few tenets from a hitherto hidden teaching, which are now explained and supplemented by many more in the present volumes. And even the latter, though giving out many fundamental tenets from the Secret Doctrine of the East, raise but a small corner of the dark veil. For no one, not even the greatest living Adept, would be permitted to, or could—even if he would—give out promiscuously to a mocking, unbelieving world that which has been so effectually concealed from it for long æons and ages.
Esoteric Buddhism was an excellent work with a very unfortunate title, though it meant no more than does the title of this work, The Secret Doctrine. It proved unfortunate, because people are always in the habit of judging things by their appearance rather than by their meaning, and because the error has now become so universal, that even most of the Fellows of the Theosophical Society have fallen victims to the same misconception. From the first, however, protests were raised by Brâhmans and others against the title; and, in justice to myself, I must add that Esoteric Buddhism was presented to me as a completed volume, and that I was entirely unaware of the manner in which the author intended to spell the word “Budh-ism.”
This has to be laid directly at the door of those who, having been the first to bring the subject under public notice, neglected to point out the difference between “Buddhism”—the religious system of ethics preached by the Lord Gautama, and so named from his title of Buddha, the “Enlightened”—and “Budhism,” from Budha, Wisdom, or Knowledge (Vidyâ), the faculty of cognizing, from the Sanskrit root Budh, to know. We Theosophists of India are ourselves the real culprits, although, at the time, we did our best to correct the mistake. To avoid this deplorable misnomer was easy; the spelling of the word had only to be altered, and by common consent both pronounced and written “Budhism,” instead of “Buddhism.” Nor is the latter term correctly spelt and pronounced, as it ought to be called, in English, Buddhaïsm, and its votaries “Buddhaïsts.”
This explanation is absolutely necessary at the beginning of a work like the present. The Wisdom-Religion is the inheritance of all the nations, the world over, in spite of the statement made in Esoteric Buddhism that “two years ago (i.e., in 1883), neither I, nor any other European living, knew the alphabet of the Science, here for the first time put into a scientific shape,” etc. This error must have crept in through inadvertence. The present writer knew all that is “divulged” in Esoteric Buddhism, and much more, many years before it became her duty (in 1880) to impart a small portion of the Secret Doctrine to two European gentlemen, one of whom was the author of Esoteric Buddhism; and surely the present writer has the undoubted, though to her, rather equivocal, privilege of being a European by birth and education. Moreover, a considerable part of the philosophy expounded by Mr. Sinnett was taught in America, even before Isis Unveiled was published, to two Europeans and to my colleague, Colonel H. S. Olcott. Of the three teachers the latter gentleman has had, the first was a Hungarian Initiate, the second an Egyptian, the third a Hindû. As permitted, Colonel Olcott has given out some of this teaching in various ways; if the other two have not, it has been simply because they were not allowed, their time for public work having not yet come. But for others it has, and the appearance of Mr. Sinnett's several interesting books is a visible proof of the fact. Moreover, it is above everything important to keep in mind that no Theosophical book acquires the least additional value from pretended authority.
Âdi, or Âdhi Budha, the One, or the First, and Supreme Wisdom, is a term used by Âryâsanga in his secret treatises, and now by all the mystic Northern Buddhists. It is a Sanskrit term, and an appellation given by the earliest Âryans to the Unknown Deity; the word “Brahmâ” not being found in the Vedas and the early works. It means the Absolute Wisdom, and Âdibhûta is translated by Fitzedward Hall, “the primeval uncreated cause of all.” Æons of untold duration must have elapsed, before the epithet of Buddha was so humanized, so to speak, as to allow of the term being applied to mortals, and finally appropriated to one whose unparalleled virtues and knowledge caused him to receive the title of the “Buddha of Wisdom Unmoved.” Bodha means the innate possession of divine intellect or understanding; Buddha, the acquirement of it by personal efforts and merit; while Buddhi is the faculty of cognizing, the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the Ego, the discernment of good and evil, also divine conscience, and the Spiritual Soul, which is the vehicle of Âtmâ. “When Buddhi absorbs our Ego-tism (destroys it) with all its Vikâras, Avalokiteshvara becomes manifested to us, and Nirvâna, or Mukti, is reached,” Mukti being the same as Nirvana, i.e., freedom from the trammels of Mâyâ or Illusion. Bodhi is likewise the name of a particular state of trance-condition, called Samâdhi, during which the subject reaches the culmination of spiritual knowledge.
Production notes: This edition of The Secret Doctrine, Volume I. Cosmogenesis was published by Global Grey ebooks on the 23rd September 2018, and updated on the 15th April 2021. The artwork used for the cover is 'Huttens Grab' by Caspar David Friedrich.