1889 The Voice of the Silence (2017)
Press Release, Publisher’s notes and Pictures
1. Lamas recognise the Voice
The Ninth Panchen Lama of Tibet (1883 – 1937) officially endorsed The Voice of the Silence in 1927, pointing out that it comprises a part of the teachings of the Eastern Esoteric School and called it “the only true exposition in English of the Heart Doctrine of the Mahayana and its noble ideal of self-sacrifice for humanity.” He also commented how important an esoteric Buddhist text it was and that “Madame Blavatsky had a profound knowledge of Buddhist philosophy.”
In commenting on the 1989 centenary edition* the present Fourteenth Dalai Lama believes the Voice “has strongly influenced many sincere seekers and aspirants to the wisdom and compassion of the Bodhisattva Path.”
The new edition includes a signed dedication by HPB to a fellow Theosophist, where she describes herself with characteristic modesty as the translator not the author. To carry out the translation was not only a remarkable feat of learning bu it also required access to texts that had been previously kept secret from those outside select Eastern fraternities.
* a verbatim rather than a facsimile edition.
2. A note on ‘misprints’
THE QUESTION OF WHICH ‘I’
There is an obvious typographical error on p 31 that has been corrected in many later editions, but which this facsimile leaves as it is.
Putting to one side temporarily the beautiful expression to “sow kindly acts,” the space between the first three letters of FRUITION and the last four is distinctively large and that similar mistakes are not repeated elsewhere except in one other place, noted below.
If a letter had fallen out of the typesetting block it would have left a smaller space, making the oversized space for the missing ‘i’ seem poignant:
In many places of this ancient mystic text the dual ‘I’ in man is suggested: the first an individualised consciousness, the second duality an universal and compassionate Unity, representing the Oneness of all life.
On page 40 the suggestion is made that Nirvana is attained (or better, is renounced according to the ennobling ethics of Mahayana Buddhism) through losing one’s attachment to personal benefit, the fruition of one’s acts:
“But if thou would’st Nirvana reach, or cast the prize away, let not the fruit of action and inaction be thy motive.”
The path that is taught is of giving up attachment to the Self, so thus to do and think as many of the great scriptures of the world have taught: self-forgetfulness and dispassion for our own pains and sorrows, and in their place being put service to ‘the sacred cause of humanity.’ It starts with families and colleagues and expands from that basis universally in this, “the age of the common people.” (Master M. to W.Q.Judge in “An Old Message from the Master”, WQJ Articles ii 309)
If this lower ‘i’ misprint in fruition does not speak to thoughtful readers then the next – of the capital “I” – may be yet more appealing.
RAISING THE ‘I’ IN HARMONIOUS CONDUCT (SHÎLA)
The second of the Golden Paramitas given in the Voice is “Shîla, the key of Harmony in word and act”, the mental approach and discipline that counterbalances or dissolves past karma.
On page 47 Shîla has been printed with a highly raised ‘Î’:
It may seem natural to correct this apparent misprint – as most later versions have – however something is lost in doing this, of the possible intentions of those involved in its production.
This has been disputed by past of the Voice in the 20th c. who have written in commentaries about their versions – heavily edited and disfigured in some cases – that little attention should be paid to these original quirks. Now while the aim of this edition is neither to affirm or deny that any special hints in the text exist, the need is strongly felt to simply offer students and scholars the opportunity to study the book as it was first issued.
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Besides waiting patiently for any newly emerging historical records – such as instructions that HPB may have given to the printers or the discovery of her marked-up galley proofs which may perhaps still exist in a Society archive – the point will not be settled.
But the publishers consider that it may well be H.P. Blavatsky, well known for her sense of humour and wit, was not above encoding the text! And why would she not? It is not a unusual, indeed the Preface explains that the original Precepts were written “mostly in ideographs” which “may be rendered in several modes of writing in cypher characters.” (the Preface, vii)
So why should these misprints not be visual clues to the philosophy of unseparateness, subtle but insistent reminders of the beautiful expression to “sow kindly acts” and of the power of words and acts that harmonise and raise up? There may well be other clues remaining undiscovered, for which fresh waters of the Secret Path are
used to sweeter make the Ocean’s bitter waves – that mighty sea of sorrow formed of the tears of men. (page 67)
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This volume of the ancient Golden Precepts is recommended to all serious students of the philosophy, for whom it may form the beginning, the middle and the end of the Way, or in Plato’s expression “the ardent turning of the Soul towards the Divine.”
It was given 128 years ago in a spirit of devotion to ‘the sevenfold world of life and being’ in which all have their existence and it is offered again in the spirit of peaceful enquiry into “the mathematics of the Soul.”
London & New York, 2017
The first page is signed with a dedication to a prominent Theosophist:
“To Claude Falls Wright FTS with the translator’s fraternal affection.
London Sept. 1889″
Open cover with green endpage