United Lodge of Theosophists, London, UK

The Ancient Source: Advanced Methods & High Standards of Research



[In answer to the question “Where does Theosophy get its information?” the text below, known as The Ancient Source, describes the methods of research employed by the close-knit fraternity of the trans-Himalayan Mahatmas.

It is called “THE FIRST ITEM OF THE SECRET DOCTRINE” and is similar to the method of peer review and reproducibility that is the gold standard of modern science; but as you will read below it is very far from being a new protocol.

It has been the working research method of the Masters of Wisdom for countless ages, adopted because of the rigour demanded by competent investigators in the fields of psycho-mental and astral phenomena, areas of research which are inherently illusory and difficult to quantify and reproduce.

Only by such careful testing and double checking can reliable and accurate results be obtained consistently.

Early failures to understand this led the Theosophical Society into the tragi-comedic errors of Besant/Leadbeater era of ‘one man show’ pronouncements and declarations. It is one of the most important concepts to get established from the first.]

THE Secret Doctrine is the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages, and its cosmogony alone is the most stupendous and elaborate system: e.g., even in the exotericism of the Purânas. But such is the mysterious power of Occult symbolism, that the facts which have actually occupied countless generations of initiated seers and prophets to marshal, to set down and explain, in the bewildering series of evolutionary progress, are all recorded on a few pages of geometrical signs and glyphs.

The flashing gaze of those seers has penetrated into the very kernel of matter, and recorded the soul of things there, where an ordinary profane, however learned, would have perceived but the external work of form. But modern science believes not in the “soul of things,” and hence will reject the whole system of ancient cosmogony.

It is useless to say

  • that the system in question is no fancy of one or several isolated individuals.
  • That it is the uninterrupted record covering thousands of generations of Seers whose respective experiences were made to test and to verify the traditions passed orally by one early race to another, of the teachings of higher and exalted beings, who watched over the childhood of Humanity.
  • That for long ages, the “Wise Men” of the Fifth Race, of the stock saved and rescued from the last cataclysm and shifting of continents, had passed their lives in learning, not teaching.

How did they do so? It is answered: by checking, testing, and verifying in every department of nature the traditions of old by the independent visions of great adepts; i.e., men who have developed and perfected their physical, mental, psychic, and spiritual organisations to the utmost possible degree.

No vision of one adept was accepted till it was checked and confirmed by the visions – so obtained as to stand as independent evidence – of other adepts, and by centuries of experiences.

The Secret Doctrine, 1:272-3

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