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The Secret Doctrine Dialogues: The Unpublished 1889 Manuscript

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How the Missing SECRET DOCTRINE DIALOGUES were discovered

by Daniel H. Caldwell
I wrote the the following article in 2001
but have slightly updated it several times.
Last update March 30, 2019.

The Theosophy Company on their website describes H.P. Blavatsky's book titled Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge as follows:

"In 1889, when H.P.B. was in London, the weekly meetings of the Blavatsky Lodge was devoted to the discussion of the archaic 'Stanzas' on which The Secret Doctrine is based. Transactions provides . . . H.P.B.'s answers to metaphysical and scientific questions, as stenographically reported, and afterwards revised by her for publication. . . ."

In an introductory note prefacing the original edition(s) of 1890/1891 of the Transactions, we find the following information:

"The . . . transactions are compiled from shorthand notes taken at the meetings of the Blavatsky Lodge of the Theosophical Society, from January 10th to June 20th, 1889, being somewhat condensed from the original discussions."

". . . the members of the 'B.L. of the T. S.' agreed to devote the debates of the weekly [Thursday] meetings to each stanza and sundry other metaphysical subjects."

"The questions were put by members. . . . The answers in all cases are based on the shorthand Reports, and are those . . . as given by H. P. B. herself."

H.P.B. herself mentions these meetings and the Transactions in a letter written to her sister Vera in Russia.  She writes about:

"...the receptions, the weekly meetings, accompanied by learned discussions, with a stenographer behind my back, and sometimes two or three reporters in the corners, — all this, you can easily believe, takes some time. I must read up for every Thursday, because the people who come here are no ignoramuses from the street, but such people as the electrician K., Dr. William B. and the naturalist C. B. I must be prepared to defend the teachings of Occultism against the applied sciences, so that the reports of the stenographer may be printed, without correction, in our new monthly publication under the name of The Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge. This alone, the stenographer and the printing — cost my theosophists nearly L 40 a month... Since your departure they have all gone mad here; they spend such a lot of money that my hair stands on end... Don’t you see, they have written a circular to all theosophists of all the wide world: ‘H.P.B.,’ they say, ‘is old and ill, H.P.B. wont stay with us much longer. Suppose H.P.B. died, then we might whistle for it! There will be no one to teach us manners and secret wisdom. So let us raise a subscription for the expenses, etc., etc...’ And so they have raised a subscription and now spend money. And ‘H.P.B.’ sits with holes in her elbows, sweating for everybody and teaching them...."  Quoted from Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to Her Family in Russia:  Part XII---England 1887-1889.

In H.P.B.'s magazine Lucifer, it was noted that the reports of the Transactions (covering the meetings of Jan. 10 through June 20, 1889) were transcribed in "twenty-four large longhand folios." Lucifer, October 15th, 1890, p. 165.

Part I of the Transactions was published as a book in London in March 1890 and consisted of material discussed by H.P. Blavatsky at the following meetings:

Meeting 1. January 10, 1889 [Stanza I, sl. 1-2]
Meeting 2. January 17, 1889 [Stanza I, sl. 3-4]
Meeting 3. January 24, 1889 [Stanza I, sl. 5-8]
Meeting 4. January 31, 1889 [Stanza I, sl. 6-9; Stanza
II, sl. 1-2]
Appendix on Dreams

Part II of the Transactions was published in January 1891 and included material discussed by H.P.Blavatsky at the following meetings:

Meeting 5. February 7, 1889 [Stanza II, sl. 3-4]
Meeting 6. February 14, 1889 [Stanza III, sl. 1]
Meeting 7. February 21, 1889 [Stanza III, sl. 2-4]
Meeting 8. February 28, 1889 [Stanza III, sl. 5-8]
Meeting 9. March 7, 1889 [Stanza III, sl. 10-11]
Meeting 10. March 14, 1889 [Stanza IV, sl. 1-6]

The above material is available online in an easily accessible format at: Secret Doctrine Commentary / Stanzas I-IV:  Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge

In February, 1891, Alice Leighton Cleather wrote:

"The second part of the 'Transactions -- Blavatsky Lodge,' is now out, and the third [part] will shortly follow." Theosophist, April 1891, p. 438. Italics added.

But H.P. Blavatsky died in May 1891 and Part III of the Transactions was never published.

It should be emphasized that the discussions in the published Parts I and II cover only the first four stanzas of Volume I of The Secret Doctrine.

Part III would, no doubt, have contained H.P.B.'s additional insightful and valuable comments on Stanza V and possibly even on Stanzas VI and VII.

What happened to the remaining unpublished Blavatsky material that was contained in the "twenty-four large longhand folios"?

This unpublished material would have contained the discussions held with H.P.B. at Blavatsky Lodge meetings from March 21 to June 20, 1889. A total of 14 meetings!

In 1995 I discovered the whereabouts of the missing "large longhand folios". Three of the folios were missing but the majority survived. I was allowed to peruse and read the extant folios and discovered that H.P. Blavatsky's discussions and comments on Stanzas V, VI and VII survive after more than 100 years of being lost!

I vividly remember the first time I looked at all these manuscripts of HPB's unpublished transactions.

On a research trip to California I went to see a certain student of Madame Blavatsky's writings.  He brought out the manuscript of the transactions from his garage!  I had asked him to show me the mss based on our previous correspondence and phone conversations.

He thought all of this material had already been published in 1890 and 1891 and there was nothing else to publish.

But from my own previous historical research and from crucial details he had told me over the phone, I knew that was not so and in about 5 minutes I was pointing out to him the various sections that had never been published!!!!  The notebooks were all very readable although they were all  handwritten. 

Here is a photographic facsimile of a page of the original:

I urged this Blavatsky student then in "charge" of the manuscript to publish this remarkable literary treasure. 

I was repeatedly assured over a period of years that the manuscripts would be published.

A few years passed and I decided to let the late John Cooper, a Theosophical historian, know about my discovery.  Since he also knew the "keeper" of the manuscript, I urged John to write him and encourage him to publish this unpublished Blavatsky writing.

Nothing came of this so I decided to publish the gist of the above findings in an article published in the July 2002 issue of Theosophical History). I also gave a wider circle of students more details about who had this manuscript in the hope that this might result in its eventual publication. 

One of the unforseen but happy consequences of this disclosure was the publication of the material in one of the unpublished folio notebooks (i.e. for the meeting of April 25, 1889) as a supplement to the September 17, 2002 issue of The Aquarian Theosophist.

As of late autumn of 2002 definitive plans were then undertaken by some of the associates of the above mentioned person to finally publish the entire manuscript.

Unfortunately, further delays and conflicts regarding the publication of the entire manuscript occurred in the ensuing years.

But at last, the interested student of Theosophy as well as any interested member of the general public can now read this remarkable work.

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"...Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate things at their right value; and unless a judge compares notes and hears
both sides he can hardly come to a correct decision."     H.P. Blavatsky. The Theosophist, July, 1881, p. 218.

March 30, 2019