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
Last update March 30, 2019.
The Theosophy Company on their website
describes H.P. Blavatsky's book titled Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge as
"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
". . . 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
"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.
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... Dont 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.
But H.P. Blavatsky died in May 1891 and Part III of the Transactions was never
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
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
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
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.
You can click on this link to order:
You can click on this link to see a pdf copy of this book:
THE SECRET DOCTRINE DIALOGUES
THE SECRET DOCTRINE DIALOGUES
Blavatsky Study Center
"...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.