Theosophy

Evil & Good dichotomy affects all lifeforms, not just humans on this planet. Whether any lifeforms are innately purely evil or good, I doubt.
I would rather say to be evil (the word evokes the moral dimension) requires the knowing and informed assent to act to the contrary of the Good.

(It's hard to determine animals as evil, when often they do, by our standards, evil things, purely in the interests of survival. To accuse an animal of evil will require first the proof that animals have a moral consciousness.)

The human condition is certainly dual and the principal motive is for us to limit our evilness and expand fully our goodness.
Ah ... not according to universal metaphysics in general, nor the Abrahamics specifically.

The human is an holistic being, a body-soul union in which the sum is greater than the parts – I would go so far as to say that humanity is tripartite.

Duality exists at the level of the world, which we are called to rise above, but that duality is nevertheless neither unfortunate nor intrinsically problematic. It's a matter of perception.

If one reads St Paul, for example, there are two terms for the body – soma and sarx – soma means 'body' and sarx means 'flesh' – the former refers to the whole person, the latter refers to the person-in-the-world, the body soul 'dichotomy'.

Human nature is not innately evil, it is good, but wounded, a self-inflicted wound, carried out by a fully-informed intelligence.
 
The serpent IS nature.
But nature is also a theophany ... that nature is not God means it is less than perfect, were it perfect, it would be God.

A 'lesser good' is not a composite of x% good and y% evil, rather it is, in its own domain, 100% good, it's just that it is limited in its sphere and scope of operation.
 
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I agree - But (as we say) - if man is the image of God and our nature is dual, then Nature or God/Satan is also dual. Not an easy intellectual puzzle to solve. Spinoza had quite a tussle with his varied "natures".
Intellectually, perhaps not. Scripturally, there's no problem.

The question is ill-founded, as neither God, nor human nature, is dual.

I'd say human nature is dynamic, rather than say dual, as that tends towards the old 'dichotomy' dilemma, which leads us into error.
 
... But in that case, light, goodness, beauty, etc., may be called Satan with as much propriety as the Devil, since they are the Adversaries of darkness, badness and ugliness.
The Secret Doctrine

My response was: It's statements like this that inclined me to regard The Secret Doctrine as lacking metaphysical rigour.

So let me qualify:
"The Demiurgic Tendency moves away from God – from the macrocosmic point of view – but with a creative and revelatory intention, and this second characteristic allows the microcosm to return to God through the medium of the symbol;

The Satanic Tendency, on the contrary, separates from God, and so is opposed to Him; however, the very least of insects is obedient to Heaven, by its subjection to natural laws as much as by its form. The devil’s greatest vexation is that he is obliged to be a symbol of God, an inverted symbol, doubtless, but always recognisably and ineffaceably a symbol."
(Frithjof Schuon, Gnosis, Divine Wisdom, 'Love of God: Consciousness of the Real' p83)

To say light, goodness beauty, etc, may be called Satan is simply a failure to discriminate between the two 'tendencies' and make the error of assuming they are equal, and thus two sides of a coin.
 
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Yes. But the metaphysical error is endowing darkness which is not the opposite but the absence of light with equal and opposite properties?
 
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Yes. But the metaphysical error is endowing darkness which is not the opposite but the absence of light with equal and opposite properties?
Are you thinking meta-physically or physically, even visually only? Even the dictionary meaning of darkness includes "forces of darkness" Evil, Sin, wickedness et cetera.
 
There is a perennial question: If God is, whence come evil things? If He is not, whence comes good?
(Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy I, 4)

Evil like goodness are realities on the level of the world when treated as a duality. When we are speaking of the Transcendentals, we are speaking of absolutes: the Good, the True, the Real, and so on. In that sense, there cannot be any hint of evil in the transcendental good, else it would not be good as such, likewise, there cannot be untruth in the True, nor illusion in the Real – again, we are dealing with absolute states.

It is clear in the Genesis account of creation that the world is good. The work of each day is good, and the totality of creation is very good. But creation is not God, and clearly we are talking about provisional, or relative 'goods' – the very fact God sees His work at the close of the Sixth Day as 'very good' (Genesis 1:31 emphasis mine – the last verse of the chapter) tells us that it is a conditional good.

A further clue is the serpent in the Garden. There is a Muslim story of a man who asked a saint whom he knew was regularly transported to paradise, to bring him back an apple from that 'perfect' place. On taking a bite, he was horrified: "There is a worm in this apple!" "Yes," his friend replied. "and Paradise is not God."

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Where The Secret Doctrine is in error is failing to discern between absolute and relative terms, and thence failing to determine the qualities of those terms in relation to the overall metaphysical paradigm:
"... But in that case, light, goodness, beauty, etc., may be called Satan with as much propriety as the Devil, since they are the Adversaries of darkness, badness and ugliness." (The Secret Doctrine, Vol 2 pt 1, stanza 12b).

Light, goodness, beauty etc., in the worldly sense are prolongations or radiations of the Transcendentals, in that sense they are revelatory and initiatic. It is through them and by means of them that we aspire to the transcendental states – we have to embody them to actualise them in ourselves, and by so doing come into an harmonic resonance with their ontological source.

They are not adversarial in any inherent sense, rather they are what they are.

The where 'bad' becomes 'evil' is in its knowing opposition to the good. We use terms like Satantic or Luciferian to personalise those tendencies when we are faced with them, but they should be understood less as individual persons but as 'tendencies' – gunas in Hindu philosophy, not simp[ly, and naturally, entropic, but actively contrary – in that sense the darkness is not the absence of light, but the desire to occlude the light, to hide the light or blind the seer ... and in that sense they are counter-initiatic forces.

They are, then, inherently adversarial – but they cannot win, because they have no Transcendent source to maintain them.

+++

In the center of the Garden is the Tree of Life, which corresponds to the vertical pole, the axis of Principle (the horizontal is the axis of Plenitude). Adam, primordial man, dwells at peace with all his fellow beings, and they along with him participate in the center so long as his attention remains focused there.

The serpent the Primordial Couple a 'new' and 'hidden' experience, the illusion of self-sufficiency, as if they were self-sustaining entities.

Now the Tree, as Marco Pallis has said, "bowed under the weight of its fruits, light and dark, containing the seed of indefinite becoming ... regarded from (this new) viewpoint (post-lapsarian) of ignorance, the Tree of Life becomes the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil."

Adam and Eve's sin is choosing to follow their own wills as opposed to the will of God – who has nothing but their wellbeing in mind. And this makes clear the relationship of evil to sin; all sin participates in an opposition to God's will.

This pride is carried by each and every one of us down to the present day. God, in His Providence, he draws good out of us, in spite of our evil acts.

God does not will evil qua evil; that is evil as it appears to us.

Again, Marco Pallis says: "He is the creator of the relative, as is required by His infinity, and that relativity which we call evil, is a necessary function, being in fact the measure of the world's apparent separation from its principle, God – an illusory separation inasmuch as nothing can exist side by side with the infinite, however real it may claim to be at its own relative level."

Frithjof Schuon: "One cannot ask of God to will the world and at the same time to will that it be not the world."

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Adam and Eve's sin is choosing to follow their own wills as opposed to the will of God – who has nothing but their wellbeing in mind. And this makes clear the relationship of evil to sin; all sin participates in an opposition to God's will..
In a nutshell !
 
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This booklet gives HPB's suggestions on how to study The Secret Doctrine. Granted that those two volumes give only a skeleton outline of the Ancient Wisdom:

https://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/invit-sd/invitation_to_the_sd.pdf
The secret doctrine or the Ancient Wisdom is only outlined & sketched in the book by HPB. It surely has lacks & flaws, yet HPB acknowledged that many times. The booklet linked above is very helpful, if one wishes to see the overall picture.

As Chlup put it in his Proclus book:

"The fundamentally holistic nature of this complex body of principles makes any lucid exposition of it an onerous task. The elementary laws of Proclus' universe are limited in number, but they all refer to one another, being hard to grasp separately. Any linear explanation of them is thus extremely difficult, for ideally the reader would need to see all the principles at once."

This notion applies to other theosophical writings like HPB's also. Since very few readers can "see all the principles at once" we seek to go beyond conceptual thought for better understanding.

This summary from page 279ff in volume One, may shed some more light:

https://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sd/sd-extract.htm
 
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Fopr a better insight and understanding into Metaphysical Principle from the viewpoint of a pure theosophy, I would recommend René Guénon's essay on Oriental Metaphysics

For an indepth view with a more intellectual rigour

Man and His Becoming according to the Vedanta
The Symbolism of the Cross
The Multiple States of the Being.

Guénon regarded 'Oriental Metaphysics' – by which he meant the metaphysical expressions contained within the Hindu scriptures and especially the Advaita Vedanta of Shankara, as the most complete and comprehensive expression of traditional metaphysics we possess, 'universal' in the sense that they can function as a key to unlocking other traditional forms.

His works were called the first and most reliable exposition of Hindu metaphysics in any Western language.

Man and His Becoming remains the best exposition of the doctrines of the Vedanta and a benchmark work, for theosophists, of traditional metaphysics and anthropology.

Two other works – Studies in Hinduism and An Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines, offers a treatise on Hindu cosmology.
 
Fopr a better insight and understanding into Metaphysical Principle from the viewpoint of a pure theosophy, I would recommend René Guénon's essay on Oriental Metaphysics

For an indepth view with a more intellectual rigour

Man and His Becoming according to the Vedanta
The Symbolism of the Cross
The Multiple States of the Being.

Guénon regarded 'Oriental Metaphysics' – by which he meant the metaphysical expressions contained within the Hindu scriptures and especially the Advaita Vedanta of Shankara, as the most complete and comprehensive expression of traditional metaphysics we possess, 'universal' in the sense that they can function as a key to unlocking other traditional forms.

His works were called the first and most reliable exposition of Hindu metaphysics in any Western language.

Man and His Becoming remains the best exposition of the doctrines of the Vedanta and a benchmark work, for theosophists, of traditional metaphysics and anthropology.

Two other works – Studies in Hinduism and An Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines, offers a treatise on Hindu cosmology.

Guenon was fiercely opposed to HPB's Theosophy. Here is an article on his hostility:

https://www.theosophical.org/public...-blavatsky-rene-guenons-critique-of-theosophy
 
Well, he had his reasons, and he wasn't alone in that, and he explained himself at length.

But to the point, as you say, the works by HPB are flawed, the grounds for which I have my own understanding, but my point is more along the line of works like The Secret Doctrine never really present a traditional metaphysics in principle in any succinct form – the writings might well be a window into the ideals of a certain milieu, but in terms of esoteric insight it lacks rigour; it's too replete with extraneous, spurious and sometimes fantastical conjectures, too inclined to imaginings and fanciful speculations, to be considered a useful document, when other more succinct, concise and accurate commentaries are available.

The link above, to Richard Smoley's essay, I think states it quite succinctly:
"His (Guénon's) metaphysical writings—such as Man and His Becoming according to the Vedanta, The Multiple States of Being, The Symbolism of the Cross—are models of depth and lucidity in a field that is overgrown with profuse and meaningless verbiage."
Sadly I apply that latter critique to much of The Secret Doctrine.
 
HPB's writings have been criticized for "lack of rigor" & "profuse verbiage" since her first book in 1877. She never claimed to be a trained & schooled philosopher; quite the opposite, she admits to many failings.
Guenon is just one of a multitude of intellectuals who sneer at Helena.

In her Preface to the SD she writes:

It is more than probable that the book will be regarded by a large section of
the public as a romance of the wildest kind; for who has ever even heard of the
Book of Dzyan?
The writer, therefore, is fully prepared to take all the responsibility for what
is contained in this work, and even to face the charge of having invented the
whole of it. That it has many shortcomings she is fully aware; all that she
claims for it is that, romantic as it may seem to many, its logical coherence and
consistency entitle this new Genesis to rank, at any rate, on a levei with the
"working hypotheses" so freely accepted by modern science. Further it claims
consideration, not by reason of any appeal to dogmatic authority, but because
it closely adheres to Nature, and follows the laws of uniformity and analogy.
The aim of this work may be thus stated: to show that Nature is not "a fortuitous
concurrence of atoms," and to assign to man his rightful place in the
scheme of the Universe; to rescue from degradation the archaic truths which
are the basis of all religions; and to uncover, to some extent, the fundamental
unity from which they all spring; finally, to show that the occult side of
Nature has never been approached by the Science of modern civilization.
 
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HPB's writings have been criticized for "lack of rigor" & "profuse verbiage" since her first book in 1877. She never claimed to be a trained & schooled philosopher; quite the opposite, she admits to many failings.
Guenon is just one of a multitude of intellectuals who sneer at Helena.
Well, maybe if that was the case they are right to dismiss her.

Sneering is somewhat hyperbolic, I think. Guénon could be critical, and caustic, but he explains his reasoning, and it's not from any sense of intellectual superiority.

Guénon was actually quite humble as a man, and spent the latter part of his life living a somewhat anonymous life, a family man, in a Cairo sidestreet.
 
"Theosophy is the essential truth underlying all religions and does not recognize any one religion as being supreme over the others or as the last word of truth. It is not hostile to Christianity, but finds itself obliged to combat many things which it considers alien to the genuine Christian gospel and which have gradually crept in since that gospel was originally proclaimed. Among these is the idea that Christianity is paramount among religions or that it is a final revelation of divine truth, superseding other faiths. This idea is contrary to the truth and is becoming more and more difficult to maintain. For this there are two principal reasons. 1) Ancient religions have been widely and intensively studied, especially those of India, which have become accessible through the knowledge of Sanskrit. 2) Intercommunication between nations has grown so wide and intimate. These two causes combine to prevent the exclusive attitude of mind which was possible in past times."

From Theosophy and Christianity by HT Edge.

https://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gdpmanu/th-xity/th-xty1.htm
 
Even the little that is now given is better than complete silence upon these vital truths.
The world of today, in its mad career towards the unknown - which it is too ready to confound with the unknowable, whenever the problem eludes the grasp of the physicist - is rapidly progressing on the reverse, material plane of spirituality. It has now become a vast arena - a true valley of discord and of eternal strife - a necropolis, wherein lie buried the highest and the most holy aspirations of our Spirit-Soul. That soul becomes with every new generation more paralyzed and atrophied.

Secret Doctrine 1:xxii
 
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