The Secret Doctrine Commentaries: The Unpublished 1889 Instructions [of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky]

Transcribed and annotated by Michael Gomes
The Hague: I.S.I.S. Foundation, 2010. xvi + 687 pp., hardcover, $103.10.

The publisher of this work is not the Egyptian goddess, but the International Study-centre for Independent Search for Truth of the Dutch Point Loma Theosophical Society, which has done a notable work in making this book available.

Shortly after the publication of her major work, The Secret Doctrine, in 1888, H. P. Blavatsky met with a few of her students to explore their many and confused questions about that book. Those meetings were recorded by a stenographer, but until now only a severely edited version of the first twelve sessions had been published. This volume is a full transcription of all twenty-two sessions held during the first six months of 1889. As such, it is an invaluable guide to the study of HPB’s major work and, in repeated spots, a delightful read because of the informal nature of the discussions and the witty interchange between HPB and her disciples.

The editor of the volume, Michael Gomes, is one of our best Theosophical historians, noted for such works as The Dawning of the Theosophical Movement (Quest, 1987) and Theosophy in the Nineteenth Century: An Annotated Bibliography (Garland, 1994), as well as his excellent abridgments of HPB’s major works: Isis Unveiled (Quest, 1997) and The Secret Doctrine (New York: Tarcher Penguin, 2009). New as it is, this volume is clearly a major Theosophical classic, which every student of Theosophy needs to know and which even the casual reader can find informative and entertaining.

John Algeo

The reviewer is past president of the Theosophical Society in America and past vicepresident of the international Society.