Sunday, May 30, 2010

Blavatskiana: The Voice of the Silence

HPB has written that the study of The Secret Doctrine without The Voice of the Silence could lead to black magic. (We read this reference by her many years ago but now cannot find the citation. Perhaps one of our readers can help.) Maybe it is because, as she states in The Secret Doctrine, the system “gives a clue to tremendous occult powers, the abuse of which would cause incalculable evil to humanity.”

The Voice of the Silence was published in September 1889. It claims to be from the same instructional material as the stanzas of The Secret Doctrine. The title page tells us that it is chosen fragments from the “Book of the Golden Precepts”—“one of the works put into the hands of mystic students in the East.” The second and third parts are essentially a guide to the bodhisattva path, focusing on the paramitas as the means.”

Copies of the first edition of 1889 are quite scarce. Facsimiles of it have been printed over the years, one by Aquarian Press in London in 1953, another by the Edmonton Theosophical Society in 1991 (both reprint the London/New York edition, not the London/Madras edition). The 1889 edition is available online from Google books from a copy at Harvard bearing the bookplate of the eminent American Sanskrit scholar Charles Rockwell Lanman, as can be seen here.

The copy would certainly be the one in the TS Archives at Adyar, India, bearing the inscription: H.P.B. to H.P. Blavatsky with no kind regards. On the centenary of the book in 1989 Raghavan Iyer and Concord Grove Press in Santa Barbara, California, issued a large format edition with a foreword by the Fourteen Dalai Lama, which reads in part: “I believe that this book has strongly influenced many sincere seekers and aspirants to the wisdom and compassion of the Bodhisattva Path.

But for us, the copy of The Voice of the Silence is the one issued in Peking, China, in 1931 by the Chinese Buddhist Research Society and edited by Alice Cleather and Basil Crump which features an inscription written for this edition by the Ninth Panchen Lama (this edition had already been issued in 1927 and again in 1928, but the 1931 edition contains an errata and list of corrections along with a photograph of the Panchen Lama taken by Basil Crump in Peking). A facsimile of it has since been reprinted by HPB Library in Canada.

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