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different editions of THE SECRET DOCTRINE

May 22, 2001 07:02 AM
by Eldon B Tucker

Dallas, Peter, and Tony:

It seems clear from the lines that the discussions have gone
that we are taking different positions on how to put the
theosophical literature to best use.

Should a theosophical FAQ be put together at some point,
a description of the different editions of THE SECRET
DOCTRINE, and the reasons for each edition, might be included.

The emphasis of the newer edition is, as I see it, on
improved accuracy, readability, and access to the materials.
The value of the facsimile edition would be to assure the
reader that no additional errors had been introduced in the
process of editing the book, although existing errors and
limitations would also remain.

A balanced comparison of the editions would impartially
weigh the good with the bad, considering improved readability
and accuracy with possible error. It is not made by picking
a few editorial changes that seem the most objectionable
and arguing over them. If a change is clearly in error,
it should be passed on, so that it can be corrected in a
future printing of the book.

I think that we've all become somewhat conditioned by the
various theosophical groups that we've been trained in, and
have a tendency to mirror the official positions of those
groups without really thinking about what we might be saying.

In the future, an html edition of the book might be useful.
This would go beyond just having the materials on web pages,
like Theosophical University Press has. It would include
extensive crosslinks and ties to supplemental materials.

Setting up such a text also would involve editorial
manipulation of the raw text of the book, perhaps the dropping
of accent marks, and the standardization of spellings. (This
would be to facilitate searching by keyword, etc.) With
this edition, as well as Boris's edition, the work would be
done with the best interest of the readers in mind.

Perhaps at some point in the future, we might have a
combination of the two approaches. There might be a
computerized, edited, readable, hyperlinked version of
each book or article, combined with a scanned image of
the original page of print that the text came from.

This would be useful for such books as THE MAHATMA LETTERS,
for HPB's magazine articles (showing a scan of the original
pages from the magazines that the originally appeared in),
and for books like THE SECRET DOCTRINE, showing original
handwritten manuscript whenever possible, or including
links to more than one draft of the materials, where
such exists.

Theosophy is a living tradition. It's kept alive by
people whom learn it and pass on their interest and
enthusiasm to future generations. The printed word is
a tool to assist with the process, as a study aid, but
is not the Wisdom itself.

-- Eldon

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