How shall we view H.P.B.'s works in these days of change? Are they antiquated? Do they need re-editing to bring the thought and the language up-to-date with present-day thought and language, just as the Christian Bible has been brought "up to date"? Have they lost their appeal?
It would seem that one point students should bear in mind is that H.P.B. gave out knowledge per se, not altering it to suit or appeal to her contemporaries or to the people of any particular period. Throughout The Secret Doctrine one finds references to other ancient works, showing that such works are still a source of knowledge and guidance to the people of today who wish to learn, just as The Secret Doctrine itself will be of value to people hundreds of years hence. The section "Before the Veil" in Isis Unveiled (I, iX-X1V), for example, with its emphasis on the Platonic and Neo-Platonic traditions, seems to indicate the continuing importance of this influence for our era. Perhaps we should remember what H.P.B. points out, namely that The Secret Doctrine is to be judged by "humanity and the future generations" (I, Viii). Therefore the book must be as suitable for study by future generations as it was by H.P.B.'s contemporaries.
We are taught that the intuition of Buddhi unfolds on the basis of the understanding that Manas builds up. Manas cannot reach further of itself, yet its efforts are a preliminary necessity, since Buddhi remains latent, un-self-conscious, without them. By analogy, the present phase of our Movement is Manasic. Will the intuition of Buddhi unfold at a later stage? This would be an unfolding of the heart, not a mere change in intellectual approach.
All presentations of the Truth must be "symbolic" in some sense, since it can never be fully expressed; but words themselves can be symbols through which intuition perceives in a deeper measure.
Anyone in touch with the world of books or with other media of communication must be struck by the wide spread of general, as well as scholarly, interest in symbolism, allegory, myth, legend, folklore and fairy tales. One becomes almost satiated with the "symbols" in fiction, in drama, in literary and art criticism; and though quite often they may go no higher than a dubious kama-manasic level, yet the power of the symbol to "communicate" more completely and satisfyingly is increasingly recognized.
It is surprising how often modern books on these subjects bring up points on which Isis Unveiled, The Secret Doctrine and H.P.B.'s other writings have something pertinent to say. There has also been interesting scholarly research into symbolism, especially into the twisted strands of Hermetic, Platonic, Gnostic and Kabbalistic traditions. Generally the attitude taken is that of outside observers and the interpretation is not always correct.
But the present attitude towards symbolism may itself be a danger. In this period which revives the religious cosmopolitanism of the Alexandrian civilization, will the error made then repeat itself? Will the present attitude of tolerance and the tendency towards unification result in simply another amalgam of exoteric, ritualistic religions, instead of a recognition of the Wisdom-Religion as the source of all faiths? This would mean simply a new orthodoxy resulting from the remains of the older ones, and finally destroying its predecessors as Churchianity did. Whether the desire for union between faiths is good or bad depends on the basis for union.
A union, under the pressure of the cycle and of public opinion, between those with only a superficial knowledge of the inner meaning of Theosophy and those who are ignorant exotericists can only produce another dangerous "half-truth" faith. Theosophists who have the head-knowledge of the philosophy but not enough heart-awareness of the nature of the Theosophical Movement may in all good faith become involved in mixed outer groups, hoping thereby to forward the cause of Theosophy. Whatever the resulting synthetic mixture may call itself, it will not be in the true line of inheritance of the Theosophical Movement. The teaching H.P.B. brought will be needed as much in the future as now, to provide an acid test for the "gold" of Truth, that is, to separate the materialized interpretation of the symbols from the real inner meaning.