Light on the Path (book)

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Light on the Path is a perennial favorite of Theosophical literature written by Mabel Collins in 1885. Its subtitle is "a treatise written for the personal use of those who are ignorant of the eastern wisdom, and who desire to enter within its influence." The text provides rules that serve as rungs of a ladder in the progress of the spiritual life. These rules are accompanied by commentaries provided by the Master Hilarion.

Writing of the book

Involvement of Master Hilarion

Master Hilarion is said to served as a conduit in the writing of Light on the Path, as the rules came "not from the Master Hilarion but through him from the far distant past."[1] He further contributed the commentaries on the stanzas that are included in the published work. In an analysis by John Hamaker, Collins' book gives evidence of the influence of the fifth ray on the Theosophical Society. The fifth ray is identified with the human impulse toward learning that is manifested in organized science. Hilarion was "leader and teacher of the group of souls whose line of progress lies through the quality that is the fifth ray..."

In Light on the Path we catch a glimpse of the fifth ray... the presence of the spirit of science can clearly be discerned. The first thing we see is the presence of a well defined structure. We are impressed by the simplicity and economy of both its structure and its language. In this is a beautiful expression of the way of science, in as much as science truly is the art and specialty of creating forms of the stuff of the mind." [2]

Structure of the book

Publication history

Published commentaries

Mabel Collins

Mabel Collins herself published several articles and books on Light on the Path.

  • "Notes" were added to the 1999 edition (George Redway, London)....
  • Our Glorious Future - an interpretation of Light on the Path........
  • "Comments"
    • Printed in Lucifer, Volume I, 1887-88.
    • Light on the Path and Karma. Subtitle: "with notes and comments." Wheaton, IL, The Theosophical Press, 1944. Introduction by C. Jinarājadāsa.

Annie Besant & C. W. Leadbeater

  • Talks on the Path of Occultism (Vol. III: Light on the Path). Subtitle: "a commentary on...Light on the Path." Adyar: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1926. Talks on the Path of Occultism give the guidance of Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater on the teachings contained in...Light on the Path. The two leaders spoke on many occasions on [this book]...and notes taken at such talks were gathered together, edited and revised by them, and published in [this volume].[3]

Joy Mills

  • Entering on the Sacred Way. Subtitle: "a psychological commentary on Light on the Path)." Series: "Wisdom Tradition Books; 2." Wheaton, IL, and Chennai: Oclott Institute of the Theosophical Society in America and The Theosophical Publishing House, 2000.

Through the years many commentaries on [this book] have appeared, and the texts themselves have been published in numerous editions and in many languages. Why, then, it may be asked, another commentary on Light on the Path?[4]

Rohit Mehta

  • Seek Out the Way. Subtitle: "(studies in Light on the Path)." Adyar: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1955. [This] book has grown out of a series of talks given to a group of students at the Headquarters of the Theosophical Society in India at Banaras.[5]


The Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals has over 90 articles reviewing, extracted from, or commenting on Light on the Path. These are some examples of the book reviews:

  • Anonymous. "Review - Licht Auf Den Weg (Light on the Path) tr Baron von Hoffman". The Theosophist 6 (June, 1885), 222.
  • Anonymous. "Review - 'Light on the Path'". The Path 2.3 *(June, 1887), 94.
  • Anonymous. "Review - 'Light on the Path'". The Path 89.10 (January, 1895), 322.
  • Anonymous. "Review - 'Light on the Path', Adyar Edition". The Theosophical Quarterly 20 (1923), 284.
  • Anonymous. "Book Reviews - Light on the Path and Karma". Theosophy in New Zealand 10 (May, 1912), 67.
  • Ballard, S. D. "Review - 'Light on the Path' by Mabel Collins". The American Theosophist 58.9 (September, 1970), 279.
  • Bhashyacharya, Pandit N. "Review - 'Light on the Path in Sanscrit'". The Path 4.4 (July, 1889), 120.
  • Blumensaadt, Naomi. "Review - 'Inspirations from the Ancient Wisdom' At the Feet of the Master, Light on the Path, Voice of the Silence". Theosophy in Australia 65.3 (September, 2001), 96.

Online resources






  1. John Hamaker, "Theosophy and the Fifth Ray," The American Theosophist 46.8 (August, 1958), 151-152.
  2. John Hamaker, "Theosophy and the Fifth Ray," The American Theosophist 46.8 (August, 1958), 151-152.
  3. From the book jacket.
  4. From the Preface.
  5. From the Preface.