We are going through the introduction paragraph by paragraph.  I know it is hard work, but it will be worthwhile.

Here is the next section:

This is the true reason, perhaps, why the outline of a few fundamental truths from the Secret Doctrine of the Archaic ages is now permitted to see the light, after long millenniums of the most profound silence and secrecy. I say “a few truths,” advisedly, because that which must remain unsaid could not be contained in a hundred such volumes, nor could it be imparted to the present generation of Sadducees. But, even the little that is now given is better than complete silence upon those vital truths. The world of to-day, in its mad career towards the unknown—which it is too ready to confound with the unknowable, whenever the problem eludes the grasp of the physicist—is rapidly progressing on the reverse, material plane of spirituality. It has now become a vast arena—a true valley of discord and of eternal strife—a necropolis, wherein lie buried the highest and the most holy aspirations of our Spirit-Soul. That soul becomes with every new generation more paralyzed and atrophied. The “amiable infidels and accomplished profligates” of Society, spoken of by Greeley, care little for the revival of the dead sciences of the past; but there is a fair minority of earnest students who are entitled to learn the few truths that may be given to them now; and now much more than ten years ago, when “Isis Unveiled,” or even the later attempts to explain the mysteries of esoteric science, were published.
    One of the greatest, and, withal, the most serious objection to the correctness and reliability of the whole work will be the preliminary STANZAS: “How can the statements contained in them be verified?” True, if a great portion of the Sanskrit, Chinese, and Mongolian works quoted in the present volumes are known to some Orientalists, the chief work—that one from which the Stanzas are given—is not in the possession of European Libraries. The Book of Dzyan (or “Dzan”) is utterly unknown to our Philologists, or at any rate was never heard of by them under its present name. This is, of course, a great drawback

Please offer your comments, questions and observations.

Views: 279

 Reply to This

Upload Files

Stop Following – Don't email me when people reply

Replies to This Discussion


Concerning this statement: 

The world of to-day, in its mad career towards the unknown—which it is too ready to confound with the unknowable, whenever the problem eludes the grasp of the physicist—is rapidly progressing on the reverse, material plane of spirituality.

What does HPB mean by "material plane of spirituality"?


Perhaps HPB simply means that at this stage of our evolution we should be spiritualising our material tendencies, but instead of this we are materialising our spiritual aspirations.  Hence the latter end up buried in the "valley of discord and strife."


Agreed - 'spiritual materialism' (or the aquisition of spirituality as a commodity) may be what HPB was referring to here, at least as part of her comments.


Good point, Don Petros - it leads me to think that wherever our spiritual practice is taken up for the benefit of the personal ego and personal gain then this may well be a form of 'spiritual materialism' as 'spirituality' becomes yet another product of the market place.


Does that mean I should save the $5000 they want for the Enlightenment in a weekend seminar in Sedona Arizona?


Yes, put it towards the double weekend in August - titled:

"Para-nirvana:  buy two and get ONE free." 


Haha... I love metaphysical jokes. :)



This ' mad career towards the unknown....' which HPB says isn't a career towards the 'unknowable', caught my attention...provoking a thought which I think we likely share... 

There is a prejudice in our world towards the finite; towards the outer or that which can be investigated and 'known' in an outer, material sense.  There still remains in our world little regard for the unknown - that is of the the vast potentialities of worlds that aren't knowable to our physical senses and which are in fact the cause of the outer, material worlds. 

IOW, we're still putting the cart (physical phenomenon) before the horse (that which causes the physical)!


Gandhi was fond of saying that the territory of the heart is largely left unexplored.


I think there's been a fair bit of academic interest in HPB's Tibetan connections of late - Here's a recent interview with Donald Lopez:



"The Book of Dzyan (or “Dzan”) is utterly unknown to our Philologists, or at any rate was never heard of by them under its present name."

So under what name was it heard of by our philologists?


Do you think that she's hinting that the work in question is actually listed in some european catalogue of Tibetan texts somewhere?

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 29, 2013 at 10:37am

So under what name was it heard of by our philologists?

It's a very good question. Since the book has not yet come to light under any name, nor even a selection of the book, I'd assume that if it was heard of by some philologist, it would likely be merely as a reference in some other work. Throughout eastern texts there are numerous references to works that are no longer extant (a good example being Kapila's original work, the Saṣṭi-tantra Śāstra, referenced in later Sankhya works, but not extant itself). Is it possible that the book of dzyan has been referenced under another name?

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on June 30, 2013 at 2:56pm

Hi David,

keeping in mind that you and Nancy wrote H.P. Blavatsky's Secret Books, I'm kind of dumbfounded with your question :-)

So, before I make a fool out of myself (as I tend to do), I would like to hear your own take on it as you seem to be a thousandfold more informed on this subject than anyone in this forum - at least to my knowledge.

What say you? :-)

Permalink Reply by David Reigle on July 1, 2013 at 4:32pm

Pierre, I do not know the answer to this question, and would be happy to hear anyone's ideas on it. A couple of weeks ago Nancy and I gave our first ever program on the Book of Dzyan (it was at the Ozark Theosophical Camp). In preparation for that program, I looked back and saw that I have had this question for about forty years now, and still no answer.

HPB had linked the Book of Dzyan with the Books of Kiu-te. That took several years to track down. Once it was known that the Books of Kiu-te are the Tibetan Buddhist tantras, there were many volumes of the public Books of Kiu-te to check. For quite a while, I thought that the Book of Dzyan might be the lost Kalacakra root tantra. This could be the case, but when we compare the extant verses that are quoted from this lost text to the existing abridged Kalacakra Tantra, we get an idea of how this abridgement went. Unless there are entire large sections of the lost text that have no correspondence in the abridged text, this possibility has become less likely.

I then wondered if the Book of Dzyan might be the lost Mahayana Abhidharma Sutra, from which a famous verse on the dhatu, the "element," is quoted. This has no obvious correspondence in the extant Abhidharma texts, so is at least possible.

HPB in a letter to Sinnett also linked the Book of Dzyan to the secret book of Maitreya. Among the five known books of Maitreya, the Ratna-gotra-vibhaga is distinguished from the other four by its terminology and ideas. These match those of Theosophy quite well, taking into account that it is an exoteric text. But what relation does this book have to the Books of Kiu-te, the Tibetan Buddhist tantras? As far as we know, none.

Asanga, the amanuensis of this book for Maitreya (according to Tibetan tradition, but not Chinese tradition), is known for his Yogacara writings. Asanga and Maitreya are not tantric authors. One or two very short tantric sadhanas are attributed to Asanga, but that is all. Scholars think that this was a different Asanga than the famous Yogacara author. The only link here is the tradition reported by Taranatha that Asanga transmitted the tantras secretly, which remained underground until centuries later. But even here, he was not a tantric author.

Casady wrote, "Do you think that she's hinting that the work in question is actually listed in some european catalogue of Tibetan texts somewhere?" I have certainly spent a lot of time going through catalogues of Sanskrit and Tibetan texts, and then following up whenever there seemed to be a possible lead. All dead ends so far.

Jon suggested that the reference in question may be to a book whose title is known, but which is no longer extant. It certainly seems that, whatever book the Book of Dzyan is, it is not extant in any known collection. Perhaps what was heard of by philologists was only a general name, such as the Tibetan Buddhist tantras, or the books of Maitreya, but not its specific title. If it is a glossary of the public Books of Kiu-te, it may not be to any particular tantra, such as the Kalacakra. Perhaps Maitreya did write a tantric commentary, and this is it, although there are no known traditions of him doing so.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on July 1, 2013 at 6:49pm

David, thank you very much for the very informative synopsis of the problem facing the identification of the Book of Dzyan. I feel for you :-)

HPB refers several times in theosophical literature to a "very old book" or something to that effect. I sometimes have the impression that these references refer either to different "books" or perhaps that the Book of Dzyan (or the "very old book") may not be a book the way we envision it or a book AT ALL. You may recall that in SD I:272, HPB refers to: [bold emphasis is mine]

" (1.) The Secret Doctrine is the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages, and its cosmogony alone is the most stupendous and elaborate system: e.g., even in the exotericism of the Purânas. But such is the mysterious power of Occult symbolism, that the facts which have actually occupied countless generations of initiated seers and prophets to marshal, to set down and explain, in the bewildering series of evolutionary progress, are all recorded on a few pages of geometrical signs and glyphs."

"a few pages of geometrical signs and glyphs". Is that the same as what we find in SD I:1?

"AN Archaic Manuscript — a collection of palm leaves made impermeable to water, fire, and air, by some specific unknown process — is before the writer's eye. On the first page is an immaculate white disk within a dull black ground. On the following page, the same disk, but with a central point."

In the Preface to the Voice of the Silence, HPB refers to:

The work from which I here translate forms part of the same series as that from which the "Stanzas" of the Book of Dzyan were taken, on which the Secret Doctrine is based. Together with the great mystic work called Paramârtha, which, the legend of Nâgârjuna tells us, was delivered to the great Arhat by the Nagas or "Serpents" (in truth a name given to the ancient Initiates), the "Book of the Golden Precepts" claims the same origin. Yet its maxims and ideas, however noble and original, are often found under different forms in Sanskrit works, such as the Dnyaneshwari, that superb mystic treatise in which Krishna describes to Arjuna in glowing colours the condition of a fully illumined Yogi; and again in certain Upanishads.”

In SD I: xliii and xliv (Introductory) we find:

“The “very old Book” is the original work from which the many volumes of Kiu-ti were compiled. Not only this latter and the Siphrah Dzeniouta but even the Sepher Jezirah,* the work attributed by the Hebrew Kabalists to their Patriarch Abraham (!), the book of Shu-king, China’s primitive Bible, the sacred volumes of the Egyptian Thoth-Hermes, the Purânas in India, and the Chaldean Book of Numbers and the Pentateuch itself, are all derived from that one small parent volume. Tradition says, that it was taken down in Senzar, the secret sacerdotal tongue, from the words of the Divine Beings, who dictated it to the sons of Light, in Central Asia, at the very beginning of the 5th (our) race; for there was a time when its language (the Sen-zar) was known to the Initiates of every nation, when the forefathers of the Toltec understood it as easily as the inhabitants of the lost Atlantis, who inherited it, in their turn, from the sages of the 3rd Race, the Manushis, who learnt it direct from the Devas of the 2nd and 1st Races. The “illustration” spoken of in “Isis” relates to the evolution of these Races and of our 4th and 5th Race Humanity in the Vaivasvata Manvantara or “Round;” each Round being composed of the Yugas of the seven periods of Humanity; four of which are now passed in our life cycle, the middle point of the 5th being nearly reached. The illustration is symbolical, as every one can well understand, and covers the ground from the beginning. The old book, having described Cosmic Evolution and explained the origin of everything on earth, including physical man, after giving the true history of the races from the First down to the Fifth (our) race, goes no further. It stops short at the beginning of the Kali Yuga just 4989 years ago at the death of Krishna, the bright “Sun-god,” the once living hero and reformer.

    But there exists another book. None of its possessors regard it as very ancient, as it was born with, and is only as old as the Black Age, [xliv] namely, about 5,000 years. In about nine years hence, the first cycle of the first five millenniums, that began with the great cycle of the Kali-Yuga, will end. And then the last prophecy contained in that book (the first volume of the prophetic record for the Black Age) will be accomplished.”

Some of the above refs were already mentioned in HPBs Isis Unveiled. As you can see, several of the references (and there are more) refer to old books, but we’re obviously not dealing with the same “book” over and over again. For a greenhorn like me it is difficult if not impossible to make sense out of all this.

Is “Sen-zar” a written language, whether in letters or hieroglyphics, or is it a symbolical language in the sense of “geometrical signs and glyphs”?

Is there an interest in either this language or a “very old book” in academic circles that deal with philology?

Thanks for your input.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on July 2, 2013 at 4:14pm

Thanks for the comment and the link Nicholas, very informative.

Permalink Reply by David Reigle on July 3, 2013 at 6:00pm

Our sole source of information on the Book of Dzyan and the Senzar language is HPB. She clearly describes a small book, written in symbols, allowing us to believe that it is the Book of Dzyan from which she translated stanzas in The Secret Doctrine. This is in fact what most students of Theosophy believe.

However, if you look at Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. 14, p. 422, she distinguishes this small book from the Book of Dzyan, which she describes as the first of fourteen volumes of commentaries. If you put together all her references, you see that she speaks of (and quotes from) Books of Dzyan in the plural. She speaks of very specific numbers of verses from the Book of Dzyan that are omitted here and there in her translation. This is especially clear in the recently published Secret Doctrine Commentaries. She quotes words from the Book of Dzyan, phonetic words. In one place she refers to the alphabet of Senzar, a phonetic alphabet. Her descriptions make it clear that the Book of Dzyan that she translated from was written in phonetic words, which formed verses, verses that were numbered. This book was not the book she described as being written in the pictorial symbol form of Senzar, but rather was a commentary on it, written in a phonetic form of Senzar.

She describes Senzar as the progenitor of Vedic Sanskrit, as the root of the Sanskrit, and as ancient Sanskrit. The widespread idea that Senzar is solely a pictorial symbol language has hindered research. It places Senzar on the astral plane, which for most people means astral fantasy.

Once we recognize the phonetic form of Senzar, the form that was the predecessor to Sanskrit, whole new areas of research open up. It turns out that scholars have made tremendous progress in tracing such a language, although of course not calling it Senzar or connecting it with HPB's Senzar. I have summarized some of this research a couple of weeks ago in the first session of the Book of Dzyan presentation. I had hoped to post some of it beforehand for reference, but did not get time to do so. I still hope to post it on the Book of Dzyan blog (dzyan.net) when I get the time to do so.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on July 5, 2013 at 10:53am

Thanks for the comment David, very interesting and also the link to http://prajnaquest.fr/blog/

There's a lot of research to be done I guess and you seem to be well placed and informed to carry that further :-)

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on July 12, 2013 at 5:48pm

Nick, thank you very much for this link, that's an excellent article John Algeo wrote. It represents exactly my sentiments and yours as well I guess, except that he can say it so much better than I can :-) I guess we can truly say that Senzar is the language of the Soul! It consist of spirit, soul and body, the spirit (Atma-Buddhi) being the understanding, the soul (Buddhi-Manas) the translator or interpreter and the body, any vehicle as a language form - phonetic or pictorial - that is required or available.

Thanks again.

Permalink Reply by Casady on July 4, 2013 at 10:49am

Thankys for the reply! (DR et al)...

Permalink Reply by Sophia Fields on June 29, 2013 at 8:18am

Greetings Group!

 I am fairly new here to this Forum and realize there has been an extensive study going on before my arrival. Will admit that I have not fully read the entire group discussions and hope I do not comment on something someone has already mentioned, I apologize if this happens.

"This is, of course, a great drawback"  Perhaps what HPB is signaling here is that the unknown was not confound with the indigenous peoples in the Archaic age as it is today with the chaotic world we live in. Maybe she is leading on that there is no science of today that can match up with the teachings from the old world and that science, unfortunately is an atrophy more than it is a reviver to ancient knowledge. I wonder about in those times if they even considered their knowledge "science".  It seems that they were well grounded with nature and didn't see themselves apart from it, therefore, they had a tight knit relationship with their inner self (soul) which played the role of a high frequency manas antenna for receiving direct knowledge. IMO, science rarely tries to prove a  theory true and authentic as often as science works to prove a theory false and untrue through their  hypothesis. 

"It has now become a vast arena—a true valley of discord and of eternal strife—a necropolis, wherein lie buried the highest and the most holy aspirations of our Spirit-Soul. That soul becomes with every new generation more paralyzed and atrophied."

Is the above statement a warning?  From my understanding that the above statement is reflecting from the distorted ancient teachings from changing the semiotics of panpsychism(mind/soul) and hylozoism (life) into a more complicated system. Perhaps a forlorn hope that was made to serve as an unlikely fulfilled search of the self by whom seeks it. But, unfortunately, a change distorted by a genius for selfish intent, thus creating a soul-spirit sickness and separation amongst too many, but why?  

Should the material and spiritual be treaded separately or are they equally the same? 

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 29, 2013 at 10:46am

I have not fully read the entire group discussions...

Hi Sophia. No worries about that. The beauty of these kinds of discussions is that anyone can jump in anywhere, anytime. :)