Book of Dzyan

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The Book of Dzyan is a reputedly ancient text that is said to contain the Stanzas of Dzyan, which form the basis for The Secret Doctrine (1888), one of the foundational works of the theosophical movement. According to Helena Petrovna Blavatsky the Book of Dzyan is part of the secret volumes of the Kiu-te.

Madame Blavatsky on the Book of Dzyan

Regarding the word "Dzyan" Mme Blavatsky wrote:

Dan, now become in modern Chinese and Tibetan phonetics ch’an, is the general term for the esoteric schools, and their literature. In the old books, the word Janna is defined as “to reform one’s self by meditation and knowledge,” a second inner birth. Hence Dzan, Djan phonetically, the “Book of Dzyan”.[1]

The Book of Dzyan is not known to Western scholars. H. P. Blavatsky claimed to have seen a manuscript of it while studying in Tibet:

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 to those who follow the methods of research prescribed by official Science; but to the students of Occultism, and to every genuine Occultist, this will be of little moment.[2]

The original language in which the book is written seems to be Senzar, although in Blavatsky's writings there is evidence of the existence of translations into some Eastern languages. We read in The Secret Doctrine:

The Stanzas which form the thesis of every section are given throughout in their modern translated version, as it would be worse than useless to make the subject still more difficult by introducing the archaic phraseology of the original, with its puzzling style and words. Extracts are given from the Chinese Thibetan and Sanskrit translations of the original Senzar Commentaries and Glosses on the Book of DZYAN —these being now rendered for the first time into a European language...[3]

Regarding the references about numbers that can be found in this book, Mme. Blavatsky said:

In the “Book of Dzyan,” as in the Kabala, there are two kinds of numerals to be studied—the figures, often simple blinds, and the Sacred Numbers, the values of which are all known to the Occultists through Initiation. The former is but a conventional glyph, the latter is the basic symbol of all. That is to say, that one is purely physical, the other purely metaphysical, the two standing in relation to each other as matter stands to spirit—the extreme poles of the ONE Substance.[4]

Ancient Commentaries to the Book of Dzyan

In in Mme. Blavatsky's writings there is evidence of the existence of "commentaries" to the Book of Dzyan. Below, some instances of this:

The Commentary on the Book of Dzyan says:


Descending on his region first as Lord of Glory, the Flame (or Breath), having called into conscious being the highest of the Emanations of that special region, ascends from it again to Its primeval seat, whence It watches over and guides Its countless Beams (Monads). It chooses as Its Avatâras only those who had the Seven Virtues in them† in their previous incarnation. As for the rest, It overshadows each with one of Its countless beams. . . . Yet even the “beam” is a part of the Lord of Lords.[5]
Says the Book of Dzyan with regard to primeval man when first projected by the “Boneless,” the incorporeal Creator: “First, the Breath, then Buddhi, and the Shadow-Son (the Body) were ‘CREATED.’ But where was the pivot (the middle principle, Manas)? Man is doomed. When alone, the indiscrete (undifferentiated Element) and the Vahan (Buddhi)—the cause of the causeless—break asunder from manifested life”—“unless cemented and held together by the middle principle, the vehicle of the personal consciousness of JIVA”; explains the Commentary.[6]
If thou would’st understand the SECONDARY (“Creation,” so-called), oh Lanoo, thou should’st first study its relation to the PRIMARY. (Commentary, Book of Dzyan, III. 19).[7]
The Central Sun causes Fohat to collect primordial dust in the form of balls, to impel them to move in converging lines and finally to approach each other and aggregate.” (Book of Dzyan). . . . . “Being scattered in Space, without order or system, the world-germs come into frequent collision until their final aggregation, after which they become wanderers (Comets). Then the battles and struggles begin. The older (bodies) attract the younger, while others repel them. Many perish, devoured by their stronger companions. Those that escape become worlds.[8]
THE SONS OF Bhumi (EARTH) REGARD THE SONS OF Deva-lokas (ANGEL-SPHERES) AS THEIR GODS; AND THE SONS OF LOWER KINGDOMS LOOK UP TO THE MEN OF Bhumi, AS TO THEIR devas (GODS); MEN REMAINING UNAWARE OF IT IN THEIR BLINDNESS. . . . THEY (men) TREMBLE BEFORE THEM WHILE USING THEM (for magical purposes). . . . THE FIRST RACE OF MEN WERE THE “Mind-born sons OF THE FORMER. THEY (the pitris and devas) ARE OUR PROGENITORS. . . . (Book II. of Commentary on the Book of DZYAN).[9]
Whatsoever quits the Laya State, becomes active life; it is drawn into the vortex of MOTION (the alchemical solvent of Life); Spirit and Matter are the two States of the ONE, which is neither Spirit nor Matter, both being the absolute life, latent.” (Book of Dzyan, Comm. III., par. 18). . . . “Spirit is the first differentiation of (and in) SPACE; and Matter the first differentiation of Spirit. That, which is neither Spirit nor matter—that is IT—the Causeless CAUSE of Spirit and Matter, which are the Cause of Kosmos. And THAT we call the ONE LIFE or the Intra-Cosmic Breath.[10]
Says the Book of Dzyan (Knowledge through meditation)— “The great mother lay with (triangle), and the (vertical line), and the (square), the second (vertical line) and the (pentacle) in her bosom, ready to bring them forth, the valiant sons of the (square, triangle, double vertical line) or 4,320,000, the Cycle) whose two elders are the (circle) and the (point)”.[11]

Claims of acquaintance by other people

A number of authors have claimed independent acquaintance with the Book of Dzyan. Below, their testimonies.

C. W. Leadbeater

In a commentary to The Voice of the Silence, C. W. Leadbeater said:

In due course, too, we acquired further information about the Stanzas of Dzyan . . . The original of The Book of Dzyan is in the hands of the august Head of the Occult Hierarchy, and has been seen by none. None knows how old it is, but it is rumoured that the earlier part of it (consisting of the first six stanzas), has an origin altogether anterior to this world, and even that it is not a history, but a series of directions – rather a formula for creation than an account of it. A copy of it is kept in the museum of the Brotherhood, and it is that copy (itself probably the oldest book produced on this planet) which Madame Blavatsky and several of her pupils have seen – which she describes so graphically in The Secret Doctrine. The book has, however, several peculiarities which she does not there mention. It appears to be very highly magnetized, for as soon as a man takes a page into his hand he sees passing before his eyes a vision of the events which it is intended to portray, while at the same time he seems to hear a sort of rhythmic description of them in his own language, so far as that language will convey the ideas involved. Its pages contain no words whatever – nothing but symbols.

Leadbeater claims that the Stanzas of Dzyan said to be part of The Book of the Golden Precepts are a translation made by Āryāsanga:

Aryasanga seems to have commenced it as a sort of commonplace book, or a book of extracts, in which He wrote down anything that He thought would be useful to His pupils, and he began with the Stanzas of Dzyan – not in symbol, as in the original, but in written words.

Sri Krishna Prem

See also

Additional resources

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), xx, fn.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), xxiii.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 22-23.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 66.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XIV (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1995), 380.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 241.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 113.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 201.
  9. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 605-606.
  10. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 258.
  11. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 434.