The Stanzas of Dzyan

                According to Blavatsky, the Stanzas of Dzyan take their name not from a place or person, but from the Tibetan or Mongolian pronunciation of the Sanskrit words for meditation, [1] DHYANA [2]   and DJNYANA (most frequently transliterated in the contemporary form of JNANA), meaning occult wisdom and knowledge. [3]  
                Blavatsky also stated that the word DZYAN is one of many possible transliterations of an obscure term derived from the Sanskrit JANNA, JHANA, DHANA, or DHYANA,  which is also related to the Chinese and Tibetan DAN or CH’AN, meaning the reformation of one’s self by meditation and knowledge. [4]   According to Blavatsky, the words DAN and CH’AN are general terms for esoteric schools and their literature, [5]   an important point to bear in mind. 
                The Stanzas of Dzyan, also referred to as the Book of Dzyan, might therefore be thought of as "Stanzas or Book of Meditation," or perhaps more aptly, "Stanzas or Book of Occult Wisdom Revealed in Deep Meditation." [6]   Considered in this light, the stanzas represent spiritual knowledge existing at deep levels of consciousness accessible to those who cultivate profound awareness.  Ultimately, such is probably the origin of the stanzas themselves. 
                At any rate, the Stanzas of Dzyan are certainly not named after a place or a person, as some might easily suppose, but rather for the fact that they hail from the inner, esoteric schools of Asia and India, or more appositely perhaps, from the strongholds of Hierarchy, and for the fact that they can be arrived at subjectively through the pursuit of spiritual purification and contemplation.
                This noetic character of the stanzas is substantiated by the view of them held by Blavatsky, who felt that the they appealed more to the inner faculties than to mundane logic. [7]   Accordingly, the Stanzas of Dzyan as reproduced in The Secret Doctrine describe abstract processes taking place at formative levels in dimensions of pre-consciousness, consciousness, and varying grades of matter. The actors in these metaphysical scenarios are forces and powers with names from the Sanskrit and Tibetan languages. [8]  
                Blavatsky characterized the stanzas as a description of seven great stages in the evolutionary process, seven stages which she said were alluded to under the guise of the seven creations of India's Puranic literature and the seven days of creation spoken of in the Bible. [9]   She also said that The Stanzas of Dzyan gave an abstract formula applicable to all evolution. [10] This they do in a narrative which clearly tells a creation story but which goes far beyond that, for the stanzas also concern the nature of ultimate being, its manner of manifestation, the existence of supervisory intelligences guiding evolution, and the unknown history of the solar system and our planet. 
                Another version of the Stanzas of Dzyan appears in the front pages of Alice Bailey's A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, differing entirely from its counterpart in Blavatsky's work.  While Blavatsky's stanzas begin with the ultimate source in an mysterious state said to be neither being nor non-being, Bailey's stanzas open considerably later in the cosmic creative process, a point at which seven creative powers have already unfolded from the ultimate.  In fact, it might be argued that Bailey's stanzas pick up where Blavatsky's left off, with Blavatsky's version beginning with pre-manifestation and the establishment of prototypical centers of force, and Bailey's describing evolution within a manifested solar system. 
                An explanation for the divergence between the two published versions of the Stanzas of Dzyan might be had in a clue left by Blavatsky.  She wrote that another work of hers, The Voice of the Silence, is a fragment from the same series as the Stanzas of Dzyan. [11]   This statement obviously implies that there is more from where the stanzas came, and Blavatsky said as much. [12]   In her introduction to The Secret Doctrine, she wrote that her present work contained all of the Gupta Vidya (Sanskrit: secret knowledge) possible to reveal in the late nineteenth century, but that more might well come forth in the twentieth. [13]   Perhaps a section of the stanzas subsequent to that published by Blavatsky was given to Alice Bailey for use in A Treatise on Cosmic Fire.  As a result, the two versions together may represent some portion of the original source material. 
                The character of the subject matter contained in the stanzas is further suggested in the fact that the word DZYAN (in addition to its basis in Sanskrit words meaning meditation and occult knowledge) bears resemblance to Asian word forms which are general terms for esoteric schools and their literature. [14]   Hence, even in the title of the stanzas there is the broad hint that the stanzas contain privileged knowledge which goes beyond the description of readily available subjective states.  In fact, this privileged information (available to the public since the late 1800s in published form) concerns the unfoldment of the evolutionary process over vast eonic periods, the measurements of which are veiled in the numeric formulae embedded in the stanzas.
                According to the Tibetan, these ancient formulae pertain only to a relatively small portion of the manifested creation.  Specifically, the Tibetan stated that the stanzas describe processes relevant only to the great entity indwelling our planetary life. [15]   However, when Blavatsky's own statements on the matter are taken into consideration, it is evident that the Tibetan's pronouncement is true of only a certain portion of the stanzas.  When once questioned about the content of the stanzas by members of the early Theosophical Society, Blavatsky answered, "I may state here once and for all that the first Stanzas treat of the awakening from Pralaya [16] and are not concerned with the Solar system alone, while Vol. II deals only with our Earth." [17]   The same span of subject matters for the Stanzas of Dzyan was voiced in The Secret Doctrine.  There the stanzas were said to first describe cosmic creation and dissolution [18] and then proceed to deal with solar systemic and planetary evolution. [19]   Given all these considerations, it seems likely that indeed not only planetary, but also systemic, cosmic, and even universal processes of evolution are contained in The Stanzas of Dzyan as given in The Secret Doctrine
                Blavatsky maintained that these stanzas were excerpted from what she referred to as The Books of Kiu-Te, a body of literature she claimed was known to the Buddhist Gelugpa sect of Tibet, [20] in which region she had studied esoteric teachings. [21]   Blavatsky also singled out as a possible source of occult information the GYUT division of that part of the Tibetan Buddhist canon called the Kanjur. [22]   Even with these possible routes of documentation suggested by Blavatsky, the existence of such a body of literature as the so-called Books of Kiu-Te appeared questionable until the late twentieth century when scholar and linguist David Reigle unraveled certain problems in transliteration from Tibetan to western languages. [23]  
                Once Reigle discovered that KIU-TE was a phonetic version (quoted by Blavatsky) of the Tibetan rGYUD-SDE [24] , he was able to determine that such a body of literature had in fact existed in traditional Tibetan Buddhist literature, though copies similar to Blavatky's translation have yet to be located.  Nonetheless, bibliographic search has allowed for the tracing of the stanzas to their at least one-time source in the GYUD, a direct substantiation of Blavatsky's claim that the GYUT division of the Buddhist canon held special promise, for when the spellings used for these two words are sounded, it is obvious that they are nothing but attempts made in different languages to transliterate the same Tibetan word.
                Hence, The Stanzas of Dzyan (or their prototype) appear to have made their first literary appearance in a specific portion of the Buddhist canon, itself composed of two divisions - the Kanjur and the Tanjur.  The Kanjur, held to be the laws given by Gautama Buddha, [25]   is composed of one hundred eight large volumes, only some of which have been translated into English.  Similarly with the Tanjur, which may contain a secret tradition. [26]
                Reigle's research has also revealed that the Books of Kiu-Te (or rGYUD-SDE) contain the highly regarded Kalachakra teachings. [27]   Tradition has it that the teachings of Kalachakra (Sanskrit: KALA, time; CHAKRA, circle; therefore Circle or Cycle of Time) were recorded in Sanskrit [28] and brought from Shamballa (known in the esoteric occult philosophy as the planetary head center) to India in the 900s A.D. [29]   The Kalachakra teachings were subsequently taken to Tibet in an attempt to preserve them from destruction during the Moslem invasion and occupation of India.  As a result, the Kalachakra teachings acquired a Tibetan Buddhist identity, though tradition attributes the origin to sacred Shamballa.  Hence, it appears that both the Kalachakra and its companion, The Stanzas of Dzyan (as derived from the rGYUD-SDE) are part of a mystery teaching emanating from Shamballa, once recorded in Sanskrit but now held in a somewhat inaccessible portion of the Tibetan Buddhist canon.
                It is possible that future years may see the release to the West of further information which will make even clearer the nature of the parent text from which The Stanzas of Dzyan have been excerpted.  Even so, the esoteric meaning behind the words may not be apparent, for as Blavatsky pointed out, should the highest mysteries of cosmic occultism be revealed, few could grasp the import. [30]  
                Thus, although more information regarding the Kanjur and Tanjur would undoubtedly be of assistance in understanding the scriptural context from which The Stanzas of Dzyan originated, their mere translation into modern languages may not suffice to advance esoteric knowledge.  This is so because the literary lineage of information contained in Blavatsky's works comprises only one tributary emptying into the river of her writings, another major source being direct instruction from the Masters of the Hierarchy.  Some of these instructions have never been recorded in forms accessible to average humanity and therefore can not be traced to a first appearance in a literary source.
                All these considerations form the background of any substantive inquiry into the nature of the esoteric teaching given by the Tibetan.



     [1]         Boris de Zirkoff, ed., H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Vol. VI, p. 425.
     [2]         Boris de Zirkof, ed., H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Vol. XIV, p. 422.  Dhyana can be pronounced something like janna, the sound of which word is close to dzan or dzana.  It apppears that the sound of the word metamorphosed as it migrated northward from India to Tibet and beyond.  The Chinese chan and Japanese zen are undoubtedly related forms.  A footnote on p. xx of The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, contains related information.
     [3]         David Reigle has pointed out the various meanings of the Sanskrit words from which Blavatsky thought the word DZYAN might have been derived on p. 46 of his Books of Kiu-Te.  Gleaned from Blavatsky's own clarification of the apparently Tibetan words DZAN, DJAN, DZYN, AND DZEN, these meanings include: the reformation of oneself by meditation and knowledge, knowledge through meditation, knowledge, and wisdom.  For Blavatsky's claim that Sanskrit JNANA (which she transliterated as DJNYANA) is equivalent to occult wisdom, see H.P.B. Collected Works, VIII, pp. 361, 380.  Reigle himself feels that the word DZYAN has descended not from Sanskrit DHYANA, but rather from Sanskrit JNANA (personal communication, January 1999).
[4] H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, v. I, p. xx.
[5] H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, v. I, p. xx.
     [6]         According to David Reigle, linguist of Tibetan and Sanskrit, and as reported in his paper "Searching for the Book of Dzyan," p. 1, the title of the stanzas is a generic name rather than a proper name, meaning nothing more than "Book of Wisdom," though wisdom attainable only through meditation. 
     [7]         H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 21.
     [8]         According to linguistic scholar David Reigle in his paper "Searching for the Book of Dzyan," p. 4, the majority of the technical terms contained in Blavatsky's Stanzas of Dzyan are northern Buddhist words taken from the Sanskrit and Tibetan languages.
     [9]         H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 21.
     [10] H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 20.
     [11]        H.P. Blavatsky, The Voice of the Silence, p. vi.
     [12]        H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 23.
     [13]        H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. xxxvii.
     [14]        H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. xx.
     [15]        Alice A. Bailey,  A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 1091.  In this passage, the Tibetan asserted that the Stanzas of Dzyan dealt only with the Planetary Logos of our globe, a great entity manifesting through a total of forty nine globes (of which ours is one), or what is called a planetary scheme.
     [16]   Pralaya is a period of obscuration and rest which may occur at the planetary, systemic, and universal levels.  H.P. Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary, p. 260.
     [17]        Boris de Zirkof, ed., H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Vol. X, p. 354.
     [18]        H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, pp. 20 - 21; Vol. 1, p. 151.
[19]           H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, pp. 13, 60.
     [20]        Boris de Zirkof, ed., H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Vol. XIV, p. 422.
     [21]        Sylvia Cranston, H.P.B., pp. 80 - 101.
     [22]        H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, XIV, p. 402.
     [23]        David Reigle, The Books of Kiu-Te, p. 2.  Reigle published his work in the early 1980s, later to find that in 1975 a Dutch Theosophist had made the same identification of The Books of Kiu-Te in the Tibetan Buddhist Tantras, according to Reigle's paper, "Searching for the Book of Dzyan," p. 4.  Students of the Tibetan's esoteric occultism will recognize 1975 as a year of Shamballa impact, a synchronicity of considerable significance.
     [24]        David Reigle, The Books of Kiu-Te, p. 2.
     [25]        David Reigle, The Books of Kiu-Te, p. 2.
     [26]        David Reigle, The Books of Kiu-Te, p. 10.
     [27]        David Reigle, The Books of Kiu-Te, p. 36.
     [28]        David Reigle, The Books of Kiu-Te, p. 34.
     [29]        David Reigle, The Books of Kiu-Te, p. 34.
     [30]        H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, vol. 1, p. 13.