Senzar The Mystery of the Mystery Language, Part 1

Masonic, Occult and Esoteric Online Library

Senzar The Mystery of the Mystery Language, Part 1

By John Algeo


We can summarize what Blavatsky says or implies about Senzar as follows:

The Stanzas of Dzyan in The Secret Doctrine are based on an original Senzar version, and the original text of the Stanzas is described as pictographs and geometrical figures. The text of the Stanzas in The Secret Doctrine is not the original, but is a paraphrase based on Blavatsky's understanding of the original and adapted to our ability to grasp the ideas symbolized.
Senzar is the "Mystery language" used by initiates all over the world and from the earliest days of humanity. It is not a language known to philologists.
The Mystery language was originally the common property of all human beings and was, indeed, the one language of our race, but by the time of our present humanity it has become an esoteric, that is, an inner or private system.
Despite the fact that HPB sometimes calls it "speech," the Mystery language is not normal spoken language, but is "pictorial and symbolical."
On the one hand, the esoteric language is allegory like that found in the writings of the alchemists and Jewish scriptures.
On the other hand, the esoteric language is a form of written symbols that can be interpreted in various ways and by various spoken languages, especially geometrical figures with a hieroglyphic, cipher-like appearance.
The Mystery language is what we now call symbolism: it speaks to our unconscious minds and can be only imperfectly translated into ordinary, logical language.
Thus we can think of Senzar as being the whole complex of sacred symbols with expressions of various kinds, but of two chief types:

the archetypal symbols in myths and fairy tales, allegories and parables, alchemical recipes and biblical history -- stories that have a hidden meaning underneath the obvious narrative, stories that bear "a double interpretation"; and
a visual representation of those archetypal symbols in pictographs or hieroglyphic and cipher-like characters whose meaning the initiated can interpret independently of any language.
If Senzar is the system of such symbols, many of the puzzles about it are automatically cleared up. Blavatsky's comparisons of Senzar with ordinary human languages are no problem. She used terms like LANGUAGE, SPPECH, HIEROGLYPH, IDEOGRAPH, and CIPHER loosely. She was no philologist and had no interest in the detailed distinctions that academic scholars make when they talk about such matters. For her it was enough to convey a general meaning and let her readers work out the details for themselves. So the symbolic system of Senzar is a "language" in the broad sense of the term, but radically different from ordinary languages like Sanskrit, Latin, and English.

If Senzar is a system of verbal and iconic symbols, then we can understand why the Stanzas of Dzyan in The Secret Doctrine are necessarily imperfect paraphrases of their original. They are efforts to put into ordinary language ideas that can be expressed fully, albeit obscurely from the standpoint of language, only by symbolic signs and diagrams. That is exactly what Blavatsky seems to be saying in the recapitulation to volume I of The Secret Doctrine:

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.(I, 272)

Those "few pages of geometrical signs and glyphs," the original of the Stanzas of Dzyan, have been paraphrased and explicated in many of the world's scriptures. They have certainly occupied, and bewildered, several generations of Theosophists since 1888, when H.P. Blavatsky published her articulation of them in The Secret Doctrine.

We can also understand the association of Senzar with devanagari and Egyptian hieroglyphs. By its etymology, devanagari is a form of "divine" or "sacred" writing; so is Senzar. Hieroglyphs are based upon symbolic pictures and thus fall into the same broad class as the symbols of Senzar. It is not that spoken Sanskrit or Egyptian and Senzar are related to Senzar, but rather that Senzar consists of sacred symbols, as devanagari also does, and that Senzar and hieroglyphs reflect the same archetypal images. Devanagari and hieroglyphs both express, in varying ways, the primordial symbolism that Blavatsky calls Senzar.

Blavatsky's odd remark that "'Amida' is the Senzar form of 'ADI'" (CW, XIV, 425) is also explicable. Since Amida (or Amitabha) is one of the representations of the power of the primordial Adi Buddha, it is a symbol of that power. Adi Buddha is the absolute, which cannot be described or conceived, but can be symbolized, for example, by the figures of the Dhyani Buddhas, of whom Amida is one. If Senzar is a system of symbols for expressing the otherwise inexpressible, it makes perfect sense to say that "'Amida [the personification of boundless light] is the Senzar form [symbolic expression] of 'ADI' [the Absolute]." Far from being a mistake, HPB's comment is a simple truth, but symbolically expressed.

Blavatsky tells us that the marvelous Kumbum tree is a fact. Whether, however, it is a botanical as well as a symbolic fact is unclear. It is certainly the latter. The tree in whose branches the universe grows, the tree that produces the letters of the alphabet as its fruit, is a widespread symbol. It is a species that includes the Yggdrasil of the Northmen and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, upon whose branches appear the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and which therefore includes in embryo the whole of the Torah.

That the Kumbum tree should grow in Tibet and bear the sacred symbols of Senzar on its leaves and bark is quite consonant with a view of Senzar not as an ordinary language, but as the primordial symbolism of the human species. The tree of humanity -- which Stanza 7 refers to as "the man-plant, called Saptaparna" (I, 231) -- spontaneously produces those symbols that HPB names Senzar. They are written upon our souls as Senzar is said to be upon the leaves and inner bark of the wonderful Kumbum tree.

The Kumbum tree is the Cosmos and the microcosm of humanity. However deep one goes into the Kumbum tree, peeling away its bark, one discovers the sacred letters of the Senzar alphabet empressed there. However deep one goes into the fabric of the universe or into the levels of the human soul, one discovers the primal symbols of the Ancient Wisdom, the Secret Doctrine, in living shapes. We and the universe in our unity are the source of that Doctrine. We are the Kumbum tree that bears that Wisdom.

To literalize HPB's statements about the Kumbum tree -- to suppose that it is a tree like an oak or a pine, only queerer -- is to miss the significance and the magnificence of the symbol. The marvel of the Kumbum tree is not that it is a sight for tourists. The real marvel is that we are that tree. And so it is with other theosophical marvels. So it is with Senzar.

Senzar is the one language of the youth of humanity because it is the collection of symbols found worldwide and throughout the ages. It goes back to the earliest, prephysical and preintellectual, human races. Symbols are universal, for they arise spontaneously in the dreams and visions of all humans everywhere and have been recorded with remarkable consistency throughout human history, as C.G. Jung and his followers have demonstrated.

Ordinary language is a product of the mind and could not exist before the mind was activated, as HPB makes clear in her history of human speech. However, symbols are prelinguistic and prelogical. Their proper place is not the conscious mind, but the unconscious. They belong to our most remote past and speak to us irrationally and therefore most powerfully.

Senzar is "the Mystery-language of the prehistoric ages, the language now called Symbolism." It is our first, our common language, the language of the unconscious, the universal language of symbolism -- the one language that expresses the one knowledge. And that is marvel and mystery indeed.



Masonic Publishing Company

Purchase This Title

Browse Titles
"If I have seen further than
others, it is by standing
upon the shoulders of giants."


Comasonic Logo

Co-Masonry, Co-Freemasonry, Women's Freemasonry, Men and Women, Mixed Masonry

Copyright © 1975-2024 Universal Co-Masonry, The American Federation of Human Rights, Inc. All Rights Reserved.