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Dzog chen and HPB

Oct 09, 1999 04:01 PM
by Hazarapet

Dear Sirs,

    I have tried to answer questions.  I may have missed some.  Much of my
knowledge is autobiographical but sources on Dzog chen that suggest it
Persian origin are easily found.
    There are many overlapping questions from various posts that I thought a
single response to all of them might be more useful and clear (in that there
would be one post to refer to instead of three or four).  I have a number of
relatively independent lines of research that I offer as evidence that the
core of HPB's esoteric tradition is a non-Buddhist form of Dzog chen.
    First, Dzog chen is found throughout Central Asia and not always in
Buddhist form.  Lets mention a few groups that most westerners know nothing
about.  There are Armenian Zoroastrians, Arewordi, that have an inner way
that is recognizably Dzog chen (more on that later although see straight dope
on tantra too).  There is the bardic brotherhood of the Asholkhs (Gurdjieff
says his father was one - independent confirmation of their existence can be
obtained from anyone from Armenia or Georgia or from the travel account of
the Caucasus published in German in 1930 by Essad-Bey, titled, Zwolf
Geheimnisse in Kaukasus. Deutsch-Schweizerische Verlagsanstalt
(Eigenbrodler-Verlag, A.G.) Berlin-Zurich.  The Asholkhi religion is said to
be a very ancient Jewish-Zoroastrian syncretism that later took on a
Christian overlay for much the same reasons that there arose "marrano" Jews
in Spain.  So, their beliefs reflect things found in the Talmud and HPB's
writings: reincarnation, astral zombies, that this world has been re-made
over and over with many different races that are eventually destroyed.  The
Asholkhs are bards of the Caucasus that orally preserve things like the Epic
of Gilgamesh, some lost Zoroastrian Nasks, old Hittite stories, and they
recite, in Persian, Armenian, or Khutsuri, the Dzhvari littiya which is a
recognizable selection from what in Tibet is called the Kanjur collection of
Shensrab (Dzog chen).  But they claim that this Dzhvari littiya collection is
from a time before there were Buddhists and that the Buddhist forms of it are
derived from the very ancient "bhaudha svastika teachings" (this is
interesting since HPB uses the backward swastika and says she and Olcott were
not speaking of Buddhism but of a northern school of Bodhism.  This is
interesting because the Iranian name in Afghanistan for the Bon is the Bodhi
religion, represented by a swastika, and the inner third degree teaching of
the Bon religion is Dzog chen which is also called "svastika Bon" or g.yung
drung bon)  Then there are the Ossets.  Their religion looks like a
syncretism of shamanism, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism.  But their Buddhism is
not Buddhism but something closer to Bon with Iranian names.  Their spiritual
tradition is Dzog chen.  They claim to be the Tajiks from which Shenrab gave
Dzog chen to the Mustang region of western Tibet/Nepal.  Finally, a group
that we know HPB knew and had ties with, is the Kalmucks.  They are
Buddhists.  Their scriptures are Kanjur.  Their elite spirituality is Dzog
chen and what in Tibet is called the "gradual path" or lam rim is just the
normal path of those who do not undertake the spiritual path.
    Then there are two "schools" within Persian and Central Asian Islam that
have a marked Dzog chen element from what source I don't know.  Suhrawardi
says his sources were the secret teachings of Zoroastrianism and the
tradition of "tasted light" (dhawq i nur? - my Arab sucks, or bod - the last
is Persian for light and consciousness).  His school becomes the Ishraqi
school.  It is a sudden-path form of "Sufism" (if one is loose about that
word) that experientially feels and develops like Dzog chen practice although
I am unaware of any textual links.  Then there is the Naqshibandhis.  Within
that order, there is a Dzog chen lineage which extends from the Caucasus
(Dagestani Naqshibandhiyyi) to the outer edges of Mongolia or western edge of
the Takan Maklan (where there is the Oman monastery or tekkia right on the
Chinese, Tibetan, and Afghanistan borders, where the Kun Lun, Himilayan, and
Tien Shah ranges meet, and where the Amu Darya begins, which has Kanjur
(Shensrab) Dzog chen texts in Persian and Aramaic which are said to be older
than the Tibetan and Buddhist texts they were allegedly "translated" from.
Given the fact that at the Turfan oasis, which is sort of northeast and in
the Tarim Basin "straight down" from the mountains where the Oman monastery
is, we find older Kushan and Khotanese Buddhist texts in Iranian dialects
(Kushan and Saka) and Aramaic being translated into Tibetan and Chinese (see
Emmerich, Snellgrove, and Rudolph), and given the intense patriotic (identity
tied to the stories of who one is as part of this people) conservatism of
oral traditions throughout the region in terms of family history, teaching
lineages, migrations, whose well is whose, and so on., I am inclined to
believe these groups, especially since they share the same story, that Dzog
chen was originally a Persian teaching, and that, the Bon and Buddhist forms
of it, respectively, are younger and derivative diffusions of it.  Bon
certainly has a Zoroastrian myth of a good high god whose two twin sons are
good and evil battling it out, destroying the harmony of the spheres,
creating winters and deserts, destruction of continents, polar reversals, and
so on.  In fact, in some places, Dzog chen and Kalachakra are combined within
this Zoroastrian framework.
    This may be why HPB spent so much time in Persia, the Caucasus, and not
only in the outskirts of Tibet.  Because the complete and original form of
this teaching is in Central Asia, and not, in Tibet.  And it may be why she
seems to have only been in the outskirts of Tibet instead of Lhasa.  Because
Bon is on the eastern (not after Communists) and western, especially Mustang,
regions of Tibet and not the central basin.
    If Dzog chen is her esoteric source, questions arise about TS.  First, in
Central Asia, the gradual approach is tantamount to the ordinary life of
gradual evolution through repeated lives.  Any accelerated undertaking, that
is "religious life" itself as an actual path to undertake, is Dzog chen.  By
contrast, Tibetan Buddhism "tolerantly" says both are two spiritual paths.
So, one wonders what early ES would have been like since (given my ignorance
of early TS history) I know of it in the post-Leadbeater days and it would
be, contrary to the Central Asian perspective, lam rim.  But lam rim would
just be exoteric life as part of evolutionary cycle.  I don't know answer
here.  Second, although a Besant/Leadbeater royal screw-up, Krishnamurti
impresses me as something like an accidental Dzog chen prodigy, or in any
event, a phenomenon superior to his alleged causes (Besant/Leadbeater -
unless one argues seriously the lotus grows well from shit).  I don't know
but his teaching seems to be attempt to communicate the way of Dzog chen
without being able to trigger that state in others in first place.  He can
describe but he can not initiate.
    As far as when and where Dalai Lama said Stanzas of Dzyan were Dzog chen,
I can not exactly recall.  Maybe later.  I know of others mentioning it.  So
ask around.  He said they were culled from the Kanjur collection.  Now for
those of you who asked about Gelukba sources, each school is not exclusive in
practices.  Gelukba has both Dzog chen and lam rim practices.  But it teaches
the Madhyamaka (Madhyamika is adjectival form) and anatman doctrines.  The
Bon and Central Asia versions don't - just as HPB doesn't.  Bon and Central
Asian forms of Dzog chen have cosmology of ages, races, and cataclysms that
Tibetan Buddhist Dzog chen does not have but HPB does.  So, I think HPB's
real Tibetan sources weren't Buddhist but Bon.  And Panchen Lama is known for
ties to Bon.

Grigor Ananikian

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