Beyond Language

Ali Ritsema – the Netherlands

Theosophy AR 2 ALI ADAM 2

Ali Ritsema, a great soul, sincere seeker, a wonderful friend ....

When we want to go 'beyond' something, first of all we must find out what we want to go 'beyond'. In this case, it is 'language'. The Oxford Dictionary gives explanations, such as 'language is a vocabulary and way of using it in one or more countries'; it is a 'method of expression'; it is 'words and their use; faculty of speech'.


According to The Secret Doctrine (SD, 11.198), it is the Fourth Race that developed Speech. The First Race, the Sons of Yoga ('Self-born') was in our sense speechless, as it was devoid of mind on our plane. The Second had a 'Sound Language', chant-like sounds composed of vowels alone. The Third Race developed in the beginning a kind of language, which was only a slight improvement on the various sounds in Nature. Later on in the second half of the Third Race, after having been androgynous beings, the separation of the sexes took place, reproduction became sexual, and speech was developed. But even then it was no better than a tentative effort. The whole human race was at that time 'of one language and of one lip'.

Speech then developed in the Fourth Race and, according to occult teaching, in the following order:

  • The speech of the first approximately fully developed human beings at the close of the Third Root-Race, after their separation into sexes and the full awakening of their minds, was monosyllabic.
  • This developed into simple words, combined without change of form, to express compound ideas, spoken by some of the Atlantean races. This language died out, after having gone through its cyclic evolution of childhood, purity, growth, fall into matter, mixture with other languages, maturity and decay.
  • Then speech so evolved that the endings of the words vary and there is modulation of the voice; this is called inflectional speech and is said to be the root of Sanskrit (the mother of Greek) and, according to the SD, was the first language; now, according to the SD, the mystery tongue of the Initiates of the Fifth Race (11.200).

Thought transference

Before speech developed, which means before the Fourth Race, there was communication through thought- transference'. For thought-transference one needs 'thought' but 'thought' was very little developed in nascent physical humans at a low terrestrial level. Although their physical bodies belonged to the earth they were almost totally unaware of their physical surroundings, their monads remaining on a higher plane altogether.

This is with the exception, however, of the Race called the 'Sons of Will and Yoga', the first in whom the 'Sons of Wisdom', also called the Manasaputras, had incarnated or had entered into their forms. In their case, the whole of the essence of manas was immediately infused into the nascent human being. They became the Arhat-s and are called the 'nursery for the future human adepts on this earth and during the present cycle'.


The Manasaputras are the sons of the divine mind; they have manas fully developed. 'Manasa' means the efflux of the divine mind or Mahat the divine mind, and 'putra' means 'son'.

The average class of humanity was not able to respond to this infusion to a great or full extent, only a spark of manas being projected, and was in general only able to display the attributes of the lower mind on this earthly plane. But, to quote the SD, those who succeed in their evolutionary efforts, will be ready for the full incarnation of the Manasaputras in the Fifth Round. At that point man will be able to use all the capabilities of the mind.

The point is made in the SD (1.199 fn) that without manas there is no reasoning faculty and without the reasoning faculty there is no language or development of language.

This is exactly what the Master KH was faced with when he tried to explain to Mr. Sinnett and Mr. Hume about parts of the world of esotericism (The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, ML, No. Ill):

You may misunderstand us, are more than likely to do so, for our language must always be more or less that of parable and suggestion, when treading upon forbidden ground; we have our own peculiar modes of expression and what lies behind the fence of words is even more important than what you read. But still — TRY.

Besides, KH points out that They cannot speak openly about certain subjects — 'treading upon forbidden ground'. One reason for this is that there is knowledge that relates to powers, which could be and would be destructive in the hands of unworthy people, people who have not yet made the leap from egoism to altruism. KH explains it as follows: 'The mysteries never were, never can be, put within the reach of the general public, not, at least, until that longed for day when our religious philosophy becomes universal' (ML, No. 2).

Esoteric Language 

In SD (1.310): The world of esotericism can only be expressed in esoteric language, which is universal. It is also called the 'Mystery' language and in that mystery language is contained the great archaic system known from prehistoric ages as the sacred Wisdom-Science. This Wisdom- Science can be traced in every old as well as in every new religion. Its universal language is the language of the Hierophants. This language has seven 'dialects', so to speak, each dialect referring to and being especially appropriated to one of the seven mysteries of Nature. Each has its own symbolism. Nature could thus be either read in its fullness or viewed from one of its special aspects.

All the ancient records were written in this universal language. All the words of this universal language signified the same thing to each man of whatever nationality, but, according to the SD are now intelligible only to the few.

Interpreting these dialects or allegorical writings is extremely difficult. In order to understand the allegories or symbolism, one needs to find and turn the keys to it, and there are seven keys. These seven keys to the mystery tongue, however, have always been in the keeping of the highest among the initiated Hierophants of antiquity.

Seven Keys

The seven keys (SD, 1.325) open the mysteries, past and future, of the seven great Root-Races, as of the seven Kalpas. No scripture at present possesses the archaic teaching in its entirety, for even the Vedas are not complete. Every old religion is but a chapter or two of the entire volume of archaic primeval mysteries — Eastern Occultism alone being able to boast that it is in possession of the full secret, with its seven keys. To understand the Wisdom-Science you must learn the mystery language.

The symbolical universal language has numerical and geometrical keys. The most archaic symbols in Eastern Esotericism are a circle, a point, a triangle, a plane, a cube, a pentagon, a hexagon, and plane figures with various sides and angles.


The name for the secret/sacred sacerdotal language or the 'Mystery speech' of the Adepts all over the world is 'Senzar', which, we are told, is still preserved in some Fraternities. Senzar has an alphabet of its own but it can be rendered in several modes of writing in cipher characters which are more like ideographs (characters symbolizing an idea, like Chinese characters) than like syllables plus the use of numbers and colors.

In an article on Symbolism and Ideographs (SD, 1.307) it is stated:

Yet even a parable is a spoken symbol: a fiction or a fable, as some think; an allegorical representation, we say, of life- realities, events, and facts. And, as a moral was ever drawn from a parable, that moral being an actual truth and fact in human life, so an historical, real event was deduced

—        by those versed in the hieratic sciences

—        from certain emblems and symbols

recorded in the ancient archives of the temples. The religious and esoteric history of every nation was embedded in symbols; it was never expressed in so many words. All the thoughts and emotions, all the learning and knowledge, revealed and acquired, of the early races, found their pictorial expression in allegory and parable. Why? Because the spoken word has a potency unknown to, unsuspected and disbelieved in, by the modern 'sages'.

The Potency of Spoken Words

Collected Writings (CW, XII.534-5): Esoteric Science teaches that every sound in the visible world [which means also all spoken words!] awakens its corresponding sound in the invisible realms and arouses to action some force or other on the occult side of nature. Moreover, every sound corresponds to a color and a number (a potency spiritual, psychic or physical) and to a sensation on some plane. All these find an echo in every one of the so far developed elements and even on the terrestrial plane, in the Lives that swarm in the terrene atmosphere, thus prompting them to action.

Sound and rhythm are vibrations in the air and awaken corresponding powers; union with these powers produce good or bad results, as the case may be. No student was ever allowed to recite historical, religious, or any real events in so many unmistakable words, lest the powers connected with the event should be once more attracted. Such events were narrated only during Initiation, and every student had to record them in corresponding symbols, drawn out of his own mind and examined later by his master, before they were finally accepted.


The occult importance of the potency of sound and rhythm, of vibrations, is also mentioned in an article called 'My final word' in CW (VI. 89-90) where HPB speaks about the mutual relation between the sacred sound and the ether of space. She gives the example of 'a Brahmana who would recite certain mantra-s (incantations, conjurations) for a scorpion or snake bite, and who would sing them according to the method and intonation prescribed in the Yajur-veda and it is stated that this 'would certainly heal his patient — a fact', says HPB, 'witnessed by us many times'.

Now as every atom in every object of nature, animate or inanimate, sings its own keynote and produces its own sound and has its own color and number, so every man, flower, tree, and every celestial body, is a play and interplay of sounds both loud and faint, interblending in a marvelous symphony. Both sound and color are vibrational frequencies. Any living organ produces harmonies of sound when the emotions, thoughts, and feelings are on a high plane, and horrible discord when they are characterized by hatred and other low passions.

In an article on Occult Vibrations (CW, X.265-6) W. Q. Judge asks HPB about the difference of vibrations between ordinary people and an adept.

HPB: Human beings in general are like so many keys on the piano, each having its own sound, and the combination of which produces other sounds in endless variety. . . .

Q: So far this applies generally to nature. Does it explain the difference between the adept and ordinary people?

HPB: Yes. This difference is that an adept may be compared to that one key which contains all the keys in the great harmony of nature. [In today's terms he has the master key.] He has the synthesis of all keys in his thoughts, whereas ordinary man has the same key as a basis, but only acts and thinks on one or a few changes of this great key, producing with his brain only a few chords out of the whole great possible harmony.

Q: Has this something to do with the fact that a disciple may hear the voice of his master through the astral spaces, while another man cannot hear or communicate with the adepts?

HPB: This is because the brain of a chela is attuned by training to the brain of the Master. His vibrations synchronize with those of the Adept, and the untrained brain is not so attuned. So the chela's brain is abnormal, looking at it from the standpoint of ordinary life, while that of the ordinary man is normal for worldly purposes.

Q: Has the adept, then, raised his vibrations so as to have them the same as those of nature as a whole?

HPB: Yes; the highest adepts. But there are other adepts who, while vastly in advance of all men, are still unable to vibrate to such a degree.

An example of such synchronization of vibrations can be found in one of the Mahatma Letters (No. 139) where HPB explains how miserable her English was but that it made for 'Master' no difference whether her English was good or bad because, 'he does not speak it but understands every word I say out of my head; and I am made to understand Him — how I could never tell or explain if I were killed but I do.

And she continues:

I took to him a few sentences I was studying in Senzar in his sister's room and asked him to tell me if I translated them correctly — and gave him a slip of paper with these sentences written in English. He took and read them, and correcting the interpretation read them over and said: 'Now your English is becoming better — try to pick out of my head even the little I know of it.' And he put his hand on my forehead in the region of memory and squeezed his fingers on it (and I felt even the same trifling pain in it, as then, and the cold shiver I had experienced) and since that day He did so with my head daily, for about two months.


HPB explains that the whole system of evolution, the laws of being, the mysteries of life and death, the workings of karma and all else that she knew, was taught to her in visions, in pictures presented to the inner eye. She says:

Not a word was spoken to me in the ordinary way except, perhaps, by way of confirmation of what was thus given to me — nothing was taught in writing. And knowledge, she says, so obtained is so clear, so convincing, so indelible in the impression it makes upon the mind, that all sources of information, all other methods of teaching with which we are familiar dwindle into insignificance in comparison with this.

As quoted in the beginning, 'language is not always adequate to express spiritual thoughts'. In the examples just given we are dealing with a way of receiving knowledge that is 'beyond language'. Yet it is all about vibrations, sound, words.

We are taught that it is the 'Word', sound, by which all things are made or as the Pistis Sophia puts it (CW, XIII.53): the Sound of the Voice gave all things Form.


Sound is said to be the characteristic of Akasa (SD I, Stanza VI.205); it is said to be the substratum of universal Akasa, the one attribute of Akasa. Akasa is called the subtle, super sensuous, spiritual essence, which pervades all space; the primordial substance (Theosophical Glossary).

Any sound has its due effect throughout the universe. To quote HPB: 'Sound can have no end' and when she tapped with a pencil on a table she remarked: 'By this time it has affected the whole Universe.' But it is not only the tap with a pencil that affects the whole Universe. All sounds, all spoken words, everything we say has its effect on the whole Universe, producing good or bad results! Akasa, pervading all space, is at the root of the manifestation of all sounds.\

If we relate this to what HPB said about obtaining knowledge, what does that mean for us? How can we obtain that knowledge which comes in visions presented to the inner eye and which, thus obtained, is so clear, so convincing, so indelible that all sources of information, all other methods of teaching dwindle into insignificance?

Akasa and Our Brain 

In Inner Group Teachings it is said that during life there are seven empty cavities in our brain, which are filled with Akasa, and that it is in these cavities that visions must be reflected if they are to remain in the memory; each cavity with its own color, according to the state of consciousness in which we are. So how can we get the visions in the seven cavities, filled with Akasa, reflected so that they can remain in our memory?

The Voice of the Silence helps us, as it speaks about the mystic sounds of Akasic heights (81), heard by the yogi or ascetic at the beginning of his cycle of meditation:

Before we can set our foot upon the upper rung of the ladder of the mystic sounds, we have to hear the voice of our inner God, the voice of the Higher Self, in seven manners.

Six of those seven manners relate to the six principles but the seventh (Atma) swallows all the other sounds. They die and then are heard no more. According to the Glossary, this means that the personality is destroyed and the inner individuality is merged into and lost in the Seventh or Spirit. 'The pupil is merged into the ONE, becomes that ONE and lives therein.'


However, there is another approach to our subject which is interesting and is related to the very first advice given in The Voice of the Silence (2):

He who would hear the voice of nada, the soundless Sound, and comprehend it, he has to learn the nature of Dharana.

'Nada, the "Soundless Voice" or the "Voice of the Silence", being the equivalent word in Sanskrit for the Senzar term would literally (perhaps) read 'Voice in the Spiritual Sound' (Theosophical Glossary).

Since sound is the expression of thought, it is clear that 'spiritual sound' is related to spiritual thought and since we have seen that language is not able to express spiritual thoughts, we have to go 'beyond language' and find out more about the 'Voice in the Spiritual Sound'.

Dharana is the intense and perfect concentration of the mind upon some interior object, accompanied by complete abstraction from everything pertaining to the external Universe or the world of the senses. It is explained as follows: When the disciple is able to keep his mind free from all external objects, then he is in Dharana. But however perfect and intense the concentration, it is not enough because before the soul can comprehend and remember — in my view comprehending and remembering the reflected visions in the cavities of our brain — 'The soul must unto the Silent Speaker be united' and the example is given 'just as the form to which the clay is modelled, is first united with the potter's mind'.

If we indeed want to comprehend and remember, we have to discover more. Dharana is in the occult system the sixth stage of development but not yet the Seventh, the most spiritual.


The last stage before the final on this earth, unless one becomes a full Mahatma, is called Dhyana, literally meaning 'contemplation'; it is one of the six paramitas of perfection (V of S, note 41). It is explained that in the state of Dhyana there is, spiritually, consciousness of Self and of the working of the higher principles and that Dhyana is the precursor of Samadhi. What then is meant by Samadhi?

Samadhi is the state of faultless vision: Here our vision is no longer distorted. According to the Theosophical Glossary Samadhi stands for 'self-possession'. He who possesses this power is able to exercise absolute control over all his faculties, physical and mental. 'Consciousness of every individuality including his own is lost. The ascetic becomes — the ALL.' (V of S, note 42) The pupil has ceased to hear the many, has surpassed the mystic sounds of Akasic heights, has acquired the faultless vision: the inner sound has killed the outer.

The Voice of the Silence, p. 98-9:

... now, rest 'neath the Bodhi tree, which is perfection of all knowledge, for, know, thou art the Master of Samadhi — the state of faultless vision. Behold! thou hast become the sound, thou art thy Master and thy God. Thou art Thyself the object of thy search: the VOICE unbroken, that resounds through eternities, exempt from change, from sin exempt, the seven sounds in one.

That Voice is the VOICE OF THE SILENCE (beyond all languages).


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