A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Tribute Issue - Summer 1981




Dara Eklund
Los Angeles


Before presenting our tributes to him we quote below an excerpt from a letter Boris wrote in 1946 to Professor Nicholas Roerich, then in Punjab, India: “Two years ago, I started to publish, as an experimental venture, a little magazine over here - ‘Theosophia,’ by name. It has grown; it has acquired subscribers in other states, and now abroad. We make no splurge and do not consider ourselves a great success; but we are growing, and we seem to have become a sounding board more or less ...

“In spite of all the outward changes on the stage of Karmic destiny, the Great Work goes on without interruption. Difficulties temper our character; strengthen our fiber ...

“Here in America the great watchword is GREED, and selfishness in general. They have not suffered. They have succeeded in killing vastly more people with car-accidents than they ever killed on the battlefield. They had a financial boom right along. War has made them even more materialistic, except for a few. Sometimes I long for another setting, with people in whose heart there still exists a love for the spiritual and the beautiful values of life. But my duty must be here karmically, and so I try to plough up the field which karma has indicated for my present work.

“We try to hold the Vision undimmed, through the heavy fogs and the many storms - the Vision of a Greater Age. We bend our forces towards it ... inspiring ourselves with that far off picture of man's infinite potentialities. And though the climb is hard at times, and though the wind is strong, and the clouds hide from view the distant tops of the Spiritual Himalayas, we try to listen in the silence of our inmost being to that strain of Triumphant Music which comes at times - when all is still - borne on the inner ethers from the City of the Sun!” ...

Cordially yours,
Boris de Zirkoff
June 20,1946 [2]


Extracts of letters from early contacts in the Work:


“When I see you again I shall be glad to offer any further suggestions which I can ... With every good wish to you in your worthy and valuable work.”
October, 1931

“You are now the outstanding standard-bearer of Theosophy in California. May the future of your good work be triumphant.”
May, 1951

“With best of wishes in your literary task, which is for the good of the world by the advancement of Right Knowledge ...”
September, 1952

Theosophia fills an unique place in the literary world. It is one of the very few magazines that promotes in a non-sectarian manner that Right Understanding of which the Buddha speaks ...”
April, 1953


“I think of you often and wish you much success in your sincere efforts to give the real facts and truth to the people.”

September, 1953
Star Route
California [3]




It is with the deepest personal regret that I have learned of the death of Mr. Boris de Zirkoff. He was a close personal friend, and I have known him as a most dedicated man who took upon himself the monumental labor of making available in print the collected writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. I received the twelfth volume in this series a few days before Mr. de Zirkoff’s passing and am told that the thirteenth and fourteenth volumes will be issued posthumously. In 1950 the Philosophical Research Society collaborated with Mr. de Zirkoff in publishing Blavatsky's Collected Writings for 1883. On that occasion a lasting friendship was established and has remained unbroken for over thirty years. His accomplishments will be of inestimable value to future generations of students in their quest for esoteric wisdom. He has departed from this life to join those servants of humanity in whose names and memories he gave his full measure of devotion. May he have a time of rest until his next assignment.

Manly P. Hall
PRS Journal, Spring ‘81
Philosophical Research Society
Los Angeles, California [5]


On March 4th, Boris de Zirkoff, one of the Theosophical Movement's most devoted workers laid aside his material body after a long illness. His hopes of living long enough to complete his life-work, the collection and publication of all H.P. Blavatsky's writings into a uniform series, have been fulfilled with the help of his devoted friends and supporters.

Those who are familiar with the tremendous undertaking and the intense and tireless devotion it entailed, will never cease to be grateful for the life and example of this remarkable Theosophist whose innate modesty and lack of personal ambition was the hallmark of the true chela. His books will carry H.P.B.'s writings forward into the 21st century as a landmark and a priceless heritage for students yet unborn.

Members of the Victoria Lodge were privileged to meet Boris on many occasions when he was able to visit our city for a short rest, and we shall be richer for having known him. Once when discussing Lodge work with him, we were a little discouraged by the lack of visible progress, but he pointed out that any Theosophical centre true to its original teachers, the Masters and H.P.B. was inevitably having a beneficent effect whose reach and scope we would never know. His basic optimism for the work at all levels was apparent in his editorials for his magazine, Theosophia, which were always so beautifully written.

And so, we salute you, Boris de Zirkoff, good and faithful servant of the Masters, with the assurance that you are winging your way to the stars for the long Devachan you so richly deserve and that when the cycle comes around again, our paths will cross once more.

Fraternally yours,
Dorita Gilmour
Victoria, B.C., CANADA


The Editors, in The Eclectic Theosophist, March-April 1981, write:

A friend of the whole Theosophical Movement has laid down his burden and has now embraced that state of consciousness we designate as Peace and Rest so needed at cyclic times in the Unending Journey. Boris must have felt, shall we say, happy - perhaps that is a good word - in the knowledge that his particular contribution this life, not only to theosophical students but in reality to the whole world, was completed: the compiling and editing of the Collected Writings of H.P. Blavatsky. We are informed that the last two volumes, Vols. 13 and 14, are in the printer’s hands and that arrangements are going forward speedily for their publication by Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton.

For Boris, a friend of many decades this like an affectionate salute. Let not words mar what else for the moment we might say.

Helen Todd
Emmett Small

San Diego, California [6]



One has a special feeling for the person who, seemingly, initiated him or her into the esoteric side of life: Boris served that purpose in mine, giving our relationship a very special significance. 1 will always remember him in that context. As for his personal presence, 1 can best reiterate Plato's comment concerning Socrates ... “Of all the men that I have known, he was the wisest, the justest, and the best.”

Dr. Robert W. Bonnell
Long Beach, California


Boris was working in the Lomaland garden when I first met him in 1923. (As pupils in the Raja-Yoga School, we used to say: Madame Tingley put all newcomers to work in the garden for the good of their souls!) He was also collecting the material for The Collected Writings of H.P.B. and we occasionally exchanged greetings while mailing foreign letters at the Lomaland Post Office. At that time Boris, in manner and English speech, was very French. A natural linguist - he spoke three or four languages fluently and his English rapidly became as finished as his French and Russian. Somewhat later, I “read copy” with Mrs. Marjorie Tyberg, of articles for The Collected Writings, so when we all moved to Los Angeles, it was natural for me to participate in this work.

I would read the material in preparation, and then, usually on Saturdays, Boris would come to my apartment to discuss any point at issue, and have luncheon. Boris invariably chose soup, fruit pie, and tea as his repast. We discussed Theosophy and the history of the Society and current Theosophical events. (I shall sorely miss these contacts.)

Boris lived in the simplicity and freedom of an esotericist. Having experienced no family obligations since childhood, he found it difficult to recognize such ties and responsibilities in the lives of others. His allegiance was totally devoted to the teachings of Theosophy and the work of the Masters, and his understanding was profound.

Irene Ponsonby
Los Angeles, California


I first met Boris de Zirkoff in 1931 in Lomaland, and since then I have come to know him well. Through those years my admiration has grown for his absolute loyalty to Theosophy and its Teachers. He leaves behind him a monumental work, H.P.B.’s Collected Writings, which now will be preserved forever, and will serve all humanity in the search for philosophical enlightenment.

He loved his work, and for that, I thank him.

Alice Eek
Long Beach, California


I shall always remember B de Z fondly and understandingly. He lived in our family for over 12 years after we arrived in Los Angeles in 1942 from Lomaland. I came to know the nuances of this very talented person. His interest in life was Theosophy, his goal, the preservation of H.P.B.’s work in its pristine form. His direction never waivered. His work week was from Sunday to Sunday. Rarely did he allow himself a holiday. In his later years he was concerned that his work be completed, and now it appears that it will and for that we all can rejoice. His life was full. His contribution was great. He had faults with which he had to struggle, and sometimes which hindered his efforts. But all considered, he did his job, and he did it well. I salute him.

Bjorn C. J. Eek, M.D.
Long Beach, California [8]


The world, occult students in general and those of Theosophical persuasion in particular, have long recognized the singular philosophical, scholarly and editorial accomplishments of Boris de Zirkoff.

There is another form of appreciation in which both my wife and I thoroughly concur, namely, the warm, human and humor-loving side of the Boris character. One time, during the trip with him from L.A. to New York in 1975 to attend the Centenary Congress of The Theosophical Society, he was most friendly and one had the secret assurance that no harm could possibly come to that particular flight!! This feeling continued on through the days of the Congress, during which Boris gave his stirring address: “The Dream that Never Dies,” truly a high point of that week-long gathering.

Later, with Boris as guest of honor at our Long Beach T.S. branch member’s meeting, there unfolded a delightful evening as he related both humorous and serious experiences pertaining to the preparation of the new set of The Secret Doctrine, graciously answering questions put to him.

These are some of the many warm memories which we greatly cherish.

Elwood and Alicia Schenck
Long Beach Lodge


What would we Students of Theosophy have done - without having the “Collected Writings” which have been the life long work of Boris! They are a kind of fountain source and a guide to the teachings; whenever I am using one of the volumes I have to think of that.

Irmgard Scheithauer
West Germany [9]


Farewell Boris

It is possible that if Boris could be questioned he might say: “After a good rest, I would like to take up the tools of my trade and get on with the job.” No one could guess what form that job would take, but we can be sure that it would be done well. So we need have no worries about our friend. Having passed through the ‘Portals of Purification’ we feel right in believing that death is not a sleep but a great awakening. As someone has said: “Death gives back to us what birth took away.” So, Bon Voyage, Boris.

L. Gordon Plummer
Point Loma Student
San Diego, Calif.


My friendship with Boris de Zirkoff dates back to the year 1937 when I met him one evening at the home of one of my parishioners when I was the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Los Angeles. I shall never forget that evening. We had a lively discussion of such topics as reincarnation, the continuing work of the Cosmic Christ, and the Esoteric Tradition. I recognized in Boris a kindred spirit and left my friend's home determined to see more of Mr. de Zirkoff in the future, which I am happy to say, I did.

I found him to be a gentle sensitive spirit whose abiding concern was to share with those who would carefully listen, the ancient wisdom as it had been revealed to him by his own teachers and their writings. He had great patience with those who differed with him on certain points of mystical doctrine or interpretation, and his gentle sense of humor never failed to circumvent a possible brittle moment.

Boris de Zirkoff was and is a great soul. The world has been enriched because he lived among us. His literary efforts are a testimony to his dedication to truth come whence it may, and his friendship is a precious memory to those of us who knew him.

Rt. Rev. Francis Eric Bloy
Flintridge, California


As you are preparing for Theosofia magazine, please include our tribute to the memory of Mr. Boris de Zirkoff, who was a great man. He lived as a continuum in the immortal teachings of Theosophy. The ones who knew him received in their bodies, magnetic and attractive conditions which quickened their learning ... He reincarnated in the minds of his students and will live forever through us.

We wish him a blissful rest from this subversive world of forms.

Dora Crespo, Secretary
Alaya Study Center
Spanish speaking section of the T.S.
Los Angeles, Calif.



We are happy to contribute the following lines on our memorable meetings with our good friend Boris de Zirkoff.

We first met Boris when he made a European tour in 1959; he also came to Holland, where he gave talks on several subjects in Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Subsequently, he traveled to the Black Forest to see Mary Linne and her friend Emmie Haerter.

In 1970, ‘73, and ‘77, we had the privilege of meeting with Boris at his Los Angeles home. What always struck us in him was his modesty, humor, his care for us (and all he contacted) and his wisdom. He invariably enthused us while speaking about his life-work, and about the many correspondents he and his co-workers consulted in several parts of the world. One day he showed us a few pages from The Secret Doctrine with quite a number of his corrections in

Hebrew, Latin and Sanskrit references and quotations; always taking care not to change a single iota in H.P.B.'s own words. In 1978, when Boris came back from a strenuous visit to Adyar, where he was on Collected Writing business, he stayed in Holland for a few days, and gave a talk in The Hague. In the Congress Building a large audience was gathered, including representatives of most Dutch Theosophical groups working in the Netherlands. Here Boris spoke about his work on the C.W., and answered many questions. A summary of his talk was published in the Dutch journal of the Point Lorna T.S.

When at The Hague Boris also paid a visit to his Hungarian friend Zoltan d’Algya Pap. This gentleman had learned Russian in Siberian captivity, and later went to Adyar as an archivist, where he assisted Boris painstakingly in finding documentation needed for his work. They had been in correspondence for years but never met, and now, at Mrs. de Vogel’s home in The Hague, a happy Zoltan welcomed Boris in the latter's mother tongue. Boris also stayed a few days at our house in Heemstede, and we had many visitors who came to see and speak to him about various points. Mary Linne had traveled from the Black Forest to Heemstede to meet with Boris ... Those were happy hours.

One of Boris’ answers to questions concerned the destiny of Theosophy. He was personally of the opinion that in the future the ancient wisdom would be promulgated not so much through meetings and speeches, but by means of journals and books in many languages; it is a hopeful sign-he said-that nearly all first class bookstores in the U.S.A. stock works on Theosophy and related subjects, and the same begins to apply to Western Europe.

We know that many friends all over the world have sent loving, uplifting and grateful thoughts to Boris in his agony, and we shall never forget those friends who warm-heartedly provided a last and secluded home for him. May he ‘rejoice amid the stars.’!

Lucie and Jan Molijn
Heemstede, Holland [12]



Those of us who were fortunate to have had the experience of knowing Boris as a friend and a teacher, will forever remember him affectionately for his friendship and legacy in making H.P.B.’s writings accessible to us. Most of us who had contact with Boris, and those students who knew him only through the Collected Writings, have only a vague awareness of the magnitude of Boris de Zirkoff’s life-long commitment. However with the passage of time, dear fellow-students, we can take solace in the fact that the influence of his effort, caring and dedication will touch the yet unborn generations of truth-seekers.

Having known Boris for almost a third of a century as a gentle and modest soul, I can surmise he would vigorously disclaim such an accolade. He would say that the credit for his work belongs to the torch-bearers and helping hands that turned in his direction ... Boris with his subtle sense of humor would have appreciated a “roast” instead of a eulogy. We will accord him his say through excerpts of a lecture he delivered to a study-group of students some years ago. This lecture, you might say, was the summing-up of the theme underlying many study group sessions that had occurred during a period of over thirty years. Let us recreate this Saturday night lecture of yesteryear in our minds. Picture if you will that you are sitting in someone’s living room with some 25 other students and Boris is waiting to speak in his usual calm and measured fashion:

“Friends, in thinking over our various meetings that have been held here and elsewhere ... putting the whole thing into one picture with its various ramifications and aspects, there is one thought that emerges out of it, a thought against the background of what we know of the principles and foundations and methods of occult work ... and it is this ... that at no time can we as students of these teachings consider ourselves fighting a very lonely battle or being left out or having no companionship and being all alone. At no time can we say that nobody cares ... the very opposite is true ... I think that it would be quite correct, quite factual, to make a generalization here and to think that everyone of us, no matter what his age, who has had an association with a' group studying the ancient teachings ... or everyone of us who has studied them by himself alone without any association of other people, has planted his or her feet as it were upon a certain path and has registered a certain intensity of interest. .. They not only have actually done something to forward these thoughts ... to spread them ... to help somebody else with them ... all these men and women have registered or recorded as it were, their names, in the sense of their individuality in a certain, shall we say, a mystic ledger. Let us say a book not of a material kind, wherein a place is inscribed, under the operation of certain laws and has attracted the attention of Those behind the scenes who are especially interested in people young and old whose spiritual interests lie in this direction.” The students who have remained interested with some persistent intensity “have unquestionably ... made a mark upon that mystic screen. Those who behind the scenes, behind the veil of the visible, are interested in such matters and have an eye to them ... They are bound to have an interest in them, in our souls because we have [13] an interest in the spiritual laws of nature and have made at least some faltering steps along the path of self-improvement and spiritual knowledge. Some of us, have advanced a little more than others but all have advanced some! We are not alone in that game. We are not alone in that effort ... We can say we are left to ourselves entirely ... We are not! Every time we make an effort in the right direction there is an unseen but sometimes very strongly felt assistance and help that comes. It does not necessarily come at all times just from within our own higher nature, it comes from there of course-but it is also seconded, supported, by the help of those higher Individuals. Individuals, who irrespective of distance and place, feel a certain degree of gratitude for the fact that we are interested and that we are willing at times to do our small bit to add to the work of others in the same general spiritual direction. This invisible help and watchfulness on the part of these higher Entities ... should not be misunderstood by anybody with psychic inclinations to be some kind of a semi-spiritualistic audience of invisible spooks watching us. It is nothing of the kind!!! I have in mind living Men ... living individuals far ahead of us but Whose business it is in the Hierarchy of this Globe, to help along Inner lines aspiring students irrespective of distance and location, because They have become independent of such things as time and space. They care very much about our ultimate spiritual triumph over ourselves ... our lesser selves and about our being victorious and successful in spiritual growth because that means new allies ... new helpers ... new supporters strong and faithful in a very, very ancient cause ... a cause of Human spiritual liberation ... By making a greater effort than we do along the lines of self-purification, detachment from worldly ambitions and entanglements (which have their place but ... less place in our lives than in the lives of others), we can increase that inner relation with the assisting Powers which are living Men, by registering within ourselves a steadily increasing degree of self-control, also a steadily increasing degree of selflessness ... because the whole thing seems to hinge on selflessness ...

We as learners can and must realize that we do have that unseen guidance, that we can never be deserted, that no one of the Higher Ones can ever desert us, but that we can desert Them anytime by failing; and failing to get up and try again.

We can desert Them ... oh yes, anytime, but They won't desert us and that is the main thing. And if we keep in mind this companionship of a mystic kind which is a reality that can be increased daily ... hourly, we begin to feel less and less lonely in our inner self, however much loneliness we may experience at times in our relatively weak and faltering personality. That will feel lonely many times ... In higher stages than ours as well, the loneliness that we can not overcome of the person, subsides. To the extent that our self-lessness increases and our personality becomes controlled by the higher individuality within us, to that extent even our lower loneliness is gradually transmuted.”

Boris concludes his lecture by summing up: that the gradual spiritual transmutation results in “a sense of joy and participation in a tremendous Cosmic scheme which has neither beginning or end ... and has that ultimate objective of the Spiritual liberation of all that lives.” Yes, Boris, thanks to your effort and help, if we make good use of the roadmap you outlined we will learn that WE ARE NOT ALONE!! [14]


Courtesy of Vonda Urban


In truth he lived, TRUTH was his life, and laboured courageously in the secret cause of “THEOSOPHIA” awakening his fellow pilgrims to “A LIVING PHILOSOPHY FOR HUMANITY.”

I wish to extend a sincere tribute to Mr. Boris de Zirkoff with pure thoughts, knowing for sure that we shall meet again and serve in the DIVINE PATH of ageless quest.

Hanna Iskander Fadel
Kansas City, Missouri


I think it is a lovely idea for friends to contribute tributes to Boris for the Memorial Issue you are preparing. I think perhaps the letter I wrote to him, the special one, could be used as from me, especially showing it was written to him while still alive. I think it is a pity sometimes that these appreciative tributes have to wait till the person has gone:

“You have been in my thoughts so very much since that wonderful few hours we had with you when you welcomed us so generously. This morning I received ... The wonderful news that Vol. XII, C.W. will be ready in February ....

It will be a wonderful start for the year, for this Vol. to reach the public. Judging by all the treasures that were in Vol. XI, we all have much to look forward to. And I am sure the many very grateful thoughts that will go your way, because of the marvelous work you have done, will give you still more strength to continue. As we were taught at Point Lorna when we were young: 'The reward of a duty well done is the ability to do another!”

Elsie Benjamin, Secty.
Corresponding Fellows Lodge
From a letter dated 12/9/80


Boris was a very special dear friend, always sharing deep and compassionate understanding, overlaid with an inimitable wit, often harpooning adroitly our vanities and frailties ... My husband and I particularly felt a very close friendship.

We did often feel in awe of his erudition-yet he never let anyone really be conscious of this.

Clarehen Theis
Seattle, Washington [16]


Slightly over a month before his passing Boris received a unique greeting through Western Union. We quote from a Telegram dated 11/29/81:




Several other letters are quoted below which were written during the lifetime of our Editor:

My thanks to Boris for his generosity and good will. He has taught me much by example - though he doubtless thought I was hopeless in many areas. I will miss him. But his sojourn is nearly over and he deserves a rest. I hope he realizes that every effort will be made to keep the text of Vol. XIII and XIV congruent with the earlier volumes ... Boris’ time and place, seem hardly accidental. His Dharma could hardly have been handled by anyone else ... It is a privilege to serve the highest principles in obscurity. Good Karma can only come from such self-sacrifice. His name will not be forgotten ... probably for many centuries.

Richard I. Robb
Point Loma, California


The Corresponding Fellows Lodge of Theosophists would like to send him our gratitude for his very many years of devoted service to the Theosophical Cause.

The availability of Theosophical literature is particularly important to us, as so many of us study alone and do not attend meetings ...

The mind of the ordinary student is overwhelmed at the thought of all the work that he has accomplished and the standard maintained, and the heart of the ordinary student fills with appreciation for his Life’s work ...

Margaret Duncan-Miller
Corresponding Fellows Lodge
Surrey, England

It was one of the “toplights” of our American trip when we had the occasion to meet him. It was more than only a visit and we could feel the fine atmosphere there very easily. We think we will treasure all the more the wonderful visit we had with him in his flat.

Wilfried and Erika Goltz
Berlin, Germany [18]


My “remembering Boris” has covered a wide spectrum. I have remembered the Winter Solstice talks in the Hollywood Hills, in Palos Verdes, in the Ojai Valley, and the regular get-togethers of eight or ten of us for the evening meal at a cafeteria before we went on to the group meetings at the home of Mrs. Eleanor Ince. Here the conversations were easy, light-hearted or serious, sometimes highlighted by moments of nonsense. Our exchanges covered a wide range of subject matter.

I remember his compassionate concern during the illness of one of the group members, and the time when he and I stood together on a museum balcony looking into the space below and he said, “Where there is compassion, there can be no criticism. The two cannot occupy the same space.”

I remember his serene wisdom, his quietness, but also his ready laughter, his gentleness, his simplicity and his complexity, his total lack of overlay. Boris was always Boris. I remember his total dedication to the work he had undertaken and his total lack of concern for himself.

In his presence we experienced the “contagion of a great spirit.” On the other side of the veil, he goes on with his work for, in the words of Lorraine Babbitt:

Death is but glow
of sunrise on the mountains
of another life.

Remembering all our years of companionship,
Frances Moore
Ojai, California


There is truly so much to thank him for that it is difficult to bring it into focus.

One of his greatest gifts was a life of devotion to the teachings of the Great Ones; his literary contribution brought the ideas of H.P.B. to every corner of the world. His total commitment to the giving of knowledge to every seeker after Truth is recognized and appreciated, I am sure, by his students and thousands of readers.

For over 30 years he was a wonderful friend, as well as teacher to me and many others.

Although we miss him, we wish to speed him on his way to the Great Light.

Frances Lee Ziegenmeyer
Los Angeles, California


When Boris came to my home with friends, I felt what a complete person he was, at home with people of all ideas. He was really a free Soul.

Dorothy Hyatt
Studio City, California [19]


Many dream dreams but few have the perseverance to bring their vision into actuality. Favored by karma and an unwavering trust in theosophy, for fifty-seven years Boris de Zirkoff pursued his goal, appreciative of the help of volunteers in many parts of the world. As one who participated in the formative stages by typing copy for the first volumes of the “complete works project” as it was then known, it was to me quite natural that in the closing years of his life B. de Z. should seek to deepen his ties with old friends and colleagues. His periodic visits to our library and headquarters were mutually welcomed.

We salute you, Boris, with gratitude for making H.P. Blavatsky’s writings readily accessible for future generations of earnest students. The words of Disraeli might have been said in your honor: “The key to success is constancy to purpose.”

Grace F. Knoche
Theosophical Society International
Pasadena, California


Even though Boris’ death was anticipated, it still was a shock; but with it came relief that his terrible suffering was over. And there is that other feeling: that though we won’t be seeing him again, not in this life, the feeling is as always, when someone dear to me died, that he or she became closer to me. There are no more physical barriers, as the soul and mind know none, and the one who has gone becomes even closer to me.

Though I didn’t see him often, Boris was to me like an older brother. We often talked on the phone and I wrote to him. I have many of his letters. In one of his last ones, in answer to mine, when I was indignant at the attacks on H.P.B. started in a new book, he said, “Don’t waste your time. You have work to do. Continue to translate Theosophy into Russian. In the book the writer speaks about the S.D. and Isis, it will encourage people to look into these books.”

I knew Boris for many years. It started with a close friend, a Theosophist who knew him well. She and her mother told me that Boris was collecting men’s shirts and other items of men’s clothing and sending them to his mother who lived in Paris after the second world war, in a home for single people. Many men there had practically nothing. My friend took me (with shirts from my husband’s wardrobe) to Boris. We became friends at once.

His mother thanked me for the shirts and we too became friends. She often wrote how she missed Boris. She hadn't seen him since he was 18 years old. When Boris was ready to visit Europe he was going to see his mother of course. I asked him when he saw her to put his arms around her, kiss her and call her “Mamochka” (an endearing term for mother).

She wrote that when he came and she opened the door for him, there before her was a middle-aged stranger who put his arms around her and called her “Mamochka”. She was surprised at first but then she knew that it was her own boy who she loved so.*

The work that Boris did and left behind will live forever, as he himself will live in the hearts of those who were privileged to know him.

Until next Life Boris.

Militza E. Yurieva-Cowling
Santa Barbara, California

[Due to passport difficulties Boris was unable to return to Europe for some years until immigration matters were settled. -ed.] [21]



Since my initial meeting with Boris three and one half years ago, I have come to the realization that he lived this life as a “Universal Theosophist.” He was an individual who never, to my relative experience, ever deviated from the commitment to serve all humanity through the efforts of the eternal Theosophical Movement.

I’d like to share a little of the wonderful humor and sincerity of Boris de Zirkoff. Whenever I would arrive in Los Angeles, I’d give Boris a call. His opening remarks were usually the same, “What can I do for you today?” But one day was different, the reply came, “I’m sorry, no U.L.T. Theosophists today.” At first I was stunned, but then realized there was a message behind the words. That message was that, we all knew a man who never withheld help from any individual, no matter what affiliation or non-affiliation.

Boris’ life shall ingrain an everlasting impression on all of us who endeavor to be of service within the work. A Universal Theosophist is one who has kept the Bodhisattva vow a burning flame within one's own heart. Boris served all, and so let us continue his example and seek to serve all who cross our own individual Paths with an open heart and an open mind.

Caren M. Elin
San Diego, California


There is no adequate way to measure the value of a life lived, for how can we know what is true value in the eyes of the Good Law? But, for us, to have the Collected Writings is a great gift and one which all may equally share ...

Kirby Van Mater
Theosophical Society International
Pasadena, California


… It is needless to say that the future world will appreciate Boris’ monumental work - not only in compiling valuable works, but also giving inspiration to many tasks. There may be people using little or not at all the gifts life has provided them this time, but there are certainly few who have done the best with their talent as our Brother Boris. So our loving thoughts and humble devotion for a good example in thought and action follow you from many fellow theosophists and friends from Finland ...

Dasvidania, farewell - thank you dear Brother Boris,
Jaakko Kari - Koskinen
Valtak, Finland [22]


His was a lifetime devoted to the Great Cause of Humanity. His mandate, the herculean task of collecting, and compiling into orderly volumes, the prodigious output of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s writings. Now, the noble work is done. The pristine purity of Theosophia remains inviolate; her original edition of it preserved intact, and once again spread broadcast throughout the world of men. The “compiler” is at rest. Sleep well, dear friend. Those who have helped your work through the long and arduous years of unremitting toil will help you yet again when the Good Law reunites us all in some new labour for the “Dream that Never Dies.”

Vonda Urban
Point Loma Study Group

Boris de Zirkoff stands out in my thoughts as a most striking example of commitment to what his great relative, H.P. Blavatsky called “the Cause.” Theosophy was indeed his life, and he bore witness to it in the clarity and one-pointedness of his dedication.

I first became acquainted with Boris through correspondence when I was on the headquarters staff of the U.S. Section of the Theosophical Society in Wheaton, Illinois. He never failed me when I requested a contribution from him for The American Theosophist, and his comments were invariably both cogently expressed and enlightening. Later, I met him personally and came to have a deep personal affection and regard for him, as well as admiration for the tremendous work he was doing in making sure that posterity would have the benefit of the priceless Blavatsky writings. I found him always compassionate, always friendly, always willing to go out of his way to see that no seeker ever came to him in vain.

It is a privilege to pay tribute to a man of his inner greatness, his never-tiring application to the task he had set for himself, and the openness of heart with which he answered the aspirations of others. He never seems very far away.

Virginia Hanson
Ojai, Calif. [23]



In the Buddhist tradition, it is said that one of the qualifications necessary for spiritual progress is that of being a good friend (kalyana mitra). This means that one is available for the discussion of spiritual matters, that one holds to the truth of one's own being in all meetings with others, and that one is ready with counsel or advice for those who may seek knowledge.

Singularly devoted to his self-imposed task of collecting the writings of H.P. Blavatsky, Boris de Zirkoff still had time to be “the good friend,” How often in letter or conversation, he would respond to questions of mutual concern in our respective fields of service to the Theosophical Movement! He was ever ready with counsel, willing to share his own discoveries and insights about the “mystery” that was HPB. As the years passed, our own friendship grew richer and deeper, as Boris and I found in the mutual respect for each other’s commitment to Theosophy and for each other’s manner of serving that commitment in terms of our respective loyalties, a common ground of understanding and aspiration, External differences, therefore, gave way to a higher allegiance, a transcendent aim, beyond the confines of organizational structures. Working with Boris, sharing ideas by means of an extensive correspondence or in the happy times of direct conversation at his office, or at Wheaton, or at Adyar, or any of the other places where we met for conventions and conferences, was always richly rewarding, I invariably came away from such occasions, as I turned from reading his letters, with a new enthusiasm for, a new understanding of, the purpose of the Theosophical Cause which meant so very much to each of us.

One statement stands out from all the letters Boris wrote to me; it is a sentence with which he ended a letter sent me during a period when I myself had been redefining my own work within the Theosophical Society, and it is a sentence I have carried with me ever since, Perhaps the words describe best the nature of his own commitment, coming as they do from Boris - “the good friend:”

“The only thing I live for and work for is the perpetuation and dissemination of genuine Theosophy whether it be through the words of H.P.B. or those who have remained true to her message and the instructions of Those standing behind her.”

Joy Mills
Ojai, California


Subba Row Medal

Photographs contributed by Robert L. Eklund.

Courtesy of Wilfried and Erika Goltz

23rd February, 1981.

Dear Brother Boris,

Thank you very much for your letter of January 24th. The members of the General Council and myself, unanimously considered you as the fittest person to receive the Subba Row medal now. The work you have done in preparing the Collective Writings of our great Founder, H. P. Blavatsky, is monumental. Every token of the appreciation that is felt in respect of your lifelong labour, appears to be inadequate. However, in grateful recognition of your untiring efforts) during several decades, to make available to the world the wealth of knowledge contained in H.P.B.’s writings, I have the honour to request Miss Joy Mills to present to you, on behalf of the Society, the Subba Row medal.

With all my warmest good wishes,
Yours fraternally,
Radha Burnier
The Theosophical Society
International Headquarters,
Adyar, Madras, India. [27]



Dear Boris:

I have just learned, unofficially, that you were recently awarded the Subba Row Medal. This is a fitting recognition for one who has worked so diligently and so effectively in the cause of true Theosophy. On behalf of all the members of the Society in Canada, therefore, please accept from me our warmest congratulations on this great honour you have received.

Congratulations, yes, and heartfelt thanks too. Your work has meant so much to those who recognize the unique contribution of H.P. Blavatsky as the Messenger and principal Teacher of the modern Theosophical Movement. Our gratitude must be such that it is difficult to put into words, but rest assured that your labours will continue to help and inspire us and our successors for generations to come.

Orders for Volume XII of the Collected Writings are most encouraging. The T.S. in Canada is again offering this volume to Canadian university libraries, and there are now 26 such libraries in the program. Because of a backlog in the Calgary Post Office, we have not yet seen a copy, and are looking forward to having it in our hands.

Again, heartiest felicitations to a most worthy recipient of the Subba Row Medal!

Yours Sincerely,
Ted G. Davy
General Secretary
The Theosophical Society in Canada


There are those who study a philosophy; there are those who speak about a belief. Then there are those who simply live one. Boris de Zirkoff was such a man. Let us each take inspiration from his life.

Shelley von Strunckel
Los Angeles, California


It has been one of the greatest highlights of my life to have been associated with Boris de Zirkoff over the past 32 years, assisting him in his life's work in the preparation and production of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s Collected Writings. His first thoughts were always of the Theosophical Movement, and gratitude to the people that assisted him. Boris did a good job of training his associates to carry on this very important work.

I am happy to be able to finish the typesetting of the last Volumes of the Collected Writings, with the very able assistance of Dara Eklund and Mr. Richard Robb. His devotion will always be remembered by me, and his many friends around the world. I am very honored to be asked to express this tribute to Boris.

Everett Stockton, President
Stockton Trade Press, Inc.
Buena Park, California [28]


I was a friend of Boris’ for 58 years. If there were one word to express what Boris was it would be the word “Philosopher.” He was willing to learn from his friends and always to share ideas with them.

Geoffrey Barborka
Ojai, California


My acquaintance with Boris de Zirkoff, although spread over a number of years, was really not more than a few days, but, as with so many contacts within the Theosophical family, our relationship was immediately friendly and meaningful. I met him first in Los Angeles. He showed me round his place of work. He was then working on his definitive edition of The Secret Doctrine. I saw the text he was working on with the notes on it in his handwriting, immaculately neat. He showed me how every alteration was justified. I was impressed by the orderliness of his room; a place for everything and everything in its place tidily.

I saw the material collected for future volumes of the Collected Writings. Some seven or eight had then been published. I marvelled at the immense amount of work represented by what he had so far achieved, and at his seemingly unending search for subject matter, for justificatory references, his massive foreign correspondence with all sorts of people who could give him information. The end result of all this work is now for all to see in the series of volumes - so beautifully and carefully produced - which constitute a lasting record of his life’s work. One cannot leave out of a notice such as this, particular mention of his translations of H.P.B.’s French writings. They are quite masterly. His English versions are as if H.P.B. herself had written them.

After showing me his room he took me into town to a favourite little eating place for a light lunch. I learned then that, apart from all his admirable work, which in itself reflects so much of his quality, he was an admirable and likeable man, with much humour.

He could also on occasion be very impressive. I attended a gathering in the handsome house at Adyar, of the late John Coats’, at which Boris officiated in a simple ceremony to the Winter Solstice. There were some fifty people or so present and all were moved by his conducting of the meeting. Over the days he was there at Adyar I spent a number of happy hours in his company. I do not think he ever became accustomed to the place but there were a number of people there, including me, who were happy that he had been there. While he was there he personally supervised the printing of one of the later volumes of the Collected Writings.

Many students for many generations to come will have cause to be grateful to Boris and his collaborators, without whose unremitting labours over so many years, they would surely not have had the opportunity of reading so many of H.P.B.’s inspiring, interesting and informative articles, letters etc.

Thank you Boris.

Geoffrey Farthing


B de Z

To him we were “would-be-disciples.” No wild promises were made, just the invitation to participate in a Work so all-encompassing that he once said, “Even a well-wisher has contributed by his very thought of support.” His closest helpers realized the only reward forthcoming was that the more they gave, the more would opportunities come to give.

Boris was of a military family and this background made him used to rigid discipline of long hours, often from five in the morning. Collecting and editing, the detecting of obscure quotations involved correspondence with universities and individuals from Chicago as far away as Novosibirsk. He attributed much of his self-discipline to his Point Loma days, to the Theosophical University and the towering inspiration of his teacher G. de Purucker, who set him on the trail of the Collected Writings not long after his arrival at Point Loma at the age of nineteen.

The Masters were not inaccessible dreams to those students. But in every waking moment dedicated to the cause of Theosophy, Their presence could be felt. Boris was convinced of this.

B. de Z. was not an easy person to know. He felt it was more pertinent to effect changes in individuals, to get them to think for themselves rather than coddle them along with compliments. Yet he is remembered everywhere for his wit. He could get us to laugh at ourselves. Weeks after he had left his office to convalesce from a serious illness, the people in neighboring apartments asked after such a kindly and dignified man.

His generosity was not only on the spiritual plane, Often he donated books to libraries, and I remember he went out to buy a blanket for a colleague at my library who had lost her belongings in a fire, even though a stranger to him. He was forever supplying people with help in the way of information and bibliographic details from his growing Blavatskiana files and library. His familiarity with seven languages made him the ideal person to handle the writings and translations of his great aunt, but he never hoarded this knowledge. Theosophists came from all over the world to glean what they could from it.

I am myself indebted to him for learning how to compile and edit books, steps he exacted very thoroughly and methodically, requiring a strict attentiveness. Somehow one didn't mind, if the outcome was right, and even the printer and typesetters recognized his preciseness. That included his sharp and ready wit of course, as he didn’t let the errors of the past hinder his indomitable will to forge ahead, or continue under the tremendous pressure from the difficult task he had undertaken.

Let us then go on with that task with the utter self-abnegation which our departed friend instilled in us, for the Chain of the Brothers is long and sure, and we are but links in that Chain of Light.

Dara Eklund
Los Angeles [30]


Photo by Gordon Borlaug


Book Review

Kirby Van Mater

“The work of collecting H. P. Blavatsky’s writings was started at Point Loma in 1924 while de Zirkoff was residing at the international headquarters of The Theosophical Society. In April 1930 it was learned that A. Trevor Barker, compiler of The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, and his friend, Ronald A.V. Morris, had been working on their own on the same project in England. Collaboration between the two parties was entered into and the first four volumes and Isis Unveiled were published in London from 1933-6 under the title, The

Complete Works of H. P. Blavatsky, with A. Trevor Barker as editor. During World War II, however, the entire stock of books and plates held by Rider & Co., of London, was destroyed. No further volumes appeared until 1950 when Boris de Zirkoff issued Volume V under a new title, H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, published by the Philosophical Research Society of Los Angeles, California. Later volumes followed in succession through The Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, IL, U.S.A. and Madras, India, Volumes I-IV incorporating additional material being reissued under the new title and format. The volumes yet to be published will contain the remaining magazine material, documents, and miscellaneous writings ...

“Volume XII is unique in that it includes H. P. Blavatsky’s Instructions for the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society. In a lengthy introduction, the compiler provides valuable historic notes on the founding of this Section in 1888. With regard to the first three Instructions, several versions are extant, but de Zirkoff is careful to revert to the original Instructions that were written and signed by H.P.B., whereas numbers IV and V were composed from notes made of her comments at private meetings and were not issued over her signature.

“Boris de Zirkoff passed away on March 4 of this year, leaving the remaining volumes of the series in completed manuscript form. The task of compiling and editing these works testifies to his unswerving devotion over a span of fifty-seven years. The Collected Writings are and will remain what he envisioned them to be, a great reference library for all students who wish to acquaint themselves with the ageless wisdom, and an eloquent tribute to that enigmatic and remarkable humanitarian, H. P. Blavatsky.”

Excerpt from Sunrise, May 1981