H P Blavatsky
The Key to Theosophy Glossary
H P Blavatsky
A – D
Absoluteness. When predicated of the UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE, it denotes an abstraction, which is more correct and logical than to apply the adjective “absolute” to that which can have neither attributes nor limitations.
Adam Kadmon (Heb.) “Archetypal man, Humanity. The “Heavenly man” not fallen into sin. Kabalists refer it to the Ten Sephiroth on the plane of human perception.” In the Kabala Adam Kadmon is the manifested Logos corresponding to our third Logos, the unmanifested being the first paradigmic ideal man, and symbolizing the universe in abscondito, or in its “privation” in the Aristotelean sense. The first Logos is “the light of the World,” the second and the third, its gradually deepening shadows.
Adept (Lat. adeptus). In Occultism, one who has reached the stage of initiation and become a master in the Science of Esoteric Philosophy.
Aether (Gr.) With the Ancients, the Divine luminiferous substance which pervades the whole universe; the “garment” of the Supreme Deity, Zeus, or Jupiter. With the Moderns, Ether, for the meaning of which, in physics and chemistry, see Webster’s Dictionary, or some other. In Esotericism, AEther is the third principle of the Kosmic Septenary, matter (earth) being the lowest, and Akasa, the highest.
Agathon (Gr.) Plato’s Supreme Deity, lit. “the good.” Our ALAYA or the Soul of the World.
Agnostic. A word first used by Professor Huxley, to indicate one who believes nothing which cannot be demonstrated by the senses.
Ahankara (Sans.) The conception of “I,” self-consciousness or self-identity; the “I,” or egoistical and mayavic principle in man, due to our ignorance which separates our “I” from the Universal ONE-Self. Personality, egoism also.
Ain-Soph (Heb.) The “Boundless” or “Limitless” Deity emanating and extending. Ain-Soph is also written En-Soph and Ain-Suph, for no one, not even the Rabbis, are quite sure of their vowels. In the religious metaphysics of the old Hebrew philosophers, the ONE Principle was an abstraction like Parabrahm, though modern Kabalists have succeeded by mere dint of sophistry and paradoxes in making a “Supreme God” of it, and nothing higher. But with the early Chaldean Kabalists Ain-Soph was “without form or being” with “no likeness with anything else.” (Franck’s Die Kabbala, p. 126.) That Ain-Soph has never been considered as the “Creator” is proved conclusively by the fact that such an orthodox Jew as Philo calls “creator” the Logos, who stands next the “Limitless One,” and is “the SECOND God.” “The Second God is in its (Ain-Soph’s) wisdom,” says Philo in Quaest et Solut. Deity is NO-THING; it is nameless, and therefore called Ain-Soph—the word Ain meaning nothing. (See also Franck’s Kabbala, p. 153.)
Arabic Ul-Khemi, is as the name suggests, the chemistry of nature. Ul-Khemi or Al-Kimia, however, is really an
Arabianized word, taken from the Greek chemeia from chumos “juice,” extracted
from a plant. Alchemy deals with the finer forces of nature and the various
conditions of matter in which they are found to operate. Seeking under the veil
of language, more or less artificial, to convey to the uninitiated so much of
the Mysterium Magnum as is safe in the hands of a selfish world, the Alchemist
postulates as his first principle, the existence of a certain Universal Solvent
in the homogeneous substance from which the elements were evolved; which
substance he calls pure gold, or summum materiae. This solvent, also called
menstruum universale, possesses the power of removing all the seeds of disease
out of the human body, of renewing youth, and prolonging life. Such is the
lapis philosophorum (philosopher’s stone). Alchemy first penetrated into
These three methods were typified under the three alchemical properties—sulphur, mercury, and salt. Different writers have stated that these are three, seven, ten and twelve processes respectively; but they are all agreed there is but one object in Alchemy, which is to transmute gross metals into pure gold. But what that gold really is, very few people understand correctly. No doubt there is such a thing in Nature as transmutation of the baser metal into the nobler; but this is only one aspect of Alchemy, the terrestrial, or purely material, for we see logically the same process taking place in the bowels of the earth. Yet, besides and beyond this interpretation, there is in Alchemy a symbolical meaning, purely psychic and spiritual. While the Kabalist-Alchemist seeks for the realization of the former, the Occultist-Alchemist, spurning the gold of the earth, gives all his attention to and directs his efforts only towards the transmutation of the baser quaternary into the divine upper trinity of man, which when finally blended, is one. The spiritual, mental, psychic, and physical planes of human existence are in Alchemy compared to the four elements -- fire, air, water, and earth, and are each capable of a three-fold constitution, i. e., fixed, unstable, and volatile. Little or nothing is known by the world concerning the origin of this archaic branch of philosophy; but it is certain that it antedates the construction of any known Zodiac, and as dealing with the personified forces of nature, probably also any of the mythologies of the world. Nor is there any doubt that the true secrets of transmutation (on the physical plane) were known in the days of old, and lost before the dawn of the so-called historical period. Modern chemistry owes its best fundamental discoveries to Alchemy, but regardless of the undeniable truism of the latter, that there is but one element in the universe, chemistry placed metals in the class of elements, and is only now beginning to find out its gross mistake. Even some encyclopedists are forced to confess that if most of the accounts of transmutation are fraud or delusion, “yet some of them are accompanied by testimony which renders them probable. By means of the galvanic battery even the alkalis have been discovered to have a metallic basis. The possibility of obtaining metal from other substances which contain the ingredients composing it, of changing one metal into another . . . must therefore be left undecided. Nor are all Alchemists to be considered impostors. Many have laboured under the conviction of obtaining their object, with indefatigable patience and purity of heart, which is soundly recommended by Alchemists as the principal requisite for the success of their labours.” (Pop. Encyclop.)
Philosophers (or School). This famous school arose in
Ammonius Saccas. A great and good philosopher who lived in Alexandria between the 2nd and 3rd centuries of our Era, the founder of the Neo-Platonic School of the Philalethians or “lovers of truth.” He was of poor birth and born of Christian parents, but endowed with such prominent, almost divine goodness as to be called Theodidaktos, the “God-taught.” He honoured that which was good in Christianity, but broke with it and the Churches at an early age, being unable to find in Christianity any superiority over the old religions. Analogeticists. The disciples of Ammonius Saccas (vide supra) so called because of their practice of interpreting all sacred legends, myths, and mysteries by a principle of analogy and correspondence, which rule is now found in the Kabalistic system, and pre-eminently so in the schools of Esoteric philosophy in the East. (Vide “The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac,” by T. Subba Row in “Five years of Theosophy.”)
Ananda (Sans.) Bliss, joy, felicity, happiness. A name of a favourite disciple of Gautama, the Lord Buddha.
Anaxagoras. A famous Ionian philosopher, who lived 500 B. C., studied philosophy under
Miletus, and settled in the days of Pericles, at
Archelaus, and other distinguished men and philosophers were among his disciples and pupils. He was a most learned astronomer, and was one of the first to explain openly that which was taught by Pythagoras secretly -- viz., the movements of the planets, the eclipses of the sun and moon, etc. It was he who taught the theory of chaos, on the principle that “nothing comes from nothing,” ex nihilo nihil fit—and of atoms, as the underlying essence and substance of all bodies, “of the same nature as the bodies which they formed.” These atoms, he taught, were primarily put in motion by nous (universal intelligence, the Mahat of the Hindus), which nous is an immaterial, eternal, spiritual entity; by this combination the world was formed, the material gross bodies sinking down, and the ethereal atoms (or fiery ether) rising and spreading in the upper celestial regions. Ante-dating modern science by over 2,000 years, he taught that the stars were of the same material as our earth, and the sun a glowing mass; that the moon was a dark uninhabitable body, receiving its light from the sun; and beyond the aforesaid science he confessed himself thoroughly convinced that the real existence of things, perceived by our senses, could not be demonstrably proved. He died in exile at Lampsacus, at the age of seventy-two.
Anima Mundi (Lat.) The “Soul of the World,” the same as Alaya of the Northern Buddhists; the divine Essence which pervades, permeates, animates, and informs all things, from the smallest atom of matter to man and god. It is in a sense “the seven-skinned Mother” of the stanzas in the Secret Doctrine; the essence of seven planes of sentiency, consciousness, and differentiation, both moral and physical. In its highest aspect it is Nirvana; in its lowest, the Astral Light. It was feminine with the Gnostics, the early Christians, and the Nazarenes; bisexual with other sects, who considered it only in its four lower planes, of igneous and ethereal nature in the objective world of forms, and divine and spiritual in its three higher planes. When it is said that every human soul was born by detaching itself from the Anima Mundi, it is meant, esoterically, that our higher Egos are of an essence identical with It, and Mahat is a radiation of the ever unknown Universal ABSOLUTE.
Anoia (Gr.) is
“want of understanding folly”; and is the name applied by Plato and others to
the lower Manas when too closely allied with
Anthropomorphism. From the Greek Anthropos, man. The act of endowing God or the gods with a human form and human attributes or qualities. Anugita (Sans.) One of the Upanishads. A very occult treatise. (Vide Clarendon Press series “The Sacred Books of the East.”)
Tyana. A wonderful philosopher born in
also pronounced and written Arahat, Arhan, Rahat, etc., “the worthy one”; a
perfected Arya, one exempt from reincarnation; “deserving Divine honours.” This
was the name first given to the Jain, and subsequently to the Buddhist holy men
initiated into the esoteric mysteries. The Arhat is one who has entered the
last and highest path, and is thus emancipated from rebirth. Arians. The followers of Arius, a presbyter
of the Church in
Aristobulus. An Alexandrian writer, and an obscure philosopher. A Jew who tried to prove that Aristotle explained the esoteric thoughts of Moses. Aryan (Sans.) Lit., “the holy”; those who had mastered the Aryasatyani and entered the Aryamarga path to Nirvana or Moksha, the great “fourfold” path. They were originally known as Rishis. But now the name has become the epithet of a race, and our Orientalists, depriving the Hindu Brahmans of their birthright, have made Aryans of all Europeans. Since, in esotericism the four paths or stages can only be entered through great spiritual development and “growth in holiness,” they are called the Aryamarga. The degrees of Arhatship, called respectively Srotapatti, Sakridagamin, Anagamin, and Arhat, or the four classes of Aryas, correspond to the four paths and truths. Aspect. The form (rupa) under which any principle in septenary man or nature manifests is called an aspect of that principle in Theosophy. Astral Body. The ethereal counterpart or double of any physical body—Doppelganger.
Astrology. The science which defines the action of celestial bodies upon mundane affairs, and claims to foretell future events from the positions of the stars. Its antiquity is such as to place it among the very earliest records of human learning. It remained for long ages a secret science in the East, and its final expression remains so to this day, its esoteric application only having been brought to any degree of perfection in the West during the lapse of time since Varaha Mihira wrote his book on Astrology, some 1400 years ago. Claudius Ptolemy, the famous geographer and mathematician who founded the system of Astronomy known under his name, wrote his Tetrabiblos, which is still the basis of modern Astrology, 135 A. D. The science of Horoscopy is studied now chiefly under four heads, viz.: (1). Mundane, in its application to meteorology, seismology, husbandry. (2). State or Civic, in regard to the future of nations, Kings, and rulers. (3). Horary, in reference to the solving of doubts arising in the mind upon any subject. (4). Genethliacal, in connection with the future of individuals from birth unto death. The Egyptians and the Chaldees were among the most ancient votaries of Astrology, though their modes of reading the stars and the modern methods differ considerably. The former claimed that Belus, the Bel or Elu of the Chaldees, a scion of the Divine Dynasty, or the dynasty of the King-gods, had belonged to the land of Chemi, and had left it to found a colony from Egypt on the banks of the Euphrates, where a temple, ministered by priests in the service of the “lords of the stars,” was built. As to the origin of the science, it is known on the one hand that Thebes claimed the honour of the invention of Astrology; whereas, on the other hand, all are agreed that it was the Chaldees who taught that science to the other nations. Now Thebes antedated considerably, not only “Ur of the Chaldees,” but also Nipur, where Bel was first worshipped—Sin, his son (the moon), being the presiding deity of Ur, the land of the nativity of Terah, the Sabean and Astrolater, and of Abram, his son, the great Astrologer of Biblical tradition. All tends, therefore, to corroborate the Egyptian claim. If later on the name of Astrologer fell into disrepute in Rome and elsewhere, it was owing to the frauds of those who wanted to make money of that which was part and parcel of the Sacred Science of the Mysteries, and who, ignorant of the latter, evolved a system based entirely on mathematics, instead of transcendental metaphysics with the physical celestial bodies as its upadhi or material basis. Yet, all persecutions notwithstanding, the number of adherents to Astrology among the most intellectual and scientific minds was always very great. If Cardan and Kepler were among its ardent supporters, then later votaries have nothing to blush for, even in its now imperfect and distorted form. As said in Isis Unveiled (I., 259), “Astrology is to exact astronomy, what psychology is to exact physiology. In astrology and psychology one has to step beyond the visible world of matter and enter into the domain of transcendent spirit.”
Athenagoras. A Platonic Philosopher of Athens, who wrote an apology for the Christians in 177 A. D., addressed to Marcus Aurelius, to prove that the accusations brought against them, viz., that they were incestuous and ate murdered children, were untrue.
Atman, or Atma (Sans.) The Universal Spirit, the divine monad, “the seventh Principle,” so called, in the exoteric “septenary” classification of man. The Supreme Soul.
Aura (Gr. and Lat.) A subtile invisible essence or fluid that emanates from human, animal, and other bodies. It is a psychic effluvium partaking of both the mind and the body, as there is both an electro-vital and at the same time an electro-mental aura; called in Theosophy the Akasic or magnetic aura. In R. C. Martyrology, a Saint.
Divine incarnation. The descent of a god or some exalted Being who has
progressed beyond the necessity for rebirth, into the body of a simple mortal.
Beness. A term coined by Theosophists to render more accurately the essential meaning of the untranslatable word Sat. The latter word does not mean “Being,” for the term “Being” presupposes a sentient consciousness of existence. But as the term Sat is applied solely to the absolute principle, that universal, unknown, and ever unknowable principle which philosophical Pantheism postulates, calling it the basic root of Kosmos and Kosmos itself, it could not be translated by the simple term “Being.” Sat, indeed, is not even, as translated by some Orientalists, “the incomprehensible Entity”; for it is no more an “Entity” than a non-entity, but both. It is as said absolute BENESS, not “Being”; the one, secondless, undivided and indivisible ALL—the root of nature both visible and invisible, objective and subjective, comprehensible and -- never to be fully comprehended.
(Sans.) Lit., “the Lord’s Song,” a portion of the Mahabharata, the great epic
Boehme (Jacob). A mystic and great philosopher, one of the most prominent Theosophists of the mediaeval ages. He was born about 1575 at Old Diedenberg, some two miles from Gorlitz (Silesia), and died in 1624, being nearly fifty years old. When a boy he was a common shepherd, and, after learning to read and write in a village school, became an apprentice to a poor shoemaker at Gorlitz. He was a natural clairvoyant of the most wonderful power. With no education or acquaintance with science he wrote works which are now proved to be full of scientific truths; but these, as he himself says of what he wrote, he “saw as in a Great Deep in the Eternal.” He had “a thorough view of the universe, as in chaos,” which yet opened itself in him, from time to time, “as in a young planet,” he says. He was a thorough born mystic, and evidently of a constitution which is most rare; one of those fine natures whose material envelope impedes in no way the direct, even if only occasional, intercommunication between the intellectual and spiritual Ego. It is this Ego which Jacob Boehme, as so many other untrained mystics, mistook for God. “Man must acknowledge,” he writes, “that his knowledge is not his own, but from God, who manifests the Ideas of Wisdom to the Soul of Man in what measure he pleases.” Had this great Theosophist been born 300 years later he might have expressed it otherwise. He would have known that the “God” who spoke through his poor uncultured and untrained brain was his own Divine Ego, the omniscient Deity within himself, and that what that Deity gave out was not “what measure he pleased,” but in the measure of the capacities of the mortal and temporary dwelling IT informed. Book of the Keys. An ancient Kabalistic work. The original is no longer extant, though there may be spurious and disfigured copies and forgeries of it. Brahm (Sans.) The student must distinguish between the neuter Brahma, and the male Creator of the Indian Pantheon, Brahma. The former Brahma or Brahman is the impersonal, Supreme, and uncognizable Soul of the Universe, from the essence of which all emanates, and into which all returns; which is incorporeal, immaterial, unborn, eternal, beginningless and endless. It is all-pervading, animating the highest god as well as the smallest mineral atom. Brahma, on the other hand, the male and the alleged Creator, exists in his manifestation periodically only, and passes into pralaya, i. e., disappears and is annihilated as periodically. (Vide infra.)
Brahma’s Day. A period of 2,160,000,000 years, during which Brahma, having emerged out of his Golden Egg (Hiranya Garbha), creates and fashions the material world (for he is simply the fertilizing and creative force in Nature). After this period the worlds being destroyed in turn by fire and water, he vanishes with objective nature; and then comes Brahma’s Night. A period of equal duration, in which Brahma is said to be asleep. Upon awakening he recommences the process, and this goes on for an AGE of Brahma composed of alternate “Days” and “Nights,” and lasting for 100 years of 2,160,000,000 each. It requires fifteen figures to express the duration of such an age, after the expiration of which the Mahapralaya or Great Dissolution sets in, and lasts in its turn for the same space of fifteen figures. Brahm-Vidya (Sans.) The knowledge or Esoteric Science about the true nature of the two Brahmas.
“The enlightened.” Generally known as the title of Gautama Buddha, the Prince
of Kapilavastu, the founder of modern Buddhism. The highest degree of knowledge
and holiness. To become a Buddha one has to break through the bondage of sense
and personality; to acquire a complete perception of the real Self, and learn
not to separate it from all the other Selves; to learn by experience the utter
unreality of all phenomena, foremost of all the visible Kosmos; to attain a
complete detachment from all that is evanescent and finite, and to live while
yet on earth only in the immortal and everlasting. Buddhi (Sans.) Universal Soul or Mind.
Mahabuddhi is a name of Mahat (q. v.); also the Spiritual Soul in man (the
sixth principle exoterically), the vehicle of Atma, the seventh, according to
the exoteric enumeration. Buddhism is
the religious philosophy taught by Gautama Buddha. It is now split into two
distinct churches: the Southern and Northern. The former is said to be the
purer, as having preserved more religiously the original teachings of the Lord
Buddha. The Northern Buddhism is confined to
Buddhi-Taijasi (Sans.) A very mystic term, capable of several interpretations. In Occultism, however, and in relation to the human “Principles” (exoterically), it is a term to express the state of our dual Manas, when, reunited during a man’s life, it bathes in the radiance of Buddhi, the Spiritual Soul. For “Taijasi” means the radiant, and Manas, becoming radiant in consequence of its union with Buddhi, and being, so to speak, merged into it, is identified with the latter; the trinity has become one; and, as the element of Buddhi is the highest, it becomes Buddhi-Taijasi. In short, it is the human soul illuminated by the radiance of the divine soul, the human reason lit by the light of the Spirit or Divine SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS.
Caste. Originally the system of the four hereditary classes into which Indian population was divided: Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Shoodra -- (a) descendants of Brahma; (b) warrior; (c) mercantile, and (d) the lowest or agricultural Shoodra class. From these four, hundreds of divisions and minor castes have sprung.
Causal Body. This “body,” which is in reality no body at all, either objective or subjective, but Buddhi the Spiritual Soul, is so-called because it is the direct cause of the Sushupti state leading to the Turya state, the highest state of Samadhi. It is called Karanopadhi, “the basis of the cause,” by the “Taraka Raj” Yogis, and in the Vedanta System corresponds to both the Vignanamaya and Anandamaya Kosha (the latter coming next to Atma, and therefore being the vehicle of the Universal Spirit). Buddhi alone could not be called a “Causal body,” but becomes one in conjunction with Manas, the incarnating Entity or EGO.
Chela (Sans.) A disciple. The pupil of a Guru or Sage, the follower of some Adept, or a school of philosophy.
The early gnostic term for Christ. This technical term was used in the fifth
century B. C. by AEschylus, Herodotus and others. The Manteumata pythocresta,
or the “Oracles delivered by a Pythian God” through a pythoness, are mentioned
by the former (Cho. 901), and Pythocrestos is derived from chrao. Chresterion is not only “the test of an
oracle,” but an offering to, or for, the oracle. Chrestes is one who explains
oracles, a “prophet and soothsayer,” and Chresterios, one who serves an oracle
or a God. The earliest Christian writer, Justin Martyr, in his first Apology,
calls his co-religionists Chrestians. “It is only through ignorance that men
call themselves Christians, instead of Chrestians,” says Lactantius (lib. IV.,
cap. VII.). The terms Christ and Christians, spelt originally Chrest and
Chrestians, were borrowed from the
Christian Scientist. A newly-coined term for denoting the practitioners of a healing art by will. The name is a misnomer, since Buddhist or Jew, Hindu or Materialist can practise this new form of Western Yoga with like success if he can only guide and control his will with sufficient firmness. “Mental Scientists” is another rival school. These work by a universal denial of every disease and evil imaginable, and claim, syllogistically, that since Universal Spirit cannot be subject to the ailings of flesh, and since every atom is Spirit and in Spirit, and since, finally, they—the healers and the healed—are all absorbed in this Spirit or Deity, there is not, nor can there be, such a thing as disease. This prevents in nowise both Christian and Mental Scientists from succumbing to disease and nursing chronic diseases for years in their own bodies just like other ordinary mortals.
Clairaudience. The faculty—whether innate or acquired by occult training—to hear things at whatever distance.
Clairvoyance. A faculty of seeing with the inner eye or spiritual sight. As now used, it is a loose and flippant term, embracing under its meaning both a happy guess due to natural shrewdness or intuition, and also that faculty which was so remarkably exercised by Jacob Boehme and Swedenborg. Yet even these two great seers, since they could never rise superior to the general spirit of the Jewish Bible and Sectarian teachings, have sadly confused what they saw, and fallen far short of true clairvoyance.
A Church Father and voluminous writer, who had been a Neo-Platonist and a
disciple of Ammonius Saccas. He was one of the few Christian philosophers
between the second and third centuries of our era, at
Deist. One who admits the possibility of the existence of a God or gods, but claims to know nothing of either, and denies revelation. An agnostic of olden times.
Deva (Sans.) A god, a “resplendent” Deity, Deva-Deus, from the root div, “to shine.” A Deva is a celestial being—whether good, bad or indifferent—which inhabits “the three worlds,” or the three planes above us. There are 33 groups or millions of them.
Devachan (Sans.) The “Dwelling of the Gods.” A state intermediate between two earth-lives, and into which the Ego (Atma-Buddhi-Manas, or the Trinity made one) enters after its separation from Kama Rupa, and the disintegration of the lower principles, after the death of the body, on Earth. Dhammapada (Sans.) A work containing various aphorisms from the Buddhist Scriptures.
Dhyana (Sans.) One of the six Paramitas of perfection. A state of abstraction which carries the ascetic practising it far above the region of sensuous perception, and out of the world of matter. Lit., “contemplation.” The six stages of Dhyan differ only in the degrees of abstraction of the personal Ego from sensuous life.
Dhyan Chohans (Sans.) Lit., “The Lords of Light.” The highest gods, answering to the Roman Catholic Archangels. The divine Intelligences charged with the supervision of Kosmos.
Double. The same as the Astral body or “Doppelganger.”
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