Copyright © 1996 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.
B | C
Bhakti-Yoga — Bhuta(s) — Bija — Black Magicians (see Brothers of the Shadow) — Bodhi — Bodhisattva — Brahma — Brahman — Brahmana — Brotherhood (see Universal Brotherhood) — Brother(s) of the Shadow — Buddha — Buddha(s) of Compassion — Buddhi — Buddhism
Cakra (see Chakra) — Causal Body — Cela (see Chela) — Chain (see Planetary Chain) — Chakra — Chaos — Chela — Chhaya — Chit (see Sat) — Christos — Circulations of the Kosmos — Clairaudience — Clairvoyance — Consciousness — Cosmos — Cycles
A | D-E-F | G-H-I | J-K-L | M | N-O-P | Q-R | S | T-U-V-W-Y-Z
(Sanskrit) A word derived from the verbal root bhaj. In connection with yoga and as being one of the recognized forms of it, the general signification of bhakti yoga is devotion, affectionate attachment. (See also Yoga)
(Sanskrit) The past participle of the verb-root bhu, meaning "to be," or "to become"; hence bhutas literally means "has beens" — entities that have lived and passed on. The bhutas are "shells" from which all that is spiritual and intellectual has fled: all that was the real entity has fled from this shell, and naught is left but a decaying astral corpse. The bhutas are the spooks, ghosts, simulacra, reliquiae, of dead men; in other words, the astral dregs and remnants of human beings. They are the "shades" of the ancients, the pale and ghostly phantoms living in the astral world, or the astral copies of the men that were; and the distinction between the bhuta and the kama-rupa is very slight.
Bereft of all that pertains to the real entity, the genuine man, the bhuta is as much a corpse in the astral realms as is the decaying physical body left behind at physical death; and consequently, astral or psychical intercourse of any kind with these shells is productive only of evil. The bhutas, although belonging in the astral world, are magnetically attracted to physical localities similar in type to the remnants of impulses still inhering in them. The bhuta of a drunkard is attracted to wine cellars and taverns; the bhuta of one who has lived a lewd life is attracted to localities sympathetic to it; the thin and tenuous bhuta of a good man is similarly attracted to less obnoxious and evil places. All over the ancient world and throughout most of even the modern world these eidola or "images" of dead men have been feared and dreaded, and relations of any kind with them have been consistently and universally avoided. (See also Eidolon)
(Sanskrit) This word signifies "seed" or "life-germ," whether of animals or of plants. But esoterically its signification is far wider and incomparably more abstruse, and therefore difficult to understand without proper study. The term is used in esotericism to designate the original or causal source and vahana or "vehicle" of the mystic impulse or urge of life, or of lives, to express itself or themselves when the time for such self-expression arrives after a pralaya, or after an obscuration, or again, indeed, during manvantara. Whether it be a kosmos or universe, or the reappearance of god, deva, man, animal, plant, mineral, or elemental, the seed or life-germ from and out of which any one of these arises is technically called bija, and the reference here is almost as much to the life-germ or vehicle itself as it is to the self-urge for manifestation working through the seed or life-germ. Mystically and psychologically, the appearance of an avatara, for instance, is due to an impulse arising in Maha-Siva, or in Maha-Vishnu (according to circumstances), to manifest a portion of the divine essence, in either case, when the appropriate world period arrives for the appearance of an avatara. Or again, when from the chela is born the initiate during the dread trials of initiation, the newly-arisen Master is said to have been born from the mystic bija or seed within his own being. The doctrine connected with this word bija in its occult and esoteric aspects is far too profound to receive more than a cursory and superficial treatment.
(Sanskrit) This word comes from the root budh, meaning "to awaken." It is the state when man has so emptied his mind that it is filled only with the self itself, with the selfless selfhood of the eternal. Then he realizes the ineffable visions of reality, of pure truth. The man who reaches this state is called a buddha, and the organ in and by which it is manifested, is termed buddhi.
(Sanskrit) A compound word: literally "he whose essence (sattva) has become intelligence (bodhi)." As explained exoterically, a bodhisattva means one who in another incarnation or in a few more incarnations will become a buddha. A bodhisattva from the standpoint of the occult teachings is more than that. When a man, a human being, has reached the state where his ego becomes conscious, fully so, of its inner divinity, becomes clothed with the buddhic ray — where, so to say, the personal man has put on the garments of inner immortality in actuality, on this earth, here and now — that man is a bodhisattva. His higher principles have nearly reached nirvana. When they do so finally, such a man is a buddha, a human buddha, a manushya-buddha. Obviously, if such a bodhisattva were to reincarnate, in the next incarnation or in a very few future incarnations thereafter, he would be a manushya-buddha. A buddha, in the esoteric teaching, is one whose higher principles can learn nothing more. They have reached nirvana and remain there; but the spiritually awakened personal man, the bodhisattva, the person made semi-divine to use popular language, instead of choosing his reward in the nirvana of a less degree, remains on earth out of pity and compassion for inferior beings, and becomes what is called a nirmanakaya. In a very mystical part of the esoteric philosophy, a bodhisattva is the representative on earth of a dhyani-buddha or celestial buddha — in other words, one who has become an incarnation or expression of his own divine monad.
(Sanskrit) A word of which the root, brih, means "expansion." It stands for the spiritual energy-consciousness side of our solar universe, i.e., our solar system, and the Egg of Brahma is that solar system.
A Day of Brahma or a maha-manvantara is composed of seven rounds, a period of 4,320,000,000 terrestrial years; this period is also called a kalpa. A Night of Brahma, the planetary rest period, which is also called the paranirvanic period, is of equal length.
Seven Days of Brahma make one solar kalpa; or, in other words, seven planetary cycles, each cycle consisting of seven rounds (or seven planetary manvantaras), form one solar manvantara.
One Year of Brahma consists of 360 Divine Days, each day being the duration of a planet's life, i.e., of a planetary chain of seven globes. The Life of Brahma (or the life of the universal system) consists of one hundred Divine Years, i.e., 4,320,000,000 years times 36,000 x 2.
The Life of Brahma is half ended: that is, fifty of his years are gone — a period of 155,520,000,000,000 of our years have passed away since our solar system, with its sun, first began its manvantaric course. There remain, therefore, fifty more such Years of Brahma before the system sinks into rest or pralaya. As only half of the evolutionary journey is accomplished, we are, therefore, at the bottom of the kosmic cycle, i.e., on the lowest plane.
(Sanskrit) A word of which the root, brih, means "expansion." It is that part of the celestial being which first initiates manifestation through the various Brahmas, the expansion of the one into the many. It is what is called the unmanifest Logos. It may also be called the impersonal and uncognizable principle of the universe, and must be sharply distinguished from the masculine Brahma of which there are many in a universe.
Note: In early theosophical literature, as well as in translations of the Hindu writings, Brahman is sometimes spelled Brahma or even Brahm; but this should not be confused with Brahma. (See also Parabrahman, Brahma)
(Sanskrit) A word having several meanings in Hindu sacred literature. Brahmana is both noun and adjective, as noun signifying a member of the first of the four Vedic classes, and as adjective signifying what belongs to a Brahmana or what is Brahmanical. Secondly, it signifies one of the portions of the Vedic literature, containing rules for the proper usage of the mantras or hymns at sacrifices, explanations in detail of what these sacrifices are, illustrated by legends and old stories.
Another adjective with closely similar meaning is Brahma. An old-fashioned English way of spelling Brahmana is Brahmin.
A term given in occultism and especially in modern esotericism to individuals, whether men or women, who follow the path of the shadows, the left-hand path. The term "shadow" is a technical expression and signifies more than appears on the surface: i.e., the expression is not to be understood of individuals who live in actual physical obscurity or actual physical shadows, which literalism would be simply absurd; but applies to those who follow the path of matter, which from time immemorial in the esoteric schools in both Orient and Occident has frequently been called shadow or shadows. The term originally arose, without doubt, in the philosophical conception of the word maya, for in early Oriental esotericism maya, and more especially maha-maya, was a term applied in one of its many philosophical meanings to that which was contrary to and, indeed, in one sense a reflection of, light. Just as spirit may be considered to be pure energy, and matter, although essentially crystallized spirit, may be looked upon as the shadow world or vehicular world in which the energy or spirit or pure light works, just so is maya, as the garment or expression or sakti of the divine energy, the vehicle or shadow of the divine side of nature, in other words its negative or nether pole, as light is the upper or positive pole.
The Brothers of the Shadow are therefore those who, being essentially of the nature of matter, instinctively choose and follow the path along which they are most strongly drawn, that is, the path of matter or of the shadows. When it is recollected that matter is but a generalizing term, and that what this term comprises actually includes an almost infinite number of degrees of increasing ethereality from the grossest physical substance, or absolute matter, up to the most ethereal or spiritualized substance, we immediately see the subtle logic of this technical term — shadows or, more fully, the Path of the Shadows, hence the Brothers of the Shadow.
They are the so-called black magicians of the Occident, and stand in sharp and notable contrast with the white magicians or the Sons of Light who follow the pathway of self-renunciation, self-sacrifice, self-conquest, perfect self-control, and an expansion of the heart and mind and consciousness in love and service for all that lives. (See also Right-hand Path)
The existence and aims of the Brothers of the Shadow are essentially selfish. It is commonly, but erroneously, supposed that the Brothers of the Shadow are men and women always of unpleasant or displeasing personal appearance, and no greater error than this could possibly be made. Multitudes of human beings are unconsciously treading the path of the shadows and, in comparison with these multitudes, it is relatively only a few who self-consciously lead and guide with subtle and nefast intelligence this army of unsuspecting victims of maya. The Brothers of the Shadow are often highly intellectual men and women, frequently individuals with apparent great personal charm, and to the ordinary observer, judging from their conversation and daily works, are fully as well able to "quote scripture" as are the Angels of Light!
(Sanskrit) The past participle of the root budh, meaning "to perceive," "to become cognizant of," also "to awaken," and "to recover consciousness." It signifies one who is spiritually awakened, no longer living "the living death" of ordinary men, but awakened to the spiritual influence from within or from "above." When man has awakened from the living death in which ordinary mortals live, when he has cast off the toils of both mind and flesh and, to use the old Christian term, has put on the garments of eternity, then he has awakened, he is a buddha. He has become one with — not "absorbed" as is constantly translated but has become one with — the Self of selves, with the paramatman, the Supreme Self. (See also Bodhi, Buddhi)
A buddha in the esoteric teaching is one whose higher principles can learn nothing more in this manvantara; they have reached nirvana and remain there. This does not mean, however, that the lower centers of consciousness of a buddha are in nirvana, for the contrary is true; and it is this fact that enables a Buddha of Compassion to remain in the lower realms of being as mankind's supreme guide and instructor, living usually as a nirmanakaya.
One who, having won all, gained all — gained the right to kosmic peace and bliss — renounces it so that he may return as a Son of Light in order to help humanity, and indeed all that is.
The Buddhas of Compassion are the noblest flowers of the human race. They are men who have raised themselves from humanity into quasi-divinity; and this is done by letting the light imprisoned within, the light of the inner god, pour forth and manifest itself through the humanity of the man, through the human soul of the man. Through sacrifice and abandoning of all that is mean and wrong, ignoble and paltry and selfish; through opening up the inner nature so that the god within may shine forth; in other words, through self-directed evolution, they have raised themselves from mere manhood into becoming god-men, man-gods — human divinities.
They are called Buddhas of Compassion because they feel their unity with all that is, and therefore feel intimate magnetic sympathy with all that is, and this is more and more the case as they evolve, until finally their consciousness blends with that of the universe and lives eternally and immortally, because it is at one with the universe. "The dewdrop slips into the shining sea" — its origin.
Feeling the urge of almighty love in their hearts, the Buddhas of Compassion advance forever steadily towards still greater heights of spiritual achievement; and the reason is that they have become the vehicles of universal love and universal wisdom. As impersonal love is universal, their whole nature expands consequently with the universal powers that are working through them. The Buddhas of Compassion, existing in their various degrees of evolution, form a sublime hierarchy extending from the Silent Watcher on our planet downwards through these various degrees unto themselves, and even beyond themselves to their chelas or disciples. Spiritually and mystically they contrast strongly with what Asiatic occultism, through the medium of Buddhism, has called the Pratyeka Buddhas.
(Sanskrit) Buddhi comes from a Sanskrit root budh, commonly translated "to enlighten," but a better translation is "to perceive," "to cognize," "to recover consciousness," hence "to awaken," and therefore "to understand." The second counting downwards, or the sixth counting upwards, of the seven principles of man. Buddhi is the principle or organ in man which gives to him spiritual consciousness, and is the vehicle of the most high part of man — the atman — the faculty which manifests as understanding, judgment, discrimination, an inseparable veil or garment of the atman.
From another point of view, buddhi may truly be said to be both the seed and the fruit of manas.
Man's ordinary consciousness in life in his present stage of evolution is almost wholly in the lower or intermediate duad (manas-kama) of his constitution; when he raises his consciousness through personal effort to become permanently one with the higher duad (atma-buddhi), he becomes a mahatma, a master. At the death of the human being, this higher duad carries away with it all the spiritual essence, all the spiritual and intellectual aroma, of the lower or intermediate duad. Maha-buddhi is one of the names given to the kosmic principle mahat. (See also Alaya)
The teachings of Gautama the Buddha. Buddhism today is divided into two branches, the Northern and the Southern. The Southern still retains the teachings of the "Buddha's brain," the "eye doctrine," that is to say his outer philosophy for the general world, sometimes inadequately called the doctrine of forms and ceremonies. The Northern still retains his "heart doctrine" — that which is hid, the inner life, the heart-blood, of the religion: the doctrine of the inner heart of the teaching.
The religious philosophy of the Buddha-Sakyamuni is incomparably nearer to the ancient wisdom, the esoteric philosophy of the archaic ages, than is Christianity. Its main fault today is that teachers later than the Buddha himself carried its doctrines too far along merely formal or exoteric lines; yet, with all that, to this day it remains the purest and holiest of the exoteric religions on earth, and its teachings even exoterically are true — once they are properly understood. They need but the esoteric key in interpretation of them. As a matter of fact, the same may be said of all the great ancient world religions. Christianity, Brahmanism, Taoism, and others all have the same esoteric wisdom behind the outward veil of the exoteric formal faith.
For a proper explanation of the doctrine connected with this term the student is referred to karana-sarira and karanopadhi as defined in this volume. Technically speaking, causal body is a misnomer, for, in fact, the element of man's constitution here referred to and, mutatis mutandis, when reference is made to beings above and below man, is no body at all, properly speaking, but rather what one might call a soul, although strenuous objection could very logically be taken to the use of this word soul because of the many and often contradictory meanings that common usage has given to it.
Furthermore, the expression "causal body" refers to two different things. The meaning, therefore, is dual — a statement which will be explained under karanopadhi. It may be stated here, however, that the two meanings have reference, the first to a lower part of man's septenary constitution, and the second to a higher part, both parts acting as causes, or instrumental causes, in producing reappearances, or new manifestations, of a reimbodying monad or entity.
(Cakra, Sanskrit) A word signifying in general a "wheel," and from this simple original meaning there were often taken for occult and esoteric purposes a great many subordinate, very interesting, and in some cases highly mystical and profound derivatives. Chakra also means a cycle, a period of duration, in which the wheel of time turns once. It also means the horizon, as being circular or of a wheel-form. It likewise means certain centers or pranic spherical loci of the body in which are supposed to collect streams of pranic energy of differing qualities, or pranic energies of different kinds. These physiological chakras, which are actually connected with the pranic circulations and ganglia of the auric egg, and therefore function in the physical body through the intermediary of the linga-sarira or astral model-body, are located in different parts of the physical frame, reaching from the parts about the top of the skull to the parts about the pubis. It would be highly improper, having at heart the best interests of humanity, to give the occult or esoteric teaching concerning the exact location, functions, and means of controlling the physiological chakras of the human body; for it is a foregone conclusion that were this mystical knowledge broadcast, it would be sadly misused, leading not only in many cases to death or insanity, but to the violation of every moral instinct. Alone the high initiates, who as a matter of fact have risen above the need of employing the physiological chakras, can use them at will, and for holy purposes — which in fact is something that they rarely, if indeed they ever do.
(Greek) A word usually thought to mean a sort of helter-skelter treasury of original principles and seeds of beings. Well, so it verily is, in one profound sense; but it is most decidedly and emphatically not helter-skelter. It is properly the kosmic storehouse of all the latent or resting seeds of beings and things from former manvantaras. Of course it is this, simply because it contains everything. It means space, not the highest mystical or actual space, not the parabrahma-mulaprakriti, the Boundless — not that. But the space of any particular hierarchy descending into manifestation, what space for it is at that particular period of its beginning of development. The directive principles in chaos are the gods when they awaken from their pralayic sleep. Chaos in one sense may very truly be called the condition of the space of a solar system or even of a planetary chain during its pralaya. When awakening to planetary action begins, chaos pari passu ceases.
(Cela) An old Indian term. In archaic times more frequently spelled and pronounced cheta or cheda. The meaning is "servant," a personal disciple attached to the service of a teacher from whom he receives instruction. The idea is closely similar to the Anglo-Saxon term leorning-cneht, meaning "learning servant," a name given in Anglo-Saxon translations of the Christian New Testament to the disciples of Jesus, his "chelas." It is, therefore, a word used in old mystical scriptures for a disciple, a pupil, a learner or hearer. The relationship of teacher and disciple is infinitely more sacred even than that of parent and child; because, while the parents give the body to the incoming soul, the teacher brings forth that soul itself and teaches it to be and therefore to see, teaches it to know and to become what it is in its inmost being — that is, a divine thing.
The chela life or chela path is a beautiful one, full of joy to its very end, but also it calls forth and needs everything noble and high in the learner or disciple; for the powers or faculties of the higher self must be brought into activity in order to attain and to hold those summits of intellectual and spiritual grandeur where the Masters themselves live. For that, masterhood, is the end of discipleship — not, however, that this ideal should be set before us merely as an end to attain to as something of benefit for one's own self, because that very thought is a selfish one and therefore a stumbling in the path. It is for the individual's benefit, of course; yet the true idea is that everything and every faculty that is in the soul shall be brought out in the service of all humanity, for this is the royal road, the great royal thoroughfare, of self-conquest. The more mystical meanings attached to this term chela can be given only to those who have irrevocably pledged themselves to the esoteric life.
(Chaya, Sanskrit) Literally a "shade," "simulacrum," or "copy." In the esoteric philosophy, the word signifies the astral image of a person, and with this idea are bound up some of the most intricate and recondite teachings of human evolution. The Secret Doctrine of H. P. Blavatsky contains many invaluable hints as to the part played by the chhayas of the pitris in human development.
It is a word also which is applied with similar meaning to kosmical matters, for the esoteric student should never forget the ancient maxim of Hermes: "What is above is the same as what is below; what is below is the same as what is above."
Briefly, then, and so far as human evolution is concerned, the chhaya may be called the astral body or image.
(Greek) Christos or "Christ" is a word literally signifying one who has been "anointed." This is a direct reference, a direct allusion, to what happened during the celebration of the ancient Mysteries. Unction or anointing was one of the acts performed during the working of the rites of those ancient Mysteries in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The Hebrew word for an anointed one is mashiahh — "messiah" is a common way of misspelling the Hebrew word — meaning exactly the same thing as the Greek word Christos.
Each human being is an incarnation, an imbodiment, of a ray of his own inner god — the divinity living in the core of the core of each one. The modern Christians of a mystical bent of mind call it the Christ Immanent, the immanent Christos, and they are right as far as they go, but they do not carry the thought far enough. Mystically speaking, the Christos is the deathless individuality; and when the striving personal ego becomes united permanently with this stainless individuality, the resultant union is the higher ego, "the living Christ" — a Christ among men, or as the Buddhists would say, a human or manushya-buddha.
Also Circulations of the Universe. This is a term used in the ancient wisdom or esoteric philosophy to signify the network, marvelously intricate and builded of the channels or canals or paths or roads followed by peregrinating or migrating entities as these latter pass from sphere to sphere or from realm to realm or from plane to plane. The pilgrim monads, however far advanced or however little advanced in their evolution, inevitably and ineluctably follow these circulations. They can do nothing else, for they are simply the spiritual, psychomagnetic, astral, and physical pathways along which the forces of the universe flow; and consequently, all entities whatsoever being indeed imbodiments of forces must of necessity follow the same routes or pathways that the abstract forces themselves use.
These circulations of the kosmos are a veritable network between planet and planet, and planet and sun, and between sun and sun, and between sun and universe, and between universe and universe. Furthermore, the circulations of the kosmos are not restricted to the material or astral spheres, but are of the very fabric and structure of the entire universal kosmos, inner as well as outer. It is one of the most mystical and suggestive doctrines of theosophy.
In its largest sense the word means simply "clear-hearing." True clairaudience is a spiritual faculty, the faculty of the inner spiritual ear, of which the psychical clairaudience is but a distorted and therefore deceptive reflection; neither is it hearing with the physical ear, so imperfect and undeveloped a sensory organ as the latter is. The power to hear with the inner ear enables you to hear anything you will, and at whatever distance, whether on Mars, or on the Sun, or on the Moon, or on Jupiter, or perhaps even on some distant star, or easily anywhere on Earth. Having this spiritual clairaudience, you can hear the grass grow, and that hearing will be to you like a symphonic musical poem. You can hear the celestial orbs singing their songs as they advance along their orbits through space, because everything that is, is in movement, producing sound, simple or composite as the case may be. Thus in very truth every tiny atom sings its own note, and every composite entity, therefore, is an imbodied musical poem, a musical symphony. (See also Music of the Spheres)
In its largest sense the word simply means "clear-seeing," insight behind the veils, inner visioning. Genuine clairvoyance is a spiritual faculty and is the ability to see and to see aright; and in seeing to know that your seeing is truth. This is no psychical faculty. The clairvoyance commonly called the psychical clairvoyance is very deceptive, because it is a mere moonlight reflection so to speak, and this moonlight reflection is uncertain, deceiving, and illusory. Genuine spiritual clairvoyance, of which the psychical clairvoyance so called is but a feeble ray, will enable one to see what passes at immense distances. You can sit in your armchair and see, with eyes closed, all that you care to see, however far away. This can be done not only in this exterior world, but one can penetrate into the interior and invisible worlds with this spiritual vision, and thus know what is going on in the worlds spiritual and ethereal. This vision is not physical vision, nor that which, on the astral plane, manifests itself as psychical clairvoyance; but true vision is spiritual clairvoyance — seeing through the inner spiritual eye.
In all its forms and protean manifestations, consciousness is spirit-matter — force and matter, or spirit and substance, are one — hence consciousness is the finest and loftiest form of energy, is the root of all things, and is coextensive with kosmic space. It is, therefore, the foundation and the essence of gods, of monads, and of atoms — the three generalized degrees, kosmically speaking, of the universe. A natural corollary from this is that the universe therefore is imbodied consciousness, or much more correctly we should call it a quasi-infinite aggregate of imbodied consciousnesses.
Whenever a theosophist speaks of the cosmos or the universe, he by no means refers only to the physical sphere or world or cross section of the boundless All in which we humans live, but more particularly to the invisible worlds and planes and spheres inhabited by their countless hosts of vitalized or animate beings. In order to avoid redundancy of words and often confusing repetitions in the midst of an explanation dealing with other matters, since H. P. Blavatsky's time it has been customary among careful theosophical writers to draw a distinction of fact between cosmos and kosmos. The solar universe or solar system is frequently referred to as cosmos or solar cosmos; and the galactic universe or our own home-universe it has been customary to refer to as the kosmos. This distinction, however, does not always hold, because sometimes in dealing with abstract questions where the application of the thought can be indifferently made either to the galactic or to the solar universe, the two forms of spelling may be used interchangeably. (See also Kosmos, Kosmic Life)
An exceedingly interesting branch of theosophical study, and one dealing with a fact which is so obviously manifest in the worlds surrounding us that its existence can hardly be denied, except by the willfully blind, is what may be called the law of cycles, or nature's repetitive operations.
We find nature repeating herself everywhere, although such repetition of course is not merely a running in the same old ruts on each recurrence of the cyclic activity; for each recurrence is of course the expression of a modification, more or less great, of what has preceded. Day succeeds night, winter succeeds summer, the planets circulate around the suns in regular and periodical courses; and these are but familiar examples of cyclical activity.
Cycles in nature show the time periods of periodic recurrence along and in which any evolving entity or thing expresses the energies and powers which are itself, so that cycles and evolution are like the two sides of a coin: the one shows the time periods or cycles, and the other side manifests the energic or substantial qualities appearing in manifestation according to these cyclical time-periods; but back of this apparently double but actually single process always lie profound karmic causes.
A | D-E-F | G-H-I | J-K-L | M | N-O-P | Q-R | S | T-U-V-W-Y-Z
Occult Glossary Homepage
Theosophical Society Homepage