Occult Glossary by G. de Purucker

Copyright © 1996 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.


G | H | I


Hatha-Yoga (see Yoga) — Heaven and HellHermetic ChainHierarchyHigher Triad — Home Galaxy, Home Universe (see Milky Way) — Hpho-Wa (see Mayavi-Rupa) — Human EgoHuman MonadHuman SoulHypnotism

Idam (see Tat) — Illusion (see Maya) — ImmortalityIndividualityInfiniteInitiatesInitiationInner God — Inner Round (see Round) — Intermediate NatureInvisible WorldsInvolutionIsvara

A | B-C | D-E-F | J-K-L | M | N-O-P | Q-R | S | T-U-V-W-Y-Z


Gayatri or Savitri

(Sanskrit) A verse of the Rig-Veda (iii.62.10) which from immemorial time in India has been surrounded with the attributes of quasi-divinity. The Sanskrit words of this verse are: Tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah prachodayat. Every orthodox Brahmana is supposed to repeat this archaic hymn, at least mentally, at both his morning and evening religious exercises or devotions. A translation in explanatory paraphrase, giving the essential esoteric meaning of the Gayatri or Savitri, is the following: "Oh thou golden sun of most excellent splendor, illumine our hearts and fill our minds, so that we, recognizing our oneness with the Divinity which is the heart of the universe, may see the pathway before our feet, and tread it to those distant goals of perfection, stimulated by thine own radiant light."


Every one of the physical globes that we see scattered over the fields of space is accompanied by six — really eleven — invisible and superior globes, forming what in theosophy is called a chain. This is the case with every sun or star, with every planet, and with every moon of every planet. It is likewise the case with the nebulae and the comets: all are septiform entities in manifestation; all have a sevenfold — indeed twelvefold — constitution, even as man has, who is a copy in the little of what the universe is in the great. The seven manifested globes for purposes of convenience are enumerated as A, B, C, D, E, F, and G; but reference is sometimes made more mystically to the globes from "A to Z," here hinting at but not specifying all the twelve globes of the chain.

The life-waves circle around these globes in seven great cycles which are called rounds. Each life-wave first enters globe A, runs through its life cycle there, and then passes on to globe B. Finishing its cycle on globe B, it passes on to globe C, and then to globe D, the lowest of the manifested seven. In our own planetary chain, globe D is our earth. Three globes precede it on the downward arc, and three globes follow it on the ascending arc of evolution — referring here to the manifested seven.

The passing through or traversing of any one of these seven globes by the life-wave is a globe round; and during any one globe round on a globe, seven root-races are born, attain their efflorescence, and then pass away. (See also Round)


The core of the core of a human being or of any other organic entity whatsoever is a kosmic spirit, a spark so to say of the kosmic flame of life. (See also Inner God)


The old pantheons were builded upon an ancient and esoteric wisdom which taught, under the guise of a public mythology, profound secrets of the structure and operations of the universe which surrounds us. The entire human race has believed in gods, has believed in beings superior to men; the ancients all said that men are the "children" of these gods, and that from these superior beings, existent in the azure spaces, men draw all that in them is; and, furthermore, that men themselves, as children of the gods, are in their inmost essence divine beings linked forever with the boundless universe of which each human being, just as is the case with every other entity everywhere, is an inseparable part. This is a truly sublime conception.

One should not think of human forms when the theosophist speaks of the gods; we mean the arupa — the "formless" — entities, beings of pure intelligence and understanding, relatively pure essences, relatively pure spirits, formless as we physical humans conceive form. The gods are the higher inhabitants of nature. They are intrinsic portions of nature itself, for they are its informing principles. They are as much subject to the wills and energies of still higher beings — call these wills and energies the "laws" of higher beings, if you will — as we are, and as are the kingdoms of nature below us.

The ancients put realities, living beings, in the place of laws which, as Occidentals use the term, are only abstractions — an expression for the action of entities in nature; the ancients did not cheat themselves so easily with words. They called them gods, spiritual entities. Not one single great thinker of the ancients, until the Christian era, ever talked about laws of nature, as if these laws were living entities, as if these abstractions were actual entities which did things. Did the laws of navigation ever navigate a ship? Does the law of gravity pull the planets together? Does it unite or pull the atoms together? This word laws is simply a mental abstraction signifying unerring action of conscious and semi-conscious energies in nature.

Gunas or Trigunas

(Sanskrit) Differentiated matter is considered to possess or to have in occult philosophy three essential qualities or characteristics inherent in it, and their Sanskrit names are sattva, rajas, and tamas. These three are the gunas or trigunas.


(Sanskrit) Sometimes gurudeva, "master divine." The word used in the old Sanskrit scriptures for teacher, preceptor. According to the beautiful teachings of the ancient wisdom, the guru acts as the midwife bringing to birth, helping to bring into the active life of the chela, the spiritual and intellectual parts of the disciple — the soul of the man. Thus the relationship between teacher and disciple is an extremely sacred one, because it is a tie which binds closely heart to heart, mind to mind. The idea is, again, that the latent spiritual potencies in the mind and heart of the learner shall receive such assistance in their development as the teacher can karmically give; but it does not mean that the teacher shall do the work that the disciple himself or herself must do. The learner or disciple must tread his own path, and the teacher cannot tread it for him. The teacher points the way, guides and aids, and the disciple follows the path.


(Sanskrit) This is a compound formed of guru, meaning "teacher," and a subordinate compound param-para, the latter compound meaning "a row or uninterrupted series or succession." Hence guru-parampara signifies an uninterrupted series or succession of teachers. Every Mystery school or esoteric college of ancient times had its regular and uninterrupted series or succession of teacher succeeding teacher, each one passing on to his successor the mystical authority and headship he himself had received from his predecessor.

Like everything else of an esoteric character in the ancient world, the guru-parampara or succession of teachers faithfully copied what actually exists or takes place in nature herself, where a hierarchy with its summit or head is immediately linked on to a superior hierarchy as well as to an inferior one; and it is in this manner that the mystical circulations of the kosmos, and the transmission of life or vital currents throughout the fabric or web of being is assured.

From this ancient fact and teaching of the Mystery schools came the greatly distorted Apostolic Succession of the Christian Church, a pale and feeble reflection in merely ecclesiastical government of a fundamental spiritual and mystical reality. The great Brotherhood of the sages and seers of the world, which in fact is the association of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion headed by the Maha-chohan, is the purest and most absolute form or example of the guru-parampara existing on our earth today. (See also Hermetic Chain)


Heaven and Hell

Every ancient exoteric religion taught that the so-called heavens are divided into steps or grades of ascending bliss and purity; and the so-called hells into steps or grades of increasing purgation or suffering. Now the esoteric doctrine or occultism teaches that the one is not a punishment, nor is the other strictly speaking a reward. The teaching is, simply, that each entity after physical death is drawn to the appropriate sphere to which the karmic destiny of the entity and the entity's own character and impulses magnetically attract it. As a man works, as a man sows, in his life, that and that only shall he reap after death. Good seed produces good fruit; bad seed, tares — and perhaps even nothing of value or of spiritual use follows a negative and colorless life.

After the second death, the human monad "goes" to devachan — often called in theosophical literature the heaven-world. There are many degrees in devachan: the highest, the intermediate, and the lowest. What becomes of the entity, on the other hand, the lower human soul, that is so befouled and weighted with earth thought and the lower instincts that it cannot rise? There may be enough in it of the spirit nature to hold it together as an entity and enable it to become a reincarnating being, but it is foul, it is heavy; its tendency is consequently downwards. Can it therefore rise into a heavenly felicity? Can it go even into the lower realms of devachan and there enjoy its modicum of the beatitude, bliss, of everything that is noble and beautiful? No. There is an appropriate sphere for every degree of development of the ego-soul, and it gravitates to that sphere and remains there until it is thoroughly purged, until the sin has been washed out, so to say. These are the so-called hells, beneath even the lowest ranges of devachan; whereas the arupa heavens are the highest parts of the devachan. Nirvana is a very different thing from the heavens. (See also Kama-Loka, Avichi, Devachan, Nirvana)

Hermetic Chain

Among the ancient Greeks there existed a mystical tradition of a chain of living beings, one end of which included the divinities in their various grades or stages of divine authority and activities, and the other end of which ran downwards through inferior gods and heroes and sages to ordinary men, and to the beings below man. Each link of this living chain of beings inspired and instructed the chain below itself, thus transmitting and communicating from link to link to the end of the marvelous living chain, love and wisdom and knowledge concerning the secrets of the universe, eventuating in mankind as the arts and the sciences necessary for human life and civilization. This was mystically called the Hermetic Chain or the Golden Chain.

In the ancient Mysteries the teaching of the existence and nature of the Hermetic Chain was fully explained; it is a true teaching because it represents distinctly and clearly and faithfully true and actual operations of nature. More or less faint and distorted copies of the teaching of this Hermetic Chain or Golden Chain or succession of teachers were taken over by various later formal and exoteric sects, such as the Christian Church, wherein the doctrine was called the Apostolic Succession. In all the great Mystery schools of antiquity there was this succession of teacher following teacher, each one passing on the light to his successor as he himself had received it from his predecessor; and as long as this transmission of light was a reality, it worked enormous spiritual benefit among men. Therefore all such movements lived, flourished, and did great good in the world. These teachers were the messengers to men from the Great Lodge of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion. (See also Guru-parampara)


The word hierarchy merely means that a scheme or system or state of delegated directive power and authority exists in a self-contained body, directed, guided, and taught by one having supreme authority, called the hierarch. The name is used by theosophists, by extension of meaning, as signifying the innumerable degrees, grades, and steps of evolving entities in the kosmos, and as applying to all parts of the universe; and rightly so, because every different part of the universe — and their number is simply countless — is under the vital governance of a divine being, of a god, of a spiritual essence; and all material manifestations are simply the appearances on our plane of the workings and actions of these spiritual beings behind it.

The series of hierarchies extends infinitely in both directions. If he so choose for purposes of thought, man may consider himself at the middle point, from which extends above him an unending series of steps upon steps of higher beings of all grades — growing constantly less material and more spiritual, and greater in all senses — towards an ineffable point. And there the imagination stops, not because the series itself stops, but because our thought can reach no farther out nor in. And similar to this series, an infinitely great series of beings and states of beings descends downwards (to use human terms) — downwards and downwards, until there again the imagination stops, merely because our thought can go no farther.

The summit, the acme, the flower, the highest point (or the hyparxis) of any series of animate and "inanimate" beings, whether we enumerate the stages or degrees of the series as seven or ten or twelve (according to whichever system we follow), is the divine unity for that series or hierarchy, and this hyparxis or highest being is again in its turn the lowest being of the hierarchy above it, and so extending onwards forever — each hierarchy manifesting one facet of the divine kosmic life, each hierarchy showing forth one thought, as it were, of the divine thinkers.

Various names were given to these hierarchies considered as series of beings. The generalized Greek hierarchy as shown by writers in periods preceding the rise of Christianity may be collected and enumerated as follows: (1) Divine; (2) Gods, or the divine-spiritual; (3) Demigods, sometimes called divine heroes, involving a very mystical doctrine; (4) Heroes proper; (5) Men; (6) Beasts or animals; (7) Vegetable world; (8) Mineral world; (9) Elemental world, or what was called the realm of Hades. The Divinity (or aggregate divine lives) itself is the hyparxis of this series of hierarchies, because each of these nine stages is itself a subordinate hierarchy. This (or any other) hierarchy of nine, hangs like a pendant jewel from the lowest hierarchy above it, which makes the tenth counting upwards, which tenth we can call the superdivine, the hyperheavenly, this tenth being the lowest stage (or the ninth, counting downwards) of still another hierarchy extending upwards; and so on, indefinitely.

One of the noblest of the theosophical teachings, and one of the most far-reaching in its import, is that of the hierarchical constitution of universal nature. This hierarchical structure of nature is so fundamental, so basic, that it may be truly called the structural framework of being. (See also Planes)

Higher Triad

The imperishable spiritual ego considered as a unity. It is the reincarnating part of man's constitution which clothes itself in each earth-life in a new personality or lower quaternary. The higher triad, speaking in the simplest fashion, is the unity of atman, buddhi, and the higher manas; and the lower quaternary consists of the lower manas or kama-manas, the prana or vitality, the linga-sarira or astral model-body, and the physical vehicle.

Another manner of considering the human constitution in its spiritual aspects is that viewed from the standpoint of consciousness, and in this latter manner the higher triad consists of the divine monad, the spiritual monad, and the higher human monad. The higher triad is often spoken of in a collective sense, and ignoring details of division, as simply the reincarnating monad, or more commonly the reincarnating ego, because this latter is rooted in the higher triad.

Many theosophists experience quite unnecessary difficulty in understanding why the human constitution should be at one time divided in one way and at another time divided in another way. The difficulty lies in considering these divisions as being absolute instead of relative, in other words, as representing watertight compartments instead of merely indefinite and convenient divisions. The simplest psychological division is probably that which divides the septenary constitution of man in three parts: an uppermost duad which is immortal, an intermediate duad which is conditionally immortal, and a lower triad which is unconditionally mortal. (See Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, 1st ed., pp. 167, 525; 2nd rev. ed., pp. 199, 601).

Human Ego

The human ego is seated in that part of the human constitution which theosophists call the intermediate duad, manas-kama. The part which is attracted below and is mortal is the lower human ego. The part which aspires upwards towards the buddhi and ultimately joins it is the higher human ego or reincarnating ego. The dregs of the human ego after the death of the human being and after the second death in the kama-loka, remain in the astral spheres as the disintegrating kama-rupa or spook.

Human Monad

In theosophical terminology the human monad is that part of man's constitution which is the root of the human ego. After death it allies itself with the upper duad, atma-buddhi, and its inclusion within the bosom of the upper duad produces the source whence issues the Reincarnating Ego at its next rebirth. The monad per se is an upper duad alone, but the attributive adjective "human" is given to it on account of the reincarnating ego which it contains within itself after death. This last usage is rather popular and convenient than strictly accurate.

Human Soul

The human soul, speaking generally, is the intermediate nature of man's constitution, and being an imperfect thing it is drawn back into incarnation on earth where it learns needed lessons in this sphere of the universal life.

Another term for the human soul is the ego — a usage more popular than accurate, because the human ego is the soul of the human soul so to speak, the human soul being its vehicle. The ego is that which says in each one of us, "I am I, not you!" It is the child of the immanent Self; and through its imprisonment in matter as a ray of the overruling immanent Self, it learns to reflect its consciousness back upon itself, thus obtaining cognition of itself as self-conscious and hetero-conscious, i.e., knowing itself, and knowing "non-self" or other selves.

Just as our higher and highest nature work through this human soul or intermediate nature of us, so does this last in its turn work and function through bodies or vehicles or sheaths of more or less etherealized matters which surround and enclose it, which are of course still lower than itself, and which therefore give it the means of contacting our own lower and lowest planes of matter; and these lower planes provide us with the vital-astral-physical parts of us. This human soul or intermediate nature manifests therefore as best it can through and by the astral-physical vehicle, the latter our body of human flesh.

In the theosophical classification, the human soul is divided into the higher human soul, composed of the lower buddhi and the higher manas — and the self corresponding to it is the bhutatman, meaning the "self of that which has been" or the reincarnating ego — and the lower human soul, the lower manas and kama, and the self corresponding to it is pranatman or astral personal ego, which is mortal.


Derived from a Greek word hypnos, which means "sleep," and strictly speaking the word hypnotism should be used only for those psychological-physiological phenomena in which the subject manifesting them is in a condition closely resembling sleep. The trouble is that in any attempt to study these various psychological powers of the human constitution it is found that they are many and of divers kinds; but the public, and even the technical experimenters, usually group all these psychological

phenomena under the one word hypnotism, and therefore it is a misnomer. One of such powers, for instance, which is well known, is called fascination. Another shows a more or less complete suspension of the individual will and of the individual activities of him who is the sufferer from such psychological power, although in other respects he may show no signs of physical sleep. Another again — and this perhaps is the most important of all so far as actual dangers lie — passes under the name of suggestion, an exceedingly good name, because it describes the field of action of perhaps the most subtle and dangerous side-branch of the exercise of the general power or force emanating from the mind of the operator.

The whole foundation upon which this power rests lies in the human psychological constitution; and it can be easily and neatly expressed in a few words. It is the power emanating from one mind, which can affect another mind and direct or misdirect the latter's course of action. This is in nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a thousand a wrong thing to do; and this fact would readily be understood by everybody did men know, as they should, the difference between the higher and the lower nature of man, the difference between his incorruptible, death-defying individuality, his spiritual nature, on the one hand; and, on the other hand, the brain-mind and all its train of weak and fugitive thoughts.

Anyone who has seen men and women in the state of hypnosis must realize not only how dangerous, how baleful and wrong it is, but also that it exemplifies the trance state perfectly. The reason is that the intermediate nature, or the psychomental apparatus, of the human being in this state has been displaced from its seat, in other words, is disjoined or dislocated; and there remains but the vitalized human body, with its more or less imperfect functioning of the brain cells and nervous apparatus. H. P. Blavatsky in her Theosophical Glossary writes: "It is the most dangerous of practices, morally and physically, as it interferes with the nerve-fluid and the nerves controlling the circulation in the capillary blood-vessels." (See also Mesmerism)



A term signifying continuous existence or being; but this understanding of the term is profoundly illogical and contrary to nature, for there is nothing throughout nature's endless and multifarious realms of being and existence which remains for two consecutive instants of time exactly the same. Consequently, immortality is a mere figment of the imagination, an illusory phantom of reality. When the student of the esoteric wisdom once realizes that continuous progress, i.e., continuous change in advancement, is nature's fundamental procedure, he recognizes instantly that continuous remaining in an unchanging or immutable state of consciousness or being is not only impossible, but in the last analysis is the last thing that is either desirable or comforting. Fancy continuing immortal in a state of imperfection such as we human beings exemplify — which is exactly what the usual acceptance of this term immortality means. The highest god in highest heaven, although seemingly immortal to us imperfect human beings, is nevertheless an evolving, growing, progressing entity in its own sublime realms or spheres, and therefore as the ages pass leaves one condition or state to assume a succeeding condition or state of a nobler and higher type; precisely as the preceding condition or state had been the successor of another state before it.

Continuous or unending immutability of any condition or state of an evolving entity is obviously an impossibility in nature; and when once pondered over it becomes clear that the ordinary acceptance of immortality involves an impossibility. All nature is an unending series of changes, which means all the hosts or multitudes of beings composing nature, for every individual unit of these hosts is growing, evolving, i.e., continuously changing, therefore never immortal. Immortality and evolution are contradictions in terms. An evolving entity means a changing entity, signifying a continuous progress towards better things; and evolution therefore is a succession of state of consciousness and being after another state of consciousness and being, and thus throughout duration. The Occidental idea of static immortality or even mutable immortality is thus seen to be both repellent and impossible.

This doctrine is so difficult for the average Occidental easily to understand that it may be advisable once and for all to point out without mincing of words that just as complete death, that is to say, entire annihilation of consciousness, is an impossibility in nature, just so is continuous and unchanging consciousness in any one stage or phase of evolution likewise an impossibility, because progress or movement or growth is continuous throughout eternity. There are, however, periods more or less long of continuance in any stage or phase of consciousness that may be attained by an evolving entity; and the higher the being is in evolution, the more its spiritual and intellectual faculties have been evolved or evoked, the longer do these periods of continuous individual, or perhaps personal, quasi-immortality continue. There is, therefore, what may be called relative immortality, although this phrase is confessedly a misnomer.

Master KH in The Mahatma Letters, on pages 128-30, uses the phrase "panaeonic immortality" to signify this same thing that I have just called relative immortality, an immortality — falsely so called, however — which lasts in the cases of certain highly evolved monadic egos for the entire period of a manvantara, but which of necessity ends with the succeeding pralaya of the solar system. Such a period of time of continuous self-consciousness of so highly evolved a monadic entity is to us humans actually a relative immortality; but strictly and logically speaking it is no more immortality than is the ephemeral existence of a butterfly. When the solar manvantara comes to an end and the solar pralaya begins, even such highly evolved monadic entities, full-blown gods, are swept out of manifested self-conscious existence like the sere and dried leaves at the end of the autumn; and the divine entities thus passing out enter into still higher realms of superdivine activity, to reappear at the end of the pralaya and at the dawn of the next or succeeding solar manvantara.

The entire matter is, therefore, a highly relative one. What seems immortal to us humans would seem to be but as a wink of the eye to the vision of super-kosmic entities; while, on the other hand, the span of the average human life would seem to be immortal to a self-conscious entity inhabiting one of the electrons of an atom of the human physical body.

The thing to remember in this series of observations is the wondrous fact that consciousness from eternity to eternity is uninterrupted, although by the very nature of things undergoing continuous and unceasing change of phases in realization throughout endless duration. What men call unconsciousness is merely a form of consciousness which is too subtle for our gross brain-minds to perceive or to sense or to grasp; and, secondly, strictly speaking, what men call death, whether of a universe or of their own physical bodies, is but the breaking up of worn-out vehicles and the transference of consciousness to a higher plane. It is important to seize the spirit of this marvelous teaching, and not allow the imperfect brain-mind to quibble over words, or to pause or hesitate at difficult terms.


Theosophists draw a sharp and comprehensive distinction between individuality and personality. The individuality is the spiritual-intellectual and immortal part of us; deathless, at least for the duration of the kosmic manvantara — the root, the very essence of us, the spiritual sun within, our inner god. The personality is the veil, the mask, composed of various sheaths of consciousness through which the individuality acts.

The word individuality means that which cannot be divided, that which is simple and pure in the philosophical sense, indivisible, uncompounded, original. It is not heterogeneous; it is not composite; it is not builded up of other elements; it is the thing in itself. Whereas, on the contrary, the intermediate nature and the lower nature are composite, and therefore mortal, being builded up of elements other than themselves. Strictly speaking, individuality and monad are identical, but the two words are convenient because of the distinctions of usage contained in them; just as consciousness and self-consciousness are fundamentally identical, but convenient as words on account of the distinctions contained in them. (See also Monad)


A term meaning that which is not finite. The expression is used sometimes with almost absurd inaccuracy, and is one which in all probability representing as it does imperfect understanding could never be found in any of the great religious or philosophical systems of the ancients. Occidental writers of the past and present often use the word infinite as applying to beings or entities, such as in the expression "an infinite personal deity" — a ludicrous joining of contradictory and disparate words. The ancients rejected the phantom idea that this term involves, and used instead expressions such as the Boundless, or the Frontierless, or the Endless, whether speaking of abstract space or abstract time — the latter more properly called unending duration. (See also Absolute)


Those who have passed at least one initiation and therefore those who understand the mystery-teachings and who are ready to receive them at some future time in even larger measure. Please note the distinction between initiant and initiate. An initiant is one who is beginning or preparing for an initiation. An initiate is one who has successfully passed at least one initiation. It is obvious therefore that an initiate is always an initiant when he prepares for a still higher initiation.

The mystery-teachings were held as the most sacred treasure or possession that men could transmit to their descendants who were worthy postulants. The revelation of these mystery-doctrines under the seal of initiation, and under proper conditions to worthy depositaries, worked marvelous changes in the lives of those who underwent successfully the initiatory trials. It made men different from what they were before they received this spiritual and intellectual revelation. The facts are found in all the old religions and philosophies, if these are studied honestly. Initiation was always spoken of under the metaphor or figure of speech of "a new birth," a "birth into truth," for it was a spiritual and intellectual rebirth of the powers of the human spirit-soul, and could be called in all truth a birth of the soul into a loftier and nobler self-consciousness. When this happened, such men were called "initiates" or the reborn. In India, such reborn men were anciently called dvija, a Sanskrit word meaning "twice-born." In Egypt such initiates or reborn men were called "Sons of the Sun." In other countries they were called by other names.


In olden times there were seven — and even ten — degrees of initiation. Of these seven degrees, three consisted of teachings alone, which formed the preparation, the discipline, spiritual and mental and psychic and physical — what the Greeks called the katharsis or "cleansing." When the disciple was considered sufficiently cleansed, purified, disciplined, quiet mentally, tranquil spiritually, then he was taken into the fourth degree, which likewise consisted partly of teaching, but also in part of direct personal introduction by the old mystical processes into the structure and operations of the universe, by which means truth was gained by first-hand personal experience. In other words, to speak in plain terms, his spirit-soul, his individual consciousness, was assisted to pass into other planes and realms of being, and to know and to understand by the sheer process of becoming them. A man, a mind, an understanding, can grasp and see, and thereby know, only those things which the individual entity itself is.

After the fourth degree, there followed the fifth and the sixth and the seventh initiations, each in turn, and these consisted of teachings also; but more and more as the disciple progressed — and he was helped in this development more and more largely as he advanced farther — there was evolved forth in him the power and faculties still farther and more deeply to penetrate beyond the veils of maya or illusion; until, having passed the seventh or last initiation of all of the manifest initiations, if we may call them that, he became one of those individuals whom theosophists call the mahatmas.

Inner God

Mystics of all the ages have united in teaching this fact of the existence and ever-present power of an individual inner god in each human being, as the first principle or primordial energy governing the progress of man out of material life into the spiritual. Indeed, the doctrine is so perfectly universal, and is so consistent with everything that man knows when he reflects over the matter of his own spiritual and intellectual nature, that it is small wonder that this doctrine should have acquired foremost place in human religious and philosophical consciousness. Indeed, it may be called the very foundation-stone on which were builded the great systems of religious and philosophical thinking of the past; and rightly so, because this doctrine is founded on nature herself.

The inner god in man, man's own inner, essential divinity, is the root of him, whence flow forth in inspiring streams into the psychological apparatus of his constitution all the inspirations of genius, all the urgings to betterment. All powers, all faculties, all characteristics of individuality, which blossom through evolution into individual manifestation, are the fruitage of the working in man's constitution of those life-giving and inspiring streams of spiritual energy.

The radiant light which streams forth from that immortal center or core of our inmost being, which is our inner god, lightens the pathway of each one of us; and it is from this light that we obtain ideal conceptions. It is by this radiant light in our hearts that we can guide our feet towards an ever larger fulfilling in daily life of the beautiful conceptions which we as mere human beings dimly or clearly perceive, as the case may be.

The divine fire which moves through universal Nature is the source of the individualized divine fire coming from man's inner god.

The modern Christians of a mystical bent of mind call the inner god the Christ Immanent, the immanent Christos; in Buddhism it is called the living Buddha within; in Brahmanism it is spoken of as the Brahma in his Brahmapura or Brahma-city, which is the inner constitution.

Hence, call it by what name you please, the reflective and mystical mind intuitively realizes that there works through him a divine flame, a divine life, a divine light, and that this by whatever name we may call it, is himself, his essential SELF. (See also God)

Intermediate Nature

To speak of man as a trichotomy, or as having a division into three parts — as in the Christian New Testament: a "natural" body, a psychical body, and a spiritual body — is a convenient expression, but it by no means sets forth in detail the entire economy of man's inner being.

Following then this trichotomy, there is first the divine-spiritual element in the human constitution which is man's own individual inner god; second, the soul or human monad, which is his human egoic self, his intermediate or psychical or second nature; third, all the composite lower part of him which although comprising several sheaths may be conveniently grouped under the one term vehicle or body. Gods, monads, and atoms collectively in nature are copied in the essential trichotomy of man, as spirit, soul, and body, and hence the latter is another way of saying man's divine-spiritual, intermediate soul, and astral-physical parts.

It is the intermediate nature, offspring of the divine spark, which enshrines the ray from the divine spark, its spiritual sun so to say, and steps it down into the ordinary mentality of man. It is this intermediate nature which reincarnates. The divine-spiritual part of man does not reincarnate, for this part of man has no need of learning the lessons that physical life can give: it is far above them all. But it is the intermediate part functioning through the various garments or sheaths of the inner man — these garments may be called astral or ethereal — which in this manner can reach down to and touch our earthly plane; and the physical body is the garment of flesh in touch with the physical world.

The intermediate nature is commonly called the human soul. It is an imperfect thing, and is that which comes back into incarnation, because it is drawn to this earth by attraction. It learns much needed lessons here, in this sphere of the universal life. (See also Principles of Man)

Invisible Worlds

The ancient wisdom teaches that the universe is not only a living organism, but that physical human beings live in intimate connection, in intimate contact, with invisible spheres, with invisible and intangible realms, unknown to man because the physical senses are so imperfectly evolved that we neither see these invisible realms nor feel nor hear nor smell nor taste them, nor cognize them except by that much more highly evolved and subtle sensorium which men call the mind. These inner realms interpenetrate our physical sphere, permeate it, so that in our daily affairs as we go about our duties we actually pass through the dwellings, through the mountains, through the lakes, through the very beings, mayhap, of the entities of and dwelling in these invisible realms. These invisible realms are built of matter just as this our physical world is, but of a more ethereal matter than ours is; but we cognize them not at all with our physical senses. The explanation is that it is all a matter of differing rates of vibration of substances.

The reader must be careful not to confuse this theosophical teaching of inner worlds and spheres with what the modern Spiritism of the Occident has to say on the matter. The "Summerland" of the Spiritists in no wise resembles the actuality which the theosophical philosophy teaches of, the doctrine concerning the structure and operations of the visible and invisible kosmos. The warning seems necessary lest an unwary reader may imagine that the invisible worlds and spheres of the theosophical teachings are identic with the Summerland of the Spiritists, for it is not so.

Our senses tell us absolutely nothing of the far-flung planes and spheres which belong to the ranges and functionings of the invisible substances and energies of the universe; yet those inner and invisible planes and spheres are actually inexpressibly more important than what our physical senses tell us of the physical world, because these invisible planes are the causal realms, of which our physical world or universe, however far extended in space, is but the effectual or phenomenal or resultant production.

But while these inner and invisible worlds or planes or spheres are the fountainhead, ultimately, of all the energies and matters of the whole physical world, yet to an entity inhabiting these inner and invisible worlds or planes, these latter are as substantial and "real" — using the popular word — to that entity as our gross physical world is to us. Just as we know in our physical world various grades or conditions of energy and matter, from the physically grossest to the most ethereal, precisely after the same general plan do the inhabitants of these invisible and inner and to us superior worlds know and cognize their own grossest and also most ethereal substances and energies.

Man as well as all the other entities of the universe is inseparably connected with these worlds invisible.


The reverse process or procedure of evolution. As evolution means the unfolding, the unwrapping, the rolling forth, of what already exists and is latent, so involution means the inwrapping, the infolding, the ingoing of what previously exists or has been unfolded, etc. Involution and evolution never in any circumstances can be even conceived of properly as operative the one apart from the other: every act of evolution is an act of involution, and vice versa. To illustrate, as spirit and matter are fundamentally one and yet eternally coactive and interactive, so involution and evolution are two names for two phases of the same procedure of growth, and are eternally coactive and interactive. As an example, the so-called descent of the monads into matter means an involution or involving or infolding of spiritual potencies into material vehicles which coincidently and contemporaneously, through the compelling urge of the infolding energies, unfold their own latent capacities, unwrap them, roll them forth; and this is the evolution of matter. Thus what is the involution of spirit is contemporaneously and pari passu the evolution of matter. Contrariwise, on the ascending or luminous arc when the involved monadic essences begin to rise towards their primordial spiritual source they begin to unfold or unwrap themselves as previously on the descending arc they had infolded or inwrapped themselves. But this process of unfolding or evolution of the monadic essences is contemporaneous with and pari passu with the infolding and inwrapping, the involution, of the material energies and powers.

Human birth and death are outstanding illustrations or examples of the same thing. The child is born, and as it grows to its full efflorescence of power it evolves or rolls forth certain inherent characteristics or energies or faculties, all derived from the human being's svabhava or ego. Contrariwise, when the decline of human life begins, there is a slow infolding or inwrapping of these same faculties which thus seem gradually to diminish. These faculties and energies thus evolved forth in earth-life are the working of the innate spiritual and intellectual and psychical characteristics impelling and compelling the vehicular or body sides of the human constitution to express themselves as organs becoming more and more perfect as the child grows to maturity.

After death the process is exactly the reverse. The material or vehicular side of the being grows less and less strong and powerful, more and more involved, and becoming with every step in the process more dormant. But contemporaneously and coincidently the distinctly spiritual and intellectual powers and faculties themselves become released from the vehicles and begin to expand into ever larger efflorescence, attaining their maximum in the devachan. It is only the usual carelessness in accurate thinking that induces the idea that evolution is one distinct process acting alone, and that involution — about which by the way very little is heard — is another process acting alone. The two, as said above, are the two phases of activity of the evolving monads, and these phases exist contemporaneously at any moment, each of the two phases continually acting and interacting with the other phase. They are inseparable.

Just so with spirit and matter. Spirit is not something radically distinct from and utterly separate from matter. The two are fundamentally one, and the two are eternally coactive and interactive.

There are several terms in Sanskrit which correspond to what the theosophist means by evolution, but perhaps the best general term is pravritti, meaning to "revolve" or to "roll forwards," to unroll or to unwrap. Again, the reverse procedure or involution can probably best be expressed in Sanskrit by the term nivritti, meaning "rolling backwards" or "inwrapping" or "infolding." A term which is frequently interchangeable with evolution is emanation. (See also Evolution)


(Sanskrit) Isvara means "lord," and is a term which is frequently applied in Hindu mythology not only to kosmic divinities, but to the expression of the cosmic spirit in the human being. Consequently, when reference is had to the individual human being, Isvara is the divine individualized spirit in man — man's own personal god. It may be otherwise described as the divine ego, the child of the divine monad in a man, and in view of this fact also could be used with reference to the dhyani-buddha or to the immanent Christ in a man. In India it is a title frequently given to Siva and other gods of the Hindu pantheon.

A | B-C | D-E-F | J-K-L | M | N-O-P | Q-R | S | T-U-V-W-Y-Z

Occult Glossary Homepage

Theosophical Society Homepage