Occult Glossary by G. de Purucker

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


LIST OF TERMS

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MacrocosmMahatMahatmaManManasManasaputra(s)ManifestationManuManvantaraMaster(s)MatterMayaMayavi-Rupa — Mediator (see Medium) — MediumMesmerismMessengerMetempsychosisMetensomatosisMicrocosmMilky Way, TheMokshaMonadMorals, MoralityMudra — Mukti (see Moksha) — MulaprakritiMusic of the SpheresMysteriesMysticism


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


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Macrocosm

The anglicized form of a Greek compound meaning "great arrangement," or more simply the great ordered system of the celestial bodies of all kinds and their various inhabitants, including the all-important idea that this arrangement is the result of interior orderly processes, the effects of indwelling consciousnesses. In other and more modern phrasing the macrocosm is the vast universe, without definable limits, which surrounds us, and with particular emphasis laid on the interior, invisible, and ethereal planes. In the visioning or view of the ancients the macrocosm was an animate kosmic entity, an "animal" in the Latin sense of this word, as an organism possessing a directing and guiding soul. But this was only the outward or exoteric view. In the Mystery schools of the archaic ages, the macrocosm was considered to be not only what is hereinbefore just stated, but also to consist more definitely and specifically of seven, ten, and even twelve planes or degrees of consciousness-substance ranging from the superdivine through all the intermediate stages to the physical, and even to degrees below the physical, these comprised in one kosmic organic unit, or what moderns would call a universe. In this sense of the word macrocosm is but another name for kosmic hierarchy, and it must be remembered in this connection that these hierarchies are simply countless in number and not only fill but actually compose and are indeed the spaces of frontierless SPACE.

The macrocosm was considered to be filled full not only with gods, but with innumerable multitudes or armies of evolving entities, from the fully self-conscious to the quasi-self-conscious downwards through the merely conscious to the "unconscious." Note well that in strict usage the term macrocosm was never applied to the Boundless, to boundless, frontierless infinitude, what the Qabbalists called Eyn-soph. In the archaic wisdom, the macrocosm, belonging in the astral world, considered in its causal aspect, was virtually interchangeable with what modern theosophists call the Absolute.

Mahat

(Sanskrit) This word means "great." Mahat is a technical term in the Brahmanic system, and is the "father-mother" of manas; it is the "mother" of the manasaputras or sons of mind, or that element from which they spring, that element which they breathe and of which they are the children. In the Sankhya philosophy — one of the six darsanas or "visions," i.e., systems of philosophical visioning of ancient India — mahat is a term that corresponds to kosmic buddhi, but more accurately perhaps to maha-buddhi.

Mahatma

(Mahatman, Sanskrit) "Great soul" or "great self" is the meaning of this compound word (maha, "great"; atman, "self"). The mahatmas are perfected men, relatively speaking, known in theosophical literature as teachers, elder brothers, masters, sages, seers, and by other names. They are indeed the "elder brothers" of mankind. They are men, not spirits — men who have evolved through self-devised efforts in individual evolution, always advancing forwards and upwards until they have now attained the lofty spiritual and intellectual human supremacy that now they hold. They were not so created by any extra-cosmic Deity, but they are men who have become what they are by means of inward spiritual striving, by spiritual and intellectual yearning, by aspiration to be greater and better, nobler and higher, just as every good man in his own way so aspires. They are farther advanced along the path of evolution than the majority of men are. They possess knowledge of nature's secret processes, and of hid mysteries, which to the average man may seem to be little short of the marvelous — yet, after all, this mere fact is of relatively small importance in comparison with the far greater and more profoundly moving aspects of their nature and lifework.

Especially are they called teachers because they are occupied in the noble duty of instructing mankind, in inspiring elevating thoughts, and in instilling impulses of forgetfulness of self into the hearts of men. Also are they sometimes called the guardians, because they are, in very truth, the guardians of the race and of the records — natural, racial, national — of past ages, portions of which they give out from time to time as fragments of a now long-forgotten wisdom, when the world is ready to listen to them; and they do this in order to advance the cause of truth and of genuine civilization founded on wisdom and brotherhood.

Never — such is the teaching — since the human race first attained self-consciousness has this order or association or society or brotherhood of exalted men been without its representatives on our earth.

It was the mahatmas who founded the modern Theosophical Society through their envoy or messenger, H. P. Blavatsky, in New York in 1875.

Man

Man is in his essence a spark of the central kosmic spiritual fire. Man being an inseparable part of the universe of which he is the child — the organism of graded consciousness and substance which the human constitution contains or rather is — is a copy of the graded organism of consciousnesses and substances of the universe in its various planes of being, inner and outer, especially inner as being by far the more important and larger, because causal.

Human beings are one class of "young gods" incarnated in bodies of flesh at the present stage of their own particular evolutionary journey. The human stage of evolution is about halfway between the undeveloped life-atom and the fully developed kosmic spirit or god.

From another point of view, man is a sheaf or bundle of forces or energies. Force and matter, or spirit and substance being fundamentally one, hence, man is de facto a sheaf or bundle of matters of various and differing grades of ethereality, or of substantiality; and so are all other entities and things everywhere.

Man's nature, and the nature of the universe likewise, of which man is a reflection or microcosm or "little world," is composite of seven stages or grades or degrees of ethereality or of substantiality; or, kosmically speaking, of three generally inclusive degrees: gods, monads, and atoms. And so far as man is concerned, we may take the New Testament division of the Christians, which gives the same triform conception of man, that he is composed of spirit, soul, body — remembering, however, that all these three words are generalizing terms.

Man stands at the midway point of the evolutionary ladder of life: below him are the hosts of beings less than he is; above him are other hosts greater than he is only because older in experience, riper in wisdom, stronger in spiritual and in intellectual fiber and power. And these beings are such as they are because of the evolutionary unfoldment of the inherent faculties and powers immanent in the individuality of the inner god — the ever-living, inner, individualized spirit.

Man, then, like everything else — entity or what is called "thing" — is, to use the modern terminology of philosophical scientists, an "event," that is to say, the expression of a central consciousness-center or monad passing through one or another particular phase of its long, long pilgrimage over and through infinity, and through eternity. This, therefore, is the reason why the theosophist often speaks of the monadic consciousness-center as the pilgrim of eternity.

Man can be considered as a being composed of three essential upadhis or bases: first, the monadic or divine-spiritual; second, that which is supplied by the Lords of Light, the so-called manasa-dhyanis, meaning the intellectual and intuitive side of man, the element-principle that makes man Man; and the third upadhi we may call the vital-astral-physical.

These three bases spring from three different lines of evolution, from three different and separate hierarchies of being. This is the reason why man is composite. He is not one sole and unmixed entity; he is a composite entity, a "thing" built up of various elements, and hence his principles are to a certain extent separable. Any one of these three bases can be temporarily separated from the two others without bringing about the death of the man physically. But the elements that go to form any one of these bases cannot be separated without bringing about physical dissolution or inner dissolution.

These three lines of evolution, these three aspects or qualities of man, come from three different hierarchies or states, often spoken of as three different planes of being. The lowest comes from the vital-astral-physical earth, ultimately from the moon, our cosmogonic mother. The middle, the manasic or intellectual-intuitional, from the sun. The monadic from the monad of monads, the supreme flower or acme, or rather the supreme seed of the universal hierarchy which forms our kosmical universe or universal kosmos.

Manas

(Sanskrit) The root of this word means "to think," "to cogitate," "to reflect" — mental activity, in short. The center of the ego-consciousness in man and in any other quasi-self-conscious entity. The third substance-principle, counting downwards, of which man's constitution is composed.

Manas springs forth from buddhi (the second principle) as the fruit from the flower; but manas itself is mortal, goes to pieces at death — insofar as its lower parts are concerned. All of it that lives after death is only what is spiritual in it and that can be squeezed out of it, so to say — the "aroma" of the manas; somewhat as the chemist takes from the rose the attar or essence of roses. The monad or atma-buddhi thereupon takes that "all" with it into the devachan, after the second death has taken place. Atman, with buddhi and with the higher part of manas, becomes thereupon the spiritual monad of man. Strictly speaking, this is the divine monad within its vehicle — atman and buddhi — combined with the human ego in its higher manasic element; but they are joined into one after death, and are hence spoken of as the spiritual monad.

The three principles forming the upper triad exist each on its own plane in consciousness and power; and as human beings we continuously feel their influence despite the enshrouding veils of a psychical and astral-physical character. We know of each principle only what we have so far evolved forth of it. All we know, for instance, of the third principle (counting from the top), the manas, is what we have so far assimilated of it in this fourth round. The manas will not be fully developed in us until the end of the next round. What we now call our manas is a generalizing term for the reincarnating ego, the higher manas.

Manasaputra(s)

(Sanskrit) This is a compound word: manas, "mind," putra, "son" — "sons of mind." The teaching is that there exists a Hierarchy of Compassion, which H. P. Blavatsky sometimes called the Hierarchy of Mercy or of Pity. This is the light side of nature as contrasted with its matter side or shadow side, its night side. It is from this Hierarchy of Compassion that came those semi-divine entities at about the middle period of the third root-race of this round, who incarnated in the semi-conscious, quasi-senseless men of that period. These advanced entities are otherwise known as the solar lhas as the Tibetans call them, the solar spirits, who were the men of a former kalpa, and who during the third root-race thus sacrificed themselves in order to give us intellectual light — incarnating in those senseless psychophysical shells in order to awaken the divine flame of egoity and self-consciousness in the sleeping egos which we then were. They are ourselves because belonging to the same spirit-ray that we do; yet we, more strictly speaking, were those half-unconscious, half-awakened egos whom they touched with the divine fire of their own being. This, our "awakening," was called by H. P. Blavatsky, the incarnation of the manasaputras, or the sons of mind or light. Had that incarnation not taken place, we indeed should have continued our evolution by merely "natural" causes, but it would have been slow almost beyond comprehension, almost interminable; but that act of self-sacrifice, through their immense pity, their immense love, though, indeed, acting under karmic impulse, awakened the divine fire in our own selves, gave us light and comprehension and understanding. From that time we ourselves became "sons of the gods," the faculty of self-consciousness in us was awakened, our eyes were opened, responsibility became ours; and our feet were set then definitely upon the path, that inner path, quiet, wonderful, leading us inwards back to our spiritual home.

The manasaputras are our higher natures and, paradoxical as it is, are more largely evolved beings than we are. They were the spiritual entities who "quickened" our personal egos, which were thus evolved into self-consciousness, relatively small though that yet be. One, and yet many! As you can light an infinite number of candles from one lighted candle, so from a spark of consciousness can you quicken and enliven innumerable other consciousnesses, lying, so to speak, in sleep or latent in the life-atoms.

These manasaputras, children of mahat, are said to have quickened and enlightened in us the manas-manas of our manas septenary, because they themselves are typically manasic in their essential characteristic or svabhava. Their own essential or manasic vibrations, so to say, could cause that essence of manas in ourselves to vibrate in sympathy, much as the sounding of a musical note will cause sympathetic response in something like it, a similar note in other things. (See also Agnishvattas)

Manifestation

A generalizing term signifying not only the beginning but the continuance of organized kosmic activity, the latter including the various minor activities within itself. First there is of course always the Boundless in all its infinite planes and worlds or spheres, aggregatively symbolized by the circle; then parabrahman, or the kosmic life-consciousness activity, and mulaprakriti its other pole, signifying root-nature especially in its substantial aspects. Then the next stage lower, Brahman and its veil pradhana; then Brahma-prakriti or Purusha-prakriti (prakriti being also maya); the manifested universe appearing through and by this last, Brahma-prakriti, "father-mother." In other words, the second Logos or father-mother is the producing cause of manifestation through their son which, in a planetary chain, is the primordial or the originating manu, called Svayambhuva.

When manifestation opens, prakriti becomes or rather is maya; and Brahma, the father, is the spirit of the consciousness, or the individuality. These two, Brahma and prakriti, are really one, yet they are also the two aspects of the one life-ray acting and reacting upon itself, much as a man himself can say, "I am I." He has the faculty of self-analysis or self-division. All of us know it, we can feel it in ourselves — one side of us, in our thoughts, can be called the prakriti or the material element, or the mayavi element, or the element of illusion; and the other is the spirit, the individuality, the god within.

The student should note carefully that manifestation is but a generalizing term, comprehensive therefore of a vast number of different and differing kinds of evolving planes or realms. For instance, there is manifestation on the divine plane; there is manifestation also on the spiritual plane; and similarly so on all the descending stages of the ladder or stair of life. There are universes whose "physical" plane is utterly invisible to us, so high is it; and there are other universes in the contrary direction, so far beneath our present physical plane that their ethereal ranges of manifestation are likewise invisible to us.

Manu

Manu in the esoteric system is the entities collectively which appear first at the beginning of manifestation, and from which, like a cosmic tree, everything is derived or born. Manu actually is the spiritual tree of life of any planetary chain of manifested being. Manu is thus in one sense the third Logos; as the second is the father-mother, the Brahma and prakriti; and the first is what we call the unmanifest Logos, or Brahman (neuter) and its cosmic veil pradhana.

In other words, the second Logos, father-mother, is the producing cause of manifestation through their son, which in a planetary chain is Manu, the first of the manus being called in the archaic Hindu system Svayambhuva.

During a Day of Brahma or period of seven rounds, fourteen subordinate or inferior manus appear as patrons and guardians of the race cycles or life-waves (See also H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, passim; also Manvantara).

Manu is likewise the name of a great ancient Indian legislator, the alleged author of the Laws of Manu (Manava-dharma-sastra).

Manvantara

(Sanskrit) This word is a compound, and means nothing more than "between two manus"; more literally, "manu-within or -between." A manu, as said, is the entities collectively which appear first at the beginning of manifestation; the spiritual tree of life of any planetary chain of manifested being. The second verbal element of "manvantara," or antara, is a prepositional suffix signifying "within" or "between"; hence the compound paraphrased means "within a manu," or "between manus." A manvantara is the period of activity between any two manus, on any plane, since in any such period there is a root-manu at the beginning of evolution, and a seed-manu at its close, preceding a pralaya.

There are many kinds of manvantaras: prakritika manvantara — universal manvantara; saurya manvantara — the manvantara of the solar system; bhaumika manvantara — the terrestrial manvantara, or manvantara of earth; paurusha manvantara — the manvantara, or period of activity, of man.

A round-manvantara is the time required for one round: that is, the cycle from globe A to the last globe of the seven, and starting from the root-manu or collective "humanity" of globe A and ending with the seed-manu or collective "humanity" of Globe G.

A planetary manvantara — also called a maha-manvantara or a kalpa — is the period of the lifetime of a planet during its seven rounds. It is also called a Day of Brahma, and its length is 4,320,000,000 years.

Master(s)

A master is one who has his higher principles awakened and lives in them; and ordinary men do not. From the scientific standpoint, that is all there is to it; from the philosophic standpoint, we may say that a master has become, as far as he can be, more at one with the universal life; and from the religious standpoint or the spiritual standpoint, we may say that a master has developed an individual consciousness or recognition of his oneness with the Boundless. (See also Mahatmas)

Matter

What men call matter or substance is the existent but illusory aggregate of veils surrounding the fundamental essence of the universe which is consciousness-life-substance. From another point of view, matter or substance is in one sense the most evolved form of expression of manifested spirit in any particular hierarchy. This is but another way of saying that matter is but inherent energies or powers or faculties of kosmical beings, unfolded, rolled out, and self-expressed. It is the nether and lowest pole of what the original and originating spirit is; for spirit is the primal or original pole of the evolutionary activity which brought forth through its own inherent energies the appearance or manifestation in the kosmic spaces of the vast aggregate of hierarchies. Between the originant or spirit and the resultant or matter, there is all the vast range of hierarchical stages or steps, thus forming the ladder of life or the ladder of being of any one such hierarchy.

When theosophists speak of spirit and substance, of which latter, matter and energy or force are the physicalized expressions, we must remember that all these terms are abstractions — generalized expressions for hosts of entities manifesting aggregatively. The whole process of evolution is the raising of units of essential matter, life-atoms, into becoming at one with their spiritual and inmost essence. As the kosmic aeons slowly drop one after the other into the ocean of the past, matter pari passu is resolved back into the brilliant realms of spirit from which it originally came forth. All the sheaths of consciousness, all the blinding veils around it, arise from the matter side or dark side or night side of nature, which is matter — the nether pole of spirit.

Maya

(Sanskrit) The word comes from the root ma, meaning "to measure," and by a figure of speech it also comes to mean "to effect," "to form," and hence "to limit." There is an English word mete, meaning "to measure out," from the same Indo-European root. It is found in the Anglo-Saxon as the root met, in the Greek as med, and it is found in the Latin also in the same form.

Ages ago in the wonderful Brahmanical philosophy maya was understood very differently from what it is now usually understood to be. As a technical term, maya has come to mean the fabrication by man's mind of ideas derived from interior and exterior impressions, hence the illusory aspect of man's thoughts as he considers and tries to interpret and understand life and his surroundings; and thence was derived the sense which it technically bears, "illusion." It does not mean that the exterior world is nonexistent; if it were, it obviously could not be illusory. It exists, but is not. It is "measured out" or is "limited," or it stands out to the human spirit as a mirage. In other words, we do not see clearly and plainly and in their reality the vision and the visions which our mind and senses present to the inner life and eye.

The familiar illustrations of maya in the Vedanta, which is the highest form that the Brahmanical teachings have taken and which is so near to our own teaching in many respects, were such as follows: A man at eventide sees a coiled rope on the ground, and springs aside, thinking it a serpent. The rope is there, but no serpent. The second illustration is what is called the "horns of the hare." The animal called the hare has no horns, but when it also is seen at eventide, its long ears seem to project from its head in such fashion that it appears even to the seeing eye as being a creature with horns. The hare has no horns, but there is then in the mind an illusory belief that an animal with horns exists there.

That is what maya means: not that a thing seen does not exist, but that we are blinded and our mind perverted by our own thoughts and our own imperfections, and do not as yet arrive at the real interpretation and meaning of the world or of the universe around us. By ascending inwardly, by rising up, by inner aspiration, by an elevation of soul, we can reach upwards or rather inwards towards that plane where truth abides in fullness.

H. P. Blavatsky says on page 631 of the first volume of The Secret Doctrine:

Esoteric philosophy, teaching an objective Idealism — though it regards the objective Universe and all in it as Maya, temporary illusion — draws a practical distinction between collective illusion, Mahamaya, from the purely metaphysical standpoint, and the objective relations in it between various conscious Egos so long as this illusion lasts.

The teaching is that maya is thus called from the action of mulaprakriti or root-nature, the coordinate principle of that other line of coactive consciousness which we call parabrahman. From the moment when manifestation begins, it acts dualistically, that is to say that everything in nature from that point onwards is crossed by pairs of opposites, such as long and short, high and low, night and day, good and evil, consciousness and nonconsciousness, etc., and that all these things are essentially mayic or illusory — real while they last, but the lasting is not eternal. It is through and by these pairs of opposites that the self-conscious soul learns truth. It might be said, in conclusion, that another and very convenient way of considering maya is to understand it to mean "limitation," "restriction," and therefore imperfect cognition and recognition of reality. The imperfect mind does not see perfect truth. It labors under an illusion corresponding with its own imperfections, under a maya, a limitation. Magical practices are frequently called maya in the ancient Hindu books.

Mayavi-Rupa

(Sanskrit) This is a compound of two words: mayavi, the adjectival form of the word maya, hence "illusory"; rupa, "form"; the mayavi-rupa or thought-body, or illusory-body, a higher astral-mental form. The mayavi can assume all forms or any form, at the will of an Adept. A synonymous philosophical term is protean soul. In Germany medieval mystics called it the doppelganger. There is a very mystical fact connected with the mayavi-rupa: the Adept is enabled to project his consciousness in the mayavi-rupa to what would seem to the uninitiated incredible distances, while the physical body is left, as it were, intranced. In Tibet this power of projecting the mayavi-rupa is called hpho-wa.

Medium

A word of curiously ill-defined significance, and used mostly if not exclusively by modern Spiritists. The general sense of the word would seem to be a person of unstable psychical temperament, or constitution rather, who is supposed to act as a canal or channel of transmission, hence "medium," between human beings and the so-called spirits.

A medium actually in the theosophical teaching is one whose inner constitution is in unstable balance, or perhaps even dislocated, so that at different times the sheaths of the inner parts of the medium's constitution function irregularly and in magnetic sympathy with currents and entities in the astral light, more particularly in kama-loka. It is an exceedingly unfortunate and dangerous condition to be in, despite what the Spiritists claim for it.

Very different indeed from the medium is the mediator, a human being of relatively highly evolved spiritual and intellectual and psychical nature who serves as an intermediary or mediator between the members of the Great Brotherhood, the mahatmas, and ordinary humanity. There are also mediators of a still more lofty type who serve as channels of transmission for the passing down of divine and spiritual and highly intellectual powers to this sphere. Actually, every mahatma is such a mediator of this higher type, and so in even larger degree are the buddhas and the avataras. A mediator is one of highly evolved constitution, every portion of which is under the instant and direct control of the spiritual dominating will and the loftiest intelligence which the mediator is capable of exercising. Every human being should strive to be a mediator of this kind between his own inner god and his mere brain-mind. The more he succeeds, the grander he is as a man.

Mediator, therefore, and medium are the polar antitheses of each other. The medium is irregular, negative, often irresponsible or quasi-irresponsible, and uncertain, and is not infrequently the victim or plaything of evil and degenerate entities whom theosophists call elementaries, having their habitat in the astral light of the earth; whereas the mediator is one more or less fully insouled or inspirited with divine, spiritual, and intellectual powers and their corresponding faculties and organs.

Mesmerism

An ill-understood branch of human knowledge, developed within fairly recent times, connected with the existence of the psychomagnetic fluid in man which can be employed by the will for purposes either good or evil. It has been called animal magnetism, but more often in former times than at present. The first European who rediscovered and openly proclaimed the existence of this subtle psychomagnetic fluid in man was Dr. Friedrich Anton Mesmer, born in Germany in 1733, who died in 1815. His honesty and his theories have been more or less vindicated in modern times by later students of the subject.

There are distinct differences as among mesmerism, hypnotism, psychologization, and suggestion, etc. (See also Hypnotism)

Messenger

In the theosophical sense, an individual who comes with a mandate from the Lodge of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion to do a certain work in the world.

Only real genius — indeed something more than merely human genius — only extraordinary spiritual and intellectual capacity, native to the constitution of some lofty human being, could explain the reason for the choice of such messengers. But, indeed, this is not saying enough; because in addition to genius and to merely native spiritual and intellectual capacity such a messenger must possess through initiatory training the capacity of throwing at will the intermediate or psychological nature into a state of perfect quiescence or receptivity for the stream of divine-spiritual inspiration flowing forth from the messenger's own inner divinity or monadic essence. It is obvious, therefore, that such a combination of rare and unusual qualities is not often found in human beings; and, when found, such a one is fit for the work to be done by such a messenger of the Association of great ones.

The Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace send their envoys continuously into the world of men, one after the other, and in consequence these envoys are working in the world among men all the time. Happy are they whose hearts recognize the footfalls of those crossing the mountaintops of the Mystic East. The messengers do not always do public work before the world, but frequently work in the silences and unknown of men, or relatively unknown. At certain times, however, they are commissioned and empowered and directed to do their work publicly and to make public announcement of their mission. Such, for instance, was the case of H. P. Blavatsky.

Metempsychosis

(Greek) A compound vocable which may be rendered briefly by "insouling after insouling," or "changing soul after soul." Metempsychosis contains the specific meaning that the soul of an entity, human or other, moves not merely from condition to condition, migrates not merely from state to state or from body to body; but also that it is an indivisible entity in its inmost essence, which is pursuing a course along its own particular evolutionary path as an individual monad, taking upon itself soul after soul; and it is the adventures which befall the soul, in assuming soul after soul, which in their aggregate are grouped together under this word metempsychosis.

In ordinary language metempsychosis is supposed to be a synonym for transmigration, reincarnation, preexistence, and palingenesis, etc., but all these words in the esoteric philosophy have specific meanings of their own, and should not be confused. It is of course evident that these words have strict relations with each other, as, for instance, every soul in its metempsychosis also transmigrates in its own particular sense; and inversely every transmigrating entity also has its metempsychosis or soul-changings in its own particular sense. But these connections or interminglings of meanings must not be confused with the specific significance attached to each one of these words.

The essential meaning of metempsychosis can perhaps be briefly described by saying that a monad during the course of its evolutionary peregrinations throws forth from itself periodically a new soul-garment or soul-sheath, and this changing of souls or soul-sheaths as the ages pass is called metempsychosis. (See also Transmigration, Reincarnation, Preexistence, Palingenesis)

Metensomatosis

(Greek) A compound word of which the significance may perhaps be briefly rendered thus: "changing body after body." The reference is to a reimbodying entity which does not necessarily use human bodies of flesh only, in which respect this word differs from reincarnation, but bodies of appropriate yet different physical material concordant with the evolutionary stage which the human race may have reached at any time, and with the plane or sphere of nature on which the reimbodiment takes place. This word, because of the intricate ideas involved, is very difficult to explain properly or even to hint at in a few words, but perhaps it may be made more clear by the following observation: In far past ages the human race had bodies, but not bodies of flesh; and in far distant ages of the future, the human race will likewise have bodies, but not necessarily bodies of flesh. Actually, our teaching in this respect is that in those far-distant periods of the future, human bodies of that time will be compact of ether or, what comes to much the same thing, of luminous matter which may very properly be called concreted light.

Microcosm

(Greek) A compound meaning "little arrangement," "little world," a term applied by ancient and modern mystics to man when considering the seven, ten, and even twelve aspects or phases or organic parts of his constitution, from the superdivine down to and even below the physical body.

Just as throughout the macrocosm there runs one law, one fundamental consciousness, one essential orderly arrangement and habitude to which everything contained within the encompassing macrocosm of necessity conforms, just so does every such contained entity or thing, because it is an inseparable part of the macrocosm, contain in itself, evolved or unevolved, implicit or explicit, active or latent, everything that the macrocosm contains — whether energy, power, substance, matter, faculty, or what not. The microcosm, therefore, considered as man or indeed any other organic entity, is correctly viewed as a reflection or copy in miniature of the great macrocosm, the former being contained, with hosts of others like it, within the encircling frontiers of the macrocosm. Thus it was stated by the ancient mystics that the destiny of man, the microcosm, is coeval with the universe or macrocosm. Their origin is the same, their energies and substances are the same, and their future is the same, of course mutatis mutandis. It was no vain figment of imagination and no idle figure of speech which brought the ancient mystics to declare man to be a son of the Boundless.

The teaching is one of the most suggestive and beautiful in the entire range of the esoteric philosophy, and the deductions that the intuitive student will immediately draw from this teaching themselves become keys opening even larger portals of understanding. The universe, the macrocosm, is thus seen to be the home of the microcosm or man, in the former of which the latter is at home everywhere.

Milky Way, The

The Milky Way or galaxy is held to be our own especial home-universe. The nebulae are in many cases taken to be what are called island-universes, that is to say, vast aggregations of stars, many numbers of them with their respective planets around them, and all gathered together in these individual world-clusters. Of course there are nebulae of other kinds, but to these reference is not here made. Of the island-universes, there are doubtless hundreds of thousands of them; but as none of these has as yet [1933] been discovered to be as large in diameter, or as thick through, as is our own Milky Way system — which system has somewhat the shape of a lens or of a thin watch — the astronomers call our Milky Way by the popular name of continent-universe; and such other nebular star-clusters which we see and which are in many cases really vast masses of millions or billions of suns, are called island-universes.

Our own Milky Way, could it be seen from some vast kosmic distance, would doubtless appear as a nebula or large star-cluster; and to certain percipient watchers our galaxy might even probably appear to be a spiral nebula, or perhaps an annular nebula. Our own sun is one of the stars in the cluster of the Milky Way, and is said by astronomers to be situated some distance, kosmically speaking, from the central portion of our Milky Way system, and a trifle to the north of the plane passing through the figure-center of the galaxy.

The Milky Way is not only a vast star-cluster of suns in all-various degrees of evolutionary growth, but it is also the storehouse of celestial bodies-to-be. In this last respect, it is, as it were, the kosmic nursery from which seeds of future suns go forth to begin their manvantaric evolutionary courses. There are vast and fascinating mysteries connected with the Milky Way even in matters that concern the destiny of us human beings, as well as of all other entities of our solar system. The profound teachings which theosophy hints at under the topics of circulations of the kosmos and peregrinations of the monads are directly connected with the doctrines just referred to. The whole matter, however, is of so recondite a character that it is impossible here to do more than point suggestively to it.

Moksha

(Sanskrit) This word comes from moksh, meaning "to release," "to set free," and is probably a desiderative of the root much, from which the word mukti also comes. The meaning of this word is that when a spirit, a monad, or a spiritual radical, has so grown in evolution that it has first become a man, and is set free interiorly, inwardly, and from a man has become a planetary spirit or dhyan-chohan or lord of meditation, and has gone still higher, to become interiorly a Brahman, and from a Brahman the Parabrahman for its hierarchy, then it is absolutely perfected, relatively speaking, free, released — perfected for that great period of time which to us seems almost an eternity so long is it, virtually incomputable by the human intellect. Now this also is the real meaning of the much abused word Absolute (q.v.), limited in comparison with things still more immense, still more sublime; but so far as we can think of it, released or freed from the chains or bonds of material existence. One who is thus released or freed is called a jivanmukta. (See also Nirvana)

Monad

A spiritual entity which to us humans is indivisible; it is a divine-spiritual life-atom, but indivisible because its essential characteristic, as we humans conceive it, is homogeneity; while that of the physical atom, above which our consciousness soars, is divisible, is a composite heterogeneous particle.

Monads are eternal, unitary, individual life-centers, consciousness-centers, deathless during any solar manvantara, therefore ageless, unborn, undying. Consequently, each one such — and their number is infinite — is the center of the All, for the divine or the All is THAT which has its center everywhere, and its circumference or limiting boundary nowhere.

Monads are spiritual-substantial entities, self-motivated, self-impelled, self-conscious, in infinitely varying degrees, the ultimate elements of the universe. These monads engender other monads as one seed will produce multitudes of other seeds; so up from each such monad springs a host of living entities in the course of illimitable time, each such monad being the fountainhead or parent, in which all others are involved, and from which they spring.

Every monad is a seed, wherein the sum total of powers appertaining to its divine origin are latent, that is to say unmanifested; and evolution consists in the growth and development of all these seeds or children monads, whereby the universal life expresses itself in innumerable beings.

As the monad descends into matter, or rather as its ray — one of other innumerable rays proceeding from it — is propelled into matter, it secretes from itself and then excretes on each one of the seven planes through which it passes, its various vehicles, all overshadowed by the self, the same self in you and in me, in plants and in animals, in fact in all that is and belongs to that hierarchy. This is the one self, the supreme self or paramatman of the hierarchy. It illumines and follows each individual monad and all the latter's hosts of rays — or children monads. Each such monad is a spiritual seed from the previous manvantara, which manifests as a monad in this manvantara; and this monad through its rays throws out from itself by secretion and then excretion all its vehicles. These vehicles are, first, the spiritual ego, the reflection or copy in miniature of the monad itself, but individualized through the manvantaric evolution, "bearing" or "carrying" as a vehicle the monadic ray. The latter cannot directly contact the lower planes, because it is of the monadic essence itself, the latter a still higher ray of the infinite Boundless composed of infinite multiplicity in unity. (See also Individuality)

Morals, Morality

What is the basis of morals? This is the most important question that can be asked of any system of thought. Is morality based on the dicta of man? Is morality based on the conviction in most men's hearts that for human safety it is necessary to have certain abstract rules which it is merely convenient to follow? Are we mere opportunists? Or is morality, ethics, based on truth, which it is not merely expedient for man to follow, but necessary? Surely upon the latter! Morals is right conduct based upon right views, right thinking.

In the third fundamental postulate of The Secret Doctrine [1:17] we find the very elements, the very fundamentals, of a system of morality greater than which, profounder than which, more persuasive than which, perhaps, it would be impossible to imagine anything.

On what, then, is morality based? And by morality is not meant merely the opinion which some pseudo-philosophers have, that morality is more or less that which is "good for the community," based on the mere meaning of the Latin word mores, "good customs," as opposed to bad. No! Morality is that instinctive hunger of the human heart to do righteousness, to do good to every man because it is good and satisfying and ennobling to do so.

When man realizes that he is one with all that is, inwards and outwards, high and low; that he is one with all, not merely as members of a community are one, not merely as individuals of an army are one, but like the molecules of our own flesh, like the atoms of the molecule, like the electrons of the atom, composing one unity — not a mere union but a spiritual unity — then he sees truth. (See also Ethics)

Mudra

(Sanskrit) A general name for certain intertwinings or positions of the fingers of the two hands, used alone or together, in devotional yoga or exoteric religious worship, and these mudras or digital positions are held by many Oriental mystics to have particular esoteric significance. They are found both in the Buddhist statues of northern Asia, especially those belonging to the Yogachara school, and also in India where they are perhaps particularly affected by the Hindu tantrikas. There is doubtless a good deal of hid efficacy in holding the fingers in proper position during meditation, but to the genuine occult student the symbolic meaning of such mudras or digital positions is by far more useful and interesting. The subject is too intricate, and of importance too small, to call for much detail of explanation here, or even to attempt a full exposition of the subject.

Mulaprakriti

(Sanskrit) A compound containing mula, "root," prakriti, "nature," root-matter or root-nature. Corresponding to it as the other or active pole is parabrahman, from which Brahman (neuter), the first or unmanifest Logos, proceeds. Mulaprakriti, therefore, as the kosmic veil of parabrahman, may be called homogeneous or undifferentiated primordial substance. It is the fountain or root of akasa. (See also Prakriti)

Music of the Spheres

Every sphere that runs its course in the abysmal depths of space sings a song as it passes along. Every little atom is attuned to a musical note. It is in constant movement, in constant vibration at speeds which are incomprehensible to the ordinary brain-mind of man; and each such speed has its own numerical quantity, in other words its own numerical note, and therefore sings that note. This is called the music of the spheres, and if man had the power of spiritual clairaudience, the life surrounding him would be one grand sweet song: his very body would be as it were a symphonic orchestra, singing some magnificent, incomprehensible, musical symphonic composition. The growth of a flower, for instance, would be like a changing melody running along from day to day; he could hear the grass grow, and understand why it grows; he could hear the atoms sing and see their movements, and hear the unison of the songs of all individual atoms, and the melodies that any physical body produces; and he would know what the stars in their courses are constantly singing.

Mysteries

The Mysteries were divided into two general parts, the Less Mysteries and the Greater.

The Less Mysteries were very largely composed of dramatic rites or ceremonies, with some teaching; the Greater Mysteries were composed of, or conducted almost entirely on the ground of, study; and the doctrines taught in them later were proved by personal experience in initiation. In the Greater Mysteries was explained, among other things, the secret meaning of the mythologies of the old religions, as, for instance, the Greek.

The active and nimble mind of the Greeks produced a mythology which for grace and beauty is perhaps without equal, but it nevertheless is very difficult to explain; the Mysteries of Samothrace and of Eleusis — the greater ones — explained among other things what these myths meant. These myths formed the basis of the exoteric religions; but note well that exotericism does not mean that the thing which is taught exoterically is in itself false, but merely that it is a teaching given without the key to it. Such teaching is symbolic, illusory, touching on the truth — the truth is there, but without the key to it, which is the esoteric meaning, it yields no proper sense.

We have the testimony of the Greek and Roman initiates and thinkers that the ancient Mysteries of Greece taught men, above everything else, to live rightly and to have a noble hope for the life after death. The Romans derived their Mysteries from those of Greece.

The mythological aspect comprises only a portion — and a relatively small portion — of what was taught in the Mystery schools in Greece, principally at Samothrace and at Eleusis. At Samothrace was taught the same mystery-teaching that was current elsewhere in Greece, but here it was more developed and recondite, and the foundation of these mystery-teachings was morals. The noblest and greatest men of ancient times in Greece were initiates in the Mysteries of these two seats of esoteric knowledge.

In other countries farther to the east, there were other Mystery schools or "colleges," and this word college by no means necessarily meant a mere temple or building; it meant association, as in our modern word colleague, "associate." The Teutonic tribes of northern Europe, the Germanic tribes, which included Scandinavia, had their Mystery colleges also; and teacher and neophytes stood on the bosom of Mother Earth, under Father Ether, the boundless sky, or in subterranean receptacles, and taught and learned. The core, the heart, the center, of the teaching of the ancient Mysteries was the abstruse problems dealing with death. (See also Guru-parampara)

Mysticism

A word originally derived from the Greek and having a wide range of meaning in modern Occidental religious and philosophical literature. A mystic may be said to be one who has intuitions or intimations of the existence of inner and superior worlds, and who attempts to ally himself or to come into self-conscious communion with them and the beings inhabiting these inner and invisible worlds.

The word mysticism, of course, has various shades of significance, and a large number of definitions could easily be written following the views of different mystical writers on this theme. From the theosophical or occult point of view, however, a mystic is one who has inner convictions often based on inner vision and knowledge of the existence of spiritual and ethereal universes of which our outer physical universe is but the shell; and who has some inner knowledge that these universes or worlds or planes or spheres, with their hosts of inhabitants, are intimately connected with the origin, destiny, and even present nature of the world which surrounds us.

Genuine mysticism is an ennobling study. The average mystic, however, is one who lacks the direct guidance derived from personal teaching received from a master or spiritual superior.


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