Occult Glossary by G. de Purucker

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


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RacesRajas — Raja Yoga (see Yoga) — RebirthRechakaReimbodimentReincarnating EgoReincarnationRelativityReligionRight-hand PathRing-Pass-Not — Root-Race (see Races) — RoundRupa

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(More frequently spelled Kabala or Kabbala.) The Hebrew word for what the Jewish theosophical initiates called "the Tradition," or "the Secret Doctrine" — meaning something which is handed down or passed down from man to man by tradition; from a Hebrew word meaning "to receive" or "to take over."

Unquestionably the Jewish Qabbalah existed as a traditional system of doctrine long before the present manuscripts of it were written, for these are of comparatively late production and probably date from the European Middle Ages; and one proof of this statement is found in the fact that in the earliest centuries of the Christian era several of the Church Fathers of the new Christian religion used language which could have been taken only from the Hebrew theosophy, that is, the Hebrew Qabbalah. The expressions here are in some cases identic, and the thought is in all cases the same.

The Zohar may be called the original and main book of the Qabbalah.

The basis of the Jewish Qabbalah was the archaic Chaldean secret doctrine which was a system of occult or esoteric philosophy handed down in part by oral, and in part by written, transmission — and mostly by oral reception, wholly so in the case of the deeper mysteries of the Qabbalah. The Jewish Qabbalah, such as it exists today, has been disfigured and distorted by the interpolations and mutilations of many Western occultists, especially by mystics of strong Christian bias. The Qabbalah, therefore, is essentially the theosophy of the Jews, or rather the form which the universal theosophy of the archaic ages took in its transmission through the Jewish mind.



During evolution on our earth (and on the other six manifest globes of the planetary chain of earth correspondentially), mankind as a life-wave passes through seven evolutionary stages called root-races. Seven such root-races form the evolutionary cycle on this globe earth in this fourth round through the planetary chain; and this evolutionary cycle through our globe earth is called one globe round. We are at the present time in the fourth subrace of our present fifth root-race, on globe D or our earth.

Each root-race is divided in our teachings into seven minor races, and each one of these seven minor races is again in its turn subdivided into seven branchlet or still smaller racial units, etc.

The student who is interested in the matter of tracing the evolutionary arrangement or history of the seven root-races on our globe earth is referred primarily to H. P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine, and secondarily to Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy.

Each one of the seven root-races reaches its maximum of material efflorescence and power at about its middle point. When half of the cycle of any one of the seven root-races is run, then the racial cataclysm ensues, for such is the way in which nature operates; and at this middle racial point, at the middle point of the fourth subrace of the mother-race or root-race, a new root-race begins or is born out of the preceding root-race, and pursues its evolution from birth towards maturity, side by side with, or rather in connection with, the latter half of the preceding mother-race or root-race. It is in this fashion that the root-races overlap each other, a most interesting fact in ethnological or racial history. This overlapping likewise takes place in the cases of the minor and branchlet races.

It will be between sixteen thousand and twenty thousand years more before the racial cataclysm will ensue which will cut our own fifth root-race in two — exactly as the same racial cataclysmic occurrence happened to the fourth-race Atlanteans who preceded us, and to the third-race Lemurians who preceded them; and as it will happen to the two root-races which will follow ours, the sixth and seventh — for we are now approaching the middle point of our own fifth root-race, because we are nearing the middle point of the fourth subrace of this fifth root-race. (See also Globe, Planetary Chain, Round)


(Sanskrit) One of the three gunas or "qualities" in the correlations of force and matter, the other two being respectively sattva and tamas. Rajas is the guna or the "quality" of longing, passion, activity, one of the three divisions of nature. In a sense it is the result or consequence of the elementary urge in nature producing change and the longing therefor.


One of the several aspects or branches of the general doctrine of reimbodiment. A word of large and generalized significance. Signifying merely a succession of rebirths, the definition becomes generalized, excluding specific explanations as to the type or kind of reimbodiment. The likeness between the idea comprised in this word and that belonging to the term reincarnation is very close, yet the two ideas are quite distinct. (For this difference see Reincarnation; also Preexistence, Metempsychosis, Transmigration, etc.)


(Recaka, Sanskrit) One of the practices used in the hatha yoga system for the regulation of the breath. The breath is expelled or expired from one of the nostrils while the other nostril is held closed with the finger, and then the operation is

repeated with the other nostril. These operations, as observed under Kumbhaka, are extremely dangerous to health and mental balance, and cannot be encouraged. Indeed, they should be unequivocally discouraged.


This term means that the living and migrating entity takes upon itself a new body at some time after death. Its meaning, therefore, is a highly generalized one, and the specific significance is that of assuming new imbodiments periodically. It teaches something more than that the soul merely preexists, the idea being that the soul takes unto itself a succession of new bodies — on whatever plane it may happen to be. This particular aspect or branch of the general doctrine of the migration of living entities tells us not what kind of body the soul newly assumes, nor whether that body be taken here on earth or elsewhere, that is to say, whether the new body is to be a visible body or an invisible one in the invisible realms of nature. It simply says that the life-center reimbodies itself; and this is the essence of the specific meaning of this word. (See also Preexistence, Rebirth, Metempsychosis, Reincarnation, etc.)

Reincarnating Ego

In the method of dividing the human principles into a trichotomy of an upper duad, an intermediate duad, and a lower triad — or distributively spirit, soul, and body — the second or intermediate duad, manas-kama, or the intermediate nature, is the ordinary seat of human consciousness, and itself is composed of two qualitative parts: an upper or aspiring part, which is commonly called the reincarnating ego or the higher manas, and a lower part attracted to material things, which is the focus of what expresses itself in the average man as the human ego, his everyday ordinary seat of consciousness.

When death occurs, the mortal and material portions sink into oblivion; while the reincarnating ego carries the best and noblest parts of the spiritual memory of the man that was into the devachan or heaven world of postmortem rest and recuperation, where the ego remains in the bosom of the monad or of the monadic essence in a state of the most perfect and utter bliss and peace, constantly reviewing and improving upon in its own blissful imagination all the unfulfilled spiritual yearnings and longings of the life just closed that its naturally creative faculties automatically suggest to the entity now in the devachan.

But the monad above spoken of passes from sphere to sphere on its peregrinations from earth, carrying with it the reincarnating ego, or what we may for simplicity of expression call the earth-child, in its bosom, where this reincarnating ego is in its state of perfect bliss and peace, until the time comes when, having passed through all the invisible realms connected by chains of causation with our own planet, it slowly "descends" again through these higher intermediate spheres earthwards. Coincidently does the reincarnating ego slowly begin to reawaken to self-conscious activity. Gradually it feels, at first unconsciously to itself, the attraction earthwards, arising out of the karmic seeds of thought and emotion and impulse sown in the preceding life on earth and now beginning to awaken; and as these attractions grow stronger, in other words as the reincarnating ego awakens more fully, it finds itself under the domination of a strong psychomagnetic attraction drawing it to the earth-sphere.

The time finally comes when it is drawn strongly to the family on earth whose karmic attractions or karmic status or condition are the nearest to its own characteristics; and it then enters, or attaches itself to, by reason of the psychomagnetic attraction, the human seed which will grow into the body of the human being to be. Thus reincarnation takes place, and the reincarnating ego reawakens to life on earth in the body of a little child.


An anglicized word of Latin derivation, meaning "reinfleshment," the coming again into a human body of an excarnate human soul. The repetitive reimbodiment of the reincarnating human ego in vehicles of human flesh — this being a special case of the general doctrine of reimbodiment. This general doctrine of reimbodiment applies not solely to man, but to all centers of consciousness whatsoever, or to all monads whatsoever — wheresoever they may be on the evolutionary ladder of life, and whatsoever may be their particular developmental grade thereon.

The meaning of this general doctrine is very simple indeed. It is as follows: every life-consciousness-center, in other words, every monad or monadic essence, reincorporates itself repeatedly in various vehicles or bodies, to use the popular word. These bodies may be spiritual, or they may be physical, or they may be of a nature intermediate between these two, i.e., ethereal. This rule of nature, which applies to all monads without exception, takes place in all the different realms of the visible and invisible universe, and on all its different planes, and in all its different worlds.

There are eight words used in the theosophical philosophy in connection with reimbodiment, which are not all synonymous, although some of these eight words have almost the same specific meaning. They are: preexistence, rebirth, reimbodiment, palingenesis, metensomatosis, metempsychosis, transmigration, reincarnation (see under each word for definition). Of these eight words, four only may be said to contain the four different basic ideas of the general doctrine of reimbodiment, and these four are preexistence, reimbodiment, metempsychosis, and transmigration.

In no case is the word reincarnation identical with any of the other seven words, though of course it has grounds of strong similarity with them all, as for instance with preexistence, because obviously the entity preexists before it reincarnates; and on the same grounds it is similar to rebirth, reimbodiment, and metensomatosis.

The meaning of the word reincarnation differs specifically from rebirth in this, that the latter word simply means rebirth in human bodies of flesh on this earth; while the former term also contains the implication, tacit if not expressed, of possible incarnations in flesh by entities which have finished their earthly pilgrimage or evolution, but who can and sometimes do return to this earth in order to incarnate for the purpose of aiding their less evolved brothers.


The modern scientific doctrine of relativity, despite its restrictions and mathematical limitations, is extremely suggestive because it introduces metaphysics into physics, does away with purely speculative ideas that certain things are absolute in a purely relative universe, and brings us back to an examination of nature as nature is and not as mathematical theorists have hitherto tacitly taken it to be. The doctrine of relativity in its essential idea of relations rather than absolutes is true; but this does not mean that we necessarily accept Einstein's or his followers' deductions. These latter may or may not be true, and time will show. In any case, relativity is not what it is often misunderstood to be — the naked doctrine that "everything is relative," which would mean that there is nothing fundamental or basic or real anywhere, whence other things flow forth; in other words, that there is no positively real or fundamental divine and spiritual background of being. The relativity theory is an adumbration, a reaching out for, a groping after, a very, very old theosophical doctrine — the doctrine of maya.

The manner in which theosophy teaches the conception of relativity is that while the universe is a relative universe and all its parts are therefore relative — each to each, and each to all, and all to each — yet there is a deathless reality behind, which forms the substratum or the truth of things, out of which the phenomenal in all its myriad relative manifestations flows. And there is a way, a road, a path, by which men may reach this reality behind, because it is in man as his inmost essence and therefore primal origin. In each one is fundamentally this reality of which we are all in search. Each one is the path that leads to it, for it is the heart of the universe.

In a sense still more metaphysical, even the heart of a universe may be said to exist relatively in connection with other universes with their hearts. It would be quite erroneous to suppose that there is one Absolute Reality in the old-fashioned European sense, and that all relative manifestations flow forth from it, and that these relative manifestations although derived from this Absolute Reality are without links of union or origin with an Absolute even still more essential and fundamental and vaster. Once the conception of boundless infinitude is grasped, the percipient intelligence immediately realizes that it is simply hopeless, indeed impossible, to postulate ends, absolute Absolutes, as the divine ultima thule. No matter how vast and kosmic an Absolute may be, there are in sheer frontierless infinitude always innumerable other Absolutes equal to or greater than it.


An operation of the human spiritual mind in its endeavor to understand not only the how and the why of things, but comprising in addition a yearning and striving towards self-conscious union with the divine All and an endlessly growing self-conscious identification with the cosmic divine-spiritual realities. One phase of a triform method of understanding the nature of nature, of universal nature, and its multiform and multifold workings; and this phase cannot be separated from the other two phases (science and philosophy) if we wish to gain a true picture of things as they are in themselves.

Human religion is the expression of that aspect of man's consciousness which is intuitional, aspirational, and mystical, and which is often deformed and distorted in its lower forms by the emotional in man.

It is usual among modern Europeans to derive the word religion from the Latin verb meaning "to bind back" — religare. But there is another derivation, which is the one that Cicero chooses, and of course he was a Roman himself and had great skill and deep knowledge in the use of his own native tongue. This other derivation comes from a Latin root meaning "to select," "to choose," from which, likewise, we have the word lex, "law," i.e., the course of conduct or rule of action which is chosen as the best, and is therefore followed; in other words, that which is the best of its kind, as ascertained by selection, by trial, and by proof.

Thus then, the meaning of the word religion from the Latin religio, means a careful selection of fundamental beliefs and motives by the higher or spiritual intellect, a faculty of intuitional judgment and understanding, and a consequent abiding by that selection, resulting in a course of life and conduct in all respects following the convictions that have been arrived at. This is the religious spirit.

To this the theosophist would add the following very important idea: behind all the various religions and philosophies of ancient times there is a secret or esoteric wisdom given out by the greatest men who have ever lived, the founders and builders of the various world religions and world philosophies; and this sublime system in fundamentals has been the same everywhere over the face of the globe.

This system has passed under various names, e.g., the esoteric philosophy, the ancient wisdom, the secret doctrine, the traditional teaching, theosophy, etc. (See also Science, Philosophy)

Right-hand Path

From time immemorial, in all countries of the earth, among all races of men, there have been existent two opposing and antagonistic schools of occult or esoteric training, the one often technically called the Path of Light, and the other the Path of Darkness or of the Shadows. These two paths likewise are much more commonly called the right-hand path and the left-hand path, and although these are technical names in the rather shaky occultism of the Occident, the very same expressions have prevailed all over the world, and are especially known in the mystical and esoteric literature of Hindustan. The right-hand path is known in Sanskrit writings by the name dakshina-marga, and those who practice the rules of conduct and follow the manner of life enjoined upon those who follow the right-hand path are technically known as dakshinacharins, and their course of life is known as dakshinachara. Conversely, those who follow the left-hand path, often called Brothers of the Shadow, or by some similar epithet, are called vamacharins, and their school or course of life is known as vamachara. An alternative expression for vamachara is savyachara. The white magicians or Brothers of Light are therefore dakshinacharins, and the black magicians or Brothers of the Shadow, or workers of spiritual and intellectual and psychical evil, are therefore vamacharins.

To speak in the mystical language of ancient Greece, the dakshinacharins or Brothers of Light pursue the winding ascent to Olympus, whereas the vamacharins or Brothers of the Left-hand follow the easy but fearfully perilous path leading downwards into ever more confusing, horrifying stages of matter and spiritual obscuration. The latter is the faciles descensus averno (Aeneid, 6.126) of the Latin poet Virgil. Woe be to him who, refusing to raise his soul to the sublime and cleansing rays of the spiritual sun within him, places his feet upon the path which leads downwards. The warnings given to students of occultism about this matter have always been solemn and urgent, and no esotericist should at any moment consider himself safe or beyond the possibilities of taking the downward way until he has become at one with the divine monitor within his own breast, his own inner god.


A profoundly mystical and suggestive term signifying the circle or bounds or frontiers within which is contained the consciousness of those who are still under the sway of the delusion of separateness — and this applies whether the ring be large or small. It does not signify any one especial occasion or condition, but is a general term applicable to any state in which an entity, having reached a certain stage of evolutionary growth of the unfolding of consciousness, finds itself unable to pass into a still higher state because of some delusion under which the consciousness is laboring, be that delusion mental or spiritual. There is consciously a ring-pass-not for every globe of the planetary chain, a ring-pass-not for the planetary chain itself, a ring-pass-not for the solar system, and so forth. It is the entities who labor under the delusion who therefore actually create their own rings-pass-not, for these are not actual entitative material frontiers, but boundaries of consciousness.

A ring-pass-not furthermore may perhaps be said with great truth to be somewhat of the nature of a spiritual laya-center or point of transmission between plane and plane of consciousness.

The rings-pass-not as above said, however, have to do with phases or states of consciousness only. For instance, the ring-pass-not for the beasts is self-consciousness, i.e., the beasts have not yet been enabled to develop forth their consciousness to the point of self-consciousness or reflective consciousness except in minor degree. A dog, for example, located in a room which it desires to leave, will run to a door out of which it is accustomed to go and will sit there whining for the door to be opened. Its consciousness recognizes the point of egress, but it has not developed the self-conscious mental activity to open the door.

A general ring-pass-not for humanity is their inability to self-consciously participate in spiritual self-consciousness.


The doctrine concerning our planetary chain commonly called that of the seven rounds means that the life cycle or life-wave begins its evolutionary course on globe A, the first of the series of seven (or ten) globes; then, completing its cycles there, runs down to globe B, and then to globe C, and then to globe D, our earth; and then, on the ascending arc, to globe E, then to globe F, and then to globe G. These are the manifest seven globes of the planetary chain. This is one planetary round. After the planetary round there ensues a planetary or chain nirvana, until the second round begins in the same way, but in a more "advanced" degree of evolution than was the first round.

A globe round is one of the seven passages of a life-wave during its planetary round, on any one (and therefore on and through each) of the globes. When the life-wave has passed through globe D, for instance, and ends its cycles on globe D, this is the globe round of globe D for that particular planetary round; and so with all the globes respectively. Seven root-races make one globe round. There are seven globe rounds therefore (one globe round for each of the seven globes) in each planetary round.

Seven planetary rounds equal one kalpa or manvantara or Day of Brahma. When seven planetary rounds have been accomplished, which is as much as saying forty-nine globe rounds (or globe manvantaras), there ensues a still higher nirvana than that occurring between globes G and A after each planetary round. This higher nirvana is coincident with what is called a pralaya of that planetary chain, which pralaya lasts until the cycle again returns for a new planetary chain to form, containing the same hosts of living beings as on the preceding chain, and which are now destined to enter upon the new planetary chain, but on and in a higher series of planes or worlds than in the preceding one.

When seven such planetary chains with their various kalpas or manvantaras have passed away, this sevenfold grand cycle is one solar manvantara, and then the solar system sinks into the solar or cosmic pralaya.

There are outer rounds and inner rounds. An inner round comprises the passage of the life-wave in any one planetary chain from globe A to globe G once around, and this takes place seven times in a planetary manvantara.

The outer round comprises the passage of the entirety of a life-wave of a planetary chain along the circulations of the solar system, from one of the seven sacred planets to another; and this for seven (or ten) times.

There is another aspect of the teaching concerning the outer rounds which cannot be elucidated here.


(Sanskrit) A word meaning "form," "image," "similitude," but this word is employed technically, and only rarely in the popular sense in which it is commonly used in English. It signifies rather an atomic or monadic aggregation about the central and indwelling consciousness, forming a vehicle or body thereof.

Thus the rupa-lokas are lokas or worlds where the body-form or vehicle is very definitely outlined in matter; whereas the arupa-lokas are worlds where the body-forms or "images" are outlined in a manner which to us humans is much less definite. It should be noted that the word rupa applies with equal force to the bodies or vehicles even of the gods, although these latter to us are purely subjective or arupa. (See also Loka)

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