Occult Glossary by G. de Purucker

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



Sabda-BrahmanSaktiSamadhiSambhalaSambhogakayaSannyasinSariraSat SattvaScienceSecond DeathSelfSeven Principles of ManSeven Sacred Planets — Shadows (see Brothers of the Shadow) — Shadowy or Descending Arc (see Ascending Arc) — Silent WatcherSishta(s)Skandha(s)SlokaSoulSoulless BeingsSpaceSpiritSpirit (in reference to Matter) — Spiritual SoulSthula-SariraSudra — Sushupti (see Jagrat; Karanopadhi) — SutratmanSvabhavaSvabhavat — Svapna (see Jagrat) — Swarupa (see Svabhava)

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(Sanskrit) A phrase literally signifying "Word-Brahman" — a curious analogy with the archaic Greek mystical teaching concerning the Logos. SabdaBrahman, therefore, may be rendered as the active unmanifest Logos of the solar system, and hence as the soul of Brahman expressing itself through its akasic veils as the divine Logos, or Word or Sound. This term is closely connected in meaning with the teaching concerning daiviprakriti. H. P. Blavatsky in her posthumous Glossary speaks of the Sabda-Brahman as "Ethereal Vibrations diffused throughout Space."


(Sanskrit) A term which may be briefly defined to mean one of what in modern Occultism are called the seven forces of nature, of which six are manifest and the seventh unmanifest, or only partly manifest. Sakti in general may be described as universal energy, and is, as it were, the feminine aspect of fohat. In popular Hinduism the various saktis are the wives or consorts of the gods, in other words, the energies or active powers of the deities represented as feminine influences or energies.

These anthropomorphic definitions are unfortunate, because misleading. The saktis of nature are really the veils, or sheaths, or vehicular carriers, through which work the inner and ever-active energies. As substance and energy, or force and matter, are fundamentally one, as modern science in its researches has begun to discover, it becomes apparent that even these saktis or sheaths or veils are themselves energic to lower spheres or realms through which they themselves work.

The crown of the astral light, as H. P. Blavatsky puts it, is the generalized sakti of universal nature in so far as our solar system is concerned.


(Sanskrit) A compound word formed of sam, meaning "with" or "together"; a, meaning "towards"; and the verbal root dha, signifying "to place," or "to bring"; hence samadhi, meaning "to direct towards," generally signifies to combine the faculties of the mind with a direction towards an object. Hence, intense contemplation or profound meditation, with the consciousness directed to the spiritual. It is the highest form of self-possession, in the sense of collecting all the faculties of the constitution towards reaching union or quasi-union, long or short in time as the case may be, with the divine-spiritual. One who possesses and is accustomed to use this power has complete, absolute control over all his faculties, and is, therefore, said to be "completely self- possessed." It is the highest state of yoga or "union."

Samadhi, therefore, is a word of exceedingly mystical and profound significance implying the complete abstraction of the percipient consciousness from all worldly or exterior or even mental concerns or attributes, and its absorption into or, perhaps better, its becoming the pure unadulterate, undilute superconsciousness of the god within. In other words, samadhi is self-conscious union with the spiritual monad of the human constitution. Samadhi is the eighth or final stage of genuine occult yoga, and can be attained at any time by the initiate without conscious recourse to the other phases or practices of yoga enumerated in Oriental works, and which other and inferior practices are often misleading, in some cases distinctly injurious, and at the best mere props or aids in the attaining of complete mental abstraction from worldly concerns.

The eight stages of yoga usually enumerated are the following: (1) yama, signifying "restraint" or "forbearance"; (2) niyama, religious observances of various kinds, such as watchings or fastings, prayings, penances, etc.; (3) asana (q.v.), postures of various kinds; (4) pranayama, various methods of regulating the breath; (5) pratyahara, a word signifying "withdrawal," but technically and esoterically the "withdrawal" of the consciousness from sensual or sensuous concerns, or from external objects; (6) dharana (q.v.), firmness or steadiness or resolution in holding the mind set or concentrated on a topic or object of thought, mental concentration; (7) dhyana (q.v.), abstract contemplation or meditation when freed from exterior distractions; and finally, (8) samadhi, complete collection of the consciousness and of its faculties into oneness or union with the monadic essence.

It may be observed, and should be carefully taken note of by the student, that when the initiate has attained samadhi he becomes practically omniscient for the solar universe in which he dwells, because his consciousness is functioning at the time in the spiritual-causal worlds. All knowledge is then to him like an open page because he is self-consciously conscious, to use a rather awkward phrase, of nature's inner and spiritual realms, the reason being that his consciousness has become kosmic in its reaches.


(Sanskrit) A place-name of highly mystical significance. Many learned occidental Orientalists have endeavored to identify this mystical and unknown locality with some well-known modern district or town, but unsuccessfully. The name is mentioned in the Puranas and elsewhere, and it is stated that out of Sambhala will appear in due course of time the Kalki-Avatara of the future. The Kalki-Avatara is one of the manifestations or avataras of Vishnu. Among the Buddhists it is also stated that out of Sambhala will come in due course of time the Maitreya-Buddha or next buddha.

Sambhala, however, although no erudite Orientalist has yet succeeded in locating it geographically, is an actual land or district, the seat of the greatest brotherhood of spiritual adepts and their chiefs on earth today. From Sambhala at certain times in the history of the world, or more accurately of our own fifth root-race, come forth the messengers or envoys for spiritual and intellectual work among men.

This Great Brotherhood has branches in various parts of the world, but Sambhala is the center or chief lodge. We may tentatively locate it in a little-known and remote district of the high tablelands of central Asia, more particularly in Tibet. A multitude of airplanes might fly over the place without "seeing" it, for its frontiers are very carefully guarded and protected against invasion, and will continue to be so until the karmic destiny of our present fifth root-race brings about a change of location to some other spot on the earth, which then in its turn will be as carefully guarded as Sambhala now is.


(Sanskrit) This is a compound of two words meaning "enjoyment-body," or rather "participation-body"; sambhoga meaning "enjoyment together," or "delightful participation," etc.; and kaya, meaning "body." This is the second of the glorious vestures, the other two being dharmakaya, the highest, and nirmanakaya, the lowest. The buddha in the sambhogakaya state still participates in, still retains more or less, his self-consciousness as an individual, his egoship and his individual soul-sense, though he is too far above material or personal concerns to care about or to meddle with them. In consequence, a buddha in the sambhogakaya state would be virtually powerless here on our material earth.


(Sanskrit) One who renounces (a renouncer); from sannyasa, "renunciation," abandonment of worldly bonds and attractions. Resignation to the service of the spiritual nature.


(Sanskrit) From a root which can best be translated by saying that it means what is easily dissolved, easily worn away; the idea being something transitory, foam-like, full of holes, as it were. Note the meaning hid in this — it is very important. A term which is of common usage in the philosophy of Hindustan, and of very frequent usage in modern theosophical philosophy. A general meaning is a composite body or vehicle of impermanent character in and through which an ethereal entity lives and works. (See also Linga-Sarira; Sthula-Sarira)


(Sanskrit) A word meaning the real, the enduring fundamental essence of the world. In the ancient Brahmanical teachings the terms sat, chit, ananda, were used to signify the state of what one may call the Absolute: sat meaning "pure being"; chit, "pure thought"; ananda, "bliss," and these three words were compounded as sachchidananda. (See also Asat)


(Sanskrit) One of the trigunas or "three qualities," the other two being rajas and tamas. Sattva is the quality of truth, goodness, reality, purity. These three gunas or qualities run all through the web or fabric of nature like threads inextricably mingled, for, indeed, each of these three qualities participates likewise of the nature of the other two, yet each one possessing its predominant (which is its own svabhava) or intrinsic characteristic. One who desires to gain some genuine understanding of the manner in which the archaic wisdom looks upon these three phases of human intellectual and spiritual activity must remember that not one of these three can be considered apart from the other two. The three are fundamentally three operations of the human consciousness, and essentially are that consciousness itself.


An operation of the human spirit-mind in its endeavor to understand the how of things — not any particular science whatsoever, but the thing in itself, science per se — ordered and classified knowledge. One phase of a triform method of understanding the nature of universal nature and its multiform and multifold workings; and this phase cannot be separated from the other two — philosophy and religion — if we wish to gain a true picture of things as they are in themselves.

Science is the aspect of human thinking in the activity of the mentality in the latter's inquisitive, researching, and classifying functions.

Second Death

This is a phrase used by ancient and modern mystics to describe the dissolution of the principles of man remaining in kama-loka after the death of the physical body. For instance, Plutarch says: "Of the deaths we die, the one makes man two of three, and the other, one out of two." Thus, using the simple division of man into spirit, soul, and body: the first death is the dropping of the body, making two out of three; the second death is the withdrawal of the spiritual from the kama-rupic soul, making one out of two.

The second death takes place when the lower or intermediate duad (manas-kama) in its turn separates from, or rather is cast off by, the upper duad; but preceding this event the upper duad gathers unto itself from this lower duad what is called the reincarnating ego, which is all the best of the entity that was, all its purest and most spiritual and noblest aspirations and hopes and dreams for betterment and for beauty and harmony. Inherent in the fabric, so to speak, of the reincarnating ego, there remain of course the seeds of the lower principles which at the succeeding rebirth or reincarnation of the ego will develop into the complex of the lower quaternary. (See also Kama-Rupa)


Man is a sheaf or bundle of forces or energies and material elements combined; and the power controlling all and holding them together, making out of the composite aggregate a unity, is what theosophists call the Self — not the mere ego, but the Self, a purely spiritual unit, in its essence divine, which is the same in every man and woman on earth, the same in every entity everywhere in all the boundless fields of limitless space, as we understand space. If one closely examine his own consciousness, he will very soon know that this is the pure consciousness expressed in the words, "I am" — and this is the Self; whereas the ego is the cognition of the "I am I."

Consider the hierarchy of the human being growing from the Self as its seed — ten stages: three on the arupa or immaterial plane; and seven (or perhaps better, six) on the planes of matter or manifestation. On each one of these seven planes (or six planes), the Self or paramatman develops a sheath or garment, the upper ones spun of spirit, or light if you will, and the lower ones spun of shadow or matter; and each such sheath or garment is a soul; and between the Self and a soul — any soul — is an ego.

Seven Principles of Man

Every one of the seven principles of man, as also every one of the seven elements in him, is itself a mirror of the universe. (See also Principles of Man)

Seven Sacred Planets

The ancients spoke of seven planets which they called the seven sacred planets, and they were named as follows: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, and Moon.

Each one of these seven globes is a body like our own Earth in that each is a septenary chain, sevenfold in composition: six other superior globes of finer and more ethereal matter above the physical sphere or globe. Only those globes which are on the same cosmic plane of nature or being are physically visible to each other. For instance, we can see only the fourth-plane planetary globe of each of the other planetary or sidereal chains, because we ourselves are on the fourth cosmic plane, as they also are. There is a very important and wide range of mystical teaching connected with the seven sacred planets which it would be out of place to develop here.

Silent Watcher

A term used in modern theosophical esoteric philosophy to signify a highly advanced spiritual entity who is, as it were, the summit or supreme chief of a spiritual-psychological hierarchy composed of beings beneath him and working under the Silent Watcher's direct inspiration and guidance. The Silent Watchers, therefore, are relatively numerous, because every hierarchy, large or small, high or low, has as its own particular hierarch or supreme head a Silent Watcher. There are human Silent Watchers, and there is a Silent Watcher for every globe of our planetary chain. There is likewise a Silent Watcher of the solar system of vastly loftier state or stage, etc.

"Silent Watcher" is a graphic phrase, and describes with fair accuracy the predominant trait or characteristic of such a spiritual being — one who through evolution having practically gained omniscience or perfect knowledge of all that he can learn in any one sphere of the kosmos, instead of pursuing his evolutionary path forwards to still higher realms, remains in order to help the multitudes and hosts of less progressed entities trailing behind him. There he remains at his self-imposed task, waiting and watching and helping and inspiring, and so far as we humans are concerned, in the utter silences of spiritual compassion. Thence the term Silent Watcher. He can learn nothing more from the particular sphere of life through which he has now passed, and the secrets of which he knows by heart. For the time being and for ages he has renounced all individual evolution for himself out of pure pity and high compassion for those beneath him.


(Sista, Sanskrit) This is a word meaning "remainders," or "remains," or "residuals" — anything that is left or remains behind. In the especial application in which this word is used in the ancient wisdom, the sishtas are those superior classes — each of its own kind and kingdom — left behind on a planet when it goes into obscuration, in order to serve as the seeds of life for the inflow of the next incoming life-wave when the dawn of the new manvantara takes place on that planet.

When each kingdom passes on to its next globe, each one leaves behind its sishtas, its lives representing the very highest point of evolution arrived at by that kingdom in that round, but leaves them sleeping as it were: dormant, relatively motionless, including life-atoms among them. Not without life, however, for everything is as much alive as ever, and there is no "dead" matter anywhere; but the sishtas considered aggregatively as the remnants or residuals of the life-wave which has passed on are sleeping, dormant, resting. These sishtas await the incoming of the life-waves on the next round, and then they re-awaken to a new cycle of activity as the seeds of the new kingdom or kingdoms — be it the three elemental kingdoms or the mineral or vegetable or the beast or the next humanity.

In a more restricted and still more specific sense, the sishtas are the great elect, or sages, left behind after every obscuration.


(Sanskrit) Literally "bundles," or groups of attributes, to use H. P. Blavatsky's definition. When death comes to a man in any one life, the seeds of those causes previously sown by him and which have not yet come forth into blossom and full-blown flower and fruit, remain in his interior and invisible parts as impulses lying latent and sleeping: lying latent like sleeping seeds for future flowerings into action in the next and succeeding lives. They are psychological impulse-seeds lying asleep until their appropriate stage for awakening into action arrives at some time in the future.

In the case of the cosmic bodies, every solar or planetary body upon entering into its pralaya, its prakritika-pralaya — the dissolution of its lower principles — at the end of its long life cycle, exists in space in the higher activity of its spiritual principles, and in the dispersion of its lowest principles, which latter latently exist in space as skandhas in a laya-condition.

When a laya-center is fired into action by the touch of wills and consciousnesses on their downward way, becoming the imbodying life of a solar system, or of a planet of a solar system, the center manifests first on its highest plane, and later on its lower plane. The skandhas are awakened into life one after another: first the highest ones, next the intermediate ones, and lastly the inferior ones, cosmically and qualitatively speaking.

The term skandhas in theosophical philosophy has the general significance of bundles or groups of attributes, which together form or compose the entire set of material and also mental, emotional, and moral qualities. Exoterically the skandhas are "bundles" of attributes five in number, but esoterically they are seven. These unite at the birth of man and constitute his personality. After the death of the body the skandhas are separated and so remain until the reincarnating ego on its downward path into physical incarnation gathers them together again around itself, and thus reforms the human constitution considered as a unity.

In brief, the skandhas can be said to be the aggregate of the groups of attributes or qualities which make each individual man the personality that he is; but this must be sharply distinguished from the individuality.


(Sanskrit) "The Sanskrit epic meter formed of thirty-two syllables: verses in four half lines of eight, or in two lines of sixteen syllables each" (H. P. Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary).


This word in the ancient wisdom signifies "vehicle," and upadhi — that vehicle, or any vehicle, in which the monad, in any sphere of manifestation, is working out its destiny. A soul is an entity which is evolved by experiences; it is not a spirit, but it is a vehicle of a spirit — the monad. It manifests in matter through and by being a substantial portion of the lower essence of the spirit. Touching another plane below it, or it may be above it, the point of union allowing ingress and egress to the consciousness, is a laya-center — the neutral center, in matter or substance, through which consciousness passes — and the center of that consciousness is the monad. The soul in contradistinction with the monad is its vehicle for manifestation on any one plane. The spirit or monad manifests in seven vehicles, and each one of these vehicles is a soul.

On the higher planes the soul is a vehicle manifesting as a sheaf or pillar of light; similarly with the various egos and their related vehicle-souls on the inferior planes, all growing constantly more dense, as the planes of matter gradually thicken downwards and become more compact, into which the monadic ray penetrates until the final soul, which is the physical body, the general vehicle or bearer or carrier of them all.

Our teachings give to every animate thing a soul — not a human soul, or a divine soul, or a spiritual soul — but a soul corresponding to its own type. What it is, what its type is, actually comes from its soul; hence we properly may speak of the different beasts as having one or the other, a "duck soul," an "ostrich soul," a "bull" or a "cow soul," and so forth. The entities lower than man — in this case the beasts, considered as a kingdom, are differentiated into the different families of animals by the different souls within each. Of course behind the soul from which it springs there are in each individual entity all the other principles that likewise inform man; but all these higher principles are latent in the beast.

Speaking generally, however, we may say that the soul is the intermediate part between the spirit which is deathless and immortal on the one hand and, on the other hand, the physical frame, entirely mortal. The soul, therefore, is the intermediate part of the human constitution. It must be carefully noted in this connection that soul as a term employed in the esoteric philosophy, while indeed meaning essentially a "vehicle" or "sheath," this vehicle or sheath is nevertheless an animate or living entity much after the manner that the physical body, while being the sheath or vehicle of the other parts of man's constitution, is nevertheless in itself a discrete, animate, personalized being. (See also Vahana)

Soulless Beings

"We elbow soulless men in the streets at every turn," wrote H. P. Blavatsky. This is an actual fact. The statement does not mean that those whom we thus elbow have no soul. The significance is that the spiritual part of these human beings is sleeping, not awake. They are animate humans with an animate working brain-mind, an animal mind, but otherwise "soulless" in the sense that the soul is inactive, sleeping; and this is also just what Pythagoras meant when he spoke of the "living dead." They are everywhere, these people. We elbow them, just as H. P. Blavatsky says, at every turn. The eyes may be physically bright, and filled with the vital physical fire, but they lack soul; they lack tenderness, the fervid yet gentle warmth of the living flame of inspiration within. Sometimes impersonal love will awaken the soul in a man or in a woman; sometimes it will kill it if the love become selfish and gross. The streets are filled with such "soulless" people; but the phrase soulless people does not mean "lost souls." The latter is again something else. The term soulless people therefore is a technical term. It means men and women who are still connected, but usually quite unconsciously, with the monad, the spiritual essence within them, but who are not self-consciously so connected. They live very largely in the brain-mind and in the fields of sensuous consciousness. They turn with pleasure to the frivolities of life. They have the ordinary feelings of honor, etc., because it is conventional and good breeding so to have them; but the deep inner fire of yearning, the living warmth that comes from being more or less at one with the god within, they know not. Hence, they are "soulless," because the soul is not working with fiery energy in and through them.

A lost soul, on the other hand, means an entity who through various rebirths, it may be a dozen, or more or less, has been slowly following the "easy descent to Avernus," and in whom the threads of communication with the spirit within have been snapped one after the other. Vice will do this, continuous vice. Hate snaps these spiritual threads more quickly than anything else perhaps. Selfishness, the parent of hate, is the root of all human evil; and therefore a lost soul is one who is not merely soulless in the ordinary theosophical usage of the word, but is one who has lost the last link, the last delicate thread of consciousness, connecting him with his inner god. He will continue "the easy descent," passing from human birth to an inferior human birth, and then to one still more inferior, until finally the degenerate astral monad — all that remains of the human being that once was — may even enter the body of some beast to which it feels attracted (and this is one side of the teaching of transmigration, which has been so badly misunderstood in the Occident); some finally go even to plants perhaps, at the last, and will ultimately vanish. The astral monad will then have faded out. Such lost souls are exceedingly rare, fortunately; but they are not what we call soulless people.

If the student will remember the fact that when a human being is filled with the living spiritual and intellectual fiery energies flowing into his brain-mind from his inner god, he is then an insouled being, he will readily understand that when these fiery energies can no longer reach the brain-mind and manifest in a man's life, there is thus produced what is called a soulless being. A good man, honorable, loyal, compassionate, aspiring, gentle, and true-hearted, and a student of wisdom, is an "insouled" man; a buddha is one who is fully, completely insouled; and there are all the intermediate grades between.


Our universe, as popularly supposed, consists of space and matter and energy; but in theosophy we say that space itself is both conscious and substantial. It is in fact the root of the other two, matter and energy, which are fundamentally one thing, and this one fundamental thing is SPACE — their essential and also their instrumental cause as well as their substantial cause — and this is the reality of being, the heart of things.

Our teaching is that there are many universes, not merely one, our own home-universe; therefore are there many spaces with a background of a perfectly incomprehensible greater SPACE inclosing all — a space which is still more ethereal, tenuous, spiritual, yes, divine, than the space-matter that we know or rather conceive of, which in its lowest aspect manifests the grossness of physical matter of common human knowledge. Space, therefore, considered in the abstract, is BEING, filled full, so to say, with other entities and things, of which we see a small part — globes innumerable, stars and planets, nebulae and comets.

But all these material bodies are but effectual products or results of the infinitudes of the invisible and inner causal realms — by far the larger part of the spaces of Space. The space therefore of any one universe is an entity — a god. Fundamentally and essentially it is a spiritual entity, a divine entity indeed, of which we see naught but what we humans call the material and energic aspect — behind which is the causal life, the causal intelligence.

The word is likewise frequently used in theosophical philosophy to signify the frontierless infinitudes of the Boundless; and because it is the very esse of life-consciousness-substance, it is incomparably more than the mere "container" that it is so often supposed to be by Occidental philosophers. (See also Universe; Milky Way)


In the theosophical philosophy there is a distinct and important difference in the use of the words spirit and soul. The spirit is the immortal element in us, the deathless flame within us which dies never, which never was born and which retains throughout the entire maha-manvantara its own quality, essence, and life, sending down into our own being and into our various planes certain of its rays or garments or souls which we are.

The divine spirit of man is linked with the All, being in a highly mystical sense a ray of the All.

A soul is an entity which is evolved by experiences; it is not a spirit because it is a vehicle of a spirit. It manifests in matter through and by being a substantial portion of the lower essence of the spirit. Touching another plane below it, or it may be above it, the point of union allowing ingress and egress to the consciousness is a laya-center. The spirit manifests in seven vehicles, and each one of these vehicles is a soul; and that particular point through which the spiritual influence passes in the soul is the laya-center, the heart of the soul, or rather the summit thereof — homogeneous soul-substance, if you like.

In a kosmical sense spirit should be applied only to that which belongs without qualifications to universal consciousness and which is the homogeneous and unmixed emanation from the universal consciousness. In the case of man, the spirit within man is the flame of his deathless ego, the direct emanation of the spiritual monad within him, and of this ego the spiritual soul is the enclosing sheath or vehicle or garment. Making an application more particularly and specifically to the human principles, when the higher manas of man which is his real ego is indissolubly linked with buddhi, this, in fact, is the spiritual ego or spirit of the individual human being's constitution. Its life term before the emanation is withdrawn into the divine monad is for the full period of a kosmic manvantara.

Spirit (in reference to Matter)

The theosophist points out that what men call spirit is the summit or acme or root or seed or beginning or noumenon — call it by any name — of any particular hierarchy existing in the innumerable hosts of the kosmic hierarchies, with all of which any such hierarchy is inextricably interblended and interworking.

When theosophists speak of spirit and substance, of which matter and energy or force are the physicalized expressions, we must remember that all these terms are abstractions, generalized expressions for certain entities manifesting aggregatively.

Spirit, for instance, is not essentially different from matter, and is only relatively so different, or evolutionally so different: the difference not lying in the roots of these two where they become one in the underlying consciousness-reality, but in their characters they are two evolutional forms of manifestation of that underlying reality. In other words, to use the terminology of modern scientific philosophy, spirit and matter are, each of them, respectively an "event" as the underlying reality passes through eternal duration.

Spiritual Soul

The spiritual soul is the vehicle of the individual monad, the jivatman or spiritual ego; in the case of man's principles it is essentially of the nature of atma-buddhi. This spiritual ego is the center or seed or root of the reincarnating ego. It is that portion of our spiritual constitution which is deathless as an individualized entity — deathless until the end of the maha-manvantara of the cosmic solar system.

The spiritual soul and the divine soul, or atman, combined, are the inner god — the inner buddha, the inner christ.


(Sanskrit) Sthula means "coarse," "gross," not refined, heavy, bulky, fat in the sense of bigness, therefore, conditioned and differentiated matter; sarira, "form," generally speaking. The lowest substance-principle of which man is composed, usually classified as the seventh in order — the physical body.

The sthula-sarira or physical hierarchy of the human body is builded up of cosmic elements, themselves formed of living atomic entities which, although subject individually to bewilderingly rapid changes and reimbodiments, nevertheless are incomparably more enduring in themselves as expressions of the monadic rays than is the transitory physical body which they temporarily compose.

The physical body is composed mostly of porosity, if the expression be pardoned; the most unreal thing we know, full of holes, foamy as it were. At death the physical body follows the course of natural decay, and its various hosts of life-atoms proceed individually and collectively whither their natural attractions call them.

Strictly speaking, the physical body is not a principle at all; it is merely a house, man's carrier in another sense, and no more is an essential part of him — except that he has excreted it, thrown it out from himself — than are the clothes in which his body is garmented. Man really is a complete human being without the sthula-sarira; and yet this statement while accurate must be taken not too literally, because even the physical body is the expression of man's constitution on the physical plane. The meaning is that the human constitution can be a complete human entity even when the physical body is discarded, but the sthula-sarira is needed for evolution and active work on this subplane of the solar kosmos.


(Sanskrit) In ancient India a man of the servile or fourth or lowest caste, social and political, of the early civilizations of Hindustan in the Vedic and post-Vedic periods. The other three grades or classes are respectively the Brahmana or priest-philosopher; the Kshatriya, the administrator — king, noble — and soldier; and third, the Vaisya, the trader and agriculturist.


(Sanskrit) A compound word meaning "thread-self," the golden thread of individuality — the stream of self-consciousness — on which all the substance-principles of man's constitution are strung, so to say, like pearls on a golden chain. The sutratman is the stream of consciousness-life running through all the various substance-principles of the constitution of the human entity — or indeed of any other entity. Each such pearl on the golden chain is one of the countless personalities which man uses during the course of his manvantara-long evolutionary progress. The sutratman, therefore, may be briefly said to be the immortal or spiritual monadic ego, the individuality which incarnates in life after life, and therefore is rightly called the thread-self or fundamental self.

It is this sutratman, this thread-self, this consciousness-stream, or rather stream of consciousness-life, which is the fundamental and individual selfhood of every entity, and which, reflected in and through the several intermediate vehicles or veils or sheaths or garments of the invisible constitution of man, or of any other being in which a monad enshrouds itself, produces the egoic centers of self-conscious existence. The sutratman, therefore, is rooted in the monad, the monadic essence.


(Sanskrit) A compound word derived from the verb-root bhu, meaning "to become" — not so much "to be" in the passive sense, but rather "to become," to "grow into" something. The quasi-pronominal prefix sva, means "self"; hence the noun means "self-becoming," "self-generation," "self-growing" into something. Yet the essential or fundamental or integral Self, although following continuously its own lofty line of evolution, cannot be said to suffer the changes or phases that its vehicles undergo. Like the monads, like the One, thus the Self fundamental — which, after all, is virtually the same as the one monadic essence — sends down a ray from itself into every organic entity, much as the sun sends a ray from itself into the surrounding "darkness" of the solar universe.

Svabhava has two general philosophical meanings: first, self-begetting, self-generation, self-becoming, the general idea being that there is no merely mechanical or soulless activity of nature in bringing us into being, for we brought ourselves forth, in and through and by nature, of which we are a part of the conscious forces, and therefore are our own children. The second meaning is that each and every entity that exists is the result of what he actually is spiritually in his own higher nature: he brings forth that which he is in himself interiorly, nothing else. A particular race, for instance, remains and is that race as long as the particular race-svabhava remains in the racial seed and manifests thus. Likewise is the case the same with a man, a tree, a star, a god — what not!

What makes a rose bring forth a rose always and not thistles or daisies or pansies? The answer is very simple; very profound, however. It is because of its svabhava, the essential nature in and of the seed. Its svabhava can bring forth only that which itself is, its essential characteristic, its own inner nature. Svabhava, in short, may be called the essential individuality of any monad, expressing its own characteristics, qualities, and type, by self-urged evolution.

The seed can produce nothing but what it itself is, what is in it; and this is the heart and essence of the doctrine of svabhava. The philosophical, scientific, and religious reach of this doctrine is simply immense; and it is of the first importance. Consequently, each individual svabhava brings forth and expresses as its own particular vehicles its various svarupas, signifying characteristic bodies or images or forms. The svabhava of a dog, for instance, brings forth the dog body. The svabhava of a rose brings forth the rose flower; the svabhava of a man brings forth man's shape or image; and the svabhava of a divinity or god brings forth its own svarupa or characteristic vehicle.


(Sanskrit) The neuter present participle of a compound word derived from the verb-root bhu, meaning "to become," from which is derived a secondary meaning "to be," in the sense of growth.

Svabhavat is a state or condition of cosmic consciousness-substance, where spirit and matter, which are fundamentally one, no longer are dual as in manifestation, but one: that which is neither manifested matter nor manifested spirit alone, but both are the primeval unity — spiritual akasa — where matter merges into spirit, and both now being really one, are called "Father-Mother," spirit-substance. Svabhavat never descends from its own state or condition, or from its own plane, but is the cosmic reservoir of being, as well as of beings, therefore of consciousness, of intellectual light, of life; and it is the ultimate source of what science, in our day, so quaintly calls the energies of nature universal.

The northern Buddhists call svabhavat by a more mystical term, Adi-buddhi, "primeval buddhi"; the Brahmanical scriptures call it akasa; and the Hebrew Old Testament refers to it as the cosmic "waters."

The difference in meaning between svabhavat and svabhava is very great and is not generally understood; the two words often have been confused. Svabhava is the characteristic nature, the type-essence, the individuality, of svabhavat — of any svabhavat, each such svabhavat having its own svabhava. Svabhavat, therefore, is really the world-substance or stuff, or still more accurately that which is causal of the world-substance, and this causal principle or element is the spirit and essence of cosmic substance. It is the plastic essence of matter, both manifest and unmanifest. (See also Akasa)

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