Occult Glossary by G. de Purucker

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

LIST OF TERMS

T | U | V | Y | Z

TalaTamasTanhaTantra(s)TantrikTatTattvas — That (see Parabrahman; Tat) — TheosophyThought TransferenceTransmigration — Treta Yuga (see Yuga) — Trishna — Turiya (see Jagrat; Karanopadhi)

Universal BrotherhoodUniversal SelfUniverseUpadhiUpanishad

VachVahanaVaisyaVedantaVeda(s)Vidya

White Magicians (see Brothers of the Shadow)

Yama (see Samadhi) — YogaYogiYuga

Zodiac


A | B-C | D-E-F | G-H-I | J-K-L | M | N-O-P | Q-R | S


T

Tala

(Sanskrit) A word which is largely used in the metaphysical systems of India, both in contrast and at the same time in conjunction with loka. As the general meaning of loka is "place" or rather "world," so the general meaning of tala is "inferior world." Every loka has as its twin or counterpart a corresponding tala. Wherever there is a loka there is an exactly correspondential tala, and in fact the tala is the nether pole of its corresponding loka. Lokas and talas, therefore, in a way of speaking, may be considered to be the spiritual and the material aspects or substance-principles of the different worlds which compose and in fact are the kosmic universe. It is impossible to separate a tala from its corresponding loka — quite as impossible as it would be to separate the two poles of electricity.

The number of talas as generally outlined in the exoteric philosophies of Hindustan is usually given as seven, there being thus seven lokas and seven talas; but, as a matter of fact, this number varies. If we may speak of a loka as the spiritual pole, we may likewise call it the principle of any world; and correspondentially when we speak of the tala as being the negative or inferior pole, it is quite proper also to refer to it as the element of its corresponding loka or principle. Hence, the lokas of a hierarchy may be called the principles of a hierarchy, and the talas, in exactly the same way, may be called the elements or substantial or material aspects of the hierarchy.

It should likewise be remembered that all the seven lokas and all the seven talas are continuously and inextricably interblended and interworking; and that the lokas and the talas working together form the universe and its various subordinate hierarchies that encompass us around. The higher lokas with the higher talas are the forces or energies and substantial parts of the spiritual and ethereal worlds; the lowest lokas and their corresponding talas form the forces or energies and substantial parts of the physical world surrounding us; and the intermediate lokas with their corresponding talas form the respective energies and substantial parts of the intermediate or ethereal realms.

Briefly, therefore, we may speak of a tala as the material aspect of the world where it predominates, just as when speaking of a loka we may consider it to be the spiritual aspect of the world where it predominates. Every loka, it should be always remembered, is coexistent with and cannot be separated from its corresponding tala on the same plane.

As an important deduction from the preceding observations, be it carefully noted that man's own constitution as an individual from the highest to the lowest is a hierarchy of its own kind, and therefore man himself as such a subordinate hierarchy is a composite entity formed of lokas and talas inextricably interworking and intermingled. In this subordinate hierarchy called man live and evolve vast armies, hosts, multitudes, of living entities, monads in this inferior stage of their long evolutionary peregrination, and which for convenience and brevity of expression we may class under the general term of life-atoms.

Tamas

(Sanskrit) One of the three gunas or qualities or essential attributes of manifested beings and things. Tamas is the quality of darkness, illusion, ignorance; it also means, in a quite different sense, quiescence, passivity, repose, rest, inertia. It becomes immediately obvious from the distinctions that these two series of words show, that there is both a good and an evil side to tamas, just as indeed there is a good and evil side to rajas, and even to sattva. The condition of manifested existence in the state of cosmic pralaya is in one sense of the word the tamasic condition, signifying quiescence or rest. When the universe is in the stage of active manvantaric manifestation, we may in a generalizing sense say that the universe is in the rajasic state or condition; and that aspect of the universe which we may call the divine-spiritual, whether in the universe itself or in the manvantara or in the pralaya of a globe, can be spoken of as the sattvic state or condition. From these observations it should be evident that the three gunas — sattva, rajas, tamas — not only can exist contemporaneously and coincidently, but actually do so exist, and that in fact the three are inextricably interblended. They are really three phases or conditions of imbodied consciousnesses, and each has its noble and each its "evil" side.

Tanha

(Pali) A word familiar in Buddhism and signifying the "thirst" for material life. It is this thirst or yearning to return to familiar scenes that brings the reincarnating ego back to earth-life — and this yearning is more effectual as an individual cause for reincarnation, perhaps, than all else. (See also Trishna)

Tantra(s)

(Sanskrit) A word literally meaning a "loom" or the warp or threads in a loom, and, by extension of meaning, signifying a rule or ritual for ceremonial rites. The Hindu Tantras are numerous works or religious treatises teaching mystical and magical formulae or formularies for the attainment of magical or quasi-magical powers, and for the worship of the gods. They are mostly composed in the form of dialogs between Siva and his divine consort Durga, these two divinities being the peculiar objects of the adoration of the Tantrins.

In many parts of India the authority of the Tantras seems almost to have superseded the clean and poetical hymns of the Vedas.

Most tantric works are supposed to contain five different subjects: (1) the manifestation or evolution of the universe; (2) its destruction; (3) the worship or adoration of the divinities; (4) the achievement or attainment of desired objects and especially of six superhuman faculties; (5) modes or methods of union, usually enumerated as four, with the supreme divinity of the kosmos by means of contemplative meditation.

Unfortunately, while there is much of interest in the tantric works, their tendency for long ages has been distinctly towards what in occultism is known as sorcery or black magic. Some of the rites or ceremonies practiced have to do with revolting details connected with sex.

Durga, the consort of Siva, his sakti or energy, is worshiped by the Tantrins as a distinct personified female power.

The origin of the Tantras unquestionably goes back to a very remote antiquity, and there seems to be little doubt that these works, or their originals, were heirlooms handed down from originally debased or degenerate Atlantean racial offshoots. There is, of course, a certain amount of profoundly philosophical and mystical thought running through the more important tantric works, but the tantric worship in many cases is highly licentious and immoral.

Tantrik or Tantrika

(Sanskrit) The adjective corresponding to tantra. This adjective, however, is sometimes employed to signify one who is deeply versed in some study — a scholar; but more particularly the adjective concerns the Tantras and the doctrines contained in them.

Tat

(Sanskrit) A pronominal neuter particle which is often used as a noun having the signification THAT. By this word the Vedic sages and archaic scriptural writers of India described the unutterable principle from which all in a single kosmic universe sprang, contrasting it with the pronominal particle idam, meaning "this" and signifying the manifested universe. (See also Parabrahman)

Tattvas

(Sanskrit) A word the meaning of which is the elementary principles or elements of original substance, or rather the different principles or elements in universal, intelligent, conscious nature when considered from the standpoint of occultism. The word tattva perhaps may be literally translated or rendered as "thatness," reminding one of the "quiddity" of the European Scholastics.

The number of tattvas or nature's elemental principles varies according to different systems of philosophy. The Sankhya, for instance, enumerates twenty-five tattvas. The system of the Mahesvaras or worshipers of Siva with his consort Durga, reckons five principles, which are simply the five elements of nature found in all ancient literatures. Occultism, of course, recognizes seven tattvas, and, indeed, ten fundamental element-principles or element-substances or tattvas in universal nature, and each one of these tattvas is represented in the human constitution and active therein. Otherwise, the human constitution could not cohere as an organic entity.

Theosophy

A compound Greek word: theos, a "divine being," a "god"; sophia, "wisdom"; hence divine wisdom. Theosophy is the majestic wisdom-religion of the archaic ages and is as old as thinking man. It was delivered to the first human protoplasts, the first thinking human beings on this earth, by highly intelligent spiritual entities from superior spheres. This ancient doctrine, this esoteric system, has been passed down from guardians to guardians to guardians through innumerable generations until our own time. Furthermore, portions of this original and majestic system have been given out at various periods of time to various races in various parts of the world by those guardians when humanity stood in need of such extension and elaboration of spiritual and intellectual thought.

Theosophy is not a syncretistic philosophy-religion-science, a system of thought or belief which has been put together piecemeal and consisting of parts or portions taken by some great mind from other various religions or philosophies. This idea is false. On the contrary, theosophy is that single system or systematic formulation of the facts of visible and invisible nature which, as expressed through the illuminated human mind, takes the apparently separate forms of science and of philosophy and of religion. We may likewise describe theosophy to be the formulation in human language of the nature, structure, origin, destiny, and operations of the kosmical universe and of the multitudes of beings which infill it.

It might be added that theosophy, in the language of H. P. Blavatsky (Theosophical Glossary, p. 328), is "the sub-stratum and basis of all the world-religions and philosophies, taught and practiced by a few elect ever since man became a thinking being. In its practical bearing, Theosophy is purely divine ethics; the definitions in dictionaries are pure nonsense, based on religious prejudice and ignorance." (See also Universal Brotherhood)

Thought Transference

The power of transferring one's thoughts without a word — voiceless speech. This is no psychical power. Its psychical aspect, commonly called thought transference or telepathy, is but a feeble manifestation of a truly sublime power, and is illusory, because it is but a reflected light of the real spiritual power within. True thought transference is a spiritual faculty. Having this spiritual power you can transfer your thought and your consciousness and your will to any part of the earth — and actually be there, see what goes on, know what is happening there. No merely psychical power will ever enable you to do that. In Tibet this power is called by the generalizing name hpho-wa. Having this power your conscious and percipient inner self can pass through stone walls as easily as the electric current runs along or through the copper wire. (See also Mayavi-Rupa)

Transmigration

This word is grossly misunderstood in the modern Occident, as also is the doctrine comprised under the old Greek word metempsychosis, both being modernly supposed to mean, through the common misunderstanding of the ancient literatures, that the human soul at some time after death migrates into the beast realm and is reborn on earth in a beast body. The real meaning of this statement in ancient literature refers to the destiny of what theosophists call the life-atoms, but it has absolutely no reference to the destiny of the human soul, as an entity.

Theosophy accepts all aspects of the ancient teaching, but explains and interprets them. Our doctrine in this respect unless, indeed, we are treating of the case of a "lost soul, "is "once a man, always a man." The human soul can no more migrate over and incarnate in a beast body than can the psychical apparatus of a beast incarnate in human flesh. Why? Because in the former case, the beast vehicle offers to the human soul no opening at all for the expression of the spiritual and intellectual and psychical powers and faculties and tendencies which make a man human. Nor can the soul of the beast enter into a human body, because the impassable gulf of a psychical and intellectual nature, which separates the two kingdoms, prevents any such passage from the one up into another so much its superior in all respects. In the former case, there is no attraction for the man beastwards; and in the latter case there is the impossibility of the imperfectly developed beast mind and beast soul finding a proper lodgment in what to it is truly a godlike sphere which it simply cannot enter.

Transmigration, however, has a specific meaning when the word is applied to the human soul: the living entity migrates or passes over from one condition to another condition or state or plane, as the case may be, whether these latter be in the invisible realms of nature or in the visible realms, and whether the state or condition be high or low. The specific meaning of this word, therefore, implies nothing more than a change of state or of condition or of plane: a migrating of the living entity from one to the other, but always in conditions or estates or habitudes appropriate and pertaining to its human dignity.

In its application to the life-atoms, to which are to be referred the observations of the ancients with regard to the lower realms of nature, transmigration means briefly that the particular life-atoms, which in their aggregate compose man's lower principles, at and following the change that men call death migrate or transmigrate or pass into other bodies to which these life-atoms are attracted by similarity of development — be these attractions high or low, and they are usually low, because their own evolutionary development is as a rule far from being advanced. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that these life-atoms compose man's inner — and outer — vehicles or bodies, and that in consequence there are various grades or classes of these life-atoms, from the physical upwards (or inwards if you please) to the astral, purely vital, emotional, mental, and psychical.

This is, in general terms, the meaning of transmigration. The word means no more than the specific senses just outlined, and stops there. But the teaching concerning the destiny of the entity is continued and developed in the doctrine pertaining to the word metempsychosis.

Trishna

(Sanskrit) The meaning of this word is "thirst" or "longing," but it is a technical term imbodying the idea that it is this "thirst" for the things which the human ego formerly knew, and which it wills and desires to know again — things familiar and akin to it from past experiences — which draws the intermediate nature or human ego of man back again to incarnation in earth-life. It is attracted anew to what is to it old and familiar worlds and scenes; it thirsts for the manifested life comprising them, for the things which it formerly made akin to itself; and thus is it attracted back to those spheres which it left at some preceding period of its evolutionary journey through them, when death overtook it. Its attraction to return to earth is naught but an operation of a law of nature. Here the intermediate nature or human ego sowed the seeds of thought and of action in past lives, and here therefore must it of necessity reap their fruits. It cannot reap where it has not sown, as is obvious enough. It never goes whither it is not attracted or drawn.

After death has released the intermediate nature, and during long ages has given to it its period of bliss and rest and psychical recuperation — much as a quiet and reposeful night's sleep is to the tired physical body — then, just as a man reawakens by degrees, so does this intermediate nature or human ego by degrees recede or awaken from that state of rest and bliss called devachan. And the seeds of thoughts, the seeds of actions which it had done in former lives, are now laid by in the fabric of itself — seeds whose natural energy is still unexpended and unexhausted — and inhere in that inner psychical fabric, for they have nowhere else in which to inhere, since the man produced them there and they are a part of him. These seeds of former thoughts and acts, of former emotions, desires, loves, hates, yearnings, and aspirations, each one of such begins to make itself felt as an urge earthwards, towards the spheres and planes in which they are native, and where they naturally grow and expand and develop.

In this our present life, all of us are setting in motion causes in thought and in action which will bring us back to this earth in the distant future. We shall then reap the harvest of the seeds of thought and action that we are in this present life planting in the fields of our human nature.

In the Pali books of the Orient this word is called tanha.


U

Universal Brotherhood

Universal brotherhood as understood in the esoteric philosophy, and which is a sublime natural fact of universal nature, does not signify merely sentimental unity, or a simple political or social cooperation. Its meaning is incomparably wider and profounder than this. The sense inherent in the words in their widest tenor or purport is the spiritual brotherhood of all beings; particularly, the doctrine implies that all human beings are inseparably linked together, not merely by the bonds of emotional thought or feeling, but by the very fabric of the universe itself, all men — as well as all beings, both high and low and intermediate — springing forth from the inner and spiritual sun of the universe as its hosts of spiritual rays. We all come from this one source, that spiritual sun, and are all builded of the same life-atoms on all the various planes.

It is this interior unity of being and of consciousness, as well as the exterior union of us all, which enables us to grasp intellectually and spiritually the mysteries of the universe; because not merely ourselves and our own fellow human beings, but also all other beings and things that are, are children of the same kosmic parent, great Mother Nature, in all her seven (and ten) planes or worlds of being. We are all rooted in the same kosmic essence, whence we all proceeded in the beginning of the primordial periods of world evolution, and towards which we are all journeying back. This interlocking and interblending of the numberless hierarchies of beings forming the universe itself extends everywhere, in the invisible worlds as well as in the worlds which are visible.

Finally, it is upon this fact of the spiritual unity of all beings and things that reposes the basis and foundation of human ethics when these last are properly understood. In the esoteric philosophy ethics are no mere human convention or rules of action convenient and suitable for the amelioration of the asperities of human intercourse, but are fundamental in the very structure and inextricably coordinated operations of the universe itself.

Universal Self

The universal self is the heart of the universe, for these two phrases are but two manners of expressing the same thing. It is the source of our being; it is also the goal whither we are all marching, we and the hierarchies above us as well as the hierarchies and the entities which compose them inferior to us. All come from the same ineffable source, the heart of being, the universal self. All pass at one period of their evolutionary journey through the stage of humanity, gaining thereby self-consciousness or the ego-self, the "I am I," and they find this ego-self or consciousness, as they advance along this evolutionary path, expanding gradually into universal consciousness — an expansion, however, which never has an end, because the universal consciousness is endless, limitless, boundless, and without any frontiers whatsoever. (See also Paramatman; Self)

Universe

The theosophical philosophy divides the universe into two general functional portions — one the consciousness side, the abode or dwelling place, and at the same time the aggregate, of all the self-conscious, thinking entities that the boundless universe contains; and the other, the material side of nature, which is their schoolhouse, their home, and their playground too. This so-called material side is a practically infinite aggregate of monads or consciousness centers passing through that particular phase of their evolutionary journey.

This universe, therefore, is a vast aggregate of consciousness centers in both the two functional portions of it; and these consciousness centers theosophists call monads. They are entities conscious in differing degrees, stretching along the boundless scale of the universal life; but in that particular phase which passes through what we humans call matter, those monads belonging to and forming that side of the universe, in the course of their long, long, evolutionary journey have not yet attained self-conscious powers or faculties. And furthermore, what we call matter, in its last analysis is actually an aggregate of these monads manifesting in their physical expressions as life-atoms.

The consciousness side of universal nature, which also consists of countless hosts of self-conscious entities, works in and through this other or material side; for these hosts of consciousnesses self-express themselves through this other or material function or side, through these other countless hosts of younger and inferior and embryo entities, which are the life-atoms — embryo gods. The universe is therefore actually and literally imbodied consciousnesses.

Upadhi

(Sanskrit) A word which is used in various senses in Indian philosophy, the vocable itself meaning "limitation" or "a peculiarity" and hence "a disguise"; and from this last meaning arises the expression "vehicle," which it often bears in modern theosophical philosophy. The gist of the word signifies "that which stands forth following a model or pattern," as a canvas, so to say, upon which the light from a projecting lantern plays. An upadhi therefore, mystically speaking, is like a play of shadow and form, when compared with the ultimate reality, which is the cause of this play of shadow and form. Man may be considered as a being composed of three (or even four) essential upadhis or bases.

Upanishad

(Sanskrit) A compound, composed of upa "according to," "together with," ni "down," and the verbal root sad, "to sit," which becomes shad by Sanskrit grammar when preceded by the particle ni: the entire compound thus signifying "following upon or according to the teachings which were received when we were sitting down." The figure here is that of pupils sitting in the Oriental style at the feet of the teacher, who taught them the secret wisdom or rahasya, in private and in forms and manners of expression that later were written and promulgated according to those teachings and after that style.

The Upanishads are examples of literary works in which the rahasya — a Sanskrit word meaning "esoteric doctrine" or "mystery" — is imbodied. The Upanishads belong to the Vedic cycle and are regarded by orthodox Brahmans as a portion of the sruti or "revelation." It was from these wonderful quasi-esoteric and very mystical works that was later developed the highly philosophical and profound system called the Vedanta. The Upanishads are usually reckoned today as one hundred and fifty in number, though probably only a score are now complete without evident marks of literary change or adulteration in the way of excision or interpolation.

The topics treated of in the Upanishads are highly transcendental, recondite, and abstruse, and in order properly to understand the Upanishadic teaching one should have constantly in mind the master-keys that theosophy puts into the hand of the student. The origin of the universe, the nature of the divinities, the relations between soul and ego, the connections of spiritual and material beings, the liberation of the evolving entity from the chains of maya, and kosmological questions, are all dealt with, mostly in a succinct and cryptic form. The Upanishads, finally, may be called the exoteric theosophical works of Hindustan, but contain a vast amount of genuine esoteric information.


V

Vach

(Sanskrit) A term which means "speech" or "word"; and by the same procedure of mystical thought which is seen in ancient Greek mysticism, wherein the Logos is not merely the speech or word of the Divinity, but also the divine reason, so Vach has come to mean really more than merely word or speech. The esoteric Vach is the subjective creative intelligent force which, emanating from the subjective universe, becomes the manifested or concrete expression of ideation, hence Word or Logos. Mystically, therefore, Vach may be said to be the feminine or vehicular aspect of the Logos, or the power of the Logos when enshrined within its vehicle or sheath of action. Vach in India is often called Sata-rupa, "the hundred-formed." Cosmologically in one sense daiviprakriti may be said to be a manifestation or form of Vach.

Vahana

(Sanskrit) A "vehicle" or carrier. This word has a rather wide currency in philosophical and esoteric and occult thought. Its signification is a bearer or vehicle of some entity which, through this carrier or vehicle, is enabled to manifest itself on planes or in spheres or worlds hierarchically inferior to its own. Thus the vahana of man is, generally speaking, his body, although indeed man's constitution comprises a number of vahanas or vehicles, each one belonging to — and enabling the inner man, or manifesting spiritual or intellectual entity, to express itself on — the plane where the vahana is native.

Vahana is thus seen to have a number of different meanings, or, more accurately, applications. E.g., the vahana of man's spiritual monad is his spiritual soul; the vahana of man's human ego is his human soul; and the vahana of man's psycho-vital-astral monad is the linga-sarira working through its vahana or carrier, the sthula-sarira or physical body. The wire which carries the current of electricity can be said to be the vahana of the electric current; or again, the intermolecular ether is the vahana of many of the radioactive forces of the world around us, etc. Every divine being has a vahana or, in fact, a number of vahanas, through which it works and through which it is enabled to express its divine powers and functions on and in worlds and planes below the sphere or world or plane in which it itself lives. (See also Soul; Upadhi)

Vaisya

(Sanskrit) The third of the four castes or social classes into which the inhabitants of ancient India were divided. The Vaisya is the trader and agriculturist. (See also Brahmana; Kshatriya; Sudra)

Vedanta

(Sanskrit) From the Upanishads and from other parts of the wonderful cycle of Vedic literature, the ancient sages of India produced what is called today the Vedanta — a compound word meaning "the end (or completion) of the Veda" — that is to say, instruction in the final and most perfect exposition of the meaning of the Vedic tenets.

The Vedanta is the highest form that the Brahmanical teachings have taken, and under the name of the Uttara-Mimamsa attributed to Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas, the Vedanta is perhaps the noblest of the six Indian schools of philosophy. The Avatara Sankaracharya has been the main popularizer of the Vedantic system of philosophical thought, and the type of Vedantic doctrine taught by him is what is technically called the Advaita-Vedanta or nondualistic.

The Vedanta may briefly be described as a system of mystical philosophy derived from the efforts of sages through many generations to interpret the sacred or esoteric meaning of the Upanishads. In its Advaita form the Vedanta is in many, if not all, respects exceedingly close to, if not identical with, some of the mystical forms of Buddhism in central Asia. The Hindus call the Vedanta Brahma-jnana.

Veda(s)

(Sanskrit) From a verbal root vid signifying "to know." These are the most ancient and the most sacred literary and religious works of the Hindus. Veda as a word may be described as "divine knowledge." The Vedas are four in number: the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama-Veda, and the Atharva-Veda, this last being commonly supposed to be of later date than the former three.

Manu in his Work on Law always speaks of the three Vedas, which he calls "the ancient triple Brahman" — sanatanam trayam brahma." Connected with the Vedas is a large body of other works of various kinds, liturgical, ritualistic, exegetical, and mystical, the Veda itself being commonly divided into two great portions, outward and inner: the former called the karma-kanda, the "Section of Works," and the latter called jnana-kanda or "Section of Wisdom."

The authorship of the Veda is not unitary, but almost every hymn or division of a Veda is ascribed to a different author or rather to various authors; but they are supposed to have been compiled in their present form by Veda-Vyasa. There is no question in the minds of learned students of theosophy that the Vedas run back in their origins to enormous antiquity, thousands of years before the beginning of what is known in the Occident as the Christian era, whatever Occidental scholars may have to say in objection to this statement. Hindu pandits themselves claim that the Veda was taught orally for thousands of years, and then finally compiled on the shores of the sacred lake Manasa-Sarovara, beyond the Himalayas in a district of what is now Tibet.

Vidya

(Sanskrit) The word (derived from the same verbal root vid from which comes the noun Veda) for "knowledge," "philosophy," "science." This is a term very generally used in theosophical philosophy, having in a general way the three meanings just stated. It is frequently compounded with other words, such as: atma-vidya — "knowledge of atman" or the essential Self; Brahma-vidya — "knowledge of Brahman," knowledge of the universe, a term virtually equivalent to theosophy; or, again, guhya-vidya — signifying the "secret knowledge" or the esoteric wisdom. Using the word in a collective but nevertheless specific sense, vidya is a general term for occult science.


Y

Yoga

(Sanskrit) Literally "union," "conjunction," etc. In India it is the technical name for one of the six Darsanas or schools of philosophy, and its foundation is ascribed to the sage Patanjali. The name Yoga itself describes the objective of this school, the attaining of union or at-one-ness with the divine-spiritual essence within a man. The yoga practices when properly understood through the instructions of genuine teachers — who, by the way, never announce themselves as public lecturers or through books or advertisements — are supposed to induce certain ecstatic states leading to a clear perception of universal truths, and the highest of these states is called samadhi.

There are a number of minor forms of yoga practice and training such as the karma yoga, hatha yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga, jnana yoga, etc. Similar religious aspirations or practices likewise exist in Occidental countries, as, for instance, what is called salvation by works, somewhat equivalent to the Hindu karma yoga or, again, salvation by faith — or love, somewhat similar to the Hindu bhakti yoga; while both Orient and Occident have, each one, its various forms of ascetic practices which may be grouped under the term hatha yoga.

No system of yoga should ever be practiced unless under the direct teaching of one who knows the dangers of meddling with the psychomental apparatus of the human constitution, for dangers lurk at every step, and the meddler in these things is likely to bring disaster upon himself, both in matters of health and as regards sane mental equilibrium. The higher branches of yoga, however, such as the raja yoga and jnana yoga, implying strict spiritual and intellectual discipline combined with a fervid love for all beings, are perfectly safe. It is, however, the ascetic practices, etc., and the teachings that go with them, wherein lies the danger to the unwary, and they should be carefully avoided.

Yogi

(Yogin, Sanskrit) A yogi is a devotee, one who practices the Yoga system or one or more of its various subordinate branches.

In some cases, yogis are those who strive in various ways to conquer the body and physical temptations, for instance by torture of the body. They also study more or less some of the magnificent philosophical teachings of India coming down from far distant ages of the past; but mere mental study will not make a man a mahatma, nor will any torture of the body bring about the spiritual vision — the vision sublime. (See also Yoga)

Yuga

(Sanskrit) A word meaning an "age," a period of time. A yuga is a period of mundane time, and four of these periods are usually enumerated in "divine years":

1. Krita or Satya Yuga 4,000  
  Sandhya 400  
  Sandhyamsa 400
 
  Total   4,800
2. Treta Yuga 3,000  
  Sandhya 300  
  Sandhyamsa 300
 
  Total   3,600
3. Dvapara Yuga 2,000  
  Sandhya 200  
  Sandhyamsa 200
 
  Total   2,400
4. Kali Yuga 1,000  
  Sandhya 100  
  Sandhyamsa 100
 
  Total   1,200

This rendered in years of mortals equals:

4,800 x 360 = 1,728,000
3,600 x 360 = 1,296,000
2,400 x 360 = 864,000
1,200 x 360 = 432,000
Total  4,320,000

Of these four yugas, our present racial period is the fourth or kali yuga, often called the "iron age" or the "black age." It is stated to have commenced at the moment of Krishna's death, usually given as 3,102 years before the Christian era. There is a very important point of the teaching in connection with the yugas which must not be forgotten. It is the following: The four yugas as above outlined refer to what modern theosophical philosophy calls a root-race, although indeed a root-race from its individual beginning to its individual ending is about double the length of the composite yuga above set forth in columnar form. The racial yugas, however, overlap because each new great race is born at about the middle period of the parent race, although the individual length of any one race is as above stated. Thus it is that by the overlapping of the races, a race and its succeeding race may for a long time be contemporaneous on the face of the globe.

As the four yugas are a reflection in human history of what takes place in the evolution of the earth itself and of the planetary chain, therefore the same scheme of yugas applies also on a cosmic scale — there exist the four series of satya yuga, treta yuga, dvapara yuga, and kali yuga, in the evolution of the earth, and on a still larger scale in the evolution of a planetary chain. Of course these cosmic yugas are very much longer than the racial yugas, but the same general scheme of 4, 3, 2 applies throughout. For further details of the teaching concerning the yugas, the student should consult H. P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine, and the work by the present author, Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy.


Z

Zodiac

The Greeks called the zodiac the "circle of life," and they divided it into twelve houses or signs, named as follows: Aries, the Ram; Taurus, the Bull; Gemini, the Twins; Cancer, the Crab; Leo, the Lion; Virgo, the Virgin; Libra, the Scales; Scorpio, the Scorpion; Sagittarius, the Archer; Capricornus, the Goat; Aquarius, the Water-bearer; Pisces, the Fishes.

The entrance of the sun into each one of the twelve zodiacal constellations or signs brings with it a new cosmic force into operation, not merely on our earth, but distributively speaking throughout our own individual lives. The entering into the present astrological era which is now under way will inaugurate the development in the human race, in a certain line, of powers to come that will be nobler than were those of the last astrological zodiacal era.

There is a strict and close correspondence between each one of the globes of our earth-chain, and a respective one of the constellations of the zodiac — each such constellation being one of the "houses of the circle of life."


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