The Theosophical Forum – February 1940


[Some years ago The Theosophical Forum mentioned that preparations were under way for the publication of an Encyclopedic Glossary of Theosophical Terms. Our readers will be glad to know that this work has been steadily going forward during the ensuing years and is now nearing completion. The material, which will probably fill several volumes, covers the whole exoteric field of ancient and modern Occultism and Theosophy, including mythology, anthropology, cosmogony, symbolism, the ancient Mysteries and allied subjects, and will prove to be an exhaustive mine of philosophical, religious, and scientific information. The work of writing and compilation has been carried on by a group of students at the General Offices. Dr. de Purucker has then carefully checked the definitions and in many cases added new and valuable material.

It is too early to state when this Encyclopedic Glossary will be published, but the Forum Editors have obtained permission to share with readers of our magazine extracts from this forthcoming work. No effort has here been made to follow any special sequence of arrangement, but random pages have been purposely chosen. — Eds.]


Described by Josephus as one of three principal sects among Jews about the middle of the second century b. c, and later. The name is probably a derivative from the Hebrew (asa) to heal; the title Healer being often found as equivalent to Savior or Teacher. (Cf. Therapeutae.) They were a Jewish Theosophical Society of a kind, rather exclusive, and adhering to Jewish tradition in some respects, though regarded as heretical in others. They had an organization peculiar to themselves; their cardinal principles were active benevolence and self-discipline. They had an esoteric school guarded by secrecy, and accessible through novitiate and degrees. It seems likely that they were originally diffused, but later compelled by troublous times to segregate themselves. Josephus, describing the rule of a community, gives us a picture of a tranquil life, divided between practical avocations, assemblies, and ritual observances. Their teachings were in some respects quite Theosophical. They had received at least portions of the Secret Doctrine from some one or other of the then existing foci, and were doing their best, aided by Jewish tenacity, to keep alive the true Gnosis and its realization in practical life, in an age of general dissolution.


Greek and Latin, originally meaning a "breeze" or "air." A subtil invisible essence or fluid emanating from and surrounding beings, both those we call animate and those usually classed as inanimate. To the eyes of clairvoyants the human aura appears as a halo of light, variously colored according to the temperament or momentary psychic and mental condition of the individual. Since everything in the universe is a center of living energies of one kind or another, it must necessarily be surrounded by what science would call a field of force, representing its radiations into the surrounding space and upon all objects within its sphere of influence. The question whether such influence is visible or invisible, subtil or gross, depends upon the viewpoint from which it is considered, and must be regarded in a relative sense. The human being is of a composite nature, and his aura will, therefore, be composite, including astral-vital emanations, psycho-mental, and spiritual, and any of these may be perceptible according to the plane on which the perceiver is able to function. But the aura, even though not commonly visible to our eyes, is nevertheless perceptible by the effects which it produces upon those subtil senses which we all possess in addition to the conventional five. By the auras of persons we are affected, both consciously and unconsciously, and thus is explained the influence which people exercise on each other. Such influence may be conscious or not; and, if conscious, or non-conscious, may be exerted beneficently or with evil intent and effect. Those able to discern the aura may be enabled to estimate the character and disposition of another. Animals are in some ways far more sensitive to auras than we.

Auras also emanate from so-called inorganic substances; we have a familiar example in magnetic substances, and the subject has been investigated in connexion with different bodies by Reich-enbach and others, whose researches show that these emanations are bipolar as is ordinary magnetism. In general, an aura may be considered as the sphere of influence of a center of energy, consisting not merely of the space but of that which occupies it, namely as electricity, magnetism, or force-substance (for want of a better name). The phenomena of animal magnetism, investigated by Mesmer, illustrate this; for his magnetic fluid was a reality and not merely an effect on the imagination of his patients. The aura which thus pours forth from the living center of energy or the individual is a subtil invisible essence or fluid emanating from such center. It is in actuality a psychic-mental effluvium, and in its higher parts is a direct manifestation of the akasic portion of the auric egg surrounding every individual.


"A compound word formed of sam, meaning "with" or "together'; â, meaning "towards'; and the verbal root dhâ, signifying "to place," or "to bring'; hence Samâdhi, meaning "to direct towards," generally meaning, therefore, 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, as above hinted, "completely self-possessed." It is the highest state of Yoga — or "Union."

"Samâdhi, therefore, is a compound 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 super-consciousness of the god within. In other words, Samâdhi is self-conscious union with the Spiritual Monad of the human constitution. Samâdhi 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. . . .

"It may be observed, and should be carefully taken note of by the student, that when the initiate has attained Samâdhi 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." (Occult Glossary, 156-8)

Bodhi or "Enlightenment" is likewise the name of a particular state of Samâdhi, during which the subject reaches the culmination of spiritual knowledge. Samâdhi is septenary; its highest stage or degree is called Turîya. Samadhi is the highest state on earth that can be reached while in the body. To attain beyond this, the Initiate must have become a Nirmânakâya.


Subterranean caverns and galleries, of which some of the most celebrated are those extensive systems beneath buildings, in and around Rome and elsewhere. These were constructed for sepulture, but such was not the original purpose of many in other parts of the world, though many of these also were later used for burial and hence contain bones. The original purpose of this latter class was for them to be used as secret temples for the enactment of initiatory rites. Says The Secret Doctrine, II, 379: "There were numerous catacombs in Egypt and Chaldea, some of them of a very vast extent. The most renowned of them were the subterranean crypts of Memphis and Thebes. The former, beginning on the western side of the Nile, extended towards the Libyan desert, and were known as the Serpent's catacombs, or passages. It was there that were performed the sacred mysteries of the kuklos anankes, the "Unavoidable Cycle," more generally known as "the circle of necessity'; the inexorable doom imposed upon every soul after the bodily death, and when it has been judged in the Amenthian region."

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