The terms identified in this glossary are terms used commonly in the teachings of the global wisdom traditions, and some specifically in the Trans-Himalayan teachings. Since many of the terms come from a wide variety of traditions, we have tried to indicate where the term comes from, what its meaning or meanings are in that tradition (and sometimes other teachings as well), and if necessary, to clarify how it is used in the Trans-Himalayan tradition. Writing this glossary was motivated both by the desire to provide a tool for clarifying the meaning of terms used, but also to provide another form of study for those wishing greater insight into the philosophy and psychology of Trans-Himalayan spirituality. When used for study, a pattern of understanding can be developed through taking up a theme represented, at least in part, by a particular heading and then continuing to explore this theme through following the related terms (and ideas) identified in the ‘See also’ section for that term. In this glossary there are a number of Sanskrit terms that are used often in the Trans-Himalayan teachings as well as in the Hindu, Buddhist and other traditions. Only those terms that are used fairly often have been defined here. For a more extensive listing of Sanskrit terms, see The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga by Georg Feuerstein (with over 2000 entries), and for Buddhist terms see The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen (with over 1500 entries). We are indebted to both (among other sources) in developing this glossary, and they are highly recommended. We have decided not to include very many references to spiritual traditions or specific individuals, primarily because of the time this would take. The few that have been included represent some that are referred to often or have been particularly influential in the development of Trans-Himalayan spirituality, though there are many others that have not been included at this point, especially non-physical sources. Additional entries could also be added if we were to include even the most general suggestion of the world’s major spiritual and religious traditions, and some of their most significant luminaries. A small number of such entries are included, leaving the task of a larger selection to a separate project.
Absolute – A term often used to refer to the transcendent Reality or Godhead. Often used in contrast to the term Relativity, the later referring to the realms of duality including both the realms of form and manifestation, and the spiritual worlds of soul, universality and the unmanifest that, although deeply suffused with unity, are still to varying degrees tainted by duality. The Absolute is used in the Trans-Himalayan teachings to refer to the non-dual reality of the One Life, or One Boundless Immutable Principle, which not only transcends the phenomenal, dualistic universe, but is also the very essence of Relativity or the dualistic universe. In this context, the Absolute is synonymous with nirvana, (Nirguna) Brahman, Impersonal God, the Transcendent or Universal Self, emptiness (sunyata), the Tao, Buddha-nature, the non-dual reality and the primordial reality. See also Nirvana, Emptiness, Relativity, Brahman, Buddha-nature, God, Self, True-nature, Maya, Samsara, One Life, One Boundless Immutable Principle.
Absolute Wisdom – The fundamental insight or realization into the nature of the Absolute and the truth that the apparent, relative universe is none other than a manifestation or ‘appearance’ of the Absolute. This realization is intuitive and leads to a profound liberation from identification with Relativity or attachment to samsara, giving freedom from suffering and limitation. Absolute wisdom is the essential insight into the identification of the individual (and all relative phenomena) with the Absolute. See also Absolute, Relative Wisdom, Rigpa, Samadhi, Self-Realization, Awakening.
Adi-Buddha – This term is used in certain schools of Buddhism to refer to the Absolute – the universal enlightened Presence. Adi means ‘one’ or ‘first’ and so indicates here the primordial or ‘original’ Buddha, the Absolute See also Absolute, Relativity, One Life, One Boundless Immutable Principle, Nonduality, Self-Realization.
Advaita Vedanta – A Hindu philosophy meaning ‘non-dual end of the Vedas’. Usually used to refer to the philosophical tradition most significantly espoused by Shankara, Advaita Vedanta teaches the radical non-dual view that there is ultimately no distinction between the Absolute and Relativity (the relative universes), and that even the ‘Creator’ is a dualistic, relative reality (although a very lofty one). The path to God-consciousness in Advaita Vedanta is typically jnana yoga or the path of wisdom, and the goal is sahaja samadhi or jivanmukti, liberated enlightenment while living in the world. One of the greatest modern examples of the Advaita sage is Ramana Maharshi. See also Absolute, Relativity, Nondualism, Jnana Yoga, Shankara, Ramana Maharshi, Maya.
Agni – A Sanskrit term meaning ‘fire’. The spiritual fire of awakening within all life, active as both a universal principle of love and wisdom, and as a personal Presence – the Christ Spirit. The word Agni first appears in the Rig Veda, the oldest known scripture of humanity, where it is used to name the Fire of the spiritual sacrifice, the Deity of transformation. Agni is said in the Vedas to issue seven tongues of flame – that is, to be the source of the seven rays or elements that are the foundational essences of relative existence. Agni is the primordial fire of spiritual evolution, expressing both the power of transformation and awakening, as well as the essence of enlightenment itself. See also Rig Veda, Vedas, Agni Yoga, Presence, Adi-Buddha, Seven Rays, Elements.
Agni Yoga – Agni Yoga is one of the advanced yogas of the Trans-Himalayan tradition. Agni means divine fire, which is a symbol used in the Trans-Himalayan tradition for Spirit. A factor that differentiates Agni Yoga from other yogas is that it is one that is engaged by the soul, not the personality, and thus can only be enacted once an individual or group has begun to stabilize their identity in soul. It’s project is for the soul to engage a profound process of striving and surrender into the monadic reality of Absolute realization so as to empower it’s mission of world work, its full fusion with the personality, and to bring the monadic spirit and personality aspects into such identified relation that the god man essentially is, may walk upon the Earth. It is an integral path sharing much in common with other more comprehensive approaches such as Taoism, Hindu Tantra and Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga. The current form of Agni Yoga is similar to Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga in including an emphasis on world engagement and working more from the soul aspect than with complex technical processes – although these are not entirely excluded and may be made more available within the context of Agni Yoga in time. Agni Yoga includes aspects of karma, bhakti, jnana, raja, ati and tantra yogas – giving it much in common with such paths as Tibetan Buddhism and Integral Yoga. Some elements that are more unique to Agni Yoga include a distinctive understanding of many tantric principles, a more comprehensive science of the seven elements/rays, a wider synthesis of techniques from Hindu, Buddhist and others sources, and a unique science of planetary consciousness and evolution. Agni Yoga, then, is a comprehensive and modern path, that, although having a Sanskrit name, is really a planetary path expressing a growing integration of elements from many traditions. Perhaps one of the most succinct and descriptive terms we may use for Agni Yoga is that it is a path of ‘planetary integral tantra’. See also Agni, Monad, Yoga, Integral Path, Trans-Himalayan Tradition.
Akasha – Sanskrit: ‘radiance’. Often translated as ‘space’ or ‘ether’. The term akasha has been used in a number of ways in the Hindu tradition, but is very often defined as the fifth element, subtler than earth, water, fire and air. It is generally considered the ‘root’ or primordial element that is the ‘space’ or foundation for the other elements. Forms or objects must manifest in space, and this space is considered to be an actual substance. It is the unmanifest source and context for the more concrete levels of the universe. Within the context of the physical world, the akasha corresponds to the etheric levels that form the molding pattern for the more concrete level of our physical body and universe at large. On a deeper level, the akasha corresponds to the formless levels beyond the physical universe and the psychological realms, the realms of form. This is the level of our ‘causal body’, where karmic seeds are stored, and from which they sprout during each incarnation. So although this ‘space’ of akasha is formless or unmanifest, it is rich with the seeds or potentials of manifestation, and therefore has a kind of substance to it. The phrase ‘reading the akashic records’, therefore, can be understood as gaining the ability to see into the individual or collective memory or store of karmic impressions and reviewing the past or envisioning the future workings out of karma. See also Elements, Formless, Karma, Etheric Body.
Amrita Nadi – In traditional Hindu tantric teachings on the energy body, the sushumna nadi is understood as the central nadi that runs along the spine from the root chakra to the crown of the head, terminating in the crown chakra. The amrita nadi, as described by Ramana Maharshi, is a subtle channel that continues the sushumna nadi from the crown and arcing downwards to the heart. In the Trans-Himalayan teachings, this nadi is understood as bringing the flow of kundalini from the crown center, which it reaches on the path of ascent (which culminates at the third initiation and leads to absorption in nirvikalpa samadhi – internal non-dual realization), back to the heart culminating in the fourth initiation – sahaja samadhi or uninterrupted rigpa, the integration of non-dual realization into ordinary life. The Buddha termed this state ‘nirvana-with-elements’ (meaning liberation while maintaining awareness of the phenomenal universe) and also the Arhat stage of enlightenment. Many systems view the 3rd initiation, or the rising of kundalini to the crown center, as final liberation. The amrita nadi is the etheric channel involved in the process of passing beyond the third stage into higher levels of awakening, when viewed from an energetic angle. It is also related to the path of bodhisattvahood which, following the path of the heart, leads to stages beyond personal liberation. See also Nadi(s), Chakras, Kundalini, Sushumna Nadi, Initiation.
Anatman – Sanskrit term used commonly in Buddhism meaning ‘no-self’ or ‘nonself’. Anatta in Pali. See No-self.
Antahkarana – A term used in the Trans-Himalayan teachings for the bridge, or continuity in consciousness, that is stage by stage established between the various depths of our being (spirit, soul, form), so that the consciousness of the self and its differentiated activities at these three levels of its operatation, is able to be held simultaneously. This works according to the recognition that while we as personalities are often only aware of ourselves living and acting on the mental, emotional and physical planes, we are actually living, conscious and engaged in activities as souls on the planes of soul, and as monads or spirits on the two most subtle planes of the cosmic physical plane right at this moment, but without a continuity of consciousness existing between all three. The establishment of this continuity of consciousness is one definition of what it means to be a buddha, and is represented in the Tibetan Buddhist teaching by the capacity of a buddha to exist and operate for the benefit of all beings in their dharmakaya form, their sambogakaya form, and their nirmanakaya form, engaged perhaps in at least three different forms of activity and awareness in three different realms, simultaneously. Once this is achieved, there is the opportunity for the antahkarana, or this continuity of consciousness, to be established further out into the cosmos, thereby allowing simultaneous consciousness of the planetary, solar and galactic Logoi in whose bodies we find our place, as well as our experience of contact and relationship with the various other communities of lives who also exist within their bodies in various realms or states of subtle matter-energy. In the human being, the antahkarana is understood to anchor the soul in the crown chakra, and it can be contrasted with the sutratma, or life-thread, that anchors the monad or spirit aspect of our nature, in the heart chakra. See also Soul, Monad, Self, Spirit, Sutratma, Logoi.
Anu – Sanskrit word meaning ‘atom’. Term used in Kashmiri Shaivism (a school of North Indian Tantra) that means the aspect of the individualized self, the seed ‘atom’, that records karmic impressions (called anava-mala in Sanskrit). Virtually identical to term ‘permanent atom’ used in some Western Theosophical teachings. See also Permanent Atom.
Archangel – A Greek term meaning ‘chief messenger’. The Trans-Himalayan tradition uses the term Archangel to refer to the various orders of super-intelligences that work in support of the spiritual evolution of individuals, groups, kingdoms, planets and other orders of life. One of the most important orders of Archangels for humanity to understand and cooperate with is the Archangels of the elements. These are seven orders of Archangels who ensoul the four elements of form (earth, water, air and fire) and the three etheric or ‘mind’ elements. Archangels express both the Nature or the Shakti aspect of creation and the Consciousness or Shiva aspect. They create, sustain, and dissolve the various bodies of humanity and the nature kingdoms, creating the elemental lives that are the nature spirits, and also work with the development of the soul or consciousness aspect of all forms of life. Archangels are also called Dhyani-Buddhas or ‘Buddha Families’ in some forms of Buddhism, and Devas and Devis (the masculine and feminine forms) in Hinduism. See also Holy Spirit, Deva(s), Elements, Hierarchy.
Archetype – In Agni Yoga the term archetype is used in its more spiritual significance, rather than in the Jungian sense in which it carries more personal, although collective, meaning. Spiritual archetypes are the patterns behind manifest forms – the universal molds that give shape and soul to the outer forms of things and beings. These archetypes are related to the notion of Platonic Ideas, Universal Principles and similar ordering realities. They are the essential seeds behind all expression. The Seven Rays might be considered primordial universal archetypes. In Shamballa, where planetary purpose is held is reservoir, it might be understood that the core archetype of all being that has, is and will continue to be expressed through the Earth, is found. As the Purpose is translated into Plan by Hierarchy, additionally, it might be understood that that Purpose is formulated into archetypal Will-seeds along the Seven Ray lines, to express it in a diversity of expressions. See also Principle, Essence, Laws, Ideas, Shamballa, Hierarchy, Seven Rays.
Arhat – A term used by the Buddha for the fourth of four stages of personal enlightenment (or the arya-marga, the ‘noble or holy path’). The first stage he called ‘stream-entry’ (meaning entering the stream to nirvana), the second stage he called the ‘once-returner’ (because it would, on the Buddhist path, usually take no more than one further incarnation to become an arhat), the third he called a ‘non-returner’ (because all physical karma was now exhausted and so further development would not require returning to physical incarnation). The fourth stage, the arhat, was considered the final stage in Buddha’s description of the path of individual liberation, but higher stages on the path of bodhisattvahood would lead to Buddhahood, which according to one form of definition in the Trans-Himalayan teachings, is understood to be the 7th stage of enlightenment. In the Trans-Himalayan tradition, the term ‘arhat’ is used for one who has taken the fourth initiation. If the stage of arhatship is fully integrated with the physical world, the individual is in the state known in Vedanta as sahaja samadhi, or in Dzogchen as rigpa. See also Rigpa, Sahaja Samadhi, Initiation, Bodhicitta, Bodhisattva, Buddha.
Ashram of Synthesis – a particular ashram within the Trans-Himalayan School of the Planetary Lineage, or subtle level community of initiates, masters and souls that the master Djwhal Khul first mentioned the formation of in his work with Alice Bailey, and that then played a central role in the teachings of the master Rakozci through Lucille Cedercrans. Within Hierarchy, or the meta-sangha of liberated beings on Earth, it is understood in the Trans-Himalayan teachings that there are seven fundamental groupings of initiates, masters and souls, each within the energetic aura or, and transmitting one of the seven rays. The Ashram of Synthesis, however, is a subtle level community gathered around the energies of the 1st, 2nd and 7th Rays – those of divine Will and Power, divine Love-Wisdom, and divine Embodiment and Ritual. These are the three major energies of the Aquarian zodiacal age and this is an Ashram whose principle focus is understood to be the relating of the consciousness and energy of Shamballa, Hierarchy, and Humanity – the planetary crown, heart and throat chakras – so that the cosmic purpose of the planetary Logos of the Earth, described elsewhere as the founding of a station of awakened civilization in God-realization in the universe through the medium of humanity, may be increasingly grounded. In his work with Bruce Lyon, Djwhal Khul describes this Ashram to be composed of beings awakened to the One Absolute Life from all kingdoms. He teaches that it is composed of buddhas and cosmis spirits within Shamballa, masters and devas of Hierarchy, awakened human beings as well as devas of all other kingdoms also. See also Hierarchy, Initiate, Master, Buddha, Alice Bailey, Djwhal Khul, Trans-Himalayan tradition, Rays, Planetary Logos, Divine Will, Power and Purpose, Self, Monad, Awakening, Devas, Shamballa, Planetary Lineage.
Astral Body – Also called the emotional body, this is the next more subtle body than the physical. It is the body through which we feel ordinary sentiments, emotions and desires. Awareness of some of the experiences of the astral body is registered primarily through the solar plexus chakra (for primitive and ordinary emotions and desires), and the heart chakra for more elevated feelings. Although the astral body has the same basic shape as the physical, it is made of a higher spectrum of vibrations and can be extended and shaped in different ways through intention (using such methods as visualization, sound and feeling). The astral body, like the physical, has various senses that can be used to experience the astral plane (astral environments, landscapes, etc.) and astral forms including desires and emotions. When the physical self uses these astral senses, we call them psychic abilities such as astral clairvoyance, clairaudience, etc. The astral body also has active capacities and can be extended or projected beyond the physical form. This gives rise to various forms of ‘astral projection’ or out-of-body experiences, and other forms of astral activity. The astral body has an etheric aspect, just as does the physical body, which has astral chakras, nadis and so on. The various bodies are joined by their etheric counterparts. All physical forms have an astral body or counterpart. This body is sometimes called the subtle body or the psychic body. See also Astral Plane, Body(s), Planes of Consciousness, Etheric Body.
Astral Plane – A dimension or realm of consciousness of the next octave of energy beyond the physical world. This realm of energy is not directly perceivable by ordinary senses, or by the instruments of modern science. It is formed by modes of perception that emphasize the water element. Although water is the dominant element of the astral plane, all seven elements are reflected in the each plane, creating seven major subdivisions or subplanes of the astral world. People leave their physical consciousness and function, usually unconsciously, each night on the astral plane in sleep, though during normal sleep the environment is formed by the subconscious content of one’s own psyche rather than the astral plane at large, much of which is formed by the archangels, just as with the physical universe. See also Planes of Consciousness, Body(s), Astral Body, Elements.
Ati Yoga – This is a Sanskrit term from the Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen tradition indicating a form of practice that emphasizes direct non-dual contemplation. This path is similar to what might be called samadhi yoga in the Hindu tradition (though it emphasizes ‘external’ samadhi rather than the common emphasis on ‘internal’ samadhi in most Hindu forms of yoga), and refers to that stage of the path that begins with the ability to approach or enter deep states of non-dual realization. As such, it is a culminating path that is usually combined with other yogas that are preparatory to it. The emphasis in Ati Yoga is on the revelation of the Absolute Reality – the natural state of primordial purity and the spontaneous formation of the manifest cosmos, rather than any form of transformation. See also Dzogchen, Rigpa, Samadhi, Yoga.
Atma – Atma, as differentiated from Atman (see below) refers in the Trans-Himalayan teachings to the third, or creative will aspect of the spirit, or monadic self. See also Spirit, Monad, Atman, Self.
Atman – A Sanskrit word meaning ‘Self’. Refers to the liberated spiritual Self, resting ever in a state of non-dual realization. In Vedanta, the Atman is considered to be the innermost being or essence that is unrealized or obscured in most people because they confuse themselves with their bodies or personality. Atman in Vedanta generally corresponds to the Dzogchen term, Rigpa. See also Rigpa, Body(s), Presence.
Attunement – To develop an intuitive rapport with. To sense a person, being, idea, feeling, energy or other reality in a direct, soulful manner. Related to what in Sanskrit is called dhyana, which is often translated as ‘meditation’, attunement is a depth of relationship that goes beyond preliminary concentration into a state of intuitive communion that reveals insight or understanding beyond sensory or conceptual knowledge. Attunement is a degree of entering into a state of inner resonance with, a knowing through ‘co-vibrating’ with the other. Attunement is developed through various stages culminating in complete union or ‘at-one-ment’, wherein one knows a being or reality by fully merging with them or it. This later form of understanding has been called in Sanskrit prajna (intuitive wisdom) or samadhi. Attunement is a bridge to samadhi, which partakes of a greater degree of direct communion and merging, while being less complete than samadhi. See also Samadhi, Meditation, Dhyana, Intuition.
Aurobindo, Sri – (1872-1950), Hindu mystic and twentieth century India’s most famous philosopher. Originally a political activist, Aurobindo experienced a spiritual conversion while imprisoned for political agitation, leading to his renunciation of politics upon release and dedicated the rest of his life to yoga. Sri Aurobindo eventually formed a spiritual partnership with a French woman named Mira Richard who later became known as ‘the Mother’, and who continued their work after his passing. Aurobindo considered the Mother as an incarnation of Shakti or the Goddess. Aurobindo was a prolific writer, some of his most important works being The Life Divine and The Synthesis of Yoga. He also wrote a profound work about Agni based on passages from the Rig Veda called Hymns to the Mystic Fire. Aurobindo and the Mother taught and embodied a modern path of integrated spirituality called Purna or Integral Yoga, which sought to fuse the process of transcendence with the path of manifestation and service. Aurobindo’s philosophy combined traditional yogic ideals with the modern notion of evolution and the vision of integrating one’s individual spiritual path with the planet’s evolutionary development – what he sometimes called ‘planetary yoga’. Aurobindo saw Agni or spiritual Fire as the transformational power of this yoga. Aurobindo and the Mother also believed that in our time period a new level of human and planetary evolution was emerging, marked by what he termed ‘the descent of supermind’, or the birth of buddhic or Christ-consciousness at a new level within the consciousness of the Earth. See also Purna Yoga, Integral Path, Mother, Agni, Agni Yoga, Planes of Consciousness.
Awakening – Awakening involves the direct perception of the true nature of oneself and all beings and things. It is an awakening to the underlying non-dual essence of the universe that transcends, includes and arises as the entire spectrum of manifestation. Although this realization usually emerges gradually, there can be moments along the way in which one experiences acute illuminations or openings to God, Buddha-nature or the Tao. In Zen these are called experiences of kensho or satori, and have also been termed mystical experiences, cosmic consciousness and so on. The realization of this primordial reality will mature, eventually, into a persistent awareness that permeates one’s entire life. In Vedanta this state of persistent illumination or awakening is called sahaja samadhi – effortless and persistent God-consciousness, even during daily activity, which brings one to full Self-realization or liberation. These deeper forms of realization are often called ‘awakenings’ because, whether sudden or gradual, their emergence frequently feels like a revelation, the uncovering of a forgotten truth. In the third phase Trans-Himalayan teachings, awakening is understood to have both radical and evolutionary expressions. The radical aspect relates to realization of the Absolute, which is possible at any depth of self or on any plane – though it is more likely to occur on subtler planes. The evolutionary aspect relates to the understanding that the amount of cosmos that one is able to realize as non-dual increases incrementally as one penetrates into wider and more subtle and expansive cosmic realms, and this especially relates to the cosmic paths. See also Sahaja Samadhi, Initiation, Cosmic Paths, Trans-Himalayan Tradition, Stream-Enterer, Samadhi, Soul.
Awareness Practice – The various forms of spiritual practice can be generally categorized according to the primary quality that is emphasized. A given practice may emphasize either devotion, concentration, inquiry, love, surrender or other qualities. Those forms of practice that make awareness or mindfulness the foremost quality we term ‘awareness practices’. Buddhism is the tradition that most stresses awareness practices, although other forms of practice are also widely used. Examples of awareness practice include vipassana, zazen (including shikan-taza), and the core practices of Dzogchen. Although all these practice emphasize awareness, other qualities such as concentration, effort and equanimity are cultivated as well to support the development of awareness.. See also Shikan-taza, Zazen, Vipassana, Seven Factors of Enlightenment, Rigpa, Monad.
Babaji – Name of an anonymous or ‘hidden’ Himalayan master the existence of whom was first revealed to the general public in Paramahamsa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi (1946). Babaji is believed by some to have been born in 203 AD and having achieved soruba samadhi or ‘immortality’ at the age of sixteen, and continues to appear in that form to this day. This idea is in accordance with the Trans-Himalayan teaching that though liberated Masters have moved beyond the need for gross realm incarnation, they retain the form signature of the physical appearance they held at the time of the initiation that released them from it, in those times when they manifest in the gross realm at will. Babaji is said by some to have been initiated by the great Siddhas (perfected masters) Boganathar and Agastyar. He has said that he initiated Shankara and Kabir (among others), working for centuries behind the scenes, sending masters into the world to sustain and reform the world’s spiritual traditions. In the 19th century he gave the teachings of kriya yoga to his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya, who transmitted this ancient form of tantric practice to numerous disciples, including Sri Yukteswar, master of the famous Paramahansa Yogananda. It was Babaji’s plan to spread kriya yoga to the West through Yogananda, who came to the United States in 1920 and taught there for three decades, initiating tens of thousands. Babaji is understood by some to maintain an ashram or cite of training in the Himalayan mountains, and to work through various disciples in both the East and West. The famous Bulgarian initiate Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov met Babaji in India in 1959, and other modern students testify to his continued physical existence. Yogananda also described Babaji’s spiritual ‘sister’, Mataji, in his autobiography. See also Siddha Tradition, Trans-Himalayan School, Mataji, Yogananda, Shankara, Kriya Yoga, Tantric Yoga, Samadhi, Master.
Bailey, A. A. – (1882-1949) English born esoteric teacher and author, and responsible, in collaboration with the Tibetan Master Djwhal Khul (called variously ‘the Tibetan’, ‘Djwhal Khul’ or ‘DK’), for some of the most extensive teachings composing the second phase of the Trans-Himalayan teachings. Bailey first embraced Theosophy in her thirties and later worked independently. She was a prolific writer, working under the inspiration of the Tibetan Master who lived in Tibet and with whom she sustained a telepathic relationship for thirty years during which time they wrote eighteen books together (‘the Tibetan’ telepathically inspiring Bailey). Bailey also formed the Arcane School for the education of modern spiritual disciples that combined Eastern and Western teachings in an integral path of spiritual development emphasizing study, meditation and service. Bailey was a disciple working in the ashram of the Master Koot Humi. The Tibetan Master is understood to be the most advanced disciple of Koot Humi. Bailey met the Master Koot Humi at the age of fifteen when she visited her in his physical form in Scotland, and she maintained a conscious ‘inner’ relationship with him, from her thirties onward. Her writings and ideas have had a profound influence on the development of modern Western spirituality and the ‘New Age’ movement, her influence remaining largely unrecognized today. The Arcane School exists to this day, and has trained many tens of thousands of students. See also Trans-Himalayan School, Blavatsky, Theosophy, Djwhal Khul, Koot Humi.
Bhakti Yoga – The path of devotion, love, surrender, faith and grace. This is a practice emphasizing the heart (though having a deep relationship to the sacral and often the throat centers), and cultivating a relationship of devotion and surrender towards a guru or Deity. This is the essence of Christianity, Islam and many others faiths, and plays a central role in such traditions as Sikhism, Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. Bhakti and karma yogas are the most common forms of spirituality. See also Yoga, Deity Yoga, Tantric Yoga, Grace, Guru Yoga, Lineage Yoga.
Blavatsky, H. P. – (1831-1891) Born in Russia, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was the founder of the Theosophical Society in 1875, and a charismatic figure in 19th century Indian, European and American culture. She was responsible, in collaboration with various inner Masters of the Trans-Himalayan School, for the formulation and promulgation of the core teachings and writings of the tradition’s first phase. She met her spiritual master, the Master Morya, at the age of twenty in England and began a long period of training under his guidance that culminated in spending two and a half years in a Tibetan ashram near Shigatse around 1870. During this long training period (from about 1850 to the early 1870s) she was guided by Morya to study with numerous spiritual adepts in various locations and traditions including Canada, United States, Europe, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, India and Tibet. These included Tibetan Buddhists, Sikhs, Coptics, Christians, Native Americans, Kabalists, Hindus and others. She appears to have met over twenty liberated bodhisattvas and members of Hierarchy during her life. Closely inspired by her Master Morya, his close companion the Master Koot Humi, and the Mahachohan, Blavatsky wrote several major works including the Secret Doctrine and the Voice of the Silence (about nada yoga and bodhisattvahood). Part of her dharma (in addition to the general vision of the Theosophical Society – see Theosophy) included making known to the world the existence of an Ageless Wisdom of planetary evolution and awakening; the existence of a community of liberated Masters, bodhisattvas and buddhas residing and serving that planetary awakening on subtle and causal levels; and initiating one line of the revelation of planetary purpose that unfolded progressively in the latter phases of the Trans-Himalayan tradition, and that included a profound and new understanding, for humanity, of the planetary, solar and cosmic systems of beings and becoming, in which we find our place. Blavatsky was an initiate who faced very difficult conditions, yet succeeded in initiating, with the help of her teachers, a wave of inspiration and influence that is widely recognized as both deeply influencing the modern ‘New Age’ spirituality, contributing significantly to the rejuvenation of Indian spirituality and its transmission to the West, and stimulating the interaction of science, Eastern spirituality and numerous streams of Western spirituality throughout the world. See also Theosophy, Trans-Himalayan School, Bailey, Mataji, Morya.
Bodhicitta – Bodhicitta is the altruistic motivation to seek enlightenment for the welfare of all beings. Just as the aspiration to personal liberation is the motivating cause of arhatship or individual enlightenment, so bodhicitta is the karmic or motivating cause resulting in buddhahood (this motivational aspect is sometimes called ‘relative bodhicitta’). Buddhahood is liberating enlightenment realized and expressed in it fullest potential through cultivation of the complete spectrum of spiritual virtues and capacities in service to universal awakening. The awakening of bodhicitta results in the birth of a bodhisattva, a being who strives for buddhahood as the highest form of service. The bodhisattva follows the path of perfect balance of love and wisdom through the practice of the full potential of human spirituality. The deepest aspect of bodhicitta (sometimes called ‘absolute bodhicitta’) is the realization of non-duality, which supports the fullest development of love and wisdom. See also Bodhisattva, Arhat, Buddha, Initiation.
Bodhisattva – From the Sanskrit bodhi – ‘awake’ or ‘awakening’, and sattva – ‘being’ or ‘beingness’. Bodhisattva literally means ‘awakened or awakening being’. In Buddhism, the term bodhisattva has several meanings. The most common and essential meaning is that of a being who is motivated by bodhicitta, or the aspiration to achieve supreme enlightenment or buddhahood in order to be of the greatest benefit to all beings. The term bodhisattva is generally used in three ways. Most commonly it is used to refer to those who are following the spiritual path, developing love, wisdom and will, with the motivation of bodhicitta. It is sometimes also used more specifically to mean those who have achieved profound personal liberation but continue to return to the realms of samsara (reincarnating in the human or other realms even though they no longer have any personal karma compelling them to) in order to serve the awakening of others. These may be called enlightened or liberated bodhisattvas. Lastly, the term bodhisattva is sometimes used more as a kind of title to refer to one who has but one more incarnation before becoming a buddha. An example of this type is the Bodhisattva Maitreya. Although this term is from the Buddhist tradition, bodhisattvas can be of any faith or path. The planetary Hierarchy discussed in the Trans-Himalayan tradition is understood to be composed of such liberated bodhisattvas – beings of every tradition and sphere of human activity who have achieved liberation into the dynamic reality of the inner planes, where there is no tradition save the direct transmission and progressive revelation of truth, and who remain within the planetary sphere to serve awakening on and of the Earth. See also Bodhicitta, Buddha, Buddhism, Initiation, Sattva, planetary Hierarchy.
Body(s) – Also referred to as vehicles, sheaths, coverings and veils. The human soul incarnates through a series of three form bodies (physical, emotional/astral and mental), all of which have three-dimensional shape, and one formless body (intuitional or buddhic). The three form bodies are identical in shape but are composed of different levels of subtle-energy. The intuitional body is relatively more formless than the first three, although it is ‘made’ of a subtle substance that still veils the light of the monadic self. The three bodies having form make up the temporary vehicles of experience for an incarnating human soul, called in the Trans-Himalayan tradition the ‘personality’. Each body has an etheric aspect made up of the finer three elements, what the Buddha termed the three ‘mind elements’, where the chakras and nadis are located. In the normal state of consciousness, these three bodies are superimposed on each other, but during sleep, out-of-body-experiences or certain meditation states, the subtler bodies (astral/emotional and mental) may be separated from the physical. These subtler bodies have senses just as do the physical body, which can be used to experience the corresponding astral and mental worlds. When these subtler senses (along with other astral/mental abilities) are used by the individual in his or her ordinary, physical awareness, we call them psychic abilities. Impressions from each of these bodies are passed to the others and are also experienced by the soul or inner self. Our personality vehicles, or three bodies, are built for us by the Archangels or Devas of the elements. Also see Planes of Consciousness, Intuitive Body, Etheric Body, Chakras, Personality, Soul, Physical Body, Physical Plane, Astral Body, Astral Plane, Mental Body, Mental Plane, Archangels, Elements.
Body of Light – see Dzogchen.
Brahman – A Sanskrit word found as far back as the Vedas used generally to mean the Absolute. Brahman, or God, is sometimes differentiated into Saguna Brahman and Nirguna Brahman. Saguna means ‘with qualities’, indicating a level of transcendent reality that may be experienced in a more personal, although very universal, form. Saguna Brahman has identifiable characteristics (such as existence, awareness, and bliss). Nirguna means ‘without qualities’ – referring to the radically transcendent non-dual or unqualified Absolute – a ‘level’ or ‘dimension’ of reality fully transcending all categories and descriptions, and indeed the entire cosmic scheme of evolutionary becoming. According to the vertical and horizontal definitions of the spirit/matter duality as given in third phase Trans-Himalayan teachings, Nirguna Brahman corresponds to the horizontal definition of Spirit – the Absolute Reality that exists entirely apart from the world of planetary, solar and cosmic becoming. Nirguna Brahman could also be said to correspond to the Tibetan Buddhist Dharmakaya. Saguna Brahman is also sometimes called Shabda Brahman – the Absolute manifesting as transcendent sound, the Word or Logos. See also Non-dualism, Nirvana, Tao, Emptiness, Buddha Nature, God, Absolute, Relativity, Logos, Ishvara, Nada, Holy Spirit, Horizontal and vertical definitions of the spirit/matter duality.
Buddha – A Sanskrit word meaning ‘awakened’, from the root budh, ‘to awaken’. Used in Buddhism in two ways. The first is the pratyeka-buddha – one who has achieved transcendence of ego and individual karma, but who reached this goal through a path motivated by the pursuit of personal liberation; equivalent to the Arhat. The second type of buddha is a being who has fulfilled the path of bodhisattvahood and attained supreme enlightenment, whose purity is the same as a pratyeka-buddha, but who has developed profound capacity for serving the enlightenment of others through a richer and more complete development of virtue and wisdom. This second type is termed a samyak-sambuddha. In the Trans-Himalayan teachings, the term ‘buddha’ is used to refer to this second type, and specifically to a being who has taken the seventh initiation. The beings who compose the planetary crown chakra, Shamballa, for instance, are the majority of them understood to be buddhas of both planetary and cosmic backgrounds. Additionally, the Logoi manifesting through planets, solar systems, constellations, galaxies and universes could be described as planetary, solar, constellational, galactic and universal buddhas. According to Tibetan Buddhist essence teachings such as Mahamudra and Dzogchen, Buddha is the always-already awakened awareness that is the natural state of all beings. Buddhism teaches that there have been numerous past buddhas, and buddhas will continue to appear on a cyclic basis in the future. The most recent buddha (samyak-sambuddha) was, according to some teachings, Gautama Buddha (563-483 BC), who predicted that the coming buddha would be Maitreya. Gautama Buddha was born in the foothills of the Himalayas in a small kingdom in the region that is now Nepal. He was born a prince in the Shakyas clan, his first name being Siddhartha, and family name Gautama. He is commonly called the Buddha (‘the awakened one’), Shakyamuni (‘silent sage of the Shakyas’) Buddha, and is often called Siddhartha Gautama when referring to his life before his entry into the path of renunciation at the age of twenty-eight. He attained full enlightenment at the age of thirty-five, and spent the next approximately forty years teaching. He is widely viewed (for instance, in the Trans-Himalayan School) as the supreme embodiment of the union of love and wisdom for our age. See also Buddhism, Initiation, Bodhisattva, Bodhicitta, Planetary Logos, Trans-Himalayan School.
Buddha Nature – A Buddhist term meaning one’s essential or fundamental being or essence, which is the same for all beings, and one with the Absolute. Identical with, and therefore see also, such terms as Absolute, Self, Brahman, Rigpa, Atman, Sunyata, Nirvana, Non-dual, Tao and True Nature.
Buddhi – A Sanskrit term used in various ways in the traditions. In Hindu tradition, one of the most common uses of the term buddhi is ‘intuitive intelligence’ or ‘wisdom faculty’. It is related (with various shades of meaning) to such terms as gnosis, prajna, intuition, higher mind, illumined mind and wisdom mind. Very commonly we find two general meanings ascribed to the term buddhi in the traditions – one being what might be called the higher or abstract mind (ordinarily called the intellect), and the other being pure intuition. The former is the function of the higher aspect of the mental body (called the vijnana-maya-kosa in Vedanta), the later to the formless intuitional ‘body’ (the ananda-maya-kosa). In the Trans-Himalayan tradition, buddhi is the term used for the human soul, the essential core spiritual consciousness that synthesizes, pervades and holds inside it the monadic, soul, and personality aspects of our nature. Specifically, the term ‘buddhi’ is used for the human soul free of the soul body, which is its sheath of devic substance on the abstract or subtlest levels of the mental plane. This soul body is destroyed at the fourth initiation owing to the increasingly powerful outpouring of energy from the monad into the personality, thus burning up the soul body and releasing the soul onto the buddhic plane and free functioning within the ashrams of Hierarchy. Further clarification can be found under intuition, which is synonymous with the Trans-Himalayan use of the term buddhi. See also Body(s), Intuition, Kosas, Mental Body, Causal/soul Body, Planes.
Buddhism – Religion or path founded by Gautama Buddha around 500 BC in India. The Buddha’s teachings are essentialized in the Four Noble Truths. Buddhism gradually evolved into several main lineages. The one that seems to be most strongly based on the Buddha’s original oral teachings has come to be called Theravada Buddhism, or ‘the Way of the Elders’. Within several centuries Mahayana Buddhism arose. Mahayana is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘the Greater Vehicle’ (as opposed to an alternative and somewhat derogatory term used for the Theravada as ‘Hinayana’, or “the Lesser Vehicle”), referring to the notion that Mahayanists viewed their approach as serving the liberation of a larger number of people due to making central the ideal of the bodhisattva. Mahayana Buddhism eventually spread to various non-Indian regions such as China, Tibet, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. During the first millennium in India, another form of Buddhism arose as a result of incorporating tantra, which was simultaneously blossoming within Hinduism. This form of Buddhism eventually migrated primarily to Tibet where it has come to be called Tibetan Buddhism, Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism (it was also transmitted as far as Japan where it became Shingon Buddhism). This form of Buddhism, sometimes called the ‘third turning of the wheel of the Dharma’, combined elements of Hinayana and Mahayana with tantra. It is subsequently often considered a tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism. Just as Buddhism took new forms as it migrated to various cultures such as China, Japan and Tibet, many feel we are witnessing a ‘fourth turning of the wheel’ in our times. Often called American Buddhism, this new Western form of Buddhism seems to have certain already emerging distinguishable characteristics such as being non-hierarchical, lay-centered rather that monastic-centered, striving for gender balance, and drawing on modern psychology. See also Buddha, Bodhisattva, Four Noble Truths, Tantra.
Causal Body – The term causal body is used in many teachings, often with differing but related meanings. Perhaps the common element in its various usages is that it refers to a level of being that is more essential and contains the seeds or causes of what emerges on the planes ‘below’ it. In this sense we might also refer to the causal level or body as the ‘unmanifest’ body or dimension. It is like the seed out of which more manifest levels grow. Because reality, in its relative nature, has many levels of being, what is ‘causal’ and what is ‘effect’ or manifest is somewhat relative. For instance, the emotional plane can be considered causal to the physical, yet the mental can be considered causal to the emotional. So we find various usages of the terms causal or causal body. In certain Sikh teachings, for instance, the term causal body is used to mean the concrete mental body, probably because this body is the subtlest aspect of the manifested personality, at least as regards the sensory or concrete experience of the personality. Yet, from a subtler point of view, the higher aspect of the mental body, the subtle or abstract mind, can be considered more deeply causal to the general field of the personality. We find this usage of causal body in Theosophy (Leadbeater/Besant).
Perhaps the most widely used meaning of the term causal body is found in the Hindu teachings, such as the classical yoga of Patanjali (The Yoga Sutras), where the term probably originated a few thousand years ago (karana sarira means ‘causal body’ in Sanskrit). In this system the term refers to what may also be called the soul body, which is often considered the final resting place of the incarnating self in between incarnations. This is how the term is used most widely in the Trans-Himalayan teachings. The causal body is the more permanent aspect of our reincarnating identity, being the body where the seeds of karma generated in each incarnation, as well as in our experiences in the astral and mental worlds, are stored between incarnations. It is also the level of our nature where the essential wisdom and character developed through each incarnation is integrated and preserved. While each of the three more spatially manifested bodies (physical, astral and mental) have seven major chakras, along with the primary channels or nadis, that form the foundation of each body, the causal body contains a more essential version of these etheric centers that expresses as a single, multi-faceted and multi-dimensional chakra or lotus. This may be called the ‘soul body’ and has also been called the ‘egoic lotus’. As this ‘meta-body’ or lotus manifests on the lower planes, beginning at the etheric mental level, it differentiates into a more three-dimensional shape with seven spatially distinct chakras and numerous lesser centers and channels. The causal body has been called the karana sarira or ‘causal body’ in yoga, the ananda-maya-kosa in Vedanta, the soul or higher self, and the permanent personality (Daskalos).
Beyond this level is the liberated human soul, or buddhic self, which is beyond all personal desire (personality ‘causes’) and karmic entanglement. Blavatsky considered the causal body as a combination of the last two definitions, the union of the buddhic/intuitive and soul body/higher mental bodies. A different example of the use of the term ‘causal’ by Ken Wilber and the Integral tradition is with reference to the highest three monadic planes, all of which are referred to as causal planes, because from a more macrocosmic point of view, this trinity of levels of being are the primordially unmanifest levels from which arise all levels and aspects of the manifest universe, human and non-human. Thus we can see that every plane (from the lower mental, higher mental, intuitive and beyond) has been considered ‘causal’ in one or another teaching.. See also Body(s), Soul, Buddhi, Wilber, Integral, Planes, Monad, Soul, Body(s), Intuition, Permanent Personality.
Center(s) – See Chakra
Chakra – Also spelled cakra; Sanskrit for ‘wheel’. Most commonly, the term chakra is used to refer to psychophysical centers found in the human pranic or etheric body, though there are planetary, solar, cosmic and galactic chakras to be found on those corresponding levels. They are understood as nexus points where the pathways of perhaps thousands of nadis or the living streams of energy-prana that compose the etheric and other subtle bodies, converge. The activity of these chakras creates a vortex of whirling energy, which is why they are often viewed clairvoyantly as wheels or vortices. Often, they are described as having the appearance of lotuses with various numbers of petals, owing to pattern that these pathways of energy-prana take in their convergence at the nexus point, or chakric centre. In terms of the human level definition, there are numerous of these chakras throughout the etheric or energy body, with seven major centers along the spine and in the head. Each of these centers is a point of convergence and interplay of physical, psychological and spiritual energy and consciousness. The science of chakras is quite complex, and is explanatory of some of the most profound mysteries of planetary, solar, cosmic or galactic being. The chakras serve as points of transmission and interchange between the various levels of human nature (or the corresponding aspects of a planetary, solar, cosmic, or galactic Logos’ being on those levels). The activity of each chakra varies according to the level of spiritual development of the individual. Each chakra is said to have different tiers or layers of depth, which reflect and become activated in response to the differential outpouring of personality, soul, monadic or Being-related energies. It is therefore possible for an individual to have brought a number of chakras into activation in terms of the outer personality tier of ‘petals’, but have yet to deepen that activation to the soul-consciousness or monadic-being tiers. Another important differentiation relates to the level of activation or unfoldment of a particular chakra. It is one thing for a chakra to have become activated by some type of energy, but this does not mean it has begun or unfold so as to allow its deepest empty centre to act as a laya point for progressively subtler energies. These centers exist not only in the etheric or pranic aspect of the physical body, but also in the etheric aspect of the astral/emotional and mental bodies. The seven major chakras are located at the crown, the brow, the throat, the heart, the solar plexus, the sacrum, and the base of the spine.
The energy associated with the chakras can be transformed and spiritualized, so that one can approach spiritual development in terms of working with the chakras and their purification, transformation and awakening. Tantric/transformational approaches are often particularly interested in working with the chakras. Chakras are key elements to many esoteric approaches to spirituality, and can be very valuable to understand for work in fields like healing and psychotherapy. As essential elements to the pattern of the microcosm (the human being), they are also a profound key to exploration of the macrocosm. In this respect, they provide a powerful tool in understanding esoteric teachings on cosmic hierarchy or holarchy, where each level of being is understood to be both a whole in itself and yet but a centre, or chakra, or a larger whole. So, in the context of the Trans-Himalayan cosmology, for instance, humanity is understood as both a single kingdom of nature within the planetary life as well as a chakra (specifically the throat chakra) within the subtle body of the Planetary Logos of the Earth. Beyond this, that being may be seen as a single planetary Being of vast realization as well as a specific chakra within the solar Logos (the base chakra). Beyond this, the solar Logos may be seen as one single Being of even grater levels of cosmic realisation in itself, as well as the heart chakra of a cosmic constellational Logos, and so on…See also Etheric Body, Nadi(s), Body(s), Kundalini, Esotericism, Tantra, Elements, Planes of Consciousness, Logos.
Chi – see Etheric Vitality
Chi Gong – Name of very ancient Chinese system of esoteric development (according to the Chi Gong adept Yan Xin, the roots of Chi Gong date to about 7000 years ago). Chi means ‘energy’ and gong means ‘ability’ or ‘mastery’, so Chi Gong may be translated as ‘mastery of life energy’. The deeper science of Chi Gong approaches spiritual practice through various exercises including movement (such as in Tai Chi), breathing practices, visualizations, cultivation of virtue, working with chakras, and sound. Chi Gong is often combined with other traditions such as Buddhism and Taoism. It is also the deeper practice behind some of the Chinese martial arts. Chi Gong practice for health, vitality and longevity are extremely popular in China. Chi Gong is a key element in what the Trans-Himalayan tradition would understand as the Chinese Branch or School of the One Fundamental School that is rooted in Shamballa. See also Etheric Vitality, Esotericism, One Fundamental School, Chinese School.
Chinese School – One of the several major branches of our planet’s underlying spiritual lineage, or the One Fundamnetal School of Shamballa, with its ‘headquarters’ described in the Trans-Himalayan tradition as being in the Kunlun mountains of China. It is of very ancient origin. The Chinese School includes the development of the Far Eastern culture and spiritual traditions of China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Taiwan, etc. The primary elements making up the transmission of the Chinese School or lineage are Taoism, Shintoism and Chi Gong. Although the activity of this tradition is seriously inhibited by the current situation in China, the Chinese School continues to exist to this day, with dozens of its leading members (or ‘Immortals’ as they are called in Taoism) working and teaching in seclusion in the mountains of China. See also Chi Gong, Trans-Himalayan tradition, Planetary Lineage, Buddhism, Tao(ism), One Fundamental School, Shamballa.
Christ Consciousness – According to one definition, the term could be understood as essentially the same as Presence (see Presence). According to another, in the Trans-Himalayan tradition, the term is related to the liberated buddhic consciousness of the human soul, which is coloured by innate light, love-wisdom and enlightened will. All beings have the potential for fully developed Christ Consciousness. See also Rigpa, Sahaja Samadhi, Agni, (Absolute) Bodhicitta, Presence, Self-Realization, Buddhi.
Christianity – See Esoteric Christianity
Cosmic Paths – One of the foremost teachings given by Djwhal Khul in his work with Alice Bailey and then with Bruce Lyon has related to the paths of continued unfoldment and awakening that a master engages subsequent to the 5th initiation. Often, such advanced stages of realization had not been considered within the global spiritual traditions, and yet according to Djwhal Khul, once a being has radically awakened to the Absolute and stabilized their self-identification in spirit, or the monad, there open up whole new levels of exploration, identification and development, out into the non-dual cosmos. In coming to understand this teaching, we need to remember that the planes extend indefinitely with progressively subtler realms of energy-matter transcending, including and interpenetrating the grosser realms. As plane access pierces the subtlest of the seven planes, the plane of adi, the entire sevenfold spectrum of planes is revealed as the internal vibratory states of the cosmic physical plane, and access to realms of greater subtlety, expansiveness and inclusiveness of consciousness, energy, relation, and community throughout cosmos, occurs. On these paths, the master is able to extend their realization of non-duality so as to incorporate more and more cosmic realms, whilst also abstracting their self-identification from the monad or spirit, back along the emanating ray so as so establish its identification on greater and greater scales of time and space. The availability of these paths to masters on Earth is said by Djwhal Khul to an evolutionarily emergent phenomenon, in that while in his work with Bailey and Lyon he teaches that these paths are seven, he also makes the point that in previous times only two paths were available to liberated beings on Earth, and in times to come, two more paths will emerge, making nine.
Of the seven that Djwhal Khul has taught on, three are understood to lead to penetration onto the cosmic astral plane, three to penetration onto the cosmic mental plane, and one to penetration onto the cosmic buddhic. Each of them ultimately involves work with form, on cosmically physical, astral, mental, and buddhic levels. Prior to liberation it is often the formless which is emphasized, and yet it is a fascinating thought to consider that once a being is fully liberated – once the root of their Awareness has awakened to its root that transcends, includes and arises as the entire relative reality moment–to-moment-to-moment, the orientation reverses, and turns back with a indomitable love, will and commitment, towards the universal spectrum of form. This is the making of a kosmic bodhisattva.
Of the seven paths he has described in his work with Alice Bailey and Bruce Lyon, six lead to other centers of service within the galaxy, while one involves the master choosing to stay within the aura of the Earth so as to serve the process of evolution and awakening in all kingdoms herein. Of these beings that choose to stay, their continued unfoldment entails their abstraction of identity into the pure love-energy of the cosmic astral plane, but their retained abiding within the cosmic physical plane. From their already established non-dual awakening to the Great Perfection of the whole cosmic gross plane, their abstraction of self-identification deeper into the cosmic astral allows the development of cosmo-centric structures of consciousness, expressed within the cosmic physical plane. Their work is to develop sensitivity to extra-planetary relationships, other galactic civilizations, as well as to those liberated buddhas that have chosen to ensoul planets, solar systems, constellations, and galaxies. As their abstraction of identity into wider and wider spheres of cosmic life continues, they expand their identification from that of the purpose of the Earth in cosmos, to that of our solar system and eventually our galaxy, without transcending the cosmic physical plane. This is understood to be a profoundly challenging path of deep sacrifice, and is called by Djwhal Khul, “The Path of Earth Service”. Simultaneously these masters choose which sphere of evolutionary complexity (quarks to atoms to molecules to cells to organisms, plants, fauna, humanity…) to work with on Earth, so as to facilitate the emergence of the particular divine expression that the Logos of the Earth is seeking to express through that kingdom.
Those masters who choose the second path abstract both their identity and realm penetration onto the cosmic mental plane, from which point they are able to embrace in non-dual realization the cosmic mental, astral and physical planes as the Absolute, whilst engaging cosmocentric structural development to profound levels. These masters work with the electro-magnetic polarities of the cosmos on extremely subtle levels of energy-matter. They are described as coming to eventually relate the enlightened energies transmitted from and between the Pleiades and the Great Bear to our solar system and the Earth. Both of these constellations are understood to be both ensouled by to profoundly advanced beings, and to be home to civilizations far in advance of our own.
The masters who choose the third path again learn to abstract their self-identification so as to penetrate into and incorporate into their non-dual awakening, the cosmic mental plane. From this summit of abiding and out of great compassion, they develop the extraordinary siddhi of learning to envelop and ensoul an entire planet with their consciousness and energy so as to hold it as a field for the evolution and awakening of all beings therein. These are the masters who go on to become planetary Logoi. The path of training for them is understood to be extremely long, and they study within the very subtle body-minds of those planetary Logoi who at the beginning of this cycle of cosmic manifestation, chose to ensoul each of the planets of our solar system.
The fourth path is known as “the Path to Sirius”, and the masters who engage this path abstract their identity and realm penetration onto the csmic astral plane, and anchor their presence within the energy-body of the great sun, Sirius. Sirius has figured prominently in the ancient mythologies of the traditions such as that of the Ancient Chinese, the Persians, the Babylonians, the Ancient Greeks (where the apparent movement of Sirius through the heavens was celebrated during the Eleusinian initiations), the Ancient Egyptian (who considered Sirius the most important star in the heavens and based their entire calendar around it), and such African lineages as the Dogon of Mali. In many, it is understood as the original home of humanity and the source of the Mystery Traditions themselves. In the Trans-Himalayan teachings, Sirius is understood a great nexus of outstandingly enlightened cosmic community, and as ensouled by an exceptionally enlightened cosmic Logos. In a manner that echoes the Sirian connection with our solar system and planet described in the traditions, Djwhal Khul states that the decisions and methods of the meta-sangha of liberated masters who remain on Earth to serve and guide the evolution and awakening of life here, is itself telepathically guided by the community of buddhas on Sirius. The masters who choose this fourth path pass to this community, where from radical awakening on a cosmic scale, they continue to move through highly advanced initiations.
The masters who take the fifth path are understood to abstract their locus of identity and penetration onto the cosmic mental plane, thereby including all within the cosmic mental, astral and physical in the non-dual embrace of the Absolute, and also unfolding cosmocentric structures of cosmic mind. Their work is understood to relate to the prismatic transmission of the sevenfold forces of kosmic shakti, or the seven rays, through cosmos. The role of these masters is to perfect their transmission capacity of the seven rays to and through the seven chakras of the planetary Logos of the Earth. It is stated that they then abstract their presence into the subtle energy-body of the sun so as to expand their transmission capacity to a solar scale, before then exiting our solar system to develop the capacity to transmit to and through, an entire constellation.
The sixth path involves an expansion of the third, with these masters abstracting their self-identification and penetration onto the cosmic buddhic plane so as learn to project their consciousness and energy to ensoul and envelop an entire solar system. These beings go on to become solar Logoi. They are understood to learn within the very subtle body-minds of the planetary Logoi presently ensouling the planets of our solar system, then the solar Logos who ensouls our solar system itself, before passing into the very subtle body-minds of other solar Logoi who are presently ensouling solar systems elsewhere in the galaxy. The masters who take this path necessarily learn to project their energy-bodies and consciousness so extensively so as to hold space for the Logoi ensouling planets to reside within their being as their embodied chakra system.
The seventh and final path Djwhal Khul discusses as presently available to liberated masters involves the abstraction of their identity and penetration onto the kosmic mental plane, from which, in their radically awakened and cosmically experiential structures of consciousness, they direct the forces of karma for the entire solar system, whilst relating it in energy and consciousness to the ensouled constellation and the civilizations of the Great Bear, and the supermassive black hole at the galactic center. It is understood to be the destiny of these masters to work ever within the presence of the galactic Logos that envelops the entire galaxy with its consciousness and energy.
Earth is understood to embody the base chakra of the solar Logos in the Trans-Himalayan teachings, and a consideration of this point opens up the possibility of considering the cosmic paths from both bottom up and top down perspectives. When we consider the cosmic paths from a bottom up perspective, we vision masters engaging their paths of unfolding into extraordinary new horizons, extending their realization of non-duality, their height of self-identification, their cosmocentric mind development, and their penetration into cosmic planes into ever greater and more expansive spheres. From the top-down perspective, however, we see units of solar and galactic kundalini rising along the cosmic nadi channels of the subtle energy bodies of planetary, solar and galactic Logoi. Or we see them remaining within the aura of the solar base chakra to ground realization to the Absolute at one of the densest points of cosmos.
Dark Night of the Soul – A phrase used by St. John of the Cross to describe a period of spiritual difficulty which can include a sense of despair, diminished hope and faith, loss of connection to Spirit, feelings of spiritual failure, loss of meaning, acute sense of imperfections, and similar challenges. St. John identified two forms of the dark night – the dark night of the senses and of the spirit. Of these he says “The one night or purgation will be sensory, by which the senses are purged and accommodated to the spirit, and the other night or purgation will be spiritual, by which the spirit (inner being) is purged and denuded as well as accommodated and prepared for union with God through love.” The ‘dark night’ is essentially a death preceding a rebirth, and so in some traditions such as Zen has been referred to by such terms as the ‘Great Death’. In the view of the Trans-Himalayan tradition (and various other traditions) these major death and rebirth cycles are several and are related to a being’s passage through the initiations of the soul – the death of identification with the physical body, the emotional self, the mind, the personality as a whole, then the release of the essential monadic being from the intuitive self or soul. Each of these involves a corresponding ‘dark night’, culminating in the initiatory experience itself, which progressively liberates and empowers the essential being. See also St. John of the Cross, Self-realization, Initiation.
Deity – In Trans-Himalayan occultism, a term usually referring to a God or ensouling being of some system of manifestation. The human monad might be described as a deity, for instance, as might a planetary, solar, cosmic, galactic or universal Logos. Such deities typically have specific defining characteristics such as compassion, power or wisdom, according to their primary Ray type. Alternatively, the term can refer to the various facets of God or Divinity in personified terms. Such deities need not have bodies or forms, but do, as described in various traditions, have specific spiritual qualities and powers. Included in the category of ‘Deities’ would be Archangels, Devas, Dhyani-Buddhas and Gods and Goddesses. Examples of various types of Deities include Ishvara, Adi-Buddha, Isis, Kali, Tara, Kuan Yin, Shiva and Vishnu. In some definitions of Deity, not all Deities are enlightened or fully enlightened. Yet in their corresponding traditions, all of the Deities mentioned above are usually considered fully enlightened beings. Some teachings understand Deities as usually being great enlightened Presences who were human at some point in their history, somewhere, and are now a type of higher order master who have progressed in spiritual evolution into having a more universal scope of expression. Some cosmologies view one or more Deities as being ‘Creators’ in the sense of being responsible for the existence of the universe. Non-dual cosmology (such as Advaita Vedanta, Buddhism and third phase Trans-Himalayan occultism) does not see any Deity as an ‘Absolute Creator’, that is, an ultimate source of the universe, but rather recognize various forms of Deities as having relative creativity (such as the various classes of Logoi, or the Archangels of the Elements) or as being more like universal teachers or saviors. See also Deity Yoga, Adi-Buddha, Logos, God, Archangel, Form, Ajata-vada.
Deity Yoga – A form of devotional spiritual practice involving some form of focus on, or worship of, a Deity, which Deity is normally understood to be the embodiment of some spiritual principle of archetype. Used commonly within such traditions as Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism, Deity Yoga typically makes use of sound (as in prayer and mantra) and visualization (such as with mandalas and yantras) to invoke and commune with a Deity. Advanced forms of Deity Yoga concern the process of ‘transforming’ oneself into the Deity, thereby gaining profound enlightenment and the various qualities of the Deity through identification and, therefore, direct transmission. See also Deity, Tibetan Buddhism, Yantra, Mantra, Yoga.
Deva – From the Sanskrit root div, ‘to shine’, Devas are ‘the shining ones’. In Hinduism, the terms deva (masculine) and devi (feminine) are used to describe both the universal enlightened Deities such as Shiva, Tara, Kali and Vishnu, as well as the Nature deities that are essentially the same as some of the orders of the Archangels of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In the Trans-Himalayan tradition, the term ‘deva’ is most often used in a way synonymous with Nature Archangel. Furthermore, the deva kingdom is said to be a line of planetary evolution that runs occultly parallel to the human evolution, with the devas both composing the physical and subtle forms through which the human monadic spirit manifests, and being possible to division into two classes. The first class are those that are pre self-conscious in their evolutionary unfoldment, and these are the countless elemental beings that compose the physical and subtle forms of the physical, astral-emotional and mental realms. The second class are those angelic beings that are post self-consciousness in their evolutionary unfoldment, with these beings embodying the subtle substance and fields of transmission of the higher planes through which cosmic energies pass and holding, alongside those spirits who have achieved liberation through the human line of evolution, some of the most prominent and enlightened positions on the planetary Hierarchy. See also Archangel, Elements, Nature, Hierarchy, Deity.
Dharma – A Sanskrit word with various meanings, used in numerous traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. One of the ways it is used in Hinduism is in its name. The Hindus did not traditionally called themselves ‘Hindus’, nor their religion ‘Hinduism’, just as the Native Americans did not traditionally call themselves ‘Native Americans’. The Hindu name for their own tradition is the Santana-Dharma, which can be translated as ‘The Ageless Wisdom’ or ‘The Eternal Teachings’. So in both Hinduism and Buddhism, one meaning of the term Dharma (often capitalized) is ‘The Teachings’ or ‘The True Way’. So sometimes when we use the term Dharma, especially when phrased ‘the Dharma’, it means the teachings of the Ageless or Primordial Wisdom Tradition. All authentic spiritual teachings are manifestations of ‘the Dharma’, although some may be more profound or complete than others, while none begin to exhaust vast richness of the Dharma. Another meaning of ‘dharma’ (usually not capitalized) is ‘righteousness’ or ‘virtue’. This is related to the first meaning but is limited to its outer significance. Yet another meaning is as someone’s duty or role in life. In this sense, a person’s dharma refers to their nature, their natural place in life, dictated by their karma, their level of evolution and so on. This is related to the notion of having a ‘life purpose’, or a ‘calling’ or ‘mission’. But this ‘dharma’ need not be a special or glamorous role. Everyone’s essential dharma or calling is to pursue the path to Self-realization, which may or may not involve fulfilling a role such as being a teacher, healer, leader, etc. See also Divine Will, Dharma Yoga.
Dharma Yoga – A term used in Agni Yoga teachings to refer to the path (or an aspect of a broader approach) which concerns the development of a sense of one’s essential or spiritual purpose or direction, especially regarding the field of action. In this light, dharma yoga may be considered an aspect or form of karma yoga, the path of spiritual action. The word ‘dharma’ is used here with its meaning of one’s role or duty in life, which can be applied to cultivating action in each moment that is in harmony with one’s true nature, and also the sense of having an experience of a general ‘calling’ or life-work, and also to more specific instances of the experience of inspiration arising from a higher or divine will. A common element of dharma yoga can therefore involve the experience of the alignment of the individual will with a deeper, more profound source of direction, meaning or purpose – the Divine Will, the Tao, the universal Dharma, one’s divine self, or other sources of transcended guidance, inspiration and empowerment. Dharma yoga is particularly a path concerned with exploring the relationship between one’s individual will and some source of more universal direction or purpose. There are a variety of approaches to dharma yoga, which reflect differences of style, stages of development as well as differing sources of higher will with which one is aligning, cooperating or surrendering. See also Karma Yoga, Dharma, Divine Will.
Divine Power, Will and Purpose – This is understood, in the Trans-Himalayan tradition, as one of the primary qualities of divinity, alongside Divine Love-Wisdom, Divine Creative Intelligence, and Divine Being and Presence, as they expresses on every level of cosmic evolution in the manifest universe. Divine Will and Power are described as primary qualities of the monadic, or 1st aspect of the human being, which could itself be considered as both an embodiment and reservoir of the essential Life energy of the planetary Logos; with Love-Wisdom understood as the primary quality of the soul or consciousness aspect, and creative intelligence (eventually realized as and in divine activity) the primary quality of the personality or form aspect. On a planetary level, the seat of planetary Power, Will and Purpose is known in the Trans-Himalayan teachings as Shamballa – the planetary crown chakra, with Hierarchy, the planetary heart chakra primarily expressing Love-Wisdom and humanity, the planetary throat chakra expressing Creative Intelligent Activity. It is understood that planetary Purpose, which is the silent and still coherence of the essential dynamic Beingness of the planetary Logos of the Earth, is held in reservoir in Shamballa, and that when this energy becomes active it takes the form of divine Will. This process of stepping down planetary Purpose into the Great Plan, is engaged by the liberated Masters and Bodhisattvas of Hierarchy who are able to contact the reality of Shamballa, and it involves their translation of the Great Purpose at the heart of the entire Being of Earth, into however much of that Purpose can be expressed during that particular cycle. This Plan is then stepped down into the various Ray Ashrams of Hierarchy, the planetary heart chakra, where it is engaged into a program of unfoldment through all fields of human and non-human endeavour. Humanity’s evolution and progressive awakening are both the result of this process, and the cause of its continued advancement, as the three planetary chakras, Humanity, Hierarchy and Shamballa, become progressively interrelated. These reservoirs of divine Power and Purpose are found at all levels of the universe, with Uranus playing the same role in the solar system, the Great Bear on a stellar level, and the supermassive black hole at the core of each galaxy on a galactic level.
In other traditions, such as the Indian Tantric tradition, Divine Power and Will are sometimes understood as enlightened Shakti, or the feminine energetic power-expression of the masculine, dynamic, still and silent Source. In Islam and Christianity, Divine Will also plays a central role, though often according to an understanding of more ethnocentric stages of consciousness development.
Contact with divine Power, Purpose and Will occurs through identification with the monadic depth of identity, which is ever identified with the One Life of which it is the expression (planetary, solar, galactic or universal). The result of that identification is both the transference of identity into that single Reality of Being, but also an empowerment to move with power as the One in the service of planetary awakening. This is how the members of Hierarchy are understood to work, as are those beings composing Shamballa, though on much more mysterious and cosmically inclined levels. See also Shamballa, Monad, Hierarchy, Black Hole, Uranus, God, Purpose, Plan, Shakti.
Djwhal Khul, Master – The Tibetan master whose teachings, through and with Helena Blavatsky, Alice Bailey and Bruce Lyon, have constituted the most comprehensive body of transmissions in the Trans-Himalayan tradition. While Blavatsky is understood to have met him in person a number of times, his transmissions to Alice Bailey and Bruce Lyon occurred on subtle levels. Djwhal Khul has described himself as a Tibetan master who resides as the abbot of a Vajrayana lamasery in Northern India, and by Theosophical writers, it is understood that he incarnated previously as the Buddhist sage, Aryasangha. Owing to the body of his teaching having such an extensive basis in the various energies and beings of the cosmos, and because of the similarity in content, a number of Trans-Himalayan scholars have suggested that Djwhal Khul may be a master of the Kalachakra Tantra teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. During his work with Alice Bailey, he is understood to have been a 5th degree initiate, yet he notes in his recent work with Bruce Lyon that he has now passed through the 6th initiation. He is understood to be the most advanced student of the Master Koot Humi, and is now understood to have assumed the position of head of the Second Ray Ashram, and with the masters Morya and Rakozci, he holds a transmission point for the Ashram of Synthesis. See also Alice Bailey, Bruce Lyon, Helena Blavatsky, Trans-Himalayan tradition, Ashram of Synthesis, Trans-Himalayan School, Master, Guru.
Duhkha – Sanskrit word (Pali: dukkha) meaning ‘suffering’ or ‘discontentedness’. A term used in both Hindu and Buddhist teachings to describe an unavoidable characteristic of the experience of being a separate self, and the desires and attachments that arise from that misunderstanding. Duhkha names the fact that suffering is the constant companion of ordinary life, the fact that no matter how much temporary happiness we achieve, it is always tainted by limitation, and will always pass. Profound insight into the truth of duhkha is that deep and profound realization that separative existence is inherently limited, painful, discouraging and disappointing. Insight into the truth of duhkha is the sobering realization that the ego-centric mode of existence that keeps us bound to samsara, and in fact is the very basis of the existence of samsara, is not working and is not what we really want. It is a waking up to realizing we are addicted to a narcotic, one that seems to give us what we want, or at least the hope of achieving it, but that this is an illusion because it can never deliver what it promises. Even when we get what we think we want, we will eventually loose it. And the very mode of seeking happiness through attaining something we perceive as separate from us always carries with it suffering, because unless we transcend the experience of separation permanently, we will continue to suffer, because suffering is intrinsic to the experience of separation. Duhkha is the insight into the fact that our addiction to ego and desire is unsatisfactory. The complimentary insight to duhkha is the realization that there is another mode of being beyond samsara, beyond ego, which is in fact our true nature. In order to fully enter this mode of being (nirvana, the Tao, Christ Consciousness) we must become fully disillusioned with samsaric existence. These two insights grow together as we gradually awaken – disillusionment with the old, and emergence into the new. See also Impermanence, Nirvana, Ego, Samsara, Separation, Suffering.
Dhyana – Sanskrit term for deep meditation, which is past the stage of basic concentration, but short of the stage of samadhi. See also Samadhi, Attunement, Meditation.
Dzogchen – A spiritual transmission held within the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism after having been received by Garab Dorje (said to have been transmitted to him from the Adi-Buddha via Vajrasattva), and the Oral Transmission class of teachings in Tibetan Bon via its founding buddha, Tonpa Shenrab. Dzogchen migrated to Tibet from Central Asia where it merged with, and continues to be transmitted by, aspects of both the Bon and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Dzogchen, which means ‘Great Perfection’, is essentially a non-dual transmission emphasizing the awakening of the individual, after appropriate preparation, to rigpa or non-dual Presence by direct transmission from master to student. The heart of Dzogchen takes the form of two primary practices (trekcho and togal) used to ‘cut through’ into direct, non-dual awareness, and then to integrate this awareness into daily life. The practices of Dzogchen tend to emphasise the integration of non-dual realization and vision. Dzogchen is transmitted through both the Nyingmapa Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, and in a virtually identical form through Tibetan Bon, and in both it is coupled with traditional and tantric practices used to prepare one for the advanced non-dual practices that are the essence of Dzogchen. Dzogchen is also characterized by an emphasis on ‘the Great Transfer’ as the culmination and expression of the highest realization or ‘attainment’. The Great Transfer, also known as the ‘Body of Light’, is the experience of culminating one’s incarnation by so fully realizing non-dual presence or enlightenment within one’s physical body that the body and its elements are resolved into their light essence, prior to death, causing the body to disappear from the physical world (leaving only the hair and nails behind). A realization nearly as advanced as the Great Transfer is called the ‘Rainbow Body’, wherein the body is gradually dissolved into light over the course of several days just after death. Garab Dorje, Padmasambhava and many other Dzogchen masters up until our times have achieved these consummating stages of realization, including a North American who apparently achieved the Great Transfer while training in the Himalayas in recent years. See also Rigpa, Non-dualism, Ati Yoga.
Ego – From the Latin meaning ‘I’. In a spiritual context the term ‘ego’ is used to refer to the essential experience of ‘I-ness’, of individual separate existence in the gross realm of personality, though in the Trans-Himalayan teachings, the term is sometimes used to refer to the incarnating spiritual self, or soul. According to the first definition, the sense of ego arises with subject-object dualism, that is, the experience of being an individual looking out at an ‘other’ – that is, other beings and the world at large. Arising from this sense of being a separate self comes a sense of incompleteness, since our true nature is non-dual and intrinsically complete. With the illusion of being a separate self we also feel deep within our experience a sense of loss, of incompleteness, and a desire for ‘something’ to fill that lack. This gives rise to the unfoldment of various conceptions of what will fulfill us, and the various desires that are then formed. Yet the traditions suggest that only the realization of our natural state of underlying wholeness or Buddha Nature, our union with God, or our non-dual Self, will fully eliminate this sense of lack and the feelings of craving, imperfection, loneliness and suffering that must come with it. Ego has various levels of expression. There is unconscious ego, normal human ego and spiritual ego. Spiritual ego can take the form of making spirituality a way to prolong the ego rather than transcend it. But there is also a mature form or ‘spiritual ego’ that is the ‘selfhood’ that aspires to enlightenment and self-transcendence or Self-fulfillment. See also Soul, Separation, Personality, Self, Hindrances, Permanent Personality, Self-realization.
Elements – According to some of the esoteric traditions, the elements are fundamental aspects of experience. They are not mental concepts, but rather can be directly perceived by ‘bare attention’ – pure intuitive awareness. Experiences like noticing an airplane overhead, an emotional state like grief, or the choice to buy a loaf of bread – these types of experiences are conditioned by mental concepts. The elements are more fundamental components of experience, and can be directly perceived with intuition, beyond intellect and concepts. The following are the seven primordial elements or building blocks of all experience:
1st Element Self – The Knower, Atman/Purusha
2nd Element Consciousness – Knowing Mind, Essence, Prajna, Intuition
3rd Element Akasha – Space, The Known Prakriti, Root Substance
4th Element Air or Wind – Vibration, Movement, Motion, Vitality
5th Element Fire – Heat and Cold, Light and Color, Radiation,
6th Element Water – Fluidity, Cohesion
7th Element Earth – Hardness, Solidity, Firmness
The Elements may be grouped into two categories – the first three, the essential Trinity, and the other four, the Quaternary. The Buddha referred to the first three elements (which he also called paramattha dharmas or ‘ultimate realities’) as the ‘mind elements or dharmas’, and the last four as ‘material elements or dharmas’, because they have form. The seven principles or rays may be understood as different ways of experiencing these essential elements. Each element also reflects within it all the other elements, so there are also 49 ‘sub-elements’, and so on. All beings, forms and states on every plane of the universe, manifest and unmanifest, are made up of various combinations of these elements. These elements or essences are the building blocks of Relativity. Beyond all seven elements or rays is the unconditioned, non-dual reality – the Absolute. See also Elementals, Principles, Rays.
Elemental – Accoring to the Trans-Himalayan teachings, ‘elementals’ are the billions of pre self-conscious beings of the devic evolution that embody the gross and subtle substance composing the building blocks of the relative universe. These ‘elementals’ make up the physical and psychological (astral and mental) worlds. Physical objects and bodies, emotions, desires, thoughts, inner environments, planets, etc. are elementals or groups of elementals. Our entire personality sheaths are composed of millions of elementals just as we as human beings in our multitudes play a similar though not the same role within the planetary, solar and cosmic beings in which we find our place. These elemental beings are understood to be treading a path of evolutionary becoming just as we are, with their path being possible of advancement and empowerment or retardation depending upon the dignity of expression that is attained to by the human soul that is manifesting through them. See also Elements, Form, Karma, Mind, Subconscious, Deva.
Emotional Body – See Astral Body
Emotional Plane – See Astral Plane
Emptiness – Translation of the Sanskrit word sunyata, a term used often in Mahayana Buddhism to refer to the Absolute or non-dual essence of reality. Use of the term ‘emptiness’ in Buddhism, in place of nirvana, seems to have been initiated by Nagarjuna who used the term to describe the Absolute as having the characteristic of being ‘empty’ or ‘void’ of a self-nature or other eternally permanent characteristics. All phenomena, even spiritual phenomena, are ultimately relatively ‘fleeting manifestations in a stream of endless transformations’. Emptiness can be considered, therefore, the nature of the Absolute because it points to the lack of an eternal substance distinguishing one thing from another. The appearance of ‘essence’, even self-essence, is actually temporary and changing. All that persists is the Absolute – so the realization of the ‘emptiness’ of all impermanent phenomena, even the ‘self’, is the same as the realization of its true nature, which is Buddha-nature or the Absolute Self. Notice under the category of the Elements that the subtlest element is Self or self-essence. Although it is the subtlest, most universal and apparently enduring, it too is one of the conditioned elements and is therefore part of samsara or transitory phenomena. Beyond all seven elements is the ‘emptiness’ or Absolute, which is the context for all phenomena and their ultimate nature. The term emptiness, therefore, does not mean that the Absolute or non-dual is missing or lacking something, only that its nature is so transcendent that it is not possible to attach any limiting label or characteristic to it. It is ‘empty’ of conditional or limiting characteristics, yet is the very ground or ‘substance’ of all phenomena. Like any other name for the transcendent reality, it is inherently limited and has strengths and weaknesses. Emptiness is synonymous with nirvana, Brahman, the Absolute, etc. See also Non-dualism, Nirvana, Tao, Buddha Nature, God, Absolute, Brahman, No-self, Elements.
Esotericism – The word ‘esoteric’ means that which is not well known to the general population. Many fields of human knowledge or experience are esoteric. In a spiritual context, esotericism has been used in several ways. The most general meaning is to indicate an approach to spirituality that understands the capacity of individuals to initiate themselves into the Mysteries of Being through penetration into inner sources of wisdom or gnosis. Esoteric religion or spirituality is thus a direct and personal approach to transcendence or illumination. Since this is not the approach to religion or spirituality that the great majority of humanity takes, it can be considered ‘esoteric’. Under this meaning Gnosticism and Rosicrucianism, Christian and Jewish Kabalah, Hindu yoga and Buddhist practice, Taoism and shamanism are all examples of esoteric spirituality (when pursued for true spiritual transformation). By contrast, the approach of the average Christian or Hebrew, Hindu or Buddhist can be considered exoteric or ‘outer’ religion owing to its orientation being towards the regulation of outer conduct rather than inner transformation. Esotericism is often used within a yet more restricted context to refer to those forms of practice that involve working with subtle energy such as various tantric practices. Tibetan or Tantric Buddhism, for instance, may be considered a more esoteric spiritual practice. Other examples would include Chi Gong, Taoist yoga, Trans-Himalayan Occultism, Hermeticism. See also Tantra, Trans-Himalayan School.
Esoteric Christianity – All major religious traditions can be divided into their exoteric and esoteric aspects. The exoteric involves the beliefs and practices typically oriented towards the regulation of outer moral conduct based on promised rewards or punishments. It is followed by the bulk of its members and often involves a blind acceptance of the doctrine, the performance of rituals and an attempt to live a good life. The esoteric aspect of a religion is usually limited to a smaller group of those who are seeking to profoundly embrace the inner meaning of their faith, and follow in the footsteps of the founder(s) and initiates of that tradition by seeking deep levels of spiritual development and transformation. Within the Christian tradition, there has been less tolerance among the hierarchy of exoteric officials, and even their followers, towards esoteric Christians. Subsequently, esoteric forms of Christianity have not always been entirely visible to the world. Yet there have been, and continue to be, many forms of Esoteric Christianity. Some have expressed their mysticism within the context of the exoteric orders, at least to some extent. Of these, some have challenged the views of the outer order, others less so. Examples of these include St. Francis, Origen, Hildegard of Bingen, St. Theresa, Meister Eckhart and St. John of the Cross. There have also existed other forms of Esoteric Christianity that have not been as compatible with the exoteric institutions, many of which have remained hidden or secret for many centuries. In the last century or so, some of these traditions have become more visible. These include Christian Gnosticism (a synthesis of Eastern, Greek and Christian ideas), the Coptic tradition (as blending of Egyptian and Christian streams), Christian Kabalah (see below), Freemasonry (Egyptian, Christian and others), Celtic Christianity, and Rosicrucianism (see below). See also Christ, Alice Bailey, Kabalah, Esotericism, Theosophy, Trans-Himalayan tradition, St John of the Cross.
Essence – Typically used to mean the inner, spiritual nature of someone or something. This may be either its soul, spirit or ultimately, the non-dual or Absolute nature – each being progressively more essential. Essence is therefore a somewhat relative term, but is generally used to indicate the inner spiritual reality. See also Soul, Spirit, Non-dualism, Absolute.
Etheric Body – The aspect of the body composed of the three etheric or pranic elements or levels of energy. Sometimes called the energy body or the prana-maya-kosha (Sanskrit: ‘energy sheath’), or the ‘vajra’ (Sanskrit: ‘diamond’) body in the New Translation Schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the etheric body is the template for the dense physical body, the later being made up of the ‘form’ elements – fire, air, water and earth. The subtler etheric body is composed of an etheric counterpart to every atom, cell, organ, etc. of the physical body, as well as various additional etheric organs such as chakras and nadis. The essential life force flows through the etheric body and animates the dense physical body. Disturbances of the flow of vitality in the etheric body can lead to disease in the dense physical body. The emotional and mental bodies also have corresponding etheric aspects, just as the physical does. The three bodies are linked through the chakras of their etheric bodies. See also Body(s), Elements, Etheric Vitality, Chakras, Nadi(s).
Etheric Vitality – Also called prana, chi or life-force, etheric vitality in its broadest definition, is universal energy making up the vibratory ‘substance’ of all the planes or worlds of the relative universe. It is from this vitality or energy that all forms are built. Its deepest nature is the same as Shakti or Holy Spirit, although at this level we are relating to the deepest Spirit behind the multitude of the manifestations of Nature or Shakti. On the most accessible level, etheric vitality is the subtle energy that flows through our etheric body (nadis and chakras), like electricity, except that it is more refined and not perceptible to the ordinary senses or even most scientific instruments. This vitality animates the physical body, supplying the energy that builds our bodies, maintains their metabolic processes (digestion, respiration, elimination, etc.), supports the operation of our senses and motor abilities, and so on. We gain this vitality from such sources as food, breathing and especially from the Sun, though our most profound source is learning to draw this vitality directly from the universal reservoir, the ‘ethers’ or Mind. All our bodies – including emotional and mental – are sustained by etheric vitality. It is our ‘daily bread’. When our physical etheric energy is low, we are tired or lethargic, do not perform physical activities as well, and may become ill. When our psychological vitality is low, we are depressed, confused, can’t concentrate, lack motivation and suffer more emotionally. Spiritual practice gradually increases our vitality, and there are also specific practices aimed at ‘energy mastery’ through awakening latent energy, guiding and projecting energy, and working with vitality to support healing, protection, strength and spiritual development. See also Etheric Body, Chakras, Nadi(s), Mind, Shakti, Holy Spirit, Chi Gong.
Feeling – This term is used to mean the full spectrum of contact or sensation ranging from the physical senses (especially touch, but including all the senses as well, for each is a form of sense or contact), to emotional forms of feeling, to ‘mental’ feeling (less familiar to most people, but a very real form of feeling), merging into intuition. The sense of feeling, sensation or concreteness or contact is in contrast to the experience of mind or abstraction. Consciousness may be cool, aloof, detached, even ‘abstracted’, or it may involve contact, feeling, warm, sensation. Feeling has both active and receptive aspects that are desire and sense, respectively. Our ability to feel is conditioned by our level of consciousness. Feeling can be transformed so that it is spiritualized, liberated from the confines and distortions of ego-identification. Our feeling nature, spiritualized, manifests as such qualities as love, compassion, peace, bliss, joy, contentment, vitality, beauty and harmony. See also Astral nature, astral Body, Intuition, Mind.
Feminine Principle – See Shakti, Nature, Holy Spirit
Form – The outer appearance, body or symbol for something or someone. Everything has an inner essence or ‘soul’, and manifests in the worlds of separation, time and space through a ‘form’ or body. The inner essence of something or someone does not have shape or size in the ordinary sense, but its form is its reflection in more concrete dimensions (mental, astral and physical), where it takes on spatial dimensions and temporal characteristics. The form dimensions are dominated by the four ‘material’ or concrete elements – earth, water, air and fire – whereas the soul or formless dimensions are dominated by the ‘ethereal’ or ‘mind’ elements. The realm of inner essence or formless soul participates in a radically different experience of time and space than the form aspect. The form aspect of a person or object is relatively more temporary or impermanent – the soul or essence more lasting or permanent, although even the soul is part of Relative Reality and is neither eternal nor unchanging – only apparently less so. For instance, the higher self or soul of a human being is continuous in some sense from one life to another, and therefore appears to be more enduring or even eternal. The soul or essence aspect can also exist without the outer form, whereas the form cannot exist without the essence. But the soul, too, is evolving and is, relative to the Absolute, impermanent. See also Formless, Elements, Soul, Personality, Quality, Planes of Consciousness, Body(s), Relativity.
Formless – Those dimensions or planes of being dominated by the abstract elements, or ‘mind’ elements as the Buddha called them. These are such elements as akasha or space, consciousness and beingness. In the Trans-Himalayan tradition, the higher four sub-planes of the cosmic physical plane (the buddhic, atmic, monadic and logoic) are considered formless, whereas the lower three (mental, emotional and physical) are considered form-based. Such a designation must be recognised as only relative however, for even these supposedly formless sub-planes of the cosmic physical plane would be considered form-based in comparison to the cosmic astral or cosmic mental planes. In an even larger sense, these three thus far considered cosmic planes (the cosmic physical, astral and mental) would be considered form-based in comparison to the cosmic buddhic, the cosmic atmic, the cosmic monadic and the cosmic logoic planes. Generally speaking, the ‘formless’ is a dimension beyond time and space as we normally experience these – it is comprised of states of realization and qualities. Our higher self or soul is formless, and incarnates into the realms of form, or time and space, and of bodies and senses. The same would be said for our monadic being, though according to a higher meaning. The psychological realms of emotion and mind are also realms of form and body. The formless realm is the realm of universal laws, principles, qualities, essences, archetypes, ideas, souls and similar realities. Both the form and formless realms are contained within Relativity – the universes of conditioned, dualistic experience (even though the dualism of the formless realms is subtle and secondary to unity or universality). Beyond both form and formlessness, and comprising the ultimate essence of both, is the non-dual Absolute. The formless realms and states, although part of Relativity, are more spiritually expansive states, less veiled, and therefore more reflective of the non-dual, though never fully revealing its ultimate nature. See also Non-dual, Absolute, Relativity, Elements, Form, Soul, Body(s).
Four Noble Truths – Soon after his enlightenment, the Buddha gave his first talk in which he offered the teachings called the Four Noble Truths. These summarize the essence of the Buddha’s original teachings. These four truths are: the truth of suffering; the cause of suffering; the truth of nirvana or liberation from suffering; and the cause of realizing nirvana, or following the Noble Eightfold Path. The first truth in Pali is called the truth of dukkha, which is usually translated as ‘suffering’. Yet the literal translation is closer to ‘difficult to bear’, ‘unsatisfactory’ or ‘frustrating’. This was a basic truth that the Buddha observed – that life as ordinarily lived was flawed, imperfect, inevitably involving suffering, frustration, disease and so on. It does not mean that life is only suffering, rather that life as ordinarily pursued inevitably includes suffering, and that even positive experiences of fulfilling worldly desires, when examined closely enough, are often disappointing or tainted with imperfection. The truth of suffering means that life lived through the experience of being a separate self, seeking fulfillment through experiences in the transitory worlds of form and mind, will inevitably involve suffering. This is simply an observation, a truth of Nature. The second truth – the cause of suffering – is identified as tanha in Pali, which means ‘thirst’. This truth points to the experience of desires, our needs and drives, our insatiable thirst or craving for fulfillment in ways that are misguided. Since we seek satisfaction of our desires through that which is imperfect and transitory, our experience of fulfilling desires, even when successful, is always flawed and also will not last. We are subsequently doomed to suffer and remain entangled in samsara. The Buddha did not believe that the observation of the first two truths was a form of pessimism, but rather simply an observation of a fact of Nature. The third and fourth truths may be called the ‘good news’ or ‘positive’ truths – the truths of nirvana, just as the first two are the ‘bad news’ or the ‘negative’ truths – the truths of samsara. The third Noble Truth is the pointing out that we are not doomed, therefore, to inevitable suffering. There is an alternative – nirvana. Nirvana is the state of transcendence of suffering. It is a state of perfect transcendence of the illusion of separation, and therefore of ego, desire, suffering, disease and death. The Buddha taught that it was possible to realize nirvana here and now, in this human life. The fourth Noble Truth is the Buddha’s identification of a path to nirvana. If ordinary living is doomed to involve suffering, how must we live and think to come to nirvana? The Buddha’s answer to this is called the Noble Eightfold Path – a set of guidelines for conduct, motivation, perspective and meditation that would lead the sincere practitioner to nirvana. The are: Right Action, Right Speech, Right Livelihood, Right View, Right Intentions, Right Effort, Right Concentration and Right Mindfulness. See also Buddha, Nirvana, Samsara, Duhkha, Separation, Awakening, Buddhism.
Freedom – A quality of divinity related to what is known in the Trans-Himalayan tradition as the Fourth Quality of Deity or Divinity, after the Power, Love and Intelligence aspects. This Freedom is not a form of personal license, but is rather the principle of Divinity that allows cosmic spirit and the monadic reality of the Great Perfection to pervade such a densely embodied level of cosmos as that at which Earth resides in a manner where its purity is totally full. It is described as a fundamental quality of Reality, and one that transcends, includes and permeates all three aspects of our being – monadic, soular, and personal. It is spoken of as a divine quality that is embodied and transmitted cosmically by the Great Life that is manifesting through the sun Sirius, where the Law of Freedom is said to be one of the basic principles of existence for the vastly realized cosmic buddhas that dwell there. Owing to our planet being the 4th globe of the 4th chain of the 4th scheme in a solar system of the 4th order, it is the 4th Quality of Divinity, which emanates from the 4th cosmic plane, the cosmic buddhic, that is understood to be the primary quality of Being that is at the core of the planetary Logos’ cosmic intention in manifesting through this planet.
God – Used with a wide variety of meanings, the definitions of God may be reduced to two general areas – God as the impersonal, transcendent or Absolute Reality, and God as a personal Divine Presence. In the case of the former, the term ‘Godhead’ might be more appropriately used. In the case of the latter, God might be understood according to the same definition as ‘Deity’.
Grace – In Nature, evolution proceeds according to natural rhythms. The lives of the nature kingdoms and unconscious human beings evolve and grow conditioned by the laws of karma, the working out of causes in their effects, learning from these experiences that leads to new causes (desires) and new effects and further learning, and so on. There are two forces that allow individuals to rise above natural evolution, accelerate growth and modify the working out of karma, eventually leading to liberation. These are conscious intention (taking the form of individual practice) and grace. The latter is the expression of the activity of a relatively more transcendent source of empowerment and support which enters into the life and being of an individual (or group, planet, etc.) and stimulates evolution and awakening. In one school of Buddhism these two forces are called ‘self power’ and ‘other power’. ‘Self power’ is the capacity of the individual to consciously influence his or her own evolution (spiritual practice), and ‘other power’ is grace. Grace can take many forms such as contact with spiritual teachings and instruction in practice through literature, oral teachings and personal example, and direct transmission of spiritual energy and realization directly from a teacher to a student. Direct transmission is sometimes also referred to by such terms as initiation and empowerment. Grace, considered generally, can flow from many sources. Our family and culture in general offers various transmissions that may support our awakening. And, of course, some of the most important sources of grace are spiritual lineages and teachers, and ultimately the Universal Self or Primordial Buddha. There are specific forms of practice that are aimed at invoking grace, or establishing contact with sources of grace. Such practices emphasize qualities like appreciation, refuge, devotion, surrender, invocation and faith. See Free Will, Practice, Initiation, Teachers, Guru, Guru Yoga, Lineage Yoga, Human Idea.
Guru – A Sanskrit term literally meaning ‘weighty one’ – one whose words are given great weight. The term guru is traditionally reserved for a spiritual teacher recognized as having achieved an advanced stage of enlightenment, and whose dharma includes initiating and guiding others on the path. Such a teacher could be both one operating on the outer planes as a an advanced member of humanity, or one residing on the inner planes of much greater realization and awakening, who has left behind the need for gross realm incarnation. Understandings of what constitutes adequate realization or liberation for one to be considered a guru seem to vary from one tradition to another, but most uses of the term seem to imply someone of at least the third initiation. In guru yoga, as practiced within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for example, the practice of emphasizing the guru as the primary means of spiritual development, the guru serves as a living manifestation of the Divine or a manifestation of Self-realization, giving personification and accessibility to the transcendent Reality. Guru-disciple relationships can take various forms, but many traditions believe that a strong connection between a student and an authentic teacher is one of the most important elements of an effective spiritual path. Some traditions, such as Tibetan Buddhism again, recognize the validity of having more than one guru, while others emphasize loyalty to one. The guru not only serves as a role model and instructor in teachings and practices, by also serves as an initiator, transmitting spiritual energy and realization directly to the disciple. As previously said, the guru(s) need not have a physical form. Practitioners may have teachers in the inner worlds, which their physical self may or may not be aware of. The majority of individuals on the spiritual path will awaken most efficiently and safely by having one or more physical teachers in addition to the inner teachers they may have. See Initiation, Guru Yoga, Master, Teachers.
Guru Yoga – A form of practice using the guru or spiritual teacher as the focus of the practice. Forms of guru yoga may range from the practice of cultivating respect and appreciation for the guru, to performing service for the guru, to surrendering to the guru’s will, to meditation on the guru in order to invoke grace, to seeking to merge one’s being in the enlightened presence of the guru. Some traditions make guru yoga the central or only practice. The practice of guru yoga, especially in some of its forms, is controversial. Being widely recognized as being a profoundly powerful path when engaged in a mature and authentic form, it likewise is strongly prone to abuse and can be powerfully damaging when misused. Subsequently, in some traditions that strongly emphasize guru yoga, such as Tibetan Buddhism, it is recommended that one use great caution in selecting a guru, and some, like the 14th Dalai Lama, have suggested that guru yoga is an advanced practice that is not suitable for beginners. The two main issues that clash in the controversy over guru yoga is that on the one hand many people experience and observe that the practice of guru yoga can be a profoundly effective dimension of spiritual practice, whereas on the other hand, we so commonly see abuses of the guru-disciple relationship that one can certainly wonder whether the good outweighs the harm. Clearly we are entering a time when heightened awareness of these issues can lead to a more mature and sophisticated understanding of guru yoga. See Guru, Teachers, Divine Will, Lineage Yoga, Yoga.
Hatha Yoga – the most popular and well-known form of yoga known in the West. This focuses primarily on the use of postures (asanas) and breathing practices (pranayama) for cleansing karma and maintaining health and vitality. In its deeper implications, hatha yoga is a form of kundalini yoga, aiming to awaken the kundalini fire for the purpose of spiritual liberation through an emphasis on technical physical/energetic practices. See also Tantric Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Pranayama, Yoga.
Hierarchy – From the Greek; hier- meaning ‘holy’ or ‘sacred’, and arch having various meanings including ‘ruler’ or ‘principle’ – therefore a ‘holy order of rulers or principles’. The term hierarchy is used in a variety of ways. Often the term is applied to an order of ruling or governing beings such as a church hierarchy or the Judeo-Christian concept of a system of spiritual rulership in the cosmos populated with spiritual beings such as Archangels. In various traditions around the world it is believed that there is a meta-sangha of enlightened beings associated with the Earth, including some who are in human incarnation, who form the spiritual ‘hierarchy’ of our planet. In the Sufi tradition, advanced members of this group are called ‘Sufis’ (regardless of what spiritual tradition they may be outwardly associated with). Other terms that have been used for this group are ‘Enlightened Bodhisattvas and Buddhas’ (Buddhism); Mahatmas, Gurus, Avatars, Siddhas (‘Perfected Ones’) and other terms from Hinduism; the ‘Immortals’ (Taoism); the ‘Righteous Ones’ (Judaism); The Elder Brothers (Rosicrucianism); and various other terms. From a more organic point of view, we can see the existence of hierarchy as related to the experience of ‘elders’. In many or most traditional cultures, the concept of human elders was and is seen as an integral element of human experience, for the older generations embody the wisdom of greater experience, and so form a guiding principle and serve to sustain and educate younger generations. If we extend this idea beyond incarnated generations, as many cultures do, and expand it into a larger spiritual context, then the greater nonphysical spiritual powers that have an empowering, creative, protective, guiding, healing and enlightening presence, not only in human culture but in the universe at large, can be seen as simply participants in an eternal chain of relationships, or generations of beings extending into infinity, the cultural, human, planetary and cosmic ‘elders’. This is a basic meaning of hierarchy, the spiritual chain of being. From a functional point of view, this hierarchy of spiritual beings exercises a beneficent influence over not only the spiritual traditions and activity of the Earth, but also over human culture in general, and over the evolution of the nature kingdoms as well. In the spiritual ecology of the Trans-Himalayan tradition, ‘Hierarchy’ is a term used generally for the 5th Kingdom of Nature, the Kingdom of Souls as it exists on the subtle mental, buddhic and atmic planes. Specifically, the term is used for the community of awakened and liberated Masters, Bodhisattvas, Sufis, Mahatmas and Siddhas who as a whole are said to compose the planetary Heart chakra, just as humanity embodies the planetary throat chakra and the cosmic spirits and buddhas residing in Shamballa embody the planetary crown chakra. See also Initiation, Kingdoms, Bodhisattvas, Buddhas, Master,, Shamballa, Humanity, Guru, Trans-Himalayan tradition.
Higher Self – A term used in various ways in different teachings. In the Trans-Himalayan terminology, the term is used synonymously with ‘soul’. See also Soul, Spirit, Atman, Permanent Personality, Personality, Self.
Hindrances – Synonymous with: vices, limitations, fetters, obstructions and similar terms. The most essential hindrances or obstructions to spiritual awakening are generally considered to be ignorance and egotism. In a spiritual context, the term ego is generally used with a broader connotation than normal to mean the false concept of a separate self. ‘Ignorance’, at its root, can be understood as the delusion of a separate self, or the misunderstanding of oneself as separate from God, being incomplete, needing something outside of oneself, being imperfect or other related implications of primary separation. This is the original ‘fall’, which was not a mistake or sin against a Deity, but instead was the emergence of a misunderstanding. Other hindrances evolve out of this basic condition of ‘ignorance/ego’ such as desire, aversion, judgment, pride, inferiority, boredom, attachment, confusion, doubt, restlessness, ambition, greed, materialism and so on. We may consider the central or primary hindrances to spiritual realization to be ignorance, ego, desire and aversion. These are all interdependent, and all the others are variations on these, or arise out of them. See also Ego, Separation, Quality, Seven Factors of Enlightenment.
Hinduism – See Sanatana-Dharma
Holy Spirit – Identical to Shakti in the Tantrism of India, the Holy Spirit is the Christian term for the creative, energetic aspect of divinity. In the Trans-Himalayan tradition, it is the third aspect of the life-force, which is itself the first aspect of matter (each level of our being – monadic, soul and form – is said to have a spirit or life expression, a consciousness or sentience expression, and a material form expression). The three aspects of the Life-force are often described in terms of fire. The first is the essential life of the monadic being aspect, which is described as ‘electric fire’. The second is the life of the soul-consciousness aspect, which is described as ‘solar fire’. And the third is the life of the form or matter aspect of our being, which is described as ‘fire by friction’. The Holy Spirit, Shakti, or fire by friction is the creative force of Nature and gives rise, through the activity of a vast hierarchy of intelligences (the Archangels or Devas), to all the forms of Nature, physical and subtle. See also Archangel, Spirit, Life, Body(s), Elements, Shakti, Shiva.
Ida Nadi – Sanskrit term for one of the three main nadis or etheric channels in the etheric body and running along the spine from the root center to the left nostril. The ida nadi is the lunar channel, and is related to the solar or pingala nadi. See Pingali Nadi, Sushumna Nadi, Nadi(s), Etheric Body.
Impermanence – Called anitya in Sanskrit and anicca (pronounced ‘aneecha’) in Pali, the view of impermanence or transitoriness is the recognition that everything that is part of the conditional universe (which includes all seven planes of consciousness), is subject to time (of some form) and therefore has a beginning, and period of existence and then comes to an end. ‘That which begins must end’ is the law of time, the cycle of life. One of the profound insights of the Buddha was that even the Atman or spiritual essence is ultimately part of the relative or conditional universe and so, too, is ultimately impermanent. Nirvana, or the non-dual Absolute, is the only reality that is unconditioned, ‘permanent’ and therefore free of suffering. See also Nirvana, Planes of Consciousness, No-self, Duhkha.
Initiation – Initiation has several meanings in the Trans-Himalayan teachings. The general meaning is the process of transmission of spiritual energy and consciousness from teachers and lineages to students so as to facilitate a stabilized transformation of the latter. This can take place in many forms including oral and written teachings about spiritual theory and practice, the ‘arrangement’ of teaching situations and opportunities for training and learning, and direct transmission of spiritual energy and realization. This process of transmission can be referred to in many ways including teachings, empowerment, grace and shakti-pat. Initiation serves to awaken the aspiration and will of the individual, empower practice and generally stimulate transformation and awakening. Sources of initiation or transmission may be physical or non-physical, human or non-human. Non-human and ‘trans-human’ sources may include archangels, liberated subtle realm Masters and Teachers.
Another more specific but related meaning of initiation is in making reference to certain major transitions in an individual’s spiritual evolution. These may be called the arya-marga or the ‘noble or holy path’ (Buddhism), ‘stations of the soul’ (Sufism), the sapta-jnana-bhumi or ‘seven stages of wisdom’ (Vedanta), and similar terms. Each of these, and many similar systems, identifies the major stages on the path of spiritual growth, and they fundamentally relate to processes of unfoldment, awakening and revelation that the soul passes through as it awakens to the Absolute, completes its multi-incarnational purpose, and begins to open to the monadic reality of planetary, solar and cosmic purpose. The various stages are each related to a fundamental transition, a major cycle of spiritual death and rebirth. And each of these stages is also related to one of the major elements, bodies, chakras, rays, planes and so on. For instance, the first major initiation relates to the root chakra, the physical plane and body, the seventh ray, and the earth element (to indicate a few correlations). These stages of initiation are cycles of purification, transformation and shifts in the locus of identity from personality to soul to monad, and the process of passing through several of these initiations generally takes place over the course of numerous lifetimes.The Trans-Himalayan tradition recognizes a cycle of five initiations culminating in liberation from personal ego and karma, and another cycle of five (5 – 9) which may be called the path of advanced bodhisattvahood, undertaken by the liberated Masters and Bodhisattvas in Hierarchy, which culminate in planetary ‘mastery’ or perfected buddhahood (the 5th initiation is both the culmination of the first cycle, and the first stage of the next cycle). The turning point of each of these initiations is a point of spiritual extremity in which the point of tension held by the being or group undergoing the process evokes such a potency of transmission from an initiating source that they are enabled to cross over into a new state of wakefulness, a new realm of exploration, and a deeper locus of identity. This process may take place primarily in subtler dimensions and so be outside of the awareness of the physical self in its earliest stages (initiations 1 and 2). The proposed corresponding names or related stages or concepts from various traditions are listed here:
1st – The Stream-enterer (Buddhism), Birth of the Christ (Christian/Trans-Himalayan), Awakening, Station of the Heart (Sufi)
2nd – The Once-returner (Buddhism), The Baptism (Christian/Trans-Himalayan), Station of the Soul (Sufi)
3rd – The Non-returner (Buddhism), Transfiguration (Christian/Trans-Himalayan), Station of Divine Secrets (Sufi)
4th – The Arhat (Buddhism), Crucifixion/Resurrection (Christian/Trans-Himalayan), Station of Nearness to Allah (Sufi)
5th – 1st cosmic Initiation, The Revelation (Christian/Trans-Himalayan), Mastery, Station of Union with Allah (Sufi); those of this stage and beyond are also called ‘Sufis’ or awliya, liberated bodhisattvas (Buddhism), jivanmuktis or Siddhas (Hinduism), Sants (Sikhism)
6th – 2nd cosmic Initiation, The Decision (Trans-Himalayan), Senior Lineage Holders and Bodhisattvas
7th – 3rd cosmic Initiation, the Ascension (Christian/Trans-Himalayan), Buddhahood
8th – 4th cosmic Initiation, the Great Transition (Trans-Himalayan)
9th – 5th cosmic Initiation, the Refusal (Trans-Himalayan), Full Planetary Mastery
The following is an overview of the first five stages of initiation, with some indications of the focus that tends to be most prominent at each level. Of course, because each person has individual traits as well as there being differences between various paths, aspects of each persons experience of the each stage vary to some extent. Yet underlying these differences is a somewhat universal pattern that we seek to outline briefly below:
Initiation – 1st Birth
Element – Earth
Plane – Physical
Ray – 7th
Qualities and Characteristics – practice, discipline, Karma Yoga, self-control, physical equanimity & purification,physical opening and transformation.Breaking through identification with the physical body – establishing foundation of spiritual practice and dharmic behavior. The foundations of Agni Yoga include this and the 2nd initiation.
Initiation – 2nd Baptism
Element – Water
Plane – Emotional
Ray – 6th
Qualities and Characteristics – aspiration, devotion, love, equanimity, heart, Bhakti and tantric/transformational yogas may be emphasized.Breaking though identification with the emotional/desire level – depending on approach, devotion, love and aspiration may deepen, and tantric approaches are now more suitable.
Initiation – 3rd Transfiguration
Element – Fire
Plane – Mental
Ray – 5th
Qualities and Characteristics – mental equanimity, profound concentration, power, clarity, knowledge,integration, end of physical karma, Jnana, Raja and Tantric Yogas applicable.Breaking through identification with the mental body – bringing deep intuitive opening. Direct nondual contemplation and path of self-surrender now accessible. Karma Yoga perfected. Tantric practices still relevant in meditative and daily practices. Deeper stages of Agni Yoga.
Initiation – 4th Arhat
Element – Air
Plane – Intuitive
Ray – 4th
Qualities and Characteristics – intuition, equanimity, Wu-wei, profound (higher buddhic) love and wisdom, selflessness, stabilization of radical awakening, Rigpa(Dzogchen), Christ-consciousness, SahajaSamadhi, end of emotional/astral karma, Jnana Yoga, Tantra, Agni Yoga.Breaking identification with the intuitive, spiritual self (soul or discriminating self) – leading to constant God-consciousness, whether on path of nondual awareness or Divine Presence, or both. Activity arises as wu-wei (Taoism), or ‘choiceless action’ spontaneously arising in harmony with Spirit.
Initiation – 5th Revelation
Element – Akasha
Plane – Atman
Ray – 1st
Qualities and Characteristics – Self-realization, absorption in Trans-(Etheric) human Beingness, Nondual Consciousness, mastery, completion of human karma, revelation of planetary purpose, siddhas (perfected beings), Body of Light(Dzogchen).Exhaustion of mental karma, culminating the process of complete transcendence of personality/ego identification. If this level is fully integrated with the physical body, it results in the ‘Body of Light’ or ‘Great Transfer’, the transformation of the material elements into their inner essences. Therefore, those attaining the 5th or higher stages of initiation whose dharma is to remain in physical incarnation must not fully integrate this initiation or level of realization into their physical body (hence the notion of advanced bodhisattvahood as a sacrifice).
One central aspect of the Trans-Himalayan teachings on initiation is that increasingly, it is no longer an individual process, but a group process. It is there suggested that this has actually always been the underlying reality of the initiatory process, but that until recently, this was not known by humanity. In his work with Alice Bailey, Djwhal Khul taught that in Atlantean days, it was in groups of seven that the human souls were initiated, though they were almost never aware of this, having not experienced contact with each other on the physical plane. In present times, the evolution of humanity as a whole has resulted in the number of human beings moving into and through the initiatory process to have dramatically increased, presenting far greater likelihood and frequency of their soul-group relationships not just existing on subtle levels, but penetrating all the way through to the physical plane. Especially as the third and above initiations become the focus, these soul-group relationships often exist across the lineages and backgrounds, increasingly paving the way for the externalization of the Planetary Lineage in its various ashrams of awakened and identified human beings all over the globe. See also Grace, Arhat, Body(s), Self-Realization, Wu-wei, Planes of Consciousness, Elements, Master, Hierarchy, Shamballa, Planetary Lineage.
Integral Path – An approach to spiritual development working with the fullness of human nature and spiritual potential, rather than focusing on working with a more limited spectrum of potentials or facets. Examples of integral paths include Taoism, Tibetan Buddhism, Hindu Raja Yoga and Tantric/Kundalini Yogas, and Sri Aurobindo’s Purna Yoga. The increasingly common use of the term ‘integral’ when referring to a spiritual path or yoga probably derives from Aurobindo’s usage, which has also been adapted by Ken Wilber to describe his and similar approaches. Agni Yoga is another example of an integral approach. See Agni Yoga, Raja Yoga, Purna Yoga, Tantric Yoga, Yoga.
Intuition – The experience of direct understanding or realization without the use of the intellect, emotions or the senses (whether physical or psychic senses). Intuition is a mode of relationship and insight that transcends the dualism of mind and sense, giving the capacity to commune with a thing or being and know them from deep identification and attunement. Intuition is sometimes used synonymously with psychic abilities such as clairvoyance or telepathy, but psychic sensitivities are still based on the dualistic sensory modes of the subtler bodies (even though being less dualistic than physical senses), and therefore they do not represent the true spiritual understanding that is the deeper meaning of ‘intuition’. Although intuition may accompany or inform the intellect, symbols, words, sensory and psychic experience, and emotion, it is essentially formless in nature and is not dependent on any of these for its functioning.Intuition is at the heart of spiritual development, and its gradual unfoldment brings a growing experience of love, wisdom, clarity, equanimity, peace and ultimately nondual illumination. The term ‘intuition’ is synonymous with prajna, gnosis, supermind (Aurobindo), buddhi (Hindu), noetic experience (Daskalos) and the ananda-maya-kosa (Vedanta). See also Planes of Consciousness, Body(s), Buddhi, Kosas, Psychic Abilities.
Intuitive Body – Although not having a three-dimensional shape like the physical, astral and mental bodies, and also being beyond time and space as experienced in the psychophysical levels, the intuitive body does have a kind of ‘formless form’ and as such is still considered a ‘body’ or ‘sheath’. The intuitive body contains the pure archetypes, ideas and principles that form the foundational matrix for our more concrete personality and physical life.
Ishvara – Sanskrit for ‘Lord’ or ‘Supreme Ruler’, often used synonymously with ‘God’. This is perhaps the most common usage in the Hindu traditions, and it corresponds to the term Logos (whether that be a planetary, solar, constellational, galactic or universal Logos) in the Trans-Himalayan teachings. In the latter, the term refers to the incarnating Deity of a particular field, whether that be planetary, solar, constellational, galactic or universal. It is the single kosmic entity whose body of manifestation holds space for the evolution and awakening of all beings within it. According to the kosmic holographic ecology of the Trans-Himalayan cosmology, such beings are considered both singular entities in themselves, and to embody principles and kosmic chakras within the subtle energetic bodies of larger kosmic beings, or Logoi. See also God, Deity, Logos, Absolute, Chakra.
Jnana Yoga – The yoga of awakening through wisdom, discrimination, inquiry and insight. This is the path of transcendence through the intellect (use of mind and inquiry or philosophical reflection to transcend the mind and ego). It is a more demanding path for most people, and is therefore less popular in India and elsewhere. Most forms of Buddhism place significant emphasis on this path, and it is also the practice of the Advaita (Nondual) Vedanta of Hinduism. In the West we have examples such as Plotinus and Meister Eckhart. Modern examples include Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharshi. See also Yoga, Advaita Vedanta, Buddhism, Ramana Maharshi, Shankara, Nondualism.
Kaballah – Various other spellings including Qabalah and Cabalah. A system of esoteric thought and practices, having developed streams within both the Hebrew and Christian traditions, and having descended primarily from the Egyptian. Central to all of these expressions is a spiritual practice based on the Tree of Life (‘Symbol of Life’ in Christian and Egyptian Kabalah). See also Symbol of Life, Yantra, Chakras, Esoteric Christianity.
Karma – Sanskrit word meaning ‘action’. Most often used to refer to the law of ‘moral causation’, or the law of cause and effect, especially applying to psychological and spiritual causes or motivations (thoughts, intentions, desires, judgments, aspirations) and the effects these have in one’s life. Often the word karma is used particularly to refer to the effect, the working out or end result, of various causes. In this common usage, to say that some event or condition represents ‘karma’ is to use the term to refer to the fact that these conditions were the specific fruits of past action that the individual (or group) is responsible for, due to the principle of karma. But karma is also used more generally to mean both the ‘action’ and the ‘effect’ it leads to, and the law that links them. So karma refers to the underlying principle or law, and the mechanism, of how specific ‘causes’ must lead to their specific ‘effects’. Karmas as ‘actions’ have been classified into several categories. In some sources we find actions classified as either ‘white’ (leading to good or wholesome effects – sometimes called sattvic), ‘black’ (leading to evil, painful or unwholesome effects – sometimes called tamasic), ‘white-black’ (middling karma or rajasic), and liberated karma (karma or actions performed with no ego so that there is no binding or limiting effect on the ‘performer’ – neither black nor white). These categories refer to the quality of the motivation, which is the key aspect of any action conditioning the spiritual effect – how harmonious or discordant, how painful or blissful, how heavy or uplifting – will be the outcome. Since many effects of actions (which can be thoughts and emotions in addition to physical actions) do not work out relatively immediately, but instead are somewhat ‘time delayed’, karmic impressions, tendencies and actions that have not yet come to fruition will be accumulated as ‘debts’. Those karmas that are not yet liberated or fulfilled by the end of an incarnation will become quiescent and form part of the storehouse of the individual’s deep subconscious. These are called in Sanskrit sancita-karma, and are ‘stored’ in what is often called the ‘causal body’ (Hindu) or alaya-vijnana (Buddhism), which means ‘seed repository’. In each life some of these karmic seeds become active and contribute to the make-up of the current personality. These are called prarabda-karma, meaning ‘destiny’ or ‘fate’ karmas that, since they have already become active, will contribute to the fate of the person in that life in some way. There is also agami-karma or ‘present karma’, those karmas being created in the present incarnation. The science of spirituality is based directly on knowledge of the law of karma, since karma is the principle that illuminates what has caused our current condition, and how individual practice and grace can lead to enlightenment. Through spiritual practice we can directly influence the type of karma we create in the present, mitigate to some extent some of the karma that is working out in this life from the past (our ‘fate’ karma), and purify and transform the storehouse karmas that are not yet active. All karmas take shape as elementals. Karmas can be either purified, transformed or ‘Self-liberated’ in the light of nondual illumination. These reflect the three main approaches to spiritual development – traditional, tantric or transformational, and nondual contemplation. See also Karma Yoga, Elementals, Body(s), Hindrances.
Karma Yoga – Karma in Sanskrit means ‘action’, and ‘yoga’ means union, so we can translate karma yoga as ‘the path to union or liberation through spiritualizing action or activity’. This is one of the most common yogas because it pertains to the cultivation of spiritual qualities during, or expressed through, activity. Since most of humanity spends the majority of their time engaged in daily activity (as opposed to meditation), karma yoga is of central significance for most people. Virtually all religious and spiritual teachings offer some form of karma yoga, or service. The essence of karma yoga is the cultivation of qualities like awareness, equanimity and love during daily activity. See also Karma, Agni Yoga, Initiation, Yoga.
Kensho – See Awakening
Kingdoms – According to the Trans-Himalayan teachings, a planet is made up of seven manifest kingdoms – the three Nature kingdoms, the human kingdom and three post-human kingdoms. Each kingdom manifests the developing consciousness of one of the seven principles or aspects of the planetary entity, or Logos. Each progressively ‘higher’ kingdom represents a further step on the path of evolution – mineral to vegetable to animal and so on. The nature kingdoms express instinctual evolution guided primarily by the Holy Spirit or Nature – the mineral, vegetable and animal. The human kingdom is guided both by Nature or natural laws and the Soul dimension of being. The post-human kingdoms represent the conscious ‘sangha’ or spiritual community of a planet. Each of the seven kingdoms relate to the seven chakras in human constitution – human nature being the microcosm, and the planetary being the macrocosm. These kingdoms, as they exist on Earth, can be viewed as follows (counting from the most evolutionarily advanced ‘downwards’):
1st Kingdom – Shambhala (Buddhas – 8th and 9th initiations, Earth Logos)
2nd Kingdom – Liberated Bodhisattvas (begins at 5th initiation)
3rd Kingdom – Hierarchy of Masters (begins at 3rd initiation or ‘transfiguration’)
4th Kingdom – Humanity
5th Kingdom – Animal Kingdom
6th Kingdom – Vegetable Kingdom
7th Kingdom – Mineral Kingdom
See also Initiation, Shamballa, Buddha, Bodhisattva, Holy Spirit, Nature, Logos, Trans-Himalayan School, Planetary Logos.
Koot Humi, Master – One of the most advanced masters on the Second Ray of Love-Wisdom, Koot Humi is understood to be of Sikh, Kashmiri origin, and to have been, until recently, the head of the Second Ray Ashram. He is described as a 6th degree initiate and the Master of both Alice Bailey and Djwhal Khul. According to Theosophical writers, he is described as having incarnated in pre-modern times as both Nagarjuna, and Pythagoras. It was he, in company with the Master Morya, who were the principle initiators of the Theosophical movement at the close of the 19th Century. See also Djwhal Khul, Alice Bailey, Hierarchy, Rays, Morya, Theosophy, Trans-Himalayan tradition, Trans-Himalayan School, Initiation, Master, Guru.
Kosas – Sanskrit for ‘sheath’ or ‘covering’. Early Vedantic (Hindu) teachings began describing the various bodies or ‘sheaths’ through which the innermost spiritual Being or Self incarnates and which also veil or distort its nature or expression in the corresponding realms. Differing spiritual teachings sometimes identify these bodies in differing ways, yet it is not too difficult to recognize the basic similarities between these systems. This system of kosas from the Hindu tradition is one of the most well known. The Sanskrit name for each body includes the term maya, pointing out that each of these bodies is not the true Self, but identification with it can form the illusion of a limited self at that level – a body self, an energy self, etc. The classical kosas are as follows:
Anna-maya-kosa ‘illusory body of food’ (dense physical body)
Prana-maya-kosa ‘illusory body of energy or life-force’ (etheric body)
Mano-maya-kosa ‘illusory body of mind’ (emotional/lower mental)
Vijnana-maya-kosa ‘illusory body of intelligence’ (higher mental body)
Ananda-maya-kosa ‘illusory body of bliss’ (intuitive body; higher buddhi)
Atman The Self (nondual Self beyond all bodies and veils)
These levels are also recognized by many other schools such as in Buddhism, some schools of Hinduism (Sri Yukteswar, for example), the Shabd Yoga tradition of the Sikhs, and certain schools of Western esotericism. In the Trans-Himalayan tradition, where the differentiation is made between radical awakening to the Absolute Self and evolutionary awakening to deeper levels of one’s own being and kosmos, a slightly different system is used. Here, Atman (the Absolute Self as it resides in man – generally considered the same as Rigpa in Dzogchen) would not be seen as the highest level of one’s relative being, but the unconditioned reality at the base of every level. Thus also, in the Trans-Himalayan teachings, there are understood to be deeper levels of identity beyond the Ananda-maya-kosa, or buddhic body, namely, the three levels of the monad. See also Body(s), Planes of Consciousness, Maya, Atman, Self.
Kriya Yoga – Kriya means ‘action’. The term Kriya Yoga is commonly used either synonymously with Karma Yoga (both the terms ‘kriya’ and ‘karma’ relating to ‘action’), or to refer to various kinds of practices or ‘rites’ used to purify and transform one’s nature. The second book of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is called Kriya Yoga as it considers various practices that may be used by those not yet able to enter samadhi. Kriya Yoga is also the name given by Babaji (and first transmitted to the West by Paramahamsa Yogananda) for a path that is essentially a form of tantric/kundalini yoga that uses practices involving sound and chakras to purify the chakras and prepare the student for samadhi, which is then pursued primarily through the practice of nada yoga. See Babaji, Yogananda, Karma Yoga, Samadhi, Nada Yoga, Kundalini, Raja Yoga, Yoga.
Kundalini – Also known as Kundalini Shakti, Serpent Fire and Sacred Fire. The Kundalini is monadic energy focused in the root chakra at the base of the spine, and relatively latent in most individuals. It is awakened through spiritual practice, and the occurrences incumbent on the awakening process. The Kundalini may be thought of as the individual manifestation of Shakti, or universal spiritual energy, within the microcosm of human constitution. It is the energetic or ‘Holy Spiritual’ expression of spiritual realization and monadic being. In other words, when spiritual realization and dynamic power is experienced more from the angle of the body and energy, we may speak of its manifestation as Kundalini, and experience its awakening and its movement in, and effects on, our subtle body, our chakras and nadis, and general physical and psychological nature. Kundalini is not simply an energy like electricity – it has wisdom, love and even conscious presence within it. How much we experience the entire vast spectrum of spiritual potential the Kundalini Shakti can reveal to us is dependent, in part, on how we relate to Her. See also Shakti, Holy Spirit, Kundalini Yoga, Monad, Chakras, Nadi(s), Sushumna Nadi, Etheric Body.
Kundalini Yoga – A path based on awakening the Kundalini Shakti, the wisdom-power or energy latent in each of us. Although there are many forms of kundalini yoga, typically this path employs practices (in combination with the grace of the lineage) used to effect preliminary purification, then awakening of the kundalini and its gradual ascent through the major chakras leading to liberation and illumination. Kundalini yoga, like raja yoga, is commonly a more comprehensive path employing a wide range of practices. See also Kundalini, Raja Yoga, Tantric Yoga, Shakti, Yoga, Integral Path.
Laws – Refers to universal principles governing the cosmos, including the physical laws explored by science like the laws of gravity, as well as more universal laws such as the law of cause and effect. ‘Laws’, like ‘Ideas’, ‘Principles’ and ‘Archetypes’, exist in the formless realm of universals, which can be observed by noticing that a Law such as Cause and Effect has no location or duration, yet inhabits or permeates all Relativity. See also Principles, Formless, Relativity.
Laya Yoga – ‘Laya’ means in Sanskrit ‘dissolution’. A form of yoga related to kundalini yoga and tantric yoga that seeks to achieve spiritual liberation through a progressive dissolution and absorption of each element in turn into the next subtlest element. Earth is dissolved (along with one’s karmic entanglements with it) into water; water into fire; fire into air; air into akasha (space); akasha into consciousness and consciousness into Spirit. This practice emphasizes the ascending path of consciousness, although through laya yoga one can become adept at the reverse process of manifesting spirituality in the more concrete dimensions as well. This is approached in various ways in laya yoga, but usually involves working with the chakras (the seat of the elements in the body), sometimes with visualization, and often working with sound as in nada yoga. Laya yoga is sometimes equated with nada yoga, though there are really various approaches to laya yoga. See also Nada Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Chakras, Elements, Yoga.
Life – A term used in the Trans-Himalayan teachings both for the 1st aspect of the trinity that composes our nature (spirit or monad, consciousness or soul, and form or personality), thus equivalent to the terms ‘monad’ and ‘spirit’, and also for the divine Presence or ‘4th Quality’ that underlies all three. The Life aspect has three levels of expression, described as kundalini fire, solar fire, and electric fire. Kundalini fire, or fire by friction, is the life-force of matter, solar fire is the life-force of consciousness, which could be understood as the inherant brightness and radiance of awareness, and electric fire is the life of spirit or our monadic aspect. An interesting facet of the Trans-Himalayan teaching is that while within the cosmic physical plane, the life aspect is described as electric fire, from the perspective of the cosmic planes, human beings as spirit, or electric fire, actually embody the kundalini fire of the planetary and solar Logoi in whose bodies we find ourselves. Another important aspect of the teaching about life or spirit is that while the antahkarana or continuity of consciousness between the various depths of our being (personality, soul, monad, and the cosmic beings in whose bodies we exist as well as the other civilisations that exist therein) requires construction, stage by stage, over time, the sutratma, or ‘life-thread’ whereby the life aspect is anchored in the heart, is ever present and available to all beings. This means that while the evolution and deepening of consciousness occurs over time and through applied spiritual practice, identification with and as monadic life or spirit is available to all beings right now via the monadic depth of the heart chakra. Engaging the process of identification with the will, purpose and being of the monad, and of the cosmic beings in whom we find our place, through the heart chakra, is a prime focus of Agni Yoga and Shamballa School. See also Self, Monad, Spirit, Soul, Personality, Planetary Logos, Solar Logos, 4th Quality, Planes, Antahkarana, Sutratma.
Logos – A Greek and Latin term with various related meanings, the most direct translation being ‘word’, meaning the vehicle of thought. It also is related to the concept of understanding, as in ‘logic’ or ‘–ology’ (the study of). When capitalized and used in a spiritual context, it means divine or enlightened consciousness and ‘the Word’ or the creative power or expression of that universal wisdom. Logos is often used to designate a being who has universal wisdom or enlightenment. Each person’s higher or spiritual self is a logos, and the soul of a planet may be called a Planetary Logos. In the Trans-Himalayan teachings, the term Logos is usually used to refer to the incarnating spirit-soul of a planet, a solar system, a constellation, a galaxy or a universe. From an Absolute perspective, the most universal enlightened Presence or being may be considered the Primordial, Universal or Christ Logos. See also Nada, Shabda Brahman, Christ Logos, Planetary Logos, Adi-Buddha, Agni, Deity, Ishvara, God, Brahman, Primordial Buddha.
Lyon, B. P. – (1957-) A New Zealander, born in 1957, whose collaboration with the master Djwhal Khul on such teachings between the years 2000 and 2010 as the Mercury Transmissions, Group Initiation, Working with the Will and Occult Cosmology has served as a first expression and entry point into the third phase of the Trans-Himalayan tradition. In his work with Alice Bailey, Djwhal Khul suggested that the third phase of his teaching would emerge around the year 2025, but that an initial body of teachings would be given at the beginning of the 21st Century that would have Shamballa and the monadic depth of self and awakening as its focus. It was this teaching that has been the focus of Djwhal Khul and Bruce Lyon’s collaboration. As an expression of it, in 2001, Lyon and two others established a residential esoteric school, Shamballa School, in New Zealand in accordance with Djwhal Khul’s instructions for the new schools in his and Alice Bailey’s book, Letters on Occult Meditation. This phase of Shamballa School ran from between 2000-2007, after which the focus of the school abstracted from the physical plane to take the form of an international community of men and women working with the Shamballa teachings, as well as penetrating into and holding a field for the third phase teaching that is to come. See also Shamballa, Trans-Himalayan tradition, Trans-Himalayan School, Djwhal Khul, Alice Bailey, Monad, Self, Spirit.
Mandala – Sanskrit for ‘circle’. A visual symbol, either simple or complex, representing a spiritual reality and used for spiritual practice as an object of meditation. Mandalas are commonly thought of as being the ‘body’ or manifested subtle form of a Deity, and are used, typically in conjunction with mantras (as the ‘name’ of the Deity), to establish a relationship, and ultimately to merge with, the Deity. Used, for instance, in various forms of Hindu and Buddhist (Tibetan) Tantra, and in various other traditions. See also Deity, Yantra, Mantra.
Mantra – Sanskrit term for a sacred or primordial sound in the form of a word or grouping of words, used to attune to higher levels of consciousness. It is also most commonly used as a method to invoke, commune with, and ultimately to identify with, the Deity for whom the mantra is the ‘name’. Mantras can be in any language, but are most powerful when found in ‘sacred’ languages. The most famous Sanskrit mantra is Om. See Mantra Yoga, Nada, Nada Yoga.
Mantra Yoga – Often a specific technique may be isolated and focused on as a path in itself. This is especially common for the use of mantra in India, which is also a key aspect of the practice of many paths such as bhakti, raja and tantra yogas. See Mantra, Nada, Bhakti Yoga, Nada Yoga, Yoga.
Masculine Principle – See Shiva.
Master – Term used in many spiritual traditions, East and West, to describe someone adept or deeply realized in spiritual development. The term is not generally used to mean someone who is a master over others, such as their students, but rather that they have mastered, to some extent, spiritual practice. Mastery may also include, for some, the concept of having mastered oneself – that is, having overcome one’s inherent egoism and ignorance and attained spiritual freedom and wisdom. The level of development indicated by the use of the term master varies from one tradition or individual to another. Generally it is used to indicate someone of at least the third initiation. In some Western traditions it is used only for those of the fifth initiation and beyond. See also Guru, Teachers, Initiation, Arhat.
Mataji – According to various sources (Yogananda, Govindan, Theosophy, etc.), Mataji is the spiritual ‘sister’ of Babaji (apparently, in fact, his paternal cousin). Both Yogananda and (possibly) Madame Blavatsky and several Theosophists describe Mataji as living in a cave on the banks of the Ganges in Benares towards the end of the nineteenth century. According to Govindan, she now spends most of her time at Babaji’s ashram, called Gauri Shankar Peetam, near Badrinath in the Himalayas. Her full name is Mataji Nagalakshmi Deviyar, and she is said to have, like Babaji, attained soruba samadhi, or physical immortality. She is worshipped by those who know her as an incarnation of the Divine Mother. See also Babaji, Yogananda, Siddha Tradition, Trans-Himalayan School, Blavatsky, Theosophy.
Maya – A Sanskrit term used in Hindu Vedanta usually translated as ‘illusion’. Its most radical interpretation is found in such philosophies as Shankara’s Advaita (Nondual) Vedanta, which considers the entire relative universe, including ‘Ishvara’ or ‘the Creator’, as arising out of ignorance or misunderstanding – hence the notion of ‘illusion’. There are many ways to approach understanding this perspective – a perspective which is perhaps one of the most difficult to understand in nondual philosophy, and therefore very commonly misunderstood. One way to approach the concept of maya is to begin by considering the universe, in all its levels, as arising from Mind. That is not to say ‘intellect’, but rather consciousness in all its grades ranging from physical matter as ‘condensed mind’, to the most profound spiritual realizations in superconscious mind or Universal Mind. From this view we can see that all levels of Reality are states of Mind. In the Advaita Vedanta philosophy, only Brahman or the Absolute is considered ‘Truth’, and all of relative existence is considered to be made up of partial, relative perspectives on the ‘Truth’. As partial points of view, they are only partially true, and therefore tainted with ignorance or misunderstanding. Therefore, although all states and planes of consciousness are ‘made’ of the substance of God or Brahman, they are born out of and represent misunderstandings of what they themselves in truth really are. They are partial understandings of themselves, which is actually Brahman. A classical metaphor used to illustrate the notion of maya is that of mistaking a stick for a snake. Upon first seeing the ‘snake’, we take this to be the truth. But upon seeing that it is really a stick, the reality of it being a snake is recognized as an illusion, a dream, a false idea. The concept of maya is that the relative universe, formed of partial points of view that are incomplete and therefore not completely true, is therefore a kind of dream or illusion, an appearance without absolute reality. Through awakening to Brahman, which is the true nature of all beings and things, we realize that the relative universe was Brahman appearing as less than Brahman, which is not Truth. Maya, therefore, does not really mean that the relative universe does not really exist at all, but rather that it is not what it appears to be. Maya is the characteristic of the Truth (Brahman) to appear as a limiting falsehood while remaining always the Truth. Ignorance is believing that this maya is the Truth, while ‘awakening’ is realizing that this maya is actually Brahman. See also Ajata-vada, Awakening, Brahman, Nondualism, Absolute, Relativity, Shankara, Advaita Vedanta.
Meditation – Used in a spiritual context, the term meditation usually refers to spiritual practices engaged in while remaining physically still, although the meditative attitude can certainly be carried into activity. The practice of meditation is based on a degree of developing concentration. Other essential factors involved in meditation include awareness and equanimity. Further spiritual qualities that can be cultivated in meditation, as well as the object or focus of one’s concentration, and the understanding of what one is ‘doing’ by meditating, vary from one approach to another. All forms of spiritual meditation, though, share in common a conscious effort to cultivate an undistracted state for the purpose of spiritual development. In advanced stages of meditation, even the notion of attaining something or making any effort is fully transcended. Yet these elements are essential to earlier stages of practice and motivation. Because of the greatly increased concentration, awareness and other qualities an experienced meditator is able to generate while meditating (as compared to their ordinary state of consciousness during activity), meditation is widely recognized as having the power to greatly accelerate spiritual transformation and awakening, and therefore to be an essential backbone to any efficient program of spiritual growth. See also Samadhi, Attunement, Intuition, Yoga, Practice.
Mental Body – This body is more subtle, or made of a finer spectrum of vibrations, than the physical and astral/emotional bodies. It is the subtlest of the three form bodies used by a human being during physical incarnation. The mental body has seven major sub-divisions, reflecting the seven principles or elements, and can be generally divided into the higher (etheric) aspect and the lower (concrete or form) aspect. The lower aspect of the mental body is more strongly linked to the senses, and the thought processes there are related to processing sensory information (we may call this the ‘sense mind’), naming or concretely categorizing experience, and also thinking with reliance on forms such as words and images. The lower aspect of the mental body is also a focus of concrete skills and abilities, and a source of instinctual power. The higher aspect of the mental body is more abstract, and is the source of our ability to reason, reflect and have some degree of conscious choice or ‘free will’. The higher mind is most distinctive of the human kingdom, being undeveloped in the nature kingdoms, growing during human incarnations, and being increasingly transcended in the spiritual kingdoms. The higher mind in humanity is our logical, reasoning, investigative and reflective intelligence. It gives us the power to transcend simple identification with our instinctual, emotional and habitual reactions and thoughts, and to consider new perspectives, reason to new conclusions, and choose new directions.The lower mind is the higher aspect of what in Vedanta is called the mano-maya-kosha, or the ‘mind sheath’. It is also often called manas, or ‘lower manas’. The higher mind in Vedanta is called the vijnana-maya-kosha, or the ‘wisdom or knowledge body’. It is sometimes also called the ‘lower buddhi’ in Sanskrit. See also Body(s), Planes of Consciousness, Mental Plane, Kingdoms.
Mental Plane – The third major realm of consciousness and expression (counting from the physical) – a realm subtler than both the astral/emotional and the physical. Just as we are active in the physical plane or world in our physical bodies, we can be active in the mental world or plane in our mental bodies. The mental plane includes a subtle and more vibrant expression of all that exists in the physical and astral universes, plus much more that exists in neither. The mental plane is not only a plane very sensitive to thought, but is also an environment with space and time, bodies and events, similar to the physical world but regulated by different laws which are more free and flexible than the physical and astral planes. The mental, like the astral, is made up of many sub-planes – seven major ones and many finer divisions – which create differing worlds relating to different states of consciousness. Those who are more conscious have greater freedom to move throughout a broader range of mental worlds, while those who are of more limited development tend to remain focused in mental sub-worlds that resonate with their state of consciousness. In general, the mental world is more peaceful, luminous, sensitive and vibrant than either the physical or astral worlds. The average person functioning consciously in their mental body (such as after the transition of physical death) enjoys greater understanding, joy, concentration, memory, telepathy and so on. Beings consciously functioning in their astral or mental bodies have much greater access to intuition and psychic abilities. Those using their mental bodies have access to the subtler dimensions of other planets in our solar system, whereas those limited to use of the astral body do not. See also Astral Plane, Body(s), Planes of Consciousness, Mental Body.
Metta – Pali version of the Sanskrit word maitri, which means ‘friendliness’. Metta is a word commonly used in the Buddhist teachings to refer to the quality of loving kindness towards oneself and others. Buddhist metta practice, or ‘loving kindness practice’, refers to a specific set of traditional practices used to cultivate metta or loving kindness. Metta or maitri is one of the four brahma-viharas or divine virtues, which also include equanimity, compassion and sympathetic joy. The name Maitreya derives from the same root, as the Bodhisattva Maitreya is considered to be the bodhisattva of loving kindness. See also Brahma-viharas.
Middle Way – The path of the Buddha is also referred to as the Middle Way or Path because it is based so fundamentally on the approach of avoiding extremes such as self-indulgence and asceticism. Taking up the Middle Way can be applied to many polarities including mind and body, self and no-self, universal and particular, idealism and realism, effort and relaxation, love and wisdom. In Agni Yoga, we see the Middle Way as also revealed as the Fire of the Heart. In the human form, the heart represents the middle way between the ‘lower’ centers, which, when unenlightened, are centers of self-indulgence, and the ‘higher’ centers, which can be simply centers of idealism and asceticism. The heart is the point of integration of mind and body, Logos and Eros, wisdom and love. See also Buddhism, Christ Consciousness.
Mind – The word mind is used in a great variety of ways in spiritual teachings. One use of ‘mind’ is to refer to the ‘sense-mind’, the level of mind that looks out through the senses and recognizes and names different kinds of experience. A second use of ‘mind’ is as the intellect – the reasoning, reflecting and intentional aspect of human nature. A third use of ‘mind’ is to refer to the whole psychological nature including not only intellect and sense-mind, but also the emotional, motivational and memory components. This use includes the conscious and subconscious levels as well. A fourth use of ‘Mind’, often capitalized, refers to a more spiritual usage that includes the levels of soul and even spirit (not spirit as the Absolute but rather as the essence of individual identity). Here the term Mind is used in a more universal sense to mean levels of realization, wisdom and insight beyond the intellect as well as the other levels named so far. These include intuition and other levels of consciousness that, defined in this way, are expressions of transpersonal or essential levels of Mind. Finally, some traditions, both Eastern and Western, use the term Mind (or what is often translated as ‘Mind’) to refer to the entire spectrum of planes of consciousness, including what is traditionally called ‘matter’ or ‘physical’. In this usage all types of experience and objects of experience on any level except the Absolute are considered forms of Mind. Mind in this sense is the substance of all levels; ‘matter’ being forms of apparently solidified Mind. From this point of view, sense-mind and intellect are forms of Mind, but are very limited and ‘dense’ manifestations of true Mind. In addition, this understanding of Mind does not distinguish Mind from emotion, feeling, love and other aspects of human nature usually considered opposite or in contrast to mind. This is so only when we limit our definition of mind to the intellect, but is not so when we define Mind more universally. In the later case, love, intuition, feeling, emotion, intellect and pure consciousness are all aspects of Mind. Finally, in some versions of this philosophy the final essence of Mind is the nondual or Absolute reality, so that even the final transcendent Reality is included within the term Mind as its innermost nature or final ground. Because of the very wide range of meanings associated with this word, it is important to be careful about the specific meaning implied when encountering its usage. See also Mental Body, Mental Plane, Intuition, Soul, Planes of Consciousness, Ideas.
Mindfulness Practice – see Awareness Practice
Monad – The term used in the Trans-Himalayan teachings, for the most essential level of self within the cosmic physical plane. It is equivalent to the word ‘spirit’ or ‘life’ in the trinity of spirit, soul and personality, or life, consciousness and form. The monad can be considered a cosmic unit of awakened universal Life-force whose natural realm of abiding would be on galactic planes, but that chose to ‘descend’ into the cosmic physical realm to serve the purpose of the planetary Logos of the Earth at the commencement of the creative cycle and within whose very subtle body it finds it’s place.
The monadic depth of our nature is said to embody a profound class of duality in its being, one that does not relate to the dualities extant within the relative, manifest universe, but that relates to the Absolute and Relative realities, and which does not begin to disclose itself within the experience of the practitioner until an advanced stage of development, after the third initiation. The nature of this duality relates to the monad’s nondual abiding ever in identification with and as Absolute Reality, whilst simultaneously unfolding as an individualized unit through the relative cosmos. This duality differentiates the two forms of awakening that have been discussed by Bruce Lyon and Djwhal Khul in Occult Cosmology. The first is radical awakening, which is awakening to the Absolute Reality, known variously in the traditions as the Dharmakaya, Brahman, Parashiva, Godhead, etc. The second is evolutionary awakening, in which the monad penetrates into and is penetrated by progressively deeper and wider realms of cosmic reality in its journey. At the 6th initiation, it is taught that the opportunity arises for the monad to take one of the seven cosmic paths. Agni Yoga is a spiritual practice oriented toward facilitating the shift in locus of identity into the monad, so as to engage these process of awakening.
The three qualities of the monad, or life or spirit aspect of our nature, are Being, Purpose, and Will. Being relates to the monad’s nature as beyond identity, self-reflective consciousness, and activity, abiding always in unconditioned Presence. Purpose relates to the monad as cosmic life-force, innately impregnated with the omega point of purpose that the planetary, solar and galactic levels of cosmos are gradually revealing. And Will relates to the active quality of the monadic life-force in breaking through all limitations to the revealtion to the always already divine cosmos.
In the occult cosmology of 3rd phase Trans-Himalayan spirituality, while the personality is symbolized by the planet Earth, and the soul by the sun, the monad is symbolised by the black hole. Just as a supermassive black hole is able to hold the field for an entire galaxy of one hundred billion suns to be birthed, grow, shine radiantly and eventually die, simply through the dynamic power of its infinite density at the singularity (according to Einsteinian physics), the monadic or spirit aspect of our being is supremely dynamic. From its always already abiding Absolute Divinity, it is able to effortlessly evoke the awakening, evolution and unfoldment of all beings within its field. And just as a black hole draws all toward itself with titanic power, so also does the presence of monadic purpose within any particular field, like the omega point described by Tielhand de Chardin, result in the gradual warping of space and time so as to conform to that purpose.
While the establishment of a continuity of consciousness between the personality, soul and monadic depths of our being is something that characterises a profound level of spiritual development, such as that of a buddha, since the monadic life is anchored in the heart chakra of all beings via the sutratma, identification with and as the monadic life, which is essentially not different to the cosmic life or spirit, is available to all beings via the direct path of the heart. See also Awakening, Absolute, Relativity, Cosmic Paths, Initiation, Logos, Absolute, Relative, Spirit, Self, Antahkarana, Sutratma.
Morya, Master – One of the masters responsible, in company with the master Koot Humi, for the inspiration behind the founding of the Theosophical Society. Morya is understood to be a 6th degree initiate of Indian Rajput origin and the head of the 1st Ray Ashram. He was the guru of both Helena Blavatsky and Helena Roerich, the latter of which put out the Agni Yoga teachings as transmissions from him. It is understood that Morya incarnated previously as the Emperors Ashoka and Akbar. Presently, he, in company with the masters Djwhal Khul and Rakozci hold the transmission points for the 1st, 2nd, and 7th Rays in the Ashram of Synthesis. See also Master, Initiation, Hierarchy, Trans-Himalayan School, Ashram of Synthesis, Theosophy, Koot Humi, Djwhal Khul, Rakozci, Planetary Lineage.
Mother, The – French woman born Mira Alfassa Richard. Moved to India and became the spiritual companion of Sri Aurobindo, who saw in her the incarnation of the Divine Mother. After Aurobindo’s move in his later years into increased seclusion, the Mother took over the ashram at Pondicherry in Southern India, assuming responsibility for the teaching of their disciples. Aurobindo and the Mother believed their work together involved helping to birth the supermind, the anchoring collective access to a new level of consciousness on the Earth. When this event did not take place within his lifetime (died 1950), he believed the Mother’s dharma was to remain in incarnation until the supermind (or buddhic consciousness) was anchored in the physical world, bringing about a new epoch of planetary evolution. The Mother believed that this event finally did take place in 1956. She continued their work until her passing in 1973. See also Aurobindo, Sri, Planes of Consciousness.
Nada – Sanskrit word meaning ‘sound’. In a spiritual context usually used to refer to subtle, non-physical sounds typically heard in one’s mind, especially in the region of the head, but can also be heard in any chakra, throughout the body, beyond the body, etc. These sounds are the audible manifestations of various levels of consciousness within us, and can be correlated to various qualities, chakras, realms, etc. These sounds typically take various forms depending on the stage of development, some of the most common being the sound of the conch, buzzing or humming of bees, rushing waters, tingling bells and the roar of thunder. When meditated on, these sounds will gradually become louder and more refined, leading one’s consciousness through various stages of unfoldment, until the inner sound or nada merges into the ‘music of the spheres’ or Shabda Brahman (the ‘Sound of God’), expressing the realization and presence of the universal Logos (the ‘Word’), the Transcendent Personality or Primordial Buddha. Beyond this lies the Void or Nirguna Brahman. We might think of the nada, then, when fully realized, as the ‘sound of nondual realization’, or the ‘sound of the Christ Logos’. Another way we can come to understand the nada is as the audible vibration or emanation of sat-cit-ananda, or ‘transcendent Beingness, Consciousness and Bliss’. The nada is also sometimes referred to as ‘the Word’, shabda, pranava, sphota, Naam, anahata nada (‘the unstruck sound’), the ‘music of the spheres’, the ‘sound current’, the ‘flaming sound’, the ‘sounding flame’, the Celestial Sound, Bani, Logos and Kalma. The fullness of awakened or Christ consciousness is manifest as the nada, and contains and emanates such qualities a universal love, bliss, power, creativity, joy, purpose, wisdom, illumination, clarity, harmony, equanimity, devotion and beauty – all arising from the ground of nondual Presence. The essence of the nada is the song of this universal Presence. See also Logos, Mantra, Nada Yoga, Shabda Brahman, Sat-cit-ananda.
Nada Yoga – This is related to mantra yoga in that both are forms of practice based on sound (also called Shabd yoga – shabd or shabda meaning ‘sound’). With mantra yoga, the aspirant generates the sound (at least in the earlier stages), usually internally (mental repetition), whereas with nada yoga the sounds meditated on are spontaneously arising internal sounds. They lead to hearing what have been called the ‘music of the spheres’ or the ‘voice of the silence’, and are considered in many traditions to lead to identification with the Universal Self or Personal God, of which this ‘Word’ of transcendent sound is the ‘name’. Although this practice is often considered a form of bhakti yoga or devotional practice (though it is practiced in many forms of raja, kundalini/tantric and other yogas), leading to identification with Deity (Theistic paths), it is also practiced in some nondual-based paths as well. See also Nada, Yoga, Mantra, Mantra Yoga, Shabda Brahman, Deity Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Kundalini Yoga.
Nadi(s) – A Sanskrit term meaning channel or conduit, the nadis (as we are using the term here) are the subtle pathways in the etheric body along which the life-force or prana flows. There are countless thousands of nadi that distribute the prana to the various parts of the body, operating the senses, giving conscious control of the body, and supply the etheric energy or vitality that sustains the body and its functions. There are three major nadis that run along the spine from the root chakra and terminating in the head, called the ida, pingala and sushumna in Sanskrit. In the Trans-Himalayan cosmology, the energetic currents that compose and connect the subtle bodies of planetary, solar, constellational, galactic and universal beings, are understood as cosmic nadis, and it is along these currents of energy that the monad abstracts itself as it takes one of the Cosmic Paths at the 6th initiation. See Sushumna Nadi, Ida Nadi, Pingala Nadi, Etheric Body, Etheric Vitality, Kundalini, Initiation, Cosmic Paths, Monad.
Nature – In the Trans-Himalayan tradition, the term ‘Nature’ is typically used in three ways. When coupled with another term like ‘spiritual nature’ or ‘Buddha Nature’, it means the essential reality or essence of something or someone. When used alone, the term ‘Nature’ is usually used to mean either the nature kingdoms (mineral, vegetable and animal), or to be synonymous with Shakti or the Holy Spirit, the Universal Feminine. In the last definition, Nature or Shakti is understood as manifest on all planes of Relativity, and in all kingdoms. See also Shakti, Feminine Principle, Kingdoms, Holy Spirit.
Nature Kingdoms – See Kingdoms
Nirvana – Sanskrit term used in Hinduism and especially Buddhism, meaning ‘to blow out’ or ‘extinguish’. As indicated in the Third Noble Truth of Buddhism, nirvana is the goal of all Buddhist practice, although the path of Mahayana Buddhism is based on the motivation of bringing others to nirvana as well. Since the Buddha’s definition of nirvana was rather sparing (in order to avoid creating misleading ideas or fostering speculation about something that cannot be understood by the intellect), there have arisen numerous interpretations of nirvana. For the Buddha, the most important characteristic of nirvana was that it meant the end of suffering. Nirvana is described as a state beyond birth and death, beyond karma, desire, hatred and delusion. Further, nirvana is described as being beyond the experience of a separate self, and the experience of personal choice or will. In part because of the Buddha’s reluctance to give much in the way of a description of what nirvana is, many, especially in the West, have taken nirvana to be a state of annihilation of the individual. This does not appear to be the case, even in early Buddhist writings. Rather, the Buddha simply refused to use any words familiar to us to describe nirvana because these are all tainted with meanings based in samsara or Relativity. It is like trying to describe colors to someone using a language only having the terms black and white. No matter what you say, it will always only suggest shades of black and white. Also, since nirvana is not a realm or plane of existence, but is a state of being beyond all Relativity, nirvana can be realized while living in this world. The Buddha, therefore, identified two forms of nirvana – ‘nirvana without remainder’, which means realizing the state of nirvana and leaving behind contact with the relative universe (also called parinirvana – final nirvana), and ‘nirvana with remainder (of conditional existence)’, which means realizing nirvana while remaining aware of the relative universe of samsara. This later state would be the state called sahaja samadhi in Vedanta. Other words that are synonymous with nirvana include (and therefore see also) the Nondual, (Nirguna) Brahman, the Tao, the Absolute, Buddha Nature, Self. And also see Four Noble Truths, Samadhi, Sahaja Samadhi.
Nondual – A termed derived from the name for a school of Hindu philosophy founded by Shankara called Advaita Vedanta. A-dvaita means ‘non-dual’. Nondualism is one of many terms used in different traditions to refer to that primordial reality that transcends and includes all distinctions and characteristics. It is sometimes called ‘nondual’ rather than ‘the One’, because the concept of realization of ‘oneness’ or ‘unity’ presupposes a ‘twoness’ or ‘diversity’, but the nondual reality is not something as opposed to something else. Other polarities it can be useful to consider that are transcended in the nondual are: manifest/unmanifest; universal/particular; eternal/temporal; infinite/finite; abstract/concrete; good/evil; enlightenment/ignorance; spirit/matter; male/female; inner/outer; and nondualism/dualism. With regard to the latter, the nondual ‘view’ does not recognize a difference between itself and any other. It is only from the viewpoint of dualism or Relativity that we can speak of the nondual reality as if it is something in contrast to something else. The term nondualism generally refers to those viewpoints that identify ‘nondual realization’ as the goal of spiritual development. These include most forms of Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta and other forms of Hinduism, Taoism, the Trans-Himalayan and Chinese Schools, and Agni Yoga. Other terms for the nondual include (and therefore see also): Absolute, Brahman, Tao, Buddha Nature, Nirvana, Self. Also, see: Shankara, Advaita Vedanta, Relativity, and Trans-Himalayan tradition.
Nondualism – See Nondual
Nondual Realization – A state of spiritual illumination in which the nondual nature of oneself and everything is directly perceived. The state of nondual realization is not considered to be incompatible with relative existence (such as human incarnation). It is a state in which the elements and conditions of Relativity – thoughts, sensations, bodies, events – are perceived at a relative level, and yet are simultaneously realized to be none other than the nondual Absolute or Buddha-nature. In the traditions this realization is called terms like sahaja samadhi, jivanmukti, Theosis, rigpa, nirvana, and Self-realization. See also Nondual, Samadhi, Rigpa, Self-realization, Awakening, Sahaja Samadhi.
No-self – Translation of the Sanskrit term ‘anatman’ or ‘no-atman’, referring to the Buddhist doctrine of the non-existence of an eternal, unchanging individual self. The Buddha recognized that not only the ordinary ego, but even the ‘atman’ or essential spiritual self, was a conditioned element of existence, and subject to birth, existence and decay or passing away just like all other phenomena in the relative universe, even in its formless, essential levels. Only the nondual or Absolute reality, the universal Self, was unconditioned. The term ‘anatman’ or no-self is a ‘negative’ expression of a nondual truth that is not really capable of being fully understood through relative philosophical formulations such as these. Subsequently, the great Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna rejected the formulation of ‘no-self’ as being a dualistic doctrine or formulation in favor of the concept of ‘emptiness’ or sunyata. Although much more subtle a perspective, the term ‘emptiness’ still suffers from the inevitable limitation of projecting an image onto the transcendent Absolute that also, therefore, can be misleading. Yet the doctrines of no-self and emptiness helped to counterbalance the subtle forms of self-clinging that persisted in some schools of Hinduism. No-self is one of the ‘Three Characteristics’ that develops with deep contemplation (vipassana in Buddhism) into the nature of relative existence and phenomena – these three being: that all phenomena are impermanent (anitya), that therefore all phenomena are characterized by lack of an eternally separate self-nature (no-self or anatman), and that therefore all phenomena are an unsatisfactory source of happiness or fulfillment (duhkha). See also Atman, Emptiness, Nondual, Impermanence, Duhkha.
One Boundless Immutable Principle – a term used in the Trans-Himalayan teachings for the Absolute. See also One Life, Absolute, Relativity, Monad, Awakening, Self-realization, Nondual Realization.
One Fundamental School of Shamballa – see Planetary Lineage.
One Life – a term used in the Trans-Himalayan teachings that has both Absolute and Relative meanings. According to its Absolute definition, the One Life refers to the Absolute Self, Awareness, Being, Essence or Presence that transcends, includes, and arises as the ultimate base and nature of the entire manifest universe. This is in keeping with similar uses of the term by such sages as Ramana Maharishi and Adi Da, and in the Secret Doctrine, it is also known as the One Boundless Immutable Principle that is the essence of both the unmanifest and manifest realities or Emptiness and Form. According to the relative definition, the term relates to the incarnating spirit, or breath, of any scale of manifestation. In relation to a human being, that would therefore mean the spirit, or monadic self. In relation to a planet, it would mean the planetary Logos; for the solar system, it would mean the solar Logos; for the galaxy, the galactic Logos and for the universe, the universal Logos. See also Monad, Absolute, Relativity, Awakening, Self-realization, Logos, Presence, Awareness, Ramana Maharishi, Trans-Himalayan tradition, Nondual Realization.
Pali – Indian dialect derived from Sanskrit in which the original Buddhist texts were written. See Sanskrit.
Patanjali – Ancient Hindu master famous as author of the Yoga Sutras. Possibly lived around 200 BC (though some theorists place him much earlier), the Yoga Sutras are a series of over 180 aphorisms summarizing the path of raja yoga. This path is often called ashtanga yoga, which means the ‘eight-limbed path’. The Yoga Sutras as a description of raja yoga is considered one of the most influential texts of classical yoga. The eight limbs of raja yoga are: yama, niyama (these two involve behavioral and attitude prescriptions such as truthfulness and devotion), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing practices), pratyahara (control of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (transcendence). It is believed that Patanjali simply organized and committed to writing the oral teachings of this profound lineage of ancient yogic teachings. The philosophy that is inherent in the Yoga Sutras is the dualistic philosophy of Samhkya. Many later lineages or teachings reject the philosophical dualism in the Yoga Sutras in favor of tantric and nondual perspectives, while making use of many of its practical teachings. See also Sanatana-Dharma, Tantra, Nondual, Samadhi, Dhyana, Raja Yoga, Yoga.
Permanent Atom – Term used in the Trans-Himalayan teachings, as well as some other Western esoteric schools, to refer to the ‘atom’ or essence of the higher self that is projected into the personality, being situated as the nucleus of each body (physical, astral and mental), which records the life experience of the personality – its thoughts, emotions, desires and sensory experiences on each plane. After incarnation, the permanent atom is gradually withdrawn into subtler levels as the inner self assimilates the experiences of the now passing incarnation, distilling wisdom. The permanent atom gradually comes to ‘rest’ in the soul, or causal body (or the alaya-vijnana, ‘seed repository’, in Buddhism), as this is the level from which the ‘seeds’ or ‘causes’ of future experiences will re-manifest, generated by these karmic impressions or samskaras. See also Anu, Permanent Personality, Soul, Higher Self, Kosas, Samskaras, Planes of Consciousness.
Personality – The form aspect of an individual, their ‘appearance’ or ‘persona’, the personality is made up of three aspects – physical, emotional and mental. These three aspects of the individual human being are made of those levels of consciousness dominated by the ‘form’ elements (earth, water, air), whereas the soul or inner being is formless. The personality is a more temporary level of identity than the soul or spirit, which maintains continuity of awareness and being throughout the cycle of incarnations and other realms of experience. Sometimes called the ‘temporary’ personality, the bodies (physical, astral/emotional and mental) of which it is made up are built anew in each life and gradually dissolved at the end of each incarnation, with the fruits of experience being assimilated into the spiritual self or soul. The human ego is formed by the emanating Self-consciousness of the inner being reflecting in the personality and causing the arising of body-identification. That aspect of human nature that takes itself to be the bodies (physical and psychological) – identifying with the body, its actions, roles, possessions, and with the emotional and mental content – the sum total of these false identifications are called the ego or personality. If the inner being has achieved Self-Realization, and manifested that realization in the personality, then the bodies or personality can continue to exist, but the inner being ceases to mistake itself for them – the form of identity that takes itself to be the bodies or personality ceases to arise. See also Permanent Personality, Soul, Atman, Body(s), Planes of Consciousness, Ego, Separation.
Physical Body – This body is the most familiar to humanity. It makes up the most concrete aspect of the human personality. Yet, having seven subdivisions as do the more subtle bodies, there is an etheric or pranic aspect to the physical body, made of the three most subtle elements, which is less familiar both to humanity in general, and to modern science especially, although it is universally recognized in the world’s spiritual traditions. See also Physical Plane, Planes of Consciousness, Etheric Body, Etheric Vitality, Body(s).
Physical Plane – The physical plane is made up largely of the universe as we know it in our ordinary consciousness – atoms and compounds, organic kingdoms and planets, solar systems and galaxies. It is made up of seven main subdivisions that mirror the seven great planes of consciousness and existence. The four ‘form’ subdivisions of the physical plane – that of the solid, liquid, gaseous and plasma states of matter – are relatively known to our five senses and are the primary part of the physical universe that is known to modern science. The next three more subtle subdivisions of the physical plane are called ‘etheric’ or pranic. These modern science is only beginning to explore, and they are not generally detectible by our ordinary perception. Although the physical plane is vast, and often beautiful, to our physical self, it is, in fact, not only the smallest and most restricted plane of consciousness, but is also that level of consciousness and being which, generally speaking, most veils and distorts our perception of beauty, love, happiness and our true nature. Yet, incarnation in a human form on the physical plane offers a profound and unique opportunity for spiritual evolution. According to the wider cosmology of planes in the Trans-Himalayan teachings, the physical plane is understood as the most gross state of vibrational matter in a spectrum of seven planes, which themselves compose the seven sub-planes of the cosmic physical plane. See also Planes of Consciousness, Physical Body, Body(s), Etheric Body, Etheric Vitality.
Pingala Nadi – One of the three main nadis or subtle energy channels in the etheric body, this nadi runs along the right side of the spine and into the head, terminating at the right nostril. It is the solar nadi and is complimented by the ida or lunar nadi. See the Etheric Body, Nadi(s), Ida Nadi and Sushumna Nadi.
Plan, The – ‘The Plan’ is a term often used to refer to the collective envisioning of strategies for world enlightenment developed by Hierarchy, or the communities of awakened beings (bodhisattvas, buddhas, etc.) composing the planetary Heart chakra. The fundamental inspiration of The Plan is bodhicitta. The Plan is a formulation by Hierarchy of however much of the transcendent Purpose, as it is held in reservoir in Shamballa, can be worked out in the present cycle. It is thus based on a degree of understanding the natural cycles of world evolution, and the science of stimulating or accelerating that evolution through work with the nature kingdoms, humanity and spiritual initiation and practice. The Plan ranges in scope from smaller details such as those concerning the lives of individual aspirants, to larger visions of inspiring and nurturing cultural movements, to the creation of planetary systems involving the seeding of the various kingdoms, the cross-fertilization of the spiritual hierarchies of different planets, solar evolution and so on. See also Bodhicitta, Kingdoms, Hierarchy, Trans-Himalayan School.
Planes of Consciousness – According to the Trans-Himalayan teachings, there are seven major levels of consciousness or modes of being and perception, which generate seven realms or worlds. These realms can be characterized by their respective rates of vibration or their subtlety of consciousness. The densest or least subtle of these realms is the realm we are familiar with as the physical universe. The next two realms may be characterized as the psychological dimensions, as they are formed of the same substance as what we know as emotions and thoughts. The four planes of consciousness and being beyond these are relatively more formless, that is, they are realms that exist beyond time and space as we know them here in the physical world. Even the psychological worlds experience a more subtle form of time and space than the physical universe, but in the four formless planes, time and space are transformed into a new level of essence as pure Ideas. Each plane is created by a mode of experience that is dominated by one of the universal elements or principles, and each plane is understood to be the embodied expression of a great Deva Lord. If one’s consciousness is attuned most to a particular principle or element, then one is centered in a particular plane or dimension of being and experience. For instance, consciousness attuned primarily to the earth element is centered in the physical world, while consciousness that is dominated by the principle of pure consciousness is centered in the 2nd plane or world – a formless, expansive, universal plane of experience. The following is one method of correlating the elements with their corresponding planes:
1st Element and Plane – Plane of Adi – Essence, Emptiness, Sat – Universal Being
2nd Element and Plane – Monadic Plane – Awareness, Chit – Universal Consciousness
3rd Element and Plane – Atmic Plane – Essential Matter, Ananda – Holy Spirit or Root Substance
4th Element and Plane – Buddhic Plane – Air, Intuition – Spiritual Soul – ‘Supermind’
5th Element and Plane – Mental Plane – Fire, Mental Dimension
6th Element and Plane – Astral Plane – Water Astral/Emotional Dimension
7th Element and Plane – Physical Plane – Earth Physical Dimension
Each of these planes can further be understood as the seven sub-planes of the cosmic physical plane, subtler than which there is a cosmic astral, cosmic mental, cosmic buddhic, and so on, each with seven sub-frequencies of subtle energy-substance. Transcendent, and yet as the nondual base of all seven elements and (cosmic) planes of the relative universe is Brahman or Nirvana, the nondual or primordial reality. Nirvana is beyond all these levels and yet is the essential nature of all levels. No level is closer to Nirvana than another, although some levels, particularly the subtlest three, are much more conducive to direct realization of the nondual or Absolute. We can subsequently group the first three planes together as formless planes of increasingly liberated nondual realization. In these planes or levels one’s awareness and being are not only infused with direct perception of the Absolute, but also an awareness of one’s relative Self or monad as liberated and luminous, and being of the same substance as the Absolute. Here one also encounters the Presence of the planetary Logos of the Earth, whose Life one experiences identification with and as. The densest three planes (5 – 7) are the most veiled. These are often called the realms of separation or maya, not because they are intrinsically less divine, but because these realms are characterized by a perception that everyone and everything is separate, limited and imperfect. Remember, each of these worlds are really states of consciousness or understanding, even though the greater maya or ‘veiledness’ of the densest realms gives rise to the illusion or appearance of concrete forms, beings and an objective universe. The 4th plane is a transitional realm, partaking of the characteristics of both the higher and lower trinities. It is therefore a kind of doorway between the formless realms of nondual illumination, and the more concrete realms of form, time, space and activity. We might also say that the subtlest three planes are planes of purely universal states, and the densest planes are the realms more dominated by awareness of particulars. The middle realm is the realm of intuitive awareness of the interrelation of the universal and the particular, the unity in diversity.
Each of these planes of consciousness has seven sub-planes that mirror the major planes. The subtlest four sub-planes of the form planes are called the etheric aspect or dimension of each plane. The three lower worlds, being realms of form, time and space, are populated by many forms of life, and are made up of countless worlds and landscapes. Just as the physical universe is made up of vast numbers of worlds such as subatomic realms, jungles, oceans, continents, planets, solar systems, galaxies, and so on, so too the astral and mental planes comprise an even greater variety of these realms, all just as relatively ‘real’ as the physical universe. So, for instance, there are astral and mental dimensions that are equally a part of the total reality of our planet, where there are events and dramas transpiring that affect the totality of the Earth. The psychological worlds (astral and mental) are populated by countless beings, all inhabiting regions that resonate with their karmic conditions. Subsequently, the various realms may be categorized according to their level of consciousness and karma, which we find named in various traditions by such terms as heaven realms, hell realms, purgatories, the realm of ‘hungry ghosts’, etc. See also Elements, Separation, Physical Plane, Astral Plane, Mental Plane, Monad, Planetary Logos, Absolute, Body(s), Relativity.
Planetary Being – The entity that incarnates through a planetary form and passes through various stages of evolution as do those that pass through pre-human, human and post-human stages of development. Our planetary being is approaching the second cosmic initiation at this time. The planetary being’s constitution is made up of the seven kingdoms of a planet – natural, human and spiritual. See Kingdoms, Initiations, Planetary Logos, Deity, Ishvara, Initiation.
Planetary Lineage – The underlying and unifying lineage of a planet, also described as the One Fundamental School of Shamballa by Djwhal Khul. Behind all the outer spiritual lineages that come and go on the physical and even subtler levels of a planet there is a single, core lineage that expresses their synthesis. Some planetary bodhisattvas have as their work embodying on the physical level this underlying unity of planetary spirituality. On our planet this core lineage is manifest physically throughout the world at this time, yet is not currently working openly nor is it therefore widely recognized by humanity or even by most of the world’s spiritual aspirants and leaders. In the subtler dimensions of the planet the planetary lineage is widely recognized and boundaries between individual lineages such as Christianity, Hinduism or Taoism are less strong or non-existent. This is particularly so in the deeper, more realized dimensions of the planet, where the planetary lineage works as a single teaching ‘ashram’ or school with many aspects and sub-divisions.
The planetary lineage has several main subdivisions. These include the Trans-Himalayan School with its center in the Trans-Himalayan range (and the closely associated Siddha Tradition of Southern India), the Chinese School centered in the Kunlun Mountains, the African Tradition and the Native American Traditions (including South, Central and North American). These are various main branches of a single planetary lineage. The Trans-Himalayan School is the largest and most influential of these branches, with its influence extending from Tibet and India to the Middle East and North Africa, Europe, Australia and the Americas. There is now a new branch of the planetary lineage emerging which is centered in North America, and which is primarily ‘sponsored’ by the Trans-Himalayan School, although it is destined to express a global synthesis, integrating streams from all the major planetary lineages. Gradually this underlying and unified planetary lineage, which embodies the full richness of planetary spirituality, will become more openly manifest in human culture. See, Chinese School, Trans-Himalayan School, Planetary Logos, Buddha, Kingdoms.
Planetary Logos – Term used in the Trans-Himalayan tradition, with equivalent terms in other traditions, referring to the cosmic spirit manifesting through the Earth as its body of incarnation, with its kingdoms (on etheric levels) embodying the chakras of its cosmic etheric body. In the cosmology of the Trans-Himalayan teachings, every being, kingdom, planet, sun, solar system, constellation, galaxy and universe is understood as the body of manifestation of some incarnating entity. Relatively speaking, the level of evolution of these entities should be understood as vastly in advance of that of a human being, no matter how awakened, though on their own profound level, they are still considered beings who are treading a path of becoming, and cosmic initiation. The consciousness of these beings, and specifically the planetary Logos of the Earth, is understood to abide on the formless levels of the cosmic mental plane, though it has its representative who embodies one of its mental, emotional and physical permanent atoms on the form levels of the cosmic mental, cosmic astral and cosmic physical planes, respectively. The representative of the planetary Logos of the Earth on the cosmic physical plane is known in the Trans-Himalayan tradition as Sanat Kumara. This being is understood as at least a 9th degree initiate who resides, in company with a council of similarly advanced buddhas, on the most formless levels of the cosmic physical plane within the energetic force centre known as Shamballa – the planeray crown chakra. See also Planetary Lineage, Kingdoms, Deity, Ishvara, Logos, Sanat Kumara, Shamballa, Planetary Being, Initiation.
Practice – Spiritual practice (sadhana in Sanskrit) is the foundation of spiritual evolution. Practice is based on the exercise of discrimination and conscious will with the aim of accelerating our spiritual awakening. The goal of nondual-based spiritual paths involves the recognition that the concept and experience of ‘practice’, effort, will, discrimination and so forth, are transcended in the stage of nondual realization or full enlightenment. Yet virtually all mature forms of nondual spirituality (as well as other types of paths) also recognize that almost everyone will need to experience the phase of effort and practice as a precondition to nondual awakening. Of course, grace also plays a role in every path – in some case more explicitly and in others more implicitly – but it is always there, and in some paths plays a central role, even to the extent that the path seems largely born on by another ‘power’. In this case the source of transformative and awakening power, the practice, comes from beyond the individual. But in most paths, even those that include a significant aspect of invoking grace, individual effort in the form of practice is still an important element of the path. As the practice matures, the practitioner must move on to more subtle ways of practicing, assimilating more and more of a nondual perspective, finally culminating in what is called in Dzogchen ‘entering the Great Nonaction’ – in other words, transcending the experience of ‘doing’ practice. This is called rigpa in Dzogchen, and sahaja samadhi in Vedanta. This, though, is considered an advanced stage of practice, a stage accessible to only a very small number in any generation of practitioners. See also Grace, Free Will, Sahaja Samadhi, Rigpa, Nondual Realization.
Prakriti – See Nature.
Prana – See Etheric Vitality.
Pranayama – Sanskrit: prana, ‘breath’; yama, ‘control’. The practice of regulated breathing. Pranayama is an advanced and subtle science based on an understanding of the relationship between the breath, prana or life-force and the mind. Various forms of pranayama are used in different schools of yoga (such as tantra, raja and kriya), as well as in many other traditions, Eastern and Western. Pranayama can be used for a wide variety of purposes, but is most generally used to aid in the purification of the subtle or etheric body, and the personality, and to awaken kundalini. Pranayama is often coupled with work with mantra and/or visualization. Pranayama should be distinguished from the Buddhist practice of breath awareness (Pali: anapanasati), in which one practices paying attention to the breath without seeking to control its pattern in any way. Pranayama can be a very dynamic practice and can therefore be dangerous if used unwisely. Anything beyond beginning level pranayama practices should be pursued with the guidance of a competent teacher. See also Etheric Vitality, Kundalini, Awareness Practice.
Presence – Presence can be used to refer to two basic levels of spiritual identity. The first may be termed ‘discriminative presence’ or ‘qualitative presence’, as it refers to a stage of spiritual presence based on the qualities of discriminating awareness and choice or intention. This is the foundational level of all spiritual practice, and is characterized by the ability to consciously cultivate such qualities as awareness, contentment, devotion, equanimity, discipline, generosity, compassion and so on. An individual can be said to be strongly established in this level of presence when these qualities have been strongly integrated into one’s daily life. This is the primary work of the vast majority of practitioners. The next and deeper level of spiritual presence might be termed ‘nondual presence’, as this is a state characterized by a deep realization of one’s nondual nature. Nondual presence has the characteristic of what Krishnamurti called ‘choiceless awareness’, a mode of perception and being beyond judgment and choice. This may be described by such terms as ‘surrendered to God’s Will’, or merging with the Tao, or the state of sahaja samadhi or rigpa. The level of nondual presence is a state of liberated awareness or nirvana in which one has transcended ego-identification and lives in a condition of perfect freedom and nondual understanding. In the Trans-Himalayan teachings, Presence is sometimes described as the Fourth Quality of Divinity alongside monadic will and power, the love-wisdom of consciousness, and the innate intelligence of matter. In this context, Presence is the Absolute Reality that transcends, includes and resides as the fundamental basis of the entire relative reality. See also Arhat, Rigpa, Sahaja Samadhi, Nirvana.
Primordial Buddha – See Adi-Buddha.
Principle – A universal Idea or essential element in human nature and in the macrocosm. One application of the term ‘principle’ is in naming the major aspects of human nature so that aspects such as our physical body, emotional nature, mind, intuition and atman or spiritual Self may all be considered ‘principles’ or fundamental aspects of human nature. Similarly we may consider the seven elements as principles, since they are the inner ‘principles’ or essences that form the basis for each facet of human nature. For example, the physical body is centered in the earth element, the emotional in the water element, etc. At the deepest level, principles are formless Ideas in the Universal Mind, the transpersonal or Logoic intelligence, and form the foundation of all that exist in the manifest realms. At this level, Principles, Ideas, Archetypes and other aspects of the Universal Mind are not mere intellectual concepts, but rather represent formless spiritual emanating essences that make up the very structure or order of the realms of soul and spirit, and are the patterning matrices of the form or manifest dimensions. Just as a magnetic field can give pattern to iron filings, so universal Ideas and Principles are the organizing, patterning fields of manifest life. Yet these principles or spiritual essences are usually distorted by egocentric, clouded consciousness so that they are not fully or purely revealed in the realms of separation and form, except to those with enlightened understanding. See also Ideas, Soul, Planes of Consciousness, Element, Archetype.
Psychic Abilities – Just as the physical body has senses and active capacities, so the more subtle bodies (the astral and mental) have corresponding senses and capacities that allow one to perceive and function in the corresponding dimensions. Most people only use these capacities in a limited way and within the sphere of their own psyche. For instance, when we see inner images with our imagination, we are exercising ‘clairvoyance’ within our own mind field. If we, in our physical bodies, learn to access these capacities and perceive and/or be active in the larger astral (emotional) and mental worlds (beyond the field of our ‘personal’ emotional/mental bodies), we call these ‘psychic abilities’. In the Hindu tradition they are often called ‘siddhis’ which means ‘accomplishments’ or paranormal powers that can be cultivated intentionally, and which can also arise naturally as a bi-product of spiritual development. Psychic senses are the inner correspondence to our physical senses giving us subtle forms of hearing, seeing, tasting, sensing and smelling. With such abilities we can become aware of past lives, the thoughts and emotions of others, the karmas of ourselves and others, and so on. Active psychic abilities include projecting our subtle bodies in other dimensions (‘astral travel’ and so on) and healing abilities. Psychic abilities are powers latent in the human personality. They are senses and active capacities that are centered in our dualistic nature, and are therefore easily subject to delusion and misuse. As subtle senses, they are based on the same dualistic mode of perception as are our physical senses, and so are subject to the same illusion. Only intuition, with which psychic abilities must not be confused, is a form of knowing that is free from personality distortions and projections, as it is based on perception of the inner spiritual nature. Primary spirituality seeks to develop intuition rather than psychic abilities, although the latter can be useful in service to those of adequate spiritual maturity. In most traditions, conscious development of psychic faculties is reserved for later stages of development, after an adequate foundation in personality purification and wisdom has been attained. Even then these powers are often misused, causing some traditions to discourage them entirely. Many relatively advanced practitioners have little or no psychic abilities, while others who are relative beginners may have some measure of powers such as telepathy or clairvoyance. See also Senses, Intuition, Body(s), Planes of Consciousness, Separation.
Purna Yoga – Purna means ‘integral’ in Sanskrit. This path, developed by Sri Aurobindo, also called Integral Yoga, is a comprehensive modern yoga that has much in common with tantra. Like tantra, there is an honoring of Shakti or the Universal Feminine principle, and an orientation towards the fullest manifestation of spirituality in the individual body as well as in the world. It differs from many forms of tantra in that the emphasis is not on technical, psychophysical techniques (such as asanas and pranayama), which are common to many Hindu and Buddhist forms of tantra, but rather on applying the spirit of tantra from the soul or consciousness angle. Also Integral Yoga places a greater emphasis on karma yoga than is the case with many forms of tantra, and on the individual’s participation in what Aurobindo termed ‘planetary yoga’, the path of individual participation in collective evolution. See also Aurobindo, Integral Path, Agni Yoga, Tantric Yoga, The Mother, Yoga.
Rainbow Body – see Dzogchen
Raja Yoga – Raja in Sanskrit means ‘royal’; therefore raja yoga is the ‘royal path’. It is also called astanga yoga, which means ‘eight limbed’, signifying the eight steps and major practices of this path. As such, it is considered a rather comprehensive or integral path, which typically draws practices from many or all of the preceding yogas. Raja Yoga is also often called ‘Classical Yoga’ and is perhaps the most common practice of Hindu renunciate yogis, though it is also popular amongst householders. For a list of the eight limbs of raja yoga, see Patanjali. See also Yoga, Integral Path, Agni Yoga.
Rakozci, Master – the present Mahachohan and master of the 7th Ray Ashram who also, with the masters Djwhal Khul and Morya, holds a transmission point for the Ashram of Synthesis. Rakozci is a 7th Ray master of the 6th degree who incarnated previously as such beings as the Comte de Saint Germain, and then as Francis and Roger Bacon. He worked with Lucille Cedercrans in a similar way to the collaboration between Djwhal Khul and Alice Bailey to produce the New Presentation of the Wisdom teachings. See also Initiation, Master, Hierarchy, Trans-Himalayan School, Guru, Djwhal Khul, Morya.
Ramakrishna – (1836-1886), universally recognized as one of the greatest saints of modern India, Ramakrishna began having spiritual experiences at the early age of six. His spiritual transformation began in earnest in his late teens when he became a priest at a Kali temple in Dakshineswar near Calcutta. During this time period his spirituality progressed rapidly through his profound devotion to Kali (Goddess of Transformation), whom he experienced as an inner luminosity and guiding presence. He did not have the benefit of a physical teacher during this time, but experienced a demanding process of transformation and awakening guided only by his intuition and Kali. At the age of 25 he met the tantric adept Yogeshwari (also known as the Bhairavi). She was the first to recognize Ramakrishna as an avatar or divine incarnation (the incarnation of a being already one with the Divine, beyond or having no more human karma), and she initiated him into tantric practices. Between 1861 and 1863, Ramakrishna mastered the path of tantra (Ramakrishna pursued an ‘inner’ tantra which did not include sexual rituals). Then in 1865 (at the age of 29), he met a jnani, an adept of the nondual path of Advaita Vedanta. Kali told Ramakrishna that she had sent this adept, Tota Puri, to initiate him into nirvikalpa samadhi, or radical nondual transcendence. In order to do this, Ramakrishna would have to go beyond even his beloved Kali to realize the Absolute. Tota Puri told Ramakrishna that it had taken him 40 years to master this practice. Even though Ramakrishna encountered some initial resistance, he accomplished the feat of entering this sublime realization in one day, remaining in the bliss of Absolute God-consciousness for 3 days. During his time with Ramakrishna, Tota Puri was also awakened to the path of love and devotion. Some months later, after Tota Puri departed, Ramakrishna immersed himself in absolute transcendence. Although the scriptures say that the limit to sustaining nirvikalpa samadhi for anyone but an avatar is 21 days (or the spirit will disconnect from the body), Ramakrishna remained in this exalted state continuously for the next six months. This period came to an end with a vision of the Goddess Kali, who told Ramakrishna that he was now to re-enter the world and remain in the state of bhavamukha, a state of waking God-consciousness (synonymous with sahaja samadhi), because he had a mission of service to fulfill in this world. In addition to initiating numerous disciples, including the world famous Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna also threw himself into the paths of Christianity and Islam, each in turn while putting Hinduism aside, following them to their conclusions. From this he was able to declare from his own experience that all paths lead to the same goal. See also Samadhi, Sahaja Samadhi, Advaita Vedanta, Tantra.
Ramana Maharshi – Believed by many to be the greatest Advaita sage of 20th century India. Born in 1879, at the age of sixteen he experienced a strange feeling of impending death, which he decided to investigate, rather than try to avoid or to get medical attention for. After about half an hour of deep intuitive contemplation of the question ‘who am I’, ‘who is it that dies?’, he entered a state of Self-realization or sahaja samadhi, which persisted throughout his life, dying at the age of 71. Ramana Maharshi spent the rest of his life on the side of the sacred mountain Arunachala in Southern India, and received many thousands of seekers, including many Westerners. Gandhi is known to have regularly recommended to people to visit him. Although he spent many years in silence, and taught a very pure form of Advaita Vedanta, always emphasizing the immediate reality of one’s true Self, Maharshi also demonstrated at rare moments a profound understanding of other paths, including tantra, the chosen path of one of his main students – Ganapati Muni. He also read the newspapers regularly, maintaining a keen interest in world affairs. In addition to offering a powerful transmission of nondual realization through his presence and silent initiation, he primarily emphasized the method of atma-vichara or ‘Self-inquiry’, the method of contemplating the question ‘Who am I?’ in the spiritual heart. See also Advaita Vedanta, Self-Realization, Sahaja Samadhi.
Rays – The relative universe is composed, at an essential level, of seven root principles – the seven primordial ‘fires’ or ‘rays’. They are commonly called dharmas, elements, rays, principles, archetypes, Ideas, essences and fires. They are most commonly referred to as elements, of which many systems primarily identify four or five, although some identify all seven. Examples of the latter include some Hindu systems such as Sri Yukteswar’s or the traditional chakra system, Buddha’s teachings on the paramattha dharmas or ‘ultimate realities’, Stylianos Atteshlis’ (Daskalos) view which is similar to Buddha’s and the Hindu’s, Theosophy (Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine is largely about the science of the seven essences and its application – there she most commonly calls them principles or elements, although she regularly refers to them in various other ways, including as ‘the seven rays’. Her discussion is perhaps the broadest as far as the wider implications of this science are concerned. Later Theosophists tended to follow Leadbeater in more narrowly focusing on only the important ‘quality’ view of the seven essences (which was not strongly articulated by Blavatsky). Alice Bailey (who also followed the Leadbeater view – while both adding much in that area as well as generating certain minor misunderstandings) has offered the most sophisticated view of the seven rays as qualities or virtues in the context of Theosophy/Neo-Theosophy. Overall, the most complete development of the understanding of the seven rays is found (not including the very esoteric Trans-Himalayan tradition) in the Hindu tradition, which has applied this science, in some form or another, to many fields such as medicine (Ayurveda), astrology/psychology (Jyotish), healing, ritual, sacred architecture and, of course, spiritual understanding and practice (from Raja Yoga to Kundalini/Tantric Yoga).
Of course, there is still very much that can be added to our understanding of this science. It is our view that the intuitive science of the seven elements or rays offers a profound contribution to the emerging, global spirituality. When these seven principles or essences are viewed from the human angle, and as having to do with the soul aspect, they can be viewed as manifesting as spiritual qualities. In this context they are often called ‘rays’. Yet it must be understood that this ‘qualitative’ perspective is only an aspect of the expression of these archetypes, and a more complete understanding of the seven rays or elements must be based on a more encompassing understanding of their meaning or reality. We also need to remember that each of the principles also manifests in less refined forms in human nature as corresponding limitations, or what might be called ‘distortions’ of their essential nature. These are traditionally termed ‘vices’ or ‘character flaws’. The following is a list of qualities offering a brief indication of some of the ways that these principles are reflected as spiritual attributes or virtues.The notion of the seven rays or principles as being seven fires is suggested in the ancient Vedic teachings where Agni, the primordial Fire, is referred to as having ‘seven tongues of flame’. These seven Fires are embodied in the seven Rishis or universal sages, and are reflected in each of us as the essence of our seven major chakras. In terms of the kosmic ecology of light transmission and reception that they embody, the relative source for the Seven Rays into our solar system, according to the Trans-Himalayan teachings, is understood to be the Seven Rishis or constellational Logoi of the Great Bear. From there, via Sirius and the Pleiades, they stream into our solar neighbourhood, and are received and transmitted by the seven planetary Logoi of our solar system, who embody the seven chakras of the Logos of the solar system.
When focusing on the emanating quality of these fires, we may call them rays (this image emphasizing the experience of these principles as lights and colors), and when emphasizing their more universal implications, and how they combine in countless ways to form all phenomena, concrete and abstract, we may call them elements. When viewed from the vantage point of these fires being reflected in our sevenfold nature, psychophysical and spiritual, we may call them principles. Yet when understood in their most universal significance we may call them archetypes, Ideas or essences. These are simply different views of the same underlying reality.
The First Ray of Will and Power. The First Ray is the force of both the life-drive and the death-drive – eros and thanatos, of creation. It is the erotic evolutionary drive producing expansion into sequentially unfolding depths of identity, structures, and realm penetration, as well as the thanotic drive to shatter exclusive identification with each owing to the limitation they entail. It is dynamic energy and direction, identification with which brings the individual or group into alignment with the subjective sense of will and power, or the objective embodiment of all accomplishing capacity, respectively. Typologically, it is the ray of the leader. One aspect of its archetype was embodied in the lineage of initiate-pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, and another in the Vajrayana by Vajrapani, who is the embodiment of the power of all the buddhas; of the Hindu trimurti it is Shiva, the destroyer; of the Sephiroth it is Keter, and in the Ancient Celtic tradition of Britain, it is King Arthur. According to the poetic, it is the roar of a lion, the rush of an elephant’s tusk, the fire of a dragon’s breath. It’s archetypical symbols are lightning and the sword.
The Second Ray of Love-Wisdom. The second ray is the force behind the spiraling expansion of consciousness that tends toward increasing capacity for integrative inclusion (love) and differentiation (wisdom). It is the force of magnetic attraction, affinity and cohesion. Its base is the heart, which scientific researchers in the field of neurocardiology are increasingly recognizing as the seat of the psychophysiological coherence that characterizes optimal spiritual, mental, emotional and physical well-being. The Second Ray is this force of cohesion, which holds a field for simultaneous relation and oneness on all scales of manifestation. Typologically, it is the ray of the teacher, the healer and the sage. In the traditions it is the ray the Christ and the Buddha, who could be said to have embodied it’s Love and Wisdom aspects, respectively. In the Vajrayana, it is Avalokiteshvara, who is the embodiment of the compassion of all the buddhas. Of the Hindu trimurti it is Vishnu, the preserver and sustainer, and of the Kaballistic Sephiroth it is Chokmah. Its archetypical symbols are the chalice of service, the heart, and thunder – the holy word of all ages.
The Third Ray of Creative and Abstract Intelligence. The Third Ray is the force of the innately intelligent, creative capacity of the universe. It is the force behind the creation, manipulation and eventual disintegration of forms. Typologically, it is the ray of the philosopher and theorist. It is the ray of Manjushri in the Vajrayana – the embodiment of the wisdom of all the Buddhas. Of the Hindu trimurti it is Brahma, the creator, and of the Sephiroth it is Binah – divine intelligence. It is the ray of divine mathematics, abstract intellect, and of activity also. It is thus the ray of the Karma yogi or yogini. It’s symbol if the spider at the center of its web.
The Fourth Ray of Harmony through Conflict. The Fourth Ray is the ray of harmony, symmetry, and of the unification of opposites into synergistic relation through all kingdoms and perspectives. Typologically, it is the ray of the artist, the Masonic architect, the geometrician, and of the self-organizing harmony of kosmos that may be experienced subjectively as beauty. It radiates from the exquisite detail of a Zen garden, or the perfect aesthetic of samurai swordsmanship. It is speculated to have been the primary ray of Leonardo Di Vinci, and is the ray of non-dual intuition, of divine patterns and archetypes of kosmic form. It is found in the structure of natural world – the living canvas of kosmos through which beauty swarms.
The Fifth Ray of Concrete Mind. The Fifth Ray is the force of differentiation, fixation, and crystallization through all kingdoms and perspectives. It is the ray of self-reflective mind, and of categorization and division based on similarity or difference in a data set. Typologically, it is the ray of the scientist, the researcher, and of the esoteric psychologist. It is the ray of practicality, of rigorously exercised intellect, of slicing accuracy, and of the clean categorization of information. It is the ray of the mental siddhis of telepathy and psychometry, of modern computer technology, and of the sciences generally.
The Sixth Ray of Devotion and Idealism. The Sixth Ray is the energy of devotion and idealism. It is the factor of sentience, or the capacity for valenced response to contact so as to produce the approach and withdrawal reflex as it expresses through all kingdoms, vectors and quadrants. It is idealism as deontological vision. Typologically, it is the Ray of the Bhakti yogi or yogini; of the devotee; of total loyalty and fiery zeal; of utter devotion to the very highest ideals and standards for one’s self, one’s group, one’s nation and / or for the whole of humanity. It is the ray of the crusader for a cause, and can be militant and potentially fanatical at more ego or ethnocentric stages of consciousness development, though at world- and kosmo-centric stages, this quality can make a person or group an incredible example of and promoter of positive change.
The Seventh Ray of Embodiment, Magic, Rhythm and Organisation. The Seventh Ray is the force of self-organization in embodied systems that preserves unity in differentiation (such as in an ant hill or beehive). It is the factor behind ceremony and ritual, in plant, animal and human kingdoms, as embodied activities often in group-form, tied into natural time cycles. Typologically, it is the ray of the shaman, of the ritualist, the tantrika, of sacred sexuality, and of indigenous Earth-spirituality. It is found in the structural and functional rhythms of the kosmos and in the celestial ceremony of self-organized movement that characterizes the universe. It is the Ray of the physical world, of ecological awareness and systems thinking, of kundalini-energy, shakti, and the divinity of the body. Its symbol is the Earth as Eden.
See also Elements, Principle, Archetype, Essence, Planes of Consciousness, Initiation, Ideas.
Relative Wisdom – This term is used in contrast to ‘Absolute Wisdom’. Whereas the latter refers to direct realization of the nondual nature of Reality, or what might be called Self-Realization or God-consciousness, relative wisdom refers to various levels of spiritual insight and understanding that are less directly concerned with the Absolute, and yet to varying degrees have a transformative or potentially enriching value on the spiritual path. Examples of relative wisdom are: understanding the law of karma; insight into the meaning and value of various virtues such love, peace or discipline; insight into ego and the various related hindrances or challenges to spiritual growth; understanding various practices for spiritual growth; insight into human constitution such as knowledge of our bodies, our soul, chakras, etc.; knowledge of the elements; and so on. One of the most profound levels of relative wisdom, where relative wisdom is transforming into absolute wisdom, is deep intuitive insight into the impermanent and ‘selfless’ nature of all relative phenomena. This area of insight is called the ‘Three Marks or Characteristics’ of phenomena in Buddhism – impermanence, no-self and duhkha (ultimate unsatisfactoriness). Another area of profound relative wisdom is insight into the deep interplay and interdependence of wisdom and love.The depth of relative wisdom can vary, ranging from preliminary intellectual knowledge to profound intuitive understanding. Deep absolute wisdom illuminates the field of Relativity, making the development of relative wisdom easier. But profound absolute wisdom does not give profound and perfect relative wisdom. These two levels or types of wisdom are not identical, and deep development in one area does not necessarily translate into the other. There are those with a great deal of one and much less of the other, as well as those with a relative balance of each. See Absolute Wisdom, Intuition, Self-Realization, Relativity, Impermanence, Duhkha.
Relativity – Often paired with the term ‘Absolute’, ‘Relativity’ (capitalized) refers to the perception of a dualistic universe characterized by separation, ignorance and the polarities of life and death, happiness and suffering. The perception of Relativity includes not only the physical and psychological (astral and mental) realms, but also the realms of soul and spirit (we are not using the word ‘spirit’ here to mean the Absolute). This is because even though in the realms of soul and spirit realization of the Absolute is becoming more and more dominant, this realization is still conditioned by a relative viewpoint, albeit a very universal and subtle one. As long as there is an individual having a ‘realization’ about the nondual Absolute, an element of Relativity remains present. Only in the state of radical God-consciousness (nirvikalpa samadhi in the Hindu tradition, nirodha in Buddhism) is there a complete transcendence of Relativity and relative points of view. The word Relativity is used to name the samsaric or mayic universe because within Relativity, all points of view, all states of consciousness and motivations, arise from some degree of individual identity, however expansive or limited that may be, so that any version of such a state may be considered ‘relative’, that is, not fully and completely absolute or universal. The Absolute ‘point of view’ is considered ‘Real’ or ‘True’ because it is complete – not relative or partial. The journey of spiritual awakening may be seen as an evolution from more relative to more absolute or universal being and perspective. See also Samsara, Maya, Relative Wisdom, Absolute, Absolute Wisdom, Samadhi, Sahaja Samadhi, Soul, Spirit.
Rig Veda – The oldest of the four Vedas, the most ancient scriptures of Hinduism and of humanity in general. The Rig Veda was considered to be the ‘bible of humanity’ and one of the most important text of ‘Trans-Himalayan’ spirituality by the modern rishis that were the teachers of H. P. Blavatsky. See Trans-Himalayan School, Vedas, Agni.
Rigpa – A term used in Dzogchen to refer to the state of ‘non-dual presence’, also sometimes referred to as ‘the view’ or the ‘child luminosity’. The Tibetan Dzogchen master Namkai Norbu has often translated the term rigpa as ‘the state of presence’ – in this case meaning the state of non-dual presence or realization. Norbu describes rigpa as having three primary characteristics – Essence, Clarity, and Energy. ‘Essence’ refers to the non-dual or ‘empty’ nature of rigpa, which is our original nature. ‘Clarity’ refers to the luminous and pure awareness characteristic of rigpa. And ‘Energy’ refers to the characteristic of rigpa, or our true-nature, to ‘manifest uninteruptedly’, to spontaneously and compassionately project or express as the entire universal process. In the state of rigpa, one recognizes in each moment the non-dual nature of both consciousness and energy with and as the Absolute. Rigpa corresponds generally to Atman in Hinduism, and the state of sustained or integrated rigpa would be the same as sahaja samadhi in Vedanta. See also Dzogchen, Arhat, Sahaja Samadhi, Presence, Nondual Realization.
Sahaja Samadhi – A state of realization in which the nondual reality (the Absolute) is revealed in each moment as the true nature of everything that is perceived. Sahaja, which means ‘spontaneous’ or ‘effortless’, refers to this state as being natural and effortlessly sustained while being involved in ordinary life. This is in contrast to other forms of samadhi, which require meditative absorption to maintain, and often require loss of awareness of the physical and psychological dimensions of experience in order to maintain, or can only be sustained in certain situations such in retreat or in sitting meditation. Sahaja samadhi is liberated spiritual awareness integrated with, or sustained in the midst of, ordinary life. It is sahaja or ‘spontaneous’ because it is not sustained by an act of will or intention, but has become the natural state of the individual. Although spontaneous and effortless, it is virtually always realized through some form of spiritual practice (although in cases where a profound foundation of practice exists in previous lives, very rarely an individual may enter sahaja samadhi with little or no prior practice in this life). The nature of activity that arises in sahaja samadhi has been called wu-wei in Taoism, which means ‘spontaneous, enlightened action’. The actions of an individual established in sahaja samadhi do not arise out of any sense of seeking personal fulfillment, nor do they express an intention to intervene or influence a situation or future condition. Such actions arise in harmony with the nature of each moment, without pre-meditation or contrivance, though they may be described from a more dualistic perspective as having a beneficial or enlightening effect on the world around them. See also Samadhi, Rigpa, Wu-wei, Initiation, Self-realization, Awakening, Arhat.
Samadhi – A Sanskrit word meaning a state of spiritual union or transcendent consciousness. The term samadhi is used by various Indian traditions, the most notable distinction being the Hindu and Buddhist. Most usages of samadhi follow the Hindu meaning. In the Hindu tradition, samadhi has been classified into two or three main categories. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali divided samadhi into two basic states – what he termed samprajnata samadhi and asamprajnata samadhi. Prajna in Sanskrit means ‘intuitive wisdom’ and sam means ‘with’, so ‘samprajnata samadhi’ can be translated as meaning a ‘superconscious state accompanied by intuitive insight’. This is a formless state of soul or intuitive realization that arises in deep meditation in which awareness of the personality (one’s physical body, emotions and intellect) are suspended, and one is absorbed in a state of lucid intuitive understanding, bliss, unity and peace. In this state, all worries, judgments and desires have temporarily fallen away, and profound contentment and clarity prevail. We can also describe this state of samadhi as the union, in deep meditation, of the personality with the soul or higher self. In this state the ordinary ego is transcended, and one is suffused with a greater nondual experience, although a subtle but greatly expanded sense of individual spiritual identity remains, forming a thin veil between oneself and full transcendence – whether experienced as a transcendent Deity or as the Absolute. One experiences deep communion with and illumination from the transcendent Reality, but is not fully merged with it. In this level of samadhi, the breath may be suspended for the duration of the meditation.
There are various sub-stages of this level of samadhi – what might be termed beginner stages up to very advanced stages. These levels comprise what the Buddha termed the ‘four formless absorption states’. Upon returning from this level of samadhi, one is ordinarily not able to maintain soul consciousness as profoundly during ordinary activity. But access to samadhi at this level not only gives increasing illumination of one’s daily life, but also gives access to a wide range of states, abilities and knowledge. A still higher level of realization is reached in asamprajnata samadhi (as Patanjali called it). The ‘a’ at the beginning of asamprajnata means ‘not’ – so this is a level of transcendent realization that goes even beyond soul or intuitive wisdom into radical absorption in the Absolute, Nirvana or Nirguna Brahman – the nondual Reality. It is impossible to describe the nature of experience or existence at this level. It fully transcends all notions and categories we may formulate about it. Access to this level brings even more profound illumination.
In Advaita Vedanta, the first level of samadhi (described above) is often called savikalpa samadhi (meaning ‘with higher thought’ – intuition), and the second type is called nirvikalpa, which again means beyond all thought, even soul intuition. In this tradition there is also identified a still higher stage of samadhi. This is sometimes called sahaja samadhi, meaning natural or spontaneous samadhi, indicating that this is a state of nondual realization that is so fully established that one is able to return to the soul and personality levels and even function as a human being, without the loss of radical, nondual realization. In this state one is aware of the appearance of different bodies, objects, time and space, etc., but at the same time is firmly established in the fundamental recognition that these apparently separate beings and things are actually God or Brahman in expression. This form of samadhi is considered more advanced that nirvikalpa samadhi because ordinarily nirvikalpa is attained before sahaja and requires an act of will to access (usually in meditation), and during the initial stage wherein one has gained accessed to nirvikalpa samadhi, one is not able to retain nondual realization as their normal state during activity in the physical world (such as in sahaja samadhi). But sages who have attained sahaja samadhi sometimes also enter nirvikalpa periodically as well. Then it does not represent a lesser stage, because they have access to both nirvikalpa and sahaja samadhi. Ramana Maharshi sometimes referred to the state of meditative nirvikalpa samadhi as ‘internal nirvikalpa’, because it was realized only in deep meditation, and frequently required the special condition of meditation to realize, accessed through an act of will. He correspondingly called sahaja samadhi ‘external nirvikalpa’ because it was a state of nondual realization (or nirvana) sustained while engaged in the ‘external’ world. This last stage is considered to be realized permanently by the Arhat or fourth degree initiate. Incidentally, it is possible to attain the state of sahaja samadhi without passing through the stages of savikalpa and nirvikalpa samadhis (meditative ‘trance’ states), as with, for instance, the practice of Buddhist mindfulness practices (such as vipassana or zazen), or Ramana Maharshi’s ‘Who am I?’ practiced in the heart center. Likewise in the Dzogchen tradition, ‘internal’ samadhi states are not necessary for achieving sahaja samadhi, which in Dzogchen is called ‘integration of rigpa with action’.
A further state of samadhi is described in the tantric Siddha tradition of Southern India. This state, termed soruba samadhi in Tamil (or sa-rupa in Sanskrit, which means ‘with form’), is achieved by so deeply integrating nondual realization with the physical body that the body is ‘transubstantiated’ or becomes ‘divinized’, becoming immortal. This is the state attained by such masters as Babaji, Mataji and other great sages such as the Chinese ‘Immortals’.
Finally, the form of realization called in Dzogchen the ‘Great Transfer’ or the ‘Body of Light’, represents a level of samadhi that culminates the manifestation of nondual realization within the physical form, resulting in its transformation into spiritual light and disappearance from the physical world. In this stage the realization of the adept transforms the physical elements that constitute the body into their ‘light essences’ or ‘rays’ (hence, it is sometimes called the ‘rainbow body’). We might call this last stage siddha samadhi, the Sanskrit term siddha meaning ‘perfected’. This state was attained, for instance, by the 19th century Southern Indian adept Ramalingar, whose body disappeared in a flash of violet light in 1874. This state is also known to have been achieved in the 20th century by Tibetan Buddhist, Taoist and other masters. We will arrange the several levels of samadhi described above into the following sequence of stages, each of these levels (except, perhaps, nirvikalpa) having several sub-stages:
Savikalpa samadhi – initial nondual realization, still conditioned by subtle separation
Nirvikalpa samadhi – radical nondual transcendence, yet limited to meditation
Sahaja samadhi – nondual realization sustained throughout waking, dreaming and deep sleep
Soruba samadhi – further integration leading to ‘transubstantiation’ – immortality
Siddha samadhi – final dissolution of the body/personality into nondual presence
The realization of the third stage does not require passing through the second, and the realization of the final stage does not require passing through the fourth. Further, there are those who choose to remain in sahaja or soruba samadhi in order to serve the world, even though they could pass into siddha samadhi.
In the Buddhist tradition, the definition of samadhi is used more loosely to include any significant state of concentration. The Buddha described eight levels of samadhi or ‘absorption’, only the higher four of which would be considered samadhi in most Hindu teachings. The power of samadhi to give wisdom and liberation is somewhat controversial in the Buddhist tradition, which tends to have a preference for awareness practices that are not based on internal samadhi states. The Buddha even went so far as to say that the highest levels of realization could not be achieved through samadhi practices, only through vipassana. Although highlighting certain important truths, this view seems to represent a limited understanding of the potential of some approaches to samadhi. Also, various teachings exist which integrate both internal samadhi practices with awareness practices, including the Buddha’s original teachings. Although many people have had peak experiences of various forms of samadhi or superconscious states, regular access to samadhi, especially the more advanced forms, is rather rare. See also Sahaja Samadhi, Soul, Nondual Realization, Siddha Tradition, Rigpa, Initiation, Planes of Consciousness, Vipassana, Advaita Vedanta, Satori, Self-Realization.
Samsara – Sanskrit: literally ‘journeying’ or ‘flow’. Term used in the Buddhist and Hindu teachings for the entire relative universe. This includes the physical, psychological and spiritual universes or worlds – in short, every state or realm within the realative reality. Samsara refers to experience of the realm of continuous birth and death, of endless movement and impermanent phenomena. In nondual philosophy, samsara is recognized as a manifestation of the Absolute, so that we can say that samsara is nirvana. See also Absolute, Nirvana, Brahman, Relativity.
Sanat Kumara – Sanskrit – First mentioned in Hindu texts as one of the mind-born sons of Brahma, in the Trans-Himalayan teachings, Sanat Kumara is described as one of 104 kumaras, or highly realized buddhas, who came to the Earth from the sangha of awakened beings on Venus, at the occurance of its formation some 4-5 billion years ago. It is understood that this being, also known in as Melchizidek or the Ancient of Days, remains on Earth in Shamballa, as the embodiment and representative of the planetary Logos of the Earth on the cosmic physical plane, and as one of seven kumaras who each ensoul one of the major evolutionary kingdoms on Earth. Sanat Kumara is understood to ensoul and reside as the cohesive consciousness and energy for the entirety of humanity. Also see Planetary Logos, Hierarchy, Shamballa, Planetary Lineage.
Sanatana-Dharma – Sanskrit – Sanatana means ‘eternal’ or ‘ageless’, and Dharma here means ‘teachings’ or ‘wisdom’ – the ‘Eternal Teachings’ or ‘Ageless Wisdom’. This is the traditional name given to Hinduism by its own peoples. This tradition is based to some extent on the spiritual tradition of the Brahmins or ‘priestly cast’, and so is sometimes referred to as Brahmanism. The Sanatana-Dharma came to be known to the rest of the world as ‘Hinduism’, and the country as ‘India’, when ancient Greeks and Persians, encountering the peoples of India in the Indus River region, came to call them ‘Indus’ or ‘Hindus’, and their region ‘India’. The peoples of India originally called their land Bharat, and their religion and way of life Sanatana-Dharma. Now both India and Bharat are official names. The Sanatana-Dharma does not recognize any official beginning to its tradition, which traces itself back at least to the ancient rishis or sages of the Vedic period around 6000-8000 years ago, and their spiritual lore teaches of even earlier epochs. Hence the ‘ageless wisdom’.
The Trans-Himalayan tradition teaches that the Sanatana-Dharma, as centralized in India and the Himalayas, reaches back to the foundations of the ‘modern’ cycle of spiritual development. This view suggests that the ancient rishis of the early Vedic period in this region gave birth to the foundation of a lineage which was essentially the birth place of a spirituality and culture that has become the primary influence not only for India and the surrounding regions, but also for the Middle East, Europe, North Africa, Russia and now the Americas. The esoteric heart of this lineage is sometimes called the ‘Trans-Himalayan School’ because that is where is has its ‘home base’, and where it also originated. In its centralized form as ‘Hinduism’ or Indian spirituality, its philosophies, sciences and practices are vast and encompass the essence of virtually all the basic expressions of human spirituality on Earth at this time. It has also directly given birth to Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Kashmir shaivism, and other indigenous traditions, as well as deeply influenced the spirituality and cultures of other traditions such as Taoism, Tibetan Buddhism, the Greeks, Middle Eastern religions and even the Native American traditions. See also Himalayan School, Sanskrit, Vedas, Agni, Rig Veda, Shambhala.
Sanskrit – An ancient spiritual language of India, used very commonly in the spiritual scriptures and writings. The language of Sanskrit is perhaps the most technically precise and subtle human language, and has been developed with a profound spiritual and intuitive sense of sound. Subsequently, there are many words in the Sanskrit language for spiritual ideas and states that are not always easy to translate into other languages that are more geared to mundane consciousness. Sanskrit is also called Devangari, which means ‘language of the Gods’ as it is believed that this language was given to humanity by Devas or higher spiritual intelligences.
Sat-cit-ananda – A Sanskrit term that is a compound of three words: sat – existence or beingness; cit – consciousness; ananda – bliss. In Vedantic philosophy, this term is used to identify the essential characteristics of transcendent experience or Absolute realization, giving rise to the notion that our true nature is ‘Absolute Existence-Consciousness-Bliss’. The description of the state of ‘nondual presence’ or rigpa in Dzogchen reflects a similar trinity. See also Advaita Vedanta, Absolute, Rigpa.
Satori – See Awakening.
Sattva (Sattvic) – One of the three gunas (‘qualities’) in Sanskrit, sattva is commonly defined as meaning: of spiritual beingness, harmony, lightness, purity and wholesomeness. It is held in contrast to the other two gunas or qualities: rajas (dynamic, passionate, aggressive, unstable, conflicted) and tamas (dark, heavy, fearful, confused, dull, degenerate, sleepy). Consciousness conditioned by any of the gunas is still karmically bound or conditioned. But rajas helps to overcome tamas, and sattva is based on more spiritual or virtuous motivations and therefore is a foundation or bridge to full enlightenment. Generally speaking, spiritual practice can be described as the cultivation of sattvic traits of increasingly subtle degrees until finally transcending the gunas or ego-conditioned qualities altogether. Elementals may be classified in these simple categories to help clarify the basic qualities of different levels of motivation, etc. See Elemental.
Self – The term ‘self’ or ‘Self’ is used in various ways. The first of the four most common meanings is ‘self’ as the personality – the level of identity formed by the identification of consciousness with the bodies (physical, emotional and mental). This is the ordinary ‘ego’ or personal self. The next level of self is the active aspect of the soul or higher self or soul, which is actively engaged in seeking to influence and participate in the activities of the incarnated personality. This level of self works through the higher aspect of the mind and uses enlightened discrimination to guide the personality. The third level of self is the ‘nondual-realized’ Self. This level of self retains an essence of individuality, yet this is a level of self who’s very foundation is the realization that its own nature is one with God or the Absolute. We might call this level the ‘spirit’ or ‘monad’. And the final meaning for the Self is the Universal Self, which is identical with Brahman or God. All these levels of Self are the same reality when viewed from different levels of consciousness. In Agni Yoga, we use the term ‘self’ or ‘Self’ with all of these meanings (usually specified somehow), but most often with one of the first three meanings. See Presence, Ego, Personality, Soul, Spirit, Monad.
Self-Realization – This term is used in various ways in different teachings. Its deepest significance is to mean fully enlightened or liberated consciousness. In this meaning it is related to either the fourth or fifth initiation or stage of enlightenment (depending on one’s interpretation of liberation), and is synonymous with terms like Theosis (‘God-consciousness’), jivanmukti (‘embodied liberation’), Arhatship and sahaja samadhi. In this instance ‘Self’ refers to the nondual or universal Self. See also Nondual Realization, Sahaja Samadhi, Initiation.
Senses – The five senses (smell, taste, sight, hearing, touch) are the primary method through which body-identified consciousness makes contact with other beings or things on each plane or realm. The personality as a whole, not just the physical body, is rooted in ‘sensory’ experience. The subtler bodies – the emotional or astral and mental bodies – are also bodies in the sense of having form (shape), and experiencing through senses. These senses are considered ‘psychic’ relative to the physical self. The ‘internal’ and ‘external’ experience of the astral/mental consciousness is also based on seeing (images), hearing (thinking in words, etc.), touch (feeling emotions, desires, etc.) and so on. Only the soul relates intuitively, beyond senses and form. See also Body(s), Intuition, Attunement, Psychic Abilities.
Separation – The experience of dualism or multiplicity. The seven planes of consciousness are seven levels of understanding, all conditioned by Mind at different levels of realization. We have Mind condensed into the appearance of ‘matter’ on the lower planes, Mind as intellect, Mind as intuition, and super-subtle levels of Mind in the highest planes of consciousness. The illusion of separation is most pronounced in the physical plane, and minimal on the subtlest plane. Though even the seventh or highest plane is still very subtly tainted with the illusion of separation, it is primarily illumined by the realization of the Absolute. Each plane is a mixture of separation and unity, the proportions differing and therefore distinguishing each plane. Only the Absolute, which is beyond and yet the base of all seven levels, is free of the illusion of separation. Suffering begins with the arising of the ‘belief’ in separation, because the belief (and therefore the emergence of the experience) that one exists as a separate being causes a deep and fundamental feeling, even if largely subconscious, that one is no longer whole. One has projected an idea onto one’s true nature that is not true, and that makes one less than what one really is. We cannot exist as a separate being unless we identify with being ‘this’ and not ‘that’. As soon as we do this, we will experience, deep within our being, a feeling of incompleteness and lack that results from falsely separating ourselves from our total nature.
Separate identity is a limitation, a ‘superimposition’ as Shankara called it, on our true nature. Our true nature continues to exist because it is the eternal Truth, but now a false idea of a separate existence has ‘emerged within’ the Absolute. The incompleteness and lack that are inevitable characteristics of this experience of separation are the core of our suffering. This leads to the desire to fill the lack, to search for what is missing. Many false understandings arise of what will fulfill us, leading to the creation of many stories of searching, frustration, temporary fulfillment and happiness, disappointment, loss, learning and more searching – until we realize that the root cause of this suffering is the belief that we are separate in the first place. See also Ego, Suffering, Ignorance, Nondual, Awakening, Duhkha, Planes of Consciousness, Superimposition, Impermanence.
Seven Factors of Enlightenment – In his teachings about the path of awareness or mindfulness (‘vipassana’), the Buddha identified seven qualities that he described as the factors that make enlightenment possible. He taught that these seven qualities need to be deeply developed and balanced with each other in our practice, which will purify our nature and ripen our consciousness for the realization of nirvana. These seven factors are: mindfulness or awareness, equanimity, investigation, tranquility, effort, concentration and rapture. Mindfulness is considered the central and balancing factor, and the other six can be viewed as three energizing factors (rapture, effort and investigation), and three stabilizing factors (concentration, tranquility and equanimity). In vipassana practice, these seven qualities are practiced in the context of cultivating awareness of mental and physical phenomena as they arise, moment to moment, in one’s experience. See also Vipassana, Awareness Practice, Soul, Quality.
Shabda Brahman – A Sanskrit term from the Hindu tradition. Shabda means ‘sound’, and Brahman in this context means ‘God’ or the ‘Absolute’. This is essentially a Hindu equivalent for Logos or the Personal Absolute – God manifesting as transcendent Sound/Consciousness/Power. It is the same as the universal nada or ‘music of the spheres’, and is also synonymous with Saguna Brahman, or ‘God with Attributes’. See also Logos, Christ Logos, Brahman, Nada.
Shakti – A Sanskrit word from Hindu Tantrism meaning ‘power’, Shakti is the feminine aspect of the universal polarity (Shiva/Shakti, Spirit/Nature, Male/Female, Christ Logos/Holy Spirit). As the universal Goddess, Shakti is worshipped in Tantrism as the creative, dynamic aspect of the universe. She is experienced both as a universal principle in creation, as well as a Deity – the personification of the Feminine. See also Holy Spirit, Archangel, Shiva, Nature.
Shamballa – Sanskrit. Name of a mythical kingdom in both the Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist traditions, spelt and known variously as Shambhala, Jhambhala and Shangri-Lha. In the Tantric scriptures of Tibetan or Vajrayana Buddhism, Shamballa (spelt and known variously as Shamballa, Shambhala, Jambhala and Shangri-Lha) is discussed as a pure land existing in cosmic etheric energy above the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, where buddhas of supreme levels of planetary and cosmic realisation dwell in their subtle bodies. It is where Gautama Buddha is understood to have taught the Kalachakra Tantra, one of the unsurpassed Tantras that deals with the cosmic ecology within which we find our place, and the revelation of our primordial Buddha-nature.
This reflects the teachings on Shamballa given out by those Masters associated with the Trans-Himalayan tradition through such workers as Helena Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, Helena Roerich, Lucille Cedercrans, and recently through Bruce Lyon.
In these teachings, Shamballa could be understood to have an outer, inner and occult significance.
The outer significance relates to Shamballa as the planetary crown chakra of the planetary Logos of the Earth and as an immense vortex of energy in which the kosmic presence, mind and purpose of that being, whose level of awakening, self-identification, consciousness and realm access abides on the kosmic mental plane, is anchored in the presence of a Sanat Kumara, known in the Kalachakra as the ‘Rigden King’, who embodies its kosmic etheric Life-force principle on the kosmic physical plane. The planetary crown chakra and the seat of planetary Power and Will. Within the solar system the planet Uranus holds the same role; in our local stellar system, it is embodied by the being of the Great Bear, and in the galactic system, it is the supermassive black hole at the galactic core. Within this spiritual ecology, the Trans-Himalayan teachings understand the planetary throat chakra to be embodied by humanity, and the planetary heart chakra by the great community of liberated Bodhisattvas and Masters/spirit elders who achieved liberation in ages past, and who remain within the planetary sphere to serve the revelation of that Purpose on Earth.
According to its inner significance, Shamballa is the monad or nucleus of divine spirit that is our non-dual root. It is the seminal point of pure Being and Life that transcends, includes and penetrates the soul and personality aspects, and is anchored in the Heart.
The secret, alternative or occult significance of Shamballa is the One Absolute Life that is the nondual Great Perfection of the ALL. In this definition, the outer and inner meanings find their synthesis.
At this present time of human evolution, there is an activation of the Earth’s chakras occurring, with the energy of Shamballa, the planetary crown chakra, being released into humanity, the creative planetary throat chakra, for the first time. This is known as the ‘Shamballa force’, and these cyclic points of release of this energy, which occur every 25 years, are known as the Shamballa Impacts. It is only since the commencement of these Shamballa Impacts that the current of ‘electric fire’ in Self-realization that flows from this centre of planetary Power has begun to impact humanity as a whole, resulting in non-dual awakening and identification with the will or evolutionary drive of the planetary Logos occurring more and more outside of any tradition or lineage. See also Trans-Himalayan tradition, Buddhism, Planetary Logos.
Shankara – Also Sankara, or Shankaracharya, the renowned Hindu sage and espouser of Advaita Vedanta, believed to have lived around 700 – 800 AD. Said to have awakened at a very young age, and to have been a brilliant student and debater, Shankara left a tremendous legacy of writings (including Tantric and devotional writings and hymns) and tradition. Widely revered as one of the greatest sages of India. See also Advaita Vedanta.
Shikantaza – A term from Japanese Soto Zen: literally shikan – ‘nothing but’, ta – ‘precisely’, za – ‘sitting’. A form of zazen or awareness practice in which no support is used for concentration such as the breath or a visualization. One simply sits in a state of relaxed but very alert awareness, open to whatever may arise in consciousness, allowing all levels of phenomena to pass by without preference or seeking to control or influence anything. In the teachings of the Zen master Dogen, shikantaza should also be accompanied by a profound lack of trying to attain anything, including striving for enlightenment. Instead, one sits with a deep faith that one is already intrinsically a buddha, and that sitting represents a natural opening to realizing this already existing fact. This is coupled with the teaching of ‘practice/enlightenment’ – the notion that one does not sit to achieve enlightenment, but rather that the practice is simply a natural expression of enlightenment, and that through sitting one will realize this truth more fully. Shikantaza is a very nondual form of awareness practice that is based on breaking down the separation of practice as an effort to achieve something, and the state of enlightenment itself; and also breaking down the separation between oneself and our innate Buddha-nature. See also Awareness Practice, Zazen, Vipassana, Buddha Nature.
Shiva – Sanskrit. Used in the Hindu tradition with various related meanings – one of the most common being as part of the Hindu trinity of Deities (all part of one Godhead just as in the Christian trinity): Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer (meaning the Deity of death, including the death of the ego). The second meaning, which is similar but not identical to the first, is used in the tantric teachings where Shiva represents the personification of the masculine principle – pure formless consciousness (the observer as opposed to the observed), of the Absolute. Shiva is symbolically represented as the ascetic yogi, seated in the lotus posture on a mountain top, identified with universal being and consciousness and profoundly, blissfully detached from the whole cosmic drama. Shiva in this context is in a complimentary polar relationship to Shakti, the Absolute personification or principle of expression, manifestation, movement and energy. Shiva is passive and Shakti is active. See also Shakti, Tantra, Christ Logos.
Siddha Tradition – Refers to a tantric tradition of India with two main subdivisions – the Nathas of Northern India and the Maheshvaras of the South. The Sanskrit word siddha means ‘perfected’, indicating the common tantric concept of a spiritual practice that includes a perfected transformation of the human body and personality, so that all of human nature is included in the spiritual path, and all latent siddhis or spiritual powers are awakened as an expression of actualizing full human spiritual potential. The Northern tradition, which was also absorbed by Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Tantra, recognized eighty-four maha-siddhas or ‘great masters’ who lived mostly during the first millennium and up to around 1200 AD. Among these are included the Indian Buddhist master Nagarjuna (the great Mahayana philosopher and bodhisattva), and the beloved Tibetan Buddhist yogi Milarepa. Many of these maha-siddhas are also recognized by the Hindus, the Northern Siddha tradition incorporating both Hindu and Buddhist tantra. The Southern tradition historically recognizes eighteen maha-siddhas, including Agastyar and Boganathar. These also include adepts from other regions including China and even Egypt. The great masters Babaji and Mataji were initiated through this tradition. Many of the maha-siddhas of these lineages achieved soruba samadhi or ‘immortality’ and are believed to have often remained in incarnation for many hundreds of years (Nagarjuna is an example of this). The Siddha Tradition continues to be active in the world today. As a tantric lineage, the Siddha Tradition emphasizes harnessing and perfecting the psychophysical nature, and is thus a more profoundly world-integrated form of spirituality. See also Babaji, Mataji, Tantra, Trans-Himalayan School.
Soul – Used in many spiritual teachings and philosophies with various meanings. According to the traditions, as much as we are each personalities, at a more fundamental level, i.e. at a depth of our being at which more of reality is included in an integral embrace, we are souls – beings of innate love, and wisdom, journeying over aeons through the Earth School (and elsewhere) into greater and greater light. This is the intermediate depth of our being between the personal self and the monadic or Self-realized Self. It is a level, found and experienced as we venture and abstract our awareness ever deeper into the subtlest reaches of the mind and beyond, on whose involutionary arc the boundaries between self and other are not yet fully crystallized. Thus at the level of the subtle soul, the walls of separation between beings begin to markedly recede, and the fabric of kosmic space upon which the hieroglyphs of Truth are written, is more nakedly exposed to the soul’s already illumined mind. Souls are thus characterized as interpenetrating spheres of consciousness and subtle energy, each holographically identified with the nature of each, with the reality of our interconnectedness, interdependence and collective story of becoming so clear to all that love and wisdom, which qualities the traditions primarily associate with this depth of identity, are seen as “pure reason”. This is the depth at which truly selfless and compassionate love exists as the basis of all relationship. See also Permanent Personality, Personality, Self, Planes of Consciousness, Presence, Quality, Intuition.
Sound Current – See Nada.
Spirit – The Hebrew word for ‘spirit’, ruah, means ‘wind’, ‘breath’ or ‘life-force’, and synonymous with the Trans-Himalayan term, ‘monad’. The term ‘spirit’, therefore, has been used with various meanings, including the animating essence or life principle of anything – a tree, a nation, a worldview, a movement or the universe. In the Trans-Himalayan teachings, the term ‘spirit’ is typically used to mean the deepest individualized essence of a being. This is distinguished from both the outer appearance or temporary form of a being or person (the personality), and the inner soul or spiritual self. The ‘spirit’ or ‘monad’ is more essential than the soul and personality, and includes both a radically awakened and a continually deepening aspect to it. The former rests in a state of unbroken nondual or universal recognition – a state of direct realization of its nondual or Absolute nature, and the nondual nature of everything. The latter, in the most advanced stages of unfolding and once the personality and soul have been brought to full development, continues to deepen its self-abstraction into kosmic spheres and realms in identification with the planetary, solar, and galactic beings within whom it finds its place as it takes one of the seven paths. See also Soul, Personality, Planes of Consciousness, Self, Presence, Nondual, Monad.
Spiritual Kingdoms – See Kingdoms
St. John of the Cross – (1542-91) a Spanish mystic and poet, is considered by some to be the greatest Western authority on mysticism and one of Spain’s finest poets. He entered a Carmelite monastery in 1563 and was ordained a priest in 1567. Dissatisfied with the laxity of the order, he began to work for the reform of the Carmelites. With Saint Teresa of Avila, he founded the Discalced Carmelites. Saint John showed the sensitivity of a poet and mystic combined with the insight of a psychologist and philosopher, which made his writings unusually powerful. His most important writings are The Spiritual Canticle, written during his imprisonment in 1578; The Ascent of Mt. Carmel and Dark Night of the Soul, written shortly afterward; and The Living Flame of Love, completed by 1583. These poems deal with the purification of the soul–through detachment and suffering–in its mystical journey toward God and give a detailed description of the three stages of mystical union: purgation, illumination, and union. His insights into the dark night of the soul alone are a profound contribution to world spirituality. Saint John was canonized in 1726. See also Esoteric Christianity, Dark Night of the Soul.
Stream-Enterer – Term used by the Buddha to refer to someone having past the first stage of awakening or initiation into the spiritual life. The terms stream-entry or –enterer, or ‘entering the stream’, refers to the Buddha’s image of someone who, having past through this gate or portal, has entered the ‘stream to nirvana’. Such a person is considered in Buddhism (and in other traditions having a similar notion) to have passed a major milestone in their spiritual evolution, and to have various characteristics including having established a fairly firm foundation in the Dharma or spiritual life, and of needing no more than seven incarnations further in order to achieve Arhatship or the 4th initiation. This stage is called ‘the station of the heart’ in Sufism, and is called initial kensho or satori in Zen, and is also equivalent to the third Zen Ox-herding picture (a series of 10 pictures symbolizing stages of the path). See also Initiation, Arhat, Satori.
Subconscious – The level of the mind or field of consciousness not generally accessible to the conscious awareness of the individual. The subconscious can be seen as having various layers and dimensions. The deepest layer of the individual subconscious is often called the causal body (in Hinduism) or the alaya-vijnana (the ‘storehouse consciousness’ in Buddhism), where the karmic seeds of past experiences and desires that have not yet been worked out, nor are active in the current incarnation, are stored. Another layer of the subconscious is made up of elementals (desires, emotions and thoughts) that are active in one’s current incarnation but are not presently being experienced by the physical, conscious self. These aspects of the individual’s personality seek expression in their life, and may work out as the motivations or causes of their behavior, influence events and perceptions, etc., without the individual being particularly conscious of their influence or presence (hence subconscious). The personal, emotional subconscious is particularly associated with the solar plexus chakra, although various dimensions of the subconscious can be accessed through each chakra. Spiritual practice involves not only developing spiritual wisdom, love and other qualities, but also cleansing and transforming the content of the conscious and subconscious mind, which is essential to full enlightenment. See also Elementals, Chakras, Samskara.
Suffering – See Duhkha, Ignorance and Separation.
Sunyata – See Emptiness.
Sushumna Nadi – The central nadi that runs along the center of the spine from the root chakra to the crown chakra. It is the most important nadi in the etheric body along which the kundalini ascends in its journey to the crown, and is the only nadi that proceeds to the crown chakra. The ida and pingala nadis run along either side of the sushumna nadi. See Nadi(s), Ida Nadi, Pingala Nadi, Etheric Body, Kundalini, Amrita Nadi.
Sutratma – It is via the sutratma, translated as the ‘life-thread’, that the monadic or spirit depth of the self is anchored in the heart chakra. While the antahakana or the bridge in consciousness between the various aspects of our being and the cosmos is described as ‘broken’, requiring construction over time, the sutratma is ever present and intact in all beings. This means that while one’s ability to experience and work through the more subtle expressions of consciousness requires work and spiritual unfoldment over a long time, contact and identification with the life aspect (the monad or spirit), in its cosmic will, purpose, power and being, is ever available to all beings. In a cosmic sense, the sutratma is the channel of spirit that passes from the black hole at the core of the galaxy where the Life, Purpose and Will of the galactic Logos is anchored, through the sun, where the Life, Purpose and Will of the solar Logos is anchored, via the Life, Purpose and Will that human beings as spirit are in Shamballa, to the centre of the Earth, where the Life and planetary kundalini of the Earth Logos is anchored. When a human being experiences what is called monadic identification, it is an unmediated and direct experience of oneself AS the cosmic life-force and one’s participation in the continuous and unbroken transmission of this radically awake, Self-aware energy, from the galactic centre via the sun to the core of the Earth. See also Logoi, Monad, Self, Antahkarana, Life.
Symbol of Life – The key symbol used in Christian Kabalistic practice based on the visualization of, and meditation on, a yantra- or mandala-like image with ten primary centers and numerous pathways connecting them. The centers and paths are related, in part, to the chakra system, and the Symbol is visualized as superimposed over the human form and is built into one’s etheric body, and eventually into the etheric astral and mental bodies as well. Although appearing as a two-dimensional image when in picture form, the actual Symbol or living elemental that the practitioner builds eventually becomes multi-dimensional. Contained within the Symbol is the entire path of Kabalah. The practitioner not only builds the Symbol of Life into their bodies so that it becomes an integral part of their permanent personality, but they also meditate on the Symbol and perform other exercises that lead gradually to its mastery. Called the ‘Tree of Life’ in Jewish Kabalah, the symbol apparently first emerged in the Egyptian mysteries, was then was transformed also into the Jewish form, and later into another, Christian version called the ‘Symbol of Life’. See Kabalah, Yantra, Mandala, Daskalos, Esoteric Christianity, Permanent Personality, Chakras, Etheric Body.
Synthesis – A term used in the Trans-Himalayan teachings for the non-dual oneness, which transcends and includes duality, which is experienced in monadic or Self-realization. See also Awakening, Monad, Self, Spirit.
Tantra – Sanskrit. Term used in both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions to refer to a philosophy and broad set of practices usually characterized by an approach to realizing the nondual Absolute through: an integration of male and female energies; a deep respect for the feminine and often an emphasis on the worship of the Goddess; often working with chakras, subtle energy, sexuality and kundalini; and a tendency to seek to honor and work to transform matter, form, nature, desire and the body, rather than ignore, reject or remain indifferent to these aspects. Some forms of tantra, then, are open to working with certain practices that would be considered taboo in other teachings, including sexual practices, which are not universally practiced in tantric approaches. See also Agni Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Tantric Yoga.
Tantric Yoga – The tantric path is also practiced in many forms. Kundalini yoga is a form of tantric yoga, although tantra also extends to, or includes, other forms as well. Like raja and kundalini yogas, tantra is a comprehensive path that may incorporate ritual, devotion, technical practices, mantra, nada yoga, visualization and many other practices. Tantra is especially an approach to spirituality that is characterized by an honoring or worship of the feminine, cultivation of the inner marriage of male and female, seeing the body as sacred, sacred sexuality, and a spirit of transformation and integration of desire and our bodily nature (rather than renunciation). See also Yoga, Tantra, Kundalini Yoga, Integral Path, Agni Yoga.
Tao(ism) – Taoism (known as Tao Chi or ‘The School of the Way’ in China) is a spiritual tradition that was founded (or at least made better known) by the Chinese sage Lao Tzu around 600 BC, about the same time period as the Buddha, although it appears that Taoism existed before Lao Tzu. The Tao is the nameless, transcendent Reality. Essentially identical to the Absolute or nondual Reality, Tao means literally ‘the Way’. Similar to related terms in other teachings such as nirvana or Buddha Nature in Buddhism, Brahman in Hinduism, on so on, the Tao transcends and yet includes all concepts about it.As with the term Dharma, the Tao has several levels of meaning. The first and most profound, as indicated above, is the Tao as the transcendent Absolute. The second level is the Tao as immanent in the universe, an active power expressing the evolution, natural way or ordering principle of life. Finally, the Tao also means the ‘way to live’, the teachings and practices through which one harmonizes one’s own understanding and energy with the universal Tao. So contained in the term the Tao is expressed the idea of the transcendent reality, the immanent Christ Spirit and the path of harmony and awakening. See Dharma, Chinese School, Nondualism, Absolute, Buddha Nature.
Teachers – Spiritual teachers are widely recognized as playing a central role on the path of awakening. The significance of the teacher may vary considerably from path to path. In Theravada Buddhism, for instance, the teacher has an important but less fundamental position than in many guru-centered path, and is called a ‘spiritual friend’. In other paths, the teacher can be considered so important as to be viewed as the path itself. Teachers may vary as to their level of development as well. The various forms of teachers may include parents, mentors, school teachers/professors, spiritual educators, strongly awakened teacher/gurus, and Self-Realized teachers and gurus. The deeper dimensions of spiritual transmission and initiation involve the capacity of the teacher to directly transmit spiritual energy/realization from the teacher to the student. This is particularly useful in tantric and deeply nondual transmissions. The teacher does not need to be in physical incarnation, and the Trans-Himalayan teachings recognize a subtle level meta-sangha of liberated teachers, sages and siddhas who remain within the planetary aura to serve the evolution and awakening on Earth, and with whom relationship and studentship may be cultivated. That said, most students, however, do not grow as efficiently without some form of physical level instruction and guidance. Most students on the path have an inner teacher and frequently have more than one, although one teacher in particular may come to be considered what Tibetan Buddhists call the ‘root guru’ or primary teacher. Students do not physically know their inner root guru although they may have one or more physical teachers who they also study with. See Guru, Initiation, Hierarchy.
Theosophy – Meaning ‘love/knowledge of God’, theosophy has been used to mean spiritual study and practice, and recently used as the name for the teachings of an organization by that name founded in 1875 by H. P. Blavatsky, H. S. Olcott and W. Q. Judge. These are understood as the First Phase of the Trans-Himalayan tradition.
The spiritual founder and initial primary teacher for the Theosophical Society was Blavatsky, who was h a student of several Eastern masters – particularly her own guru known as the Master Morya, the Master Kuthumi, and their master (and Blavatsky’s mahaguru) called by them the ‘Mahachohan’, all of whom Blavatsky trained with in Tibet in the late 1860s. The stated purpose of the Theosophical Society was/is to help establish a movement of universal brotherhood, to encourage the comparative study of the world’s religions, philosophies and science, and to encourage the study of human nature and the hidden potentials in humanity. Blavatsky’s teachers stated that a primary motivation they had in sending Blavatsky into the world to start the TS was inspired by their appreciation that the world was entering a time of convergence of Eastern and Western cultures, and their desire to seek to foster a mutual appreciation of the best that each culture had to offer. The TS was conceived of as an experiment in such an endeavor.
A central teaching of Theosophy is the existence of a universal community of spiritual adepts throughout the world, a kind of integrated ‘planetary spiritual lineage’, who work together for world enlightenment and share a single ‘secret doctrine’ or anciently transmitted spiritual understanding. There are similar beliefs in other traditions such as within Taoism, Hinduism and Sufism. Blavatsky’s teachers were members of this esoteric community.
During the first quarter of the twentieth century, Theosophy was largely influenced by a new generation of teachers including Charles Leadbeater and Annie Besant, who added much new material while also contradicting some of Blavatsky’s teachings. These and other differences have lead to several sub-movements within Theosophy. Also, several spin-off or related movements formed under Theosophy’s influence, such as Alice Bailey, Rudolph Steiner and Helena and Nicholas Roerich.
Krishnamurti was also originally ‘sponsored’ by the Theosophical Society, but split from Theosophy in his twenties and developed his own unique approach. Yet contrary to popular belief, he remained friendly with leading Theosophists, and never actually repudiated the claim made by some Theosophist that he was working under the inspiration of the Bodhisattva Maitreya, and to the end of his life spoke frequently about himself as an instrument of a spiritual presence he often called ‘the Other’, a presence whose identity he was unable to name. Nor did he repudiate the existence of the other planetary masters such as Blavatsky’s teachers, only saying that their presence ‘was no longer needed now that the Lord is here’. For more on this see Mary Lutyens’ three volume biography of Krishnamurti.
The Theosophical Society played a central role in the transmission of Eastern teachings to the West, making many early translations of Eastern texts, inspiring in tens of thousands of people interest in deeper spiritual teachings and practice, and testifying to the existence of largely unseen planetary bodhisattvas throughout the world. Theosophy also directly or indirectly influenced the lives of many others who went on to contribute to the spiritual renaissance now emerging in the West. Also, the Theosophical Society helped rejuvenate Indian spirituality, which was suffering under the influence of British rule, Western materialism and worldly ambition, and helped the resurgence of Buddhism in various parts of Asia where it had also fallen into quiescence. The most controversial aspects of Theosophy remain its teachings about the existence of a universal planetary lineage of masters, and the existence of their body of esoteric teachings, which she and others claimed Theosophy offered a small but significant insight into. Yet there has developed a large body of credible evidence and testimony supporting the truth of these claims, collected from many sources including much that is non-Theosophical. Because of various excesses and limitations, the influence of the Theosophical Society has significantly lessened and much of its earlier value is overlooked at this time. Yet there remain various interesting contributions from Theosophical teachings that will likely be more widely appreciated in time. See also Trans-Himalayan Tradition, Planetary Lineage, Babaji, Blavatsky, Bailey, A. A.
Three Views, The – The three views of spiritual practice refers to the three fundamental approaches or spirits in which spiritual practice can be pursued. These may be referred to as the traditional path, the path of tantra or transformation, and the nondual paths. Most paths emphasize the traditional approach, while some add the tantric and/or nondual. The traditional path is characterized by the perspective of viewing practice as a process of negating or detaching from negative qualities and behaviors, and affirming positive ones. The tantric view is based on the understanding that negative or obstructing characteristics can be transformed so that they enrich our spirituality and path, rather than simply being rejected or detached from. The nondual approach is the based on access to the state of nondual contemplation, from which all arising karmic limitations are directly experienced as intrinsically divine or of the same nature of the Absolute, and are thereby illuminated through the perception of their absolute nature. In the nondual view, karma or limiting characteristics such as ego and desire are transfigured through realizing their true nature, rather than through an attempt to let them go or transform them. This does not mean that in the nondual view the relative nature or imperfection of something is ignored. But awareness of the relative nature of something does not eclipse awareness of its transcendent nature. Each of these three views correspond to the First, Second and Third Phases of the Trans-Himalayan teaching, respectively. See also Tantra, Nondual, Hindrances, Sahaja Samadhi, Initiation.
Tonglen – A compassion practice from Tibetan Buddhism based on breathing into oneself the suffering of others, and breathing out healing, peace and well-being. See also Bodhisattva.
Trans-Himalayan School – A term used in the Trans-Himalayan tradition for One of the global brances of the One Planetary School of evolution and awakening on Earth having its central location in the Trans-Himalayan range of mountains, yet having its adepts spread throughout the world – principally also in India, the Middle East, Russia, Europe, North Africa and now North America. This school is most anciently connected to Hinduism (or the Sanatana-Dharma or ‘Ageless Wisdom’), but also with its many offshoots and direct progeny including Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam (and Sufism), the Egyptian Mysteries and others. The latter, more geographically distant traditions were typically inspired or founded by inner inspiration rather than physical transmission. The Trans-Himalayan School is less directly connected to the Chinese and Far Eastern schools (except primarily through the influence of Buddhism), the Native American, Australian, African and other shamanistic and aboriginal traditions, or the Central and South American traditions such as the Aztec, Mayan and Incan. The Trans-Himalayan School is one of several main branches of the planetary spiritual lineage, another having its central location in the Kunlun Mountains of China, and another in the mountains of South America. It is also especially strongly affiliated with the Southern Indian lineage (see Siddha Tradition).The senior masters of the Trans-Himalayan School incarnate throughout the above mentioned regions (India, Europe, etc.), some being more visible to humanity such as Moses, Jesus, Plato, Shankara, Padmasambhava, Kabir, Ramana Maharshi, Ananda Moyi Ma, etc., and others working more ‘behind the scenes’ such as the now famous Babaji and Mataji (first identified to the world by Yogananda), and those made known by such people as Blavatsky (including such individuals as the Masters Kuthumi, Djwhal Khul, Serapis Bey, Hilarion and Morya). The Sufis hold that there are usually over 300 fully liberated bodhisattvas who are members of this lineage working in the world, in physical incarnation, at any given time – many or most of whom are unknown to humanity. This core group of teachers are what might be termed ‘liberated bodhisattvas’ in that they have all achieved liberation from personal karma and are pursuing the path to buddhahood. Blavatsky met about two dozen of them, many of whom have also occasionally been met by others, even as recently as the 1990s such as Babaji in India and the Master Hilarion in the Sudan. They form a community of liberated planetary servers, working in conscious collaboration for world enlightenment. Although the Trans-Himalayan School enjoys a profound solidarity in the inner dimensions of our planet, only a relatively small number of its core members in the physical world recognize and consciously participate in this solidarity of vision and activity. Most of its members in the physical world (especially those who are not yet fully liberated) are currently too identified with their outer lineage affiliations (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc.). Many groups and individuals in both the East and West know of the existence of these primary lineages or planetary traditions. See Sanatana-Dharma, Theosophy, Chinese School, Planetary Lineage, Bodhisattva, Shamballa, Initiation, Babaji, Bailey, Blavatsky, Rig Veda, Hierarchy.
Trans-Himalayan Tradition – A spiritual tradition that emerged towards the end of the 19th Century, continuing to the present day, and that is understood to have three phases to its development. The Tibetan Master Djwhal Khul in his work with Alice Bailey considered this perspective in most detail, though Blavatsky also hinted in The Secret Doctrine that there would be a continuity to the revelation of the Hierarchical teachings.
The first of the three phases of the Trans-Himalayan tradition involved the work of Helena Blavatsky principally (in partnership with Col. Olcott), and the founding of the Theosophical Society. It also included the work of such disciples as Alfred Sinnett, W. Q. Judge, Annie Besant, Charles Leadbeater, Mabel Collins, Francia LaDue and Rudolf Steiner. This phase of work entailed the first modern spiritual and cultural exchange between Eastern and Western paths of spirituality, cosmology, philosophy and scientific thought, and the prevalence of Eastern philosophy in Western culture today as well as the increasing interface between science and spirituality certainly stems from the pioneering work of these early Theosophists.
The second phase involved the work of Alice Bailey, who worked with the Tibetan Master Djwhal Khul. Together they collaborated on 24 books of esoteric philosophy and science, while Alice and her husband, Foster Bailey, established the Lucis Trust, which still today holds under its umbrella the Arcane School, Lucis Publishing, and World Goodwill, an educational initiative that seeks to promote right human relations over the globe. The second phase also involved the work of other disciples such as Helena and her husband Nicolas Roerich. Helena worked with the Master Morya to put out the Agni Yoga books, while her husband, Nicolas, remains one of the foremost spiritually influenced artists of the 20th Century. Lucille Cedercrans is another worker of definite note to the second phase. She worked with the Master Rakoczi on the ‘New Thoughtform Presentation of the Wisdom’, in much the same manner that Bailey worked with Djwhal Khul and Roerich worked with Morya.
In his work with Bailey, the Master Djwhal Khul suggested that the third phase of the teachings would emerge around the year of 2025, but that teachings preparatory to the third phase would emerge in the early part of the 21st Century. In this connection, Djwhal Khul has suggested that the third phase of teachings would have the non-dual reality of spirit, the crown chakra of our planetary Life that is Shamballa, and the universal story within which humanity finds its place, as the primary focus. These teachings have been emerging through collaboration between Djwhal Khul and a worker in New Zealand, Bruce Lyon, through the Shamballa School group, since the turn of the millennium.
In one of the books published as a result of this recent collaboration between the Master Djwhal Khul and Bruce Lyon, Occult Cosmology, the Tibetan Master reviews the Theosophical tradition until the present day in each of its phases, and suggests that each phase can be understood to play a particular role in the awakening of that group of souls for whom they are intended. The 1st phase is described as orienting the soul that is functioning through the mind to the spiritual realities, and this can be clearly seen to be the case with the work of the early Theosophists. The 2nd phase is described as providing a body of teaching that allows the soul-in-mind to participate in the evolution of consciousness and the working out of the Plan. This can be seen in the incredibly detailed picture of the evolving planetary and solar ecologies within which we find our place given in these teachings, and the methods whereby we can enter into relationship with that process. The keynote of the 3rd phase is described as incorporating a set of teachings that may bring release to the soul from the mind entirely, so that it may potently take up its position in one of the Ashrams and “onward move in Life”. Djwhal Khul is careful in this teaching to instruct his students to erect no barriers of separation between the three phases. He notes that souls with varying dharmas will be attracted to work with one, two or all three phases, as is their calling. It is within the Synthesis of the One and the Many, which is revealed in Spirit, that the relation between the three phases should be understood. See also, Helena Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, Helena Roerich, Bruce Lyon, Djwhal Khul, Morya, Rakozci, Trans-Himalayan School, Master, Guru, Initiation, Hierarchy, Theosophy.
Tree of Life – See Symbol of Life.
True-nature – Same as Buddha Nature, Absolute, Brahman, etc.
Vedas – The oldest scriptures of the Hindu tradition in four collections, the oldest being the Rig Veda, which probably dates to at least five or more thousand years ago, and therefore is likely the most ancient spiritual text of humanity. It was composed by rishis or ‘seers’, spiritual visionary sages, in the form of hymns or poems, in mantric verse, and considered by the Hindus to be revealed knowledge (which is what ‘veda’ means). Most of the later Hindu teachings refer to the Vedas as foundational authorities. See Rig Veda, Agni, Mantra, Sanatana-Dharma.
Vipassana – Perhaps the most characteristic form of meditation practice taught by the Buddha, representing a significant deviation from much of the spiritual practices used in Hinduism. The Buddha used the practice of vipassana to attain his full enlightenment after spending years working with other forms of practices – particularly those emphasizing concentration leading to internal samadhi. Vipassana means ‘clear view or seeing’, referring to the essence of vipassana as having to do with cultivating pure, non-judgmental awareness – also sometimes called ‘bare attention’. This is essentially a sustained, concentrated form of objective, neutral observation that does not seek escape from life experience, but instead seeks to remain fully present and at peace.The ‘view’ or insight generated by vipassana practice is at its heart twofold. Vipassana practice, while stimulating various levels of intuitive insight, gradually generates a fundamentally liberating insight sometimes called ‘insight into the three characteristics’. These three are understood to be characteristics of all phenomena including bodies, thoughts, objects of sensation and even of oneself. This is the ‘view’ or insight that everything perceived, and the perceiver itself, is characterized by being impermanent, lacking ultimate separate self-status, and therefore being unsatisfying or unfulfilling to seek or cling to. This growing intuitive realization causes a natural falling off of desires and attachments as a result of disillusionment with desiring that which is impermanent. The ripening of these insights clears the way for a direct insight into what is beyond all phenomena – physical, mental and spiritual – which is nirvana. Vipassana, or pure observation, leads to deep and disillusioning insight into the limitations of belief in a separate self and attachment to phenomena, and a penetrating insight into the nature of another and unlimited mode of being – nirvana. Full realization of nirvana, which can be attained through sustained vipassana, brings final freedom from ego and suffering.Vipassana can be distinguished from most other forms of meditation in that vipassana is based on an emphasis on an open awareness rather than on a more selective form of concentration as with, for instance, practices using as a focus a mantra, a visualization, an idea or virtue, a chakra or the sound current (nada). Vipassana is also often called in the West insight meditation or mindfulness meditation. See also Awareness Practice, Zazen, Shikan-taza, Samadhi, Meditation, Nirvana, Impermanence, Seven Factors of Enlightenment.
Wu-wei – Chinese; literally ‘nondoing’. A term used in Taoism to refer to the state of enlightened, spontaneous activity characteristic of liberation (or sahaja samadhi in Vedanta). Wu-wei is ‘unmotivated’ behavior, arising from the Tao or nondual reality, beyond personal desire or control, fully in harmony with Nature. This type of behavior does not arise from an interest in accomplishing anything, or intervening, manipulating or seeking something. Yet wu-wei is fully appropriate to each situation, expressing a full and natural integration with life. The activity of wu-wei expresses the state of liberated, enlightened being spontaneously and effortlessly in each moment. Wu-wei is referred to as ‘entering the great non-action’ in Dzogchen, or the state of ‘choiceless’ activity. Awakening to wu-wei is spoken of in the Bhagavad-Gita as finding ‘action in inaction, and inaction within action’. See also Sahaja Samadhi, Tao(ism).
Yantra – A Sanskrit word meaning ‘device’, a yantra is a geometric representation of spiritual realities and Deities. Commonly used in Hindu tantric practice, yantras often represent both the human microcosm (our constitution and energy system), and the macrocosm. An example from the Western traditions of such a yantra is the Tree of Life (or Symbol of Life) from the Kabalah. Yantras are also commonly conceived of as being the body of a Deity, just as the mandalas of Tibetan Buddhism are considered manifestations of the enlightened consciousness of various Deities (Buddhas and Bodhisattvas). There are also yantras associated with the Deities of Hinduism. The most well known Hindu yantra is the Sri Yantra, composed of nine interlocking triangles, five pointing downward representing Shakti, and four upward representing Shiva, together forming various six-pointed stars. These are surrounded by two circles of petals, enclosed in circles and other geometric shapes. This yantra is used in Hindu and Tibetan Tantra to represent the structure of the universe as well as human consciousness. See Tantra, Symbol of Life, Mandala.
Yoga – A Sanskrit term from the root yuj, meaning to “yoke” or “harness”. The two most common meanings of the term yoga in a spiritual context are the state of union with God or enlightenment (however defined), or the path to attaining this state. When we find the term yoga as part of a name such as jnana yoga or karma yoga, the primary meaning is usually as designating a path to awakening. For instance, karma yoga may be translated as “the path to liberation or enlightenment (yoga) through the practice of spiritually performed action (karma)”. See specific yogas under their headings: Agni, Ati, Bhakti, Deity, Dharma, Guru, Hatha, Jnana, Karma, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Lineage, Mantra, Nada, Purna, Raja and Tantric Yogas.
Yogananda, Paramahansa – (1893-1952), one of the first Indian masters to come to and live in the West. He began yoga practice at a very early age, which included the practice of devotion to the Divine Mother in the form of Kali, his family Deity. He was initiated into Kriya Yoga by his guru Sri Yukteswar at the age of eighteen. He received initiation into samadhi or transcendent consciousness by his guru shortly after meeting him, and continued to live at his master’s hermitage for several years. At the age of 27 he was sent to the US where he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship in 1920. He traveled extensively in the US for many years, lecturing widely and initiating thousands into Kriya Yoga. He wrote the enormously popular Autobiography of a Yogi (1946), read by many millions and instrumental in bringing large numbers of people to the spiritual path. His autobiography continues to be a best seller, and was certainly one of the most widely read spiritual books of the 20th Century. He was also author of numerous other books. The path of Kriya Yoga that Yogananda taught was given to the world by Babaji to Lahiri Mahasaya, who was Sri Yukteswar’s guru. See also Kriya Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Tantra, Babaji.
Yoga Sutras – See Patanjali.
Zazen – Term from the Japanese Zen tradition for meditation, derived from the Chinese term Ch’an, which in turn was derived from the Pali jnana, which came from the Sanskrit root dhyana, which means ‘meditation’. Several forms of zazen or sitting meditation are found in Zen – counting the breath, silently following the breath, following the breath while meditating on a koan, and shikan-taza or ‘just sitting’. A koan is a spiritual riddle or story that only makes sense to the nondual illumined intuition, but seems a paradox or nonsense to the rational mind. Zazen is a form of awareness practice that was derived from the Buddha’s teachings on vipassana or insight meditation. See also Dhyana, Vipassana, Shikan-taza, Awareness Practice.