Dominant sub-school of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy.
In personal development, an affirmation is a form of autosuggestion in which a statement of a desirable intention or condition of the world or the mind is deliberately meditated on and/or repeated in order to implant it in the mind.
Alpha and Omega
Appellation of God in the book of Revelation (verses 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13). Its meaning is found in the fact that Alpha and Omega are respectively the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. This would be similar to referring to someone in English as “the A to Z”.
Altered States of Consciousness
Any state which is significantly different from a normative waking beta wave state. The expression was coined by Charles Tart and describes induced changes in one’s mental state, almost always temporary. A synonymous phrase is “altered states of awareness”.
Selfless concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and central to many religious traditions. In English, this idea was often described as the Golden rule of ethics. In Buddhism it is considered a fundamental property of human nature.
An angel is a supernatural being found in many religions. In scripture, they typically act as messengers, as held by the three prominent monotheistic faiths, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Refers to belief systems that, unlike Christianity, attribute personalized souls to animals, plants, and other material objects, governing, to some degree, their existence.
The concept of psychological archetypes was advanced by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, c. 1919, and generally adopted in the social sciences. In Jung’s psychological framework archetypes are innate, universal prototypes for ideas and may be used to interpret observations. A group of memories and interpretations associated with an archetype is a complex, e.g. a mother complex associated with the mother archetype.
Commonly associated with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), is the use of volatile liquid plant materials, known as essential oils (EOs), and other scented compounds from plants for the purpose of affecting a person’s mood or health.
In various descendants and offshoots of theosophy, are held to be a group of spiritually-enlightened beings, who in past incarnations were ordinary humans, but who have undergone a process of spiritual transformation.
Describes a life characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures (austerity). Those who practice ascetic lifestyles often perceive their practices as virtuous and pursue them to achieve greater spirituality.
An Ashram in ancient India was a Hindu hermitage where sages lived in peace and tranquility amidst nature. Today, the term ashram is used to refer to an intentional community formed primarily for spiritual upliftment of its members, often headed by a religious leader or mystic.
Relating to a subtle body and plane of existence that coexist with and survive the death of the human physical body.
The astral body refers to the concept of a subtle body which exists alongside the physical body, as a vehicle of the soul or consciousness. It is usually understood as being of an emotional nature and, as such, it is equated to the desire body or emotional body.
The astral plane, also called the astral world or desire world, is a plane of existence according to esoteric philosophies, some religious teachings and New Age thought.
Out-of-body experiences (OBEs) achieved either awake or via lucid dreaming, deep meditation, or use of psychotropics. The consciousness or soul has transferred into an astral body which moves in the astral plane.
Astrological Age (Cycles of the ages)
An astrological age is a time period in astrology which is believed by some to cause major changes in the Earth’s inhabitants’ development. It roughly corresponds to the time taken for the vernal equinox to move through one of the twelve constellations of the zodiac.
Astrological Age of Aquarius
Thought to bring with it an era of universal brotherhood rooted in reason where it will be possible to solve social problems in a manner equitable to all and with greater opportunity for intellectual and spiritual improvement. It is generally described by astrologers that in the Age of Aquarius there will be a blending of religion and science to such a degree that a religious science and a scientific religion will be formed.
Energy field emanating from the surface of a person or object. This emanation is visualized as an outline of cascading color and may be held to represent soul vibrations, chakric emergence, or a reflection of surrounding energy fields.
Process by which an individual trains the subconscious mind to believe something, or systematically schematizes the person’s own mental associations, usually for a given purpose. This is accomplished through self-hypnosis methods or repetitive, constant self-affirmations.
In Hindu philosophy, most commonly refers to the incarnation (bodily manifestation) of a higher being (deva), or the Supreme Being (God) onto planet Earth. The Sanskrit word avatara- literally means “descent” (avatarati) and usually implies a deliberate descent into lower realms of existence for special purposes.
The Baha’i Faith is the religion founded by Baha’u’llah in 19th century Persia. According to Baha’i teachings, religious history is seen as an evolving educational process for mankind, through God’s messengers, which are termed Manifestations of God.
The Bhagavad Gita is a Sanskrit text from the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata epic. Krishna, as the speaker of the Bhagavad Gita is referred to within as Bhagavan (the divine one), and the verses themselves are written in a poetic form that is traditionally chanted; The Bhagavad Gita is revered as sacred by the majority of Hindu traditions, and especially so by followers of Krishna.
Term within Hinduism which denotes the spiritual practice of fostering of loving devotion to God, called bhakti. Bhakti yoga is generally considered the easiest of the four general paths to liberation, or moksha (the others being Karma, Raja and Jnana Yoga), and especially so within the current age of Kali yuga (according to the Hindu cycle of time).
Biofeedback is a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) which involves measuring a subject’s bodily processes such as blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature, galvanic skin response (sweating), and muscle tension and conveying such information to him or her in real-time in order to raise his or her awareness and conscious control of the related physiological activities.
Bodhi is the Pali and Sanskrit word for (spiritual) “awakening”.
In Buddhist thought, a bodhisattva (Sanskrit) or bodhisatta (Pali) is a being who is dedicated to attaining Nirvana. Bodhisattva literally means “enlightenment (‘bodhi’) being (‘sattva’)” in Sanskrit; it also refers to the Buddha himself in his previous lives. In Mahayana philosophy, Bodhisattvas take an extra vow of not attaining Enlightenment (Nirvana) before all sentient beings have achieved complete Buddhahood.
Brahman is the concept of the supreme spirit found in Hinduism. Brahman is the unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and everything beyond in this universe. The nature of Brahman is described as transpersonal, personal and impersonal by different philosophical schools.
In Buddhism, a buddha is any being who has become fully awakened (enlightened), and has experienced Nirvana. Buddhists do not consider Siddhartha Gautama to have been the only Buddha.
Buddhism is a dharmic, non-theistic religion and a philosophy. Buddhism is also known as Buddha Dharma or Dhamma, which means the “teachings of the Awakened One” in Sanskrit and Pali, languages of ancient Buddhist texts. Buddhism was founded around the fifth century BCE by Siddhartha Gautama, hereafter referred to as “the Buddha”.
Meaning “Way of the Warrior”, is a Japanese code of conduct and a way of life, loosely analogous to the European concept of chivalry. According to the Japanese dictionary Shogakukan Kokugo Daijiten, “Bushido is defined as a unique philosophy (ronri) that spread through the warrior class from the Muromachi (chusei) period.”
The Causal body – originally Karana-Sarira – is a Yogic and Vedantic concept that was adopted and modified by Theosophy and Neo-Theosophy. It generally refers to the highest or innermost subtle body that veils the true soul.
Nexus of biophysical energy residing in the human body, aligned in an ascending column from the base of the spine to the top of the head. In various traditions chakras are associated with multiple physiological functions, an aspect of consciousness, a classical element, and other distinguishing characteristics.
Process of receiving messages or inspiration from invisible beings or spirits.
Chi (Ch’i, Qi, Ki)
Fundamental concept of traditional Chinese culture, Qi is believed to be part of every living thing that exists, as a kind of “life force” or “spiritual energy.” It is frequently translated as “energy flow,” or literally as “air” or “breath.”
The word is often misunderstood to be the surname of Jesus due to the numerous mentions of Jesus Christ in the Christian Bible. The word is in fact a title, hence its common reciprocal use Christ Jesus, meaning The Anointed One, Jesus. Followers of Jesus became known as Christians because they believed that Jesus was the Christ, or Messiah, prophesied about in the Tanakh (which Christians term the Old Testament).
Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. Christians believe Jesus to be the Son of God and the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.
Chromotherapy, sometimes called colour therapy or colourology, is an alternative medicine method. It is claimed that a therapist trained in chromotherapy can use colour and light to balance energy wherever our bodies are lacking, be it physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental.
Ability to hear things not audible within normal hearing ranges. It includes the audible perceptions of ghosts, spirits and those who are in the astral realm.
A clairsentient person is able to perceive energy fields (through physical sensations), including a person’s aura and vibrations (such as voice and how words are strung together). This may also explain the ability to “sense” the presence of non-corporeal entities, such as ghosts.
Extra-sensory perception whereas a person perceives distant objects, persons, or events, including perceiving an image hidden behind opaque objects and the detection of types of energy not normally perceptible to humans. Typically, such perception is reported in visual terms, but may also include auditory impressions (sometimes called clairaudience) or kinesthetic impressions.
Refer to the mental functions, mental processes and states of intelligent entities (humans, human organizations, highly autonomous robots), with a particular focus toward the study of such mental processes as comprehension, inferencing, decision-making, planning and learning.
Consciousness is a quality of the mind generally regarded to comprise qualities such as subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and one’s environment. It is a subject of much research in philosophy of mind, psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science.
In a religious sense it is a type of prayer or meditation. Within Western Christianity it is related to mysticism, and portrayed by the works of authors such as Teresa of Avila, Margery Kempe, Augustine Baker and Thomas Merton. In Eastern Christianity contemplation is to force all of the faculties of ones consciousness on God or things divine.
Cosmic consciousness is the concept that the universe is a living superorganism with which animals, including humans, interconnect, and forming a collective consciousness which spans the cosmos.
In religion and sociology, a cult is a term designating a cohesive group of people (generally, but not exclusively a relatively small and recently founded religious movement) devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding culture or society considers to be outside the mainstream.
In religion, folklore, and mythology a demon (or daemon) is a supernatural being that has generally been described as a malevolent spirit, and in Christian terms it generally understood as an angel not following God.
Demonology is the systematic study of demons or beliefs about demons. Insofar as it involves exegesis, demonology is an orthodox branch of theology.
The Devil is a title given to the supernatural entity, who, in Christianity, Islam, and other religions, is a powerful, evil entity and the tempter of humankind. The Devil commands a force of lesser evil spirits, commonly known as demons.
Dharma is the underlying order in nature and human life and behaviour considered to be in accord with that order. Ethically, it means ‘right way of living’ or ‘proper conduct,’ especially in a religious sense. With respect to spirituality, dharma might be considered the Way of the Higher Truths. Dharma is a central concept in religions and philosophies originating in India. These religions and philosophies are called Dharmic religions. The principal ones are Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization, thought to be authoritative and not to be disputed or doubted.
In Celtic polytheism the word druid denotes the priestly class in ancient Celtic societies, which existed through much of Western Europe north of the Alps and in the British Isles until they were supplanted by Roman government and, later, Christianity.
Dualism is the view that two fundamental concepts exist, which often oppose each other, such as good and evil, light and dark, or male and female. The word’s origin is the Latin dualis, meaning “two” (as an adjective).
Eckankar, Path of the Light and Sound of God is a teaching founded by Paul Twitchell in 1965. The teaching emphasizes the value of personal spiritual and physical experiences as the most natural way back to God and does not advocate reliance on external authority, books or dogmatic beliefs.
In spirituality, and especially nondual, mystical and eastern meditative traditions, the human being is often conceived as being in the illusion of individual existence, and separateness from other aspects of creation. This “sense of doership” or sense of individual existence is that part which believes it is the human being, and believes it must fight for itself in the world, is ultimately unaware and unconscious of its own true nature.
Possesses the ability to sense the emotions of other sentient life forms.
Energy in spirituality refers to a widespread belief in an inter- or intra-personal forces. Believers assume spiritual energy to be of a different type than those known to science, and therapies involved are often classed as alternative medicine.
In religious use, enlightenment is most closely associated with South and East Asian religious experience, being used to translate words such as (in Buddhism) Bodhi or satori, or (in Hinduism) moksha.
An entity is something that has a distinct, separate existence.
ESP (Extra Sensory Perception)
Perception that involves awareness of information about something (such as a person or event) not gained through the senses and not deducible from previous experience. Classic forms of ESP include telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition.
The term Esotericism refers to the doctrines or practices of esoteric knowledge, or otherwise the quality or state of being described as esoteric, or obscure. Esoteric knowledge is that which is specialised or advanced in nature, available only to a narrow circle of “enlightened”, “initiated”, or highly educated people. In contrast, exoteric knowledge is knowledge that is well-known or public.
In Theosophy, the etheric plane is related to the Prana principle and is understood as the vital, life-sustaining force of living beings and the vital energy in all natural processes of the universe.
The etheric body, or vital body is one of the subtle bodies in esoteric philosophies, in some religious teachings and in New Age thought. It is understood as a sort of life force body or aura that constitutes the “blueprint” of the physical body, and which sustains the physical body.
Ethics, a major branch of philosophy, is the study of values and customs of a person or group. It covers the analysis and employment of concepts such as right and wrong, good and evil, and responsibility.
In religion and ethics, evil refers to the morally or ethically objectionable behaviour or thought; behavior or thought which is hateful, cruel, excessively sexual, or violent, devoid of conscience.
Spiritual evolution is the philosophical, theological, esoteric or spiritual idea that nature and human beings and/or human culture evolve along a predetermined cosmological pattern or ascent, or in accordance with certain pre-determined potentials. The term higher evolution is used in Theosophy and in Buddhism to indicate the development of consciousness in human beings, as distinct from, although continuous with, the ‘lower’ or biological evolution within the animal kingdom up to the human level.
Existentialism is a philosophical movement which claims that individual human beings have full responsibility for creating the meanings of their own lives.
Feng shui (fengshui) is the ancient Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of space to achieve harmony with the environment. The literal translation is “wind-water”. Feng shui involves the use of geographical, psychological, philosophical, mathematical, aesthetic and astrological concepts in relation to space and energy flow.
Flotation Tank (Isolation Tank)
An isolation tank is a lightless, soundproof tank in which subjects float in salty water at skin temperature. They were first used by John C. Lilly in 1954 in order to test the effects of sensory deprivation. Such tanks are now also used for meditation, relaxation, and in alternative medicine.
Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths are one of the most fundamental Buddhist teachings. They are among the truths Gautama Buddha realized during his experience of enlightenment. The Four Noble Truths are a formulation of his understanding of the nature of “suffering”, the fundamental cause of all suffering, the escape from suffering, and what effort a person can go to so that they themselves can “attain happiness.”
Freemasonry is a fraternal organization with millions of members. It exists in various forms worldwide, with shared moral and metaphysical ideals and in most of its branches requires a constitutional declaration of belief in a Supreme Being.
The Gaia hypothesis is an ecological hypothesis that proposes that living and nonliving parts of the earth are viewed as a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism. Named after the Greek earth goddess.
Gestalt Therapy is a psychotherapy that focuses on experience in the now, the therapist-client relationship, and personal responsibility. It was co-founded by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Paul Goodman in the 1940s-1950s.
A ghost is a non-corporeal manifestation of the spirit or soul of a dead person which has remained on Earth after death.
Gnosticism (from Greek gnosis, knowledge) is a term created by modern scholars to describe a diverse, syncretistic religious movement, especially in the first centuries C.E. Gnostics believed in gnosis, the knowledge of God enabled by secret teachings.