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The Voice of the Silence – Glossary – B

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Bhagavad-Gītā[1] (Sk.) H.

A major work of Hinduism, and one of the greatest spiritual writings of humankind. It depicts man (under the character of a heroic warrior, Arjuna), facing the great problems that condition his human and divine destiny at a cyclic point in the history of humanity; his dialogue with Kṛṣṇa – pre-eminently the Master-Initiator, but also the inner source of all wisdom – reveals to him the Path of the Kingly Yoga, which integrates action and knowledge, renunciation and a generous engagement in the service of the great cosmic order. Being a book of initiation, of inexhaustible wealth, the Bhagavad-Gītā is inseparable from The Voice of the Silence in every search for spiritual life.

Bhavachakra (Sk.) B. [Wheel of Life, Fragment 2]

The “Wheel of Becoming,” often presented in the Tibetan iconography. Between the spokes of the wheel are represented the different worlds of transmigration (Saṁsāra) under the power of the demon of transience and death; in the nave of the wheel a circle of three animals (snake, rooster, pig) biting each other’s tails illustrates the fatal sequence, desire – anger – ignorance, whereas the rim divided into twelve sections by means of its illustrations, signify the twelve nidānas or factors connecting without stopping the alternation of life-death. The Voice of the Silence invites not to remain blindly attached to this wheel, but to accept the commitment and to work off the karmic causes of the past and to fulfill one’s duty during life.

Bodhgayā (Sk.: Buddhagayā) B.

One of the important holy places of Buddhism, near Gayā in Bihar (North India). There, after having meditated for 49 days under the protective canopy of the famous Bodhi-tree, Gautama attained the great light of full awakening (Bodhi). At present a large sanctuary rises behind the tree which is supposed to be an offshoot of the original tree, and Bodhgayā has a number of Buddhist temples of various nations.

Bodhi (Sk.) B. [II 2, Fragment 3]

The awakening in the one and universal Truth, the perfect wisdom or the divine knowledge making of a man an Enlightened Being (a Buddha, a word that, as does Bodhi and Buddhi, derives from the verb root budh: to be awakened or to be conscious, hence to perceive, to understand, etc.). The use of this word can have different meanings depending on the schools and the beings to which it is applied, because every degree of spiritual progress is marked by an “awakening,” peculiar to the relative truths that are discovered therein.

Bodhidharma (Sk.) B. [II 1, 2, 6]

Madame Blavatsky distinguishes two meanings: a) The Bodhidharma or Wisdom (Bodhi) – Religion (Dharma), which is present in China; b) The famous patriarch of that name (460?-534 CE) and disciple of Prajñādhāra, who founded the school Ch’an of the Mahāyāna in China around the sixth century CE.

Bodhisattva (Sk.) B. [I 33, II 38, III 26, 33, 34]

A being whose essential nature (Sattva) is enlightenment or wisdom (Bodhi), an “Enlightened Being.” In Hīnayāna Buddhism it is someone who is destined to incarnate in future as a perfect Buddha; but in Mahāyāna Buddhism the Bodhisattva has been introduced to its followers as the ideal of living the altruistic Life: as a being of compassion, the Bodhisattva exerts himself to reach total enlightenment with the purpose to save all beings: he renounces Nirvāṇa, in contrast with the Arhat of Hīnayāna or the Pratyekabuddha. Even when he has reached the end of his efforts he will remain with humanity thanks to the special body (Nirmāṇakāya) he has developed during his ascetic practice. For the Buddhists the way of a Bodhisattva (consisting of ten stages) demands a pledge and a discipline of a special nature in order to develop special “perfections” or Pāramitās. Sometimes this term is applied without distinction to anyone who is consciously in search for enlightenment, even if it is for his own benefit. See also: Dhyāni-Bodhisattva.

Bodhi tree B.

Ficus religiosa, the Bodhi (or Bo-) tree is a very common tree in India, and is famous because Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment under such a tree. A slip of the original tree which is said to have been brought to Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka in 249 BCE, is the object of great honour for many pilgrims, and the present Bodhi tree in Bodhgayā is said to be directly derived from it.

See Bodhi and Bodhgayā.

Bon (Bön) (Tib.) B. [III 11, 12]

An old religious movement of shamanistic type spread over Tibet before Buddhism. According to H.P.B. it is apparently “a degenerate rudiment of the earlier Chaldean mysteries” which has now become only “a religion based on necromancy, sorcery, and divination.” The followers of the Bon-religion – the Bonpo – are mainly divided into the white (who have an elaborate system, greatly influenced by the ideas of Buddhism) and the black, of which in general most are sorcerers and black magicians. During its establishment in Tibet, the primitive Lamaism seems to have adapted a number of typical elements of the Bon religion.

Brahm

See Brahmā.

Brahma(n) (Sk.) H. [I 28]

A neuter word signifying the Absolute, the first and ultimate Reality, “Be-ness,” far beyond all duality; Brahman is beyond every mental conception, is not limited by any existence, but is present in everything. Vedānta emphasizes the fundamental unity of Ātman (the supreme essence of the Self in each being) with this transcendental Unity.

Brahmā (Sk.) H. [I 16]

A masculine word indicating the first deity of the Hindu trinity who functions as male “creator” or rather as the awakening power and organizer of the manifested world. He is connected with the universe of forms and therefore “dies” with it as all other gods do. Not to be confused with Brahma(n).

Brahmapura (Sk.) H. [I 23]

(Also: Brahmapurī) The “city of Brahman” which is alternately situated either in heaven or on earth (then the city of Benares or Vārāṇasī). The Muaka Upaniad (II, 2, 7) holds that the Self “remains within its ethereal space, in the divine city of Brahman” – which is usually placed “in the vicinity of the heart”. See the article: “Places of Pilgrimage in India” (Theos., VII, p. 1 et seq.).

Brahmin (Sk.) H. [I 4, II 29]

(Also: Brāhmaṇa). Member of the priest caste, the highest of the four castes of Hinduism, who traditionally studies the Veda’s and performs the rituals. The Brahmins have eventually caused Buddhism to disappear from Indian soil. See also: Tīrthika.

Buddha – B. [I 33, II 4, 7, 10, 16, 38, III 32]

The Sanskrit term Buddha, meaning “awakened” or “enlightened,” applies to the awakened ones of various hierarchies, such as human (Mānuṣya) Buddhas and Divine (Dhyāni-) Buddhas. This designation was given as a title to a famous historical individuality – who was the prince of Kapilavastu and son of the king of the Śākyas and whose name, given to him by his family at his birth, was Gautama – after he had reached enlightenment (Bodhi). Other titles given to him are: Śākyamuni (the wise one of the Śākyas), Siddhārtha (he who has reached his goal); also the Tathāgata (having gone thus [to the other shore, in the tracks of others] and the Jina (conqueror). The Buddha as the example of a perfected being is the archetype of the great and holy Arhats and Adepts who follow his footsteps, but the word also serves to signify highly metaphysical realities, the highest spiritual Being (Ādi-Buddha) or hierarchies of spiritual and divine beings (Dhyāni-Buddhas).

Buddhi (Sk.) H., Th. [I 24]

In Hinduism (Bhagavad-Gītā), Buddhi is the active element of the intellect or the power of discrimination which in Antaḥkaraṇa focuses all the higher qualities of man, derived from Ātma – among which the intuition or the spiritual sense. In Theosophy, Buddhi in its cosmic sense (Mahā-Buddhi) refers to the “Soul” or the higher mental aspect of the Universe; in man Buddhi is the vehicle of Ātma, or the spiritual Soul, rooted in the universal Soul, and destined to be made active through Manas, the individualized human intelligence. See also: Kuṇḍalinī

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  1. De Bhagavad Gita is online on this website. [<<]