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Daily Theosophy Glossary – C

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Daily Theosophy Glossary


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Causal Body

For a proper explanation of the doctrine connected with this term the student is referred to kāraṇa-śarīra and kāranopādhi) as defined in this volume. Technically speaking, causal body is a misnomer, for, in fact, the element of man’s constitution here referred to and, mutatis mutandis, when reference is made to beings above and below man, is no body at all, properly speaking, but rather what one might call a soul, although strenuous objection could very logically be taken to the use of this word soul because of the many and often contradictory meanings that common usage has given to it.

Furthermore, the expression “causal body” refers to two different things. The meaning, therefore, is dual — a statement which will be explained under kāranopādhi. It may be stated here, however, that the two meanings have reference, the first to a lower part of man’s septenary constitution, and the second to a higher part, both parts acting as causes, or instrumental causes, in producing reappearances, or new manifestations, of a reimbodying monad or entity.

Ca (Cha)

Cakra, (Chakra)

(Sanskrit) A word signifying in general a “wheel,” and from this simple original meaning there were often taken for occult and esoteric purposes a great many subordinate, very interesting, and in some cases highly mystical and profound derivatives. Cakra also means a cycle, a period of duration, in which the wheel of time turns once. It also means the horizon, as being circular or of a wheel-form. It likewise means certain centers or prāṇic spherical loci of the body in which are supposed to collect streams of prāṇic energy of differing qualities, or prāṇic energies of different kinds. These physiological cakras, which are actually connected with the prāṇic circulations and ganglia of the auric egg, and therefore function in the physical body through the intermediary of the liṅga śarīra or astral model-body, are located in different parts of the physical frame, reaching from the parts about the top of the skull to the parts about the pubis. It would be highly improper, having at heart the best interests of humanity, to give the occult or esoteric teaching concerning the exact location, functions, and means of controlling the physiological cakras of the human body; for it is a foregone conclusion that were this mystical knowledge broadcast, it would be sadly misused, leading not only in many cases to death or insanity, but to the violation of every moral instinct. Alone the high initiates, who as a matter of fact have risen above the need of employing the physiological cakras, can use them at will, and for holy purposes — which in fact is something that they rarely, if indeed they ever do.


(Sanskrit) Four wombs; the four modes of birth; the four ways of entering on the path of birth as decided by karma. These four ways as described in ancient books are: 1) birth from the womb, as men and mammalia; 2) birth from an egg, as birds and reptiles; 3) birth from moisture and air-germs, as insects; and 4) by sudden self-transformation, as bodhisattvas and gods (anupapadaka [Aupapāduka] — “parentless”). The aupapāduka birth is brought about by the intrinsic energy and karmic merit of the individual, thus transforming himself into a nobler being.


Cela, see Chela


(Latin) See the Greek Demeter.



(Greek) [from chaino to gape, yawn open] “The earth was without form and void,” says Genesis in describing the first stages of cosmogony. In Greek mythology contains the same idea of the primordial emptiness and formlessness which precedes the rebirth of a universe after pralaya. It was the vacant and spiritual space which existed before the creation of the universe or of the world; from it proceeded Darkness and Night. Chaos is “chaotic” only in the sense that its constituents are unformed and unorganized; it is the kosmic storehouse of all the latent or resting seeds from former manvantaras. It means space — not the Boundless, parabrahmanmūlaprakṛti, but the space of any particular hierarchy descending into manifestation. In one sense it is the condition of a solar system or planetary chain during its pralaya, containing all the elements in an undifferentiated state. Aether and chaos are the two principles immediately posterior to the first principle.

Various terms more or less synonymous are ākāśa, the universal egg (from which Brahmā issued as light), the virgin egg, the virgin mother, the immaculate root (fructified by the ray), the primeval deep, the abyss, the great mother. The divine ray and chaos are father-mother or cosmic fire and water. Chaos-Theos-Cosmos are the triple deity or all-in-all. Chaos was personified in Egypt by the goddess Neith, who is the Father-Mother of the Stanzas of Dzyan, the ākāśa of the Hindus, the svabhavat of the northern Buddhists, and the Icelandic ginnungagap. (From ETG)

Chatur-yoni see Catur-yoni

Chāyā (Chhāyā) A shade, shadow, copy; esoterically, the astral image or body of a person. Besides referring to the human astral form, the term is usually applied to the shadows or copies — the astral body-projections — of the spiritual beings or pitṛs who played an important part in the early evolutionary development of humankind. In the first root-race, “the pure, celestial Being (Dhyān Chohan) and the great Pitṛs of various classes were commissioned — the one to evolve their images (Chhāyā), and make of them physical man, the others to inform and thus endow him with divine intelligence and the comprehension of the Mysteries of Creation” (SD 2:233n)

Chela (Cela)

An old Indian term. In archaic times more frequently spelled and pronounced cheta or cheda. The meaning is “servant,” a personal disciple attached to the service of a teacher from whom he receives instruction. The idea is closely similar to the Anglo-Saxon term leorning-cneht, meaning “learning servant,” a name given in Anglo-Saxon translations of the Christian New Testament to the disciples of Jesus, his “chelas.” It is, therefore, a word used in old mystical scriptures for a disciple, a pupil, a learner or hearer. The relationship of teacher and disciple is infinitely more sacred even than that of parent and child; because, while the parents give the body to the incoming soul, the teacher brings forth that soul itself and teaches it to be and therefore to see, teaches it to know and to become what it is in its inmost being — that is, a divine thing.

The chela life or chela path is a beautiful one, full of joy to its very end, but also it calls forth and needs everything noble and high in the learner or disciple; for the powers or faculties of the higher self must be brought into activity in order to attain and to hold those summits of intellectual and spiritual grandeur where the Masters themselves live. For that, masterhood, is the end of discipleship — not, however, that this ideal should be set before us merely as an end to attain to as something of benefit for one’s own self, because that very thought is a selfish one and therefore a stumbling in the path. It is for the individual’s benefit, of course; yet the true idea is that everything and every faculty that is in the soul shall be brought out in the service of all humanity, for this is the royal road, the great royal thoroughfare, of self-conquest. The more mystical meanings attached to this term chela can be given only to those who have irrevocably pledged themselves to the esoteric life.

Cherub, Cherubim Kĕrūb, Kĕrūbīm (Cherub, Cherubim)

(Hebrew) Kĕrūb, Kĕrūbīm A celestial, sacred, occult being in Hebrew mythology; in the Old Testament various descriptions are given of the Cherubim, the prevailing one being that of winged entities with four faces, those respectively of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. In Genesis, they are the guardians of Paradise; in Exodus (25:18-22) their images are to be placed in the mercy-seat and also in Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:23-35), but their most frequent association is with the throne or chariot of Yahweh (Jehovah). In Ezekiel and the Qabbalah the Cherubim are represented as the four holy living creatures. “These four animals are, in reality, the symbols of the four elements, and of the four lower principles in man. Nevertheless, they correspond physically and materially to the four constellations that form, so to speak, the suite or cortege of the Solar God, and occupy during the winter solstice the four cardinal points of the zodiacal circle” (SD 1:363).

In the ancient Syrian system of enumerating the hierarchies, the Cherubim were equivalent to the sphere of the Stars. In the Jewish Qabbalah a close association is made with them and the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, YHVH; and further with the world of ‘Asiyyah. In the system of hierarchies propounded by Dionysius the pseudo-Areopagite, the Cherubim rank second in the first trinity: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones. But the Cherubim have a still more mystical connection: “the four celestial beings are . . . the protectors of mankind and also the Agents of Karma on Earth” (SD 1:126).

In the Hebrew Qabbalah the Kerubim are the class of angels or quasi-spiritual beings corresponding with the lower Shechinah or Malchuth, the lowest or tenth of the Sephiroth. Again, “the word cherub also meant serpent, in one sense, though its direct meaning is different; because the Cherubim and the Persian winged [gryphes] ‘griffins’ — the guardians of the golden mountain — are the same, and their compound name shows their character, as it is formed of (kr) circle, and ‘aub,’ or ob — serpent — therefore, a ‘serpent in a circle’ ” (SD 1:364). The color blue is associated with the Cherubim, as the color red is with the Seraphim.


(Greek) Christos or “Christ” is a word literally signifying one who has been “anointed.” This is a direct reference, a direct allusion, to what happened during the celebration of the ancient Mysteries. Unction or anointing was one of the acts performed during the working of the rites of those ancient Mysteries in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The Hebrew word for an anointed one is mashiahh — “messiah” is a common way of misspelling the Hebrew word — meaning exactly the same thing as the Greek word Christos.

Each human being is an incarnation, an imbodiment, of a ray of his own inner god — the divinity living in the core of the core of each one. The modern Christians of a mystical bent of mind call it the Christ Immanent, the immanent Christos, and they are right as far as they go, but they do not carry the thought far enough. Mystically speaking, the Christos is the deathless individuality; and when the striving personal ego becomes united permanently with this stainless individuality, the resultant union is the higher ego, “the living Christ” — a Christ among men, or as the Buddhists would say, a human or mānuṣa-buddha.


Circulations of the Kosmos

Also Circulations of the Universe. This is a term used in the ancient wisdom or esoteric philosophy to signify the network, marvelously intricate and builded of the channels or canals or paths or roads followed by peregrinating or migrating entities as these latter pass from sphere to sphere or from realm to realm or from plane to plane. The pilgrim monads, however far advanced or however little advanced in their evolution, inevitably and ineluctably follow these circulations. They can do nothing else, for they are simply the spiritual, psychomagnetic, astral, and physical pathways along which the forces of the universe flow; and consequently, all entities whatsoever being indeed imbodiments of forces must of necessity follow the same routes or pathways that the abstract forces themselves use.

These circulations of the kosmos are a veritable network between planet and planet, and planet and sun, and between sun and sun, and between sun and universe, and between universe and universe. Furthermore, the circulations of the kosmos are not restricted to the material or astral spheres, but are of the very fabric and structure of the entire universal kosmos, inner as well as outer. It is one of the most mystical and suggestive doctrines of theosophy.


(Sanskrit) [from cit to depict, color with various colors + gupta hidden] The secret recorder who paints the picture of the person’s life on the astral light; a deva-scribe in the abode of the dead, who records human virtues and vices and reads out the account of every soul’s life from his register when the excarnate soul arrives in the kingdom of Yama, the god of death; a variant of the lipikas.



In its largest sense the word means simply “clear-hearing.” True clairaudience is a spiritual faculty, the faculty of the inner spiritual ear, of which the psychical clairaudience is but a distorted and therefore deceptive reflection; neither is it hearing with the physical ear, so imperfect and undeveloped a sensory organ as the latter is. The power to hear with the inner ear enables you to hear anything you will, and at whatever distance, whether on Mars, or on the Sun, or on the Moon, or on Jupiter, or perhaps even on some distant star, or easily anywhere on Earth. Having this spiritual clairaudience, you can hear the grass grow, and that hearing will be to you like a symphonic musical poem. You can hear the celestial orbs singing their songs as they advance along their orbits through space, because everything that is, is in movement, producing sound, simple or composite as the case may be. Thus in very truth every tiny atom sings its own note, and every composite entity, therefore, is an imbodied musical poem, a musical symphony. (See also Music of the Spheres)


In its largest sense the word simply means “clear-seeing,” insight behind the veils, inner visioning. Genuine clairvoyance is a spiritual faculty and is the ability to see and to see aright; and in seeing to know that your seeing is truth. This is no psychical faculty. The clairvoyance commonly called the psychical clairvoyance is very deceptive, because it is a mere moonlight reflection so to speak, and this moonlight reflection is uncertain, deceiving, and illusory. Genuine spiritual clairvoyance, of which the psychical clairvoyance so called is but a feeble ray, will enable one to see what passes at immense distances. You can sit in your armchair and see, with eyes closed, all that you care to see, however far away. This can be done not only in this exterior world, but one can penetrate into the interior and invisible worlds with this spiritual vision, and thus know what is going on in the worlds spiritual and ethereal. This vision is not physical vision, nor that which, on the astral plane, manifests itself as psychical clairvoyance; but true vision is spiritual clairvoyance — seeing through the inner spiritual eye.

Clotho Klotho (Greek) The spinner; in Greek mythology, one of the three Moirae (Fates). Human life was mystically pictured as a thread of destiny overseen by three sisters, powers of nature, named Clotho, Lachesis (disposer of lots), and Atropos (inevitable). Clotho, represented as a maiden holding the distaff, spun the thread of life.


In all its forms and protean manifestations, consciousness is spirit-matter — force and matter, or spirit and substance, are one — hence consciousness is the finest and loftiest form of energy, is the root of all things, and is coextensive with kosmic space. It is, therefore, the foundation and the essence of gods, of monads, and of atoms — the three generalized degrees, kosmically speaking, of the universe. A natural corollary from this is that the universe therefore is imbodied consciousness, or much more correctly we should call it a quasi-infinite aggregate of imbodied consciousnesses.


Whenever a theosophist speaks of the cosmos or the universe, he by no means refers only to the physical sphere or world or cross section of the boundless All in which we humans live, but more particularly to the invisible worlds and planes and spheres inhabited by their countless hosts of vitalized or animate beings. In order to avoid redundancy of words and often confusing repetitions in the midst of an explanation dealing with other matters, since H. P. Blavatsky’s time it has been customary among careful theosophical writers to draw a distinction of fact between cosmos and kosmos. The solar universe or solar system is frequently referred to as cosmos or solar cosmos; and the galactic universe or our own home-universe it has been customary to refer to as the kosmos. This distinction, however, does not always hold, because sometimes in dealing with abstract questions where the application of the thought can be indifferently made either to the galactic or to the solar universe, the two forms of spelling may be used interchangeably. (See also Kosmos, Kosmic Life)


Cybele, Kybele

(Greek) A Phrygian goddess of caves and mountains, vines and agriculture, and town life, first worshiped at Pessinus; later throughout Asia Minor and in Greece. The equivalent in Phrygia and Crete of Rhea, the Magna Mater (great mother), wife of Kronos and mother of Zeus. Her worship was celebrated exoterically, especially in later degenerate times, by wild dances by her votaries. In one of her phases Cybele was closely connected with the moon and its extremely recondite functions. The moon is at once a sexless potency, to be well studied because to be dreaded, and a female deity for exoteric purposes. Cybele is “the personification and type of the vital essence, whose source was located by the ancients between the Earth and the starry sky, and who was regarded as the very fons vitae of all that lives and breathes” (BCW 12:214). The breath of Cybele, equivalent in its highest substance to ākāśatattva — “is the one chief agent, and it underlays the so-called ‘miracles’ and ‘supernatural’ phenomena in all ages, as in every clime” (BCW 12:215). See also CORYBANTES; CURETES

Cycles or Law of Cycles

An exceedingly interesting branch of theosophical study, and one dealing with a fact which is so obviously manifest in the worlds surrounding us that its existence can hardly be denied, except by the willfully blind, is what may be called the law of cycles, or nature’s repetitive operations.

We find nature repeating herself everywhere, although such repetition of course is not merely a running in the same old ruts on each recurrence of the cyclic activity; for each recurrence is of course the expression of a modification, more or less great, of what has preceded. Day succeeds night, winter succeeds summer, the planets circulate around the suns in regular and periodical courses; and these are but familiar examples of cyclical activity.

Cycles in nature show the time periods of periodic recurrence along and in which any evolving entity or thing expresses the energies and powers which are itself, so that cycles and evolution are like the two sides of a coin: the one shows the time periods or cycles, and the other side manifests the energic or substantial qualities appearing in manifestation according to these cyclical time-periods; but back of this apparently double but actually single process always lie profound karmic causes.