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Daily Theosophy Glossary – E

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Daily Theosophy Glossary


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(Icelandic) [from edda great grandmother] Matrix of the mythic wisdom of the ancient Norse peoples, the Edda consists of two main parts: the poetic or Elder Edda, which was written down by Saemund the Wise in Iceland after the ancient oral traditions of the skalds, about 1000 AD, a version known as the Codex Regius.

Saemund was a learned man who, after studying in Paris, founded a school at Oddi in Iceland. Scholars have speculated on the possibility that the manuscript of Saemund may have been called The Book of Oddi, which became linguistically Edda.

In 1643 Bishop Brynjolf Sveinsson of Skalholt discovered Saemund’s manuscript. He had copies made and sent the original with Thormod Torfaeus to King Frederik III of Denmark as a gift in l662. After three hundred years it was returned to Iceland.

The Younger Edda, in which the verses are rendered in prose form by Snorri Sturlusson, a pupil of Saemund’s grandson in the school at Oddi, contains some material which has been omitted or lost from the poetic version. A large part of Snorri’s Edda is devoted to Skaldskaparmal, a treatise on the rules of alliteration and meter that apply in the creation of poetry, and the uses of kenningar — a type of word play giving suggestive descriptions instead of the words commonly used to designate people, gods, and things. As examples of kennings the Tree of Life is called variously the soil mulcher, the shade giver, and Odin is named allfather, the thinker, the disguised, etc. The other two sections of Snorri’s Edda are named Hattatal (rules or conventions), and Gylfaginning (the mocking of Gylfe). This can also mean the “apotheosis of Gylfe” which, in the context of a Mystery teaching presents interesting possibilities.

One 18th century author, Johan Goransson, believes that the Eddas were copied from old Runobocker (books of runes) and that when Christianity first spread its influence in Sweden about two hundred years after Saemund, these ancient writings were systematically destroyed (Sviogota ok Nordmanna Edda xxxi).

The manuscripts containing the collection of lays and stories known as Edda are: Codex Regius, Codex Wormianus, and Codex Upsaliensis. The last-named and also the Arnamagnaean Vellum No. 748, which contains a portion of the text, are clearly written by Snorri.

The Eddas have given rise to a great many fairy tales, mythic and heroic stories, and humorous anecdotes, but the keys to decipher their esoteric meaning have been largely lost.



(Latin) A word meaning “I.” In theosophical writings the ego is that which says “I am I” — indirect or reflected consciousness, consciousness reflected back upon itself as it were, and thus recognizing its own māyāvi existence as a “separate” entity. On this fact is based the one genuine “heresy” that occultism recognizes: the heresy of separateness.

The seat of the human ego is the intermediate duad — manaskāma: part aspiring upwards, which is the reincarnating ego; and part attracted below, which is the ordinary or astral human ego. The consciousness is immortal in the reincarnating ego, and temporary or mortal in the lower or astral human ego.

Consider the hierarchy of the human being’s constitution to grow from the immanent Self: this last is the seed of egoity on the seven (or perhaps better, six) planes of matter or manifestation. On each one of these seven planes (or six), the immanent Self or paramātman develops or evolves a sheath or garment, the upper ones spun of spirit, and the lower ones spun of “shadow” or matter. Now each such sheath or garment is a “soul”; and between the self and such a soul — any soul — is the ego.

Thus ātman is the divine monad, giving birth to the divine ego, which latter evolves forth the monadic envelope or divine soul; jivātman, the spiritual monad, has its child which is the spiritual ego, which in turn evolves forth the spiritual soul or individual; and the combination of these three considered as a unit is buddhi; bhūtātman, the human ego — the higher human soul, including the lower buddhi and higher manas; prānātman, the personal ego — the lower human soul, or man. It includes manas, kāma, and prāna; and finally the beast ego — the vital-astral soul: kāma and prāna.



(Greek; plural eidola) A word meaning “image” of the man that was. After death there remains in the astral world — which is on the other side of the threshold of physical life, the etheric world — the “shadow” of the man that was. The ancients called these human shadows, shades; modern children and nursemaids call them ghosts and spooks; and each such shade is but an eidolon, or astral image or pale copy of the physical man that was. This eidolon coheres for a while in the astral realms or in the superphysical ether, and its particles are magnetically held more or less coherent as long as the physical corpse is not fully dissolved into its component elements; but these eidola in a comparatively short time fade out, for they decay in a manner closely resembling the disintegration of the physical body.

Eighth Sphere or Planet of Death

A term used in the more esoteric or inner part of the teachings about which little can be said, for over this part of the doctrine there has always been drawn a thick veil of secrecy and silence.

Frequently the term is confused with avīci (avīchi) but this is incorrect, because the two, while closely connected, are nevertheless quite distinct. While avīci is a state where very evil human beings “die and are reborn without interruption,” yet not without hope of final redemption — something which can actually take place even on our physical plane in the cases of very evil or soulless men — the Eighth Sphere represents a degree of psychomental degeneration still more advanced. As just hinted, even in avīci there is a possibility of reinsoulment by the ray of the spiritual monad; whereas in the Eighth Sphere or Planet of Death such possibility finally vanishes, and the entity which has sunk to the Planet of Death is what is technically called in the esoteric philosophy a “lost soul.” In the Eighth Sphere the lost souls are ground over and over in nature’s laboratory, and are finally dissipated into their component psycho-astral elements or life-atoms. The Eighth Sphere or Planet of Death is an actual globe. It is also of course a state or condition of being; whereas the avīci is almost exclusively a state or condition in which an entity may find itself, although obviously this entity must have position or place and therefore locality in space — on our earth or elsewhere.


Ekagrata or Ekagratva

(Sanskrit) A term signifying “onepointedness” or “absolute intentness” in the mental contemplation of an object of meditation. The perfect concentration of the percipient mind on a single point of thought, and the holding of it the


Elemental. Used by medieval European mystics, such as the Fire-philosophers, Rosicrucians, and Qabbalists, to signify those classes of ethereal beings evolved in and born of the four elements or kingdoms of nature. Ordinarily they are spoken of as existing in four classes corresponding to the four popular elements air, fire, water, and earth; but theosophy describes these kingdoms of nature as seven or even ten in number: four of the material or quasi-material range, and three (or six) of highly ethereal and even quasi-spiritual substance. They are often described as nature spirits or sprites.

More strictly, the word is confined to those beings who are beginning their evolutionary growth, who have developed in their constitution but one of the four elements — that one from which they were born — and who are therefore in the elemental state of growth. It is a generalizing term for all beings evolutionally below the minerals. Nevertheless, by extension of meaning, the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms are often referred to as families of elemental beings, though in more advanced stages. An elemental, therefore, is a being who has entered our, or any other, universe on its lowest plane or world.

There are three kingdoms of the elementals below the mineral kingdom, each of which has seven (or ten) subdivisions, and every entity high or low has passed through this stage at some time in its career.

There are four commonly recognized great classes of these unevolved beings, called by the medieval European mystics gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders — elementals respectively of earth, water, air, and fire. These elementals are not only the inhabitants of and born from the respective elements, but really are the elements themselves. They are from one viewpoint simply nature forces, tools of the higher intelligences, and actually perform all the physical work of the world.

From another point of view they may be looked upon as life-atoms in different stages of evolutionary growth; and being in various degrees of evolution they are variously spiritual, ethereal, astral, or material, running through vast ranges on all these planes. Thus they exist everywhere: in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and all the tissues of physical nature. Through their agency we perform all our bodily or mental activities.

The three kingdoms of elementals actually build and form every new planet or world, beginning in serial order with the lowest of the three kingdoms, preparing the globe for the advent of the mineral kingdom, to be followed in turn by the vegetable and higher kingdoms in regular succession. The elementals are not only the matters of nature, but when acting together and used by higher intelligences become the forces or energies of nature, such as electricity, magnetism, light, vitality, etc. Unconsciously, human and other beings use them in the carrying on of all their bodily functions. For example, our bodies cohere through the automatic aid of the elementals of earth; and the elementals of fire give us our bodily heat.

The four kingdoms of elementals, existing in the four elements, are also known under the general designation of fairies and fays in the myths, fables, traditions, and poetry of all nations, ancient and modern. Their names are legion: peris, devs, jinn, sylvans, satyrs, fauns, elves, dwarfs, trolls, nixies, kobolds, brownies, banshees, leprechauns, pixies, moss-people, good people, good neighbors, wild women, men of peace, white ladies, and many more. They have been seen, feared, blessed, banned, and invoked in every quarter of the globe in every age.

These elementals are the principal nature forces used by the disimbodied human dead, very real but never visible “shells” mistaken for spirits at séances, and are the producers of all the phenomena except the purely subjective. They may be described as centers of force having instinctive desires but no consciousness as we understand it. Hence their acts may be what we humans call good or bad, indifferently. They have astral forms which partake, to a distinguishing degree, of the element to which they belong and also of the universally encompassing ether. They are a combination of sublimated matter and a purely rudimental mind. Some remain throughout several cycles relatively unchanging, so far as radical change goes, but still have no separate individuality, and usually acting collectively, so to speak. Others, of certain elements and species, change under a fixed law which Qabbalists explain. The most solid of their bodies are ordinarily just immaterial enough to escape perception by our physical eyesight, but not so unsubstantial that they cannot be perfectly recognized by the inner or clairvoyant vision. They not only exist and can all live in ether, but can handle and direct it for the production of physical effects, as readily as we can compress air or water for the same purpose by pneumatic and hydraulic apparatus; in which occupation they are readily helped by the human elementaries or astral shells.

More than this, they can so condense the ether as to make for themselves tangible bodies which, by their Protean powers, they can cause to assume such likeness as the elementals themselves are at the time impressed to assume, this being caused by their taking automatically as their models the portraits they find stamped in the memory of a person or persons present at a seance. It is not necessary that the sitter should be thinking at the moment of the one represented: the image may have faded many years before. The mind receives indelible impressions even from chance acquaintances. As a very short exposure in photography is all that is requisite to preserve indefinitely the image of the sitter, so is it in incomparably greater degree with the mind. Unable to invent anything or to produce anything of itself, the elemental automatically reflects stamped impressions in the memory of human beings to its very depths; hence the nervous exhaustion and mental oppression of certain sensitive natures at spiritualistic circles. The elemental will bring to light long-forgotten remembrances of the past: forms, images, even familiar sentences, long since faded from memory, but vividly preserved on the astral tablets of the imperishable book of life. The elementals are very imitative, having neither developed will nor intelligence of their own which they self-consciously use, and hence tend automatically to copy forms in all the higher kingdoms. They have therefore many shapes or bodies, some of the more advanced taking even a quasi-human form.

Some of the elementals are said to be friendly, others unfriendly, to humanity not because of any deliberate intent on their part, but simply because mankind happens to be in such evolutionary position that it is affected one way or the other by them. Also, as different people contain in their constitution a preponderance of one of the elements over the other, they are more sensitive to the elementals of their predominating element. (ETG)

Nature-spirits or sprites. The theosophical usage, however, means beings who are beginning a course of evolutionary growth, and who thus are in the elemental states of their growth. It is a generalizing term for purposes of convenient expression for all beings evolutionally below the minerals. Nevertheless, the minerals themselves are expressions of one family or host or hierarchy of elemental beings of a more evolved type. The vegetable kingdom likewise manifests merely one family or host of elemental beings happening to be in the vegetable phase of their evolution on this earth. Just so likewise is it as regards the beasts. The beasts are highly evolved elemental beings, relatively speaking. Men in far distant aeons of the kosmic past were elemental beings also. We have evolved from that elemental stage into becoming men, expressing with more or less ease, mostly very feebly, the innate divine powers and faculties locked up in the core of the core of each one of us.

An elemental is a being who has entered our universe on the lowest plane or in the lowest world, degree, or step on the rising stairway of life; and this stairway of life begins in any universe at its lowest stage, and ends for that universe in its highest stage — the universal kosmic spirit. Thus the elemental passes from the elemental stage through all the realms of being as it rises along the stairway of life, passing through the human stage, becoming superhuman, quasi-divine — a quasi-god — then becoming a god. Thus did we humans first enter this present universe.

Every race of men on earth has believed in these hosts of elemental entities — some visible, like men, like the beasts, like the animate plants; and others invisible. The invisible entities have been called by various names: fairies, sprites, hobgoblins, elves, brownies, pixies, nixies, leprechauns, trolls, kobolds, goblins, banshees, fawns, devs, jinn, satyrs, and so forth. The medieval mystics taught that these elemental beings were of four general kinds: those arising in and frequenting the element of fire — salamanders; those arising in and frequenting the element air — sylphs; those arising in and frequenting the element water — undines; those arising in and frequenting the element earth — gnomes.


Elementaries are “properly, the disembodied souls of the depraved; these souls having at some time prior to death separated from themselves their divine spirits, and so lost their chance for immortality” (Theosophical Glossary, H. P. Blavatsky).

Strictly speaking, the word “elementaries” should be used as H. P. Blavatsky defines it in this quotation from her. But in modern theosophical literature the word has come to signify more particularly the phantoms or eidola of disembodied persons, these phantoms or eidola really being the kāma-rūpic shades, with especial application to the cases of grossly materialistic ex-humans whose evil impulses and appetites still inhering in the kāmarūpic phantom draw these phantoms to physical spheres congenial to them. They are a real danger to psychical health and sanity, and literally haunt living human beings possessing tendencies akin to their own. They are soulless shells, but still filled with energies of a depraved and ignoble type. Their destiny of course is like that of all other pretas or bhūtas — ultimate disintegration; for the gross astral atoms composing them slowly dissolve through the years after the manner of a dissolving column of smoke or a wisp of dark cloud on a mountainside.

Eleusinia or Eleusinian Mysteries

(Greek) [from eleusinia things that are to come] The most famous Mysteries in ancient Greece and, next to those of Samothrace, the most ancient. Even the Christian writer Epiphanius traces them to the days of Inachos (which some writers place so close to our time as 1800 BC, which is far too near), while others make the founder Eumolpos. Both these founders are described as at once kings and of divine parentage.

The Greater Eleusinian Mysteries were celebrated at the time of the autumnal equinox, the time of grape gathering, and the Mysteries were in honor of Demeter — in Latin Ceres and in one range of mythologic thought also the Egyptian Isis — the Earth-Mother, presiding over fertility.

The celebration of the complete Eleusinia consisted of Less and Greater Mysteries. In the former the produce of the earth was given a part, while in the latter emphasis was laid on its higher correspondences in connection with Mystery-teaching. As its name implies, at Eleusis were taught the doctrines concerning what will happen to man after death.

Eleusis (Greek) [from eleusis a coming, advent from eleusomai will come] Seat near Athens of one of the most renown Mystery centers in ancient Greece. In the New Testament, it is translated as “the advent.” See Eleusinia


[from ’elōah goddess + īm masculine plural ending] The monotheistic proclivities, not only of the Jews but of Christian translators, have led to this word always being translated as God; yet the word itself is a plural form, nor is it in any sense necessarily a plural of majesty, as suggested by some monotheistic scholars. A correct rendering should denote both masculine and feminine characteristics, such as androgyne divinities.

In spite of the ideas imbodied in the word itself, the later development of Judaism caused ’elohīm to be almost entirely translated in paraphrase as the “one true God”; but in earlier times ’elohīm (or rather benei ’elohīm or benei ’elim — sons of gods, members of the classes of divine beings) meant spiritual beings or cosmic spirits of differing hierarchical grades: a collective class of cosmic spirits among whom is found the familiar Jewish Yahweh or Jehovah. Thus, strictly speaking and as viewed in the original Qabbālāh, the ’elohim meant the angelic hierarchies of many varying grades of spirituality or ethereality; and in cosmogonic or astrological matters, the ’elohīm were often mentally aggregated under the generalized term tseba’oth [fem pl from the verbal root tsaba’ a host, an army] as in the expression “host of heaven.”

In the Jewish Qabbālāh the ’elohīm, however, are the sixth hierarchical group in derivation from the first or Crown, Kether: cosmogonically they represent the manifested formers or weavers of the cosmos. In this Qabbalistic system, Jehovah was the third angelic potency (counting from the first, Kether). Blavatsky calls all these hierarchies symbols “emblematic, mutually and correlatively, of Spirit, Soul and Body (man); of the circle transformed into Spirit, the Soul of the World, and its body (or Earth). Stepping out of the Circle of Infinity, that no man comprehendeth, Ain-Soph (the Kabalistic synonym for Parabrahm, for the Zeroana Akerne, of the Mazdeans, or for any other ‘Unknowable’) becomes ‘One’ — the Echos, the Eka, the Ahu — then he (or it) is transformed by evolution into the One in many, the Dhyāni-Buddhas or the Elohim, or again the Amshaspends, his third Step being taken into generation of the flesh, or ‘Man.’ And from man, or Jah-Hova, ‘male female,’ the inner divine entity becomes, on the metaphysical planes, once more the Elohim” (SD 1:113).

The opening words of the Bible refer directly to the activities of the ’elohim, for this is the sole divine name mentioned in Genesis 1:1-2. De Purucker translates these verses from the original Hebrew as: “In a host (or multitude), the gods (Elohim) formed themselves into the heavens and the earth. And the earth became ethereal. And darkness upon the face of the ethers. And the ruah (the spirit-soul) of the gods (of Elohim) fluttered or hovered, brooding” (cf FEP 99-100). He goes on to say that “we see that the Elohim evolved man, humanity, out of themselves, and told them to become, then to enter into and inform these other creatures. Indeed, these sons of the Elohim are, in our teachings, the children of light, the sons of light, which are we ourselves, and yet different from ourselves, because higher, yet they are our own very selves inwardly. In fact, the Elohim, became, evolved into, their own offspring, remaining in a sense still always the inspiring light within, or rather above . . . the Elohim projected themselves into the nascent forms of the then ‘humanity,’ which thenceforward were ‘men,’ however imperfect their development still was” (FEP 101-2).

The ’elohim, then, correspond to both classes of the pitris mentioned in theosophical literature: the higher or more spiritual-intellectual of the ’elohim are the agniṣvāttapitṛs, and the lower groups are the barhiṣadpitṛs. As the agniṣvāttapitṛs are devoid of the astral-vital-physical productive fire because they are too high and distinctly intellectual, they leave the work of production to the lower ’elohim or barhiṣads, who “being the lunar spirits more closely connected with Earth, became the creative Elohim of form, or the Adam of dust” (SD 2:78).



(Greek) [from epi at, upon + opt to see] Sometimes epopt. In the Eleusinian Mysteries, seer, overseer, master mason, one who has the vision sublime; an initiate into the highest degree of the Mysteries (epopteia) who had attained, among other spiritual faculties and powers, that of spiritual clairvoyance. The state attained, epopteia, was the seventh and highest degree of initiation in the Eleusinian Mysteries, when the inner god shone forth through the human being, so that the candidate was at one with his inner divinity.


Esoteric [from Greek esoterikos pertaining to the inner] Applied to the advanced instructions given to qualified candidates in Mysteries or schools of philosophy, first used popularly in Greece by Aristotle. Jesus in the Bible had teachings for his disciples in private, and others for the public, precisely as all other ancient religious and philosophical teachers always had. Esoteric teachings both were and are such as could not be understood or profitably received by those not previously prepared by study and probation. Exoteric or outer teachings were often given in symbolic language which revealed the esoteric meaning only to those who were in possession of the keys to interpretation.

Esoteric Doctrine

The body of mystical and sacred teachings reserved for students of high and worthy character. This body of teachings has been known and studied by highly evolved individuals in all ages. The esoteric doctrine is the common property of mankind, and it has always been thus. In all the various great religions and philosophies of the world, the student will find fundamental principles in each which, when placed side by side and critically examined, are easily discovered to be identic. Every one of such fundamental principles is in every great world religion or world philosophy; hence the aggregate of these world religions or world philosophies contains the entirety of the esoteric doctrine, but usually expressed in exoteric form.

However, no one of these world religions or world philosophies gives in clear and explicit shape or form the entirety of the body of teachings which are at its heart; some religions emphasize one or more of such fundamental principles; another religion or philosophy will emphasize others of these principles; in either case others again of the principles remaining in the background. This readily accounts for the fact that the various world religions and world philosophies vary among themselves and often, to the unreflecting mind, superficially seem to have little in common, and perhaps even to be contradictory. The cause of this is the varying manner in which each such religion or philosophy has been given to the world, the form that each took having been best for the period in which it was promulgated. Each such religion or philosophy, having its own racial sphere and period of time, represents the various human minds who have developed it or who, so to say, have translated it to the world in this or in that particular promulgation.

These manners or mannerisms of exoteric thinking we may discard if we wish; but it is the fundamental principles behind every great religion or great philosophy which in their aggregate are the universal esoteric doctrine. In this universal esoteric doctrine lies the mystery-field of each great religion or philosophy — this mystery-teaching being always reserved for the initiates. The esoteric philosophy or doctrine has been held from time immemorial in the guardianship of great men, exalted seers and sages, who from time to time promulgate it, or rather portions of it, to the world when the spiritual and intellectual need for so doing arises. The origins of the esoteric doctrine are found in the mystery-teachings of beings from other and spiritual spheres, who incarnated in the early humanity of the third root-race of this fourth round of our globe, and taught the then intellectually nascent mankind the necessary certain fundamental principles or truths regarding the universe and the nature of the world surrounding us.


[probably from Hebrew asa to heal] Described by Josephus as one of three principal sects among Jews from about the middle of the 2nd century BC; the title Healer, often equivalent to savior or teacher (cf therapeutae). They were a sect of Jewish theosophy, rather exclusive, adhering to Jewish tradition in some respects though regarded as heretical in others. Their cardinal principles were active benevolence and self-discipline. They had an esoteric school guarded by secrecy, accessible through novitiate and degrees. Josephus, describing the rule of a community, presents the picture of a tranquil life, divided between practical avocations, assemblies, and ritual observances.


The theosophical teachings are essentially and wholly ethical. It is impossible to understand the sublime wisdom of the gods, the archaic wisdom-religion of the ancients, without the keenest realization of the fact that ethics run like golden threads throughout the entire system or fabric of doctrine and thought of the esoteric philosophy. Genuine occultism, divorced from ethics, is simply unthinkable because impossible. There is no genuine occultism which does not include the loftiest ethics that the moral sense of mankind can comprehend, and one cannot weigh with too strong an emphasis upon this great fact.

Ethics in the theosophical philosophy are not merely the products of human thought existing as a formulation of conventional rules proper for human conduct. They are founded on the very structure and character of the universe itself. The heart of the universe is wisdom-love, and these are intrinsically ethical, for there can be no wisdom without ethics, nor can love be without ethics, nor can there be ethics deprived of either love or wisdom.

The philosophic reason why the ancients set so much store by what was commonly known as virtus among the Latins, from which we have our modern word “virtue,” is because by means of the teaching originating in the great Mystery schools, they knew that virtues, ethics, were the offspring of the moral instinct in human beings, who derived them in their turn from the heart of the universe — from the kosmic harmony. It is high time that the Occidental world should cast forever into the limbo of exploded superstitions the idea that ethics is merely conventional morality, a convenience invented by man to smooth the asperities and dangers of human intercourse.

Of course every scholar knows that the words morals and ethics come from the Latin and Greek respectively, as signifying the customs or habits which it is proper to follow in civilized communities. But this fact itself, which is unquestionable, is in a sense disgraceful, for it would almost seem that we had not yet brought forth a word adequately describing the instinct for right and truth and troth and justice and honor and wisdom and love which we today so feebly express by the words ethics or morals. “Theosophist is who Theosophy does,” wrote H. P. Blavatsky, and wiser and nobler words she never wrote. No one can be a theosophist who does not feel ethic-ally and think ethically and live ethically in the real sense that is hereinbefore described. (See also Morals)

Eumolpos, Eumolpidae

(Greek) Descendants of Eumolpos, a demigod who founded the Eleusinian Mysteries, of which these descendants continued to be the hereditary hierophants, although living in Athens. See also Lycomidae


(Greek) [from epi at, upon + opt to see] Sometimes epopt. In the Eleusinian Mysteries, seer, overseer, master mason, one who has the vision sublime; an initiate into the highest degree of the Mysteries (epopteia) who had attained, among other spiritual faculties and powers, that of spiritual clairvoyance. The state attained, epopteia, was the seventh and highest degree of initiation in the Eleusinian Mysteries, when the inner god shone forth through the human being, so that the candidate was at one with his inner divinity.


As the word is used in theosophy it means the “unwrapping,” “unfolding,” “rolling out” of latent powers and faculties native to and inherent in the entity itself, its own essential characteristics, or more generally speaking, the powers and faculties of its own character: the Sanskrit word for this last conception is svabhāva. Evolution, therefore, does not mean merely that brick is added to brick, or experience merely topped by another experience, or that variation is superadded on other variations — not at all; for this would make of man and of other entities mere aggregates of incoherent and unwelded parts, without an essential unity or indeed any unifying principle.

In theosophy evolution means that man has in him (as indeed have all other evolving entities) everything that the cosmos has because he is an inseparable part of it. He is its child; one cannot separate man from the universe. Everything that is in the universe is in him, latent or active, and evolution is the bringing forth of what is within; and, furthermore, what we call the surrounding milieu, circumstances — nature, to use the popular word — is merely the field of action on and in which these inherent qualities function, upon which they act and from which they receive the corresponding reaction, which action and reaction invariably become a stimulus or spur to further manifestations of energy on the part of the evolving entity.

There are no limits in any direction where evolution can be said to begin, or where we can conceive of it as ending; for evolution in the theosophical conception is but the process followed by the centers of consciousness or monads as they pass from eternity to eternity, so to say, in a beginningless and endless course of unceasing growth.

Growth is the key to the real meaning of the theosophical teaching of evolution, for growth is but the expression in detail of the general process of the unfolding of faculty and organ, which the usual word evolution includes. The only difference between evolution and growth is that the former is a general term, and the latter is a specific and particular phase of this procedure of nature.

Evolution is one of the oldest concepts and teachings of the archaic wisdom, although in ancient days the concept was usually expressed by the word emanation. There is indeed a distinction, and an important one, to be drawn between these two words, but it is a distinction arising rather in viewpoint than in any actual fundamental difference. Emanation is a distinctly more accurate and descriptive word for theosophists to use than evolution is, but unfortunately emanation is so ill-understood in the Occident, that perforce the accepted term is used to describe the process of interior growth expanding into and manifesting itself in the varying phases of the developing entity. Theosophists, therefore, are, strictly speaking, rather emanationists than evolutionists; and from this remark it becomes immediately obvious that the theosophist is not a Darwinist, although admitting that in certain secondary or tertiary senses and details there is a modicum of truth in Charles Darwin’s theory adopted and adapted from the Frenchman Lamarck. The key to the meaning of evolution, therefore, in theosophy is the following: the core of every organic entity is a divine monad or spirit, expressing its faculties and powers through the ages in various vehicles which change by improving as the ages pass. These vehicles are not physical bodies alone, but also the interior sheaths of consciousness which together form man’s entire constitution extending from the divine monad through the intermediate ranges of consciousness to the physical body. The evolving entity can become or show itself to be only what it already essentially is in itself — therefore evolution is a bringing out or unfolding of what already preexists, active or latent, within. (See also Involution)


This word, when applied particularly to the great philosophical and religious systems of belief, does not mean false. The word merely means teachings of which the keys have not been openly given. The word seems to have originated in the Peripatetic School of Greece, and to have been born in the mind of Aristotle. Its contrast is “esoteric.”

Exotericism — that is to say, the outward and popular formulation of religious and philosophic doctrines — reveils the truth; the self-assurance of ignorance, alas, always reviles the truth; whereas esotericism reveals the truth.

Eyn Soph (Hebrew) ’Ēin Sōf Also Ain Soph, Ayn Soph, Eyn Suph, Ein Soph, etc. No-thing, the negatively existent one, or the no-thing of space corresponding closely in some respects to the mystical sunyatā of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Used in the Qabbalah for that which is above Kether or Macroprosopus, i.e., no-thing. “It is so named because we do not know, and it is impossible to know, that which there is in this Principle, because it never descends as far as our ignorance and because it is above Wisdom itself” (Zohar iii, 288b).

Strictly speaking, ’eyn signifies abstract Be-ness or the vast spatial deep in which all existences take their rise. Anything that is existent is a production and exists; and the womb of being or Be-ness, from which existences arise, is not only the cause of all existences but likewise their field of action — the spatial deeps. Often wrongly translated as “nothing”; but Be-ness is certainly not nothing, but essential, full Be-ness itself.