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Daily Theosophy Glossary – J

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Daily Theosophy Glossary


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(Sanskrit) The state of consciousness when awake, as opposed to svapna, the dreaming-sleeping state of consciousness, and different again from suupti when the human consciousness is plunged into profound self-oblivion. The highest of all the states into which the consciousness may cast itself, or be cast, is the turīya (“fourth”), which is the highest state of samādhi, and is almost a nirvāṇic condition.

All these states or conditions of the consciousness are affections or phases of the constitution of man, and of beings constructed similarly to man. The waking state, or jagrat, is the state or condition of consciousness normal to the imbodied human being when not asleep. Svapna is the state of consciousness more or less freed from the sheath of the body and partially awake in the astral realms, higher or lower as the case may be. Suupti is the state of self-oblivion into which the human being is plunged when the percipient consciousness enters into the purely manasic condition, which is self-oblivion for the relatively impotent brain-mind; whereas the turīya state, which is a practical annihilation of the ordinary human consciousness, is an attainment of union with ātmabuddhi overshadowing or working through the higher manas. Actually, therefore, it is becoming at one with the monadic essence.


(Sanskrit) [from jarā aging, old age from the verbal root jṛ to age, grow old + maraṇa dying, death from the verbal root mṛ to die] Old and age and death. The skandhas or groups of attributes — everything finite in the human constitution which is brought over from the last life as karmic tendencies or impulses — reunite at a person’s new birth. They thus constitute his new personality, making the new person not only the child of the person of the last life, but actually a reappearance of that personality plus whatever changes or modifications death and the devachanic interval have brought to pass. After the maturity of the incarnating person is reached, these skandhas which form the human personality slowly begin to weaken and separate in preparation for death. This process continuing finally brings about jarā-maraa, decrepitude and death.


(Sanskrit)[from the verbal root jan to be born, come forth from intrinsic inner vital power] Birth, production, the form of existence fixed by birth; also rank, family, race. In Buddhism, one of the twelve nidānas (causes of existence).

The cause and the effect in the mode of birth taking place according to the ‘Chatur Yoni,’ when in each case a being, whether man or animal, is placed in one of the six (esoteric seven) gati or paths of sentient existence, which esoterically, counting downward, are: (1) the highest Dhyāni (Anupadaka [Aupapāduka]); (2) Devas; (3) Men; (4) Elementals or Nature Spirits; (5) Animals; (6) lower Elementals; (7) organic Germs. These are in the popular or exoteric nomenclature, Devas, Men, Asuras, Beings in Hells, Pretas (hungry demons), and Animals” (TG 103).



(Hebrew) Yĕhovāh. In the Bible, the god of the Hebrews; a modern mispronunciation of the Hebrew alphabetic characters, resulting from the combining by the Jews themselves of the Hebrew consonants of this word (YHVH) with the vowels of the word Adonai (my lords) because the Jews, while always writing or copying the alphabetic characters of the name correctly in their manuscripts, when reading it never pronounced the word YHVH, but read “Adonai” in its stead — writing the Massoretic points of Adonai to vocalize YHVH to produce Yahovah. Consequently when the Bible came to be studied by those unfamiliar with the real pronunciation of YHVH, it was read in various ways, commonly as Jehovah. It is now held by some scholars that YHVH should be pronounced yahweh or yave. It is also given as Yihweh (he will be, or it will be) (SD 2:129). However, Josephus, a priest who undoubtedly knew the correct pronunciation, wrote that it would be highly unlawful for him to divulge it as the Jews regarded it as too holy to pronounce aloud.

Blavatsky writes that the rendering Ja-ho-vah is “a perversion of the Holy Name”: that the majority of the Jews themselves were ignorant of the true pronunciation. “Alone, out of all their nation the high priests had it in their possession, and respectively passed it to their successors,” before their death. “Once a year only, on the day of atonement, the high priest was allowed to pronounce it in a whisper” (IU 2:398-9).

The Hebrews were not the only ones who knew of and revered a divinity whose name when written was conveyed by vowels mainly, as for instance the Gnostic Iao, Ieuo, or Iaou. All these ancient peoples by these vowel-words desired to express the fluid life-giving energy of the globe, of the moon, and of the planetary source — in this case, Saturn.

The early Christian Fathers connected the moon and its functions with Jehovah — as the proximate but not causal “giver of life and death.” Moreover “With the Israelites, the chief function of Jehovah was child-giving, and the esotericism of the Bible, interpreted Kabalistically, shows undeniably the Holy of Holies in the temple to be only the symbol of the womb. . . . This idea must certainly have been borrowed by the Jews from the Egyptians and Indians . . .” (SD 1:264). Jehovah is likewise identified with the serpent or dragon that tempted Eve, the dragon often standing for the primordial principle.

In the Qabbalah, Jehovah is regarded as hermaphrodite and connected with the female Sephirah Binah. The Qabbalists show the word to be “composed of the two-fold name of the first androgyne — Adam and Eve, Jod (or Yodh), Vau and He-Va — the female serpent as a symbol of Divine Intelligence proceeding from the One-Generative or Creative Spirit” (IU 2:398).

From the standpoint of the Jews, Jehovah was their patron deity, the regent of the planet Saturn.


[Latin of Greek Iesous from Hebrew Yēshūa‘ contraction of Yĕhōshua‘ a proper name meaning savior or helper, or that which is spacious or widespread] Indubitably a historical character, whose life as narrated in the Gospels is pure allegory, a story of the initiation chamber. There is a story current from medieval times among the Jews, mentioned in the Sepher Toledoth Yeshua‘ (Book of the Generations of Jesus), to the effect that the Jesus of the Gospels was a Jehoshua ben Panthera, a Jewish adept living about 100 BC. Jesus illustrates the typical sequence in occult history: 1) the coming of a leader or teacher to a people needing to be led and taught; 2) his passing, followed by the adoration, even worship, of his followers; 3) the gradual transformation of historic facts into more or less embroidered legends or mythological tales, which in time cluster so thickly about his memory that his identity as a person, and even his name, are lost; 4) the myth, allegory, or legend; and 5) the efforts of other, later teachers to explain, interpret, and reinstate this earlier teacher, now a purely mythic figure or else materialized and misunderstood.

The Christian Gospels appear to have originated in mystery-dramas, beautiful and often sublime in their inner significances, in which were depicted the experiences of the neophyte and adept in his union with the Logos, and hence such unified individual was called a Logos incarnate as a man, the Logos itself being variously named as Christos or Dionysos, and to have been by stages adapted and given a semi-historical guise, as has happened in other instances besides the Christian mythos. Christ therefore, or the Christos, is not a particular man or an especial incarnation of divinity, but a generic term for the divine as incarnated in all human beings, although Jesus was undoubtedly the name of this great Jewish initiate-avatāra as an individual. Hence this universal allegory in its Christian version has a true historical peg to hang from; for there did appear, sometime before the Christian era, a special cyclic messenger who was due to come on the change of the ecliptic point from one sign of the celestial zodiac to another, from the sign of Aries to Pisces. In theosophical literature, Jesus is considered to be an avatāra, the messenger for the European Messianic or Piscean cycle. As such, Jesus represented a ray sent from the Wondrous Being or spiritual hierarch of the earth into the soul of a pure human being, while the racial buddha, Gautama Buddha, supplied the intermediate or psychological nature in this act of white magic.

“But it is probable that the theosophic effort which Jesus attempted to initiate did not endure for fifty years after his death. Almost immediately after his passing, his disciples, all half-instructed, and in some cases almost illiterate, men . . . foisted upon the world of their time the forms and beliefs of early Christianity; and had there been nothing but these, that religious system had not lived another fifty years. But what happened? During the oncoming of the dark cycle after Jesus (which began as before said about the time of Pythagoras), the last few rays from the setting sun of the ancient light shone feebly in the minds of certain of these Christian Fathers, Clement of Alexandria for one, and Origen of Alexandria for another, and in one or two more like these, who had been initiated at least in the lowest of some of the then degenerate pagan Mysteries; and these men entered into the Christian Church and introduced some poor modicum of that light, . . . which they still cherished; and these rays they derived mainly from the Neo-pythagorean and the Neoplatonic system” (Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy 486-7).

The Hebrew name Jah or Jehovah became identified in the mind of Christians with the name of Jesus, although Jesus never was in any wise identical with the Jewish Jehovah, but was identified in initiation through his own inner god or Father in Heaven, and the Jewish Jehovah mystically was the regent of the planet Saturn.

The first three letters in Greek make I.H.S. placed at the head of representations of the crucified Jesus, often said to stand for Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus the savior of men) or In hoc signo (in this sign), with reference to the alleged vision of a cross of the Emperor Constantine. Jesus is a form of a worldwide mystery-name, whose importance was its meaning, usually given as a three-letter monogram, analogous to the Sanskrit Aum. We find it in the Greek Gnostic Iao and variants are common in ancient Greece, such as Iasios, Iasion, Iason, Iasos; and initiates were known as Iasides or sons of Iaso.


Jina. Spiritual conqueror, one whose has conquered his lower self by his higher self. A term commonly used for the tīrthaṅkaras in Jainism; also used in Buddhism referring to the Buddha, or to each of the five Dhyāni-Buddhas.

Jīva.  A living being, or center of potential vitality and intelligence, equivalent to monad as well as life-atom. “Beginning its career as an unself-conscious god-spark, a jīva — a cosmic elemental born from the cosmic element — its destiny is to pass through all intermediate stages of evolution until finally it becomes a full-blown god, a jīvanmukta” (FSO 225). This is a word means essentially a living being per se, apart from any attributes or qualities that such living being may have or possess. It therefore is the exactly proper equivalent of the theosophical term monad. In one sense, therefore, jīva could be also used for a life-atom, provided that the emphasis be laid on the word life, or rather life-entity — not an “atom of life,” but a being whose essence is pure living individuality. Monad in its divine-spiritual essence, and life-atom in its prāṇicastral-physical being — such is a jīva; and between these two extremes are the numerous planes or sheaths on and in which the individualized consciousness works.

In Jainism the spiritual core or essential life-consciousness essence in each and every living being (including plants, minerals and all invisible beings), living substance. Jains mostly translate jīva into English as ‘soul’.

Jīva is also used for the cosmic life principle or force and is sometimes used interchangeably with prāṇa, the life principle of the human constitution.


(Sanskrit) A highly mystical and philosophical word which means “a freed jīva,” signifying a human being, or an entity equivalent in evolutionary development to a human being, who has attained freedom or release as an individualized monad from the enthralling chains and attractions of the material spheres.

A jīvanmukta is not necessarily without body; and, as a matter of fact, the term is very frequently employed to signify the loftiest class of initiates or Adepts who through evolution have risen above the binding attractions or magnetism of the material spheres. The term is frequently used for a mahātma, whether imbodied or disimbodied, and also occasionally as a descriptive term for a nirvāṇi — one who has reached nirvana during life. Were the nirvāṇi “without body,” the mystical and technical meaning of jīvanmukta would hardly apply. Consequently, jīvanmukta may briefly be said to be a human being who lives in the highest portions of his constitution in full consciousness and power even during earth-life.


[Sanskrit, from jīva living being + ātman self] The human spiritual ego, which is deathless until the end of the solar mahāmanvantara. Strictly, the spiritual monad whose especial seat is the buddhi principle, the seed and the fruit of manas. Its range of consciousness is the solar system. It is an expressive word having much the same significance as jīva, but with emphasis laid upon the last element of the compound, ātman, “self.” Jīvātman is perhaps a better term for monad even than jīva is, because it carries the clear idea of the monad in which the individual self is predominant over all other monadic attributes. One may perhaps describe it by a paraphrase as “the essential self or individuality of the monad.”

Jīvātman is also a term sometimes used for the universal life; but this definition, while correct in a way, is rather confusing because suggesting similarity if not identity with paramātman. Paramātman is the Brahman or universal spirit of a solar system, for instance; and paramātman is therefore the converging point of a kosmic consciousness in which all the hosts of jīvātmans unite as in their hierarchical head. The jīvātmans of any hierarchy are like the rays from the paramātman, their divine-spiritual sun. The jīvātman, therefore, in the case of the human being, or indeed of any other evolving entity, is the spiritual monad, or better perhaps the spiritual ego of that monad.



(Sanskrit) [from the verbal root jñā to know, have knowledge, understand] Intelligence, understanding, knowledge; the old philosophers said that parabrahman is not jta (known), not jñāna (knowledge), and not jñeya (that which may be known), nevertheless parabrahman is the one source of which these three modes of understanding are manifestations.

Jñāna and vidyā are closely similar, with perhaps the suggestion of intuitive intellectual cognizance expressed in jñāna, and a more active and individualized activity expressed by vidyā. Either word can stand for knowledge or wisdom; in theosophy jñāna is often translated as innate or intuitive knowledge, and vidyā as reflective or stored-up cognizance of intellectual and other values, or wisdom, though these distinctions are somewhat arbitrary.