Home » Daily Theosophy Glossary – L

Daily Theosophy Glossary – L

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Daily Theosophy Glossary


List of abbreviations of book names <




(Greek) Lot, destiny; second of the three Moirae (Fates), represented in Greek mythology as allotting to each person the characteristics as well as the length of his life, measuring these by the thread which they spun. Lachesis measured the thread spun by her sister Clotho, which then was cut by Atropos. She is often represented as a maiden with a scroll or globe.

Ladder of Life

A term frequently found in theosophical literature, briefly and neatly expressing the ascending grades or stages of manifested existences in the universe. In one sense the term ladder of life is interchangeable with the other terms, the Hermetic Chain or the Golden Chain.

The universe is imbodied consciousnesses; and these imbodied consciousnesses exist in a practically infinite gradation of varying degrees of perfection — a real ladder of life, or stair of life, stretching endlessly in either direction, for our imagination can conceive of no limits except a hierarchical one; and such hierarchical limitation is but spacial and not actual, qualitative and formal. This ladder of life is marked at certain intervals by landing places, so to say, which are what theosophists call the different planes of being — the different spheres of consciousness, to put the thought in another manner.


A word used in old Asiatic mystical training-schools for “disciple.” (See also Chela)


A “point of disappearance” — which is the Sanskrit meaning. Laya is from the Sanskrit root li, meaning “to dissolve,” “to disintegrate,” or “to vanish away.” A laya-center is the mystical point where a thing disappears from one plane and passes onwards to reappear on another plane. It is that point or spot — any point or spot — in space, which, owing to karmic law, suddenly becomes the center of active life, first on a higher plane and later descending into manifestation through and by the laya-centers of the lower planes. In one sense a laya-center may be conceived of as a canal, a channel, through which the vitality of the superior spheres pours down into, and inspires, inbreathes into, the lower planes or states of matter, or rather of substance. But behind all this vitality there is a directive and driving force. There are mechanics in the universe, mechanics of many degrees of consciousness and power. But behind the pure mechanic stands the spiritual-intellectual mechanician.

Finally, a laya-center is the point where substance rebecomes homogeneous. Any laya-center, therefore, of necessity exists in and on the critical line or stage dividing one plane from another. Any hierarchy, therefore, contains within itself a number of laya-centers. (See also Hierarchy)



The ancient continent, or system of continental masses, inhabited by the various races and subraces of the third root-race. The name was adopted by theosophists from certain European zoologists, especially Sclater and Haeckel, who gave that name to a hypothetical zoologic area or sunken continent in order to explain the distribution of certain animals, especially the lemurs.

Lemuria embraced large areas in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and at one time extended in a horseshoe around Madagascar and South Africa (then but a fragment), while Northern Lemuria stretched into the North Atlantic and sent an arm as far as Norway. A ridge in the Atlantic 9000 feet high, runs south from a point near the British Isles, slopes towards South America, then turns southeast toward the African coast, and thence to Tristan d’Acunha. It would be wrong, however, to suppose that the configuration of Lemuria was always the same; for secular changes are continually operating in all geologic epochs. At one time it covered the whole area from the foot of the Himalayas, westward to Hardvar, eastward to Assam, southward to Southern India and Sumatra, embracing Australia on one side and Madagascar on the other, reaching nearly to the Antarctic Circle; extending far into the Pacific to Easter Island. Its remains are seen in the numerous islands included in this area.

Lemuria, although submerged as a continental system, was not submerged as was Atlantis, but sank because of terrific seismic and volcanic activities lasting for ages. Its Atlantic portion was the geological basis for the succeeding continental system of Atlantis, which thus was rather a development of the Lemurian system than an entirely new and separate body of continental masses.

Lethe (Greek) Forgetfulness; a river of the Underworld which confers upon souls destined to live again on earth the boon of oblivion of their former experiences. It refers to the postmortem destiny of the human soul as it sinks into its pre-devachanic unconsciousness and final carefree devachanic bliss, thus gaining oblivion of inferior human concerns and utter peace before the time comes for the resumption of new bodies on earth. Also it refers to the loss of memory of the postmortem experiences and prebirth panoramic vision before birth.


Lha hla

(Tibetan) God, deity, equivalent to the Sanskrit deva.

Lhagpa hlag pa

(Tibetan) In Tibetan astrology and mysticism the planet Mercury, symbolized by a hand. His solar house is Gemini, which signifies the arms and hands; like them he stands for action and executive skill. Equivalent to the Sanskrit Budha. Also Wednesday.



A learning, evolving entity, each one a unit in one or other of the numberless hosts or hierarchies of them which exist. A life-atom is a vital individualized vehicle or body of a spiritual monad, which latter is the consciousness-center, the ultimate, noblest, highest, finest part of us. The heart of every life-atom is a spiritual monad. Life-atoms are young gods, embryo gods, and are, therefore, in a continuous process of self-expressing themselves on the planes of matter.

A life-atom may be briefly said to be the ensouling power in every primary or ultimate particle. An atom of physical matter is ensouled by such a life-atom, which is its pranicastral-vital primary, the life-atom of it. The life-atom is not the physical atom, which latter is but its garment or vehicle and is compounded of physical matter only, which breaks up when its term of life has run, and which will return again in order to reimbody itself anew through the instrumentality and by the innate force or energy latent in its ensouling primary, the life-atom.

In other words, the life-atom has a house of life, and this house of life is its body or physical atom; and the life-atom itself is the lowest expression of the monadic light within that atomic house.


The physical body is composed essentially of energy, of energies rather, in the forms that are spoken of in modern physical science as electrons and protons. These are in constant movement; they are incessantly active, and are what theosophists call the imbodiments or manifestations of life-atoms. These life-atoms are inbuilt into man’s body during the physical life which he leads on earth, although they are not derivative from outside, but spring forth from within himself — at least a great majority of them are such. This is equivalent to saying that they compose both his physical as well as his intermediate nature, which latter is obviously higher than the physical.

When the man dies — that is to say, when the physical body dies — its elements pass, each and all, into their respective and appropriate spheres: some into the soil, to which those that go there are drawn by magnetic affinity, an affinity impressed upon their life-energies by the man when alive, whose overshadowing will and desires, whose overlordship and power, gave them that direction. Others pass into the vegetation from the same reason that the former are impelled to the mineral kingdom; others pass into the various beasts with which they have, at the man’s death, magnetic affinity, psychic affinity more accurately, an affinity which the man has impressed upon them by his desires and various impulses; and those which take this path go to form the interior or intermediate apparatus of the beasts into which they pass. So much for the course pursued by the life-atoms of the man’s lowest principles.

But there are other life-atoms belonging to him. There are life-atoms, in fact, belonging to the sphere of each one of the seven principles of man’s constitution. This means that there are life-atoms belonging to his intermediate nature and to his spiritual nature and to all grades intermediate between these two higher parts of him. And in all cases, as the monad “ascends” or “rises” through the spheres, as he goes step by step higher on his wonderful postmortem journey, on each such step he discards or casts off the life-atoms belonging to each one of these steps or stages of the journey. With each step, he leaves behind the more material of these life-atoms until, when he has reached the culmination of his wonderful postmortem peregrination, he is, as Paul of the Christians said, living in “a spiritual body” — that is to say, he has become a spiritual energy, a monad.

Nature permits no absolute standing still for anything, anywhere. All things are full of life, full of energy, full of movement; they are both energy and matter, both spirit and substance; and these two are fundamentally one — phases of the underlying reality, of which we see but the maya or illusory forms.

The life-atoms are actually the offspring or the off-throwings of the interior principles of man’s constitution. It is obvious that the life-atoms which ensoul the physical atoms in man’s body are as numerous as the atoms which they ensoul; and there are almost countless hosts of them, decillions upon decillions of them, in practically incomputable numbers. Each one of these life-atoms is a being which is living, moving, growing, never standing still — evolving towards a sublime destiny which ultimately becomes divinity.


This is a term which means the collective hosts of monads, of which hosts there are seven or ten, according to the classification adopted. The monad is a spiritual ego, a consciousness-center, being in the spiritual realms of the universal life what the life-atoms are in the lower planes of form. These monads and life-atoms collectively are the seven (or ten) life-waves — these monads with the life-atoms in and through which they work; these life-atoms having remained, when the former planetary chain went into pralaya, in space as kosmic dust on the physical plane, and as corresponding life-atoms or life-specks of differentiated matter on the intermediate planes above the physical. Out of the working of the monads as they come down into matter — or rather through and by the monadic rays permeating the lower planes of matter — are the globes builded. The seven (or ten) life-waves or hosts of monads consist of monads in seven (or ten) degrees of advancement for each host.

When the hosts of beings forming the life-wave — the life-wave being composed of the entities derived from a former but now dead planet, in our case the moon — find that the time has arrived for them to enter upon their own particular evolutionary course, they cycle downwards as a life-wave along the planetary chain that has been prepared for them by the three hosts of elementary beings, of the three primordial elementary worlds, the forerunners of the life-wave, yet integral parts of it. This life-wave passes seven times in all around the seven spheres of our planetary chain, at first cycling down the shadowy arc through all the seven elements of the kosmos, gathering experience in each one of them; each particular entity of the life-wave, no matter what its grade or kind — spiritual, psychic, astral, mental, divine — advancing, until at the bottom of the arc, when the middle of the fourth round is attained, they feel the end of the downward impulse. Then begins the upward impulse, the reascent along the luminous arc upwards, towards the source from which the life-wave originally came.

Liṅga śarīra

[Sanskrit, from liṅga characteristic mark, model, pattern + śarīra form from the verbal root sri to moulder, waste away] A pattern or model that is impermanent; the model-body or astral body, only slightly more ethereal than the physical body; the second principle in the ascending scale of the sevenfold human constitution. It is the astral model around which the physical body is built, and from which the physical body flows or develops as growth proceeds. “These astral realms are not one single plane, but a series of planes growing gradually more ethereal or spiritual as they approach the inward spheres of Nature’s constitution or structure. The liṅga-śarīra is formed before the body is formed, and thus serves as a model or pattern around which the physical body is molded and grows to maturity; it is as mortal as is the physical body, and disappears with the physical body” (Occult Glossary 88), dissolving atom by atom with the atoms of the physical corpse.

The liṅga-śarīra has great tensile strength. It changes continuously during a lifetime, although these changes never depart from the fundamental human type or pattern, just as the physical body alters every moment. It also possesses the ability to exteriorize itself to a certain distance from its physical encasement, but in no case more than a few feet. It is composed of electromagnetic matter, which is somewhat more refined than the matter of our physical body. The whole world was composed of such matter in far past ages before it became the dense physical sphere it now is. After long ages the astral form had evolved and perfected, so that it has the form that the human races had during the early period of the third root-race — a more or less materialized concretion of the still more ethereal astrals of the first and second root-races. After another long period, during which the cycle of further descent into matter progressed, the gradually thickening astral form oozed forth from itself a coat of skin, corresponding to the Hebrew allegory of the Garden of Eden. Thus the present physical flesh-form of mankind appears.

The astral form sustains and permeates the body, containing the real or causal organs corresponding to the physical outer sense organs. It has its own complete system of nerves and arteries for conveying the various astral auric fluids, which are to that body as our blood, nervous energy, and prāṇic currents are to the physical. Hence, the liṅga-śarīra is the real personal body.

Amongst others of its functions, it automatically registers and retains all the effects, including the physical memories, of earth-life, and thus automatically and of necessity repeats after death, in accordance with its limited powers, what the person knew, said, thought, and saw during life. If properly understood, the workings of the liṅga-śarīra during life would give the key to many of what are now called the mysteries and problems of psychological and physiological science. (From: ETG)


(Sanskrit) This word comes from the verb-root lip, meaning “to write”; hence the word lipikas means the “scribes.” Mystically, they are the celestial recorders, and are intimately connected with the working of karma, of which they are the agents. They are the karmic “Recorders or Annalists, who impress on the (to us) invisible tablets of the Astral Light, ‘the great picture-gallery of eternity,’ a faithful record of every act, and even thought, of man [and indeed of all other entities and things], of all that was, is, or ever will be, in the phenomenal Universe” (The Secret Doctrine 1:104).

Their action although governed strictly by kosmic consciousness is nevertheless rigidly automatic, for their work is as automatic as is the action of karma itself. They are entities as a matter of fact, but entities which work and act with the rigid automatism of the kosmic machinery, rather than like the engineer who supervises and changes the running of his engines. In one sense they may perhaps better be called kosmic energies — a most difficult matter to describe.



(Greek) plural logoi. Word; expressive cosmic intelligence manifested in every rational being. With Plato, that power of the mind which is manifested in speech; its relation to nous or intelligence is not always clearly distinguished. With reference to the logos in man, an important distinction was made by the ancients between the logos endiathetos (ideal or unspoken word) and the logos prophorikos (expressed or spoken word), the former being an unexpressed idea in the mind. The word was adopted by Christian theologians mingled with ideas taken from the Hebrews, used in the second sense, as found in the first chapter of John, where the Logos seems almost anthropomorphized.

In old Greek philosophy the word logos was used in many ways, of which the Christians often sadly misunderstood the profoundly mystical meaning. Logos is a word having several applications in the esoteric philosophy, for there are different kinds or grades of logoi, some of them of divine, some of them of a spiritual character; some of them having a cosmic range, and others ranges much more restricted. In fact, every individual entity, no matter what its evolutionary grade on the ladder of life, has its own individual logos. The divine-spiritual entity behind the sun is the solar logos of our solar system. Small or great as every solar system may be, each has its own logos, the source or fountainhead of almost innumerable logoi of less degree in that system. Every man has his own spiritual logos; every atom has its own logos; every atom likewise has its own paramātman and mūlaprakṛti, for every entity everywhere has its own highest. These things and the words which express them are obviously relative.

One meaning of the Greek logos is “word” — a phrase or symbol taken from the ancient Mysteries meaning the “lost word,” the “lost” logos of man’s heart and brain. The logos of our own planetary chain, so far as this fourth round is concerned, is the Wondrous Being or Silent Watcher.

The term, therefore, is a relative and not an absolute one, and has many applications.

In theosophy, logos stands for the manifested unity at the head of any hierarchy, which is the First Logos. There are innumerable such logoi in cosmic space. The Second Logos emanates from it and is dual, combining both the active and passive sides of the emanation from the First Logos, just as a word combines idea or thought with the vibratory energy of sound. The Third Logos, again, is the offspring or emanation from the Second or Dual Logos.

It is just in these three logoi, considered as a cosmic unit, that arose the original teaching of the Christian Trinity. In the original Christian idea, the Son was identified with the Third Logos and proceeded from the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Second Logos, originally in Christianity a feminine cosmic power; whereas the Roman Catholic Church made the procession of the Son come directly from the First Logos or Father, the Holy Ghost being misplaced and made the Third Logos. In later developments of Christian theology, the Logos is spoken of as the Word made flesh, the manifestation of God on earth, the Son of God, Christ, the miscalled Second Person of the Trinity. This idea was still further narrowed and debased into the doctrine of a single and special earthy manifestation of the Godhead.

After parabrahman, the one ineffable and unthinkable reality, comes the First or Unmanifested Logos, corresponding to paramatman in cosmos and atman in man, the supreme monadic self in any hierarchy; then as an emanation from the former comes the quasi-manifested or Second Logos, corresponding to cosmic and human buddhi, always envisaged as a feminine potency; and then from the former two proceeds the manifested, creative, or Third Logos, corresponding to mahat on the cosmic plane and manas in the human constitution. Thus Logos is a center of unity in a being, which may exist in an unmanifest or a manifest condition, but always derivative from the supreme mystery above it — to which must be added an intermediate state of partial or incipient manifestation. Man is sometimes spoken of as the Third Logos, as it corresponds to manas.

“This [first] Logos may be called in the language of old writers either Eswara or Pratyagatma or Sabda Brahmam. It is called the Verbum or the Word by the Christians, and it is the divine Christos who is eternally in the bosom of his father. It is called Avalokiteswara by the Buddhists; at any rate, Avalokiteswara in one sense is the Logos in general, . . . In almost every doctrine they have formulated the existence of a centre of spiritual energy which is unborn and eternal, and which exists in a latent condition in the bosom of Parabrahmam at the time of pralaya, and starts as a centre of conscious energy at the time of cosmic activity. It is the first gnatha or the ego in the cosmos, and every other ego and every other self . . . is but its reflection or manifestation. In its inmost nature it is not unknowable as Parabrahmam, but it is an object of the highest knowledge that man is capable of acquiring. . . .

“ . . . Parabrahmam by itself cannot be seen as it is. It is seen by the Logos with a veil thrown over it, and that veil is the mighty expanse of cosmic matter. It is the basis of all material manifestations in the cosmos.

“ . . . the first manifestation of Parabrahmam is a Trinity, the highest Trinity that we are capable of understanding. It consists of Mulaprakriti, Eswara or the Logos, and the conscious energy of the Logos, which is its power and light; and here we have the three principles upon which the whole cosmos seems to be based. First, we have matter; secondly, we have force — at any rate, the foundation of all the forces in the cosmos; and thirdly, we have the ego or the one root of self, of which every other kind of self is but a manifestation or reflection” (Notes on BG 18-22).

On account of the universal analogies running throughout Nature, every cosmic unit, such as a solar system or a sun, is an expression in itself of a minor series of First, Second, and Third Logoi; and this primordial Triad through the Third Logos breaks into seven offspring-logoi, which become the seven solar logoi.


(Sanskrit) A word meaning “place” or “locality” or, as much more frequently used in theosophy, a “world” or “sphere” or “plane.”

The lokas are divided into rūpa-lokas and arūpa-lokas — “material worlds” and “spiritual spheres.” There is a wide range of teaching connected with the lokas and talas which belongs to the deeper reaches of the esoteric philosophy. (See also Arūpa, Rūpa, Tala)


(Sanskrit) [from loka world + pāla protector from the verbal root to protect] The spiritual supporters, rulers, and guardians either of a universe or of a world. The cosmic, solar, or planetary spirits who preside over the eight points of the compass, among them being the four Mahārājas. Each of these guardian spirits has an elephant (or other symbolic animal) who takes part in the defense and protection of the quarter, and these eight elephants are themselves sometimes called lokapālas. These elephants and their spouses pertain “to fancy and afterthought, though all of them have an occult significance” (SD 1:128). According to the Hindu pantheon, Indra presides over the east; Agni, the southeast; Yama, the south; Sūrya, the southwest; Varūṇa, the west; Vāyu, the northwest; Kuvera, the north; and Soma, the northeast.



Latin) Light-bringer [cf Greek Phosphoros; or Eosphoros dawn-bringer]; the planet Venus, the morning star. Lucifer is light bringer to earth, not only physically as the brightest of the planets, but in a mystical sense also. In mysticism he is the chief of those minor powers or logoi who are said to rebel against high heaven and to be cast down to the bottomless pit — the so-called war in heaven and the fall of the angels. This allegory is found also in the legend concerning Prometheus, in the Hindu Mahāsura who rebels against Brahmā and is cast by Śiva into pātala, and in the Scandinavian Loki. In the cyclic sweep of evolution, spirit has first to descend or become involved in differentiation and in the worlds of matter, so that worlds and beings may be brought forth and evolved. The logoi who thus bring the light may allegorically be said, like Prometheus, to steal the fire, and their assertion of divine free will may be construed into an act of evolutionary rebellion; yet such is their karmic function as well as duty.

Lucifer has been transformed in later Occidental theology into a synonym for the Evil One or the Devil. If the god Jehovah were the highest divinity, which this Jewish tribal deity is not, then any power withstanding him must necessarily be considered to be his adversary; and in the same way the teaching as to the immanent Christ, not only in the world but in each individual person, not being altogether agreeable with the doctrine of salvation by faith in an external savior, became transformed into the Tempter inspiring man to sinful rebellion against God. Lucifer in a very true sense stands for the self-conscious mind in man, which is at once tempter and enlightener — tempter in its lower aspects and enlightener and inspirer in its higher. See also Mānasaputras; Prometheus; Satan

Lunar Pitri

Lunar of course means “belonging to the moon,” while pitis a Sanskrit word meaning “father.” It is a term used in theosophy to signify the seven or ten grades of evolving entities which at the end of the lunar manvantara pass into a nirvanic state, to leave it aeons later as the seven or tenfold hierarchy of beings which inform the planetary chain of earth. In a general sense lunar pits means all entities which originally came from the moon-chain to the earth-chain; but in a more particular and restricted sense it refers to those elements of the human constitution beneath the evolutionary standing of the agniṣvāttas.

Another term for lunar pitris is lunar ancestors or barhiṣad.  These lunar ancestors are usually given as of seven classes, three being arūpa, incorporeal, and four being rūpa or corporeal. There is a vast body of teaching connected with the lunar pitris, of which the best modern exposition thus far given is to be found in H. P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine. Briefly, the earth-chain including our own globe Terra was populated from the moon-chain, because all entities now on earth, whatever their grade in evolution, came from the chain of the moon. (See also Pits, Agniṣvāttas)


(Greek) A family living in ancient Athens, hereditary torch-bearers in the Eleusinian Mysteries. The members of this family formed with the Eumolpidae, likewise hereditary officials, two of the most important functionaries in the celebration of these archaic rites. The torchbearers with the hierophants (Eumolpidae) had to be men of proved and known integrity and of spotless life, until the Mysteries degenerated in later times.