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Daily Theosophy Glossary – M

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Daily Theosophy Glossary


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(Sanskrit) Belonging to the middle way; a sect mentioned in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, probably at first a sect of Hindu atheists. A school of the same name was founded later in Tibet and China, and as it adopted some of the esoteric principles taught by Nagārjuna, one of the great founders of the esoteric Mahāyāna system, it had certain elements of esoteric truth. But because of its tendency by means of thesis and antithesis to reduce everything into contrary categories, and then to deny both, it may be called a school of Nihilists for whom everything is an illusion and an error in the world of thought, in the subjective as well as in the objective universe. This school is a good example of the danger of wandering too far in mere intellectual disquisition from the fundamental bases of the esoteric philosophy, for such merely brain-mind activity will infallibly lead to a philosophy of barren negation.


The anglicized form of a Greek compound meaning “great arrangement,” or more simply the great ordered system of the celestial bodies of all kinds and their various inhabitants, including the all-important idea that this arrangement is the result of interior orderly processes, the effects of indwelling consciousnesses. In other and more modern phrasing the macrocosm is the vast universe, without definable limits, which surrounds us, and with particular emphasis laid on the interior, invisible, and ethereal planes. In the visioning or view of the ancients the macrocosm was an animate kosmic entity, an “animal” in the Latin sense of this word, as an organism possessing a directing and guiding soul. But this was only the outward or exoteric view. In the Mystery schools of the archaic ages, the macrocosm was considered to be not only what is hereinbefore just stated, but also to consist more definitely and specifically of seven, ten, and even twelve planes or degrees of consciousness-substance ranging from the superdivine through all the intermediate stages to the physical, and even to degrees below the physical, these comprised in one kosmic organic unit, or what moderns would call a universe. In this sense of the word macrocosm is but another name for kosmic hierarchy, and it must be remembered in this connection that these hierarchies are simply countless in number and not only fill but actually compose and are indeed the spaces of frontierless SPACE.

The macrocosm was considered to be filled full not only with gods, but with innumerable multitudes or armies of evolving entities, from the fully self-conscious to the quasi-self-conscious downwards through the merely conscious to the “unconscious.” Note well that in strict usage the term macrocosm was never applied to the Boundless, to boundless, frontierless infinitude, what the Qabbalists called Eyn-soph. In the archaic wisdom, the macrocosm, belonging in the astral world, considered in its causal aspect, was virtually interchangeable with what modern theosophists call the Absolute.


(Sanskrit) One of the two great epic poems of ancient India, the largest poetic work known to literature, consisting of 220,000 lines. The masses of tradition and tales in this epic make it the national treasury from which bards, poets, dramatists, and artists, as from an inexhaustible source, draw their themes. It contains the history of the family of the Bharatas in addition to a great many beautiful truly mystical and occult teachings, and a few really splendid minor episodes like the Bhagavad-Gītā and Anugītā. Tradition makes Vyāsa — a generic name of high literary authority, used by at least several archaic writers — the author of this grand poem. The main theme of the epic is the great struggle between the Kauravas and the Pāṇḍavas, descendants through Bharata from Puru, the great ancestor of one branch of the Lunar race. The object of the struggle was the kingdom whose capital was Hastinapura (‘elephant city’), the ruins of which are said to be traceable 57 miles northeast of Delhi, on an old bed of the Gaṅgā (Ganges).


(Sanskrit) [from mahā great + buddhi consciousness, spiritual soul] Great buddhi or consciousness; synonym of Mahat (cosmic mind or intelligence).


(Sanskrit) [from mahā great + bhūta element from the verbal root bhū to be, become] Great or primordial element; the gross or vehicular cosmic elements in contradistinction from the subtle or causative cosmic elements (tanmātras) out of which the mahābhūtas are evolved. Five are enumerated exoterically — aether, fire, air, water, and earth — but in the esoteric enumeration there are seven, ten, or twelve. Also an adjective meaning being great, or relating to the gross elements.

The mahābhūtas are so called because they are the karmic fruits or resultants from the preceding cosmic manvantara, so that even these great cosmic elements begin their evolutionary courses in the new cosmic manvantara at the exact point in development which they had acquired when the preceding pralaya began.

The tanmātras are the inner vital cosmic principles, the causal rudiments, which evolve forth the mahābhūtas. The distinction between them may be seen by an analogy drawn from the human constitution: the difference between sense as a faculty or power and sense organ as the vehicle of the sense faculty. The five senses hitherto developed in the human being — hearing, sight, touch, taste, and smell — have their five corresponding sense organs, the senses producing through evolution and time their respective organs. Similarly on the cosmic scale, the tanmātras correspond to the senses in the human constitution, while the mahābhūtas correspond to the sense organs in the human body.


(Sanskrit-Tibetan) [from Sanskrit mahā great + Tibetan chohan lord] The great lord; “the chief of a spiritual Hierarchy, or of a school of Occultism; the head of the trans-Himalayan mystics” (Theosophical Glossary p. 200).


(Sanskrit)[from mahā great + manvantara period of manifestation] A great cycle of cosmic manifestation and activity, whether of a universe, solar system, or planet. The mahāmanvantara of a solar system or Life of Brahmā is a period of 311,040,000,000,000 terrestrial years. A mahāmanvantara of the earth-chain is a Day of Brahmā or a period of seven rounds of the planetary chain. We have lived somewhat more than one-half of our planetary mahāmanvantara; and again 50 Years of Brahmā (one half of the Life of Brahmā) have also passed away. We have thus reached the first Divine Day of the first Divine Month of the ascending cycle of the second cosmic period of fifty Divine Years of the cosmic mahāmanvantara.

The day after the mahāmanvantara is the Day-Be-With-Us or the Christian Day of Judgment. Then all individualities are merged into one, each still possessing essential or intrinsic knowledge of itself. But at that time, what to us now is nonconscious or the unconscious, will be absolute consciousness.


(Sanskrit) [from mahā great + māyā illusion] The great illusion; the manifested universe in its totality. “Esoteric philosophy, teaching an objective Idealism — though it regards the objective Universe and all in it as Māyā, temporary illusion — draws a practical distinction between collective illusion, Mahāmāyā, from the purely metaphysical stand-point, and the objective relations in it between various conscious Egos so long as this illusion lasts” (SD 1:631). The belief in the separateness of the universe, and everything in it, from the absolute divine All is one of the greatest delusions of mahāmāyā.


(Sanskrit) [from mahā great + rāja king] Great king; in Hindu literature four are spoken of as the mystical regents and protectors of the four quarters of the earth — north, south, east, and west — because they are the mystical regents and guardians of cosmic space in our solar system.

In Egyptian temples the parti-colored curtain separating the holy recess from the place for the congregation was drawn over the five pillars symbolizing our five senses as well as the five root-races, while the four colors of the curtain represented the four cardinal points and the four as yet evolved cosmico-terrestrial elements. This grouping, among other things, thus symbolized that it is through the four high rulers of the four cosmic quarters that our five senses become cognizant of the hidden truths of nature. The same mystic symbolism is found in the Tabernacle and the square courtyard prepared by Moses in the wilderness, “in the Zoroastrian caves, in the rock-cut temples of India, as in all the sacred square buildings of antiquity that have survived to this day. This is shown definitely by Layard, who finds the four cardinal points, and the four primitive elements, in the religion of every country, under the shape of square obelisks, the four sides of the pyramids . . . Of these elements and their points the four Mahārājahs were the regents and the directors” (SD 1:126).

The four Mahārājas correspond to the cherubim, seraphim, the winged globes, fiery or winged wheels, the gandharvas (sweet singers), asuras, kinnaras, and celestial nāgas. In Chinese Buddhism the Mahārājas are called the four hidden dragons of wisdom: the Regent of the North is called the Black Warrior, of the East the White Tiger, of the South the Vermilion Bird, and of the West the Azure Dragon.

There are profound, highly mystical differences which distinguish the Mahārājas from the lipikas. The Mahārājas, who are both the protectors of mankind on earth and the agents of karma, are those highly evolved spiritual powers or individualized cosmic beings who belong to the light-side of universal nature, to the hierarchies of compassion representing beings of unfolded evolutionary development who by the very nature of their essence become almost the automatic guardians of light and cosmic order which the semi-intelligent and so-called unintelligent forces and energies of nature automatically obey.

The lipikas, on the other hand, are cosmic spiritual entities who might almost be called the viceroys of the sublime cosmic hierarch of our galaxy. For this reason their actions or functions are of so widely impersonal a character, for they operate not so much from power and consciousness belonging solely to the solar system, but in obedience to the spiritual vital mandates of the galactic sphere, to which they are wholly subservient and of whose flow of intelligent impersonal forces they are but impartial ministers in almost instinctual obedience. They represent what might be called the impersonal flow of cosmic destiny.

Mahāśiva (Mahāshiva)

(Sanskrit) Great Śiva (Shiva) ; a title of Śiva. Source of the avatāras of Śiva. See also Bīja


(Sanskrit) [from mahā great + asura demon from a not + sura god] The great asura; the Hindu Lucifer. Exoterically, Mahāsura has been rendered by some Europeans as comparable with the Christian Satan; but esoterically he is the Great Spirit. The word sura is usually translated “god” and asura, “not-gods,” demons or evil beings; but they are precisely the opposite when properly understood. In the Vedas the suras are always connected with Sūrya (the sun), and hence regarded as somewhat inferior divinities or devas. As the asuras are the opposites of these, they are superior beings of the highest character — a subtle and et true distinction.


[Sanskrit, from the verbal root mah to be great] The great; cosmic mind or intelligence, the basis and fundamental cause of the intelligent operations in and of nature considered as an organism. Blavatsky called it the first product of pradhāna, the first-born of the Logos, universal mind limited by manvantaric duration, the cosmic noumenon of matter, the one impersonal architect of the universe, the great manvantaric principle of intelligence, the Third Logos, and the divine mind in active operation.

Eternal in its essence and periodical in its manifestations, mahat combines the ideal plans and prototypes of all beings and things in the manifested objective and subjective world. In another sense it is the entire aggregate of the dhyāni-chohanic host, and therefore the source of the active organic cosmic intelligence controlling and directing the operations of fohat; it is likewise the direct source of the mānasaputras, a class of the dhyāni-chohanic host.

In Brahmanical philosophy, mahat is the father-mother of manas. In Sakya philosophy, it corresponds to kosmic buddhi or mahābuddhi and is called the first of the seven prakṛtis or productive creation, the other six being ahakāra and the five tanmātras.

When a ray from mahat expresses itself as the human manas (or even as the manasic attribute of the finite gods), it then because of surrounding māyā involves the quality of egoity or aham-ship. Thus it is said that the great Tree of Life has parabrahman as its seed, mahat as its trunk, and ahakāra as its spreading branches.


(Mahātman, Sanskrit) “Great soul” or “great self” is the meaning of this compound word (mahā, “great”; ātman, “self”). The mahātmas (mahatmas in English) are perfected men, relatively speaking, known in theosophical literature as teachers, elder brothers, masters, sages, seers, and by other names. They are indeed the “elder brothers” of mankind. They are men, not spirits — men who have evolved through self-devised efforts in individual evolution, always advancing forwards and upwards until they have now attained the lofty spiritual and intellectual human supremacy that now they hold. They were not so created by any extra-cosmic Deity, but they are men who have become what they are by means of inward spiritual striving, by spiritual and intellectual yearning, by aspiration to be greater and better, nobler and higher, just as every good man in his own way so aspires. They are farther advanced along the path of evolution than the majority of men are. They possess knowledge of nature’s secret processes, and of hid mysteries, which to the average man may seem to be little short of the marvelous — yet, after all, this mere fact is of relatively small importance in comparison with the far greater and more profoundly moving aspects of their nature and lifework.

Especially are they called teachers because they are occupied in the noble duty of instructing mankind, in inspiring elevating thoughts, and in instilling impulses of forgetfulness of self into the hearts of men. Also are they sometimes called the guardians, because they are, in very truth, the guardians of the race and of the records — natural, racial, national — of past ages, portions of which they give out from time to time as fragments of a now long-forgotten wisdom, when the world is ready to listen to them; and they do this in order to advance the cause of truth and of genuine civilization founded on wisdom and brotherhood.

Never — such is the teaching — since the human race first attained self-consciousness has this order or association or society or brotherhood of exalted men been without its representatives on our earth.

It was the mahātmas who founded the modern Theosophical Society through their envoy or messenger, H. P. Blavatsky, in New York in 1875.

Mahāviṣṇu (Mahāvishnu)

(Sanskrit) Great Viṣṇu (Vishnu) ; a title of Viṣṇu. Source of the avatāras of Viṣṇu. See also Bīja


[from mahā great + yāna vehicle] Great vehicle; a highly mystical system of Northern Buddhist philosophy and learning, in the main founded by Nagārjuna. Of the two schools of Buddhism, usually classed under the Mahāyāna and Hīnayāna or Theravada respectively, the Mahāyāna is usually called the esoteric and the Hīnayāna the exoteric. But due to human weakness, love of the eye doctrine, and misunderstanding of the rites and ceremonials enjoined, the exoteric teaching of the Mahāyāna in its popular aspects is stressed today; while its deeper, more mystical teaching has to a large extent been withdrawn into the charge of initiated adepts. The Hīnayāna school is the oldest, while the Mahāyāna is of a later period, having originated after the death of Buddha. Yet the tenets of the latter are ancient indeed, and both schools in reality teach the same doctrine. The Mahāyāna system exists in different schools varying among themselves to a greater or less degree as regards interpretation of fundamental tenets which all these subordinate schools nevertheless accept. (From ETG) For more details and history see Wikipedia: Mahayana

Maitra or Maitreya

(Sanskrit) [from mitra friend, a name of the spiritual sun] As an adjective, friendly, benevolent, kind; the masculine noun refers to various individuals: a bodhisattva and future buddha; the god Mitra; with reference to human beings, a friend of all creatures — one who has arrived at the highest state of human perfection. It signified one of the perfect states of Buddhism, sometimes enumerated as one of the ten pāramitās.

Maitreya is also a well-known Buddhist arhat.


(Sanskrit) Equivalent to the Kalkī (white horse) avatāra of Viṣṇu, to Sosiosh, and other Messiahs. Popular teaching states that Gautama Buddha visited him in a celestial abode and commissioned him to come to earth as his successor 5,000 years after the Buddha’s death. Theosophic philosophy teaches that the next buddha will appear during the seventh subrace of this round.


(Sanskrit) A kind of sea animal; the tenth zodiacal sign, Capricorn. Makara likewise represents a pentagon. The figure of the complete material universe is a dodecahedron, a figure bounded by pentagons. Makara represents both the microcosm and macrocosm, as external objects of perception.


Man is in his essence a spark of the central kosmic spiritual fire. Man being an inseparable part of the universe of which he is the child — the organism of graded consciousness and substance which the human constitution contains or rather is — is a copy of the graded organism of consciousnesses and substances of the universe in its various planes of being, inner and outer, especially inner as being by far the more important and larger, because causal.

Human beings are one class of “young gods” incarnated in bodies of flesh at the present stage of their own particular evolutionary journey. The human stage of evolution is about halfway between the undeveloped life-atom and the fully developed kosmic spirit or god.

From another point of view, man is a sheaf or bundle of forces or energies. Force and matter, or spirit and substance being fundamentally one, hence, man is de facto a sheaf or bundle of matters of various and differing grades of ethereality, or of substantiality; and so are all other entities and things everywhere.

Man’s nature, and the nature of the universe likewise, of which man is a reflection or microcosm or “little world,” is composite of seven stages or grades or degrees of ethereality or of substantiality; or, kosmically speaking, of three generally inclusive degrees: gods, monads, and atoms. And so far as man is concerned, we may take the New Testament division of the Christians, which gives the same triform conception of man, that he is composed of spirit, soul, body — remembering, however, that all these three words are generalizing terms.

Man stands at the midway point of the evolutionary ladder of life: below him are the hosts of beings less than he is; above him are other hosts greater than he is only because older in experience, riper in wisdom, stronger in spiritual and in intellectual fiber and power. And these beings are such as they are because of the evolutionary unfoldment of the inherent faculties and powers immanent in the individuality of the inner god — the ever-living, inner, individualized spirit.

Man, then, like everything else — entity or what is called “thing” — is, to use the modern terminology of philosophical scientists, an “event,” that is to say, the expression of a central consciousness-center or monad passing through one or another particular phase of its long, long pilgrimage over and through infinity, and through eternity. This, therefore, is the reason why the theosophist often speaks of the monadic consciousness-center as the pilgrim of eternity.

Man can be considered as a being composed of three essential upādhis or bases: first, the monadic or divine-spiritual; second, that which is supplied by the Lords of Light, the so-called mānasa-dhyānis, meaning the intellectual and intuitive side of man, the element-principle that makes man Man; and the third upādhi we may call the vital-astral-physical.

These three bases spring from three different lines of evolution, from three different and separate hierarchies of being. This is the reason why man is composite. He is not one sole and unmixed entity; he is a composite entity, a “thing” built up of various elements, and hence his principles are to a certain extent separable. Any one of these three bases can be temporarily separated from the two others without bringing about the death of the man physically. But the elements that go to form any one of these bases cannot be separated without bringing about physical dissolution or inner dissolution.

These three lines of evolution, these three aspects or qualities of man, come from three different hierarchies or states, often spoken of as three different planes of being. The lowest comes from the vital-astral-physical earth, ultimately from the moon, our cosmogonic mother. The middle, the mānasic or intellectual-intuitional, from the sun. The monadic from the monad of monads, the supreme flower or acme, or rather the supreme seed of the universal hierarchy which forms our kosmical universe or universal kosmos.


(Sanskrit, from the verbal root man to think) The seat of mentation and egoic consciousness; the third principle in the descending scale of the sevenfold human constitution. Manas is the human person, the reincarnating ego, immortal in essence, enduring in its higher aspects through the entire manvantara. When imbodied, manas is dual, gravitating toward buddhi in its higher aspects and in its lower aspects toward kāma. The first is intuitive mind, the second the animal, ratiocinative consciousness, the lower mentality and passions of the personality. “ ‘Manas is dual — lunar in the lower, solar in its upper portion’ . . . and herein is contained the mystery of an adept’s as of a profane man’s life, as also that of the post-mortem separation of the divine from the animal man” (The Secret Doctrine 2:495-6).

At present manas is not fully developed in mankind, and kāma or desire is still ascendant. In the fifth round, however, manas “will be fully active and developed in the entire race. Hence the people of the earth have not yet come to the point of making a conscious choice as to the path they will take; but when in the cycle referred to, Manas is active, all will then be compelled to consciously make the choice to right or left, the one leading to complete and conscious union with Ātma, the other to the annihilation of those beings who prefer that path” (Ocean of Theosophy p. 59). Those human beings who cannot rise to the higher manasic and buddhic aspects of themselves in the fifth round will fall into their nirvāic rest for the remainder of this embodiment of the earth-chain, to re-emerge at the beginning of the next embodiment of the earth to pick up their evolutionary journey.

The annihilation of those who choose the left-hand or matter path occurs because they use their manasic faculty to its prostitution for selfish and evil purposes, which leads to a final rupture of the manasic links. When this rupture is complete, the entity being no longer attached to the higher triad sinks rapidly into the whirlpool of absolute matter and is finally disintegrated into its component life-atoms. The higher triad or monad thus freed from its downward-tending personality, after a period of rest in spiritual realms evolves a new lower garment in which to manifest in a later manvantara.

If the union between the lower or personal manas, and the individual reincarnating ego or higher manas, has not been effected during the course of past lives, then the former is left to share the fate of the lower animal, gradually to dissolve into its component life-atoms and to have its personality annihilated. But even then the spiritual ego remains of necessity a distinct being.

“The higher and the lower Manas are one . . . and yet they are not — and that is the great mystery. The Higher Manas or Ego is essentially divine, and therefore pure; no stain can pollute it, as no punishment can reach it, per se, the more so since it is innocent of, and takes no part in, the deliberate transactions of its Lower Ego. Yet by the very fact that, though dual and during life the Higher is distinct from the Lower, ‘the Father and Son’ are one, and because that in reuniting with the parent Ego, the Lower Soul fastens upon and impresses upon it all its bad as well as good actions — both have to suffer, the Higher Ego, though innocent and without blemish, has to bear the punishment of the misdeeds committed by the lower Self together with it in their future incarnation. The whole doctrine of atonement is built upon this old esoteric tenet; for the Higher Ego is the antitype of that which is on this earth the type, namely, the personality” (Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge p. 55-6).

Should the human personality be of a heavily gross and materialistic type so that very few spiritual impulses are gathered in after death by the higher triad, then this higher triad is reincarnated almost immediately because there was nothing in the life just lived to call for the devachan experience of the personality. There can be no devachan for the mānasic personality unless this personality has had in the life just lived at least a modicum of spiritual thought, yearning, and impulse. It is the higher manas which experiences devachan because of the spiritual qualities inherent in this higher manas and to which it has given imperfect expression in the life just lived. It is in devachan that this higher manas has its field of spiritual-mental activity, where it receives its due compensation, its mead of reward, for all the spiritual disappointments, sufferings, and imperfect expressions which it had to bear during earth-life.

Mahat or universal mind is the source of manas: what manas is in the human constitution, mahat is in the cosmic constitution. Manas is thus a direct ray from the cosmic mahat. Manas is sometimes loosely called the kshetrajnā or real incarnating and permanent spiritual ego, the individuality; but the kshetrajnā strictly speaking is the buddhi-manas or higher manas. From ETG


(Sanskrit) [from mānasa mental, intelligent from manas mind + dhyāni meditation], a class of pitṛs. The agniṣvātta pitṛs, the givers of manas (mind) and intellectual consciousness to man; those solar and lunar pitṛs or dhyānis who incarnated by irradiation from themselves in the mentally senseless forms of semi-ethereal flesh of third root-race mankind. In the Purāṇas, considered the highest of the pitṛs (fathers of mankind). The agniṣvāttas or mānasa-dhyānis are intimately connected evolutionally and in occult cosmology with the sun, and are hence often called the solar ancestors of mankind. They are, in fact, one of the several classes of monads springing directly from mahat who provided man with his intellect, mind, and sense of individual moral responsibility.


(Sanskrit) [from mānasa mental from manas mind + pitṛ father] Fathers of mind; those spiritual beings who endowed mankind with intelligence. “The monad of the animal is as immortal as that of man, yet the brute knows nothing of this; it lives an animal life of sensation just as the first human would have lived, when attaining physical development in the Third Race, had it not been for the Agniṣvātta and the Mānasa Pitṛs” (SD 2:525n).


(Sanskrit) This is a compound word: manas, “mind,” putra, “son” — “sons of mind.” The teaching is that there exists a Hierarchy of Compassion, which H. P. Blavatsky sometimes called the Hierarchy of Mercy or of Pity. This is the light side of nature as contrasted with its matter side or shadow side, its night side. It is from this Hierarchy of Compassion that came those semi-divine entities at about the middle period of the third root-race of this round, who incarnated in the semi-conscious, quasi-senseless men of that period. These advanced entities are otherwise known as the solar lhas as the Tibetans call them, the solar spirits, who were the men of a former kalpa, and who during the third root-race thus sacrificed themselves in order to give us intellectual light — incarnating in those senseless psychophysical shells in order to awaken the divine flame of egoity and self-consciousness in the sleeping egos which we then were. They are ourselves because belonging to the same spirit-ray that we do; yet we, more strictly speaking, were those half-unconscious, half-awakened egos whom they touched with the divine fire of their own being. This, our “awakening,” was called by H. P. Blavatsky, the incarnation of the mānasaputras, or the sons of mind or light. Had that incarnation not taken place, we indeed should have continued our evolution by merely “natural” causes, but it would have been slow almost beyond comprehension, almost interminable; but that act of self-sacrifice, through their immense pity, their immense love, though, indeed, acting under karmic impulse, awakened the divine fire in our own selves, gave us light and comprehension and understanding. From that time we ourselves became “sons of the gods,” the faculty of self-consciousness in us was awakened, our eyes were opened, responsibility became ours; and our feet were set then definitely upon the path, that inner path, quiet, wonderful, leading us inwards back to our spiritual home.

The mānasaputras are our higher natures and, paradoxical as it is, are more largely evolved beings than we are. They were the spiritual entities who “quickened” our personal egos, which were thus evolved into self-consciousness, relatively small though that yet be. One, and yet many! As you can light an infinite number of candles from one lighted candle, so from a spark of consciousness can you quicken and enliven innumerable other consciousnesses, lying, so to speak, in sleep or latent in the life-atoms.

These mānasaputras, children of mahat, are said to have quickened and enlightened in us the manas-manas of our manas septenary, because they themselves are typically manasic in their essential characteristic or svabhāva. Their own essential or manasic vibrations, so to say, could cause that essence of manas in ourselves to vibrate in sympathy, much as the sounding of a musical note will cause sympathetic response in something like it, a similar note in other things. (See also Agniṣvāttas)


A circle, ball, wheel, ring, or circumference, as the orbit of a heavenly body, and hence a great circle in astronomy, an orb. Also the atmosphere connected with or ‘hanging around’ something. Sacred circular initiation diagrams, drawings, (sand) paintings in Buddhist Tantra representing deities and levels of refined consciousness. The maṇḍalas (divisions) in the Ṛg-Veda Saṁhita means each one of the ten divisions or cycles.


A generalizing term signifying not only the beginning but the continuance of organized kosmic activity, the latter including the various minor activities within itself. First there is of course always the Boundless in all its infinite planes and worlds or spheres, aggregatively symbolized by the circle; then parabrahman, or the kosmic life-consciousness activity, and mūlaprakṛti its other pole, signifying root-nature especially in its substantial aspects. Then the next stage lower, Brahman and its veil pradhāna; then Brahmāprakṛti or Puruaprakṛti (prakṛti being also māyā); the manifested universe appearing through and by this last, Brahmā-prakṛti, “father-mother.” In other words, the second Logos or father-mother is the producing cause of manifestation through their son which, in a planetary chain, is the primordial or the originating manu, called Svayambhuva.

When manifestation opens, prakṛti becomes or rather is māyā; and Brahmā, the father, is the spirit of the consciousness, or the individuality. These two, Brahmā and prakṛti, are really one, yet they are also the two aspects of the one life-ray acting and reacting upon itself, much as a man himself can say, “I am I.” He has the faculty of self-analysis or self-division. All of us know it, we can feel it in ourselves — one side of us, in our thoughts, can be called the prakṛti or the material element, or the māyāvi element, or the element of illusion; and the other is the spirit, the individuality, the god within.

The student should note carefully that manifestation is but a generalizing term, comprehensive therefore of a vast number of different and differing kinds of evolving planes or realms. For instance, there is manifestation on the divine plane; there is manifestation also on the spiritual plane; and similarly so on all the descending stages of the ladder or stair of life. There are universes whose “physical” plane is utterly invisible to us, so high is it; and there are other universes in the contrary direction, so far beneath our present physical plane that their ethereal ranges of manifestation are likewise invisible to us.


(Sanskrit) [from mañju beautiful + śrī an epithet of holiness, dignity, and reverence] The holy beautiful one; a name of the dhyāni-bodhisattvas, the guardians and Silent Watchers of the globes of our planetary chain. Another title is Vajrapanins.

In exoteric Buddhist literature, Mañjuśrī is looked upon as the god of wisdom because the title is personalized or anthropomorphized as an individual, but “It is erroneous to take literally the worship of the human Bodhisattvas, or Mañjuśrī. It is true that, exoterically, the Mahāyāna school teaches adoration of these without distinction, and that Hiuen-Tsang [Xuan Zang] speaks of some disciples of Buddha as being worshipped. But esoterically it is not the disciple or the learned Mañjuśrī personally that received honours, but the divine Bodhisattvas and Dhyāni Buddhas that animated . . . the human forms” (SD 2:34n).


(Sanskrit मन्त्र – manas – mind, consciousness, soul + tra, trayate – to free; “liberating the mind, consciousness, soul, atma from repeated birth and death”) is a Sanskrit (sometimes – in other languages, especially in buddhism and other religions outside India) sound, syllable, word, or group of words (usually starting with word ॐ (Aum, Om), which is itself the most famous mantra) that is considered capable of “creating transformation”

The language of incantations or mantras is the element-language composed of sounds, numbers, and figures. He who knows how to blend the three will call forth the response from the regent-god of the specific element needed. For, in order to communicate with the gods, men must learn to address each one of them in the language of his element. Sound is “the most potent and effectual magic agent, and the first of the keys which opens the door of communication between Mortals and the Immortals” (SD 1:464).

The hidden voice or active manifestation of the latent occult potency of the mantras is called vach. The would-be magician attempting to evoke the “spirits of the vasty deep” by uninstructed chanting or singing of any ancient mantras will never succeed in using the mantras effectively in a magical way, until he himself has become so cleansed of all human impurities as to be able at will and with inner vision to enter into communion if not direct confabulation with the inner realms.

In the Vedas the mantras form that portion which consist of hymns as distinct from the Brahmana [Vedic Commentaries on the hymns] and Upaniṣads [conclusive, esoteric] portions. The mantras considered esoterically were originally as magical as they were religious in character, although the former today is virtually forgotten, although remembered as a fact which once was. In the composing of the mantras the ṛṣis of old knew that every letter had its occult significance, and that the vowels especially contain occult and even formidable potencies when properly chanted. The words of the mantra were made to convey a certain hid meaning by certain secret rules involving first the secret potency of their sound, and incidentally the numerical value of the letters; the latter however was relatively unimportant. Hence their merely verbal significance is something quite different from their meaning as understood of old.

The Scandinavian runes in certain respects correspond to the Hindu mantras.


Manu in the esoteric system is the entities collectively which appear first at the beginning of manifestation, and from which, like a cosmic tree, everything is derived or born. Manu actually is the spiritual tree of life of any planetary chain of manifested being. Manu is thus in one sense the third Logos; as the second is the father-mother, the Brahmā and prakṛti; and the first is what we call the unmanifest Logos, or Brahman (neuter) and its cosmic veil pradhāna.

In other words, the second Logos, father-mother, is the producing cause of manifestation through their son, which in a planetary chain is Manu, the first of the manus being called in the archaic Hindu system Svayambhuva.

During a Day of Brahmā or period of seven rounds, fourteen subordinate or inferior manus appear as patrons and guardians of the race cycles or life-waves (See also H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, passim; also Manvantara).

Manu is likewise the name of a great ancient Indian legislator, the alleged author of the Laws of Manu (Manava-dharma-shastra).

Mānuṣa, Mānuṣya-Buddha (Sanskrit)  [from manu man + buddha awakened one] A human buddha, born in a human body for compassionate work among mankind, generally mahātmas of a high degree and great initiates. There are three forms in which, or planes upon which, the Wondrous Being of the planetary chain manifests itself: 1) ādi-buddha in the dharmakāya; 2) dhyāni-buddha in the sambhogakāya; and 3) mānuṣa-buddha living at will or need as a nirmānakāya. The last is the lowest, yet in one sense the highest aspect — highest on account of the immense, willing self-sacrifice involved in its incarnation in human flesh. The mānuṣa-buddhas are the eighth in the descending scale of the Hierarchy of Compassion. Each one of the seven root-races on this globe is ushered in by a mānuṣa-buddha. Furthermore, preceding the racial cataclysm that ensues around the midpoint of each root-race, a mānuṣa-buddha of less degree appears on earth. Hence, such a buddha is also termed a racial buddha. Gautama was such a mānuṣa-buddha.

Every human being in his constitution contains elements and principles derivative from the universe ranging from the divine to the physical; consequently there is in every human being, expressed or as yet unexpressed, a mānuṣa-buddha, who really is the spiritual-intellectual center of all the noblest impulses, intuitions, and energies active in the human constitution.

Evolution signifies the unfolding of already existing and fully active capacities, powers, functions, principles, and elements, latent in most men merely because the vehicle enabling them to manifest their transcendent powers in the ordinary human being has not yet been built up through evolutionary growth. Thus, the mānuṣa-buddha is in every human being, though only in the rare evolutionary flowers of the human race coming at long intervals is a human being born who because of past striving is an imbodiment of the mānuṣa-buddha within him. As the future brings forth what it has in store for the human race, all human beings living at the end of the seventh round will be human buddhas because already they will have become a dhyāni-chohanic host. Sometimes spelled Mānuṣi-Buddha.


(Sanskrit) This word is a compound, and means nothing more than “between two manus“; more literally, “manu-within or -between.” A manu, as said, is the entities collectively which appear first at the beginning of manifestation; the spiritual tree of life of any planetary chain of manifested being. The second verbal element of “manvantara,” or antara, is a prepositional suffix signifying “within” or “between”; hence the compound paraphrased means “within a manu,” or “between manus.” A manvantara is the period of activity between any two manus, on any plane, since in any such period there is a root-manu at the beginning of evolution, and a seed-manu at its close, preceding a pralaya.

There are many kinds of manvantaras: prakṛtika manvantara — universal manvantara; saurya manvantara — the manvantara of the solar system; bhaumika manvantara — the terrestrial manvantara, or manvantara of earth; pauruṣa manvantara — the manvantara, or period of activity, of man.

A round-manvantara is the time required for one round: that is, the cycle from globe A to the last globe of the seven, and starting from the root-manu or collective “humanity” of globe A and ending with the seed-manu or collective “humanity” of Globe G.

A planetary manvantara — also called a mahā-manvantara or a kalpa — is the period of the lifetime of a planet during its seven rounds. It is also called a Day of Brahmā, and its length is 4,320,000,000 years.


(Sanskrit) [from the verbal root mṛ to die] That which kills, death, destroyer; in exoteric Indian literature, the representation of temptation, esoterically personified temptation through men’s vices, which kill the soul. Mahā-Māra is the king of the māras, or temptations collectively, the great ensnarer, and is usually represented “with a crown in which shines a jewel of such lustre that it blinds those who look at it, this lustre referring of course to the fascination exercised by vice upon certain natures” (VS 76).

Māra is the god of darkness and death: “Death of every physical thing truly; but Māra is also the unconscious quickener of the birth of the Spiritual” (SD 2:579n). The hosts of Māra refer to the unconquered passions that the neophyte must slay or transmute before he is reborn spiritually, or can become a dvija (twice-born). Māra is also a name frequently given to Kāma, the personified god of love or desire.

Mārtāṇḍa, Mārttāṇḍa [from mārta mortal, transitory + aṇḍa egg] The sun or sun god of the Vedas; an earlier form is mṛtāṇḍa. Cosmologically a title applied to any celestial orb, though most commonly a name of the sun or Sūrya, as being phenomenal productions of Brahmā-prakṛti or of the productive and generative dual cosmic spirit. Just as the egg bears the seed of a future being, so the celestial bodies were each supposed to contain the life-germ of its own future imbodiment as a higher entity — in other words, the celestial bodies reproduce themselves in new imbodiments. The highest adaitya of the sun is likewise called preeminently Mārttāṇḍa; it is also a name for the number 12, referring to the 12 solar logoi, intimately connected with the 12 mansions or constellations of the zodiac.

“AEther, whether Ākāśa is meant by the term, or its lower principle, Ether — is septenary. Ākāśa is Aditi in the allegory, and the mother of Mārttāṇḍa (the sun), the Deva-mātri — ‘Mother of the gods.’ In the solar system, the sun is her Buddhi and Vahan, the Vehicle, hence the 6th principle; in Kosmos all the suns are the Kāma rūpa of Ākāśa and so is ours. It is only when regarded as an individual Entity in his own Kingdom that Sūrya (the sun) is the 7th principle of the great body of matter” (SD 1:527n).

Marut(s) (Sanskrit) Marut-s A class of spiritual or highly ethereal beings, properly classed as belonging to the middle sphere between heaven and earth. They are one of the classes of agnishvattas, and hence in strait union with the asuras — indeed leaving mythologic legends about the maruts aside, there are times when the distinctions between the maruts and asuras vanish.

In the Vedas the maruts are described as children of heaven (spiritual spheres) and ocean (cosmic space), armed with golden weapons, such as lightning and thunderbolts, as having iron teeth and roaring like lions, and residing in the north, as riding in golden cars drawn by ruddy horses — all of which is merely mythologic elaborations of symbolic fancy. The maruts are mythologically represented as storm gods and the friends and allies of Indra. Esoterically they belong to the hierarchies of those dhyāni-chohans who enlightened the early races of mankind. In one sense they are our human egos as emanations from the mānasaputras, and from another viewpoint, they are the mānasaputras themselves, a class of the agniṣvāttas. Hence the allegory of Śiva transforming the lumps of flesh into boys and calling them maruts, to show senseless men transformed by becoming the vehicles of the solar pitṛs or fire-maruts, and thus rational beings. Again, they are the adepts who incarnate on earth to help mankind.

The Vāyu-Purāṇa shows that the Maruts, “the oldest as the most incomprehensible of all the secondary or lower gods in the Rig Veda — ‘are born in every manvantara (Round) seven times seven (or 49); that in each Manvantara, four times seven (or twenty-eight) they obtain emancipation, but their places are filled up by persons reborn in that character.’ ” In the Ramāyāna Diti, the lower or manifested aspect of Aditi, “anxious to obtain a son who would destroy Indra, is told by Kasyapa the Sage, that ‘if, with thoughts wholly pious and person entirely pure, she carries the babe in her womb for a hundred years’ she will get such a son. But Indra foils her in the design. With his thunderbolt he divides the embryo in her womb into seven portions, and then divides every such portion into seven pieces again, which become the swift-moving deities, the Maruts. These deities are only another aspect, or a development of the Kumāras [or agniṣvāttas], who are Rudras in their patronymic, like many others” (SD 2:613).

The maruts have their representatives on lower planes, which causes much of the confusion and apparently contradictory statements about them. “The Maruts represent (a) the passions that storm and rage within every candidate’s breast, when preparing for an ascetic life — this mystically; (b) the occult potencies concealed in the manifold aspects of Ākāśa’s lower principles — her body, or sthūla śarīra, representing the terrestrial, lower, atmosphere of every inhabited globe — this mystically and sidereally; (c) actual conscious Existences, Beings of a cosmic and psychic nature” (SD 2:615).

Marut-jīvas (Sanskrit) Marut-jīva-s [from marut a class of divine beings + jīva monad] Those monads which have been, are, or will be during long ages passing through the evolutionary stage called agniṣvāttas or kumāras, a direct hint of the real significance of the term marut itself. All maruts are jīvas, the latter explaining characteristics and functions of the maruts.

In a more specific and limited sense, marut-jīvas are the monads of adepts who have attained liberation, nirvāṇa, or are very close to attaining it, but who wish to be reborn on earth for the sake of helping humanity. It is apparent that the nirmāṇakāya, as well as a large part of the sambhogakāyas, therefore fall within the category of the marut-jīvas.

Marutvat, Marutavan (Sanskrit) Marutvat, Marutavān Of the nature of the maruts; in a restricted sense a title meaning the lord of the maruts, a name of Indra.


A master in the Theosophical sense is one who has his higher principles awakened and lives in them; and ordinary men do not. From the scientific standpoint, that is all there is to it; from the philosophic standpoint, we may say that a master has become, as far as he can be, more at one with the universal life; and from the religious standpoint or the spiritual standpoint, we may say that a master has developed an individual consciousness or recognition of his oneness with the Boundless. (See also Mahātma)


What men call matter or substance is the existent but illusory aggregate of veils surrounding the fundamental essence of the universe which is consciousness-life-substance. From another point of view, matter or substance is in one sense the most evolved form of expression of manifested spirit in any particular hierarchy. This is but another way of saying that matter is but inherent energies or powers or faculties of kosmical beings, unfolded, rolled out, and self-expressed. It is the nether and lowest pole of what the original and originating spirit is; for spirit is the primal or original pole of the evolutionary activity which brought forth through its own inherent energies the appearance or manifestation in the kosmic spaces of the vast aggregate of hierarchies. Between the originant or spirit and the resultant or matter, there is all the vast range of hierarchical stages or steps, thus forming the ladder of life or the ladder of being of any one such hierarchy.

When theosophists speak of spirit and substance, of which latter, matter and energy or force are the physicalized expressions, we must remember that all these terms are abstractions — generalized expressions for hosts of entities manifesting aggregatively. The whole process of evolution is the raising of units of essential matter, life-atoms, into becoming at one with their spiritual and inmost essence. As the kosmic aeons slowly drop one after the other into the ocean of the past, matter pari passu is resolved back into the brilliant realms of spirit from which it originally came forth. All the sheaths of consciousness, all the blinding veils around it, arise from the matter side or dark side or night side of nature, which is matter — the nether pole of spirit.

Māyā [Sanskrit, from the verbal root to measure, form] Illusion, the non-eternal; in Brahmanical philosophy, the fabrication by the human mind of ideas derived from interior and exterior impressions, as it tries to interpret and understand the universe. While the exterior world exists — or it could not be illusory — we do not see clearly and as they actually are that which our mind and senses present to us. A traditional Vedāntic illustration says that at twilight a person sees a coiled rope on the ground and springs aside, thinking it is a snake; the rope is there, but no snake.

Thus māyā means that our minds are blinded and perverted by our own preconceptions and imperfections, and so does not interpret the world as it is.

“ Māyā or illusion is an element which enters into all finite things, for everything that exists has only a relative, not an absolute, reality, since the appearance which the hidden noumenon assumes for any observer depends upon his power of cognition. . . . Nothing is permanent except the one hidden absolute existence which contains in itself the noumena of all realities. The existences belonging to every plane of being, up to the highest Dhyān-Chohans, are, in degree, of the nature of shadows cast by a magic lantern on a colorless screen; but all things are relatively real, for the cognizer is also a reflection, and the things cognized are therefore as real to him as himself. Whatever reality things possess must be looked for in them before or after they have passed like a flash through the material world; but we cannot cognize any such existence directly, so long as we have sense-instruments which bring only material existence into the field of our consciousness. Whatever plane our consciousness may be acting in, both we and the things belonging to that plane are, for the time being, our only realities. As we rise in the scale of development we perceive that during the stages through which we have passed we mistook shadows for realities, and the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings, each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached ‘reality’; but only when we shall have reached the absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be free from the delusions produced by Māyā” ( The Secret Doctrine 1:39-40). The word comes from the root ma, meaning “to measure,” and by a figure of speech it also comes to mean “to effect,” “to form,” and hence “to limit.” There is an English word mete, meaning “to measure out,” from the same Indo-European root. It is found in the Anglo-Saxon as the root met, in the Greek as med, and it is found in the Latin also in the same form.

Ages ago in the wonderful Brahmanical philosophy māyā was understood very differently from what it is now usually understood to be. As a technical term, māyā has come to mean the fabrication by man’s mind of ideas derived from interior and exterior impressions, hence the illusory aspect of man’s thoughts as he considers and tries to interpret and understand life and his surroundings; and thence was derived the sense which it technically bears, “illusion.” It does not mean that the exterior world is nonexistent; if it were, it obviously could not be illusory. It exists, but is not. It is “measured out” or is “limited,” or it stands out to the human spirit as a mirage. In other words, we do not see clearly and plainly and in their reality the vision and the visions which our mind and senses present to the inner life and eye.

The familiar illustrations of māyā in the Vedānta, which is the highest form that the Brahmanical teachings have taken and which is so near to our own teaching in many respects, were such as follows: A man at eventide sees a coiled rope on the ground, and springs aside, thinking it a serpent. The rope is there, but no serpent. The second illustration is what is called the “horns of the hare.” The animal called the hare has no horns, but when it also is seen at eventide, its long ears seem to project from its head in such fashion that it appears even to the seeing eye as being a creature with horns. The hare has no horns, but there is then in the mind an illusory belief that an animal with horns exists there.

That is what māyā means: not that a thing seen does not exist, but that we are blinded and our mind perverted by our own thoughts and our own imperfections, and do not as yet arrive at the real interpretation and meaning of the world or of the universe around us. By ascending inwardly, by rising up, by inner aspiration, by an elevation of soul, we can reach upwards or rather inwards towards that plane where truth abides in fullness.

H. P. Blavatsky says on page 631 of the first volume of The Secret Doctrine:

“Esoteric philosophy, teaching an objective Idealism — though it regards the objective Universe and all in it as Māyā, temporary illusion — draws a practical distinction between collective illusion, Mahāmāyā, from the purely metaphysical standpoint, and the objective relations in it between various conscious Egos so long as this illusion lasts.”

The teaching is that māyā is thus called from the action of mūlaprakṛti or root-nature, the coordinate principle of that other line of coactive consciousness which we call parabrahman. From the moment when manifestation begins, it acts dualistically, that is to say that everything in nature from that point onwards is crossed by pairs of opposites, such as long and short, high and low, night and day, good and evil, consciousness and nonconsciousness, etc., and that all these things are essentially māyic or illusory — real while they last, but the lasting is not eternal. It is through and by these pairs of opposites that the self-conscious soul learns truth. It might be said, in conclusion, that another and very convenient way of considering māyā is to understand it to mean “limitation,” “restriction,” and therefore imperfect cognition and recognition of reality. The imperfect mind does not see perfect truth. It labors under an illusion corresponding with its own imperfections, under a māyā, a limitation. Magical practices are frequently called māyā in the ancient Hindu books.


(Sanskrit) Though sometimes used as an equivalent for avidyā, māyā is properly applicable only to prakṛti, which is doomed to disappear at the time of pralaya. It is thus prakṛti and its productions or changes (vikāras) which, by reacting against the operations of the consciousness of a perceiving being, casts the perceiver into the bonds of illusions, out of which the deluded being has to strive in order to free himself from the yā with which he is surrounded.

“Just as milliards of bright sparks dance on the waters of an ocean above which one and the same moon is shining, so our evanescent personalities — the illusive envelopes of the immortal monad-ego — twinkle and dance on the waves of Māyā. They last and appear, as the thousands of sparks produced by the moon-beams, only so long as the Queen of the Night radiates her lustre on the running waters of life: the period of a Manvantara; and then they disappear, the beams — symbols of our eternal Spiritual Egos — alone surviving, re-merged in, and being, as they were before, one with the Mother-Source” (The Secret Doctrine 1:237). (From: ETG)


(Persian) [from Mazda bestower of intellect or knowledge] Also Mazdeism. Applied to the ancient religion of the Iranians and to the scriptures of the Zoroastrians, who are represented today by the Parsis. The earliest followers of the Zoroastrianism, however, in their records called themselves Airyavo danghavo (Aryan races). Nowadays the Parsis call themselves Mazdiasnians, or Mazda-Yasna, which means worship of intellect, referring to all those who believe in the supremacy of light over darkness. From the time of the renovation of Zoroastrianism during the Sassanid period, this term has been used concurrently in the same sense as Zoroastrianism.



A word of curiously ill-defined significance, and used mostly if not exclusively by modern Spiritists. The general sense of the word would seem to be a person of unstable psychical temperament, or constitution rather, who is supposed to act as a canal or channel of transmission, hence “medium,” between human beings and the so-called spirits.

A medium actually in the theosophical teaching is one whose inner constitution is in unstable balance, or perhaps even dislocated, so that at different times the sheaths of the inner parts of the medium’s constitution function irregularly and in magnetic sympathy with currents and entities in the astral light, more particularly in kāma-loka. It is an exceedingly unfortunate and dangerous condition to be in, despite what the Spiritists claim for it.

Very different indeed from the medium is the mediator, a human being of relatively highly evolved spiritual and intellectual and psychical nature who serves as an intermediary or mediator between the members of the Great Brotherhood, the mahātmas, and ordinary humanity. There are also mediators of a still more lofty type who serve as channels of transmission for the passing down of divine and spiritual and highly intellectual powers to this sphere. Actually, every mahātma is such a mediator of this higher type, and so in even larger degree are the buddhas and the avatāras. A mediator is one of highly evolved constitution, every portion of which is under the instant and direct control of the spiritual dominating will and the loftiest intelligence which the mediator is capable of exercising. Every human being should strive to be a mediator of this kind between his own inner god and his mere brain-mind. The more he succeeds, the grander he is as a man.

Mediator, therefore, and medium are the polar antitheses of each other. The medium is irregular, negative, often irresponsible or quasi-irresponsible, and uncertain, and is not infrequently the victim or plaything of evil and degenerate entities whom theosophists call elementaries, having their habitat in the astral light of the earth; whereas the mediator is one more or less fully insouled or inspirited with divine, spiritual, and intellectual powers and their corresponding faculties and organs.


(Sanskrit) Meru The mythological sacred mountain, said in Hindu mythology to be the abode of the gods. Each nation also has its own sacred mountain — Mount Sinai for the Hebrews, Olympus for the Greeks, Tai-shan for the Chinese, etc. Theosophical and Puranic teachings place it as the north pole, pointing to it as the center of the site of the first continent of our earth after the solidification of the globe: “It is the north pole, the country of ‘Meru,’ which is the seventh division, as it answers to the Seventh principle (or fourth metaphysically), of the occult calculation, for it represents the region of Ātma, of pure soul, and Spirituality” (SD 2:403). It is described in the Sūrya Siddhānta as passing through the middle of the globe, and protruding on either side. On its north end are the gods, on the nether end are the demons or hells. Its roots are in the navel of the world, which connects it with the central imperishable land, the land in which each day and night lasts six months. The above also has its symbolism in the human body.


An ill-understood branch of human knowledge, developed within fairly recent times, connected with the existence of the psychomagnetic fluid in man which can be employed by the will for purposes either good or evil. It has been called animal magnetism, but more often in former times than at present. The first European who rediscovered and openly proclaimed the existence of this subtle psychomagnetic fluid in man was Dr. Friedrich Anton Mesmer, born in Germany in 1733, who died in 1815. His honesty and his theories have been more or less vindicated in modern times by later students of the subject.

There are distinct differences as among mesmerism, hypnotism, psychologization, and suggestion, etc. (See also Hypnotism)


In the theosophical sense, an individual who comes with a mandate from the Lodge of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion to do a certain work in the world.

Only real genius — indeed something more than merely human genius — only extraordinary spiritual and intellectual capacity, native to the constitution of some lofty human being, could explain the reason for the choice of such messengers. But, indeed, this is not saying enough; because in addition to genius and to merely native spiritual and intellectual capacity such a messenger must possess through initiatory training the capacity of throwing at will the intermediate or psychological nature into a state of perfect quiescence or receptivity for the stream of divine-spiritual inspiration flowing forth from the messenger’s own inner divinity or monadic essence. It is obvious, therefore, that such a combination of rare and unusual qualities is not often found in human beings; and, when found, such a one is fit for the work to be done by such a messenger of the Association of great ones.

The Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace send their envoys continuously into the world of men, one after the other, and in consequence these envoys are working in the world among men all the time. Happy are they whose hearts recognize the footfalls of those crossing the mountaintops of the Mystic East. The messengers do not always do public work before the world, but frequently work in the silences and unknown of men, or relatively unknown. At certain times, however, they are commissioned and empowered and directed to do their work publicly and to make public announcement of their mission. Such, for instance, was the case of H. P. Blavatsky.

Messiah, Māshīaḥ

(Hebrew)  Anointed; translated into the Greek as Christos. The Hebrews had their special form of the universal belief in the coming of avatāras, and the Christians claimed that Jesus was the fulfillment of the particular Hebrew expectation. Hence Messiah is often used as a title for Jesus. Generally, a Messiah is an esoteric spiritual sun, surrounded by his spiritual family composed of twelve less powers (as in the 12 disciples); the term is connected with fish and water symbols and with the zodiacal sign Pisces (Fishes). Early Christian astrologers expected the coming of the Messiah to be signalized by a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Pisces, in connection with other planetary configurations. As regards the future, the looked-for great avatāra is the Kalkī-avatāra of the Brahmins, virtually identical with Maitreya, the fifth buddha.

Messianic Cycle Theosophical literature gives this cycle both as a period of 2,160 years, and as a grand cycle or cosmic year — the cycle of the precession of the equinoxes — totaling 25,920 years. This grand cycle is one of the fundamental and most important of the great periods of cosmic history and evolution. The Messianic cycle is therefore a recurrent time period, at whose opening (or close) a new spiritual and intellectual effort is made publicly by the Great Brotherhood, but strictly in accordance with nature’s own cyclic vital periods or life-pulse.


(Greek) A compound vocable which may be rendered briefly by “insouling after insouling,” or “changing soul after soul.” Metempsychosis contains the specific meaning that the soul of an entity, human or other, moves not merely from condition to condition, migrates not merely from state to state or from body to body; but also that it is an indivisible entity in its inmost essence, which is pursuing a course along its own particular evolutionary path as an individual monad, taking upon itself soul after soul; and it is the adventures which befall the soul, in assuming soul after soul, which in their aggregate are grouped together under this word metempsychosis.

In ordinary language metempsychosis is supposed to be a synonym for transmigration, reincarnation, preexistence, and palingenesis, etc., but all these words in the esoteric philosophy have specific meanings of their own, and should not be confused. It is of course evident that these words have strict relations with each other, as, for instance, every soul in its metempsychosis also transmigrates in its own particular sense; and inversely every transmigrating entity also has its metempsychosis or soul-changings in its own particular sense. But these connections or interminglings of meanings must not be confused with the specific significance attached to each one of these words.

The essential meaning of metempsychosis can perhaps be briefly described by saying that a monad during the course of its evolutionary peregrinations throws forth from itself periodically a new soul-garment or soul-sheath, and this changing of souls or soul-sheaths as the ages pass is called metempsychosis. (See also Transmigration, Reincarnation, Preexistence, Palingenesis)


(Greek) A compound word of which the significance may perhaps be briefly rendered thus: “changing body after body.” The reference is to a reimbodying entity which does not necessarily use human bodies of flesh only, in which respect this word differs from reincarnation, but bodies of appropriate yet different physical material concordant with the evolutionary stage which the human race may have reached at any time, and with the plane or sphere of nature on which the reimbodiment takes place. This word, because of the intricate ideas involved, is very difficult to explain properly or even to hint at in a few words, but perhaps it may be made more clear by the following observation: In far past ages the human race had bodies, but not bodies of flesh; and in far distant ages of the future, the human race will likewise have bodies, but not necessarily bodies of flesh. Actually, our teaching in this respect is that in those far-distant periods of the future, human bodies of that time will be compact of ether or, what comes to much the same thing, of luminous matter which may very properly be called concreted light.

Mazdean (Persian) [from Mazda bestower of intellect or knowledge] Also Mazdeism. Applied to the ancient religion of the Iranians and to the scriptures of the Zoroastrians, who are represented today by the Parsis. The earliest followers of the Zoroastrianism, however, in their records called themselves Airyavo danghavo (Āryan races). Nowadays the Parsis call themselves Mazdiasnians, or Mazda-Yasna, which means worship of intellect, referring to all those who believe in the supremacy of light over darkness. From the time of the renovation of Zoroastrianism during the Sassanid period, this term has been used concurrently in the same sense as Zoroastrianism.


Michael, Mīkhā’ēl

(Hebrew) Who is as God; one of the seven archangels, in the Old Testament one of the chiefs of the heavenly host, regarded as the guardian angel or celestial patron of Israel. According to one legend, Michael was chief of the four or seven angels who surrounded the heavenly throne. The Roman Catholic Church regards Michael in much the same light, his festival, Michaelmas, being held on September 29. With the Gnostics, the first of the Aeons, called the savior. In the New Testament Michael leads the angelic host against the Apocalyptic Dragon, repeating the familiar tale of many ancient mythologies. Again, he is the chief opponent of Samael, the principal antagonist of the heavenly host. Originally, however, both Michael and Samael were as one, both proceeding from ruah (soul), neshamah (spirit), and nephesh (vitality) — as taught in the Qabbalah (in the Chaldean Book of Numbers). “Samael is the concealed (occult) Wisdom, and Michael the higher terrestrial Wisdom, both emanating from the same source but diverging after their issue from the mundane soul, which on Earth is Mahat (intellectual understanding), or Manas (the seat of Intellect). They diverge, because one (Michael) is influenced by Neschamah, while the other (Isamael) remains uninfluenced. This tenet was perverted by the dogmatic spirit of the Church; which . . . made of Samael-Satan (the most wise and spiritual spirit of all) — the adversary of its anthropomorphic God and sensual physical man, the devil!” (SD 2:378).

In Ezekiel’s vision of the Cherubim, or the four sacred animals, the angel with the face of the lion corresponds to Michael, as in the Ophite scheme.


(Greek) A compound meaning “little arrangement,” “little world,” a term applied by ancient and modern mystics to man when considering the seven, ten, and even twelve aspects or phases or organic parts of his constitution, from the superdivine down to and even below the physical body.

Just as throughout the macrocosm there runs one law, one fundamental consciousness, one essential orderly arrangement and habitude to which everything contained within the encompassing macrocosm of necessity conforms, just so does every such contained entity or thing, because it is an inseparable part of the macrocosm, contain in itself, evolved or unevolved, implicit or explicit, active or latent, everything that the macrocosm contains — whether energy, power, substance, matter, faculty, or what not. The microcosm, therefore, considered as man or indeed any other organic entity, is correctly viewed as a reflection or copy in miniature of the great macrocosm, the former being contained, with hosts of others like it, within the encircling frontiers of the macrocosm. Thus it was stated by the ancient mystics that the destiny of man, the microcosm, is coeval with the universe or macrocosm. Their origin is the same, their energies and substances are the same, and their future is the same, of course mutatis mutandis. It was no vain figment of imagination and no idle figure of speech which brought the ancient mystics to declare man to be a son of the Boundless.

The teaching is one of the most suggestive and beautiful in the entire range of the esoteric philosophy, and the deductions that the intuitive student will immediately draw from this teaching themselves become keys opening even larger portals of understanding. The universe, the macrocosm, is thus seen to be the home of the microcosm or man, in the former of which the latter is at home everywhere.

Milky Way, The

The Milky Way or galaxy is held to be our own especial home-universe. The nebulae are in many cases taken to be what are called island-universes, that is to say, vast aggregations of stars, many numbers of them with their respective planets around them, and all gathered together in these individual world-clusters. Of course there are nebulae of other kinds, but to these reference is not here made. Of the island-universes, there are doubtless hundreds of thousands of them; but as none of these has as yet [1933] been discovered to be as large in diameter, or as thick through, as is our own Milky Way system — which system has somewhat the shape of a lens or of a thin watch — the astronomers call our Milky Way by the popular name of continent-universe; and such other nebular star-clusters which we see and which are in many cases really vast masses of millions or billions of suns, are called island-universes.

Our own Milky Way, could it be seen from some vast kosmic distance, would doubtless appear as a nebula or large star-cluster; and to certain percipient watchers our galaxy might even probably appear to be a spiral nebula, or perhaps an annular nebula. Our own sun is one of the stars in the cluster of the Milky Way, and is said by astronomers to be situated some distance, kosmically speaking, from the central portion of our Milky Way system, and a trifle to the north of the plane passing through the figure-center of the galaxy.

The Milky Way is not only a vast star-cluster of suns in all-various degrees of evolutionary growth, but it is also the storehouse of celestial bodies-to-be. In this last respect, it is, as it were, the kosmic nursery from which seeds of future suns go forth to begin their manvantaric evolutionary courses. There are vast and fascinating mysteries connected with the Milky Way even in matters that concern the destiny of us human beings, as well as of all other entities of our solar system. The profound teachings which theosophy hints at under the topics of circulations of the kosmos and peregrinations of the monads are directly connected with the doctrines just referred to. The whole matter, however, is of so recondite a character that it is impossible here to do more than point suggestively to it.


(Latin) Roman goddess of intelligence, inventiveness, arts practiced by women, and of school children, physicians, poets, etc. Her oldest sanctuaries were in Rome, and her chief festival was the Quinquatrus, celebrated on March 19. Later identified with the Greek Pallas Athena.


(Greek) Mithra, (Avestan) [from Avestan Mithra from mith, myth light + ra subjective form] Ancient Persian deity; Yusti translates Mithra as the medium between the two lights: the invisible and the visible. Therefore, Mithra means the latent potential ability of understanding and the developing force in nature. It is the hidden beingness, the mysterious force of growth and the invisible light; philosophically, the latent power of cognition; astrologically, the source of the light of the heavens; and mystically, the creative force of love.  Ahura-Mazda says: “I have created Mithra as worthy of sacrifice, as worthy of glorification, as I, Ahura-Mazda, am myself.” In late Persian times he became the god of the sun and of truth and faith. He punishes the Mithra-druj (he who lies to Mithra). He is represented as a judge in hell, in company with Rashnu (the true one, the god of truth) — who is an aspect of Mithra in his moral character. The Sanskrit Mitra in the Vedas is the god of light and friendship.

As known to the Greeks and Romans, Mithras was the god of the sun, of purity, moral goodness, and knowledge, whose worship spread over the Roman world, especially during the 2nd and 3rd centuries.


The worship of Mithras, a remarkable and highly mystical religion which existed long before Zoroaster as the Society of the Magi (the Great Brotherhood of Man) giving its secret teachings to qualified candidates, the future initiates. Although supposedly a worship of the sun, originating in Persia, Mithraism was “really a religious philosophy based upon the Divine, Inner, and Invisible Sun, a vortex so to say of the Divine Spiritual Fire of the Universe, of the Heart of Things” (ET 609 3rd & rev ed). Mithraism spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, especially during the 2nd and 3rd centuries and for a time threatened to supersede Christianity. A number of the liturgical rites and ceremonies of Christianity are probably of Mithraic origin. For example, rites associated with Deo Soli Invicto Mithrae (to the Unconquered God-sun, Mithras), were held at the time of the winter solstice, especially the Night of Light — now Christmas — known as the birthday of Mithras, represented as having been born in a cave or grotto, hence often called the rock-born god. Exceedingly popular in the Roman armies as well as with the rulers of the Roman Empire, Mithraism was regularly established by Trajan about 100 AD in the Empire, and the Emperor Commodus was himself initiated into its mysteries. Sacred caves or grottoes were the principal places of worship, where the Mysteries for which Mithraism was famed were enacted.

The candidate for initiation into the Mithraic Mysteries had to undergo twelve “tortures” or labors, but the enumeration of the twelve or seven degrees is varied. One consisting of twelve grades is as follows: the candidate first underwent a long probation, with scourging, fasting, and ordeal of water, whereupon he became a soldier of Mithras. Before the soul of the initiant could leave the terrestrial region, it had to pass through the zodiacal grades of the Bull and the Lion, each involving further probation. Then it ascended through the region of the aether by means of the grades of the Vulture, the Ostrich, and the Crow. The soul then strove to pass into the realm of pure fire, through the stages of the Gryphon, the Perses, and the Sun. Finally the soul attained complete union with the divine nature through the grades of Father Eagle, Father Falcon, and Father of Fathers.

One of the principal tenets of Mithraism was that a struggle between good and evil is continually going on in the world, and that this dualistic interworking and intermingling of cosmic and terrestrial forces is also occurring within every man and woman; each one has the power to aid in this conflict so that the good shall ultimately triumph. This is achieved by means of self-sacrifice and probation, and Mithras is ever ready to make the mystic sacrifice whereby the good may triumph. “The Persian Mithra, he who drove out of heaven Ahriman, is a kind of Messiah who is expected to return as the judge of men, and is a sin-bearing god who atones for the iniquities of mankind. As such, however, he is directly connected with the highest Occultism, the tenets of which were expounded during the Mithraic Mysteries which thus bore his name” (TG 216). Origen refers to the Mithraic teaching of the seven heavens, each of which was ascended by means of a ladder — representing the different stages or planes of the heavens — over which ruled the highest or most spiritual realm of nature. Celsus mentions their teaching concerning the seven sacred planets.

Especially associated with Mithraism is a representation of Mithra as a handsome youth in Oriental garments, kneeling on a bull which is thrown to the ground, the youth being about to cut the throat of the bull with his dagger. The bull is at the same time attacked by a dog, a serpent, and a scorpion, followed by two birds. Here the bull is an emblem of strength and of creative or generative power; Mithra is the spiritual man or sun killing or subduing his animal passions. This ritualistic representation later became so anthropomorphic that it aroused Zoroaster to bring about certain reforms and replace Mithra with  Ahura-Mazda, an abstract concept.

Mleccha (Mlechchha)

(Sanskrit) [from the verbal root mlech to speak indistinctly; cf Greek barbaroi] Outcastes; Hindu name for all non-āryans. In general, common people who are not seriously interested in spirituality, in contradistinction from the āryans



(Greek) Plural morai or morae. One’s allotted share; destiny. As a proper name, there was originally only one Moira, but later there were three: Lachesis, Clotho, and Atropos. Lachesis is from a root lach, as in lagchano “to obtain that which has already been determined or fixed”; she is depicted as a grave maiden holding a staff pointing to a horoscope, signifying that which man has built in the past is now unfolding. She was occultly connected with the earth. Clotho or Klotho is from a verb meaning “to spin,” and is represented as a woman holding a spindle, spinning thread which is man’s destiny, that which he is at present weaving for the future, and is connected with the future in that what we weave now determines what our future shall be. Thus it is linked with the psychological part of human nature, and connected occultly with the moon. Atropos is from a verb meaning “impossible to set aside or evade,” and therefore is translated as “inevitable, ineluctable.” It was often represented as a woman pointing to a sundial signifying that as the sun brings its light to the earth, so the future shall bring its destiny to man, as the flying hours unfold what comes to us out of the womb of time. Thus we have Lachesis representing the ineluctable destiny coming to us in our present life on earth from our past; Clotho, the present spinning of our future destiny because of the actions and reactions, mental and emotional, by which we are now weaving the web of fate which someday will become the present; and Atropos, the ineluctable and inescapable future represented as held in store, every thread of which has been woven by ourselves in past and present. Their respective functions are sometimes interchanged. Equivalent to the Latin Parcae and Fata, and the Scandinavian Norns.

It is only in this world that the action of fate seems extraneous to human will, for in reality we are the weaver of our own fates. The Morai are karmic agents or forces rather than karma, which is fundamentally the law governing universal equilibrium. In its essence the constant working of cosmic harmony, karma must of necessity manifest itself in multimyriad forms and manners — in and through multimyriad agents or forces. Karma being essentially the law of cosmic unity and concord, it is only the individuals which disturb this universal equilibrium who can feel the reaction therefrom, whether in one life or in a later one; but the karmic effects are by no means always identic with the originating causative action of the individual, because of the karmic agents of many kinds through which karma works. Thus, the gods, all human beings, the earth itself, and all its component forces and substances are karmic agents constantly interacting upon each other; so that while abstractly the action of karma is infallible and infinitely unerring and cannot ever be escaped or set aside, its reactions upon the individual who broke its laws may take place in diverse ways and usually through agents or instruments, since karma is no individual or cosmic god.

In the Pistis Sophia, Moira is enumerated as one of the principles of man, and called by Blavatsky the karmic ego (SD 2:605).


[Sanskrit, from mokṣ to release, set free probably from the verbal root much] Freedom; freedom from sentient life for the reminder of a manvantara. Equivalent to nirvāṇa, the absolute, mukti [from the verbal root much], the Palace of Love of the Zohar, the Gnostic Pleroma of Eternal Light, the Chinese nippang, and the Burmese neibban. “When a spirit, a monad, or a spiritual radical, has so grown in manifestation that it has first become a man, and is set free interiorly, inwardly, and from a man has become a planetary spirit or dhyāni-chohan or lord of meditation, and has gone still higher to become interiorly a brahman, and from a brahman the Parabrahman for its hierarchy, then it is absolutely perfected, free, released: perfected for that great period of time which to us seems almost an eternity, so long is it, virtually incomputable by the human intellect. This is the Absolute: limited in comparison with things still more immense, still more sublime; but so far as we can think of it, ‘released’ or ‘freed’ from the chains or bonds of material existence” (Fund 183).

One thus released or freed is called a jīvanmukta (freed monad), which is never again during that manvantara subject to the qualities of either matter or karma. But if these beings choose, for the sake of doing good in the world, they may incarnate on earth as nirmāṇakāyas.

Monad, Monas [from Greek monas a unit, individual, atom] A unit, a one; something nondivisible and which is therefore conceived of as real, in contradistinction to compound things which (as compounds) are not real.

In the Pythagorean system the Duad emanates from the higher and solitary Monas, which is thus the First Cause or First Logos, the Duad being the Second Cause or Logos; and from the second emanates the third stage of individuality, the Triad, Third Cause or Logos. In the human constitution the Monas signifies atman, the Duad buddhi, and the Triad signifies manas.

The term monad was adopted from Greek philosophy by Bruno, Leibniz, and others. According to Leibniz there can be but one ultimate cosmic reality or monad, the universe; but he recognizes an innumerable multiplicity of monads which pervade the universe, copies or reflections of the universal monad regarded as real except in their relation to the universal monad. He divides his derivative monads into three classes: rational souls; sentient but irrational monads; and material monads, or organic and inorganic bodies. As regards the material monads, while recognizing that corporeal matter is compound, and the attributes by which we perceive it unreal, unlike Berkeley, he does not deny its existence but regards it essentially as monadic. Thus his universe is an aggregate of individuals. The relations of these individuals to each other and to the universal is a supreme harmony, implying both individuality and coordination, thus reconciling the antinomy of bonds of law and freedom. The interrelations of various groups of monads is as a series of hierarchies. Theosophical usage is largely the same as that of Leibniz, as the focus or heart in any individual being, of all its divine, spiritual, and intellectual powers and attributes — the immortal part of its being. In The Secret Doctrine we find a triadic union of gods-monads-atoms, related to each other as spirit-soul-body (or more accurately spirit, spirit-soul, and spirit-soul-body). Monads and atoms are related to each other as the energic and the material side of manifestation, the atoms being the reflections, veils, or projections of and from the monads themselves.

Monads are the ultimate elements of the universe, spiritual-substantial entities, self-motivated, self-impelled, self-conscious, in infinitely varying degrees. They engender other monads, which in turn engender others, and thus springs up the host of living entities forming the immense variety and unity of the manifested world. As any monad descends into matter, it secretes from itself various veils or vehicles adapted for its self-expression on the various cosmic planes. Thus in man there is the divine monad, the spiritual monad, the higher human or chain monad, the lower human or globe monad, the animal monad, and the astral-physical monad. The following diagram shows the relations between the cosmic principles; the monads, egos and souls in the human being; and the human principles


The monad, as its name implies, is ever-enduring as an individual, although at the end of each manvantara it rises into a still higher or divine stage of perfect union with the boundless divine, only to re-issue forth again in due course as the monad it was before, thus beginning a new, immensely long time period of active individualized life as a spiritual consciousness-center. Thus it is that even the monads evolve, each on its own plane, for the hierarchies of the monads are innumerable and exist in all-various degrees at stages of evolutionary progression on the endless ladder of cosmic life. (From ETG) See also Jīva

Morals, Morality

What is the basis of morals? This is the most important question that can be asked of any system of thought. Is morality based on the dicta of man? Is morality based on the conviction in most men’s hearts that for human safety it is necessary to have certain abstract rules which it is merely convenient to follow? Are we mere opportunists? Or is morality, ethics, based on truth, which it is not merely expedient for man to follow, but necessary? Surely upon the latter! Morals is right conduct based upon right views, right thinking.

In the third fundamental postulate of The Secret Doctrine [1:17] we find the very elements, the very fundamentals, of a system of morality greater than which, profounder than which, more persuasive than which, perhaps, it would be impossible to imagine anything.

On what, then, is morality based? And by morality is not meant merely the opinion which some pseudo-philosophers have, that morality is more or less that which is “good for the community,” based on the mere meaning of the Latin word mores, “good customs,” as opposed to bad. No! Morality is that instinctive hunger of the human heart to do righteousness, to do good to every man because it is good and satisfying and ennobling to do so.

When man realizes that he is one with all that is, inwards and outwards, high and low; that he is one with all, not merely as members of a community are one, not merely as individuals of an army are one, but like the molecules of our own flesh, like the atoms of the molecule, like the electrons of the atom, composing one unity — not a mere union but a spiritual unity — then he sees truth. (See also Ethics)



(Sanskrit) A general name for certain intertwinings or positions of the fingers of the two hands, used alone or together, in devotional yoga or exoteric religious worship, and these mudras or digital positions are held by many Oriental mystics to have particular esoteric significance. They are found both in the Buddhist statues of northern Asia, especially those belonging to the Yogācāra school, and also in India where they are perhaps particularly affected by the Hindu tāntrikas. There is doubtless a good deal of hid efficacy in holding the fingers in proper position during meditation, but to the genuine occult student the symbolic meaning of such mudras or digital positions is by far more useful and interesting. The subject is too intricate, and of importance too small, to call for much detail of explanation here, or even to attempt a full exposition of the subject.

Mūlaprakṛti (Sanskrit) [from mūla root + prakṛti nature] Root-nature; undifferentiated cosmic substance in its highest form, the abstract substance or essence of what later through various differentiations become the prakṛtis, the various forms of matter, concrete or sublimate. It is precosmic root-substance, the root-principle of the world stuff and all in the world; that aspect of parabrahman or space which underlies all the ethereally or materially objective planes or space of universal nature. It is again unmanifested primordial stuff or substance, divine-spiritual, undifferentiated, and therefore indestructible, eternal, parentless, and abstractly the Mother — space itself, and the vehicle, lining, or alter ego of parabrahman. It is “the noumenon of undifferentiated Cosmic Matter. It is not matter as we know it, but the spiritual essence of matter, and is co-eternal and even one with Space in its abstract sense. Root-nature is also the source of the subtile invisible properties in visible matter. It is the Soul, so to say, of the one infinite Spirit. The Hindus call it Mūlaprakṛti, and say that it is the primordial substance, which is the basis of the Upādhi or vehicle of every phenomenon, whether physical, mental or psychic. It is the source from which Ākāśa radiates” (SD 1:35).

Mūlaprakṛti along with parabrahman are the two aspects of the one universal principle which is unconditioned to any human conception, and similarly eternal. Parabrahman is unconditioned and undifferentiated reality, and mūlaprakṛti is its veil or inseparable vehicle. To the First Logos or cosmic ego emerging in parabrahman, “once this ego starts into existence as a conscious being having objective consciousness of its own, we shall have to see what the result of this objective consciousness will be with reference to the one absolute and unconditioned existence from which its starts into manifested existence. From its objective standpoint, Parabrahmam appears to it as Mūlaprakṛti. . . . 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” (N on BG 20-1). Mūlaprakṛti stands in the same relation to parabrahman as the Qabbalistic Life of Space does to ’Eyn Soph; similarly on lower planes, it is what pradhāna is to Brahman, or what prakṛti is to Brahmā.

Music of the Spheres

Every sphere that runs its course in the abysmal depths of space sings a song as it passes along. Every little atom is attuned to a musical note. It is in constant movement, in constant vibration at speeds which are incomprehensible to the ordinary brain-mind of man; and each such speed has its own numerical quantity, in other words its own numerical note, and therefore sings that note. This is called the music of the spheres, and if man had the power of spiritual clairaudience, the life surrounding him would be one grand sweet song: his very body would be as it were a symphonic orchestra, singing some magnificent, incomprehensible, musical symphonic composition. The growth of a flower, for instance, would be like a changing melody running along from day to day; he could hear the grass grow, and understand why it grows; he could hear the atoms sing and see their movements, and hear the unison of the songs of all individual atoms, and the melodies that any physical body produces; and he would know what the stars in their courses are constantly singing.


Myalba dmyal ba (nyal-wa)

(Tibetan) Northern Buddhist name for our earth, which they considered a hell for those whose karma it is to reincarnate on it for the purgation of suffering and experience. Exoterically, Myalba is usually translated and is looked upon as one of the hells. Equivalent to the Sanskrit naraka or avīci.

Mysteria Specialia

[from mysteria mystery + specialia particular, specific] Particular mystery; used by European Medieval alchemico-mystical philosophers, such as Paracelsus. Mysterium is used by Paracelsus to denote the germinal state of a being, which is afterwards produced in the differentiated state; thus the seed is the mysterium of the future plant. Specialia implies that each organism pre-exists in its own special mysterium. Thus is indicated an intermediate state of differentiation, between the condition of undifferentiated chaos and that of separate and developed organisms.


[from Greek mysteria Mysteries from mystes one initiated into the Mysteries from mueo to initiate from muo to close the eyes or lips] Applies chiefly to Greece, but once extended to Asiatic cults of religio-philosophical character, it acquired a wider range under the Romans, and is used in The Secret Doctrine in reference to equivalent institutions in any part of the world. The most celebrated in Greece were those of Eleusis pertaining to Demeter and Persephone, which gave rise to many branches and influenced schools of older foundation. Others were those of Samothrace, the Orphic Mysteries, and the Festivals devoted to Dionysos. Schools like that of Pythagoras diffused their influence, as did Academies such as that of Plato. The history of Greece furnishes notable examples of great men who had been initiated into such Mysteries. The Mysteries came into Greece from India and Egypt, and their origin goes back to Atlantean times. They were in historic times, what remained of the means whereby man’s divine ancestors communicated truths concerning the mysteries of cosmos and of human nature and of the communion between divinity and man.

In times when sacred knowledge was whole and not divided into sacred and profane, the human body, not yet desecrated, was held as sacred as any other part of function of human nature; so that the teaching embraced medicine, hygiene, singing, dancing, the useful arts and crafts; and the teachers of religion, philosophy, science, and of crafts, the founders of cities, and great artists derived their powers from this source.

The Mysteries were divided into the Greater and Less, inner and outer, esoteric and partly exoteric; and, as the former were guarded by well-observed secrecy the sources of ordinary information are mostly based on the latter. The more recondite Mysteries could not, from their very nature, be publicly divulged; they were revelations, appreciable only by an awakened spiritual perception and incommunicable to anyone not thus awakened. The Greater Mysteries were successive initiations for prepared candidates. The Less consisted of symbolic and dramatic representations for the public, in which, among other things, the profound symbology of the Greek mythology was employed.

The elevating and unifying influence of these institutions was acknowledged by Greek and Roman authorities and is apparent from a study of Greek history. With the advance of a cycle of materialism, the Mysteries became degraded, especially in Asia Minor in Roman times; the symbolism was perverted and even made to palliate licentious practices. What little was left to abolish was formally abolished by Justinian, who closed the mystic and quasi-esoteric Neo-Platonic School of Athens in 529.

In a recognition of the ancient Mysteries we find a clue to the meaning of the universal prevalence, among peoples fallen into a degenerate and falsely called primitive state of life, of strange rites and black magical practices. These are the very dregs and distortions of the ancient holy teachings; but even here unprejudiced inquirers find that, when sympathetically approached, the existence of secret cults which preserve at least remnants of some of the essential teachings of the ancient wisdom.

As formal institutions, the Mysteries had their earliest origin during the fourth root-race, Atlantis, after its fourth subrace. Indeed, the still more primitive roots of the Mysteries can be traced to a much earlier time, probably during the third subrace of the Atlanteans, when the rapid degeneration of mankind into the worship of matter had brought about the absolute need of segregating the nobler and finer spirits of the human race into groups or schools where they could, under the vows of inviolable secrecy, study the deeper mysteries of nature and their own oneness with the divine. From that time the Mysteries became with every subrace more and more secret and entrance into them became ever more difficult. After the fifth root-race came upon the scene, the Mysteries had become well established in all countries of the globe, and their rites and functions, both of the Greater and the Less, were conducted as functions of the State.

Even from the time of the incarnation of the mānasaputras in the third root-race, there has been an unbroken line, stream, or succession of lofty spiritual teachers guarding the ancient god-wisdom received in primordial ages from the dhyānis; and the Mysteries, even in their heyday of splendor and in their most secret lines of work, were the outer side of clothing of this inner stream of inspiration and sublime teaching. The light has not yet died from off the earth, and the spiritual stream still exists and does its work in the world, although for ages it has been acting more secretly and esoterically than ever. However, the time is coming when the Mysteries will again be reestablished and will receive the common reverence and respect from mankind that in former ages they universally had.

Mysterium Magnum

(Latin) The great mystery; used by Paracelsus and other alchemists to denote primordial undifferentiated matter, from which all the elements sprang, sometimes compared with Brahma, at others with aether the garment of ākāśa.


The Mysteries were divided into two general parts, the Less Mysteries and the Greater.

The Less Mysteries were very largely composed of dramatic rites or ceremonies, with some teaching; the Greater Mysteries were composed of, or conducted almost entirely on the ground of, study; and the doctrines taught in them later were proved by personal experience in initiation. In the Greater Mysteries was explained, among other things, the secret meaning of the mythologies of the old religions, as, for instance, the Greek.

The active and nimble mind of the Greeks produced a mythology which for grace and beauty is perhaps without equal, but it nevertheless is very difficult to explain; the Mysteries of Samothrace and of Eleusis — the greater ones — explained among other things what these myths meant. These myths formed the basis of the exoteric religions; but note well that exotericism does not mean that the thing which is taught exoterically is in itself false, but merely that it is a teaching given without the key to it. Such teaching is symbolic, illusory, touching on the truth — the truth is there, but without the key to it, which is the esoteric meaning, it yields no proper sense.

We have the testimony of the Greek and Roman initiates and thinkers that the ancient Mysteries of Greece taught men, above everything else, to live rightly and to have a noble hope for the life after death. The Romans derived their Mysteries from those of Greece.

The mythological aspect comprises only a portion — and a relatively small portion — of what was taught in the Mystery schools in Greece, principally at Samothrace and at Eleusis. At Samothrace was taught the same mystery-teaching that was current elsewhere in Greece, but here it was more developed and recondite, and the foundation of these mystery-teachings was morals. The noblest and greatest men of ancient times in Greece were initiates in the Mysteries of these two seats of esoteric knowledge.

In other countries farther to the east, there were other Mystery schools or “colleges,” and this word college by no means necessarily meant a mere temple or building; it meant association, as in our modern word colleague, “associate.” The Teutonic tribes of northern Europe, the Germanic tribes, which included Scandinavia, had their Mystery colleges also; and teacher and neophytes stood on the bosom of Mother Earth, under Father Ether, the boundless sky, or in subterranean receptacles, and taught and learned. The core, the heart, the center, of the teaching of the ancient Mysteries was the abstruse problems dealing with death. (See also Guru-paramparā)


Several different groups of cosmogonic entities, among them the regents of the seven sacred planets, whose chief is the sun exoterically and the Second Logos esoterically; and in a limited sense, mystery-gods is used for two secret planets for which the sun and moon were used as substitutes. Also, in speaking of the dual nature of the Egyptian deities, the concealed or esoteric aspects of them are spoken of as mystery-gods. Again, the name is given to the kabiri or kabeiroi.


Names of cosmic and global potencies, which have both a secret meaning and an occult power depending on the sounds or letters used; the meaning is often disguised by transformation into their languages. The name Jaho, with its variants such as Jehovah or Jah, is a mystery-name which in the Greek Gnostics appears of Iao (the English j being originally a variation of the long i). Many Sanskrit words are of this nature; Subba Row1), in his article on the zodiac, uses a literal and syllabic key in interpreting the names of the signs. Some words yield their meaning by gematria, the numerical value of the letters.

Mystery Schools, adopted in theosophical literature from Classical writings, is a term to designate centers which were consecrated to the teaching of the truths of cosmic Being to those who were found fit and ready for their reception; and this body of teaching or instruction and training is imbodied in the ancient wisdom which is the heritage of humanity. This wisdom was originally given to mankind during the infancy of the human race by celestial teachers. “The mysteries of Heaven and Earth, revealed to the Third Race by their celestial teachers in the days of their purity, became a great focus of light, the rays from which became necessarily weakened as they were diffused and shed upon an uncongenial, because too material soil. With the masses they degenerated into Sorcery, taking later on the shape of exoteric religions, of idolatry full of superstitions, and man-, or hero-worship” (SD 2:281).

Despite this almost universal degeneration of the original wisdom into dogmatic religious or philosophical forms, the heart of the teaching has always been preserved on earth, and the guardians of this heart have from that immemorial age kept the ancient wisdom whole and undefiled. From this heart esoteric centers were during the ages instituted from time to time in different parts of the earth where the holy truths were taught by hierophants, to use the Greek expression. “Alone a handful of primitive men — in whom the spark of divine Wisdom burnt bright, and only strengthened in its intensity as it got dimmer and dimmer with every age in those who turned it to bad purposes — remained the elect custodians of the Mysteries revealed to mankind by the divine Teachers. There were those among them, who remained in their Kumāric condition from the beginning; and tradition whispers, what the secret teachings affirm, namely, that these Elect were the germ of a Hierarchy which never died since that period” (ibid.).

Thus was formed the Great Brotherhood or Great White Lodge, which has remained on earth to this day in its secret retreat, known in Hindu legends as Śambhala. From time to time messengers are sent forth from this Brotherhood into the world, and these emissaries impart the holy doctrine of which they are the carriers to those who prove themselves ready, fit, and worthy to receive it. Such centers of esoteric training and communication have always been called the Mysteries, or Mystery schools; and the emissaries establish new centers or Mystery schools when and where it is found proper to do so. Every race and nation has had its teachers and their esoteric centers; the one fundamental doctrine of the heart was taught alike in them all, albeit after different manners, in different languages, and by different approaches, according to the psychological readiness and the needs of the people to whom these emissaries came. In later times, when these Mystery schools had to a greater or less degree lost the original impress and inspiration of the first communication, they were called sacerdotal colleges, or even temple-colleges or in ancient Greece the Mysteries. Such esoteric centers, where the original and archaic doctrine is taught, exist even today.


(Greek) [from muo to close the mouth] Plural mystai. An initiate to the first degrees of the Mysteries; the next higher rank being that of the epoptes (seer); and the highest function being that of the hierophantes (teacher or communicator). With the Pythagoreans the neophyte or mystes guarded silence as to what he had learned, and was authorized and empowered to speak or teach only when his mouth had been opened because of attaining the rank of epoptes. This custom has been borrowed by Roman Catholic Cardinals along with the term Mystes: “A word or two may be said of the singular practice of closing and subsequently opening the mouth of a newly created cardinal. Like almost everything else connected with the subject, this form had once a real significance, but has become a mere meaningless formality. Some reasonable time was originally allowed to elapse before the pontiff in one consistory formally pronounced the mouth to be opened which he had declared to be closed in a previous consistory. Now the form of opening is pronounced within a few minutes of the form of closing” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 9th ed., “Cardinal”).

Mystic Death

An experience at a certain stage of initiation, where the candidate undergoes the experiences of virtual death, differing from actual death in that his body is prevented from dissolution so that he may resume it when the trial has been passed. Through its symbolic representation in the exoteric Mystery dramas, it has passed into the substance of religious creeds where it has been adapted to those formulas, as in the story or mythos of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Egyptian Book of the Dead is, among other things, a description of some of the experiences undergone by such a candidate.


A word originally derived from the Greek and having a wide range of meaning in modern Occidental religious and philosophical literature. A mystic may be said to be one who has intuitions or intimations of the existence of inner and superior worlds, and who attempts to ally himself or to come into self-conscious communion with them and the beings inhabiting these inner and invisible worlds.

The word mysticism, of course, has various shades of significance, and a large number of definitions could easily be written following the views of different mystical writers on this theme. From the theosophical or occult point of view, however, a mystic is one who has inner convictions often based on inner vision and knowledge of the existence of spiritual and ethereal universes of which our outer physical universe is but the shell; and who has some inner knowledge that these universes or worlds or planes or spheres, with their hosts of inhabitants, are intimately connected with the origin, destiny, and even present nature of the world which surrounds us.

Genuine mysticism is an ennobling study. The average mystic, however, is one who lacks the direct guidance derived from personal teaching received from a master or spiritual superior.

Myth, Mythology

[from Greek mythos a secret word, secret speech] An occult tale or mystic legend; the modern use varies from an allegorical story to pure fiction. Myths are after all ancient history and are built on facts or on a substratum of fact, as has proved true in the case of Troy and Crete. A symbolic record of archaic truths, universally prevalent among mankind, as in such stories as that of the Ark, which are almost universally discoverable and identical not in detail but in essential underlying features among the most widely sundered peoples. Myths contain the universal keys which can be applied to anything, and preserve undying and essential truths, so that variations of external form are unimportant. Such truths, being preserved in the racial memory of mankind, can always be kept essentially true to standard; and thus this means of handing-on can correct itself.


  1. T. Subba Row was a South-Indian Vedantin scholar associated with the Theosophical Society when its founder, H.P. Blavatsky, resided in Adyar near Madras (now Chennai []