Theosophical Encyclopedia

Nazirites

Jews who have consecrated themselves to the service of GOD. Their qualifications are mentioned in the Old Testament (Num 30:1-8; 6:1-21; etc.). Examples of Nazirites are Joseph, Samson and Samuel. They can be either male or female.

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Mystical Union

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The state of oneness between the soul and the Absolute or God. The term is used more commonly among Christian mystics such as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. It is the highest state of spiritual perfection attainable, and is equivalent to the NIRVANA of Buddhists and FANA among the Muslim Sufis.

In mystical Christianity, mystical union is preceded by three identifiable states in the spiritual life of the aspirant. The first is the awakening where the soul feels a divine discontent that cannot be quenched by material, social or psychological objects. Then follows a period of purification, where the attachments of the soul to objects are gradually cleansed and dissipated. This is the first “dark night” of John of the Cross – the “dark night of the senses.” Among those who successfully overcome the obstacles to spiritual growth, there may come a time when the state of illumination is experienced.

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Antaḥkaraṇa

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A Sanskrit word literally meaning “internal instrument,” wrongly spelt as Antaskarana by early theosophical writers. Explanations of this term vary somewhat according to the system of belief involved. In ADVAITA it is comprised of the intellect, the mind, the ego and the consciousness. Using the Sanskrit terms these would be named the buddhi, manas, ahankara, and cit; all these terms are explained in some detail elsewhere.

The Sankhya school teaches that antahkarana comprises only the intellect, mind and ego. In Helena P. BLAVATSKY’s The Voice of the Silence (p. 243) she defines its function as, “Antaskarana is the lower Manas, the Path of communication or communion between the personality and the higher Manas or human Soul. At death it is destroyed as a Path or medium of communication, and its remains survive in a form as the Kamarupa – the ‘shell.’”

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Yin-Yang

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An ancient Chinese doctrine which teaches that all things in the cosmos are the products of two elements, principles, or forces. Yin is the female principle and a negative energy which includes earth, moon, water and winter; yang is the positive male energy which includes heaven, sun, fire and summer. These should not be likened to the Pythagorean duality of opposites – evil and good, forever in conflict – but are complementary parts of a single cosmic harmony which merge and interact with one another.

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Alcohol

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Since the ancient times, the drinking of alcohol or wine has been connected with certain religious rituals, while in some it is prohibited. The Dionysian festival for example involved drinking, while the Orphic mysteries required abstinence not only from wine but also from meat and sexual activities. In the Christian tradition, wine has been associated with the blood of Christ and has become a part of the Eucharistic ritual. Judaism regards it positively, although among the NAZIRITES it is prohibited. In Islam and Buddhism alcohol is expressly prohibited.

Theosophical literature explicitly disapproves of alcoholic drinks due to its claimed effect on the person. In The Key to Theosophy (Sec. 13), Helena P. BLAVATSKY wrote about the effects of alcohol:
They are worse for his moral and spiritual growth than meat, for alcohol in all its forms has a direct, marked, and very deleterious influence on man’s psychic condition. Wine and spirit drinking is only less destructive to the development of the inner powers, than the habitual use of hashish, opium, and similar drugs. The use of alcohol, she says, has a “directly pernicious action upon the brain,” particularly the pineal gland and the pituitary gland. Alcohol prevents the development of the “third eye” (CW XII:496, 698).

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Charles Bradlaugh 1833-1891)

English free-thinker and political radical who was closely associated with Annie Besant, second President of the Theosophical Society (TS), before the latter became a theosophist. He was born at Hoxton in London, England, on September 26, 1833, the son of a poor solicitor’s clerk. Bradlaugh edited the National Reformer, a left-wing English periodical, from 1860 for many years and also was prominent as a public speaker. In 1874 he met Annie Besant who joined him on the staff of the National Reformer as co-editor.

Read more: Charles Bradlaugh 1833-1891)

Lama Anagarika Govinda 1898-1985)

Eminent Buddhist scholar, archeologist, psychologist and writer. Govinda was born Ernst Hoffman on May 17, 1898, at Waldheim in the former kingdom of Saxony. He was conscripted into the army during World War I, but contracted pulmonary tuberculosis and was forced to spend some time in a sanatorium. After his recovery he studied philosophy and architecture at the University of Freigurg (Breisgau) and after the war settled at Capri, Italy, where he continued to study archeology.

Govinda exhibited an unusual ability to grasp the essentials of a complex subject. At the age of nineteen he wrote a book entitled The Fundamental Thoughts of Buddhism (Altmann Publishing House, Leipzig).

Read more: Lama Anagarika Govinda 1898-1985)

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