The Harmony Project


abbot - the superior of a monastery for men

‘Abdu'l-Bahá - 1844-92 `Abdu'l-Bahá was born in Tehran on 23 May 1844 and was named `Abbás, after his grandfather, Mírzá Buzurg Núrí Shortly after `Abdu'l-Bahá's birth, his father became a prominent member of the Bábí movement which was to change the life of the family dramatically. The most memorable event in `Abdu'l-Bahá's childhood was the imprisonment of his father following the attempt made on the life of the Shah on 15 August 1852. Bahá'u'lláh had nothing to do with this attempt, yet the mere fact that he was a prominent Bábí was sufficient to imprison him. The results for the family were catastrophic.

Adonai - A Hebrew name for God, usually translated in the Old Testament by the word Lord.

Agnostic - One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

AHT school - A Healing Touch school – Founded by Ron Lavin (Shamanism).

Akka penal colony (in present-day Israel) where Bahá'u'lláh last lived in strict confinement.

Allah - GOD - used in Islam

Almighty , The - GOD

Amitabha - is the chief Buddha of the Lotus (Sanskrit – Padma) family. He is also called the Buddha of Immerurable Light and the Buddha of the Western Paradise or the Pure Land of Sukhavati (Tibetan – Dewachen). Practitioners of the Pure Land Schools of Buddhism (found in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan) believe that reciting the holy name of Amida (Amitabha) Buddha with devotion will direct their consciousness into his pure land after death. (see Pure Land tradition)

Angel (Angelic) - A typically benevolent celestial being that acts as an intermediary between heaven and earth, especially in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism.

ango - summer retreat (three-month retreat)

Anglican - A member of the Church of England or of any of the churches related to it.

Animistic (Animism) - The belief in the existence of individual spirits that inhabit natural objects and phenomena.

anointing (anointed) - According to the Jewish Bible, whenever someone received the anointing, the Spirit of God came upon this person, to qualify him or her for a God-given task. However it was not always required to become anointed in order to receive the Spirit of God.

anti-Semitism - hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group

apocalyptic - forecasting the ultimate destiny of the world.

Apologetics - a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity.

Asana - Any of various bodily positions assumed in yogic excercise.

ascension - Generally, an ascension is the act of ascending, usually to a significantly higher personal state, as the ascension of a king to the throne. In Theosophy, and some New Age groups, ascension is a process of spiritual enlightenment whereby any person may escape the physical plane of existence to become an ascended master.

Asceticism - denotes a life which is characterised by refraining from worldly pleasures. Those who practice ascetic lifestyles often perceive their practices as virtuous and pursue them to achieve greater spirituality.

Ashram - a dwelling of a Hindu sage (a religious retreat). A usually secluded residence of a religious community and its guru.

Ashtanga - The term Ashtanga means eight limbs. Within Raja Yoga, a classical Indian system of Hindu philosophy the eight limbs of yoga are expounded by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.

Asura - from Sanskrit meaning a "power-seeking" and "power-hungry" being, is similar to a Titan, often, but somewhat misleading, described as a "demonIn Hindu mythology sura came to mean a minor god in contrast to a-sura, "not-god" or "demon," but this is believed to be a false etymology.

Atheist - One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

Auschwitz - All over the world, Auschwitz has become a symbol of terror, genocide, and the Holocaust. It was established by the Nazis in 1940, in the suburbs of the city of Oswiecim which, like other parts of Poland, was occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. The name of the city of Oswiecim was changed to Auschwitz, which became the name of the camp as well.

Automaton - an individual who acts in a mechanical fashion.

avatar – see Avataras

Avataras - incarnations of Hindu gods, especially Vishnu. The doctrine of avatara first occurs in the Bhagavad-Gita, where Krishna declares: “For the preservation of the righteous, the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of dharma [virtue], I come into being from age to age.” Vishnu is believed to have taken nine avatara, in both animal and human form, with a tenth yet to come. The avatara of Shiva are imitations of those of Vishnu.

Báb - Báb, the Gate. The title assumed by Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad, the Forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh, and Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith.

Bahá'ís revere the Báb as the Forerunner or Herald of Bahá'u'lláh, but also as a Manifestation of God in His own right, considering His Writings to be Holy Scripture. The beginning of the Bahá'í Era is dated from the day of His declaration. The Declaration of the Báb, His birth and the day of His Martyrdom are observed as Bahá'í Holy Days on which work is suspended.

Bábí - The Bábí movement created a great deal of turmoil in Iran, thus it soon aroused some interest in the West also. Initially news of the movement reached the West through newspaper accounts and traveler's reports, while the western governments received information from their diplomatic staff.

Literary interest has continued into the twentieth century in such works as E.S. Stevens' novel The Mountain of God (1911) and the Russian writer Izabella Grinevskaya's dramatic poem entitled Bab (1903). (see Glossary Abdu'l-Bahá) 

Ba Gwa (a.k.a. Pa Kua, PaKua, Pa Qua, PaQua, Ba Gua, BaGua, or BaGwa) Zhang (chang) is one of the foremost internal systems in the Chinese martial arts. -- the others being Tai Chi Chuan and Hsing I Chuan. The origin of Pa Kua is a matter of continuing historical research. Much information has been generated on Pa Kua over the last 20 years that is available to the reader from various martial arts sources. Unique among the various systems of Pa Kua that exist is the Pa Kua Chang of Lu Shui-Tian.

Bahá'í - an adherent of a religious movement originating in Iran in the 19th century and emphasizing the spiritual unity of mankind.

Bahá'í Faith - a world religion with followers in 235 countries and territories, and with 173 National Spiritual Assemblies. Bahá'u'lláh (1817-92), who Bahá'ís believe is the Messenger of God to our age, the most recent in a line stretching back beyond recorded time and including Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Christ and Muhammad.

The central teaching of Bahá'u'lláh is that mankind is one human race, and that the age for the unification of this race in a global society has arrived. Among the principles of justice on which it is based are equality of the sexes, the right of all people to education and economic opportunity, the abolition of all forms of prejudice and the need for the establishment of a democratic world government with its own peacekeeping force. The challenge of the next thousand years will be to realize Bahá'u'lláh's vision of world unity.

Bahá'ís have no clergy. The affairs of the community are governed by democratically elected councils locally, nationally and internationally.

Bahá'u'lláh - (1817-1892) was the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, considered by adherents to be the Universal Manifestation of God who has ushered in a new age of world unity.

Baptist - a member or adherent of an evangelical Protestant denomination marked by congregational polity and baptism by immersion of believers only.

Baptism (baptized, baptizing) - 1a : a Christian sacrament marked by ritual use of water and admitting the recipient to the Christian community; 1b : a non-Christian rite using water for ritual purification.

bardic - Of or pertaining to bards (One who writes poetry), or their poetry.

Bardo Experience - Bardo is the Tibetan term for any transitional experience. However, in the view of Vajrayana Buddhism (often referred to as Tibetan Buddhism), there are six distinct bardos, or intermediate states of consciousness that characterize our mindstream at any given time. These bardos encompass the whole cycle of life, death and rebirth. They are the bardo of this life (or birth), the bardo of dreaming, the bardo of meditation, the bardo of dying, the bardo of dharmata (or ultimate reality), and the bardo of rebirth (or becoming).

bar mitzvahed (bar mitzvah) - A 13-year-old Jewish boy, considered an adult and responsible for his moral and religious duties.

Bas (bat) mitzvahed - In Conservative and Reform Judaism, a Jewish girl of 12 to 14 years of age, considered an adult and responsible for her moral and religious duties.

Beatitude - a state of utmost bliss.

Bhopal - former state N central India in & N of Vindhya Mountains capital Bhopal; now part of Madhya Pradesh.

Bible (biblical) - 1. The sacred book of Christianity, a collection of ancient writings including the books of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. 2. The Hebrew Scriptures, the sacred book of Judaism (Old Testament). 3. Sikhs Bible (see Guru Granth Sahib).

boddhichitta (Bodhi-chitta) - aspiration for enlightenment.

bodhi - means road, way, method, reason, a moral principle, a doctrine, the source of all things, etc. Lao Tzu, who is said to have lived in the sixth through the fifth century B.C.E., used it to indicate the fundamental principle or the source of the universe. The religious philosophy he helped establish, known in the West as Taoism, emphasizes "nonaction" (Chin wu-wei; Jpn mui ), which implies letting things take their natural course. When Buddhism was introduced to China, it was first interpreted and translated using Taoist concepts and terminology. This method of interpretation is known as "matching the meaning" For example, the Sanskrit bodhi, or enlightenment, was rendered as "the way" (tao)." Use of "the way" or "attaining the way" to mean enlightenment became well established in Buddhist literature.

bodhisattva - a member of the Mahayana community, essentially a Buddha-to-be, who takes a vow similar to these compiled in China in the sixth century CE.

Brahman - the Hindu creator god.

Brahmin - a member of the Hindu priestly caste. The word is related to, but not to be confused with, the Hindu religious conception of the transcendent and immanent supreme soul, "Brahman".

Buddha - Sanskrit, enlightened; akin to Sanskrit bodhi enlightenment. (see Glossary Five Wisdom Buddhas)

Buddhism (Buddhist) - a religion of eastern and central Asia growing out of the teaching of Gautama Buddha.

Canon - 1. A member of a chapter of priests serving in a cathedral or collegiate church. 2. A member of certain religious communities living under a common rule and bound by vows.

Canonical - conforming to a general rule or acceptable procedure.

Catholic (Roman Catholic, Catholicism) - a member of the Roman Catholic Church; relating to, or being a Christian church having a hierarchy of priests and bishops under the pope, a liturgy centered in the Mass, veneration of the Virgin Mary and saints, clerical celibacy, and a body of dogma including transubstantiation and papal infallibility

Edgar Cayce - Every year, tens of thousands of people from all over the world become interested in the life work of one ordinary man. He was an average individual in most respects: a loving husband, a father of two children, a skilled photographer, a devoted Sunday School teacher, and an eager gardener. Yet, throughout his life, he also displayed one of the most remarkable psychic talents of all time. His name was Edgar Cayce.

For forty-three years of his adult life, Edgar Cayce demonstrated the uncanny ability to put himself into some kind of self-induced sleep state by lying down on a couch, closing his eyes, and folding his hands over his stomach. This state of relaxation and meditation enabled him to place his mind in contact with all time and space. From this state he could respond to questions as diverse as, "What are the secrets of the universe?" to "How can I remove a wart?" His responses to these questions came to be called "readings" and contain insights so valuable that even to this day individuals have found practical help for everything from maintaining a well-balanced diet and improving human relationships to overcoming life-threatening illnesses and experiencing a closer walk with God. 

Though Cayce died more than half a century ago, the timeliness of the material in the readings is evidenced by approximately one dozen biographies and more than 300 titles that discuss various aspects of this man's life and work.

Celtic - One of an Indo-European people originally of central Europe and spreading to western Europe, the British Isles (England, Wales, Scotland), Ireland and southeast to Galatia (Brittany France) during pre-Roman times.

chai - Two Hebrew words which mean "Alive, or living" it serves as an expression of best wishes and well being.

Chakra - One of the seven centers of spiritual energy in the human body according to yoga philosophy.

Chan - (Ch’an) a school that developed in China from earlier Indian Buddhist meditation teachings. As Buddhism became firmly established in China, some practitioners began to focus almost exclusively on meditation. Near the end of the seventh century such practice was taught in an organized way by Hung-jen, later named the Fifth Patriarch of Chan. As his disciples fanned out across China, the Chan sect took form. Chan was later transmitted to Japan as Soto Zen and Rinzai Zen, to Korea as Soen, and Vietnam as Thien.

Chan meditation - Chan Buddhism (called Zen in Japan) focuses on individual sitting meditation practice. Some schools of Chan simplify practice to "just sitting." If one sits and calmly observes the body and mind, an awareness of the qualities and nature of body and mind will arise. For example, as you try to sit and allow your mind to be clear and quiet, you will probably discover many thoughts, memories, and worries arising in your mind. You will see clearly how difficult it is to concentrate and how many attachments and delusions hide the clear nature of your mind. Lengthy or intense practice can lead to deeper, enlightening realizations.

chanting (Chant) - To utter words or sounds in musical tones.

Chapel – A place of worship that is smaller than and subordinate to a church. A place of worship in an institution, such as a prison, college, or hospital.

chaplain - A member of the clergy who conducts religious services for an institution, such as a prison or hospital. (see glossary chaplaincy)

chaplaincy - The office, position, or station of a chaplain.

Chi – also know as Qi, also commonly spelled ch'i, or ki, is a fundamental concept of everyday Chinese culture, most often defined as "air" or "breath" and, by extension, "life force" or "spiritual energy" that is part of everything that exists. References to qi or similar philosophical concepts as a type of metaphysical energy that sustains living beings are used in many belief systems, especially in Asia.

Deepak Chopra - wrote the best-selling books Ageless Body, Timeless Mind (1993) and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success (1995). He became a successful motivational speaker, with a series of multi-media programs for healing mind, body and spirit.

Christ - Jesus (see JESUS)

Christ consciousness (Christhood, christed) - The spiritual and mystical experience of the unity of all the universe. To attain cosmic consciousness is to see the universe as God and God as the universe, and everything as part of this whole.

Christianity (Christian) - the religion derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture, and professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant bodies.

Christian Charismatic - Of, relating to, or being a type of Christianity that emphasizes personal religious experience and divinely inspired powers, as of healing, prophecy, and the gift of tongues.

Christos - Divine Light.

church - A building for public, especially Christian worship.

chutzpah - Yiddish - supreme self-confidence.

cloistered - Dwelling in cloisters (A place, especially a monastery or convent, devoted to religious seclusion.); solitary.

Commandments - The ten injunctions given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, serving as the basis of Mosaic Law.

Commune - a kind of intentional community where most resources are shared and there is little or no personal property. This includes communes devoted to peace and the environment, military, religious and political communes. The best known communes in the modern world are the kibbutzim of Israel. There are also many communes currently active outside Israel, where they are often referred to as egalitarian communities.

communion - Communion is a term that Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians apply to partaking of the consecrated bread and wine, not to the Eucharistic sacrament as a whole. However, Protestant groups (originating in the Protestant Reformation) use this to refer to whole rite.

Confirmation - 1. A Christian rite admitting a baptized person to full membership in a church. 2. A ceremony in Judaism that marks the completion of a young person's religious training.

confirmed - Having received the rite of confirmation.

Confucianism - a philosophy based on the ideas of the Chinese philosopher Confucius. It originated about 500 B.C. From the 100's B.C. to the A.D. 1900's, Confucianism was the most important single force in Chinese life. It influenced Chinese education, government, and personal behavior and the individual's duty to society.

Many people consider Confucianism a religion. But Confucianism has no clergy and does not teach the worship of a God or gods or the existence of a life after death. Confucianism can more accurately be considered a guide to morality and good government.

congregation - 1. A group of people gathered for religious worship. 2. The members of a specific religious group who regularly worship at a church or synagogue.

Conservative Jewish - The branches of Judaism Modern culture has posed challenges to traditional Jewish observance and faith. Jews have made a variety of responses to these challenges that have resulted in the division into several branches of Judaism. In the United States and Canada, the three main branches are (1) Orthodox Judaism, (2) Reform Judaism, and (3) Conservative Judaism. Each represents a wide range of beliefs and practices.

Conservative Judaism developed during the mid-1800's. Conservative Jews consider the Talmud as much an authority as the Bible. However, they believe that Jewish practice may be changed to fit the times. They believe that in this way, Judaism can remain relevant for each generation. The Conservative movement requires observance of most traditional Jewish laws and customs. The Reconstructionist movement, a smaller group that developed from the Conservative movement, stresses the cultural and community aspects of Judaism.

Convent - A community of people in a religious order, especially nuns.

cornucopian  (cornucopia) - a curved goat's horn overflowing in abundance.

cosmology - the branch of philosophy and metaphysics that deals with the world as the totality of all phenomena in space and time.

Council of Nicea - The First Council of Nicaea, convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in 325 AD, was the first ecumenical (from Greek oikumene, "worldwide") conference of bishops of the Christian Church.

The purpose of the council (also called a synod) was to resolve disagreements in the church of Alexandria over the nature of the Trinity: in particular whether Jesus was of the same or of similar substance as God the Father.

Course in Miracles - The book, often referred to by its students and followers as simply The Course, is written in first person in the voice of Jesus. It was first published in 1976.

The Course is written in Christian terminology and its subject aims to teach how to attain the direct personal experience of God. On the level of spiritual or religious belief, its stated purpose is to aid the individual in "removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence."

Creator - one that creates usually by bringing something new or original into being; especially capitalized: GOD.

Dalai Lama - Tibetan religious & political leader - the spiritual head of Lamaism.

Dharma - Hinduism : an individual's duty fulfilled by observance of custom or law Hinduism & Buddhism a : the basic principles of cosmic or individual existence : divine law b : conformity to one's duty and nature.

Dhyana - the stage of meditative trainings that lead to Samadhi.

Divine Light - The term 'Guru' in Sikhism is not used for a teacher or a guide or an expert or even a human body. The word Guru is composed of two terms. GU means darkness and RU means Light. In Sikhism the word 'Guru' is, thus, defined as the Light that dispels all darkness, and that is called JOT (Divine Light).

Divine Spirit - God

dojo - a term used in Japanese martial arts that refers to a formal training hall. It is typically considered the formal gathering place for students of a martial arts style to conduct training, examinations and other related encounters. (see zendo) 

Dorm - Dormitory

Ecumenical - promoting or tending toward worldwide unity or cooperation.

Eight Fold Path

  1. Right View Wisdom
  2. Right Intention 
  3. Right Speech Ethical Conduct
  4. Right Action 
  5. Right Livelihood 
  6. Right Effort Mental Development
  7. Right Mindfulness 
  8. Right Concentration 

The Noble Eightfold Path describes the way to the end of suffering, as it was laid out by Siddhartha Gautama. It is a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing the individual from attachments and delusions; and it finally leads to understanding the truth about all things. Together with the Four Noble Truths it constitutes the gist of Buddhism. Great emphasis is put on the practical aspect, because it is only through practice that one can attain a higher level of existence and finally reach Nirvana. The eight aspects of the path are not to be understood as a sequence of single steps, instead they are highly interdependent principles that have to be seen in relationship with each other.

Elohim - is a Hebrew word that means gods, a god, or God, depending on the context in which it is used. In most cases, it means God. In the Old Testament, Elohim is one of the two most commonly used names for God. The other is Yahweh. The word Elohim appears in the first sentence of the Bible: "In the beginning God (Elohim) created heaven and earth" (Gen. 1:1).

Episcopalian (Episcopal) - a member of an episcopal church (as the Protestant Episcopal Church).

Eucharistic (Eucharist) - The Eucharist is the rite that Christians perform in fulfillment of Jesus' instruction, recorded in the New Testament, to do in memory of him. Christians generally recognize a special presence of Christ in this rite. The word "Eucharist" is also applied to the bread and wine consecrated in the course of the rite. (see glossary transubstantiation)

Evangelist (Evangelical) - One who practices evangelism, especially a Protestant preacher or missionary. In modern times the term is applied to Protestant preachers who go about preaching personal conversion. Billy Graham is a notable modern example.

Excommunicated (excommunication) - formal expulsion from a religious body, the most grave of all ecclesiastical censures. Where religious and social communities are nearly identical it is attended by social ostracism, as in the case of Baruch Spinoza, excommunicated by the Jews. In Christianity the Roman Catholic Church especially retains excommunication; the church maintains that the spiritual separation of the offender from the body of the faithful takes place by the nature of the act when the offense is committed, and the decree of excommunication is a warning and formal proclamation of exclusion from Christian society. Those who die excommunicate are not publicly prayed for; but excommunication is not equivalent to damnation. Excommunicates are always free to return to the church on repentance. Protestant churches have generally abandoned excommunication.

existentialism - A movement in twentieth-century literature and philosophy, with some forerunners in earlier centuries. Existentialism stresses that people are entirely free and therefore responsible for what they make of themselves.

A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.

extreme unction - The rite formerly in practice in which a priest anointed and prayed for a sick or injured person, especially one in danger of death. In 1972 the name and rite were changed to Anointing of the Sick.

faith - 1a. belief and trust in and loyalty to God; 1b. belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion; 1c. firm belief in something for which there is no proof; 1d. complete trust. 2. something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially a system of religious beliefs

fetish - an object believed to have magical powers – esp. of protection.

Firesides - Gathering of people to study Bahá'í teaching in peoples homes.

five elements of nature - The five elements (Wu Xing) are wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each of these elements symbolizes a particular pattern of motion. A long time ago, ancient Chinese recognized that the five elements were the basic substances necessary for life. For this reason, they were originally called the "five substances" (Wu Cai). Zuo's Interpretation of the Spring and Autumn Annals states: "The five substances are natural products; are used by people; and cannot be dispensed with, not a single one of them." The Book of History further clarifies by saying, "Food relies on water and fire, production relies on metal and wood, while earth gives birth to everything."

Five Wisdom Buddhas - In Vajrayana Buddhism, the Five Dhyani Buddhas (Dhyani Sanskrit. for "meditation"), also known as the Five Wisdom Buddhas, the Five Great Buddhas and the Five Jinas (Sanskrit. for "conqueror" or "victor"), are representations of the five qualities of the Buddha. These five Buddhas are a common subject of Vajrayana mandalas. ….The Wisdom Buddhas are all aspects of the dharmakaya or "reality-body", which embodies the principle of enlightenment. (see Pure Land tradition)

Form of mind - An internal system of kung fu emphasizing linear movement.

Franciscan - A member of an originally mendicant religious order founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209 and dedicated to the virtues of humility and poverty.

fundamentalist - literal interpretation of sacred texts such as the Bible or the Quran and sometimes also anti-modernist movements in various religions.

The term can also refer specifically to the belief that one's religious texts are infallible and historically accurate, despite possible contradiction of these claims by modern scholarship.

Gabrielle - Archangel Gabriel was one of the archangels and a messenger of God. Gabriel is mentioned in the Old Testament in connection with revelations to Daniel (Dan. 8:16; 9:21). He is also mentioned at the announcements of the birth of John the Baptist and of Jesus in the New Testament (Luke 1:19, 26). (Ron Lavin, Shamanism) source World Book Encyclopedia.

Ganesh, Ganesha - Ganesha - the elephant-deity riding a mouse - has become one of the commonest mnemonics for anything associated with Hinduism. This not only suggests the importance of Ganesha, but also shows how popular and pervasive this deity is in the minds of the masses.

The son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha has an elephantine countenance with a curved trunk and big ears, and a huge pot-bellied body of a human being. He is the Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. In fact, Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga being the other four) whose idolatry is glorified as the panchayatana puja.

Gemara - Aramaic-completion: a commentary on the Mishnah forming the second part of the Talmud. (see glossary Talmud)

Genesis - the mainly narrative first book of canonical Jewish and Christian Scriptures (see BIBLE)

gentile - a person of a non-Jewish nation or of non-Jewish faith; especially : a Christian as distinguished from a Jew.

Goethe - Johann Wolfgang von 1749-1832 German poet & dramatist; greatest figure of German Romantic period.

Gospel – 4 books of the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Gnostic - Of, relating to, or possessing intellectual or spiritual knowledge. A believer in Gnosticism.

Gnosticism - The doctrines of certain pre-Christian pagan, Jewish, and early Christian sects that valued the revealed knowledge of God. (see glossary Gnostic) 

grace - the term for God's action in forgiving, sanctifying, or strengthening people. The term also refers to God's freely given love for all individuals. A short prayer of blessing or thanksgiving said before or after a meal.

Great Spirit - The Great Spirit is a conception of a supreme being prevalent among Native American and First Nations cultures. Also called The Creator.

Great White Brotherhood of Light - The Great White Brotherhood is a Spiritual Order of Hierarchy, an organization of Ascended Masters united for the highest purposes of God in man as set forth by Jesus the Christ, Gautama Buddha, and other World Teachers.

Greek Orthodox - The state church of Greece, an autonomous part of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Green Tara - Shrouded in mystery, revealed in wonder, the Great Goddess has been adored for millennia.

Gregorian chant – In the Roman Catholic Church An unaccompanied, monophonic liturgical chant.

Gurdwara - meaning the gateway through which the Guru could be reached.

Guru - 1 : a personal religious teacher and spiritual guide in Hinduism
2 a. a teacher and especially intellectual guide in matters of fundamental concern b : one who is an acknowledged leader or chief proponent c : a person with knowledge or expertise; Expert.

Guru Granth Sahib (Adi Granth) - is the holy book of the Sikhs. Sikhs are followers of the teachings of Sikhism, one of the religions of India. The Adi Granth is a large collection of more than 6,000 hymns.

haj (hajj) - the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, one of the five basic requirements ( “pillars”) of Islam. Its annual observance corresponds to the major holy day id al-adha, itself a commemoration of Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son on Divine orders. While the hajj is a religious obligation to be fulfilled at least once in the course of the life of each Muslim, religious law grants many exclusions on grounds of hardship.

halakic Halakah - or halacha in Judaism, the body of law regulating all aspects of life, including religious ritual, familial and personal status, civil relations, criminal law, and relations with non-Jews. (see Glossary Rabbi, Mishnah)

half-light - dim grayish light defn. source Miriam Webster Dictionary. 

Hashem - the word means, literally, "The Name," and it is the way that Jews refer to God when not in a Prayer or Torah Reading or Torah citation context.

Hasidim - Hasidic Judaism (from the Hebrew: Chasidut meaning "pious", from the Hebrew root word chesed meaning "loving kindness") is a Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Jewish religious movement. Some refer to Hasidic Judaism as Hasidism. The movement originated in Eastern Europe (Belarus and Ukraine) in the 18th century.

Heretical – Of or relating to heresy or heretics. Characterized by, revealing, or approaching departure from established beliefs or standards.

Abraham Joshua Heschel - Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (January 11, 1907, Warsaw, Poland - December 23, 1972) was considered by many to be one of the most significant Jewish theologians of the 20th century.

Hinduism (Hindu) - the major religion of India, is one of the oldest living religions in the world. The roots of Hinduism date to prehistoric times in Indial About 800 million people practice the religion. Although most Hindus live in India, Hindu literature and philosophy have influenced people throughout the world.

Holocaust - the mass slaughter of European civilians and especially Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

Holy Communion - see Communion.

Holy Spirit - the third person of the Christian Trinity.

Holy Trinity (Trinity) - Theology. In most Christian faiths, the union of three divine persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in one God. Also called Trine.

holy water - in Christian churches, water blessed to symbolize spiritual cleansing. In Roman Catholic churches there is a bowl (stoup or font) of holy water near the doors, so that the faithful may bless themselves with it on entering.

hospice - A program that provides palliative care and attends to the emotional and spiritual needs of terminally ill patients at an inpatient facility or at the patient's home.

Hsing Yi Ch'uan - also known as Hsing-I Chuan, Hsing I Ch'uan (Wade/Giles), Hsing Yi Chuan, XingYi Quan (PinYin), Shape and Intention boxing, Xingyi Liuhe quan (Heart Intention and six combinations), Yi Chuan (Intention boxing), Da Cheng Quan (Great achievement fist), Sum Yi Quan (Heart Intention).

icon - A representation or picture of a sacred or sanctified Christian personage, traditionally used and venerated in the Eastern Church.

insight meditation - (samatha-vipassana) refers to practices for the mind that develop calm (samatha) through sustained attention, and insight (vipassana) through reflection.

intercession - Entreaty in favor of another, especially a prayer or petition to God in behalf of another.

interdenominational - Of or involving different religious denominations.

Islam - the religious faith of Muslims including belief in Allah as the sole deity and in Muhammad as his prophet.

Iyengar - The word Iyengar (Anglicised from the Tamil (Aiyaṅkār)) means "people entrusted with five tasks", referring to the five duties that traditional Iyengars perform.

Jainism- a religion of India originating in the 6th century B·C· and teaching liberation of the soul by right knowledge, right faith, and right conduct. (see Glossary Osho) 

Jehovah - a form of Yahweh, the sacred Hebrew name for God. God first revealed the name Yahweh to the Israelite leader Moses. Jews thought the name Yahweh was too holy to pronounce. By the 200's B.C., they were using the word Adonai as a respectful substitute when reading from the scriptures. When Yahweh was preceded by Adonai, they said Elohim. When writing the word, Jewish scribes mixed the vowels of Adonai and Elohim with the consonants of YHWH, the traditional spelling of Yahweh. This mixing resulted in the Latin spelling, Jehovah, which carried over into English.

Jehovah's Witnesses - a member of a group that witness by distributing literature and by personal evangelism to beliefs in the theocratic rule of God.

Jesus - circa 6 B·C· -ca A·D· 30 Jesus of Nazareth; the Son of Mary source of the Christian religion & Savior in the Christian faith; believed to be miraculously conceived by his Mother; received as great teacher by disciples and common people; preached redeeming love of God for every person.

jihad - A Muslim holy war or spiritual struggle against infidels. Internal spiritual struggle for goodness.

Judaism (Jewish, Jew) - a religion developed among the ancient Hebrews and characterized by belief in one transcendent God who has revealed himself to Abraham, Moses, and the Hebrew prophets and by a religious life in accordance with Scriptures and rabbinic traditions.

Jukai – a Buddhist public ceremony where the student acknowledges that they are in a greater whole, composed of uncountable beings, of stars and plants and rivers and particular people who know them well. (see glossary rakusu)

Kabbalah - an aspect of Jewish mysticism. It consists of a large body of speculation on the nature of divinity, the creation, the origin and fate of the soul, and the role of human beings.

Karma - the force generated by a person's actions held in Hinduism and Buddhism to perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person's next existence.

Karmapa - The Karmapa was the first incarnate lama (tulku) in Tibet.

Khalifa - The modern theory of khalifa as ecological stewardship has developed as part of Islamic science — notably in the work of Seyyed Hossein Nasr. This development parallels similar trends in many religions, for example Henry David Thoreau the Protestant, Thomas Berry the Catholic, and Mohandas Gandhi the Hindu, all of which deplored consumerism and elevate respect for nature to a good in itself.

Khalsa - which means 'Pure' is the name given by Guru Gobind Singh to all Sikhs who have been baptised or initiated.

Khanda - is the emblem of the Sikh faith, symbolizing the four pillars of Sikh belief. It consists of four symbolic weapons.

Kismet - Turkish, from Arabic qismah portion, lot FATE.

Kitáb-i-Aqdas - This work is written in Arabic and its Arabic title is al-Kitab al- Aqdas, but it is commonly referred to by its Persian title, Kitab- i-Aqdas, which was given the work by Bahá'u'lláh himself. It is sometimes called "the Aqdas," "the Most Holy Book," "the Book of Laws," and occasionally "the Book of Aqdas." It is also referred to as "the Mother-Book" of the Bahá'í Revelation.

Koan - a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment.

Koran (Qur’an) - The sacred text of Islam, considered by Muslims to contain the revelations of God to Muhammad. Also called Alcoran.

kosher - serving food ritually fit according to Jewish law.

Krishna - The eighth and principal avatar of Vishnu, often depicted as a handsome young man playing a flute.

Kundalini - Sanskrit meaning circular, coiled, from kundala ring. The yogic life force that is held to lie coiled at the base of the spine until it is aroused and sent to the head to trigger enlightenment.

Kung Tze - (originally K'ung Fu Tzu, traditionally September 28 551 BCE–479 BCE) was a famous thinker and social philosopher of China, whose teachings have deeply influenced East Asia for centuries. The Analects is a short collection of his discussions with disciples, compiled posthumously. These contain an overview of his teachings.

Kushan - The Kushan Empire (c. 1st–3rd centuries) was a state that at its height, about 105–250, stretched from Tajikistan to the Caspian Sea to Afghanistan and down into the Ganges river valley. (see Pure Land tradition)

Lamaism (lamas) - the Mahayana Buddhism of Tibet and Mongolia marked by tantric and shamanistic ritual and a dominant monastic hierarchy headed by the Dalai Lama. (see Glossary Dalai Lama)

Latinos - persons of Latin-American origin living in the U·S.

Liturgy – A prescribed form or set of forms for public religious worship (Christian). Also mandatory ritual prayer in Islam (salat) is performed five times a day at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and night. (Islam). It also refers to rites, observances, and procedures of Judaism.

Lord - God. In Christianity Lord and Jesus are interchangeable.

Lucretius - circa 96-circa 55 B·C· Titus Lucretius Carus Roman poet & philosopher.

Lutheran - Of or relating to the branch of the Protestant Church adhering to the views of Luther.

Mahayana - a liberal and theistic branch of Buddhism comprising sects chiefly in China and Japan, recognizing a large body of scripture in addition to the Pali canon, and teaching social concern and universal salvation.

Mandalas - graphic and often symbolic patterns usually in the form of a circle divided into four separate sections or bearing a multiple projection of an image. (see Glossary Five Wisdom Buddhas)

Mantra : a mystical formula of invocation or incantation (as in Hinduism). A formula consisting of secret words or syllables said to embody mysterious powers.

Maya - Literally "delusion." Sikh theology explains that everything in this world is an illusion. A Sikh strives to avoid rebirth through living a meritous life of honest work, service to others, and remembrance of God’s name.

medicine man - A male shaman or shamanistic healer, especially among Native American peoples.

meditation (meditate) - To engage in devotional contemplation, especially prayer. To think or reflect, especially in a calm and deliberate manner.

Menorah - A nine-branched candelabrum used during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. The center candle, or “starter,” is used to light the other eight candles, with one additional candle lit on each subsequent evening of the celebration.
(Cynthia Trapanese, Oneness)

Messiah - Hebrew literally, anointed: the expected king and deliverer of the Jews.

Methodist - A member of an evangelical Protestant church founded on the principles of John and Charles Wesley in England in the early 18th century and characterized by active concern with social welfare and public morals.

Mevlevi - While strict orthodox Islam frowns on any use of music in religious rituals, Sufi orders have developed a wide variety of ritual observances involving singing, drums and other musical instruments. These rituals often include some form of dance, the best known in the West being that of the Turkish Mevlevi order, often called the "whirling dervishes".

Michael - Archangel Michael - Michael, Saint, is one of the four archangels in both Jewish and Christian scriptures. He is considered the patron angel and guardian of Israel. In art, he is usually portrayed as a warrior.

midrash - Any of a group of Jewish commentaries on the Hebrew Scriptures compiled between A.D. 400 and 1200.

Ministry (Minister) - The Christian clergy.

Mishnah - Hebrew instruction, oral law: the collection of mostly halakic Jewish traditions compiled about A·D· 200 and made the basic part of the Talmud. (see glossary Talmud)

missalette - used in the generic sense of a "small missal for the people, published on a periodical basis."

Missionary - a person undertaking a mission and especially a religious mission.

Moghul (Mughal) - an empire that at its greatest territorial extent ruled parts of Afghanistan, Balochistan and most of the Indian Subcontinent. The religion of Mughals was Islam.

Moksha - Sanskrit: liberation or Mukti (Sanskrit: release) refers, in general, to liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth. It is, in Hinduism, viewed as analogous to Nirvana. (see Glossary Sannyasin)

Mohammed (Muhammad) is the central figure of the Islamic faith. Born in 560 CE, Muslims believe the angel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad when he was 40 and told him he was to be the messenger of God.

monastery - a house for persons under religious vows; especially : an establishment for monks.

monastic - of or relating to monasteries or to monks or nuns.

monastic community - The main task of the Buddhist monastic community is to preserve and practice the Teaching of the Buddha. Having accomplished this, they can use their learning and wisdom to help society as a whole.

Monk - a man who is a member of a religious order and lives in a monastery; also Friar.

monotheism - The doctrine or belief that there is only one God.

Moonies - members of the Unification Church founded by Sun Myung Moon.

Moses - In the Bible, the Hebrew prophet and lawgiver who led the Israelites out of Egypt.

mosque - A Muslim house of worship.

murti - deities or images used by Hindus and also by some Mahayana Buddhists during worship as points of devotional and meditational focus. They are sometimes abstract, but more often anthropomorphic representations of forms of God like Shiva or Ganesh, Rama or Krishna, Saraswati or Kali. (see panchayatana puja) 

Muslim - an adherent of Islam

neo-Pagan - a person who practices a contemporary form of paganism (as Wicca).

New Testament – see Bible

Nineteen-day feast - regular community gatherings, occurring on the first day of each month of the Bahá'í calendar.

Nirvana - 1. the final beatitude that transcends suffering, karma, and samsara and is sought especially in Buddhism through the extinction of desire and individual consciousness. 2.: a place or state of oblivion to care, pain, or external reality; also : Bliss, Heaven. (see Theravadan) 

non-denominational - refers to those churches which have not formally aligned themselves with an established denomination. Non-denominational churches establish their own internal means and methods of policy and worship without interference from the policies and worship practices of regional, national, or multinational organizations. Members of non-denominational churches often consider themselves simply "Christians", and many feel at home when visiting any number of other denominational churches with compatible beliefs.

Old Testament - see Bible

Orthodox Christian (Eastern orthodox) - The body of modern churches, including among others the Greek and Russian Orthodox, that is derived from the church of the Byzantine Empire, adheres to the Byzantine rite, and acknowledges the honorary primacy of the patriarch of Constantinople.

Orthodox Judaism - continues traditional Jewish beliefs and ways of life. Orthodox Jews believe that God revealed the laws of the Torah and the Talmud directly to Moses on Mount Sinai. They strictly observe all traditional Jewish laws, including the dietary rules and the laws for keeping the Sabbath. Orthodox Jews pray three times daily - in the morning, in late afternoon, and after sunset. The men wear hats or skullcaps (yarmulkas or kipot) at all times as a sign of respect to God.

A kind of Orthodox Judaism known as Modern Orthodoxy attempts to combine the traditional way of life with participation in the general culture. Hasidic Orthodox Jews, in contrast, wear traditional Eastern European Jewish clothing and stress the joy of worshiping God and performing His commandments. (see Glossary Conservative Jewish)

Osho - also known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (1931-1990) was born Rajneesh Chandra Mohan in Kuchwara, a town in central India. Various sources state that "Bhagwan" means either "The Blessed One" or "God" and that "Shree" means "Master". At the end of his life, he changed his name to Osho.

"out of body" work - relating to, or marked by the psychological sensation of perceiving oneself from an external perspective, as though the mind or soul has left the body and is acting of its own volition.

Pagan (paganism) - a follower of a polytheistic religion.

Pali - Sanskrit pAli row, series of Buddhist sacred texts; an Indo-Aryan language used as the liturgical and scholarly language of Theravada Buddhism. (see glossary Mahayana, Theravadan)

Pa Kua eight trigram - see Ba Gwa

panchayatana puja - (Sanskrit) "Five-shrine worship." A system of personal worship, thought to have developed after the 7th century, in the Smarta brahminical tradition. (see Ganesh) 

parish – An administrative part of a diocese that has its own church in the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and some other churches.

Parthian - of, relating to, or characteristic of ancient Parthia (ancient country SW Asia in NE modern Iran) or its people. (see Pure Land tradition)

Past-life - See Reincarnation

past life regressions - process of digging up memories of one's previous lives through hypnosis for personal growth and healing of people with psychological or physical problems. By reliving or discovering previous experiences or traumas, a person can identify the origin of his/her problem whether it is a phobia or a disability or other.

Pastor - A Christian minister or priest having spiritual charge over a congregation or other group.

Pastoral - Of or relating to a pastor or the duties of a pastor: pastoral duties; a pastoral letter.

Pentateuch - the first five books of Jewish and Christian Scriptures.
(see Torah)

Pentecostal - Of, relating to, or being any of various Christian religious congregations whose members seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit, in emulation of the Apostles at Pentecost.

Pharisee - one of the two great Jewish religious and political parties of the second commonwealth. The Pharisees upheld an interpretation of Judaism that was in opposition to the priestly Temple cult. They stressed faith in the one God; the divine revelation of the law both written and oral handed down by Moses through Joshua, the elders, and the prophets to the Pharisees; and eternal life and resurrection for those who keep the law. Pharisees insisted on the strict observance of Jewish law, which they began to codify. They developed the synagogue as an alternative place of worship to the Temple.

pilgrim - one who travels to a shrine or holy place as a devotee (an ardent follower). (see glossary pilgrimage)

pilgrimage - a journey of a pilgrim ; especially : one to a shrine or a sacred place.

Platonist , Platonism - One who adheres to the philosophy of Plato.

pogroms - Russian term, originally meaning “riot,” that came to be applied to a series of violent attacks on Jews in Russia in the late 19th and early 20th cent.

polytheistic (polytheism) - is belief in, or worship of, multiple gods or divinities. (see glossary pagan)

Pope - the Patriarch of the West and Bishop of Rome, and leader of the Catholic Church. The office of the pope is called the Papacy.

Preacher (preaching) - One who preaches, especially one who publicly proclaims the gospel for an occupation.

Presbyterian - A member or an adherent of a Presbyterian (Protestant) Church.

Priory - see Monastery

prophet - A person who speaks by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed.

proselytizing - 1. to induce someone to convert to one's faith. 2. to recruit someone to join one's party, institution, or cause transitive senses; to recruit or convert especially to a new faith, institution, or cause.

Protestant - a member of any of several church denominations denying the universal authority of the Pope and affirming the Reformation principles of justification by faith alone, the priesthood of all believers, and the primacy of the Bible as the only source of revealed truth; broadly : a Christian not of a Catholic or Eastern Orthodox church.

Punjabi - the Indic (relating to India) language spoken by most people in Punjab in northwestern India.

Pure Land tradition - Pure Land Buddhism is based upon the Pure Land sutras first brought to China circa 150 by the Parthian monk An Shih Kao and the Kushan monk Lokaksema, which describe Amitabha, one of the Five Wisdom Buddhas, and his heaven-like Pure Land, called Sukhavati.

Purgatory - 1. an intermediate state after death for expiatory purification; specifically : a place or state of punishment wherein according to Roman Catholic doctrine the souls of those who die in God's grace may make satisfaction for past sins and so become fit for heaven. 2. a place or state of temporary suffering or misery.

Qá'ím - The Promised One of Islám. (see Báb)

Quaker - A member of the Religious Society of Friends. The Quakers are a group of Christians who use no scripture and believe in great simplicity in daily life and in worship.

Rabbi - Master, Teacher - used by Jews as a term of address. A Jew qualified to expound and apply the halakah and other Jewish law. A Jew trained and ordained for professional religious leadership; specifically : the official leader of a Jewish congregation.

rakusu - people sew rakusus (Buddha’s, or meditation Robes) in preparation for receiving the precepts in the ceremony called Jukai.

Ramadan - The ninth month of the year in the Islamic calendar. A fast, held from sunrise to sunset, that is carried out during this period.

Raphael -is a Hebrew word that means "God has healed," thus Raphael is originally an archangel made known in ancient Judaism, who performs all manner of healing. The Hebrew word for a doctor of medicine is Rophe connected to the same root word as Raphael. Since Christianity drew many of its teachings from Judaism, it adopted some teachings about the angels such as Raphael.

Reform Judaism - began during the early 1800's. At that time, some Jews started to question the traditional teachings of how the sacred writings of Judaism came into being. For example, they considered the oral law a human creation rather than the revelation of God, and so its authority was weakened for them. These people, who founded Reform Judaism, claimed that Judaism is defined principally by the Bible.

Today, Reform Jews believe that moral and ethical teachings form the most important part of Judaism. Many feel that Judaism's ritual practices have no significance for them. They have discarded many traditional customs and ceremonies. However, Reform Jews are increasingly returning to traditional practices. (see Glossary Conservative Jewish)

Reiki - Reiki practitioners channel energy in a particular pattern to heal and harmonize. Unlike other healing therapies based on the premise of a human energy field, Reiki seeks to restore order to the body whose vital energy has become unbalanced.

Reincarnation (rebirth, reincarnate) - rebirth in new bodies or forms of life; especially : a rebirth of a soul in a new human body.

revealed religion - A religion founded primarily on the revelations of God to humankind.

Rilke - 1875–1926, German poet, b. Prague, the greatest lyric poet of modern Germany.

rosary beads (rosary) - prayer of Roman Catholics, in which beads are used as counters. The term, applied also to the beads, is extended to Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist prayers that use beads. The traditional Catholic rosary is a series of 15 meditations on events (mysteries) in the lives of Jesus and Mary.

Rosicrucian - is a School of Light and self-improvement in which the members, by means of a progressive system of study and practical application of what is learned, become not only the Masters of their own lives, and Architects of their own destiny, but also incorporate the highest existing ethical ideals into their personality.

Russian Orthodox – of or relating to or characteristic of the Eastern Orthodox Church derived from the Byzantine Church and adhering to Byzantine rites.

sacraments - in Christianity, a rite believed to be a means of or visible form of grace, especially: In the Eastern, Roman Catholic, and some other Western Christian churches, any of the traditional seven rites that were instituted by Jesus and recorded in the New Testament and that confer sanctifying grace.

Sadducees - A member of a priestly, aristocratic Jewish sect founded in the second century B.C. that accepted only the written Mosaic law and that ceased to exist after the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.

sadhaná - Meditational practice, normally involving visualization, recitation of verses and mantras, physical gestures, and real or visualized offerings to a particular YIDAM, in order to attain ENLIGHTENMENT or other supernatural power.

Saguna Brahman - The personal aspect of the Ultimate Reality is known as Saguna Brahman, that is Brahman with attributes. Saguna Brahman is the creator, sustainer and controller of the universe. Saguna Brahman cannot be limited by one form and is therefore worshipped by Hindus in both male and female forms. (see glossary Smartism)

Sai Baba -Sathya Sai Baba is a popular Indian guru who has millions of followers. In his teens he claimed to be the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba and subsequently took his name. He says that he is an avatar of Shiva and Shakti and an embodiment of love with divine powers such as omniscience and omnipotence.

Saint - one officially recognized especially through canonization as preeminent for holiness.

salat - The obligatory Muslim contact prayers held five times daily, one of the five pillars of Islam. (see glossary liturgy)

samsara - the indefinitely repeated cycles of birth, misery, and death caused by karma. (see Glossary nirvana)

Samadhi - a conscious experience that lies beyond waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. This state of consciousness is often referred to as "one-pointedness of mind."

Sangha - A community of Buddhist practitioners.

Sanskrit - an ancient Indo-Aryan language that is the classical language of India and of Hinduism.

Science Of Mind - The Science of Mind is a correlation of laws of science, opinions of philosophy, and revelations of religion applied to the needs and aspirations of humankind. A practical teaching, it helps thousands of people experience health, happiness, peace, and love.

Schopenhauer - biographical name -Arthur 1788-1860 German philosopher; chief expounder of pessimism and of the irrational impulses of life arising from the will; influenced Existentialism and Freudian psychology.

Scripture - Many religions and spiritual movements believe that their sacred texts (or scriptures) are the "Word of God", often feeling that the texts are wholly divine or spiritually inspired in origin.

Sect - 1. a religious denomination. 2. a group adhering to a distinctive doctrine or to a leader.

secular -  of or relating to the worldly or temporal <secular concerns>. Also relates to clergy not belonging to a religious order or congregation <a secular priest>.

seder - the feast commemorating the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, celebrated on the first night or the first two nights of Passover.

seminarian - a student at a seminary.

seminary - a school, especially a theological school for the training of priests, ministers, or rabbis.

sepulcher - 1. a tomb, grave, or burial place. (see The Báb)

Seshin - a journey through vispasana meditation.

Sermon on the Mount - an ethical discourse delivered by Jesus and recorded in Matthew 5-7 and paralleled briefly in Luke 6:20-49 (Bible – New Testament).

Seva Community Service - a central aspect of Sikh and Hindu theology; Selfless service, which is believed to bring one closer to God.

Shabboth – Sabbath (in Hebrew).

Shala – yoga school.

Shambhala - the name of a mythical sacred place, thought to be between the Gobi Desert and the Himalayas.

Shaman (Shamanism, Shamanic) - a priest or priestess who uses magic for the purpose of curing the sick, divining the hidden, and controlling events.

Shanti - Sanskrit for the word Peace.

Shao-lin Kung Fu - Kung Fu (Wushu) is a common collective appellation of Chinese martial arts.

Shaykhí - Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i (1753 - 1826), better known as Shaykh Ahmad, was the founder of a 19th century Shi'a religious movement in the Persian and Ottoman empires, whose followers were known as Shaykhis. (see Glossary The Báb)

Sheikh (Shaykh, Imam) - Islam. A religious official. Also a teacher.

shinay meditation - a process of developing a sense of calm abiding through proper sitting practice is essential for the Buddhist practitioner.

shiva  - a seven-day period of formal mourning observed by Jews after the funeral of a close relative.

Shofar - A trumpet made of a ram's horn, blown by the ancient Hebrews during religious ceremonies and as a signal in battle, now sounded in the synagogue during Rosh Hashanah and at the end of Yom Kippur (Jewish Holy Days).

Sikhism (Sikh Faith) - founded over 500 years ago, The Sikh religion today has a following of over 20 million people worldwide and is ranked as the worlds 5th largest religion. Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind and denounces superstitions and blind rituals.

Smarta - see smriti.

smriti - (Sanskrit) "That which is remembered; the tradition." Hinduism's nonrevealed, secondary but deeply revered scriptures, derived from man's insight and experience. Smriti speaks of secular matters--science, law, history, agriculture, etc.--as well as spiritual lore, ranging from day-to-day rules and regulations to superconscious outpourings. (see Glossary smartism)

Solstice - The two occasions each year when the position of the sun at a given time of day does not seem to change direction. In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs around June 21 and is the longest day of the year. The sun stops getting higher in the sky, and the days begin to grow shorter. The winter solstice, which occurs around December 21, is the shortest day. The sun stops getting lower in the sky, and the days begin to grow longer.

Spirit , Holy Spirit - the third person of the Christian Trinity.

Stations of the Cross - a devotion consisting of prayers and meditations before each of 14 crosses or images set up in a church or along a path commemorating the events of the Passion of Jesus.

Sufi (Sufism) - a general term for a Muslim mystic and/or ascetic. Sufism refers to the mystical path of Islam in general.

Sukhavati - Sanskrit for Pure Land. (see Pure Land tradition) 

Sutras - a precept summarizing Vedic teaching; also : a collection of these precepts; a discourse of the Buddha.

Swami -a Hindu ascetic or religious teacher; specifically : a senior member of a religious order -- used as a title.

Swami Vivekananda - (1863-1902) was an Indian philosopher and social reformer.

Vivekananda believed in the oneness of all creation in God. He devoted his life to working for social reform. He opposed what he regarded as abuses, such as caste (class) discrimination, child marriage, and the lowly status of women in society. He encouraged care for the sick and the poor, and supported education for all. In 1893, Vivekananda represented Hinduism at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. His impressive presentation won him an international reputation. He died on July 4, 1902.

synagogue - the house of worship and communal center of a Jewish congregation.

Tabernacle - 1. Ooften The Tabernacle, a portable sanctuary in which the Jews carried the Ark of the Covenant through the desert. 2. A case or box on a church altar containing the consecrated host and wine of the Eucharist. 3. A place of worship.

Tai Chi Ch'uan (Tai Ji Ch'uan) - an ancient Chinese discipline of meditative movements practiced as a system of exercises -- called also tai chi, t'ai chi.

Talmud - Hebrew literally, instruction : the authoritative body of Jewish tradition comprising the Mishnah and Gemara.

Tantric (Tantra) - one of the later Hindu or Buddhist scriptures dealing especially with techniques and rituals to achieve ecstasy.

Tao - 1a. the unconditional and unknowable source and guiding principle of all reality as conceived by Taoists. 2b. the process of nature by which all things change and which is to be followed for a life of harmony. 2. often not capitalized : the path of virtuous conduct as conceived by Confucians.

Taoism - a Chinese mystical philosophy traditionally founded by Lao-tzu in the 6th century B·C· that teaches conformity to the Tao by unassertive action and simplicity.

Tapas - In the yogic tradition, tapas may be translated as "essential energy", referring to a focused effort leading towards bodily purification and spiritual enlightenment.

temple - A building dedicated to religious ceremonies or worship.

temporal - having to do with life on earth especially as opposed to that in heaven.

thankas - wood curving, painted religious scrolls.

The Great Dream - This is a mistake. Bodhisattvas of the Seventh Stage and below are all cultivating in a dream. Even those Bodhisattvas who have reached the level of Equal Enlightenment are still fast asleep within the great dream of delusion. Only the Buddhas can be honored with the designation Great Enlightened, i.e., those who have completely awakened. When our own body is in a dream, happiness and suffering are to be expected; we still experience happiness and still know suffering. How can we consider ourselves awakened from a dream and our environment dreamlike?

The I Ching - Book of Changes

The Lord's Prayer - The prayer taught by Jesus to his disciples. Also called Our Father.

Theravadan (Theravada) - literally, doctrine of the elders. A conservative branch of Buddhism comprising sects chiefly in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia and adhering to the original Pali scriptures alone and to the nontheistic ideal of nirvana for a limited select number.

Tishri - the 1st month of the civil year or the 7th month of the ecclesiastical year in the Jewish calendar. (see Yom Kippur)

Titan - one that is gigantic in size or power : one that stands out for greatness of achievement. (see Glossary Asura)

Torah - the five books of Moses constituting the Pentateuch (Old Testament).

totem - An animal, plant, or natural object serving among certain tribal or traditional peoples as the emblem of a clan or family and sometimes revered as its founder, ancestor, or guardian. (see glossary totemic)

totemic - Of or pertaining to a totem, or totemism.

Trail of Tears - The route along which the United States government forced several tribes of Native Americans, including the Cherokees, Seminoles, Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Creeks, to migrate to reservations west of the Mississippi River in the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s. Those on the march suffered greatly from disease and mistreatment and many died on the journey.

transcendence - is used primarily with reference to God's relation to the world and is particularly important in theology. Here transcendent means that God is completely outside of and beyond the world, as contrasted with the notion that God is manifested in the world. This meaning originates both in Aristotle's notion of God as the prime mover, a non-material self-consciousness that is outside of the world, and in the Jewish and Christian idea of God as a being outside of the world who created the world out of nothingness (creatio ex nihilo).

transubstantiation - the miraculous change by which according to Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox dogma the eucharistic elements at their consecration become the body and blood of Christ while keeping only the appearances of bread and wine (see Glossary Catholic, Roman Catholic)

Troth - loyal or pledged faithfulness.

Trotsky - biographical name -Leon 1879-1940 originally Lev Davidovich Bronstein Russian communist leader.

turban - The turban is closely associated with Sikhism, the only religion in which wearing a turban is mandatory for baptized men. It is optional for women and unbaptized sikh men. The vast majority of people who wear turbans in Western countries are Sikhs.

Twelve-step program - is a fellowship which aims at the recovery of its members from the consequences of an addiction, a compulsion, or another harmful influence on their lives, with the help of the Twelve Steps. Also the specific program of recovery that is applied within such a fellowship, is called a twelve-step program.

Unitarian - A religious association of Christian origin that has no official creed and that considers God to be unipersonal, salvation to be granted to the entire human race, and reason and conscience to be the criteria for belief and practice.

United Church of Christ - American Protestant denomination formed in 1957 by a merger of the General Council of Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church.

Unity - Unity strongly affirms its Christian identity and has an ordained ministry. The Bible is interpreted allegorically, not literally; revelation is seen as a continuing process. Individuals attain salvation through development of their Christ consciousness, and ultimately all will be saved. Emphasis is placed on the ability to heal ills of mind and body by prayer and right thinking.

Uriel - Archangel Uriel - whose name means, “who is the light (fire) of God” has found its way back into more prominence with the reawaken of Kabbalah. Archangel Uriel has a slightly more tenuous place in history. Uriel is the Archangel of Wisdom in all three religions of Abraham. In The Book of Enoch, Uriel assumes a more violent role as the angel of thunder and lightening and terror. It is therefore natural that Uriel is the Archangel who warned Noah and appeared with some additional help from-to him after the flood to help heal the earth Raphael on the latter.

The Book of Enoch is one of the oldest apocryphal Jewish texts in existence, written at least 500 years prior to the Christian era by an unknown Jewish race. It is prophetic in nature and was referred to in the Epistle of Jude. It was rediscovered in 1723 by explorer James Bruce in Ethiopia. The Book of Enoch is part of the canonical scripture of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Vajra Crown Ceremony - forms the basis of our understanding of how the Emperor came to give the Black Crown to the Karmapa.

Vajradhara - The name Vajradhara means "holder of the vajra [thunderbolt].

Vajrayana - Vajrayāna Buddhism, also known as Tantric Buddhism, Mantrayana, Tantrayana, Esoteric Buddhism, "Diamond Vehicle" or "True Words Sect", is often viewed as the third major 'vehicle' (Yana) of Buddhism, alongside the Hinayana and Mahayana.

Van Allen Belt - a belt of intense radiation in the magnetosphere composed of energetic charged particles trapped by the earth's magnetic field.

Vatican - The official residence of the pope in Vatican City (An independent papal state on the Tiber River within Rome, Italy).

Veda - any of four canonical collections of hymns, prayers, and liturgical formulas that comprise the earliest Hindu sacred writings. (See glossary Vedic)

Vedic - of or relating to the Vedas, the language in which they are written, or Hindu history and culture between 1500 B·C· and 500 B·C·.

VIPASSANA meditation - This non-sectarian technique aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation. Healing, not merely the curing of diseases, but the essential healing of human suffering, is its purpose. Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation.

Virgin Mary - The mother of Jesus.

Waheguru - Literally "the wonderful Lord"; the most popular Sikh name for God. (see Maya)

Whirling Dervishes – see Mevlevi

White Buffalo Calf Woman - in Lakota (Native American tribe) mythology, is a sacred woman of supernatural origin who gave the Lakota their "Seven Sacred Rituals". She taught the Lakotas many sacred rituals and gave then the chununpa or sacred pipe which is the holiest of all worship symbols. After teaching the people and giving them her gifts, PtesanWi left them promising to return.

Wu Chi - In Tai Chi Chuan training, Wu Chi refers to the condition when the body and spirit are not divided into Yin and Yang Components. In other words, the body is tranquil and is not affected by any contact with the outside world. The whole body, physical as well as spiritual, is united into oneness. When we talk about Wu Chi training, we are talking about the ability to remove all the body's tensions and other emotions guided by intent so that the practitioner can return to the stable and natural stage that is full of potential and innate ability.

Yang - the masculine active principle in nature that in Chinese cosmology is exhibited in light, heat, or dryness and that combines with yin to produce all that comes to be.

yeshiva - a Jewish day school providing secular and religious instruction.

YIDAM - Tantric deity (see sadhana).

Yin - the feminine passive principle in nature that in Chinese cosmology is exhibited in darkness, cold, or wetness and that combines with yang to produce all that comes to be.

Yom Kippur - a Jewish holiday observed with fasting and prayer on the 10th day of Tishri in accordance with the rites described in Leviticus 16 (Bible – Old testament book).

yogi - a markedly reflective or mystical person.

Zapotec - a member of an American Indian people of Oaxaca state, Mexico.

zazen - the source of all the teachings and practices of the Buddha way.

Zen - a Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism that aims at enlightenment by direct intuition through meditation.

zendo - (Chinese: Chántáng) is a Japanese term translating roughly as "meditation hall". In Zen Buddhism, the zendo is a spiritual dojo where zazen (sitting meditation) is practiced.

Zoroastrian - The religious system of Zoroaster, the legislator and prophet of the ancient Persians, which was the national faith of Persia; mazdeism - teaching the worship of Ahura Mazda. The system presupposes a good spirit (Ormuzd) and an opposing evil spirit (Ahriman).

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