Islamic Sufism Spirituality

Glossary of spirituality related terms

Posted on: December 29, 2008


A
  • Advaita Vedanta: (अद्वैत वेदान्त, prunounced as “ədvaitə ve:dāntə”) Probably the best known of all Vedanta schools of philosophy of Hinduism, the others being Dvaita and Vishishtadvaita (total six). “Advaita” literally means “not two”, and is often called a monistic or non-dualistic system which essentially refers to the indivisibility of the Self (Atman) from the Whole (Brahman). The key texts from which all Vedanta (lit., end or the goal of the Vedas) texts draw are the Upanishads (twelve or thirteen in particular), which are usually at the end of the Vedas, and the Brahma Sutras (also known as Vedanta Sutras), which in turn discuss the essence of the Upanishads.
  • Afterlife: (or life after death) A generic term referring to a continuation of existence, typically spiritual and experiential, beyond this world, or after death. This article is about current generic and widely held or reported concepts of afterlife.
  • Ahimsa: A religious concept which advocates non-violence and a respect for all life. Ahimsa (अहिंसा ahisā) is Sanskrit for avoidance of himsa, or injury. It is interpreted most often as meaning peace and reverence toward all sentient beings. Ahimsa is the core of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Its first mention in Indian philosophy is found in the Hindu scriptures called the Upanishads, the oldest dating about 800 BC. Those who practice Ahimsa are often vegetarians or vegans.
  • Aikido: (Aikidō, also using an older style of kanji) Literally meaning “harmony energy way”, or with some poetic license, “way of the harmonious spirit”, is a gendai budo — a modern Japanese martial art. Practitioners of aikido are known as aikidoka. It was developed by Morihei Ueshiba (also known by aikidoka as o-sensei over the period of the 1930s to the 1960s. Technically, the major parts of aikido are derived from Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu, a form of jujutsu with many joint techniques, and kenjutsu, or Japanese sword technique (some believe the tactics in Aikido are especially influenced by Yagyū Shinkage-ryū). Aikido is also considered to contain a significant spiritual component.
  • Akashic Records: (Akasha is a Sanskrit word meaning “sky”, “space” or “aether“) Said to be a collection of mystical knowledge that is stored in the aether; i.e. on a non-physical plane of existence. The concept is common in some New Age religious groups. The Akashic Records are said to have existed since the beginning of the planet. Just as we have various specialty libraries (e.g., medical, law), there are said to exist various Akashic Records (e.g., human, animal, plant, mineral, etc). Most writings refer to the Akashic Records in the area of human experience.
  • Altruism: Either a practice or habit (in the view of many, a virtue) as well as an ethical doctrine. In Buddhism it can also be seen as a fundamental property of (human) nature.
Altruism can refer to:

  • being helpful to other people with little or no interest in being rewarded for one’s efforts (the colloquial definition). This is distinct from merely helping others.
  • actions that benefit others with a net detrimental or neutral effect on the actor, regardless of the actor’s own psychology, motivation, or the cause of her actions. This type of altruistic behavior is referred to in ecology as Commensalism.
  • an ethical doctrine that holds that individuals have a moral obligation to help others, if necessary to the exclusion of one’s own interest or benefit. One who holds such a doctrine is known as an “altruist.”
The concepts have a long history in philosophical and ethical thought, and have more recently become a topic for psychologists, sociologists, evolutionary biologists, and ethologists. While ideas about altruism from one field can have an impact on the other fields, the different methods and focuses of these fields lead to different perspectives on altruism.
  • Anatta: The Buddhist doctrine of Anatta (Pāli) or Anātman (Sanskrit) specifies the absence of a supposedly permanent and unchanging self or soul (ātman). What is normally thought of as the “self” is in fact an agglomeration of constantly changing physical and mental constituents (“skandhas“) which give rise to unhappiness if clung to as though this temporary assemblage formed some kind of immutable and enduring Soul (“atman“). The “anatta” doctrine attempts to encourage the Buddhist practitioner to detach him/herself from this misplaced clinging to what is mistakenly regarded as his or her Self, and from such detachment (aided by moral living and meditation) the way to Nirvana is able successfully to be traversed.
Anatta is one of the Three Seals of Buddhist doctrines and is an important element of wisdom through the apophatic technique used to experience Nirvana, the other two being dukkha and Anicca.
  • Ancestor worship:, also ancestor veneration A religious practice based on the belief that one’s ancestors possess supernatural powers. All cultures attach ritual significance to the passing of loved ones, but this is not equivalent to ancestor worship. Rather, ancestor worship involves the same sort of religious practices one sees when people appease or supplicate other entities thought to exist and possess supernatural powers, such as gods, angels, saints, or demons. While far from universal, ancestor worship or ancestor veneration occurs in societies with every degree of social, political, and technological complexity, and it remains an important component of various religious practices in modern times.
  • Anomalous phenomenon: An observed phenomenon for which there is no suitable explanation in the context of a specific body of scientific knowledge (e.g. astronomy or biology).
  • Asceticism: Denotes a life which is characterized by refraining from worldly pleasures (austerity). Those who practice ascetic lifestyles often perceive their practices as virtuous and pursue them to achieve greater spirituality.
In a more cynical context, ascetic may connote some form of self-mortification, ritual punishment of the body or harsh renunciation of pleasure. However the word certainly does not necessarily imply a negative connotation.
  • Atman (Buddhism): A Sanskrit word, normally translated as ‘soul‘ or ‘self‘ (also ego). In Buddhism, the concept of Atman is the prime consequence of ignorance, – itself the cause of all misery – the foundation of Samsara itself.
In a number of sutras of Mahayana Buddhism, as well as in certain Buddhist Tantras, however, the term “Atman” is used in a dual sense, in some instances denoting the impermanent, mundane ego (attachment to which needs to be overcome), and on other occasions explicitly referring to the ultimately real, pure, blissful Self of the Buddha in the state of Nirvana, a Selfhood stated to be unchanging, unshakeably firm, and eternal within all beings (see Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra).
  • Atman (Hinduism): Beginning with Vedantic Hindu philosophy, the Ātman — Sanskrit (masculine nominative singular: Ātmā) is regarded as an underlying metaphysical self. It is first seen in its current Hindu usage in the Upanishads, some of which date back to 1000 BC. The word “Atman” is interpreted by some schools as the “Main Essence” of man, as his Highest Self. “A” in this word is a negative particle. One popular, albeit apocryphal, etymology has it that the ‘tma’ of “atma” “Tma” means “darkness” in light of the word “tamas” – “darkness, ignorance or inertia”, “spiritual darkness” – has the same root. Therefore “A-tma” or “Atman” means “opposite to darkness”, “shining”.
Advaita philosophers believe that individual “personal” souls exist as Maya only. Dvaita philosophy claims that there is an eternal plurality of souls as per Bhagavad Gita 2.12.
Neural systems that regulate attention serve to attentuate awareness among complex animals whose central and peripheral nervous system provides more information than cognitive areas of the brain can assimilate. Within an attenuated system of awareness, a mind might be aware of much more than is being contemplated in a focused extended consciousness.
  • Azeemi: People belong to the Spiritual order of Silsila-e-Azeemia currently headed by Khwaja Shamsuddin Azeemi. These people, while following their religion, do some mental exercises to boost their self-awareness and try to able to enter the spiritual world.
B
  • Bahá’í Faith: An emerging global religion founded by Bahá’u’lláh, a nineteenth-century Iranian exile. “Bahá’í” is either an adjective referring to this religion, or the term for a follower of Bahá’u’lláh.
Bahá’í theology speaks of unity: the oneness of God; the oneness of religion; and the oneness of humanity. These three principles have a profound impact on the theological and social teachings of this religion. Religion is seen as a progressively unfolding process of education, by God, through his messengers, to a constantly evolving human family. Bahá’u’lláh is seen as the most recent, pivotal, but not final of God’s messengers. He announced that his major purpose is to lay the spiritual foundations for a new global civilization of peace and harmony, which Bahá’ís expect to gradually arise.
  • Bhajan: (or kirtan) A Hindu devotional song, often but not necessarily of ancient origin. Great importance is attributed to the singing of bhajans within the Bhakti movement. It is also one of the pillars of Sikhism and in that context refers to the singing of the Sacred Hymns from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, or “SGGS”. The Sikhs place huge value on this type of singing and a Sikh is duty bound to listen to and/or sing Guru-Kirtan as frequently as possible. In Surat Shabd Yoga, bhajan means listening to the inner sounds of the Shabd or the Shabd Master.
  • Bhakti: A Tamil or Sanskrit term from Hinduism that means intense devotion expressed by action (service). A person who practices bhakti is called bhakta. The concept of devotion is more or less the same in all religions. But in Hinduism there are certain extra subtleties which make it comparatively more complicated. These are : the One Reality versus many ‘Gods’ of worship; deity worship through ‘ idols’ , ‘icons’ and ‘images’; the freedom to choose one’s own ‘favourite deity’, at the same time not being exclusive; and the interactive ramifications of God’s grace, fate and free will. Although some element of Bhakti was present even in the Vedic times, it is over the last six or seven centuries that Bhakti has taken the modern shape. The Bhakti movement started in Tamil Nadu and spread slowly northwards, becoming eventually a pervasive feature of Hinduism. The Alvars and Nayanars initiated the concept of Bhakti as a means of attaining salvation. Bhakti is considered the easiest and the fastest spiritual path in Kali Yuga.
  • Bharatanatyam: (also spelled Bharathanatyam, Bharatnatyam or Bharata Natyam) A classical dance form originating in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Originally known as sadir, it owes its current name to Krishna Iyer and later, Rukmini Devi Arundale. Bharata could refer to either the author of the Natya Shastra or to a legendary king after whom the country of India was supposedly named Bharata and natyam is Sanskrit for the art of dance-drama. It was brought to the stage at the beginning of the 20th century by Krishna Iyer.
  • Bible: (sometimes The Book, Good Book, Word of God, The Word, or Scripture) From Greek (τα) βιβλια, (ta) biblia, “(the) books”, plural of βιβλιον, biblion, “book”, originally a diminutive of βιβλος, biblos, which in turn is derived from βυβλος—byblos, meaning “papyrus”, from the ancient Phoenician city of Byblos which exported this writing material), is the classical name for the Hebrew Bible of Judaism or the combination of the Old Testament and New Testament of Christianity (“The Bible” therefore actually refers to at least two different Bibles). It is thus applied to sacred scriptures. Many Christian English speakers refer to the Christian Bible as “the good book” (Gospel itself means “good news”). For many people, their Bible is the revealed word of God or an authoritative record of the relationship between God, the world, and humankind.
  • Blessing: (from to bless, Old English bleodsian or bletsian) Originally meant “sprinkling with blood” during the pagan sacrifices, the Blóts (reference: AHD). A blessing, (also used to refer to bestowing of such) is the infusion of something with holiness, divine will, or one’s hopes. Within Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and similar traditions, formal blessings of the church are performed by bishops, priests, and sometimes deacons, but as in many other religions, anyone may formally bless another.
  • Bodhi: (Pali and Sanskrit. Lit. awakening) A title given in Buddhism to the specific awakening experience attained by the Indian spiritual teacher Gautama Buddha and his disciples. It is sometimes described as complete and perfect sanity, or awareness of the true nature of the universe. After attainment, it is believed one is freed from the cycle of Samsāra: birth, suffering, death and rebirth. Bodhi is most commonly translated into English as enlightenment, though this translation is problematic, since enlightenment (the soul being “lit” by a higher power) is originally a concept from Christian mysticism or conversely evokes notions of the 18th century European Age of Enlightenment that are not identical with the Buddhist concept of Bodhi. There is no image of “light” contained in the term, “Bodhi” – rather, it expresses the notion of awakening from a dream and of being aware and Knowing (Reality). It is thus preferable to think of Bodhi as spiritual “Awake-ness” or “Awakening”, rather than “enlightenment” (although it is true that imagery of light is extraordinarily prevalent in many of the Buddhist scriptures).
  • Born again: A term used primarily in Evangelical Protestant Christianity, where it is associated with salvation, conversion and spiritual rebirth. By extension it is applied in other areas, including a transcending personal experience — or the experience of being spiritually reborn as a “new” human being.
With approximately 350 million followers, Buddhism is considered a major world religion.
The aim of Buddhist practice is to end the suffering of cyclic existence, samsara (Pāli, Sanskrit), by awakening the practitioner to the realization of true reality, the achievement of liberation (nirvana). To achieve this, one should purify and train the mind and act according to the laws of karma, of cause and effect: perform positive actions, and positive results will follow, and vice versa.
Buddhist morality is underpinned by the principles of harmlessness and moderation. Mental training focuses on moral discipline (sila), meditative concentration (samadhi), and wisdom (prajñā). While Buddhism does not deny the existence of supernatural beings (indeed, many are discussed in Buddhist scripture), it does not ascribe power for creation, salvation or judgment to them. Like humans, they are regarded as having the power to affect worldly events, and so some Buddhist schools associate with them via ritual.
C
  • Cao Dai: (Cao Đài) A relatively new, syncretist, monotheistic religion, officially established in Tay Ninh, southern Vietnam, in 1926. Đạo Cao Đài is the religion’s shortened name, the full name is Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ.
The term Cao Đài literally means “high place.” Figuratively, it means that highest place where God reigns. It is also the abbreviated name for God, the creator of the universe, whose full title is Cao Đài Tiên Ông Đại Bồ Tát Ma-ha-tát. Caodaiists credit God as the religion’s founder. They believe the teachings, symbolism and organization were communicated directly from Đức (means venerable) Cao Đài. Even the construction of the Tay Ninh Holy See had divine guidance.
  • Celibacy: May refer either to being unmarried or to sexual abstinence. An oath of celibacy is a promise not to enter into marriage. Some writers prefer this usage of “celibacy”, while others use it interchangeably as a synonym for abstinence.
Some writers on sexuality draw a distinction between abstinence and celibacy, stating that celibacy means refraining from any sexual activity with a partner. They argue that this can be empowering, as it still allows that person to be “sexual” (through, for example, masturbation).
  • Chakra: In Hinduism and its spiritual systems of yoga and in some related eastern cultures, as well as in some segments of the New Age movement — and to some degree the distinctly different New Thought movement — a chakra is thought to be an energy node in the human body.
The word comes from the Sanskrit cakra चक्र meaning “wheel, circle”, and sometimes also referring to the “wheel of life”. The pronunciation of this word can be approximated in English by chuhkruh, with ch as in chart and both instances of a as in yoga (the commonly found pronunciation shockrah is incorrect). The seven main chakras are described as being aligned in an ascending column from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Each chakra is associated with a certain color, multiple specific functions, an aspect of consciousness, a classical element, and other distinguishing characteristics.
  • Chant: The rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds, either on a single pitch or with a simple melody involving a limited set of notes and often including a great deal of repetition or statis. Chant may be considered speech, music, or a heightened form of speech which is more effective in conveying emotion or expressing ones spiritual side.
Chants are used in a variety of settings from ritual to recreation. Supporters or players in sports contests may use them (see football chant). Warriors in ancient times would chant battle cries. Chants form part of many religious rituals. Some examples include chant in African and Native American tribal cultures, Gregorian chant, Qur’an reading, various Buddhist chants, various mantras, and the chanting of psalms and prayers especially in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican churches. Tibetan Buddhist chant involves throat singing, where multiple pitches are produced by each performer. Japanese Shigin, or ‘chanted poetry’, mirrors Zen principles, and is sung from the gut – the locus of power in Zen Buddhism.
  • Channelling: The act of having spirits enter or possess one’s body in order to speak and act through one as practised in many cultures and religions.
  • Charity: A term that refers to giving. In Christian theology it is one of the three theological virtues, meaning loving kindness towards others; it is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because it is said to both glorify and reflect the nature of God. In its most extreme form charity can be self-sacrificial. Charity is one conventional English translation of the Greek term agapē.
  • Chinese folk religion: A loosely-connected system of practices and beliefs that has been practiced by large segments of the Han Chinese population of China from the early period of Chinese continuing to the present. With the influx of Western cultural influences for several centuries and the complex developments and modernization of the 20th century, the prevalence of Chinese traditional beliefs has declined, but still remain strong, many or most gradually transforming into elements of culture and social behavior while retaining little spiritual or religious significance. It is composed of a combination of religious practices, including ancestor worship or veneration, Buddhism and Taoism.
The names “Christian” and hence “Christianity” are first attested in Acts 11:26, “For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch Jesus’ disciples were first called Christians” (Gr. χριστιανους, from Christ Gr. Χριστός, which means “the anointed”). Christianity encompasses numerous religious traditions that widely vary by culture and place, as well as many diverse beliefs and sects. Since the Reformation, Christianity is usually represented as being divided into three main branches: Catholicism, Eastern Christianity and Protestantism.
  • Compassion: (in Pali: Karuna) A sense of shared suffering, most often combined with a desire to alleviate or reduce such suffering; to show special kindness to those who suffer.
Compassionate acts are generally considered those which take into account the suffering of others and attempt to alleviate that suffering as if it were one’s own. In this sense, the various forms of the Golden Rule are clearly based on the concept of compassion.
Compassion differs from other forms of helpful or humane behavior in that its focus is primarily on the alleviation of suffering. Acts of kindness which seek primarily to confer benefit rather than relieve existing suffering are better classified as acts of altruism, although, in this sense, compassion itself can be seen as a subset of altruism, it being defined as the type of behavior which seeks to benefit others by reducing their suffering.
Many cultures and religious traditions place the seat of consciousness in a soul separate from the body. Conversely, many scientists and philosophers consider consciousness to be intimately linked to the neural functioning of the brain dictating the way in which the world is experienced. This aspect of consciousness is the subject of much debate and research in philosophy of mind, psychology, brain biology, neurology, and cognitive science.
  • Cosmogony: [Gr. Kosmogonia from Kosmos the world and root of gignesthai to be born] The coming into existence, the creation and origination of the universe. It is also the study of these aspects. So a cosmogony describes how the Universe came to be; hence, the creation myth in the book of Genesis is one such cosmogony, and there are many others, both scientific and mythological. This contrasts with cosmology, which studies the Universe at large, throughout its existence.
  • Cosmology: (from the Greek: κοσμολογία (cosmologia, κόσμος (cosmos) world + λογια (logia) discourse) The study of the universe in its totality and by extension man’s place in it. Though the word cosmology is itself of fairly recent origin, first used in Christian Wolff‘s Cosmologia Generalis (1730), the study of the universe has a long history involving science, philosophy, esotericism, and religion.
D
  • Deism: Historical and modern deism is defined by the view that reason, rather than revelation or tradition, should be the basis of belief in God. Deists reject organized religion and promote reason as the essential element in making moral decisions. This “rational” basis was usually founded upon the cosmological argument (first cause argument), the teleological argument (argument from design), and other aspects of what was called natural religion. Deism has become identified with the classical belief that God created but does not intervene in the world, though this is not a necessary component of deism.
  • Deity: (or a god) A postulated preternatural being, usually, but not always, of significant power, worshipped, thought holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, or respected by human beings. They assume a variety of forms, but are frequently depicted as having human or animal form. Sometimes it is considered blasphemous to imagine the deity as having any concrete form. They are usually immortal. They are commonly assumed to have personalities and to possess consciousness, intellects, desires, and emotions much like humans. Such natural phenomena as lightning, floods, storms, other “acts of God”, and miracles are attributed to them, and they may be thought to be the authorities or controllers of every aspect of human life (such as birth or the afterlife). Some deities are asserted to be the directors of time and fate itself, to be the givers of human law and morality, to be the ultimate judges of human worth and behavior, and to be the designers and creators of the Earth or the universe. Some of these “gods” have no power at all-they are simply worshipped.
  • Devotion: In Christianity has come to mean time spent alone or in a small group of people reading and studying the Bible in a way as it relates to one’s spiritual health and well being. It can also mean setting oneself apart in worship and solitude whether in Church settings or in one’s lifestyle to become more committed to and focused on God.
Dhikr is the remembrance of God commanded in the Qur’an for all Muslims. To engage in dhikr is to have awareness of God according to Islam. Dhikr as a devotional act includes the repetition of divine names, supplications and aphorisms from hadith literature, and sections of the Qur’an. More generally, any activity in which the Muslim maintains awareness of God is considered dhikr.
E
  • Emanationism: Technically is a henotheism component in the cosmology of certain religious or philosophical systems that argue a Supreme Being did not directly create the physical universe, but instead emanated lower spiritual beings who created the world.
According to this paradigm, Creation proceeds as an outpouring or even a transformation in the original Absolute or Godhead. The Supreme Light or Consciousness descends through a series of stages, gradations, worlds or hypostases, becoming progressively more material and embodied, before finally turning around to return to the One, retracing its steps through spiritual knowledge, contemplation and ascent.
  • Enlightenment: As a concept is related to the Buddhist Bodhi but is a cornerstone of religious and spiritual understanding in practically all religions. It literally means being illuminated by acquiring new wisdom or understanding. Historically Judaism and Christianity referred to spiritual enlightenment as divine illumination. The systematic search for enlightenment was a goal of truth seekers after they found a master teacher or guru, who could guide them. However, this formulation was not necessarily spiritual. In earlier times, such as during the Bon period of Tibetan religion, it was essentially magical, which is a pre-scientific stage. After the systematic methods were learned in India, the nations of Asia made pilgrimages to learn them. The relationship between seeker and guru was and remains, in most cases, an essential point for Enlightenment. There are practical signs of such a state, which can be recognized by a guru. Thus there is a practical, even secular component to Enlightenment, which differs from the requirement of Christian divine grace from God, which was essentially mystical or sacred.
  • Entheogen: A modern term derived from two Ancient Greek words, ἔνθεος (entheos) and γενέσθαι (genesthai). Entheos means literally “in God”, more freely translated “inspired”. The Greeks used it as a term of praise for poets and other artists. Genesthai means “to cause to be”. So an entheogen is “that which causes (a person) to be in God”. The translation “creating the divine within” that is sometimes given is not quite correct — entheogen implies neither that something is created (as opposed to just perceiving something that is already there) nor that that which is experienced is within the user (as opposed to having independent existence).
In its strictest sense the term refers to a psychoactive substance (most often some plant matter) that occasions enlightening spiritual or mystical experience, within the parameters of a cult, in the original non-pejorative sense of cultus. In a broader sense, the word “entheogen” refers to artificial as well as natural substances that induce alterations of consciousness similar to those documented for ritual ingestion of traditional shamanic inebriants, even if it is used in a secular context.
According to spiritual evolution, human beings build upon that which has been already created, but there is also something new due to the activity of the spirit and thus it is that humans become creative intelligences — creators. In order that human being may become an independent, original Creator, it is necessary that his training should include sufficient latitude for the exercise of the individual originality which distinguishes creation from imitation. When Epigenesis becomes inactive, in the individual or even in a race, evolution ceases and degeneration commences.
  • Epiphany: (Greek: επιφάνεια, “the appearance; miraculous phenomenon”) A Christian feast intended to celebrate the ‘shining forth’ or revelation of God to mankind in human form, in the person of Jesus. The observance had its origins in the eastern Christian churches, and included the birth of Jesus; the visit of the three Magi (Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) who arrived in Bethlehem; and all of Jesus’ childhood events, up to his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist. The feast was initially based on, and viewed as a fulfillment of, the Jewish Feast of Lights. This was fixed on January 6.
  • Eternal return: (or sometimes eternal recurrence) A concept originating from ancient Egypt and developed in the teachings of Pythagoras. The basic theory is that time is not infinite, but is occupied by the finite set of actions possible in the universe, with all of these actions and events recurring indefinitely, again and again. A large part of eternal recurrence is the idea that the universe has no final state, but rather, merely cycles destinationlessly through the same states of matter and time. Time is perceived as circular and cyclical: this is in contrast the Western notion of rectilinear time, such as was developed by Aristotle and by Judeo-Christian doctrine.
  • Eternity: While in the popular mind, eternity often simply means existing for an infinite, i.e., limitless, amount of time, many have used it to refer to a timeless existence altogether outside of time. There are a number of arguments for eternity, by which proponents of the concept, principally, Aristotle, purported to prove that matter, motion, and time must have existed eternally.
  • Eutheism is the belief that God exists and is good.
  • Dystheism is the belief that God exists but is not good.
Both dystheism and eutheism are forms of theism, in that they are belief systems that assert the existence of God or gods in some form. (The opposing viewpoint to theism, of course, is atheism). Most theistic belief systems that posit a Singular God (monotheism) are eutheistic, but by no means all of them. Gnosticism, Satanism, and Maltheism are examples of belief systems with dystheistic tenets. Many polytheistic belief systems assert the existence of a variety of both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ deities, but the strict dichotomy of eutheism vs. dystheism is usually (though not always) framed in monotheistic terms.
  • Existence: There is no universally accepted theory of what the word existence means. The dominant (though by no means universal) view in twentieth-century and contemporary Anglo-American philosophy is that existence is what is asserted by statements of first-order logic of the form “for some x Fx”. This agrees with the simple and commonsensical view that, in uttering “There is a bridge across the Thames at Hammersmith”, or “A bridge crosses the Thames at Hammersmith”, we are asserting the existence of a bridge across the Thames at Hammersmith. The word “existence”, on this view, is simply a way of describing the logical form of ordinary subject-predicate sentence.
Unfortunately, this simple view is vulnerable to a number of philosophical objections, and the so-called problem of existence is one that still exercises the minds of contemporary philosophers. This article is a brief overview of those problems, of the solutions that certain philosophers have offered, and suggestions for further reading.
  • Exorcism: The practice of evicting demons or other evil spiritual entities which are supposed to have possessed (taken control of) a person or object. The practice, though ancient in roots, is still part of the belief system of many religions. The word “exorcism” means “I cause [someone] to swear,” referring to the exorcist forcing the spirit to obey a higher power.
The person performing the exorcism, known as an exorcist, is often a priest, or an individual thought to be graced with special powers or skills. The exorcist may use a combination of magical and religious, such as prayers and set formulas, gestures, icons and amulets. The exorcist’s goal is to force the evil spirit to vacate.
F
  • Fasting: The act of willingly abstaining from all food and in some cases drink, for a period of time. Depending on the tradition, fasting practices may forbid sexual intercourse, (or any sexual desire), masturbation, as well as refraining from eating certain types or groups of food (e.g. meat).
Fasting for religious and spiritual reasons has been a part of human custom since pre-history. It is mentioned in the Qur’an, in the Mahabharata, in the Upanishads, and in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testament.
  • Forgiveness: A choice the forgiver makes to let go of resentment held in the forgiver’s mind of a perceived wrong or difference, either actual or imagined. As the choice of forgiveness is made in the mind of the forgiver, it can be made about any resentment, whether toward another, oneself, a group, a situation or even one’s God. Forgiveness of another can be granted with or without the other asking for forgiveness. Some believe the choice of forgiveness is only properly exercised if forgiveness is requested. Another view is that forgiveness is a gift the forgiver gives to oneself to free their mind of resentment. Forgiveness does not entail condoning the wrong or difference that occasioned the resentment.
Forgiveness can be seen as a religious value. However, belief in a deity is not necessary for forgiveness. It can be motivated by love, philosophy, appreciation for the forgiveness of others, empathy, or personal temperament. Even pure pragmatism can lead to forgiveness, as it is well documented that people who forgive are happier than those who hold grudges.
G
  • Glossolalia: (from the Greek, “γλώσσα” (glossa), tongue and “λαλώ” (lalô), to speak) Comprises the utterance of what appears (to the casual listener) either as an unknown foreign language (xenoglossia), simply nonsense syllables, or utterance of an unknown mystical language; the utterances sometimes occur as part of religious worship (religious glossolalia).
Certain Christians (see below) regard the act of speaking in tongues, as a gift of God through the Holy Spirit; one of the Gifts of the Spirit. Other religions also use glossolalia as a component of worship.
  • Gnosticism: A blanket term for various mystical initiatory religions, sects and knowledge schools, which were most prominent in the first few centuries AD. It is also applied to modern revivals of these groups and, sometimes, by analogy to all religious movements based on secret knowledge gnosis, thus can lead to confusion.
  • Great Awakenings: Commonly said to be periods of religious revival in Anglo-American religious history. They have also been described as periodic revolutions in American religious thought. The Great Awakenings appear to form a cycle, with a period of roughly 80 years. There are three generally accepted Great Awakenings in American history: The First Great Awakening (1730s – 1740s); The Second Great Awakening (1820s – 1830s); The Third Great Awakening (1880s – 1900s).
The Adi Granth is often — incorrectly — used to refer to the Guru Granth Sahib. The Adi Granth only forms the portion of the Guru Granth Sahib which Guru Arjan compiled in 1604. The Granth was made a guru by the last of the living Sikh Masters, Guru Gobind Singh in 1708. Guru Gobind Singh said before his demise that the Sikhs were to treat the Granth as their next Guru:

Punjabi: ਸੱਬ ਸਿੱਖਣ ਕੋ ਹੁਕਮ ਹੈ ਗੁਰੂ ਮਾਨਯੋ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ
Transliteration: Sab sikhan kō hukam hai gurū mānyō granth
English: All Sikhs are commanded to take the Granth as Guru
Guru also refers in Sanskrit to Brihaspati, a Hindu figure analogous to the Roman planet/god Jupiter. In Vedic astrology, Jupiter/Guru/Brihaspati is believed to exert teaching influences. Indeed, in many Indian languages, such as Hindi, the occidental Thursday is called either Brihaspativaar or Guruvaar (vaar meaning period or day). In contemporary India and Indonesia, guru is widely used within the general meaning of “teacher”. In Western usage, the original meaning of guru has been extended to cover anyone who acquires followers, and not necessarily in an established school of philosophy or religion. In a further metaphorical extension, guru is used of a person who has authority because of his or her perceived knowledge or skills in a domain of expertise.
The importance of discerning between a true guru and a false one is explored in scriptures and teachings of religions in which a guru plays a role. The assessment and criticism of gurus and the Guru-shishya tradition are espoused in the discourse about cults and new religious movements by Western secular scholars, theologians, anti-cultists, and by skeptics both in the West and in India.
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  • Hindu scripture: Overwhelmingly written in Sanskrit. Indeed, much of the morphology and linguistic philosophy inherent in the learning of Sanskrit is inextricably linked to study of the Vedas and relevant Hindu texts. Hindu scripture is divided into two categories: Śruti – that which is heard (i.e. revelation) and Smriti – that which is remembered (i.e. tradition, not revelation). The Vedas constituting the former category are considered scripture by all Hindus. The post-Vedic Hindu scriptures form the latter category; the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are notable epics considered scripture by many sects. A sort of cross-over between the religious epics and Upanishads of the Vedas is the Bhagavad Gita, considered to be revealed scripture by almost all Hindus today.
Hindu texts are typically seen to revolve around many levels of reading, namely the gross or physical, the subtle, and the supramental. This allows for many levels of understanding as well, implying that the truth of the texts can only be realized with the spiritual advancement of the reader.
  • Hinduism: (हिन्दू धर्म; also known as Sanātana Dharma – सनातन धर्म, and Vaidika-Dharma – वैदिक धर्म) A worldwide religious tradition that is based on the Vedas and is the direct descendent of the Vedic Indo-Iranian religion. It encompasses many religious traditions that widely vary in practice, as well as many diverse sects and philosophies. The modern estimates of Hinduism’s origin vary from 3102 BCE to 1300 BCE. It is also the third largest religion in the world with a following of approximately 1 billion people. Ninety-eight percent of Hindus can be found on the Indian subcontinent, chiefly in India. It is noteworthy however that the relatively small Himalayan kingdom of Nepal is the only nation in the world with Hinduism as its state religion.
  • Hymn: A song specifically written as a song of praise, adoration or prayer, typically addressed to a god.
A writer of hymns is known as a hymnist or hymnodist, and the process of singing a hymn is called hymnody; the same word is used for the collectivity of hymns belonging to a particular denomination or period (e.g. “nineteenth century Methodist hymnody” would mean the body of hymns written and/or used by Methodists in the nineteenth century). Books called hymnals are collections of hymns, which may or may not include music.
Ancient hymns include the Great Hymn to the Aten, composed by the pharaoh Akhenaten, and the Vedas, a collection of hymns in the tradition of Hinduism. The Western tradition of hymnody begins with the Homeric Hymns, a collection of ancient Greek hymns, the oldest of which were written in the 7th century BCE in praise of the gods of Greek mythology.
I
  • I Ching: The oldest of the Chinese classic texts. It describes an ancient system of cosmology and philosophy which is at the heart of Chinese cultural beliefs. The philosophy centers on the ideas of the dynamic balance of opposites, the evolution of events as a process, and acceptance of the inevitability of change (see Philosophy, below). In Western cultures, the I Ching is regarded by some as simply a system of divination; others believe it expresses the wisdom and philosophy of ancient China.
  • Iconolatry: (from the two Greek terms eikon denoting simply a picture or image, and latreia to adore or worship) Icon in Greek simply denotes a picture but has now come to be closely associated with religious art used by the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches. Icons are used by Orthodox Churches to assist in prayer and worship of God. Icon (image) is the same word used in the Bible in Genesis 1:27, Colossians 1:15.
Iconolatry is the worship of images (mainly in two-dimensional form) and often referred to in relation to the Iconoclastic period where there was a “cleansing” and destruction by the Church of all religious art. The reasons for this were that the Christians would worship images of Saints, the Son of God and even pictures of God and scrape parts of the icons into Holy Communion.
Peace of mind, serenity, and calmness are descriptions of a disposition free from the effects of stress. In some cultures, inner peace is considered a state of consciousness or enlightenment that may be cultivated by various forms of training, such as prayer, meditation, T’ai Chi Ch’uan or yoga, for example. Many spiritual practices refer to this peace as an experience of knowing oneself.
  • Integrity: Comprises the personal inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from honesty and consistent uprightness of character. The etymology of the word relates it to the Latin adjective integer (whole, complete). Evaluators, of course, usually assess integrity from some point of view, such as that of a given ethical tradition or in the context of an ethical relationship.
  • Involution: In integral theory, the process by which the Divine manifests the cosmos is called involution. The process by which the creation rises to higher states and states of consciousness is the evolution. Involution prepares the universe for the Big Bang; evolution continues from that point forward. The term involution comes from the idea that the divine involves itself in creation.
After the creation, the Divine (i.e. the Absolute, Brahman, God; all these essentially mean the same thing) is both the One (the Creator) and the Many (that which was created).
  • Islam: (Arabic: الإسلام al-islām) “The submission to God” is a monotheistic faith, one of the Abrahamic religions and the world’s second largest religion. Followers of Islam, known as Muslims, believe that God (or, in Arabic, Allāh; also in Aramaic Alaha) revealed his direct word for mankind to Muhammad (c. 570–632) and other prophets, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Muslims assert that the main written record of revelation to humankind is the Qur’an, which they believe to be flawless, immutable, and the final revelation of God to humanity. Muslims believe that parts of the Gospels, Torah and Jewish prophetic books (though originally divine in their nature) have been forgotten, misinterpreted, incorrectly edited by humans, or distorted by their followers and thus their original message has been corrupted over time. With that perspective, Muslims view the Qur’an as a correction of Jewish and Christian scriptures, and a final revelation.
J
  • Jainism (pronounced /ˈdʒeɪnɪzəm/), self-named Jain Dharma (जैन धर्म), is a religion with origins in Hinduism. The Jains, although a small minority in India now, have continued to sustain the shraman (श्रमण) tradition. Jainism is significantly influential in both the ethical and economic spheres in India. Jainism places great stress on compassion to all living beings. Self-control (व्रत vrata in Sanskrit) forms a central part of being a Jain. A lay Jain is termed a shravaka (श्रावक) i.e. a listener. The Jain Sangha (संघ) has four components: monks, nuns, lay men and women.
  • Japa: (or Japam) A spiritual discipline in which a devotee repeats a mantra or the name of the God. The repetition can be aloud or just the movement of lips or in the mind. This spiritual practice is present in the major religions of world. This is considered as one of the most effective spiritual practices.
  • Jihad: (Arabic: جهادjihād) An Islamic term, from the Arabic root jhd (“to exert utmost effort, to strive, struggle”), which connotes a wide range of meanings: anything from an inward spiritual struggle to attain perfect faith to a political or military struggle to further the Islamic cause. The meaning of “Islamic cause” is of course open to interpretation. The term is frequently mistranslated into English as “holy war“, although jihad can apply to warfare. Mainstream Muslims consider jihad to be the most misunderstood aspect of their religion by non-Muslims. The Islamic religious legitimacy of the goals or methods of various Islamist movements who adopt the terminology of jihad is often brought into question, usually by moderate and liberal Muslims.
A person who engages in any form of jihad is called a “mujahid“, meaning “striver” or “struggler”. This term is most often used to mean a person who engages in fighting, but, for example a Muslim struggling to memorize the Qur’an is a called a mujahid. The neologism jihadist is sometimes used to describe militant Islamic groups, including but not restricted to Islamist terrorism (c. f. Jihadist organizations and Rules of war in Islam).
Over at least the last two thousand years, Judaism has not been monolithic in practice, and has not had any centralized authority or binding dogma. Despite this, Judaism in all its variations has remained tightly bound to a number of religious principles, the most important of which is the belief in a single, omniscient, transcendent God who created the universe, and continues to be involved in its governance. According to Jewish thought, the God who created the world established a covenant with the Jewish people, and revealed his laws and commandments to them in the form of the Torah. Jewish practice is devoted to the study and observance of these laws and commandments, as they are interpreted according to various ancient and modern authorities.
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  • Karma: (Sanskrit: कर्म from the root kri, “to do”, meaning deed) or Kamma (Pali: meaning action, effect, destiny) A term in several Indian religions that comprises the entire cycle of cause and effect. Karma is a sum of all that an individual has done and is currently doing. The effects of those deeds actively create present and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one’s own life. In religions that incorporate reincarnation, karma extends through one’s present life and all past and future lives as well.
The law of Karma is central in Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, & Jainism. (These religions were formed in India). All living creatures are responsible for their karma and for their salvation (or release from samsara). As a term, it can be traced back to the early Upanishads.
  • Koan: A story, dialog, question, or statement in the history and lore of Chan (Zen) Buddhism, generally containing aspects that are inaccessible to rational understanding, yet that may be accessible to Intuition. Koans are often used by Zen practitioners as objects of meditation to induce an experience of enlightenment or realization, and by Zen teachers as testing questions when a student wishes to validate their experience of enlightenment.
A famous koan is, “Two hands clap and there is a sound; what is the sound of one hand?” (oral tradition, attributed to Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769), considered a reviver of the koan tradition in Japan). Koans are said to reflect the enlightened or awakened state of historical sages and legendary figures who uttered them, and sometimes said to confound the habit of discursive thought or shock the mind into awareness or an experience of metanoia or radical change of consciousness and perspective, from the point of view of which the koan ‘question’ is resolved, and the practitioner’s religious faith is enhanced.
L
In general, sufic development involves the awakening in a certain order these spiritual centers of perception that lie dormant in every person. Each center is associated with a particular color and general area of the body, as well as ofttimes with a particular prophet, and varies from Order to Order. The help of a guide is considered necessary to help activate these centers. The activation of all these “centers” is part of the inner methodology of the Sufi way or “Work”. After undergoing this process, the dervish is said to reach a certain type of “completion” or becomes a Complete Man.
  • Love: Has many different meanings in English, from something that gives a little pleasure (“I loved that meal”) to something one would die for (patriotism, pairbonding). It can describe an intense feeling of affection, an emotion or an emotional state. In ordinary use, it usually refers to interpersonal love. Probably due to its psychological relevance, love is one of the most common themes in art.
Just as there are many types of lovers, there are many kinds of love. Love is inherent in all human cultures. It is precisely these cultural differences that make any universal definition of love difficult to establish. See the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
Expressions of love may include the love for a “soul” or mind, the love of laws and organizations, love for a body, love for nature, love of food, love of money, love for learning, love of power, love of fame, love for the respect of others, et cetera. Different people place varying degrees of importance on the kinds of love they receive. Love is essentially an abstract concept, easier to experience than to explain.
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  • Mantra: A religious syllable or poem, typically from the Sanskrit language. Their use varies according to the school and philosophy associated with the mantra. They are primarily used as spiritual conduits, words and vibrations that instill one-pointed concentration in the devotee. Other purposes have included religious ceremonies to accumulate wealth, avoid danger, or eliminate enemies. Mantras originated in India with Vedic Hinduism and were later adopted by Buddhists and Jains, now popular in various modern forms of spiritual practice which are loosely based on practices of these Eastern religions.
The word mantra is a Sanskrit word consisting of the root man- “manas or mind” and the suffix -tra meaning, tool, hence a literal translation would be “mind tool”. Mantras are interpreted to be effective as sound (vibration), to the effect that great emphasis is put on correct pronunciation (resulting in an early development of a science of phonetics in India). They are intended to deliver the mind from illusion and material inclinations. Chanting is the process of repeating a mantra.
  • Martyr: Historically, a martyr is a person who dies for his or her religious faith. Sometimes, it is for a different “noble cause”, like patriotically dying for a nation’s glory in a war (usually known under other names such as “fallen warriors”). Occurrences of such a death are known as martyrdom.
  • Meaning of life: The question “What is the meaning of life?” means different things to different people. The ambiguity of the query is inherent in the word “meaning”, which opens the question to many interpretations, such as: “What is the origin of life?”, “What is the nature of life (and of the universe in which we live)?”, “What is the significance of life?”, “What is valuable in life?”, and “What is the purpose of, or in, (one’s) life?”. These questions have resulted in a wide range of competing answers and arguments, from practical scientific theories, to philosophical, theological and spiritual explanations. Similar questions people ask themselves about the origin and purpose of life are “Why am I here?” and “Why are we here?”.
  • Meditation: Refers to any of a wide variety of spiritual practices (and their close secular analogues) which emphasize mental activity or quiescence. The English word comes from the Latin meditatio, which could perhaps be better translated as “contemplation.” This usage is found in Christian spirituality, for example, when one “meditates” on the sufferings of Christ; as well as Western philosophy, as in Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, a set of six mental exercises which systematically analyze the nature of reality.
In the late nineteenth century, Theosophists adopted “meditation” to refer to various spiritual practices drawn from Hinduism, Buddhism, and other Eastern religions. Thus the English word “meditation” does not exclusively translate any single term or concept from the sacred languages of Asia, such as the Sanskrit dhyana, samadhi, or pranayama. (Note that whereas in Eastern religions meditation is often a central part of religious/spiritual practice, in Christianity it is rather a fringe activity if practised at all.)
  • Mercy: A term used to describe the leniency or compassion shown by one person to another, or a request from one person to another to be shown such leniency or compassion. One of the basic virtues of chivalry and Christian ethics, it is also related to concepts of justice and morality in behaviour between people. In India, compassion is known as karuna.
What might be called the core metaphysical problems would be the ones which have always been considered metaphysical. What most of such problems have in common is that they are the problems of ontology, “the science of being qua being”.
Other philosophical traditions have very different conceptions—such as “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” problems—from those in the Western philosophical tradition; for example, Taoism and indeed, much of Eastern philosophy completely reject many of the most basic tenets of Aristotelian metaphysics, principles which have by now become almost completely internalized and beyond question in Western philosophy, though a number of dissidents from Aristotelian metaphysics have emerged in the west, such as Hegel‘s Science of Logic.
In modern times, the meaning of the word metaphysics has become confused by popular significations that are really unrelated to metaphysics or ontology per se, viz. esotericism and occultism. Esotericism and occultism, in their many forms, are not so much concerned with inquiries into first principles or the nature of being, though they do tend to proceed on the metaphysical assumption that all being is “one”.
  • Mind’s eye: (or third eye) A phrase used to refer to one’s ability to “see” things (such as visions) with the mind. This is, essentially, a reference to imagination and memory, although it can have religious or occult connotations. Also, the term “third eye” has been associated with the Pineal gland. It is a commonly held belief that in some practices (such as the ones described below) are actually referring to and studying the Pineal Gland.
  • Miracle: According to many religions, a miracle, derived from the old Latin word miraculum meaning ‘something wonderful’, is a striking interposition of divine intervention by God in the universe by which the operations of the ordinary course of Nature are overruled, suspended, or modified. One must keep in mind that in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and in other faiths people have substantially different definitions of the word miracle. Even within a specific religion there is often more than one usage of the term.
Sometimes the term miracle may refer to the action of a supernatural being that is not a god. Then the term divine intervention refers specifically to the direct involvement of a deity.
Hinduism, in support of the idea of Moksha, posits the idea of atman and Brahman. A common mistake is to view them, both spoken of as Self, as a monist being of sorts, something possessing substances. In actuality, Hindu scripture like the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, and especially the non-dual Hindu school of Advaita Vedanta, say that the Self or Super-Soul is beyond being and non-being, beyond any sense of tangibility and comprehension. Moksha is seen as a final release from one’s worldly conception of self, the loosening of the shackle of experiential duality and a re-establishment in one’s own fundamental nature, though the nature is seen as ineffable and beyond sensation.
  • Monasticism: (from Greek: monachos—a solitary person) The religious practice of renouncing all worldly pursuits in order to fully devote one’s life to spiritual work. Many religions have monastic elements, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Jainism, though the expressions differ considerably. Those pursuing a monastic life are usually called monks or brothers (male), and nuns or sisters (female). Both monks and nuns may also be called monastics.
  • Muraqaba: The Sufi word for meditation. Literally it means “to watch over”, “to take care of” or “to keep an eye”. Metaphorically, it implies that with meditation, a person watches over or takes care of his spiritual heart (or soul), and acquires knowledge about it, its surroundings and its creator.
  • Mysticism: From the Greek μυω (mueo, “to conceal”), is the pursuit of achieving communion with or conscious awareness of ultimate reality, the divine, spiritual truth, or God through direct, personal experience (intuition or insight) rather than rational thought; the belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directly accessible through personal experience; or the belief that such experience is a genuine and important source of knowledge. In the Hellenistic world, “mystical” referred to secret religious rituals.
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  • Nasma: An body made of the purest form of light (called Noor) which is more purest then any visible color. Hazrat Shah Wali Ullah was the first who give hints about this body. Hazrat Qalandar Baba Auliya give its more details while Khwaja Shamsuddin Azeem thoroughly described that body. This body is actually that is controlling the human physical body. The lights coming from Nasma to material body are visible only through Kirlian photography. These visible lights are called Aura.
  • Nature: (also called the material world, the material universe, the natural world, and the natural universe) All matter and energy, especially in its essential form. Nature is the subject of scientific study, and the history of the concept is linked to the history of science. The English word derives from a Latin term, natura, which was in turn a translation of a Greek term, physis (or phüsis). Natura is related to the Latin words relating to “birth“, while physis relates to Greek words relating to “growth“. In scale, “nature” includes everything from the universal to the subatomic. This includes all things animal, plant, and mineral; all natural resources and events (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes). It also includes the behaviour of living animals, and processes associated with inanimate objects – the “way” that things change.
Neopaganist beliefs and practices are extremely diverse, some tending towards syncretic melding of once-diverse practices and beliefs, others bordering on historical reenactment of reconstructed ancient cultures. In the USA, Wicca is the largest Neopagan movement, and while itself heterogeneous, many adherents share a body of common precepts, including a reverence for nature or active ecology, Goddess and/or Horned God veneration, use of ancient mythologies, the belief in magick, and often the belief in reincarnation.
  • New Age: Describes a broad movement of late twentieth century and contemporary Western culture characterised by an individual eclectic approach to spiritual exploration. It has some attributes of a new, emerging religion but is currently a loose network of spiritual seekers, teachers, healers and other participants. The name “New Age” also refers to the market segment in which goods and services are sold to people in the movement.
Rather than follow the lead of an organised religion, “New Agers” typically construct their own spiritual journey based on material taken as needed from the mystical traditions of all the worlds religions as well as shamanism, neopaganism and occultism. Participants are likely to dip into many diverse teachings and practises, some mainstream and some fringe, and formulate their own beliefs and practices based on their experiences in each. No clear membership or rigid boundaries actually exist. The movement is most visible where its ideas are traded–for example in specialist bookshops, music stores, and fairs.
Most New Age activity may be characterized as a form of alternative spirituality. Even apparent exceptions (such as alternative health practices) often turn out to have some spiritual dimension (for example, the integration of mind, body, and spirit). “Alternative” here means, with respect to the dominant Western Judeo-Christian culture. It is no accident that most New Age ideas and practices seem to contain implicit critiques of mainstream Christianity and reference to Jesus in particular. An emphasis on meditation suggests that ordinary prayer is insufficient; belief in reincarnation (which not all New Age followers accept) challenges familiar Christian doctrines of the afterlife.
  • Nondualism: The belief that dualism or dichotomy are illusory phenomenae. Examples of dualisms include self/other, mind/body, male/female, good/evil, active/passive, and many others. A nondual philosophical or religious perspective or theory maintains that there is no fundamental distinction between mind and matter, or that the entire phenomenological world is an illusion (with the reality being described variously as the Void, the Is, Emptiness, or the Mind of God).
Many traditions (generally originating in Asia) state that the true nature of reality is non-dualistic, and that these dichotomies are either unreal or (at best) inaccurate conveniences. While attitudes towards the experience of duality and self may vary, nondual traditions converge on the view that experience does not imply an “I”.

In Western philosophy, nondual views are often called monism. Many postmodern theories also assume that the dichotomies traditionally used are invalid or inaccurate. For example, one typical form of deconstruction is the critique of binary oppositions within a text while problematization questions the context or situation in which common myths such as dualisms occur. Nondualistic beliefs also include monism and pluralism.

  • Nonviolence: (or non-violence) A set of assumptions about morality, power and conflict that leads its proponents to reject the use of violence in efforts to attain social or political goals. While often used as a synonym for pacifism, since the mid 20th century the term nonviolence has come to embody a diversity of techniques for waging social conflict without the use of violence, as well as the underlying political and philosophical rationale for the use of these techniques.
As a technique for social struggle, nonviolence is most often associated with the campaign for Indian independence led by Mahatma Gandhi, and the struggle to attain civil rights for African Americans, led by Martin Luther King. The former was deeply influenced by Leo Tolstoy’s Christian anarchism ideas of non-resistance based on the Sermon on the Mount.
O
  • Oneness: A spiritual term referring to the ‘experience’ of the absence of egoic identity boundaries, and, according to some traditions, the realization of the awareness of the absolute interconnectedness of all matter and thought in space-time, or one’s ultimate identity with God (see Tat Tvam Asi). Its meaning may be synonymous to that of nonduality, though some claim that non-duality implies ‘not one’ and ‘not two’, i.e. non-duality is analogous to the Hindu formula of negation, Neti Neti, used in describing the absolute.
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  • Pandeism: A term that has been used at various times to describe religious beliefs. This use has been inconsistent over time – some 19th century figures used the term to describe a particular set of religious beliefs; today, the term is generally used to describe broader philosophical systems, often mixing elements of pantheism and deism.
  • Pantheism: (Greek: pan = all and Theos = God) Literally means “God is All” and “All is God”. It is the view that everything is of an all-encompassing immanent God; or that the universe, or nature, and God are equivalent. More detailed definitions tend to emphasize the idea that natural law, existence and/or the universe (the sum total of all that is was and shall be) is represented or personified in the theological principle of ‘God’.
  • Parapsychology: The study of the evidence involving phenomena where a person seems to affect or to gain information about something through a means not currently explainable within the framework of mainstream, conventional science. Proponents of the existence of these phenomena usually consider them to be a product of unexplained mental abilities.
  • Plane (cosmology): In metaphysics and esoteric cosmology, a plane of existence (sometimes called simply a plane, dimension, vibrating plane, or an inner, invisible, spiritual, supraphysical world or egg) is a theoretical region of space and/or consciousness beyond the known physical universe, or the region containing the universe itself. Many esoteric teachings (e.g., theosophy and rosicrucianism) propound the idea of a whole series of subtle planes or worlds or dimensions which, from a center, interpenetrate themselves and the physical planet in which we live, the solar systems, and all the physical structures of the universe. This interpenetration of planes culminates in the universe itself as a physical structured, dynamic and evolutive expression emanated – through a series of stages, becoming progressively more material and embodied – from The Supreme Being: which allows from Itself the irruption of auto-Singularities, as the Big Bang, originated from Its unintelligible Chaos.
  • Prayer: An effort to communicate with God, or to some deity or deities, or another form of spiritual entity, or otherwise, either to offer praise, to make a request, or simply to express one’s thoughts and emotions.
  • Prophecy: In a broad sense, is the prediction of future events. The etymology of the word is ultimately Greek, from pro- “before” plus the root of phanai “speak”, i. e. “speaking before” or “foretelling”, but prophecy often implies the involvement of supernatural phenomena, whether it is communication with a deity, the reading of magical signs, or astrology. It is also used as a general term for the revelation of divine will.
Throughout history, people have sought knowledge of future events from special individuals or groups who were thought to have the gift of prophecy, such as Oracles at Delphi in ancient Greece. Cultures in which prophecy played an important role include the North American Indians, Mayans, Celts, Druids, Chinese, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Egyptians, Hindus, Hebrews, Tibetans, Greeks, and many in the Christian tradition, among others.
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  • Qawwali: (قوٌالی) The devotional music of the Sufis. Originally performed mainly at Sufi shrines throughout what is now India and Pakistan, it has also gained popularity in the mainstream, especially through the work of artists like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Qawwali is a vibrant musical tradition that stretches back more than 700 years.
  • Qi: Also commonly spelled ch’i, chi or ki, is a fundamental concept of everyday Chinese culture, most often defined as “air” or “breath” (for example, the colloquial Mandarin Chinese term for “weather” is tiān qi, or the “breath of heaven”) 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.
  • Qigong: (simplified Chinese: 气功; traditional Chinese: 氣功; pinyin: qìgōng; Wade-Giles: ch’i4 kung1) An increasingly popular aspect of Chinese medicine involving the coordination of different breathing patterns with various physical postures and motions of the body. Qigong is mostly taught for health maintenance purposes, but there are also some who teach it, especially in China, for therapeutic interventions. Various forms of traditional qigong are also widely taught in conjunction with Chinese martial arts, and are especially prevalent in the advanced training of what are known as the nei chia (internal martial arts).
  • The Qur’an: (Arabic: أَلْقُرآنal-qur’ān Literally “the recitation”; also called Al Qur’ān Al Karīm or “The Noble Qur’an”; or transliterated Quran, Koran, and less commonly Alcoran) is the holy book of Islam. It is a tenet of Islam that the Qur’an is the literal word of God in Arabic and the culmination of God’s revelation to mankind, revealed to Muhammad, the final prophet of Islam, over a period of 23 years through the angel Jibril (Gabriel).
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  • Rastafari movement: (Rasta, or the Rastafari movement of Jah people) A religious movement that reveres Haile Selassie I, the former emperor of Ethiopia, as King of Kings, Lord of Lords and the Lion of Judah. The name Rastafari comes from Ras Täfäri, the pre-coronation name of Haile Selassie I, who Rastas of many mansions say is the earthly aspect of Jah (the Rastafari name for God, from a shortened form of Jehovah found in KJV Psalm 68:4) and part of the Holy Trinity. The movement emerged in Jamaica among working-class and peasant black people in the early 1930s, arising from an interpretation of Biblical prophecy, black social and political aspirations, and the teachings of their prophet, Jamaican Pan Africanist and UNIA organiser Marcus Garvey, whose political and cultural vision helped inspire a new world view. The movement is sometimes called “Rastafarianism”; however, this is considered improper and offensive by the Rastas themselves.
  • Reality: In everyday usage means “everything that exists.” The term “Reality,” in its most liberal sense, includes everything that is, whether or not it is observable, accessible or understandable by science, philosophy, theology or any other system of analysis. Reality in this sense may include both being and nothingness, whereas “existence” is often restricted to being.
In the strict sense of European-German philosophy, there are levels or gradation to the nature and conception of reality. These levels include, from the most subjective to the most rigorous: Phenomenological reality, Truth, Fact and Axiom.
Other cultural traditions, particularly those based on Buddhism, have different concepts of the nature of reality: see, for example, samsara and maya.
  • Reincarnation: As a doctrine or mystical belief, holds the notion that one’s ‘Spirit‘ (‘Soul‘ depending on interpretation), ‘Higher or True Self’, ‘Divine Spark’, ‘I’ or ‘Ego’ (not to be confused with the ego as defined by psychology) or critical parts of these returns to the material world after physical death to be reborn in a new body. The natural process is considered integrative of all experiences from each lifetime. A new personality feature, with the associated character, is developed during each life in the physical world, based upon past integrated experience and new acquired experiences. Some Reincarnation theories express that usually rebirth is made each time in alternated female and male type of bodies. Also that there is interaction between pre-determinism of certain experiences or lessons intended to happen during the physical life, and the free-will action of the individual as they live that life.
This doctrine is a central tenet within Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Surat Shabda Yoga, some African religions, as well as various other religions teachings and esoteric philosophies. Most modern Pagans also believe in reincarnation. Transmigration is similar but considers inter-species embodiments, whereas Reincarnation of a human being is always as a human being.
Reincarnation is traditionally understood to be akin to the Buddhist concept of Rebirth, but in fact the two concepts are very distinct philosophically – Buddhism teaches that there is no self to reincarnate. An alternative view is that the teachings of Buddhism might stress one aspect, the teachings of Hinduism might stress another aspect, but that an advanced Buddhist and an advanced Hindu would directly perceive the phenomenon of reincarnation identically.
  • Religion: Sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system—is commonly defined as belief concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine; and the moral codes, practices, values, institutions and rituals associated with such belief. In its broadest sense some have defined it as the sum total of answers given to explain humankind’s relationship with the universe. In the course of the development of religion, it has taken many forms in various cultures and individuals. Occasionally, the word “religion” is used to designate what should be more properly described as “organized religion” – that is, an organization of people supporting the exercise of some religion, often taking the form of a legal entity (see religion-supporting organization). There are many different religions in the world today.
  • Religious ecstasy: A trance-like state characterized by expanded mental and spiritual awareness and is frequently accompanied by visions, hallucinations, and physical euphoria. Such an experience usually lasts about a half-hour. However, there are many records of such experiences lasting several days, and some people claim to have experienced ecstasy over a period of over three decades, or to have recurring experiences of ecstasy during their lifetime.
  • Repentance: The feeling and act in which one recognizes and tries to right a wrong, or gain forgiveness from someone that they wronged. In religious contexts it usually refers to repenting for a sin against God. It always includes an admission of guilt, and also includes at least one of: a solemn promise or resolve not to repeat the offense; an attempt to make restitution for the wrong, or in some way to reverse the harmful effects of the wrong where possible.
  • Responsibility assumption: A doctrine in the spirituality and personal growth fields holding that each individual has substantial or total responsibility for the events and circumstances that befall them in their life. While there is little notable about the notion that each person has at least some role in shaping their experience, the doctrine of responsibility assumption posits that the individual’s mental contribution to his or her own experience is substantially greater than is normally thought. “I must have wanted this” is the type of catchphrase used by adherents of this doctrine when encountering situations, pleasant or unpleasant, to remind them that their own desires and choices led to the present outcome.
The term responsibility assumption thus has a specialized meaning beyond the general concept of taking responsibility for something, and is not to be confused with the general notion of making an assumption that a concept such as “responsibility” exists.
  • Revelation: Refers to an uncovering or disclosure of that which had been previously wholly or partly hidden via communication from the divine. In monotheistic religions, revelation is the process in which God makes himself, his will, and/or other information known to mankind. The recipient of revelation is commonly referred to as a prophet, and sometimes is termed a messenger.
There are a number of ways that religious thinkers have traditionally approached this topic; many widely differing views have been proposed. Generally speaking, one can find all of the following viewpoints in varying segments of Judaism and in varying groups within Christianity.
  • Revivalism: A revival is the apparent restoration of a living creature from a dead state to a living state. In a New Testament story, Lazarus was revived by divine intervention. In religious terms, Revival is the substitution of religious fervor in life and worship, for an intellectualized, pragmatic approach to everyday conduct (often stigmatized by revivalists as ‘pride’).
  • Ritual: A formalised, predetermined set of symbolic actions generally performed in a particular environment at a regular, recurring interval. The set of actions that comprise a ritual often include, but are not limited to, such things as recitation, singing, group processions, repetitive dance, manipulation of sacred objects, etc. The general purpose of rituals is to express some fundamental truth or meaning, evoke spiritual, numinous emotional responses from participants, and/or engage a group of people in unified action to strengthen their communal bonds. The word ritual, when used as an adjective, relates to the noun ‘rite‘, as in rite of passage.
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Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, the Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian Christians, members of the Anglican, United Methodist, and Old Catholic traditions, the Independent Catholic Churches and Lutherans hold that sacraments are not mere symbols, but rather, “signs or symbols which effect what they signify”, that is, the sacraments in and of themselves, rightly administered, are used by God as a means to communicate grace to faithful recipients.
Christian churches and sects are divided regarding the number and operation of the sacraments, but they are generally held to have been instituted by Jesus. Sacraments are usually administered by the clergy to a recipient or recipients, and are generally understood to involve visible and invisible components. The invisible component (manifested inwardly) is understood to be God‘s grace working in the sacrament’s participants, while the visible (or outward) component entails the use of water, wine, or oil that is blessed or consecrated.
  • Sacrifice: (from a Middle English verb meaning ‘to make sacred’, from Old French, from Latin sacrificium : sacer, sacred; sacred + facere, to make) Commonly known as the practice of offering food, or the lives of animals or people to the gods, as an act of propitiation or worship. The term is also used metaphorically to describe selfless good deeds for others.
  • Sadhana: Spiritual exercise by a Sadhu or a Sadhaka to attain a desired goal. The goal of sadhana is to attain some stage, which can be either moksha, liberation from the cycle of birth and death (Samsara), or a particular goal such as the blessing by a deity through his or her appearance before the Sadhaka at the end of the limited Sadhana. Sadhana can involve meditation, puja to a deity, namasmarana (sometimes with the help of a japa mala), mortification of the flesh or unorthodox practices such as in a smashana sadhana on a cremation ground. Each type of Yoga entails its own type of sadhana. To embark on a sadhana, a guru is required to give one the necessary know-how and the seed for the future result, in the form of some diksha, initiation, which he or she has received from his or her guru.
  • Saint: Generally refers to someone who is exceptionally virtuous and holy. It can be applied to both the living and the dead and is an acceptable term in most of the world’s popular religions. The Saint is held up by the community as an example of how we all should act, and his or her life story is usually recorded for the edification of future generations.
The process of officially recognizing a person as a Saint, practiced by some churches, is called canonization, though many Protestant groups use the less formal, broader usage seen in Scripture to include all who are faithful as saints.
  • Salvation: Refers to deliverance from undesirable state or condition. In theology, the study of salvation is called soteriology and is a vitally important concept in several religions. Christianity regards salvation as deliverance from the bondage of sin and from condemnation, resulting in eternal life with God.
  • Samadhi: A term used in Hindu and Buddhist yogic meditation. Samadhi is also the Hindi word for a structure commemorating the dead (aking to a tomb, but without remains).
  • Sanskara: A term used in Hinduism meaning imprints left on the subconscious mind by experience in this or previous lives.
  • Sant Mat: An esoteric religious movement active in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and especially India. Sant Mat shares a lineage with Sikhism and contains elements of thought found in Hinduism, such as karma and reincarnation. Sant Mat also contains elements found in Sufism. Although origins of Sant Mat are not very well known, followers believe that it was Kabir who have revived the Sant Mat tradition. The tradition has inspired and influenced a number of other religious groups and organizations.
The spiritual path is also referred to as the Science of the Soul or ‘Sant Mat’, meaning ‘teachings of the saints’. More recently it has been described as “The Way of Life” or “Living the Life of Soul.” It incorporates the pursuit of a personal and private path of spiritual development in the common tradition of mystics past and present, from a variety of cultures, times and religions. There are no rituals, no priestly class, no mandatory contributions nor compulsory gatherings. This leaves the followers free to observe and pursue the religion they were born into if they feel so inclined, and preserves social customs while engendering a deeper and broader perspective.
  • Satguru: (or Sadguru) Means true guru (Sanskrit सदगुरू sat=true), literally: true teacher. The title means that his students have faith that the guru can be trusted and will lead them to moksha, enlightenment or inner peace. It is based on a long line of Hindu philosophical understandings of the importance of knowledge and that the teacher, guru, is the sacred conduit to self-realization.
A popular etymology claims that the word guru comes from गुरु, Gu=darkness; Ru=light in Sanskrit, literally the one that takes you from darkness to light. Nowadays, in India, every teacher is called guru. In the West, its usage has extended into anyone who makes religious or philosophical statements and has followers because of this. In further extension it means simply expert.

  • In Hinduism guru is used interchangeably with satguru. Traditionally the title “guru” is used in the context of a relationship between a teacher and a student, rather than an absolute. See Guru-shishya tradition.
  • In Sikhism, Satguru is one of the many names for God.
  • In Surat Shabd Yoga, one who initiates followers into the path often is referred to as a Satgurtu or Sat Guru.
  • Satori: (Japanese satori; Chinese: wù – from the verb, Satoru) A Zen Buddhist term for enlightenment. The word literally means “to understand”. It is sometimes loosely used interchangeably with Kensho, but Kensho refers to the first perception of the Buddha-Nature or True-Nature. The kensho experience may not hold as further training is still necessary by the Monk or Lay. Satori on the other hand refers to the lasting experience. Think of when a baby first walks, after much effort, it stands upright, find its balance and walks a few steps, then falls (Kensho).
  • Self-realization: In yoga, self-realization is knowledge of one’s true self. This true self is also referred to as the atma to avoid ambiguity. The term “self-realization” is a translation of the Sanskrit expression atma jnana (knowledge of the self or atma). The reason the term “realization” is used instead of “knowledge” is that jnana refers to knowledge based on experience, not mere intellectual knowledge.
As discussed in the article on yoga, while the goal of self-realization is the same in all yoga paths, the means used to achieve that goal differ. For example, in hatha yoga, self-realization is said to be achieved when the serpent force or kundalini rises through the shushumna nadi to the sahasrara chakra. The following terms are related to self-realization or atma jnana: moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death); samadhi (Supreme or Divine Bliss).
  • Shabd: (or Shabda) Literally means “sound” or “word” in Sanskrit. Esoterically, Shabd is the “Sound Current vibrating in all creation. It can be heard by the inner ears.” Variously referred to as the Audible Life Stream, Inner Sound, Sound Current or Word in English, the Shabd is the esoteric essence of God which is available to all human beings, according to the Shabd path teachings of Eckankar, the Quan Yin Method, Sant Mat and Surat Shabd Yoga.
Adherents believe that a Satguru, or Eck Master, who is a human being, has merged with the Shabd in such a manner that he or she is a living manifestation of it at its highest level (the “Word made flesh”). However, not only can the Satguru can attain this, but all human beings are inherently privileged in this way. Indeed, in Sant Mat the raison d’être for the human form is to meditate on the Sound Current, and in so doing merge with it until one’s own divinity is ultimately realized.
  • Shamanism: Refers to the traditional healing and religious practices of Northern Asia (Siberia) and Mongolia. By extension, the concept of shamanism has been extended in common language to a range of traditional beliefs and practices that involve the ability to diagnose, cure, and sometimes cause human suffering by traversing the axis mundi and forming a special relationship with, or gaining control over, spirits. Shamans have been credited with the ability to control the weather, divination, the interpretation of dreams, astral projection, and traveling to upper and lower worlds. Shamanistic traditions have existed throughout the world since prehistoric times.
  • Shinto: (Shintō) (sometimes called Shintoism) A native religion of Japan and was once its state religion. It involves the worship of kami, which can be translated to mean gods, spirits of nature, or just spiritual presences. Some kami are local and can be regarded as the spirit or genius of a particular place, but others represent major natural objects and processes, for example, Amaterasu, the Sun goddess. The word Shinto was created by combining two kanji: “神” shin meaning god (the character can also be read as “kami” in Japanese) and “道” meaning Tao (“way” or “path” in a philosophical sense). Thus, Shinto means “the way of the gods.”
After World War II, Shinto lost its status of state religion; some Shinto practices and teachings, once given a great deal of prominence during the war, are no longer taught nor practiced today, and some remain largely as everyday activities without religious connotations like omikuji (a form of drawing lots).
  • Shunyata: (Śūnyatā, शून्यता (Sanskrit, Pali: suññatā), or “Emptiness”) A term for an aspect of the Buddhist metaphysical critique as well as Buddhist epistemology and phenomenology. Shunyata signifies that everything one encounters in life is empty of soul, permanence, and self-nature. Everything is inter-related, never self-sufficient or independent; nothing has independent reality. Yet shunyata never connotes nihilism, which Buddhist doctrine considers to be a delusion, just as it considers materialism to be a delusion.
  • Sikhism: (Punjabi: ਸਿੱਖੀ) A religion based on the teachings of ten Gurus who lived primarily in 16th and 17th century India. It is one of the world’s major religions with over 23 million followers. Sikhism comes from the word Sikh, which in turn comes from its Pali word “sikho”, which means “the searcher of Truth”.
The two core beliefs of Sikhism are:

  • The belief in one God. The opening sentence of the Sikh scriptures is only two words long, and reflects the base belief of all who adhere to the teachings of the religion: ੴ – Ek Onkar
  • The teachings of the Ten Sikh Gurus (as well as other accepted Muslim and Hindu self-realized persons) as enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib.
The Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture, and Guru Khalsa Panth, the community of initiated Sikhs, are both jointly considered the eleventh and final Sikh Guru. Sikhism departs sharply from certain social traditions and structures of Hinduism and Islam (such as the caste system and purdah, respectively). Sikh philosophy is characterised by logic, comprehensiveness, and a “without frills” approach to both spiritual and material concerns. Its theology is marked by simplicity.
  • Simple living: (also known as voluntary simplicity or voluntary poverty) A lifestyle considered by its adherents to be an alternative to Western consumerism. Adherents claim various reasons for pursuing this lifestyle, such as personal health, ecological or spiritual motivations. The term “downshifting” is often used to describe the act of moving toward a lifestyle based on voluntary simplicity. Many who practice simple living subscribe to the axiom “less is more.”
  • Simran: ‘Simran’ takes its root from the word ‘Smaran,’ (from Sanskrit) a noun which means: remembering or contemplating on the highest – that which should be valued in memory, in general. It teaches that: everything changes, & inner and outer purity naturally happen. Smaran does not project about restriction through God or religion. It shows that remembering the highest aspect of life that one has seen will eventually open up what’s important to an individual.
The concept of the soul has strong links with notions of an afterlife, but opinions may vary wildly, even within a given religion, as to what happens to the soul after death. Many within these religions and philosophies see the soul as immaterial, while others consider it possibly material.
  • Spirit: The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath. In religion and spirituality, the respiration of the human being has for obvious reasons been strongly linked with the very occurrence of life. A similar significance has been attributed to human blood. Spirit has thus evolved to denote that which separates a living body from a corpse, but can be used metaphorically (she performed the piece with spirit or she put up a spirited defence) where it is a synonym for such words as ‘vivacity’.
  • Spiritism: A religious and philosophic doctrine established in France in the mid 19th Century by Allan Kardec. The term was coined by him as the specific name of the doctrine he was about to publish but, given the fact that the word was created from roots taken from the common language, it was soon incorporated into the normal use and has been used to name other doctrines as well, though the authentic Spiritists protest against this usage.
During the late 19th century, many well educated people from Europe and the United States embraced Spiritism as a logical explanation of themes related to the Christian Revelation. However, most of the initial enthusiasm receded. But in some places the work of a few dedicated preachers managed to achieve a solid foundation — more notably, in Brazil, and to a certain extent in the Philippines. In Brazil, more than 2 million people declare themselves Kardecist spiritists, according to the last IBGE census data, which makes Brazil the largest Spiritist country in the world. Spiritism has influenced syncretisms like Brazilian Umbanda and Vietnamese Caodaism.

Spiritism is not to be confused with spiritualism. Its use with that meaning is regarded as pejorative by both Spiritualists and Spiritists. Uncapitalised, the word, in English, is an obsolete term for animism and other religious practices involving the invocation of spiritual beings, including shamanism.

  • Spiritual evolution: The philosophical/theological/esoteric idea that nature and human beings and/or human culture evolve along a predetermined cosmological pattern or ascent, or in accordance with certain pre-determined potentials. Predeterminism of evolution concept is also complemented with the idea of a creative impulse of human beings, known as epigenesis.
Within this broad definition, theories of spiritual evolution are very diverse. They may be cosmological (describing existence at large), personal (describing the development of the individual), or both. They can be holistic (holding that higher realities emerge from and are not reducible to the lower), idealist (holding that reality is primarily mental or spiritual) or nondual (holding that there is no ultimate distinction between mental and physical reality). All of them can be considered to be teleological to a greater or lesser degree.
  • Spirituality: In a narrow sense, is a concern with matters of the spirit, however that may be defined; but it is also a wide term with many available readings. It may include belief in supernatural powers, as in religion, but the emphasis is on personal experience. It may be an expression for life perceived as higher, more complex or more integrated with one’s worldview, as contrasted with the merely sensual.
  • Sufi whirling: The practice of Sufi whirling (or Sufi spinning), is a twirling meditation that originated among the ancient Indian mystics and Turkish Sufis, which is still practiced by the Dervishes of the Mevlevi order. Following a recommended fast of several hours, Sufi whirlers begin with hands crossed onto shoulders and may return their hands to this position if they feel dizzy. They rotate on their left feet in short twists, using the right foot to drive their bodies around the left foot. The left foot is like an anchor to the ground, so that if the whirler loses his or her balance, he or she can think of their left foot, direct attention towards it and regain balance back.
  • Sufism: (Arabic تصوف taṣawwuf) A mystic tradition of Islam, which is based on the pursuit of spiritual truth as a definite goal to attain. In modern language it might also be referred to as Islamic spirituality or Islamic mysticism. While fiqh focuses on the legal aspects of Islam , Sufism focuses on the internal aspects of Islam, such as perfecting the aspect of sincerity of faith and fighting one’s ego. Sufi practitioners are organized into a diverse range of brotherhoods and sisterhoods, with a wide diversity of thought. Sufi orders (“tariqas“) can be Shi’a, Sunni, both or neither.
  • Supplication: (also known as petitioning) The most common form of prayer, wherein a person asks a supernatural deity to provide something, either for that person who is praying or for someone else on whose behalf a prayer of supplication is being made. One example of supplication is the Catholic ritual of novena (from novem, the Latin word for “nine”) wherein one repeatedly asks for the same favor over a period of nine days. This ritual began in France and Spain during the Middle Ages when a nine day period of hymns and prayers led up to a Christmas feast, a period which ended with gift giving. In Islam, the Arabic word du’a is often used for supplication. Du’a may be made in any language, although there are many traditional Islamic supplications in Arabic, Persian and Turkish.
  • Surat Shabd Yoga: (or Surat Shabda Yoga) A form of spiritual practice that is followed in the Sant Mat and many other related spiritual traditions. As a Sanskrit term, surat means “soul,” shabd means “word” and yoga means “union.” The term “word” means the “Sound Current,” the “Audible Life Stream” or the “Essence of the Absolute Supreme Being,” that is, the dynamic force of creative energy that was sent out, as sound vibration, from the Supreme Being into the abyss of space at the dawn of the universe‘s manifestation, and that is being sent forth, through the ages, framing all things that constitute and inhabit the universe.
The etymology of “Surat Shabda Yoga” presents its purpose: the “Union of the Soul with the Essence of the Absolute Supreme Being.” Other expressions for Surat Shabda Yoga include Sehaj Yoga (an easy path leading to Sehaj or equipoise) The Path of Light and Sound, The Path of the Saints, The Journey of Soul, and The Yoga of the Sound Current.
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  • Tai Chi Chuan: T’ai Chi Ch’uan or Taijiquan (Chinese: 太極拳; pinyin: Tàijíquán; literally “supreme ultimate fist”) (commonly known as T’ai Chi, Tai Chi, or Taiji) A nei chia (“internal”) Chinese martial art. This art is often practiced for the purposes of health and longevity (some recent medical studies support its effectiveness here). T’ai Chi Ch’uan is considered a soft style martial art, an art applied with as complete a relaxation or “softness” in the musculature as possible, to distinguish its theory and application from that of the hard martial art styles which use a degree of tension in the muscles. T’ai Chi as practised by its traditional styles contains much language, theory and imagery from Taoism and Chinese Buddhism as well as the Chinese school of thought known as Neo-Confucianism.
  • Tao Te Ching: (Chinese: 道德經, Dào dé jīng) Roughly translated as The Book of the Way and its Virtue (see article on translating the title) is an ancient Chinese scripture. Tradition has it that the book was written around 600 BCE by a sage called Laozi (WG: Lao Tzu, “Old Master”), a record-keeper in the Emperor’s Court of the Zhou Dynasty. A careful reading of the text, however, suggests that it is a compilation of maxims sharing similar themes. The authenticity of the date of composition/compilation and the authorship are still debated.
This short work is one of the most important in Chinese philosophy and religion, especially in Taoism, but also in Buddhism, because the latter – an Indian religion – shared many Taoist words and concepts before developing into Chinese Buddhism. (Indeed, upon first encountering it, Chinese scholars regarded Buddhism as merely a foreign equivalent of Taoism.) Many Chinese artists, including poets, painters, calligraphers and even gardeners have used the book as a source of inspiration. Its influence has also spread widely outside the Far East, aided by many different translations of the text into western languages.
  • Tenrikyo: (Tenrikyō, lit. Teaching of Divine Reason, also known as Tenriism) A religion of Japanese Shinto origin with some Buddhist influence. It was founded by a female peasant, Nakayama Miki, who underwent a revelatory experience from 1838 onwards. After this date she is referred to as Oyasama (lit. Honoured Parent) by followers. Tenrikyo is estimated to have about 2 million followers world-wide with 1.5 million of those in Japan.
The focus of the religion is to attain yoki yusan or yoki gurashi, the ‘joyous life’, on Earth through charity and abstention from greed, a self-serving life, hatred, anger and arrogance.

  • Yo is “positive”, the same character as Yang in the Chinese Yin and Yang.
  • Ki is “spirit” or “energy”, the same character as Ch’i in Chinese.
  • Yusan is “an outing to the mountain or fields” (lit. excursion), implying an outgoing life.
  • Gurashi is “livelihood”, implying life in a more day-to-day sense.
  • Theism: The belief in one or more gods or goddesses. More specifically, it may also mean the belief in God, a god, or gods, who is/are actively involved in maintaining the Universe. This secondary meaning is shown in context to other beliefs concerning the divine. The term is attested in English from 1678, and was probably coined to contrast with atheism attested from ca. 1587.
  • Theosis: In Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic theology, theosis, meaning divinization (or woodenly, deification or, to become god), is the call to man to become holy and seek union with God, beginning in this life and later consummated in the resurrection. Theosis comprehends salvation from sin, is premised upon apostolic and early Christian understanding of the life of faith, and is conceptually foundational in both the East and the West.
  • Tithe: (from Old English teogotha “tenth”) A one-tenth part of something, paid as a voluntary contribution or as a tax or levy, usually to support a Jewish or Christian religious organization. Today, tithes (or tithing) are normally voluntary and paid in cash, checks, or stocks, whereas historically tithes could be paid in kind, such as agricultural products. There are still European countries today that allow some churches to assess a mandatory tithe which is enforced by law.
  • Torah: (תורה) A Hebrew word meaning “teaching,” “instruction,” or “law.” It is the central and most important document of Judaism revered by Jews through the ages. It primarily refers to the first section of the Tanakh–the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, but the term is sometimes also used in the general sense to also include both of Judaism’s written law and oral law, encompassing the entire spectrum of authoritative Jewish religious teachings throughout history, including the Mishnah, the Talmud, the midrash, and more.
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  • Unitarian Universalism: (UU or UUism) A theologically liberal, inclusive religion formed by the merger of Unitarian and Universalist organizations in the mid 20th century. UUs generally: cherish creativity, freedom, and compassion; embrace diversity and interconnectedness; and promote personal spiritual growth and justice-making through worship, fellowship, personal experience, social action, deeds, and education. While one UU may differ from another in personal creed, the term UU is a distinct theological signifier and Unitarianism or Universalism should not be confused or interchanged with Unitarian Universalism.
  • Upanishad: (उपनिषद्, Upaniad) Part of the Hindu Śruti scriptures which primarily discuss meditation and philosophy and are seen as religious instructions by most schools of Hinduism. The Upanishads are commentaries on the Vedas, their putative end and essence, and thus known as Vedānta = “End of the Veda”. The term Upanishad derives from the Sanskrit words upa (near), ni (down) and ṣad (to sit) = “sitting down near” a spiritual teacher to receive instruction in the Guru-Shishya tradition or parampara. The teachers and students appear in a variety of settings (husband answering questions about immortality, a teenage boy being taught by Yama, or Death personified, etc.). Sometimes the sages are women and at times the instructions (or rather inspiration) are sought by kings.
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  • Vegetarianism: The practice of not eating meat, poultry, fish or their by-products, with or without the use of dairy products or eggs. The exclusion may also extend to products derived from animal carcasses, such as lard, tallow, gelatin, rennet and cochineal. Some who follow the diet also choose to refrain from wearing products that involve the death of animals, such as leather, silk, feather, and fur. It should be noted that although vegetarians generally try to abstain from all animal by-products, many are willing to make small exceptions for their diet, attire, and so forth.
  • Veneration: In traditional Christian churches (for example, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy), veneration (Latin veneratio, Greek δουλια dulia), or veneration of saints, is a special act of honoring a dead person who has been identified as singular in the traditions of the religion, and through them honoring God who made them and in whose image they are made. Veneration is often shown outwardly by respectfully bowing or making the sign of the cross before a saint‘s icon, relics, or cult image. These items are often also kissed.
  • Vipassana: (Sanskrit: vipasyanā) The practice of Insight Meditation. While it is often referred to as Buddhist meditation, the practice taught by the Buddha was non-sectarian, and has a universal application. It does not require conversion to Buddhism. While the meditation practices themselves vary from school to school, the underlying principle is the investigation of phenomena (Sanskrit: dharmas) as they manifest in the five aggregates (Skandha) namely, matter or form (Rupa), sensation or feelings (Vedana), perception (Samjna), mental formations (Sankara) & consciousness (Vijnana). This process leads to direct experiential perception, Vipassanā.
  • Virtue: (Greek αρετη; Latin virtus) The habitual, well-established, readiness or disposition of man’s powers directing them to some goodness of act. (1) Virtue is moral excellence of a man or a woman. The word is derived from the Greek arete (αρετη). As applied to humans, a virtue is a good character trait. The Latin word virtus literally means “manliness,” from vir, “man” in the masculine sense; and referred originally to masculine, warlike virtues such as courage. In one of the many ironies of etymology, in English the word virtue is often used to refer to a woman’s chastity.
In the Greek it is more properly called ηθικη αρετη. It is “habitual excellence”. It is something practised at all times. The virtue of perseverance is needed for all and any virtue since it is a habit of character and must be used continuously in order for any person to maintain oneself in virtue.
W
  • Wabi-sabi: (in Kanji) Represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic. It is difficult to explain wabi-sabi in Western terms, but the aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, or incomplete. A concept derived from the Buddhist assertion of the first noble truth – Dukkha.
Y
  • Yana (Buddhism): A Sanskrit word with a range of meanings including nouns such as vehicle, journey, and path; and verbs such as going, moving, riding, and marching. In the Indian religions Buddhism and Hinduism, both yana and marga (road or path) express the metaphor of spiritual practice as a path or journey. Ancient texts in both religions discuss doctrines and practices associated with various yanas. In Buddhism, yana often augments the metaphor of the spiritual path with the idea of various vehicles that convey a person along that path. The yana/marga metaphor is similar to the Chinese image of the Tao (path or way) but Indian and Chinese cultures appear to have evolved such similar metaphors independently.
The pair probably goes back to ancient agrarian religion; it exists in Confucianism, and it is prominent in Taoism. Though the words yin and yang only appear once in the Tao Te Ching, the book is laden with examples and clarifications of the concept of mutual arising.
Yin and yang are descriptions of complementary opposites rather than absolutes. Any yin/yang dichotomy can be seen as its opposite when viewed from another perspective. The categorisation is seen as one of convenience. Most forces in nature can be broken down into their respective yin and yang states, and the two are usually in movement rather than held in absolute stasis.
Z
  • Zazen: In Zen Buddhism, sitting meditation or zazen (Japanese: literally “seated concentration”) is a meditative discipline practitioners perform to calm the body and the mind and experience insight into the nature of existence. While the term originally referred to a sitting practice, it is now commonly used to refer to practices in any posture, such as walking.
The Taoist book Zhuangzi of the same name as the author is a composite of writings from various sources. The traditional view is that Zhuangzi himself wrote the first seven chapters (the “inner” chapters) and his students and related thinkers were responsible for the other parts (the “outer” and “miscellaneous” chapters). Strong proof of direct authorship by Zhuangzi of any of the text is difficult.
The faith is ostensibly monotheistic, although Zoroastrianism has a dualistic nature, with a series of six entities (similar in function and status to angels) accompanying Ahura Mazda (the Supreme Being), and forming a heptad that is good and constructive, and another group of seven who are evil and destructive, lead by a satanic figure, Ahriman. It is this persistent conflict between good and evil that distinguishes Zoroastrianism from monotheistic frameworks that have only one power as supreme. By requiring its adherents to have faith and belief in equally opposing powers Zoroastrianism characterizes itself to outsiders as dualistic.
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I would like to make clear all the visitors of my blog that I am not Rqaqi, Aamil, or Spiritual Healer. Any Raaqi you contact via my blog, know they do not represent this blog or me.

 

In my knowledge these are few dedicated places where you can get your spiritual healing according to Quran and Sunnah. I can recommend these places as in my knowledge they works according to Quran and Sunnah; but I cannot be made responsible either individually or severally for any untoward incidents.

 

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