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Browse glossary Glossary holdings: 646 terms

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Absolute “In the Absolute, I am not, and you are not, and God (in His personal determination) is not, because He (the Absolute) is beyond the reach of all word and all thought.” {Sri Ramakrishna} [LS, A View of Yoga]

In relation to Intelligence, it will be said that the Absolute is the Self, which is expressed by the term Atma; thus viewed, the Absolute is the Subject as such, the real and only Subject; extrinsically and combined with Maya, this Subject will be the root of all possible subjectivities, it will be the immanent “divine I.” [SME, Dimensions, Modes and Degrees of the Divine Order]

If we were to be asked what the Absolute is, we would reply first of all that it is necessary and not merely possible Reality; absolute Reality, hence infinite and perfect, precisely; and we would add – in conformity with the level of the question asked – that the Absolute is that which, in the world, is reflected as the existence of things. Without the Absolute, there is no existence; the aspect of absoluteness of a thing is what distinguishes it from inexistence, if one may so put it. Compared to empty space, each grain of sand is a miracle. [FDH, The Interplay of the Hypostases]

The Absolute, or the Essence, intrinsically comprises Infinitude; it is as the Infinite that it radiates. Divine Radiation projects the Essence into the “void,” but without there being any “going out” whatsoever, for the Principle is immutable and indivisible, nothing can be taken away from it; by this projection on the surface of a nothingness that in itself is inexistent, the Essence is reflected in the mode of “forms” or “accidents.” But the “life” of the Infinite is not only centrifugal, it is also centripetal; it is alternately or simultaneously – depending on the relationships envisaged – Radiation and Reintegration; the latter is the apocatastatic “return” of forms and accidents into the Essence, without nevertheless there being anything added to the latter, for it is absolute Plenitude. Moreover, and even above all, Infinitude – like Perfection – is an intrinsic characteristic of the Absolute: it is as it were its inward life, or its love which by overflowing, so to speak prolongs itself and creates the world. [SVQ, Hypostatic Dimensions of Unity]

Only the definition of the Absolute as such is absolute, and every explanatory description belongs to relativity precisely on account of the differentiated nature of its content, which is not for that reason incorrect, to be sure, but rather, is limited and therefore replaceable; so that if one wishes to give an absolute definition of the Absolute, one has to say that God is One. “The testimony of Unity is one” (At-Tawhidu wahid), say the Sufis, and by this they mean that an expression, within the limits of its possibility, must be one with its content and its cause. [CI, Alternations in Semitic Monotheism]

If God is the Absolute, there is nothing which could be He. God is continually suppressing whatever in creation appears to assume an absolute or infinite character. Were this not so, the relative would itself be God. [SPHF, Love and Knowledge]

He who conceives the Absolute – or who believes in God – cannot stop short de jure at this knowledge, or at this belief, realized by thought alone; he must on the contrary integrate all that he is into his adherence to the Real, as is demanded precisely by Its absoluteness and infinitude. Man must “become that which he is” because he must “become That which is”; “the soul is all that it knows,” said Aristotle. [SME, Introduction: Epistemological Premises]

The Absolute is not the Absolute inasmuch as it contains aspects, but inasmuch as It transcends them. [UI, The Quran Cf. GDW, The Sense of the Absolute in Religions]

Absolute / Infinite In metaphysics, it is necessary to start from the idea that the Supreme Reality is absolute, and that being absolute it is infinite. That is absolute which allows of no augmentation or diminution, or of no repetition or division; it is therefore that which is at once solely itself and totally itself. And that is infinite which is not determined by any limiting factor and therefore does not end at any boundary; it is in the first place Potentiality or Possibility as such, and ipso facto the Possibility of things, hence Virtuality. Without All-Possibility, there would be neither Creator nor creation, neither Maya nor Samsara. The Infinite is so to speak the intrinsic dimension of plenitude proper to the Absolute; to say Absolute is to say Infinite, the one being inconceivable without the other. We can symbolize the relation between these two aspects of Supreme Reality by the following images: in space, the absolute is the point, and the infinite is extension; in time, the absolute is the moment, and the infinite is duration. On the plane of matter, the absolute is the ether – the underlying and omnipresent primordial substance – whereas the infinite is the indefinite series of substances; on the plane of form, the absolute is the sphere – the simple, perfect and primordial form – and the infinite is the indefinite series of more or less complex forms; finally, on the plane of number, the absolute will be unity or unicity, and the infinite will be the unlimited series of numbers or possible quantities, or totality. The distinction between the Absolute and the Infinite expresses the two fundamental aspects of the Real, that of essentiality and that of potentiality; this is the highest principial prefiguration of the masculine and feminine poles. Universal Radiation, thus Maya both divine and cosmic, springs from the second aspect, the Infinite, which coincides with All-Possibility. [SME, Summary of Integral Metaphysics]
Absolute / Infinite / Perfection On the one hand, the Absolute is “necessary” Being, that which must be, which cannot not be, and which for that very reason is unique; on the other hand, the Infinite is “free” Being, which is limitless and which contains all that can be, and which for that very reason is total. This reality, absolute and infinite, necessary and free, unique and total, is ipso facto perfect: for it lacks nothing, and it possesses in consequence all that is positive; it suffices unto itself. This means that the Absolute, as well as the Infinite which is as it were its intrinsic complement or its shakti, coincides with Perfection; the Sovereign Good is the very substance of the Absolute. [SME, Dimensions, Modes and Degrees of the Divine Order]

The Absolute, imperceptible as such, makes itself visible through the existence of things; in an analogous manner, the Infinite reveals itself through their inexhaustible diversity; and similarly, Perfection manifests itself through the qualities of things, and in so doing, it communicates both the rigor of the Absolute and the radiance of the Infinite, for things have their musicality as well as their geometry. [CI, Atomism and Creation; Cf. SVQ, Hypostatic Dimensions of Unity]

God is the Absolute, and being the Absolute, He is equally the Infinite; being both the Absolute and the Infinite, intrinsically and without duality, He is also the Perfect. Absoluteness is reflected in space by the point or the center; in time, by the movement or the present; in matter, by ether, which vehicles energy; in form, by the sphere; in number, by unity. Infinitude, for its part, determines space by extension; time, by duration; matter, by substantial indefiniteness; form, by the limitless diversity of formal possibilities; number, by quantitative limitlessness. As for the divine Perfection – from which all manifested perfections derive – it is reflected in space by the contents of matter inasmuch as they express either simple existence, or the divine Qualities which space vehicles. [FDH, Structure and Universality of the Conditions of Existence; Cf. Ibid, The Interplay of the Hypostases]

Absolutely Relative The notion “relatively absolute” could not imply that there is an “absolutely relative”, for this expression – aside from its intrinsic absurdity – is practically synonymous with ‘nothingness’. [PM, The Play of Masks]
Abstract Many notions that we call “abstract” for reasons of convenience, because they lie outside our immediate daily experience, or which we describe as abstract provisionally to serve the needs of our logic, correspond to experiences that are deeper and more real than our own, experiences that are lived by the cosmic consciousness of which we are only exteriorisations or particles. The notion of justice is an abstraction, granted; but the Universal Equilibrium whence it derives, and which particular acts of justice manifest, is as concrete as the Universe itself. [LT, Abuse of the Ideas of the Concrete and the Abstract]
Abstract / Objective We term here “abstract” that which, escaping our direct experience, remains in fact more or less notional; no one can experience pure space, thus it will be in practice abstract in respect of the contents which measure it, either in a static or dynamic manner. By contrast, that is objective which, whether abstract or concrete, is exterior in relation to our observing consciousness; a thing is objective inasmuch as it exists independently of our individual or collective consciousness, while being subjective inasmuch as it is a possible content of that consciousness. [FDH, Structure and Universality of the Conditions of Existence]
Adharma Non-conformity to a necessary law. [EH, Transgression and Purification]
Adogmatism “Adogmatism” in reality is chiefly aimed at the mental crystallizations of partial truths and in no way confers carte blanche against Truth as such; if it closes the door against any fixation of half-truths, this does not mean that it opens the door to every error. For the modernistically minded spiritualist, this same adogmatism becomes a license to do anything he pleases, and this in the name of a tradition to which he yet remains paradoxically attached out of atavism and sentimentality, or even out of sheer lack of imagination. [TB, A Defense of Zen]
Advaita-Vedanta Unquestionably, Advaita-Vedanta is an intrinsic esoterism, and as such suffices unto itself; but it is not an esoterism-complement, that is, an esoterism found alongside a religious system of a sentimental character. This is not to say that its situation within the economy of the spiritual means of Hinduism is one of complete isolation. Beside it there is in fact the bhaktic Vedanta of Ramanuja, which corresponds to a religious mysticism in the sense that it is based upon a conception of the personal God; consequently it is dualistic and voluntaristic, like the Semitic spiritualities in their general manifestation. But the advaitists are the first to acknowledge that bhakti corresponds to a degree of the one truth, hence to a necessity, and that it is legitimate for that very reason. [SME, Two Esoterisms]

Among explicit doctrines, the Vedanta stands out as one of the most direct formulations possible of what constitutes the very essence of our spiritual reality… Hinduism, although it is organically linked with the Upanishads, is nevertheless not reducible to the Shivaite Vedantism of Shankara, although this must be considered as the essence of the Vedanta and so of the Hindu tradition. [SPHF, The Vedanta; Cf. LS]

Aesthetics By “integral aesthetics” we mean in fact a science that takes account not only of sensible beauty but also of the spiritual foundations of this beauty, these foundations explaining the frequent connection between the arts and initiatic methods. [EPW, Foundation of an Integral Aesthetics]

One must not confuse aesthetics with aestheticism: the second term, used to describe a literary and artistic movement in England in the 19th century, means in general an excessive preoccupation with aesthetic values real or imaginary, or at any rate very relative. However, one must not too readily cast aspersions upon romantic aesthetes, who had the merit of a nostalgia that was very understandable in a world that was sinking into a hopeless mediocrity and a cold and inhuman ugliness. [Ibid]

Allah The Name Allah is the quintessence of Prayer, as it is the quintessence of the Koran; containing in a certain manner the whole Koran, it thereby also contains the Canonical Prayer, which is the first sura of the Koran, “the opening” (Al-Fatihah). In principle, the Supreme Name (al-Ism al-A’zam) even contains the whole religion, with all the practices that it demands, and it could consequently replace them; but in fact, these practices contribute to the equilibrium of the soul and of society, or rather they condition them. [SVQ, The Quintessential Esoterism of Islam]
Alternativism Alternativism – that is, the prejudice of seeing in every relative and therefore reconcilable opposition a fundamental and irreconcilable one that would force us spiritually and morally to a violent choice – induced the early rationalists of Islam, namely the Mutazilites, to see an incompatibility between the Qualities of God and His Unity; from this there resulted a tendency either to deny the diversity of these qualities or even to deny them altogether. With the Mutazilites, one finds the same alternative between Justice and Predestination, and the same incapacity to see that here are two faces of a single reality, or two different relationships. The inability to reconcile the pure spirituality of God – or His “non-materiality” – with the possibility of a beatific vision stems from the same intellectual limitation. [CI, Dilemmas of Moslem Scholasticism]
Amor / Mors (Love / Death) Love, which includes all, is a sort of death, and death, which includes all, is like losing consciousness in love. [GDW, Love of God, Consciousness of the Real]
Analogy / Identity Analogy is a discontinuous identity, and identity a continuous analogy. [UI, The Path]

The relationship of analogy is that of discontinuity between center and periphery: created things, including thoughts – everything indeed that constitutes cosmic manifestation – are separated from the Principle . . . The relationship of identity on the contrary is that of continuity between center and periphery, it is consequently distinguished from the relationship of analogy as radii are distinguished from concentric circles. Divine manifestation, around us and in us, prolongs and projects the Principle and is identified with it precisely in respect of the immanent divine quality. [EPW, Understanding Esoterism]

Ananda The element Ananda, on the one hand, constitutes the internal and intrinsic radiation of Atma, which desires nothing other – if one may so put it – than the enjoyment of its own infinite Possibility, and on the other hand tends towards the manifestation of this Possibility – now overflowing – through numberless refractions. [EPW, Hypostatic and Cosmic Numbers]
Ancestor Among the peoples of the Far East, the ancestor is at once the origin and the spiritual or moral norm; he is, for his descendants, the essential personality, that is to say the substance of which they are like the accidents; and piety consists precisely in viewing him thus and in seeing in him but the bridge connecting them – his descendents – with the Divine. . . . Ancestors are the human imprints of angelic substances and, for that reason, also of divine Qualities; to be true to them is to be true to God; they oblige us to remain in conformity with the eternal “idea” whence we came forth, and which is the law of our existence and the goal of our life. This connection between the ancestor and his angelic and divine prototypes is moreover apparent in the Japanese word kami, which denotes the ancestor and the literal meaning of which is “located above”; in sacred language, this word means “divine aspect,” “cosmic principle,” “spirit.” The Shinto tradition is called Kami-no-Michi or “Way of the Gods,” which implies that it is also the way of the ancestors. [TB, The Meaning of Ancestors]
Angel The Angels are intelligences that are limited to a particular aspect of Divinity: consequently an angelic state is a sort of transcendent point of view. [TUR, Conceptual Dimensions]
Angels / Trimurti Ar-Ruh (or Sayyidna Mitatrun) corresponds…to the creative Principle, Brahma; a correspondence which emerges very clearly from what is said of Ar-Ruh in Genesis: “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Sayyidna Israfil and Sayyidna Mika’il are identified by their respective functions with two fundamental and complementary aspects of Vishnu, for both affirm Manifestation, the first in a “vertical sense” (or according to the “principial dimension”), namely by the resurrection of the dead at the end of the cycle, and the second in a “horizontal sense” (or according to the “manifested dimension”), by giving life and subsistence to beings. As for Sayyidna Jibra’il and Sayyidna ‘Izra’il, they are identified by their respective functions with two fundamental and complementary aspects of Shiva: both do away with, transform or absorb Manifestation, the first in a “vertical sense” or “positively” by leading back Manifestation towards the Principle, and the second in a “horizontal sense” or “negatively”, namely by destruction (or rather by dissociation, separation or decomposition). [DI, An-Nur]
Anger (holy / passionate) Holy anger is a movement of concentration and not a going outside oneself; it is like an “incarnation” of the divine Wrath in the human microcosm, which must at that moment be free from passionate anger. The inner criterion of holy anger is precisely calmness, whereas passionate anger carries away the entire being and brings forgetfulness of God; it has no centre, that is to say it is entirely peripheral and dissipated. Holy anger exists only by virtue of a motionless centre, an implacable truth which determines it; when driving the money-changers from the Temple, Christ was impassible. [SW, Nature and Arguments of Faith]
Antinomic Theology “Antinomic” theology which consists in confronting two contradictory affirmations concerning God in view of a superior, possibly ineffable, truth, but without intending to negate either of the two affirmations; for the purpose is to confront, not a truth and an error, since that would not lead to a new conclusion, but two truths, each of which is valid in itself but insufficient in respect to their antinomy. The prototype of antinomic dialectic is furnished by the diversity of religions: apparently false in relation to one another, each is true in itself, and in addition each hides – and provokes – a common and unifying truth which pertains to the plane of primordial and perennial wisdom. [IFA, Observations on Dialectical Antinomism]
Archangel Gabriel The Archangel Gabriel is a personification of a function of the Spirit, the celestial ray which reaches the Prophets on earth. [UI, The Prophet]
Archetype The archetypes represent uniquely perfections and totalities, and not privative and hence fragmentary manifestations, and that in consequence there are earthly phenomena which are not to be found as such in the Platonic ideas precisely because they are either privative or existentially fragmentary by virtue of privation. [LT, Rationalism, Real and Apparent]
Argument The Greek word kategoria, “argument,” means in the last analysis: an ultimate form of thought, that is to say a key-notion capable of classifying other notions, or even all the notions having a bearing on existence. [THC, Universal Categories]
Aristocratic / Plebeian Nature The man of “aristocratic” nature – we are not speaking of social classes – is he who masters himself and who loves to master himself; the “plebeian” by nature – with the same reservation – is on the contrary he who does not master himself, and who does not wish to do so. To master oneself is in substance to want to transcend oneself, in conformity with the reason for being of that central and total creature which is man; in fact, the man of the “dark age” lives below himself. Thus he must transcend himself – or re-establish the equilibrium between Maya and Atma – in accordance with a norm which he bears within himself, and which comprises all that makes life worth living. [PM, On Intention]
Ar-Ruh Ar-Ruh, the Angel who is greater than all the others put together; in Hebrew Ruah Elohim. [LT, Some Observations on the Symbolism of the Hourglass]
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