image of the word definitions


As a service to you, my visitors, I'm providing definitions of some terms used in these pages, for the sake of clarity. Religious terms will be taken from the Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (Many of the entries in the Oxford dictionary provide a reading list of books devoted to that term). Also, the 1999 edition of Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions. This note will appear after definitions from the (M-W EWR). Links are provided to this page whenever a defined term is used in the text. There's a note to this effect on the index page. Wherever you see an asterisk immediately before a term, it means that the term is also included in this list of words. There are many terms here that do not appear in my journals, which are provided for comparative reasons. Sacred texts refered to here are collected on their own page.
This collection of terms and people includes personages throughout history and the world in my lifetime that have influenced or impacted me. I would not be what I have become in my fifty-some years were it not for the beliefs and practices of those varied and sundry people I have met. I hope you find this service informative and useful. The buttons below take you to that letter in the listings.

(from Sanskrit, 'fire' cf. Latin, ignis). The god of fire in Hinduism, of great importance especially in the Vedic period. As sacrifice is the center of the Vedic religion, Agni is at the center of sacrifice. As messenger of the gods, Agni is the mediator between humankind and the heavenly realm. All offerings must pass through the scared fire to reach their divine destinations...Ever youthful, he bestows life and immortality.
(from the Sanskrit, ' not harming'). Avoiding injury to any sentient creature through act or thought, a principle of basic importance for Indian religions, especially for Jains and Buddhists. Consult the O.D.W.R. for the full entry.
from Arabic, perhaps Greek, via Syriac al-kimiya). The endeavor (minimally) to find the key to the transformation of chemical substances, especially of base metals into precious ones; and beyond that, to find 'the elixir of immortality'. The word and practice of 'alchemy' thus underlie modern chemistry. In its earlier forms it pervades all religions, though moving increasingly to interior and spiritual transformations. (Since I'm employing the word in this latter sense in my album title - ALCHEMY OF HOPE - soon I will devote a page of its own to the entire entry in the Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. Go here for the entire O.D.W.R. entry.
Arabic for GOD: if from earlier Semitic languages (e.g. Aramaic, alaha) perhaps the God (Arabic, al='the'). Before the birth of *Muhammad, ALLah was known as a supreme, but not the sole, God. Muhammad became aware, early in his life, of conflict between religions and of contest, therefore, between 'gods'. From his experience in the cave of Mount Hira'...Muhammad saw that if God is God, it is God that God must be: there cannot be division of God into separate or competing beings.
(from Arabic,`the guided one'). In *Sunni Islam, one who receives guidance from God. The term may apply to figures in the past, or to those who revive Islam, but more often it refers to a future, *eschatological figure, who will come to herald in the end of all things. This may be 'Isa/*Jesus, who will restore the observance of Islam after a period of decline, when the *Ka'ba will have disappeared and copies of the *Qur'an will become blank paper.
(Spanish, also known from Latin, as *Illuminati). Movements for reform, based on personal holiness and enlightenment, in 16th/17th Century Spain. At least three different groups have been identified, attracting both educated and uneducated adherents. Because of their supposed connection with Lutheranism, they were fiercely persecuted by the Inquisition; yet prominent figures (e.g., Ignatius Loyola, *John of the Cross, *Teresa, of Avila) were all accused of illuminism, illustrating how close were the goals of holiness for these diverse figures.
(Sanskrit, 'not-death'). The nectar of immortality as in *Amrit; but in Hinduism (especially Vedas) it is *soma.
(Sanskrit). A chief disciple and first cousin of the *Buddha.
*anatman, or Anatta.
(Sanskrit, `not-self'). Fundamental perception in buddhism that since there is no subsistent reality to be found in or underlying appearances, there cannot be a subsistent self or soul in the human appearance--in contrast to Hinduism, where the understanding of *atman and *jiva is equally fundamental to its understanding of the human predicament and how to escape it. If all is subject to dukkha (transience and the grief that arises from trying to find the non-transient within it), then human appearance is no exception. The human is constituted by five aggregates (skandha) which flow together and give rise to the impression of identity and persistence through time. thus even if there is `no soul', there is at least that which has the nature of having that nature. There were major disputes about the best candidates for constituting this impression, but agreement in general was reached that there is no soul which...sits inside the human body, like the driver of a bus, and gets out at the end of the journey. There is only the aggregation of components, which is caused by the previous moment, and causes the next. Thus while there is momentarily one person who is rightly identified as the Dalai Lama, there is no one person who the Dalai Lama always is. In *Mahayana Buddhism, this term was extended to apply to all appearance which arises from *Sunyata and is therefore devoid of substance, empty of self.
(from Greek, apsis). The rounded end of a church, especially in Greek Oorthodoxy: it is derived from the Constaninian basilicas which incorporated the pagan apsis where judges and legal advisors sat.
A center (usually Hindu), for religious study and meditation.
(Sanskrit). For hindus and Sikhs, the real or true Self, which underlies and is present in human appearance. In the Vedas, that sense had not been developed. In the *Rig Veda, it means breath, or the whole body, as opposed to parts of it. It may even be simply a reflexive pronoun (cf. *nafs in Arabic).
(Hebrew, kapparah). In Judaism: Reconciliation with God. According to Jewish belief, human sin damages the relationship with God and only the process of atonement can restore it. According to biblical teaching, sacrifice was the outer form of atonement (Leviticus 5), provided human beings also purified themselves spiritually (e.g. Isaiah I. 11-17). In Christianity: In Christian theology, atonement is the reconciliation ('at-one-ment') of men and women to God through the death of Christ. The word was introduced by W. Tyndale in 1526, to translate reconciliatio'. The need for such reconciliation is already apparent in the Old Testament: in the system of sacrifices which removed ritual and moral uncleanness; in the prophecies of a 'new covenant' (Jeremiah 31. 31); and in the servant songs which speak of the servant being "wounded for our transgressions' (Isaiah 53. 5). Please see the full entry in the O.D.W.R.
(from Sanskrit, 'descent'). The earthly manifestations (or 'incarnations') of a Hindu diety. While it is popularly but wrongly believed that the concept is first expressed in the famous verse of Bhagavad-gita, 'I [Krishna] come into being age after age...' (iv. 8) it was indeed the figure of *Krishna, and his relationship with the diety *Vishnu, which triggered off the subsequent developments.
(from Arabic "sign of God'). Title of high ranking Shi'ite Muslim authorities, especially in Iran. It is a recent (20th Cent.) title for exceptional jurists (mujtahid whose authority rest on that of the infallible *IMAM-though in 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini adopted the title of IMAM for himself. Since he did nor claim to be the Hidden Imam, this was a new development in hierarchical practice and theory.* An Ayatollah's decisions (*fatwa) have authority only for those who examine and agree with them-in theory; in practice, Ayatollahs gain personal followings, among whom their decisions are accepted as binding. the extension of these personal followings to even wider communities is again a recent innovation.* (*MY ITALICS.)
Ba'al Shem
( from Hebrew, 'master of the divine name') Title given in hasidic and *kabbalistic literature to those who possess secret knowledge of God's name. See Baal Shem Tov below.
*BA'AL SHEM TOV, or Israel ben Eliezer. (1700-1760)
Revived Hasidism in E. Europe.
*Beatitudes, The
Promises of blessing, and specifically the sequence of eight or nine sentences beginning `Blessed are the poor in Spirit' in Jesus' *Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5. 3-11). The version in Luke's `Sermon on the Plain' is shorter with more marked contrast of present and future. For the entire set of BLESSINGS go here.
(From Matthew 12:24-7): Lord of the Flies (From Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of world Religions)
(Same Source as Beelzebub): Lord of Dung...does it surprise anyone that THE "Duke" of Demons became associated with flies and..."Poo-poo"? - My favorite depiction of the relationship is Renfield in Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's DRACULA - Jesse
(Sanskrit, either from bhaj, `to share, be loyal', or bhañj, 'to separate'). Devotion in love and adoration, especially to one's chosen manifestation of the divine; but it may be guru-bhakti (surrender to a guru) or or vaidhi-bhakti (willing acceptance of a guru's instructions).
(Sanskrit, `seed. potency'). In both Hinduism and Buddhism, the latent power underlying every manifest appearance. In particular, bija is the power concentrated in a symbolic sound, which a *guru has learnt in experience, and which he passes on to a pupil in a bija *mantra (seed syllable). An aspect of the absolute reality is thus concentrated in the mantra.
*Black Stone
(Arabic, 'al-hajar al-aswad'). A stone said to be of meteoric origin, variously thought to be of lava or basalt, and reddish black in color, some 12 inches in diameter, embedded in the eastern corner of the *Ka'ba in Mecca. As the Ka'ba is the focus of Muslim devotion, being the 'house of *Allah', so is the Black Stone the holiest object, and during the hajj (pilgrimage) the pilgrims try to kiss or touch it as they walk seven times around the Ka'ba.
(Sanskrit, Pali, 'awakened'). In Hinduism, perfect knowlwdge, personified as Bodha, a son of Buddhi (intellect). In Buddhism, it is the experience of enlightenment, which unlike *nirvana, can be given an approximate description, it is the attainment of perfect clarity of mind in which things are seen as they really are - as in the experience of Gautama under the tree (hence called Bodhi tree) through which he became the Buddha.
(Chinese, P'u-t'i-ta-mo, or Tamo; Japanese Bodaidaruma, or Daruma) The 28th successor in line from Sakyamuni Buddha, and the first Chinese patriarch of Ch'an/Zen. Please see the entire entry in the Dictionary.
(Sanskrit; Pali, bodhisatta, 'Enlightenment being'; Japanese, Bosatsu; Korean, Posal; Tibetan, Byang.chub sems.dpa, "Hero of the Thought of enlightenment'). In Theravada Buddism, a title exclusively identifying historical *Buddhas (i.e., *Sakymuni) in their previous lives, before their Buddhahood was attained; and in *Mahayana Buddhism to describe any being who, out of compassion, has taken the *boddhisattva vow to become a Buddha for the sake of all sentient beings. Please see the entire entry in the O.D.W.R. (bodhisattva has entered the English lexicon through the genius of numerous poets and song writers - most notably the duet Steely Dan...Jesse)
*Book of Life
(Hebrew, Sefer ha-Hayyim). A book in Heaven in which Jews believe the names of the righteous are inscribed.
In Hinduism, a post-Vedic deity. Brahma is the god of creation and first in the Hindu triad of Brahma, *Vishnu, and *Shiva He is represented as red in color, with four heads and four arms, holding, respectively, a goblet, a bow, a sceptre, and the Vedas.
(French, 'doing odd jobs'). A characteristic (according to C. Levi-Strauss) of the early human mind, in contrast to modern scientific thinking. But bricolage is entirely rational (i.e. not pre-rational) in its own way. He introduced the term in The Savage Mind. A bricoleur is one who improvises and and uses any means or materials which happen to be lying around in order to tackle a task: 'The bricoleur is adept at executing a great number of diverse tasks; but unlike the engineer, he does not subordinate each of them to the availability of raw materials and tools, conceptualized and procured specifically for this project; his instrumental universe is closed, and the rule of his game is to make do with the means at hand.' In the making of myth, bricolage is the use of whatever happens to be 'lying around,' so that myth is both rational and improvisatory.
( in Pali, Sanskrit; Chinese, fo; Japanese, butsu; Korean, pul). 1. An enlightened person, literally, 'one who has awakened' to the truth. Traditional Buddhism teaches there are two sorts. *Sammasambuddha and *pratyekabuddha; and that *Gotama is one in a series of the former kind. *Mahayana Buddhism extends the notion of a buddha into a universal principle: all beings possess a 'buddha-nature' and are therefore prospective buddhas.
2. Title applied to Gotama, the historical founder of Buddhism and to other samyakbuddhas by virtue of their being buddhas par excellence (as in 1. above). When occuring by itself, the expression 'the Buddha' is generally used to mean Gotama, though he is referred to by adherents of the *Theravada tradition as simply 'Buddha.' The *Pali canon suggests that, in his lifetime, Gotama (after his enlightenment) was not referred to so much as Buddha as *Tathagata, his own preferred form of self-reference. See the remainder of the entry in the O.D.W.R. for more details on the life of Gotama.
(Sanskrit, `buddha-nature'). In Mahayana Buddhism, the real and undifferentiated nature of all appearance. Since this nature constitutes all beings, they all have equal opportunity to realize this fact and to attain enlightenment-no matter what their present form or level of appearance. This is in contrast to *Theravada. Within Mahayana, it is disputed whether inanimate appearances also possess the buddha-nature in this way. In Zen buddhism, the equivalent (Japanese) term is *bussho or, hossho, and the awakening to the truth of that nature and one's identity with it is *Mujodo-no-taigen. Since all arises from *sunyata, bussho is necessarily not other than that; which means , in turn, that the buddha-nature must be beyond description or conceptualization.
*Burning bush
The plant from which occured God's revelation to *Moses in Exodus 3. 1-4, 17. the bush is described as 'burning, yet it was not consumed'. Several plants, such as the wild jujube, acacia, or the bramble, have been identified as the bush. A bush growing in St. Catherine's monastery on the (traditional) site on Mount Sinai is identified by the monks as drived from the original burning bush. During the Middle Ages, the burning bush became a Christian symbol for *Mary as e.g. in Chaucer, Prologue to the Prioress' Tale.
Japanese for Buddhata (see above), the buddha-nature in Zen Buddhism. There is only buddha-nature constituting all appearance, thus one's self self cannot be differentiated from it. The aim of Zen is to cultivate awareness and realization of this truth.
(Sanskrit, `wheel'). A center of psychic energy in the body conceived of as a *lotus, especially in *Tantrism. Six main chakras connected by the sushumna *nadi (in Buddhism called avadhuti) came to be recognized in Hinduism, the muladhara (`root support') at the base of the spine, the svadhistana (`own place') in the genital region, the manipura (`jewel city') at the navel, the anahata (`unstruck') at the heart, the visuddha (`pure') at the throat, and the ajna (`command') between the eyebrows. Just above here are two minor chakras: the *manas and soma. Above the top of the head is the thousand-petalled lotus (shasrara padma; or usnisa kamala for Buddhists), the abode of bliss, which is not classified as an ordinary Chakra...The texts are ambiguous as to whether the chakras are situated along the spinal column or at the nervous plexuses of the physical is unclear whether they are meant to be actually existent or whether they are heuristic devices of Tantric *Yoga used in visualization.
*Chao-chou Ts'ung-shen or Joshu Jushin
(778-897). Leading Ch'an/Zen master in China, successor, (hassu) of Nan-chuan P'u-yuan (Japanese, Nansen Fugan). He had a profound experience of enlightenment when he was 18, which simply indicated to him that there was a way worth pursuing further (i.e. is not an end, but a step on a path). After forty years training with Nanchuan, he wandered in China seeking other Ch'an masters. At the age of 80, he settled in Chao-chou, gathering pupils around him. He instructed gently and quietly, but in very sharp and short ways. (The "WU" koan was his.)
The primordial condition from which (or onto which) order is imposed, according to many religions, so that the cosmos can appear. This is often a matter of creation, but it can equally be a matter of evolution. Chaos may remain behind, or below, the appearance of order, so that it, or its agents, constantly threaten to reappear.
(Chinese, `air, breath, strength'). The vital energy (in Chinese religion, medicine, and philosophy) which pervades and enables all things. Begining from the elementary observation that the secret of a long life is to keep on breathing, it underlies the central Chinese, especially Taoist, concern with breathing exercises in relation to prolonging life and attaining immortality. See the full entry in the O.D.W.R.
(Chinese, `semen'). One of the three life forces in Taoism, the others being *ch'i (breath) and *shen (conscious mind). Ching is both semen and menstrual flow, not so much in their literal manifestation, as in the power inherent in them. Loss of ching is debilitating, and many Taoist practices encourage control (especially for men), as well as increase of it.
*Cloud Of Unknowing, The
English mystical treatise of the 14th century. The author, whose anonymity has remained inviolate, stands in the line of *Dionysian influence as mediated by the victorines, especially Thomas Gallus whose Latin version of Dionysius' Mystical Theology he rendered into English. The author teaches that God cannot be known by human reason and that in *contemplation (see immediately below) the soul is conscious of a 'cloud of unknowing' between itself and God which can only be penetrated by a 'sharp dart of love'. The author recommends the repition of short phrases or single words to foster this loving attention to god, and is sharply critical of any reliance on sensible feelings in *prayer, perhaps having *Rolle in mind. The teaching on the entry in the cloud of unknowing has marked parallels with *John of the Cross's teaching about the onset of the *dark night of the soul.
In modern Western use, mental *prayer that is non-discursive and thus distinct from *meditation. At this stage, prayer usually begins to less the fruit of human effort and more the result of direct divine *grace, a distinction suggested by the traditional contrast between 'acquired' and 'infused' contemplation. The more traditional *patristic usage see contemplation (Greek, theoria) as the highest, and natural activity of the mind (nous) when freed from the disturbing influence of the passions and the desires: it is a state of direct communication with God in which the mind transcends discursive activity and knows by presence or union-'a peering into heaven with the ghostly eye'. (my emphasis - Jesse)
from the Sanskrit - dhar for 'hold', 'uphold'. There are involved entries for its meaning amongst Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists - I refer you to the Dictionary of World Religions, rather than quote the entry in its entirety.
(Hebrew, `cleaving'). Communion with God, derived from the Hebrew, davak, being devoted to God. The Talmud asks the question, how can man cleave to God as he is commanded (Deuteronomy 4. 24)? The response is given, by helping scholars (B.KET. 111b) or by emulating God's attributes (B.SOTAH 14a). The concept is much used in *kabbalistic literature, where devekut is perceived as the highest step on the spiritual ladder by which the mystic embraces the lower *sefirot (emanations) in his search for communion with the divine. It is generally accepted that devekut in this world will be fleeting and incomplete, since it is only after death that true devekut can be achieved. It is a concept and an attainment of great importance in *Hasidism.
*Dew, Prayer for
(Hebrew, `tefillat tal'). Supplication for moisture forming part of the Jewish *Amidah during the dry season. The bible frequently cites the bestowal of dew as a mark of god's providence. According to tradition, the 'heavenly stores of dew' are opened at the beginning of *Passover, so that a symbolism was developed relating the restoration of life to the land with the restoration of Israel. Among Sephardi, these supplications are known as tikkun tal.
(Arabic, `remembrance'). Basically, a Quranic word, commanding `remembrance of God', an act of devotion during and after the *salat (prayer)...the *Sufis consider dhikr a spiritual food, and it is one of their main practices. It is said that `the heart of a man is like a tree which breathes and lives through Divine Love, while the nourishment for the roots is given by the dhikr of Allah'...Each Sufi order has a dhikr of its own, constructed by its founder; the litanies and incantations are derived from the Quran and taught by the murshid (Sufi guide) to the initiate. It is the murshid who selects the dhikr fit for the spiritual stage of the seeker...A dhikr done without the guide's permission is practically useless. Dhikr-i-jali is loud recitation, and dhikr-i-khafi is performed with either a low voice or silently: the value and power of the dhikr is dependent upon right concentration and intention which brings into play body, speech, and mind. Only when the adept becomes identified with the dhikr (i.e. unity of the object and the subject), is the heart illuminated by the divine light. It should be noted that the dhikr does not bring union with God: it is a device to purify the heart so that it may become a fit receptacle of the divine attributes.
(from Sanskrit, 'meditation', 'absorption'). In Indian religions, a term denoting both the practice of meditation and a higher state of consciousness (generally involving *enstasy), though the term takes on more precise meanings in different traditions. See *jhana. Consult the O.D.W.R. for the full entry.
*Diamond Sutra
A short Buddhist text from the corpus of the *'Perfection of Wisdom' (prajñaparamitra) literature which compresses the essential teachings into a few short stanzas. Composed around 300 CE, it was translated into Tibetan and Chinese and has remained immensely popular as a summary of the doctrine of 'emptiness' (*sunyata) or 'voidness' which lies at the heart of the Perfection of Wisdom writings. The full title of the text is 'The Diamond-Cutter Perfection of Wisdom Sutra' (Vajracchedika-prajñaparamitra-sutra), and, as its name suggests, it is thought to have the power to cut through ignorance like a diamond for those who study and reflect upon its profound meaning.
A radical expression of the mid-17th century Leveller movement, whose adherents described themselves as `True Levellers'. Inspired by the leadership of Gerard Winstanley and William Everard, the Diggers formed communal settlements, dug and sowed common land in several English counties (1649-50), vigorously maintaining that the earth was a common treasury. Winstanley held millenarian views, and his pamphlets (advocating social and economic equality, universal suffrage, and education for all) served as the movement's main propaganda during its short life.
(Sanskrit). Initiation; in Indian religions, the means of access into a religious tradition, religious or social condition. Diksha is given by the preceptor or *guru. and often involve the giving of a new name to the initiate which symbolizes the end of one condition and birth or entrance into a new.
In Hinduism, in the *Vedas, diksha was a necessary prerequisite for the *Soma sacrifice undergone by the sacrificer (yajamana) and his wife, involving asceticism (See Tapas in the O.D. of W.R.), and fasting. Indeed, diksha is personified as Soma's wife (Rig Veda 25. 26)...There are different kinds and various stages of diksha particularly in *Tantrism where the utmost secrecy is maintained. In Saivism the `collective' (samaya) and `particular' (viseya) initiations give access to the cult of *Shiva. After this the initiate is called a samayin and has permission to perform certain rites and use certain texts and mantras...In contrast to the Vedic tradition, Tantrism allows the initiation of women and sudras (members of the fourth, or `menial'. caste). (See the full entry in the O.D. of W.R. for details of the different stages of initiation - Jesse)
(Hebrew, `the Infinite'). Kabbalistic designation of God in his transcendence. The term first apperaed in the 13th century in the circle of *Isaac the Blind. It was used to distinguish between God-in-himself and his *sefirot (emanations) by which humanity can know him. Initially, the term described the unlimited (i.e. infinite) range of God's thought. It was then applied to the Being of God as `that which is not conceivable by thought'. In a loose sense, it might be said to be anticipated in the Deus absconditus (`hidden God') theme of Isaiah: `Truly , you are a God who hides yourself.' Yet in fact the kabbalistic understanding went much further, regarding Ein-Sof as so utterly hidden from human comprehension that it is not even mentioned in the Bible.
(from Arabic, al-iksir). Substances believed, especially in China, to confer immortality or simply longevity and magical powers, and as such the object of much herbal lore, myth, and *alchemy. In China, the elixir is based on preparations to unite *yin and yang and synchronize the microcosm and macrocosm. Ingestion was thought to afford eternal bodily regeneration or the internal germination of an 'immortal embryo' to be released at death.
In India, the nearest eqivalents are soma and *Amr(i)ta. When the quest for elixirs was transmitted via Islam to the West, the accompanying anthropologies could not be reconciled with belief-systems which placed emphasis (particularly in Christianity) on life after death as a consequence of the act and grace of God. It therefore became a minor part of alchemy.
(Greek, eschatos, 'last'). That which is concerned with the last things, the final destiny both of individuals and of humanity in general, and of the cosmos. The word was first used in the 19th century, in discussing the Bible, (I would venture the opinion as the millenial hysteria commented upon in WB Yeats poem The Second Coming, grew - Jesse), but it refers to a concern in those religions which have a sequential (from a beginning to an end) understanding of time, and by application to religions which envisage an end to this particular cosmic cycle.
(Arabic, 'alone'). One who, in Islam, is filled with the realization of truth and illumination on his own-i.e. without belonging to a community or *Sufi order. It is even possible that such a person might not belong to a religion derived from revelation at all, receiving the gift directly from God.
(Arabic). In Islamic law, a legal opinion, given on request to an individual or to a magistrate or other public official, concerning a point of law wherein doubt arises, or where there is not an absolutely clear ruling in existence...A fatwa may be contested , but only on the basis of existing precedent or law; it cannot, therefore, be regarded as an 'infallible pronouncement', but it commands assent where it can be seen to be well grounded.
*Fu, also Fan.
(Chinese, `return'). The movement of the Tao in Tao-te ching (16), whereby all things return to their source. In meditation, this 'returning to the root' is the means to enlightenment: 'Returning to the source of stillness, which is the way of nature.' In I Ching (The Book of Changes), fu is the transformation of one into another, so that the completion of the yin means the full return of the yang. Hence, the hexagram fu is one unbroken yang line below five broken yin lines.
(Hebrew, `God is my warrior'). An archangel.
*Gehenna, or Gehinnom
(Hebrew, Valley of Hinnom). A valley south of *Jerusalem, used as a waste tip. In the days of the Hebrew monarch, a cult which involved the burning of children was practiced at Gehinnom (was it Moloch worship? - Jesse). The cult was roundly condemned by the biblical *prophets (see Jeremiah, 7. 31), and metaphorically the name came to mean a place 'where the fires smolder unceasingly and the worm never ends its activity', i.e. a place where the wicked are abandoned with none to remember them, and where they are tormented after death. Gehenna is the Greek form of the name.
(Hebrew, gimatriyya, from Greek, geomatria). Use or study of hidden meanings through numbers, especially the numerical equivalence of letters. Full Entry here
1. In Christian theology, the expression of God's love in his free unmerited favor or assistance. According to the New Testament (most Paul), it is conferred through faith (Romans 4. 16); is displayed in particular divine acts, especially in the death of Christ (Romans 3. 21-5; Hebrews 2. 9); and is an endowment of ministers (1 Corinthians 15. 10) and others (1 Corinthians 16. 23). The manner of its conferral has...been a subject of discussion since the 4th century and is now a characteristic matter of difference between Roman Catholics and Protestants.
In Catholic theology, grace is characterized as a supernatural power, lost by human beings at the Fall, which elevates and sanctifies human nature so that it is capable of enjoying communion with God...the distinction is made between prevenient grace, anticipating any move on a person's part towards God, and subsequent grace (`actual grace' for particular needs) in which god co-operates with a person after his conversion. Protestant theology rejects this view of grace along with the related concepts of *merit and sacraments. Instead it is seen primarily as God's action in his unmerited forgiveness and justification of sinners.
`Grace' then becomes a category for describing free and uncoerced actions in other religions, especially of *Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita. See *prasada. As a concept, grace is of great importance for Sikhs, in Guru *Nanak's hymns and in all subsequent Sikh theology. Analogous to the benedictory glance of a human guru, this sense of god's loving favor is conveyed by the words prasad, kirpa, nadar, bakhsis, bhana, daia, mihar, and taras. This concept of grace is not a denial of *Karma, but God's initiative can override the result of bad actions. (See the full entry in the O.D of W.R.)
2.Short prayers of invocation and thanksgiving, before and after meals. they are natural and characteristic in Judaism. The Rabbis taught that it was wrong to `enjoy of this world without a prior Benediction...Grace after meals consists of four blessings-praising God for providing food, for the good land, a request for mercy on the Jewish people and thanks for God's goodness, coupled with various petitions.
from the Sanskrit for 'heavy'. In this sense, venerable. one dispels darkness. A leader, initially, of worldly skills or knowledge, hence a parent or school teacher; but more often a teacher of religious knowledge or conveyor of spiritual insight. and liberation (*moksha) in Indian religions especially Hinduism and Sikhism. A SAT GURU is liberated (*jivanmukti) and takes responsibility for his disciples, ensuring the eventual liberation, in one of several lifetimes, through purifying the accumulated *karma. He is the bestower of *grace (anugraha, *prasada), which can be very immediate in Shaktipata (descent of power), or more gradual in meditation *Dhyana. During initiation, (diksha), given by the guru, the disciple (sishya) receives a *mantra, which is energized by the guru without whom it would not be efficacious.

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