ADVAITA – Dvaita means duality, so a-dvaita is no duality, which is the highest teaching of India. There are six major darshanas, or philosophies, in India – two that are dualistic, two that are between dualism and non-duality, and two that are non-dual. (Advaita Vedanta is one of the latter.) Non-dual means, literally, that there “are not two.” Many have spoken of “the Oneness of All Life.”
ANANDA – Pronounced anand in some Indian provinces, anand is joy or bliss of the highest, most permanent kind, coming from within. It is not temporary gratification from obtaining something desired. A good example of one bathed in anand would be the modern Swami Ramdas, an Indian saint who jumped up and down like a child, crying in joy during the latter years of his life. Sufi and Dervish masters, in their great devotion, often experience this anand. Many ashrams (Indian monasteries – originally forest dwellings) – have ananda as part of their names.
AURA – Religious paintings usually have a halo around the head of a saint, and this is what many people think of as the aura. On the other hand, we say, “He had an aura (air) of sanctity about him.” Here we are using the word in the greater sense, really referring to the vibrations around him. This is what we mean by aura when we speak of good vibes or bad vibes.
AUROBINDO, SRI [1872-1950] – This remarkable man, educated in England, was more at home in English than in the Indian languages. He spent much time in prison during the years of India’s fight for freedom from England, and during such times, he engaged in many religious austerities. His ashram at Pondicherry (an area of India where French is spoken) taught his Integral Yoga, which has become popular throughout the world. Some historians have difficulty in deciding whether to think of him as a scholar or a holy man.
BODH GAYA – Where the Buddha sat under the bodhi tree and by the light of the morning star, experienced his great enlightenment. Now it’s a city where pilgrims from all over the world go in northeast India, near Varanasi (the old Benares).
BUBBLING SPRING – The sole of the foot, an important point in practice of cultivating the Chi.
BUDDHA, GAUTAMA [circa 563 BCE to 483 BCE] – The term Buddha means a completely enlightened one, and the term has been given to only one man in historical times. He was a prince of the Shakya tribe (nation) in northeast India (now thought to be part of Nepal), and he was married and had a son. He lived a life of ease and luxury, waiting for the day he would become the king. His father had given instructions that Gautama should never see suffering because the king had been told, at this son’s birth, that the boy would either be a world conqueror or the greatest spiritual teacher on earth. The king wanted his son to grow up and become the former. Nevertheless, the boy finally saw a corpse and was overcome by the sight of death. What did all the luxuries mean if there was suffering and death for all? Immediately afterward, the Buddha left his wife and child and the kingdom that was to be his – in order to become a penniless mendicant, wandering here and there in search of teaching that would bring him enlightenment and enable him to do away with the suffering of all creatures. The Buddha is often called Shakyamuni. Shakya refers to the region where the Buddha was born. The word muni comes from mouna (silence), so a muni is one who teaches in silence. The Buddha is supposed to have said, “Although I preached for forty-nine years, I never said a word.” This has deep meaning.
DOGEN ZENJI [1200-1253] – The Japanese founder of Soto Zen. In the twelfth century he went, with his teacher, on the perilous voyage to China, where he wandered for some time trying to find a true teacher who could pass along the lineage of the Buddha. Rujing proved to be that teacher, and later he was the one to confirm Dogen’s enlightenment, unusual as Dogen was a foreigner or barbarian who probably didn’t even speak the language in the beginning. Dogen was not only father of the great Japanese Soto Zen, he was also a philosopher who was one of the seminal thinkers of Japan. This writer has visited and meditated at Eiheiji, where Dogen lived in his later life.
DONNE, JOHN [1572-1631] – This English clergyman was also a poet and realized that all mankind, indeed all life, is bound together.
GAYATRI MANTRA – A highly revered mantra dedicated to the Sun Goddess. Savitri, Sri Aurobindo’s long poem, refers to Gayatri as savitur, and similar words in India mean the sun from a spiritual standpoint. The Gayatri Mantra is felt to be the one mantra suitable for anyone, of whatever caste or faith. Ramana Maharshi felt that the first words of the Gayatri, Om Bhuh Bhuvah Svah, are the sounds of Creation.
GREAT CIRCLE MEDITATION – Taught in this book. A way of adding to this discipline is to do the “reverse spiritual breathing” while practicing – that is, to expand the diaphragm while breathing in and to contract it while breathing out (the reverse of what we normally do).
GROWTH OF CERTAINTY – An expression coined by this writer and used in his book, Abandon Hope. It points to the certitude that gradually grows within one on a spiritual path, to where he comes to know what is right, what to do and that he cannot be budged one inch from his path.
GUJARAT – A province in India, not far north of Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Here, in the city of Ahmedabad, lived Mahatma Gandhi in his own ashram. The province has its own language, Gujarati. The writer once lived for a short time with a family in the Gujarat city of Baroda, where Swami Krishnanand has his ashram.
GURU – In India there were several periods of life marked out by the scriptures. First came the schoolboy, who had a spiritual teacher or guru. Later he married and became a householder, distributed his wealth and became a homeless wanderer, and then, if still alive, lived as a holy man in the forest. Few try to follow this pattern today, but the term guru has expanded in meaning so that it now signifies a revered spiritual teacher in the Indian tradition, one who knows the Truth. There are many charlatan gurus.
HAKUIN EKAKU [1686-1769] – One of the two most influential Zen teachers in Japan’s history, Hakuin lived in rather recent times, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He revived the dying Rinzai Zen and all sects of Rinzai come through Hakuin. He is often referred to as a mystic because of his writing, the Yasenkanna, which tells how he learned the secret of circulating the Chi from a mountain hermit (sennin), who Hakuin believed had lived hundreds of years. There is a wide literature about Hakuin in Japan. This writer’s Zen teacher is the abbot of the temple in which Hakuin lived and taught.
HUAYAN – A very deep school of Buddhism (called Kegon in Japan), which is no longer practiced separately but which has endowed other Buddhist sects very liberally. It is sometimes referred to as the Buddhism of Totality.
INDRA’S NET – The God Indra is said to have innumerable jewels and precious items woven into a net on the roof of Indra’s palace in heaven. These polished items not only reflect the universe, but each one in turn reflects all the others reflecting the universe. In Huayan philosophy it is said that this is symbolic of One Mind.
INTRINSIC ENERGY – Some feel this is the same term as Vital Force, referring to the Chi energy (Prana). By intrinsic is meant that it is our inheritance, but Chi masters feel that it is added to during the lifetime.
KARMA – This is not blind fate as many think. Rather, it represents the idea that “as you make your bed so shall you lie in it” – cause and effect. Since, in physics, it is known that every action must have a reaction, the idea that what you give is what you get should not be surprising. The word karma means actions, and the reactions to these actions are the fruits of karma.
KI – This is a Japanese word for Chi. Aikido, for instance, can be translated as the discipline of love (ai) energy (ki), though there are other meanings.
KOAN – Many scholars who have had no experience with koans believe they are nonsensical problems that cannot be solved. (“Where does the wind come from?”) Nothing could be farther from the truth. Koan is the Japanese word for the Chinese kung-an, and kung-an means “a case” in much the same way that we have legal cases that set precedents and are studied. The monks who used koans knew the case from which the koan came. Usually there had been a mondo, an exchange between a master and a monk, and from this well-known dialogue a word or phrase had been extracted to serve as a topic for meditation, though not meditation in the sense of agonizing over something. For instance, the great teacher, Zhaozhou (Joshu in Japanese) was asked whether a dog had Buddha Nature. Everyone knew that even the grasses and rocks had Buddha Nature, yet Zhaozhou’s answer was, “Wu.” This answer can be taken as the negative, but not necessarily so. Some experts feel that Wu, at a particular tone level, means Void or Emptiness, meaning “What difference did it make, since it, too, was essentially empty?” To translate Wu as “No” is to show ignorance of ancient Chinese. Other experts say it is just a sound, throwing the monk back on his own resources. At any rate, all monks knew the proposition that all things had Buddha Nature, and countless numbers of them in Rinzai Zen practice have had to ponder on the meaning (if any) of Zhaozhou’s contradictory answer. And so it is with all kung-ans; a word or phrase being extracted, it was still part of the whole picture, not an empty sound.
KOKORO – The Japanese word meaning spiritual heart, really heart-mind-spirit. It has the implication of truth – and sincerity too.
KRISHNA – One of the mythological Gods of India and often thought of as an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu. Krishna and his flute are dear to the Indian people because he was joyous and a lover to myriads of milkmaids, supposedly dancing with countless numbers of them simultaneously. It is Krishna who speaks in the great religious poem of India The Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord).
KRISHNA, GOPI [1903-1984] – This man from Kashmir had an almost unparalleled awakening with tremendous physical upset. He said it was due to the arousal of Kundalini, and his writings, over the years, showed an amazing growth in wisdom. The writer would advise that his significant books be read: Kundalini, Path to Higher Consciousness and the more recent Kundalini for the New Age.
KRISHNAMURTI, JIDDU [1895-1986] – A great writer and metaphysical thinker of our time. A reader would do well to read his The First and Last Freedom and Krishnamurti’s Notebook. He will find that Krishnamurti does not at all agree with the traditional Indian views, and in many ways, is a psychologist as well as a philosopher.
KRISHNANAND, SWAMI [1900-1992] – The writer was surprised to hear him called Saint Krishnanand in India. He certainly deserved the appellation. Once a prominent judge, Swami left the court to become a helper of Gandhi’s, then after the Mahatma’s death, a complete renunciate who did not touch money or eat or wear animal products. From his modest ashram in Baroda he guided a large group that tried to serve mankind, with a special training area on the island of Mauritius. Swamiji and his people went out to villages and scrubbed the floors, washed the latrines and performed needed eye operations. He had branches in many countries, all aimed at helping those who need help. (He once fed poor people in Africa for many years, offering them spiritual help only if they asked for it.) Some consider him the last of the true karma Yogis, those who practice the Yoga of Good Deeds.
KUNDALI and KUNDALINI – Kundali means serpent in Indian languages, and the Kundalini refers to the primal energy coiled at the base of the spine, dormant in unawakened ones. In the advanced Yogi this sleeping serpent of energy (which Gopi Krishna says is evolutionary power) awakens and begins an ascent up the backbone, opening the chakras (literally “wheels,” but meaning spiritual and psychic rather than physical centers) on the way to the top of the skull and complete enlightenment and liberation, after which it descends and closes the chakras again, the person now being a jivanmukti, one who has attained liberation while alive. This is Tantric teaching, coming from the scriptures of Tantra, very old and misunderstood, in India. If Kundalini is aroused and does not proceed upward through the central channel (sushumna), but instead goes up through the outer channels (ida and pingala), there is much trouble.
LAO TZU [Sixth Century BCE] – The legendary founder of Taoism. The name may refer to a composite of sages, but the legend is that Lao Tzu, disgusted by the incessant wars carried on by the nations of China, made his way to the frontier to leave forever. The gatekeeper at the frontier, recognizing that this was a great sage, said he would only let him pass if Lao Tzu wrote down his wisdom for future generations. This he did in a few thousand characters, calling it the Tao Te Ching. Few, if any, works have been translated as much as this enigmatical wisdom treatise, which also has political overtones.
LOTUS SUTRA – A sutra supposedly containing the exact words spoken by the Buddha, though there is much reason to believe there were later accretions, particularly since the Buddha’s words were handed down orally for long periods of time. One of the greatest of all sutras is the Lotus Sutra, and quite a few Buddhist sects base their teachings on this sutra.
MANTRA – A word or series of words supposedly revealed to a great sage, divinely inspired. This saying of great power is a name of God or an aspect of God – someone does not make it up. Some mantras are strongly associated with a countty, such as the Om Mani Padme Hum of Tibet. Some feel the sound, or sounds, have magical properties. Mantras are usually given to chelas (spiritual aspirants and disciples) by their gurus at initiation.
MEAN – The middle way, between the extremes, as the synthesis is the combining of the thesis and the antithesis.
MERIDIANS – The myriad channels through which the Chi flows. There are a few prominent ones, including the tumo or dumo channel, used by the Tibetans in their development of the inner heat. Western medicine seems to know nothing of these channels, though they see their importance when they watch Chinese doctors doing major surgery without anesthesia. Acupuncturists use these channels to help circulate and balance the Chi.
MINDFULNESS – To do something knowingly, not through habit or without attention, is mindfulness. It means being totally in the “now.”
MISHRA, RAMAMURTI [1923-1993] – A great Indian spiritual teacher, formerly a medical doctor, and writer of two very important works: Fundamentals of Yoga and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Mishra told me that he grew up speaking Sanskrit at home; he also said that he never knew his Bengali master to sleep.
MUCHI – A relatively obscure Chinese monk of the 13th century who became famous because of the many masterpieces of ink painting that he did. The most famous, The Six Persimmons, is now at Daitoku-ji, a Zen temple in Kyoto, and can usually be viewed once a year as it is aired outside. (If it is raining, you wait until the next year.) He is called Mokke in Japan.
NIYAMA – Usually mentioned in conjunction with Yama, these being the first two preliminaries of Raja Yoga. Niyama refers to the things to do, rather than things prohibited, including attitudes, etc. It is the positive side of the prohibitions in Yama. True Yoga should begin with these two, never with pure meditation.
OHSAWA, GEORGE [1893-1966] – The founder of macrobiotics, fluent in French and English, as well as his native Japanese. He saw things in a Taoist manner, unusual for one from Japan, and actively opposed World War II.
OJAS – Sexual energy. The semen that leaves a male’s body is a form of ojas. Yoga teaches that it is necessary to conserve, not dissipate, this energy and that Yogic practices will convert it to a higher form of energy.
PRAJNA – (Not to be confused with Prana.) Prajna is the deepest, inherent Wisdom that comes from the original source and is not to be confused with acquired knowledge. There are many ways to translate the Prajnaparamita of Buddhism, but it can be thought of as The Perfection of Wisdom.
PRANA – This is the Sanskrit synonym of Chi, the Chinese way of speaking about the universal energy that is ours and shapes all of us. Both Shakti and Kundalini are thought of as forms of Prana.
PRATYAHARA – One of the five preliminary disciplines of Raja Yoga, the aim of which is to make the mind ready for meditation and Samadhi. It is the withdrawing of the senses from the field of the senses. Yogis who successfully practice this can thus make themselves immune to pain (have their teeth pulled without anesthesia and other such accomplishments).
RAJAS – One of the three characteristics of life, this is the one that is characteristic of such traits as activity and ambition. Those who are rajasic are doers.
RAMANA MAHARSHI [1879-1950] – It is hard to believe that a sage of this magnitude lived in our century. A complete non-dualist, he was first brought to the attention of the world by writer Paul Brunton in one of his books. His ashram still exists in Tiruvannamalai, India, but there is good reason to feel that most of those who followed him do not understand his advaita. His influence was mostly extended in silence. If this writer had his choice of being with one teacher in all history, it would be Ramana Maharshi.
REALITY – To be Real something must be lasting and unchanging. Many who do not believe in a God feel that there is an underlying Reality. In India, the state of Reality, supposedly underlying all other states of consciousness, is the Turiya state. A true mystic wants to dwell in this state and has many experiences of it (if they can be called “experiences.”
REPS, PAUL [1895-1990] – The colorful Reps was the author of the classic Zen Flesh, Zen Bones (along with the monk, Sensaki) and of Zen Telegrams and other delightful works. Certainly he has had more influence on the writer than anyone else. His way has been the Way of Joy and at age ninety-four, his shining countenance showed it. Few knew that Reps was an expert on the stock market. He has always said that Inayat Khan, the great Sufi, was the highest presence he had ever known. And he always spoke of himself in third person.
RISHI – Contrary to belief, not all sages known as Rishi were renunciates. Some were married and had descendants. Most are legendary, going back to an uncertain past, as the great, great sage, Vishwamitra, who was said to have God-like powers.
SAMADHI – This is often referred to as the super conscious state, the highest level of Yoga. Buddhism often speaks of one living in a state of Samadhi all the time, and Zen refers to many different Samadhis, in a slightly different sense. While it is the final goal of Yoga, it is only the middle of three steps in Buddhism, Prajna being the last and ultimate. Complete immersion, the deepest meditative state where the world has been shut out, is referred to as Samadhi. My Indian master always entered this state for a week at Christmas time, with all functions shut off during that time – including the beating of the heart.
SAMATHA VIPASSANA – The name of a meditation in Tiantai Buddhism. These are expressions supposedly used by the Buddha, and the words have many meanings, including tranquility (samatha) and insight (vipassana). In Tiantai they refer to stopping and letting go.
SAMSKARA – This word has many meanings. In this book we are referring to the lasting tendencies that are the outgrowth of habit energies. Such tendencies are said to carry over from life to life.
SATIPATTHANA – Literally the Way of Mindfulness. Perhaps the highest and most inclusive of all meditations, the way the Buddha took to his enlightenment.
SATORI – From the Japanese verb Satoru, meaning to realize. In Zen, when one has a sudden enlightenment experience, this is known as a Satori, a word that is often confused with Kensho, meaning “to see into your true Buddha Nature.” Monks and masters have reported minor Satori experiences, and usually only one or, at most, several great Satori experiences. The majority of monks and devotees never reach this level. Satori is a decidedly unusual event and one of great joy.
SATTVA – One of the three characteristics of life, this is the highest and purest. Indeed, what is sattvic is pure. It is not characterized by activity (rajas) and certainly not by sloth (tamas). Sattvic food is that which does not stimulate the animal passions.
SCHILLINGER, JOSEPH [1895-1943] – An engineer who invented an ingenious system of writing and arranging music, entirely mathematical, though he himself was not a musician. He also tried to put visual art into such a theory. Glenn Miller was one of the musicians who used these theories in his orchestration.
SCHWEITZER, ALBERT [1875-1965] – This remarkable man, truly a saint, had four doctorates. He was one of the great organists of Europe and gave that up to become a medical doctor so as to serve the poor in Africa. (His hospital was at Lambarene and was run along lines that would not conflict with the natives’ way of life.) Schweitzer had to become a medical doctor to go to Africa because the church would not let him go as a missionary, supposedly due to his view that Jesus was a great man, not God. He is famous for his belief in reverence for all life. This made it difficult for him because, as a doctor, he had to take life in order to save life.
SHIVA SHAKTI – Shiva is worshiped by many as the unchanging Reality, and Shakti is his female consort, representing energy and activity. The term shakti is often used to denote divine energy (a form of Prana) and Shakti is worshiped as a Goddess in her own right.
SPIRITUAL EYE – This can refer either to “the third eye,” above and between the physical eyes, or to the source of wisdom that an adept might have.
SUZUKI, D.T. [1870-1966] – A Japanese who wrote beautiful English. His books on Zen popularized it in the West. Suzuki was a great student of Indian Buddhism (he had the Chair of that department at Otani University in Kyoto, Japan) and knew Sanskrit, Chinese, French, English and some Tibetan. His student and successor, Genjun Sasaki, told me that Suzuki was not a Zen Buddhist but a Shin Buddhist all his life.
SICHUAN – A province in China, now becoming known in the West because of its distinctive spicy cooking.
T’AI CHI CH’UAN – Possibly the oldest of the martial arts, said to have started with Bodhidharma, who brought Buddhism to China in the sixth century. There are two main schools, Wu for self-defense and the more popular Yang, as well as innumerable variations. T’ai Chi Ch’uan usually has 108 movements, but some teachers today are teaching short forms, some with as few as thirty-seven movements. To the writer, who taught T’ai Chi Ch’uan, the short forms would be like a three-and-a-half inning baseball game. Wonderful but difficult discipline; usually practitioners do not get the benefits of the flowing Chi until they master the form, which may take years.
TAMAS – One of the three characteristics of life, denoting sloth and apathy. In a person, this would mean almost animal like. Certainly it connotes a low level of awareness.
TIANTAI – An old school of Chinese Buddhism, one with healing tendencies. Much respected by other schools, which used some of its practices. The Japanese branch, called Tendai, had its headquarters on top of Mount Hiei, near Kyoto, and played a big part in the development of Buddhism in Japan.
TOKUSAN – This is the Japanese pronunciation of a Chinese name. There were two such Zen masters, and it is not known which is referred to in this book, nor is it important.
TURIYA STATE – The unchanging consciousness that underlies waking, sleeping and dreaming. The one in the Turiya state is like a spectator of the passing show of the other three unreal states.
VASANA – Sanskrit for habit energy. If, after a disappointment, taking a drink seems to offer comfort, we will do it again and again. Soon taking a drink as an emotional response becomes a habit. Carried to an extreme, it may become a tendency that lasts through many lives. We are literally the product of our habits, our vasanas.
VASHISHTHA, YOGI [unknown] – The name of one of India’s greatest holy men. No one knows exactly when he lived; India is very lax in dating history and in separating history from mythology. But his book, known by his name, is one of the most read and most influential in India’s past.
VITAL FORCE – The Chi, or Universal Energy.
VIPASSANA – The name of a meditation usually taught at retreats. Originating in Burma, it has spread to India, the United States and other countries. It takes a very strong effort on the part of those practicing it, some of whom have experienced real insights from the practice.
VOID – Shunya in Sanskrit means Void or Emptiness. (The Buddhists add to it and make it Shunyata.) This does not necessarily mean the absence of things; right in the Void are the mountains, streams and sky. Rather it is the absence of anything permanent or real and lasting. Void is a primary concept of Buddhism.
YAMA – Here we are not referring to the King of Hell (of this name) but to one of the first two disciplines in Raja Yoga. Yama represents the “don’ts,” the prohibitions. In Buddhism we have Sila, the moral prohibitions and practices, but Yama is somewhat wider in content. True teachers in India try to instill the moral outlook before beginning other practices. Eating or wearing flesh is a good example of what is prohibited.
YIN-YANG – Yang is the positive characteristic (the hot, expanding, male side) and yin is the opposite (cold, contracting, female). Both are always present, but in a various mix. All Chinese culture, including medicine, derives from the yin-yang idea – and as few people know, so does the modern computer.
ZAZEN – This is Zen sitting, not to be confused with meditation. Usually those doing zazen sit in cross-legged position, with either the right or left leg on top, depending on whether it is Rinzai Zen or Soto Zen. There is also a moving meditation, to counterbalance long periods of zazen, and it is known as kinhin. This practice is not for weaklings.
ZEN – Zen is not a separate religion; it is one of the sects of Buddhism. While there are legends of Zen patriarchs in India, it is generally thought that Zen originated in China with the coming of Bodhidharma, who pointed out that it is a way without scripture, indicating the Buddha Nature of all life. Though the numbers of Zen adherents have always been small in Japan, the influence of Zen has been huge, much of Japan’s culture deriving from it.