Word definition: The light body.
Technical description: In the iconography of Indian religions and thangkas of Tibetan Buddhism where a subtle energy body is depicted as the Rainbow Body, which is constituted by the five rainbow colors, the five pure lights.
Phenomenological description: It is a state in which one becomes light. This is no ordinary astral body, but a light body composed of highly concentrated subtle energies of a much higher level than the astral. With the highest form of bhava samadhi, the light body is composed of high-causal subtle energy Since in most cases any form of bhava samadhi is far removed from familiar states, many mystics experiencing it will not be able to see this light body with its colors but only feel its energy as an extremely strong form of mystical ecstasy. But even if one cannot see its colors its spatial dimensions are clearly and unmistakably felt. One can feel this highly activated energy clearly stretching out towards a specific distance from the physical body. ( M.J.M.)
Synonyms: Bhava samadhi.
Glorification in Christianity
The Rainbow body in Tibetan Buddhism
The transubstantiated body
The immortal body of Light
The diamond body in Taoism
The solar body
The radiant body in Neo-Platonism
The divine body composed of supramental substance – by Aurobindo
Supporting evidence: Similar independent descriptions from different cultures.
Word definition: The term “Raja Yoga” means “the royal path”
Etymology: Rāja (Sanskrit: राज) means “chief, best of its kind” or “king”. Rāja yoga thus refers to “chief, best of yoga”.
The historical use of the term Rāja yoga is found in other contexts, quite different than its modern usage. In ancient and medieval Sanskrit texts, it meant the highest state of yoga practice (one reaching samadhi). Hatha Yoga Pradipika, for example, refers to Hathayoga as one of the ways to achieve Rāja yoga. Wiki
Technical description: The Shaiva Yoga text, Amanaska, dated to be from the 12th century CE or earlier, is a dialogue between Vamadeva and deity Shiva. In the second chapter, the text mentions Raja yoga, and explains why it is called so. It states that it is so named because it enables the yogin to reach the illustrious king within oneself, the supreme self.[ Raja yoga is declared as the goal and a state of samadhi, where one experiences nothing but the bliss of the undisturbed, the natural state of calm, serenity, peace, communion within and contentment. (Wikipedia)
Phenomenological description: While samadhi is sometimes described as the eight and highest state, there are twelve different Samadhi’s who manifest themselves consecutively, during the spiritual process. ( M.J.M.)
Synonyms: Ashtanga yoga
Schemas / Maps: The eightfold path, or the eight “limbs” of Raja yoga as described by the sage, Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutras, are:
- Yama – Non-violence, truthfulness, chastity, non-stealing and detachment to worldly pleasures
- Niyama – Purity, contentment, austerity, self-study
- Asana – Yoga postures
- Pranayama – Breathing techniques, control of prana
- Pratyahara – Withdrawal of senses
- Dharana – Concentration
- Dhyana – Meditation
- Samadhi – Super conscious state, enlightenment
Relevance of the concept: spiritual developmental stages.
The concept in mythology:
Supporting evidence: Phenomenological descriptions by mystics.
Word definition: the state or quality of being rational.
Etymology: Word Origin & History: 1620s, “quality of having reason;” 1650s, “fact of being agreeable to reason,” from French rationalité, from Late Latin rationalitas “reasonableness, rationality”
Technical description: Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason. Rationality implies the conformity of one’s beliefs with one’s reasons to believe, and of one’s actions with one’s reasons for action. “Rationality” has different specialized meanings in philosophy, economics, sociology, psychology, evolutionary biology, game theory and political science.
To determine what behavior is the most rational, one needs to make several key assumptions, and also needs a logical formulation. of the problem. When the goal or problem involves making a decision, rationality factors in all information that is available (e.g. complete or incomplete knowledge). Collectively, the formulation and background assumptions are the model within which rationality applies. Rationality is relative: if one accepts a model in which benefitting oneself is optimal, then rationality is equated with behavior that is self-interested to the point of being selfish; whereas if one accepts a model in which benefiting the group is optimal, then purely selfish behavior is deemed irrational. It is thus meaningless to assert rationality without also specifying the background model assumptions describing how the problem is framed and formulated. (Wikipedia)
Phenomenological description: Reasonableness, Logic.
Synonyms: coherence, argumentation,
Relevance of the concept: Reason, in philosophy, the faculty or process of drawing logical inferences. The term “reason” is also used in several other, narrower senses. Reason is in opposition to sensation, perception, feeling, desire, as the faculty (the existence of which is denied by empiricists) by which fundamental truths are intuitively apprehended. These fundamental truths are the causes or “reasons” of all derivative facts. According to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, reason is the power of synthesizing into unity, by means of comprehensive principles, the concepts that are provided by the intellect. That reason which gives a priori principles Kant calls “pure reason,” as distinguished from the “practical reason,” which is specially concerned with the performance of actions. In formal logic the drawing of inferences (frequently called “ratiocination,” from Latin ratiocinari, “to use the reasoning faculty”) is classified from Aristotle on as deductive (from generals to particulars) and inductive (from particulars to generals).
In theology, reason, as distinguished from faith, is the human intelligence exercised upon religious truth whether by way of discovery or by way of explanation. The limits within which the reason may be used have been laid down differently in different churches and periods of thought: on the whole, modern Christianity, especially in the Protestant churches, tends to allow to reason a wide field, reserving, however, as the sphere of faith the ultimate (supernatural) truths of theology. (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Word definition: Rebirth.Etymology: First recorded in 1855–60; re- + incarnation
Technical description: Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept that an aspect of a living being starts a new life in a different physical body or form after each biological death. It is also called rebirth or transmigration, and is a part of the Saṃsāra doctrine of cyclic existence. It is a central tenet of all major Indian religions, namely Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. The idea of reincarnation is found in many ancient cultures, and a belief in rebirth/metempsychosis was held by Greek historic figures, such as Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato. It is also a common belief of various ancient and modern religions such as Spiritism, Theosophy, and Eckankar, and is found as well in many tribal societies around the world, in places such as Australia, East Asia, Siberia, and South America.
Although the majority of denominations within the Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam do not believe that individuals reincarnate, particular groups within these religions do refer to reincarnation; these groups include the mainstream historical and contemporary followers of Kabbalah, the Cathars, Alawites, the Druze, and the Rosicrucians. The historical relations between these sects and the beliefs about reincarnation that were characteristic of Neoplatonism, Orphism, Hermeticism, Manicheanism, and Gnosticism of the Roman era as well as the Indian religions have been the subject of recent scholarly research. Unity Church and its founder Charles Fillmore teaches reincarnation.
In recent decades, many Europeans and North Americans have developed an interest in reincarnation, and many contemporary works mention it. (Wikipedia)
Phenomenological description: Memories of previous lives.
Synonyms: metempsychosis, transmigration
Cross-cultural comparisons: In many local religions, belief in multiple souls is common. The soul is frequently viewed as capable of leaving the body through the mouth or the nostrils and of being reborn, for example, as a bird, a butterfly, or an insect. The Venda of southern Africa believe that, when a person dies, the soul stays near the grave for a short time and then seeks a new resting place or another body—human, mammalian, or reptilian.
Among the ancient Greeks, the Orphic mystery religion held that a preexistent soul survives bodily death and is later reincarnated in a human or other mammalian body, eventually receiving release from the cycle of birth and death and regaining its former pure state. Plato, in the 5th–4th century bce, believed in an immortal soul that participates in frequent incarnations.
The major religions that hold a belief in reincarnation, however, are Asian religions, especially Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, all of which arose in India. They all hold in common a doctrine of karma (karman; “act”), the law of cause and effect, which states that what one does in this present life will have its effect in the next life. In Hinduism the process of birth and rebirth—i.e., transmigration of souls—is endless until one achieves moksha, or liberation (literally “release”) from that process. Moksha is achieved when one realizes that the eternal core of the individual (atman) and the Absolute reality (brahman) are one. Thus, one can escape from the process of death and rebirth (samsara).
Jainism—reflecting a belief in an eternal and transmigrating life principle (jiva) that is akin to an individual soul—holds that karma is a fine particulate substance that settles upon the jiva according to the deeds that a person does. Thus, the burden of the old karma is added to the new karma that is acquired during the next existence until the jiva frees itself by religious disciplines, especially by ahimsa (“nonviolence”), and rises to the place of liberated jivas at the top of the universe.
Although Buddhism denies the existence of an unchanging, substantial soul or self—as against the notion of the atman it teaches the concept of anatman (Pali: anatta; “non-self”)—it holds to a belief in the transmigration of the karma that is accumulated by an individual in life. The individual is a composition of five ever-changing psycho-physical elements and states, or skandhas (“bundles”)—i.e., form, sensations, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness—and terminates with death. The karma of the deceased, however, persists and becomes a vijnana (“germ of consciousness”) in the womb of a mother. The vijnana is that aspect of consciousness that is reborn in a new individual. By gaining a state of complete passiveness through discipline and meditation, one can achieve nirvana, the state of the extinction of desires and liberation (moksha) from bondage to samsara by karma.
Sikhism teaches a doctrine of reincarnation based on the Hindu view but in addition holds that, after the Last Judgment, souls—which have been reincarnated in several existences—will be absorbed in God. (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Relevance of the concept: Reincarnation, also called transmigration or metempsychosis, in religion and philosophy, rebirth of the aspect of an individual that persists after bodily death—whether it be consciousness, mind, the soul, or some other entity—in one or more successive existences. Depending upon the tradition, these existences may be human, animal, spiritual, or, in some instances, vegetable. While belief in reincarnation is most characteristic of South Asian and East Asian traditions, it also appears in the religious and philosophical thought of local religions, in some ancient Middle Eastern religions (e.g., the Greek Orphic mystery, or salvation, religion), Manichaeism, and gnosticism, as well as in such modern religious movements as theosophy. (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
The concept in mythology: Rebirth.
Supporting evidence: Psychiatrist Ian Stevenson, from the University of Virginia, investigated many reports of young children who claimed to remember a past life. He conducted more than 2,500 case studies over a period of 40 years and published twelve books, including Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation and Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect. Stevenson methodically documented each child’s statements and then identified the deceased person the child identified with, and verified the facts of the deceased person’s life that matched the child’s memory. He also matched birthmarks and birth defects to wounds and scars on the deceased, verified by medical records such as autopsy photographs, in Reincarnation and Biology. (Wikipedia)
Word definition: the activity, spirit, or time of the great revival of art, literature, and learning in Europe beginning in the 14th century and extending to the 17th century, marking the transition from the medieval to the modern world.
Etymology: Word Origin & History: “great period of revival of classical-based art and learning in Europe that began in the fourteenth century,” 1840, from French renaissance des lettres, from Old French renaissance, literally “rebirth,” usually in a spiritual sense, from renastre “grow anew” (of plants), “be reborn” (Modern French renaître), from Vulgar Latin *renascere, from Latin renasci “be born again, rise again, reappear, be renewed,” from re- “again” (see re-) + nasci “be born” (Old Latin gnasci; see genus).
An earlier term for it was revival of learning (1785). In general usage, with a lower-case r-, “a revival” of anything that has long been in decay or disuse (especially of learning, literature, art), it is attested from 1872. Renaissance man is first recorded 1906.
Technical description: Renaissance, (French: “Rebirth”) period in European civilization immediately following the Middle Ages and conventionally held to have been characterized by a surge of interest in Classical scholarship and values. The Renaissance also witnessed the discovery and exploration of new continents, the substitution of the Copernican for the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, the decline of the feudal system and the growth of commerce, and the invention or application of such potentially powerful innovations as paper, printing, the mariner’s compass, and gunpowder. To the scholars and thinkers of the day, however, it was primarily a time of the revival of Classical learning and wisdom after a long period of cultural decline and stagnation. (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Phenomenological description: Not only that perspective painting was discovered, but logical thinking was supported by empirical testing.
Synonyms: rebirth, revival.
Relevance of the concept: cultural paradigmatic shift.
Literature: Books / Articles / Websites:
Ernst Gombrich: The Story of Art, London: Phaidon 1950
Word definition: something revealed or disclosed, especially a striking disclosure, as of something not before realized.
Etymology: Word Origin & History: c.1300, “disclosure of information to man by a divine or supernatural agency,” from Old French revelacion and directly from Latin revelationem (nominative revelatio), noun of action from past participle stem of revelare “unveil, uncover, lay bare”. General meaning “disclosure of facts” is attested from late 14c.; meaning “striking disclosure” is from 1862. As the name of the last book of the New Testament (Revelation of St. John), it is first attested late 14c. (see apocalypse); as simply Revelations, it is first recorded 1690s.
Technical description: In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity or other supernatural entity or entities.
Phenomenological description: a higher from of inspiration.
Synonyms: unveil, uncover, disclosure.
Cross-cultural comparisons: Eastern religions are concerned with humankind’s struggle to understand and cope with the predicament of its existence in the world and to achieve emancipation, enlightenment, and unity with the Absolute. Western religions, on the other hand, lay more stress on humanity’s obedient response to the sovereign Word of God. The notion of revelation in the specific sense of a divine self-communication is more apparent in Western than in Eastern religions.
In Hinduism, the dominant religion of India, revelation is generally viewed as a process whereby the religious seeker, actuating his deeper spiritual powers, escapes from the world of change and illusion and comes into contact with ultimate reality. The sacred books are held to embody revelation insofar as they reflect the eternal and necessary order of things.
A major form of Hindu thought, Vedanta, includes two main tendencies: the monistic Advaita (Sanskrit: “Nondualism”) and the theistic Vishishtadvaita (“Qualified Nondualism”), which emphasizes bhakti, or devotion. The leading sage of Advaita Vedanta, Shankara (early 9th century), while acknowledging in principle the possibility of coming to a knowledge of the Supreme Reality (brahman) through inner experience and contemplation of the grades of being, held that in practice a vivid apprehension of the divine arises from meditation on the sacred books, especially the Upanishads. In Vishishtadvaita, systematized by the philosopher and theologian Ramanuja (c. 1050–1137), brahman is regarded as personal and compassionate. Revelation, consequently, is viewed as the gracious self-manifestation of the divine to those who open themselves in loving contemplation. The devotional theism of Vishishtadvaita, very influential in modern India, resembles the pietism and mysticism of the Western religions.
Buddhism, the other great religion originating on Indian soil, conceives of revelation not as a personal intervention of the Absolute into the worldly realm of relativities but as an enlightenment gained through discipline and meditation. The Buddha (6th–5th century bce), after a striking experience of human transitoriness and a period of ascetical contemplation, received an illumination that enabled him to become the supreme teacher for all his followers. Although Buddhists do not speak of supernatural revelation, they regard the Buddha as a uniquely eminent discoverer of liberating truth. Some venerate him, some worship him, and all Buddhists seek to imitate him as the most perfect embodiment of ideal personhood—an ideal that he in some way “reveals.”
Chinese wisdom, more world-affirming than the ascetical religions of India, accords little or no place to revelation as this term is understood in the Western religions, though Chinese traditions do speak of the necessity of following a natural harmony in the universe. Daoism, perhaps the most characteristic Chinese form of practical mysticism, finds revelation only in the transparency of the immanent divine principle or way (Dao). Confucianism, while not incompatible with Daoism, is oriented less toward natural mysticism and more toward social ethics and decorum, though it too is concerned with accommodating life to a balance in the natural flow of existence. Confucius (551–479 bce), who refined the best moral teachings that had come down in the tradition, was neither a prophet appealing to divine revelation nor a philosopher seeking to give reasons for his doctrine.
Religions of the West
In the three great religions of the West—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—revelation is the basic category of religious knowledge. Human beings know God and his will because God has freely revealed himself—his qualities, purpose, or instructions.
The Israelite faith looked back to the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament) for its fundamental revelation of God. God was believed to have revealed himself to the patriarchs and prophets by various means not unlike those known to the local religions—theophanies (visible manifestations of the divine), dreams, visions, auditions, and ecstasies—and also, more significantly, by his mighty deeds, such as his bringing the Israelites out of Egypt and enabling them to conquer the Holy Land. Moses and the prophets were viewed as the chosen spokesmen who interpreted God’s will and purposes to the nation. Their inspired words were to be accepted in loving obedience as the Word of God.
Rabbinic Judaism, which probably originated during the Babylonian Exile and became organized after the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 ce, concerned itself primarily with the solution of legal and ethical problems. It gradually developed an elaborate system of casuistry resting upon the Torah (the Law, or the Pentateuch) and its approved commentaries, especially the Talmud (commentaries on the Torah), which was regarded by many as equal to the Bible in authority. Orthodox Judaism still recognizes these authoritative sources and insists on the verbal inspiration of the Bible, or at least of the Pentateuch.
The New Testament took its basic notions of revelation from the contemporary forms of Judaism (1st century bce and 1st century ce)—i.e., from both normative rabbinic Judaism and the esoteric doctrines current in Jewish apocalyptic circles in the Hellenistic world. Accepting the Hebrew Scriptures as preparatory revelation, Christianity maintains that revelation is brought to its unsurpassable climax in the person of Jesus Christ, who is God’s own Son (Hebrews 1:1–2), his eternal Word (John 1:1), and the perfect image of the Father (Colossians 1:15). The Christian revelation is viewed as occurring primarily in the life, teaching, death, and Resurrection of Jesus, all interpreted by the apostolic witnesses under the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Commissioned by Jesus and empowered by the divine spirit, the Apostles, as the primary heralds, hold a position in Christianity analogous to that of the prophets in ancient Israel.
The Apostle Paul, though not personally a witness to the public life of Jesus, is ranked with the Apostles by reason of his special vision of the risen Christ and of his special call to carry the Gospel to the Gentiles. In his letters, Paul emphasized the indispensability of missionary preaching in order that God’s revelation in Christ be communicated to all the nations of the world (Romans 10:11–21).
Christianity has traditionally viewed God’s revelation as being complete in Jesus Christ, or at least in the lifetime of the Apostles. Further development is understood to be a deeper penetration of what was already revealed, in some sense, in the 1st century. Periodically, in the course of Christian history, there have been sectarian movements that have attributed binding force to new revelations occurring in the community, such as the 2nd-century Montanists (a heretical group whose members believed they were of the Age of the Holy Spirit), the 13th-century Joachimites (a mystical group that held a similar view), the 16th-century Anabaptists (radical Protestant sects), and the 17th-century Quakers. In the 19th century, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (popularly known as Mormons) recognized, alongside the Bible, additional canonical scriptures (notably, the Book of Mormon) containing revelations made to the church’s founder, Joseph Smith.
Islam, the third great prophetic religion of the West, has its basis in revelations received by the Prophet Muhammad (c. 7th century ce). Shortly after his death these were collected in the Qurʾān, which is regarded by Muslims as the final, perfect revelation—a human copy of the eternal book, dictated to the Prophet. While Islam accords prophetic status to Moses and Jesus, it looks upon the Qurʾān as a correction and completion of all that went before. More than either Judaism or Christianity, Islam is a religion of the Book. Revelation is understood to be a declaration of God’s will rather than his personal self-disclosure. Insisting as it does on the absolute sovereignty of God, on human passivity in relation to the divine, and on the infinite distance between creator and creature, Islam has sometimes been inhospitable to philosophical speculation and mystical experience. Yet in medieval Islam there was both a remarkable flowering of Arabic philosophy and the intense piety of the mystical Sufis. The rationalism of some philosophers and the theosophical tendencies of some of the Sufis came into conflict with official orthodoxy.
A fourth great prophetic religion, which should be mentioned for its historic importance, is Zoroastrianism, once the national faith of the Persian empire. Zoroaster (Zarathushtra), a prophetic reformer in the 6th century bce, apparently professed a monotheistic faith and a stern devotion to truth and righteousness. At the age of 30 he experienced a revelation from Ahura Mazdā (“Wise Lord”) and chose to follow him in the battle against the forces of evil. This revelation enabled Zoroaster and his followers to comprehend the difference between good (Truth) and evil (The Lie) and to know the one true God. Later forms of Zoroastrianism apparently had an impact on Judaism, from the time of the Babylonian Exile, and, through Judaism, on Christianity. (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Relevance of the concept: High form of inspiration.
The concept in mythology: opening of the heavens.
Word + definition:
Schemas / Maps:
Relevance of the concept:
The concept in mythology:
Serial patterns in time:
Parallel patterns in time:
Literature: Books / Articles / Websites: