Glossary of spirituality-related terms (M-O)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|This article does not cite any references or sources.|
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2009)
|It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Glossary of spirituality-related terms. (Discuss)|
This glossary of spirituality-related terms is based on how they commonly are used in Wikipedia articles. This page contains terms starting with M – O. Select a letter from the table of contents to find terms on other pages.
- Mantra: A religious syllable or poem, typically from the Sanskrit language. Their use varies according to the school and philosophy associated with the mantra. They are primarily used as spiritual conduits, words and vibrations that instill one-pointed concentration in the devotee. Other purposes have included religious ceremonies to accumulate wealth, avoid danger, or eliminate enemies. Mantras originated in India with Vedic Hinduism and were later adopted by Buddhists and Jains, now popular in various modern forms of spiritual practice which are loosely based on practices of these Eastern religions.
- The word mantra is a Sanskrit word consisting of the root man- "manas or mind" and the suffix -tra meaning, tool, hence a literal translation would be "mind tool". Mantras are interpreted to be effective as sound (vibration), to the effect that great emphasis is put on correct pronunciation (resulting in an early development of a science of phonetics in India). They are intended to deliver the mind from illusion and material inclinations. Chanting is the process of repeating a mantra.
- Martyr: Historically, a martyr is a person who dies for his or her religious faith. Sometimes, it is for a different "noble cause", like patriotically dying for a nation's glory in a war (usually known under other names such as "fallen warriors"). Occurrences of such a death are known as martyrdom.
- Meaning of life: The question “What is the meaning of life?” means different things to different people. The ambiguity of the query is inherent in the word “meaning”, which opens the question to many interpretations, such as: “What is the origin of life?”, “What is the nature of life (and of the universe in which we live)?”, “What is the significance of life?”, “What is valuable in life?”, and “What is the purpose of, or in, (one's) life?”. These questions have resulted in a wide range of competing answers and arguments, from practical scientific theories, to philosophical, theological and spiritual explanations. Similar questions people ask themselves about the origin and purpose of life are “Why am I here?” and “Why are we here?”.
- Meditation: Refers to any of a wide variety of spiritual practices (and their close secular analogues) which emphasize mental activity or quiescence. The English word comes from the Latin meditatio, which could perhaps be better translated as "contemplation." This usage is found in Christian spirituality, for example, when one "meditates" on the sufferings of Christ; as well as Western philosophy, as in Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy, a set of six mental exercises which systematically analyze the nature of reality.
- In the late nineteenth century, Theosophists adopted "meditation" to refer to various spiritual practices drawn from Hinduism, Buddhism, and other Eastern religions. Thus the English word "meditation" does not exclusively translate any single term or concept from the sacred languages of Asia, such as the Sanskrit dhyana, samādhi, or pranayama. (Note that whereas in Eastern religions meditation is often a central part of religious/spiritual practice, in Christianity it is rather a fringe activity if practised at all.)
- Mercy: A term used to describe the leniency or compassion shown by one person to another, or a request from one person to another to be shown such leniency or compassion. One of the basic virtues of chivalry and Christian ethics, it is also related to concepts of justice and morality in behaviour between people. In India, compassion is known as karuna.
- Metaphysics: (Greek words meta = after/beyond and physics = nature) A branch of philosophy concerned with the study of "first principles" and "being" (ontology). Problems that were not originally considered metaphysical have been added to metaphysics. Other problems that were considered metaphysical problems for centuries are now typically relegated to their own separate subheadings in philosophy, such as philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, philosophy of perception, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science. In rare cases subjects of metaphysical research have been found to be entirely physical and natural, thus making them part of physics.
- What might be called the core metaphysical problems would be the ones which have always been considered metaphysical. What most of such problems have in common is that they are the problems of ontology, "the science of being qua being".
- Other philosophical traditions have very different conceptions—such as "what came first, the chicken or the egg?" problems—from those in the Western philosophical tradition; for example, Taoism and indeed, much of Eastern philosophy completely reject many of the most basic tenets of Aristotelian metaphysics, principles which have by now become almost completely internalized and beyond question in Western philosophy, though a number of dissidents from Aristotelian metaphysics have emerged in the west, such as Hegel's Science of Logic.
- In modern times, the meaning of the word metaphysics has become confused by popular significations that are really unrelated to metaphysics or ontology per se, viz. esotericism and occultism. Esotericism and occultism, in their many forms, are not so much concerned with inquiries into first principles or the nature of being, though they do tend to proceed on the metaphysical assumption that all being is "one".
- Mind's eye: (or third eye) A phrase used to refer to one's ability to "see" things (such as visions) with the mind. This is, essentially, a reference to imagination and memory, although it can have religious or occult connotations. Also, the term "third eye" has been associated with the Pineal gland. It is a commonly held belief that in some practices (such as the ones described below) are actually referring to and studying the Pineal Gland.
- Miracle: According to many religions, a miracle, derived from the old Latin word miraculum meaning 'something wonderful', is a striking interposition of divine intervention by God in the universe by which the operations of the ordinary course of Nature are overruled, suspended, or modified. One must keep in mind that in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and in other faiths people have substantially different definitions of the word miracle. Even within a specific religion there is often more than one usage of the term.
- Sometimes the term miracle may refer to the action of a supernatural being that is not a god. Then the term divine intervention refers specifically to the direct involvement of a deity.
- Moksha: (Sanskrit: मोक्ष, liberation) or Mukti (Sanskrit: विमुक्ति, release) Refers, in general, to liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth. In higher Hindu philosophy, it is seen as a transcendence of phenomenal being, of any sense of consciousness of time, space, and causation (karma). It is not seen as a soteriological goal in the same sense as in, say, a Christian context, but signifies dissolution of the sense of self, or ego, and the overall breakdown of nama-roopa (name-form). It is, in Hinduism, viewed as analogous to Nirvana, though Buddhist thought tends to differ with even the Advaita Vedantist reading of liberation. Jainism and Surat Shabda Yoga traditions also believe in Moksha.
- Hinduism, in support of the idea of Moksha, posits the idea of atman and Brahman. A common mistake is to view them, both spoken of as Self, as a monist being of sorts, something possessing substances. In actuality, Hindu scripture like the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, and especially the non-dual Hindu school of Advaita Vedanta, say that the Self or Super-Soul is beyond being and non-being, beyond any sense of tangibility and comprehension. Moksha is seen as a final release from one's worldly conception of self, the loosening of the shackle of experiential duality and a re-establishment in one's own fundamental nature, though the nature is seen as ineffable and beyond sensation.
- Monasticism: (from Greek: monachos—a solitary person) The religious practice of renouncing all worldly pursuits in order to fully devote one's life to spiritual work. Many religions have monastic elements, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Jainism, though the expressions differ considerably. Those pursuing a monastic life are usually called monks or brothers (male), and nuns or sisters (female). Both monks and nuns may also be called monastics.
- Muraqaba: The Sufi word for meditation. Literally it means "to watch over", "to take care of" or "to keep an eye". Metaphorically, it implies that with meditation, a person watches over or takes care of his spiritual heart (or soul), and acquires knowledge about it, its surroundings and its creator.
- Mysticism: From the Greek μυω (mueo, "to conceal"), is the pursuit of achieving communion with or conscious awareness of ultimate reality, the divine, spiritual truth, or God through direct, personal experience (intuition or insight) rather than rational thought; the belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directly accessible through personal experience; or the belief that such experience is a genuine and important source of knowledge. In the Hellenistic world, "mystical" referred to secret religious rituals.
- Nasma: An body made of the purest form of light (called Noor) which is more purest then any visible color. Hazrat Shah Wali Ullah was the first who give hints about this body. Hazrat Qalandar Baba Auliya give its more details while Khwaja Shamsuddin Azeem thoroughly described that body. This body is actually that is controlling the human physical body. The lights coming from Nasma to material body are visible only through Kirlian photography. These visible lights are called Aura.
- Nature: (also called the material world, the material universe, the natural world, and the natural universe) All matter and energy, especially in its essential form. Nature is the subject of scientific study, and the history of the concept is linked to the history of science. The English word derives from a Latin term, natura, which was in turn a translation of a Greek term, physis (or phüsis). Natura is related to the Latin words relating to "birth", while physis relates to Greek words relating to "growth". In scale, "nature" includes everything from the universal to the subatomic. This includes all things animal, plant, and mineral; all natural resources and events (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes). It also includes the behaviour of living animals, and processes associated with inanimate objects - the "way" that things change.
- Neopaganism: (sometimes Neo-Paganism) Describes a heterogeneous group of new religious movements which attempt to revive ancient, mainly pre-Christian and often pre-Judaic Indo-European religions. As the name implies, these religions are Pagan in nature, though their exact relationship to older forms of Paganism is the source of much contention.
- Neopaganist beliefs and practices are extremely diverse, some tending towards syncretic melding of once-diverse practices and beliefs, others bordering on historical reenactment of reconstructed ancient cultures. In the USA, Wicca is the largest Neopagan movement, and while itself heterogeneous, many adherents share a body of common precepts, including a reverence for nature or active ecology, Goddess and/or Horned God veneration, use of ancient mythologies, the belief in magick, and often the belief in reincarnation.
- New Age: Describes a broad movement of late twentieth century and contemporary Western culture characterised by an individual eclectic approach to spiritual exploration. It has some attributes of a new, emerging religion but is currently a loose network of spiritual seekers, teachers, healers and other participants. The name "New Age" also refers to the market segment in which goods and services are sold to people in the movement.
- Rather than follow the lead of an organised religion, "New Agers" typically construct their own spiritual journey based on material taken as needed from the mystical traditions of all the worlds religions as well as shamanism, neopaganism and occultism. Participants are likely to dip into many diverse teachings and practises, some mainstream and some fringe, and formulate their own beliefs and practices based on their experiences in each. No clear membership or rigid boundaries actually exist. The movement is most visible where its ideas are traded--for example in specialist bookshops, music stores, and fairs.
- Most New Age activity may be characterized as a form of alternative spirituality. Even apparent exceptions (such as alternative health practices) often turn out to have some spiritual dimension (for example, the integration of mind, body, and spirit). "Alternative" here means, with respect to the dominant Western Judeo-Christian culture. It is no accident that most New Age ideas and practices seem to contain implicit critiques of mainstream Christianity and reference to Jesus in particular. An emphasis on meditation suggests that ordinary prayer is insufficient; belief in reincarnation (which not all New Age followers accept) challenges familiar Christian doctrines of the afterlife.
- Nirvana: In the Indian religions Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, nirvāna (from the Sanskrit निर्वाण, Pali: Nibbāna -- Chinese: 涅槃; Pinyin: niè pán), literally "extinction" and/or "extinguishing", is the culmination of the yogi's pursuit of liberation. Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, described the Dharma as a raft which, after floating across a river, will enable the passenger to reach nirvana. Hinduism and Jainism also use the word nirvana to describe the state of moksha, and it is spoken of in several Hindu tantric texts as well as the Bhagavad Gita.
- Nondualism: The belief that dualism or dichotomy are illusory phenomenae. Examples of dualisms include self/other, mind/body, male/female, good/evil, active/passive, and many others. A nondual philosophical or religious perspective or theory maintains that there is no fundamental distinction between mind and matter, or that the entire phenomenological world is an illusion (with the reality being described variously as the Void, the Is, Emptiness, or the Mind of God).
- Many traditions (generally originating in Asia) state that the true nature of reality is non-dualistic, and that these dichotomies are either unreal or (at best) inaccurate conveniences. While attitudes towards the experience of duality and self may vary, nondual traditions converge on the view that experience does not imply an "I".
- In Western philosophy, nondual views are often called monism. Many postmodern theories also assume that the dichotomies traditionally used are invalid or inaccurate. For example, one typical form of deconstruction is the critique of binary oppositions within a text while problematization questions the context or situation in which common myths such as dualisms occur. Nondualistic beliefs also include monism and pluralism.
- Nonviolence: (or non-violence) A set of assumptions about morality, power and conflict that leads its proponents to reject the use of violence in efforts to attain social or political goals. While often used as a synonym for pacifism, since the mid 20th century the term nonviolence has come to embody a diversity of techniques for waging social conflict without the use of violence, as well as the underlying political and philosophical rationale for the use of these techniques.
- As a technique for social struggle, nonviolence is most often associated with the campaign for Indian independence led by Mahatma Gandhi, and the struggle to attain civil rights for African Americans, led by Martin Luther King. The former was deeply influenced by Leo Tolstoy's Christian anarchism ideas of non-resistance based on the Sermon on the Mount.
- Oneness: A spiritual term referring to the 'experience' of the absence of egoic identity boundaries, and, according to some traditions, the realization of the awareness of the absolute interconnectedness of all matter and thought in space-time, or one's ultimate identity with God (see Tat Tvam Asi). Its meaning may be synonymous to that of nonduality, though some claim that non-duality implies 'not one' and 'not two', i.e. non-duality is analogous to the Hindu formula of negation, Neti Neti, used in describing the absolute.