The Way Home
These pages offer definitions to help visitors to this site understand what we think we are saying. They are not exactly dictionary or encyclopedia definitions, although some of it will be drawn from those sources, but rather explanations of what we mean by certain words.
Here you will find words beginning with the letters G, H, and I. To jump to other pages, please click on the appropriate link above. If you are looking for a particular word, please click on “Words Index” or on the green circle below, where you will find an index of all the words defined in these pages. For a partial list of our sources, go here.
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GANDHI: Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) inspired and led India’s movement for independence from British colonial rule (achieved in 1947). His steadfast choice for non-violent resistance, based in part on the principle of ahimsa, has inspired countless others since. Gandhi is commonly referred to as Mahatma, a Sanskrit term of respect meaning “Great Soul”. Of course, much has been written about Gandhi; here are a few titles.
GITA: The Bhagavad Gita or, more commonly, simply the Gita (pronounced with a hard g, as in get or give), is a section of the Mahabharata, one of the two great epics of Hinduism (the other being the Ramayana). Two enormous armies stand face to face on the field, poised for battle, awaiting only a signal to begin from the master bowman, Arjuna, who at the very last moment loses his nerve. His charioteer, the divine Krishna, urges him onward. The Gita is the ensuing conversation between them, in which Arjuna and, through him, we, are Taught the True Nature of the Universe. Finally, at Chapter 18, Verse 73, Arjuna proclaims: “My delusion is gone. I have regained my memory through your grace, O Krishna. I am firm; I am free from doubt. I will act according to Your word.” One of our favorite translations, from which those lines are quoted, is by Swami Nikhilananda (Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center). It includes an inspiring commentary. There are many other excellent translations; among them, a version by Sri Aurobindo, with his commentary (Sri Aurobindo Association, PO Box 372, High Falls, NY 12440); another by Winthrop Sargeant (SUNY), which offers, in addition to the English prose, a word-for-word translation and vocabulary, so the reader can readily see how each verse actually reads, and consider for himself or herself alternative translations; a wonderful translation with commentary by Paramahansa Yogananda (published by the Self-Realization Fellowship, 3880 San Rafael Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90065); and, finally, the excellent Commentaries on The Vedas, The Upanishads, and The Bhagavad Gita by Sri Chinmoy (AUM Publications).
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GOD: Obviously, this is an impossible
word to define. After all, to define a thing means putting
boundaries around it, and, by definition, God is Infinity, the very absence of boundaries.
Further, being Infinite, God is beyond the capacity of our
separative egoic minds (“I am me, and you aren’t”) to understand — or even to deny. That is,
despite our protestations to the contrary, most of us perceive God as being
“out there” or “up there,” even “in here” or “no thing, no where”; as
somewhere or something or nothing other than ourselves. And that’s the problem! In Truth,
there is no such thing as a “God out there” because there is no such
thing as “out there”. Once again, whatever else God may be, or even not be, being Infinite, God is everywhere and no
where, everything and no thing. God is our very Self which itself is The Very
Self. Thus, at TZF we often say: There is no God but God, and God is All There
Is. See also Noun & Name, Shakti, God’s Gender,
Satchidananda, the Sacred Riddle,
and our books In The Beginning
and Take Off Your Shoes.
As regards the names of God (Allah, Brahman, Yahweh, et cetera), if we are talking about an Infinite Being (and if God is not Infinite, then God is not God), then all of those names and all other names, even all other words, are, must be, names of the One and Only God! Consider that in Hinduism, it is said there are thousands, even millions, of gods. At TZF, we think of those hundreds or thousands as aspects of the One and Only God. If you are married, think of the many aspects of your spouse: friend, lover, provider, healer, cook, teacher, and so on. Give each of those aspects a separate name, and POOF! you’re a polygamist … married to a single spouse.
For Brother Theophyle’s musing about God, please click here.
Consider this: My awareness — yours too — that “I am me, and you aren’t” is a display of the same Self Consciousness as the Infinite Consciousness that is God except disguised by God to seem to us as finite (that is, not Infinite): you and me as two in the midst of billions of other people, places, and whatnot. This disguise is known variously in the traditions as a VEIL that shields our awareness of our Identity with (as, in, by) God. For example, Ibn ’Arabi (“nothing veils other than He”); Persian Sufi poet Hafiz (“There is no veil between the lover and the Beloved; thou art thine own veil”); Mark 15:38 (“the veil of the temple was torn into two from top to bottom”); Exodus 26:33 (“The veil will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place”); Isaiah 25:7 “God will destroy the veil that covers all nations, the veil that stretches over all peoples”; in Hinduism, Maya is sometimes perceived as a veil that deludes the Divine Itself. As I read those, and others like them, the point seems clear: We and God are One and the Same One intentionally seemngly separated by God in order to … Yea, in order to what? My guess is that, being Infinite, God discovered He (see next item) is unable to perceive Himself precisely because He is everything that there is and everthing that is is He. So, She creates a Veil which enables Herself to see Herself separatively, as finite bits and pieces, like you and me and trees and ducks and time and space and thoughts and fears. Yes, of course it is nonsense; but it answers the question. For more about this idea, please click here.
GOD’S GENDER: The use of any gender pronouns (he, she, his, her, it, they) for God is, of course, silly, whether we capitalize them or not. No pronouns suffice for the proper noun God because God fits into no word or words. In fact, “God” isn’t even God’s name. God, being Infinite, does not have a name, need a name, or want a name; or, we might as well say, all words are God’s name. After all, from the perspective of an Infinite Being, there are no others; so, of what use is a name? The only function our names and their pronouns serve is to enable us to distinguish ourselves from one another. To God, there is no such thing as “distinguish oneself from one another.” Still, we make do with the tools our minds can grasp. In TZF, we generally use the third person singular male pronouns (He, Him, His, and the label Father) because that is what we grew up with and what remains the common practice where most of our readers seem to live. Still, we do from time to time use others, particularly the third person female pronouns (She, Her, Hers), especially when we are addressing God’s aspect as Mother. For a seeker, what is important is to avoid letting any construction become so habitual as to preclude all others. A rule of thumb: If you come across a form of address for God that makes you uncomfortable, it is probably time to adopt it. See also Christ, Mother, Shakti, Names of Allah. Consider this by Kabir quoted in The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna: “The formless Absolute is my Father, and God with form is my Mother.”
GOSPELS: The word “gospel” is composed of two words from old English meaning “good news,” and is used to refer to reports of the life and teaching of Issa (Jesus) and other Teachers. When capitalized, the term generally refers to the first four books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), which are called the “canonical gospels” because they alone have been accepted by traditional Christian churches as canon, meaning officially, institutionally recognized as genuine and inspired. Scholars have identified numerous other gospels, some of which predate the canonical gospels, and all of which have been suppressed over the centuries as heresy by ecclesiastical authorities. In our opinion, the best compilation in English of all the currently known gospels is “The Complete Gospels”. (See also TZF’s bookstore.)
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GRACE: Grace is a wondrous word. But difficult too, for it may have as many meanings as there are spiritual traditions, as there are seekers. At TZF, we consider Grace to be a synonym for God, and as such, it is indefinable. For us, Grace is the Nature of God. Powerful, majestic, beautiful, comforting, miraculous, and free. Grace is our nature, too, if only we could believe it. Grace is to God like light to the sun. Wherever God is, Grace is — everywhere, always. Thus, this is (we are) a Grace-ful Universe. We sometimes refer to Grace as a gift (“God’s gift of Grace”). In doing so, however, we do not mean to suggest that Grace is something offered to some, withheld from others. Rather, all of us are showered with Grace all of the time, unconditionally. But each of us perceives Grace differently, according to our willingness and capacity to receive it. Similarly, the sun’s light is always maximally present, issuing across a wide spectrum. And yet our eyes perceive only a small piece of it, and that only a few hours out of every twenty-four. A cat’s eyes see more of it, a dog’s less. But all of it is there all of the time. For those with eyes to see. Compare Shaktipat. For the song “Amazing Grace”, please click here.
GURDJIEFF: Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (1872-1949) was a Russian mystic who founded a spiritual path or method he called the Fourth Way. His best known book is Meetings with Remarkable Men (Dutton). Also, see books by his disciple, P. D. Ouspensky, such as In Search of The Miraculous (Harcourt Brace) and “Tertium Organum” (apparently out of print). For other titles by or about Gurdjieff, please click here. Gurdjieff devised a series of postures or dances that he called “Movements” and which he considered to be an essential aspect of his teaching practice. For more about that, please see the Gurdjieff Movements. A Google search of “Gurdjieff” or “Ouspensky” yields a wealth of responses. We have read that, speaking to seekers who have set themselves upon the spiritual search, Gurdjieff opined “You is ruined.”
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GURU: The Sanskrit word “guru” means venerable. It is composed of two other Sanskrit words, gu, meaning darkness or ignorance, and ru, meaning remover or dispeller. Thus, the guru is she or he who, or that which, dispels the darkness of ignorance: A venerable accomplishment by any measure! In common English usage, the meaning has been expanded or, some might argue, diluted to include a leader or mentor of any kind, or even simply an expert. A meaning suggested to us by someone who would know is “Spiritual Friend.” In Dada Mukerjee’s book By His Grace, Ram Dass writes, “They say in India that God is like the sandal tree, and the Gurus are like the winds that diffuse the perfume throughout the atmosphere.” However defined or translated, there are probably more who wear the title than it fits. See also Teacher, all the while remembering Ramakrishna’s observation that “God alone is the Guru.” See also the article “Guru Who?, and the talk by Swami Rama of the Himalayan Institute. The term SADGURU, sometimes SATGURU, is a Sanskrit term meaning “true” or “perfect” guru. It is applied by some seekers to their own guru as an expression of faith or devotion or respect. We have seen it used also to mean the inner guru, the Divine within each of us, one of whose functions or characteristics is to be as an ever-present, ever-ready, always accessible, spiritual teacher or guide, perfectly tailored and matched to our own needs and capacity — in a word, God as Guru (in Arabic, Ar-Rashid). In the words of Sri Naragadatta, the Sadguru “… is the only reality. All else is shadow … When the shadow is seen to be a shadow only, you stop following it. You turn round, and discover the sun which was there all the time — behind your back!” See also Swami.
HADITH, SUNNA, SUNNI and SHIA: An Arabic word, hadith (sometimes al-hadith or ahadith) refers to the words and deeds of Muhammad; thus, hadith is, in effect, a record of the Prophet’s life. As such, hadith plays an essential role for Muslims in the interpretation and understanding of the Qur’an. SUNNA is “the way” or “the custom” of the Prophet; it includes not only the hadith but also all other aspects of Muhammad’s life. SUNNI and SHIA are branches of Islam; for a brief discussion and comparison of them, please click here.
INCENSE: For a long while, our favorite source for incenses and related materials was The Incense Works in Kula, Hawaii. Two selections we liked a lot are Patchouli Gold and Golden Aura. Incense Works seems to have merged with or been bought out by another company, Incense Sales. Hopefully, the original high standards and infectious cheerfulness remain. The new website is http://incensesales.com/
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Most recent update: July 4, 2023
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