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.
Ishta devata is the term in Hinduism for a worshipper’s personal preferred deity. Because Hindus may worship many gods and goddesses or their incarnations, they may choose one beloved deity as their focus for devotion.
In Vajrayana Buddhism, ishta devata is not a deity but an enlightened being with whom a person identifies during personal meditation. In this sense, it is often translated as “meditational deity.” It is also a key component of Deity yoga, in which the yogi imagines him/herself in the form of the Buddha.
Ishta devata comes from the Sanskrit, ishta, meaning “desired,” “cherished” or “preferred”; and devata, meaning “godhead” or “divinity.” It translates as “cherished divinity.”
According to Hindu cosmology, the universe is divided into multiple worlds known as Loka. Of these Loka, Naraka Loka is considered to be one of the lowest spiritual planes, similar to the concept of Hell in Christianity.
It is believed that after people die, their spirit’s Karma is judged in Naraka Loka, after which it transcends to the next Loka.
Rebirth can refer to a number of different concepts within spirituality, depending on the school of thought. Hinduism and Buddhism, which both share roots with yogic philosophy, teach about rebirth.
In Hinduism, rebirth, or reincarnation, is a central tenet of the religious teachings. It refers to the idea that the spirit can begin a new life after the death of its physical body, in another body. This may be a human or an animal body.
In Buddhism, rebirth is the idea that when a being dies, this event is the catalyst for the creation of a new aggregation of consciousness. The new being is neither identical nor completely dissimilar to the previous life, but rather they form a continuous stream of consciousness.
The six-pointed star, or what is commonly referred to as the Star of David, has been used in sacred traditions for centuries, even going back to King Solomon in the Old Testament. Symbolizing the ideal meditative state in Hinduism and magical ceremonies in occult practices, the hexagram can fit inside a perfect circle and is often associated with the heart chakra.
There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide. About 84% of the world’s population is affiliated with Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or some form of folk religion.
Deva is a Sanskit word meaning “deity.” It refers to a celestial being in Hinduism or to a powerful non-human being in Buddhism. Although the word is generally translated to “god,” the Buddhist deva is not the same as the Western concept of a god. For example, a Buddhist deva is not immortal, nor a creator.
Devata is a plural form of deva, but can also mean a type of smaller deva. In Hinduism, a devata may be defined as a deity, divine being or a good spirit.
Devas can help a yoga practitioner guide their practice and awaken their inner Divine.
Lila is a Sanskrit term that has a range of translations and uses within Hinduism and yogic philosophy. Primarily, its meanings tend to derive from its rough translation as the noun, “play”; although, it is said that the word has more richness and depth than this simple translation.
One use of the term, lila, is by non-dualist philosophical schools to describe all reality. According to these schools, the entire cosmos and all the activity within them is simply the outcome of the creative play of Brahman, or The Absolute. Therefore, all reality is lila. In dualistic schools, such as Vaishnaivism, lila can refer to the activities of God, as well as the actions of the manifest universe.
In Hinduism and Buddhism, a klesha is a negative mental state that clouds the mind causing suffering and the conditions for suffering to arise. Klesha means “poison” in Sanskrit. Kleshas also refer to the obstacles that prevent a person from reaching a state of enlightenment and freedom from samsara.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras describe kleshas as impediments to spiritual growth. Yogic practices such as meditation and pranayama breathing exercises provide methods to overcome kleshas.
Maitri is one of the four virtues of Buddhism, collectively known as Brahmaviharas or ‘the immeasurables’. The term maitri can be translated from Sanskrit as “loving-kindness,” “benevolence,” or “friendliness.” The concept is central to the Buddhist practice of loving-kindness meditation and is also referenced in ancient Hindu and Jain scriptures.
Maitri was recently popularised by Buddhist teacher, author and nun, Pema Chodron. In her book How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind, she describes maitri as “unconditional friendliness,” not only towards others but towards oneself.
As such, it is an essential facet of mindfulness meditation, enabling the practitioner to cultivate a non-judgmental, non-critical and non-goal oriented attitude towards the practice.
Maitri is also known as metta in Pali.