Terms are from Sanskrit unless stated otherwise.

Terms are from Sanskrit unless stated otherwise.

Agamas. Generic term applied to a collection of traditional doctrines and precepts, The sutras of Theravada (Hinayana) are referred to at times as the Agamas.

Anuttara Samayak Sambodhi. The incomparably, completely and fully awakened mind; it is the attribute of buddhas.

Arhat: The one who has achieved Nirvana: A Saint in the Theravada tradition. The stage is preceded by three others, 1. Stream Winner, 2. Once-Returner, 3. Non-Returner, 4. Arhat.

Arya. Any individual ennobled by his/her own continuing effort on the path to enlightenment.

Asamkhyia (kalpa). Term related to the Buddhist metaphysics of time. Each of the periodic manifestations and dissolutions of universes which go on eternally has four parts, called asamkhiya kalpas.

Avalokitesvara. The name is a compound of Ishwara, meaning Lord, and avalokita, looked upon or seen, and is usually translated as the Lord Who Observes (the cries of the world); the Buddhist embodiment of compassion as formulated in the Mahayana Dharma; the most important Bodhisattva of the Mahayana pantheon, second only to the Buddha.

Avatansaka or Avatamsaka (Sutra). One of the 5 key texts of the Mahayana canon. Its principal doctrine is that of the law-nature (Dharma-dhatu) of the universe. In modern terms it means that all objects and energies are under the law of causation, on account of which they are co-existent and interdependent.

Bhikshu. Religious mendicant; Buddhist fully ordained monk. Bhikshuni is the equivalent term designating a woman.

Bodhi. Perfect wisdom or insight knowledge by means of which a person becomes buddha.

Brahmajala. Or Indra’s net, characterized by holding a luminous gem in every one of its eyes. (Hindu mythology).

Dharani. Extended mantra used in esoteric branch of Buddhism to focus and expand the mind. Its words, or sounds, should not communicate any recognizable meaning.

Dharma-dhatu. The Law-doctrine that is the reality behind being and non-being. It is interpenetrative and all-inclusive, just as the rotation of the earth holds both night and day.

Dharma-kaya. The first of the three forms of the Buddha: The Self–Nature or Void aspect. The real being in his true nature, indescribable and absolute.

Five Fundamental Conditions of Passions and Delusions: 1. Wrong views which are common to triloka; 2. Clinging or attachment in the desire realm; 3. Clinging or attachment in the form realm; 4. Clinging or attachment in the formless realm which is still mortal; 5. The state of unenlightenment which is the root-cause of all distressful delusion.

Four Fruits of the Arhat. See under Arhat entry.

Hinayana. Lit., a small vehicle; designates Buddhist tradition of southeast Asia; replaced by the term Theravada.

Kalpa. Periodic manifestations and dissolutions of universes which go on eternally. Great kalpas consist of four asamkhiya kalpas corresponding to childhood, maturity, old age and the death of the universe.

Lotus Sutra. Or Saddharma-pundarika, Dharma Flower, or “The Lotus of the True Law.” The sutra is the basis for the Lotus sect (T’ien-t’ai in Chinese). Among the sutras of the Mahayana canon.

Mahayana. Lit., great vehicle; the dominant Buddhist tradition of China. Special characteristics of Mahayana are 1. Emphasis on bodhisattva ideal, 2. The accession of the Buddha to a superhuman status, 3. The development of extensive philosophical inquiry to counter Brahmanical and other scholarly argument, 4. The development of elaborate devotional practice.

Middle Vehicle. Also called Middle Doctrine School or Madhyamika; one of the two main schools of Mahayana thought; it upholds the Void as the only really real or independent, unconditioned Reality.

Nirvana Sutra. The last of the sutras in the Mahayana canon. It emphasizes the importance of Buddha-nature, which is the same as Self-Nature.

Paramita. Perfected virtue, of which there are six, namely: 1. Dana: Generosity; charity. 2. Shila: Morality; harmony. 3. Kshanti: Patience; tolerance of insults. 4. Virya: Valor; vigor in practice. 5. Dhyana: Contemplation; meditation. 6. Prajna: Essential wisdom; awareness as such, beyond the duality of subject and object.

Pratyeka-Buddha. Self-enlightened being who attained without a teacher; attained individual unwilling or unable to teach.

Saddharma-pundarika. See entry under Lotus Sutra.

Saha-lokadhatu or Saha world; this world to be endured, this earth.

Sanskrit. Learned language of India. Canonical texts of Mahayana Buddhism in its Indian stage were written in Sanskrit.

Skandhas. As taught by the Buddha, the skandhas are the components of the human so-called entity that is constantly changing. They are: 1. Name/form; 2. Feeling; 3. Conception; 4. Impulse; 5. Consciousness.

Small Vehicle. See entry under Hinayana.

Sramana. Lit. laborer; applied to those who wholeheartedly practice toward enlightenment; root word of the designation for novice monk.

Sravaka. Lit. hearer; it originally referred to those who paid devoted attention to the spoken words of the Buddha; today it is more often applied to an ardent teacher of Buddhist texts; an individual still needing guidance in Dharma.

Tao. Chinese term meaning the way. In Buddhist terminology it may be applied to practice, to Self-nature or to the Ultimate.

Tathagata. Thus gone; term frequently used by the Buddha in reference to himself.

T’ien T’ai. Chinese name designating a school of Buddhism in that country; the Lotus Sutra is the school’s textual foundation. The T’ien T’ai doctrine speaks of the threefold Truth, the three being three in-one. These are: 1. All things are of the Void; 2. Phenomenal existences of all kinds are only temporary productions and so only the Void; 3. As everything involves everything else, all is one, and something of everything involves everything else, all is one, and something of everything is the basis of its being, this something being the Buddha-nature. The school emphasizes Buddhist philosophy.

The ten Directions. North, South, East, West, N-E, N-W, S-E, S-W, Zenith and Nadir.

Theravada. Lit., the School of the Elders; one of the two main forms of Buddhism known in the world today; practiced chiefly in south-east Asia; has the Pali Canon for textual foundation.

Triloka or Trailoka. The three realms: World of sensuous desire; form; formless world of pure spirit.

Tripitaka. Lit., three baskets: The earliest Buddhist canonical text consisting of three sections: 1. Buddha’s discourses (sutras), 2. Rules of Discipline (Vinaya), 3. Analytical and explanatory texts or commentaries (Sastras); usually referred to as the Pali canon.

Upasaka. Buddhist lay disciple (man), who formally received five precepts or rules of conduct. Upasika is the equivalent term designating woman.