Buddhist Terms: S - S

Sacca: (Pali) ‘Truth’, conventional and ultimate.

Saddharmapundarika Sutra: ‘The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra’ (Sanskrit). “Sad” means wonderful, and “Pundarika” means white lotus flower.

Sadhana: (Sanskrit) Method of accomplishment; the step-by-step instructions for practicing the meditations related to a particular meditational deity.

Saddha: Faith, Confidence.

Sakka: The King of the Gods.

Sakkaya: ‘Group of Existence’. This word is usually translated by ‘Personality.

Sakkaya-Ditthi: ‘Personality-belief’. The first of the Ten Fetters.

Sakya: The tribe or clan into which the Buddha was born.

Sakyamuni: The sage of the Sakyas, ie Buddha.

Samadhi: Complete concentration, lit: the (mental) state of being firmly fixed, is the fixing of the mind on a single object.

Samatha: (Pali) ‘Tranquillity’, is a symtom of samadhi (concentration). It is one of the mental factors in wholesome consciousness.

Samana: (Pali) Sramana in Sanskrit. Contemplative. Literally, a person who abandons the conventional obligations of social life in order to find a way of life more “in tune” (sama) with the ways of nature.

Samantabhadra Bodhisattva: Also called Visvabhadra Bodhisattva, Universally Worthy Bodhisattva. Being one of the Four Great Bodhisattvas, he is the Bodhisattva of Great Conduct, representing the Law. He has Ten Great King Vows, which are the guidelines in practising Buddhism, and cultivating the Buddhist Way. In Japanese, Fugen.

Sambhogakaya: (Sanskrit) The “enjoyment body”; the form in which the enlightened mind appears in order to benefit highly realized bodhisattvas. One of the three bodies of a Buddha.

Sampajanna: ‘Clarity of Consciousness’, Clear Comprehension. This term is frequently met with in combination with Mindfulness (sati).

Samsara: (Sanskrit and Pali) The world of appearances and endless flux, including all aspects of becoming and death; cycles of birth and rebirth.

Samu: (Japanese) Work service (in the sense of sutra service); meditation in work (traditionally in and about the temple).

Sanbo kyodan: (Japanese) Order of the Three Treasures; the Zen sect traced from Yasutani Hakuun, 1885-1973.

Sangha: (Pali) On the conventional (sammati) level, this term denotes the communities of Buddhist monks and nuns; on the ideal (ariya) level, it denotes those followers of the Buddha, lay or ordained, who have attained at least stream-entry.

Sankhara: A compounded thing.

Sanskrit: The classical Aryan language of ancient India, systematized by scholars. With the exception of a few ancient translations probably from Pali versions, most of the original texts in Buddhism used in China were Sanskrit.

Sariputra: (Skt.) Sariputta (Pali): One of the Buddha’s chief disciples.

Sati: (Pali) ‘Mindfulness’, presence of mind, is one of the 5 spiritual Faculties and Powers, one of the 7 factors of enlightenment, and the 7th link of the 8-fold Path.

Satipatthana: (Pali) ‘The Four Foundations of Mindfulness’, lit. ‘Awareness of Mindfulness’, are: Contemplation of the Body, Feeling, Mind-state and Mind-objects.

Satori: (Japanese) A state of consciousness in Zen Buddhism beyond the plane of discrimination and differentiation.

Sautrantika: One of the Theravada philosophical schools.

Savatthi: Savatthi in Pali, Sravasti in Sanskrit. The capital of the ancient Kingdom of Kosala, where the famous monastery (Bodhimandala) Jetavanna Grove was located.

Sayadaw: (Burmese) Teacher, or senior monk.

Seiza: (Japanese) Quiet sitting; Japanese sitting; an alternative posture for zazen.

Seiza Shiki: (Japanese) The system of Seiza; physical and mental culture through the practice of seiza.

Semmon Dojo: (Japanese) Special Training Place; a Rinzai Zen temple where monks or nuns are trained.

Sensei: (Japanese) Teacher.

Sentient Being: A being who has not yet reached enlightenment.

Sesshin: (Japanese) To touch, receive, or convey the mind; the Zen retreat, conventionally seven days.

Shakyamuni: Sakayamuni in Sanskrit, Shakyamuni in Pali. The founder of Buddhism. He was born as the Prince of Sakyans, and was called Siddhartha Gautama. At the age of 35, he attained supreme Enlightenment and became the Buddha and was the called Shakyamuni. The word means “capability and kindness”.

Shin: The Pure Land School of Japanese Buddhism.

Shobogenzo: The masterwork of Dogen Zenji, this work is made up of ninety-five fascicles on Buddhist subjects and is considered a milestone in Buddhist literature.

Shoken: (Japanese) First view; the first interview between roshi and student.

Shunyata/Sunnata: “Emptiness, void,” the ultimate meaning of all things as a result of the three “features of existence,” suffering, impermanence, and no-soul.

Siddhartha: Siddhartha in Sanskrit, Siddhartha in Pali. The given name of Shakyamuni when he was born to the King Suddhodana. The name means “wish fulfilled”.

Siddhi: (Sanskrit) Powers of the mind not yet developed in the average man.

Sila: (Sanskrit and Pali). The Buddhist code of morality.

Singalovada Sutra: A short sutra about ethics and morality.

Skandha: (Sanskrit) “aggregate,” one of the five constituents of the construct called “personality.”

Soto Sect: (Japanese) Zen Buddhist Sect; traced from Tung-shan Liang-chieh (Dongshan Liangjie), 840-901.

Sravaka: Hearer; a disciple not yet capable of independent progress.

Srotapanna: A Sanskrit word which means one who has entered the flow, Sotapanna in Pali. He opposes the flow of common people’s six dusts and enters the flow of the Sage’s Dharma-nature. It comes when the eighty-eight categories of delusions of view are smashed and cut off by means of sixteen hearts. It is called a Way of Liberation, for at that point, delusion is completely severed and liberation is obtained. One who has certified to Srotapanna has seven more births and deaths to undergo.

Stupa: (Sanskrit) Originally, a tumulus or burial mound enshrining relics of a holy person – such as the Buddha – or object associated with his life. Over the centuries this has developed into the tall, spired monuments familiar in temples in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Burma; and into the pagodas of China, Korea, and Japan.

Subhadra: Subhadra in Sanskrit, Subhadda in Pali. A Brahman of age 120, who became Shakyamuni’s disciple shortly before Shakyamuni’s death and is therefore known as the last disciple.

Suddhodana: Pure Rice Prince, the father of Shakyamuni, ruled over the Sakyans at Kapilavatthu on the Nepalese border.

Sugati: ‘Happy Course of existence’.

Sukha: Pleasant, happy; happiness. pleasure, joy, bliss. It is one of the three feelings (vedana) and may be either bodily or mental.

Sumeru: (Sanskrit). It means wonderful high mountain. It is composed of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and crystal.

Sumi-e: Japanese brush-ink painting associated with Zen practice, characterized by rapid, spontaneous strokes.

Sunna: (Pali) (adj.) Sunnata (noun): Void (ness), empty (emptiness). As a doctrinal term it refers, in Theravada, exclusively to the Annatta doctrine, i.e., the unsubstantiality of all phenonena.

Sunya: (Sanskrit) The void; emptiness; the realm of transitory and relative existence.

Sura: Celestial being who enjoys the highest pleasures to be found in cyclic existence.

Sutra / Sutta: (Sutta in Pali and Sutra in Sanskrit) Lit. ‘thread’, major category of Buddhist scripture.