Search

The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary

 
     
 

Encyclopedia

Dictionary

Quotes

 

Buddhist terms and concepts


Several Buddhist terms and concepts lack direct translations into English that cover the breadth of the original term. Below are given a number of important Buddhist terms, short definitions, and the languages in which they appear. In this list, an attempt has been made to organize terms by their original form and give translations and synonyms in other languages below the definition.

Languages and traditions dealt with here:

Contents
1 A
2 B
3 D
4 E
5 F
6 G
7 H
8 I
9 J

A

ācārya

  • "teacher"
  • Sanskrit; Pāli; Thai:Ajahn; Ch. 阿闍梨, 阿闍梨耶; Jp. ajari, ajariya

addiction

alayavijnana

anāgarika

  • A white-robed student in the Theravada tradition, who for a few months, awaits being considered for Samaneras ordination
  • Pāli

ānāpānasati

  • Mindfulness of the breath meditation
  • Pāli

anicca

  • Impermanence
  • Pāli; Sanskrit: anitya

anatta

arhat

Literally it means the "Worthy One".

  • A living person who has reached Enlightenment
  • Pāli: arahat, arahant; Sanskrit: arhat, arhant ; Ch. 阿羅漢; Jp. arakan

B

bhikkhu/bhikshu

  • A monk
  • Pāli; Sanskrit: bhikṣu; 比丘 Jp: biku
  • Derivates: bhikkhuni/bhikṣuni; 比丘尼 Jp: bikuni: a Buddhist nun

bodhi

  • Awakening or Enlightenment
  • Sanskrit; Pāli; 菩提 Jp: bodai

bodhi tree

  • The Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa) tree under which Gautama reached Enlightenment.
  • 菩提樹 Cn: ??, Jp: bodaiju

bodhisattva

  • A person with the intention to become a Buddha in order to liberate all other sentient beings from suffering.
  • Sanskrit (Pali: bodhisatta); 菩薩 Jp: bosatsu

Buddha

  • A Buddha. Also, the Buddha, Siddhārta Gautama
  • From √budh, to awaken
  • Sanskrit; Pāli; 仏 (trad. form 佛) Jp: butsu, hotoke

buddha nature

  • The ability shared by sentient beings to achieve Enlightenment; the inate (latent) Buddha nature (esp. in Tendai/Tiantai, Nichiren thought).
  • 仏性 Jp: busshō

D

dependent origination

dukkha

  • Suffering, dissatisfaction, stress
  • Pāli; Sanskrit: duḥkha

dharma

  • A difficult term to define. Often refers to the doctrines and teachings of the faith, but it may have broader uses. Also, it is an important technical term meaning something like “phenomenological constituent.” This leads to the potential for confusion, puns, and double entendres, as the latter meaning often has negative connotations.
  • Sanskrit; Pāli;: dhamma
  • 法 Cn: fă; Jp: hō

dhammavinaya

  • The dharma and vinaya (roughly "doctrine and discipline") considered together. This term essentially means the whole teachings of Buddhism as taught to monks.

dhyana (see jhāna)

doan

  • In Zen, a term for person sounding the bell that marks the beginning and end of Zazen
  • Japanese


dokusan

  • A private interview between a Zen student and his master. It is an important element in the Zen training, as it provides an opportunity for the student to discuss problems in his practice and to demonstrate his understanding.
  • Japanese

E

Early Buddhist Schools

  • The schools of Buddhism which arose in India after the time of the historical Buddha but before the time of the Mahāyāna, and which the Mahāyāna later criticized. These are sometimes identified as "Hīnayāna" by later schools. Also called śravakayāna. The Theravada is the only surviving of what are usually numbered the eighteen early schools (though it's not always clear which precise sects are meant).

F

fukudo

  • In Zen, term for person who strikes the Han
  • Japanese

G

gassho

  • A position used for greeting, with the palms together and fingers pointing upwards in prayer position. It is used in the Zen tradition, but also common in many cultures in the East. It expresses greeting, request, thankfulness, reverence and prayer. Also a mudra or inkei of Japanese Shingon.
  • Japanese: 合掌 ; Sanskrit: Anjali

gongan

  • Lit. "Public case." A meditative method developed in the Chan/Seon/Zen traditions, generally consisting of a problem that defies solution by means of rational thought
  • Chinese; Japanese: koan (公案); Korean: gong'an

H

Han

  • In Zen monasteries, wooden board that is struck announcing sunrise, sunset and the end of the day
  • Japanese

I

ino

  • In Zen, one of the leaders of a sesshin
  • Japanese

J


Jhana

  • Meditative contemplation. More often associated with śamatha practices than vipaśyana. See also: shamata , samadhi, samapatti
  • Pāli; Sanskrit: dhyāna

Jisha

  • In Zen, Roshi's attendant during sesshin or dokusan
  • Japanese

K

Kensho

  • In Zen, enlightenment. Kensho has the same meaning as satori, but is customary used for an initial awakening experience.
  • Japanese

kinhin

  • Zen walking meditation
  • Japanese

koan

kyosaku

  • In Zen, a flattened stick used to strike the shoulders during zazen, to help overcome fatigue or reach satori. (Japanese)

L

Lama

  • A Tibetan teacher or master. Equivalent to Sanskrit "guru".
  • Tibetan

Lineage

  • The official record of the historical descent of dharma teachings from one teacher to another.

M

makyo

  • In Zen, unpleasant or distracting thoughts or illusions that occur during zazen.
  • Japanese

Madhyamaka

  • Buddhist philosophical school, founded by Nāgārjuna. Members of this school are called Mādhyamikas.
  • Sanskrit; Chinese: Sanlun ("Three Treatise")

Mokugyo

  • In Zen, a wooden drum carved from one piece, usually in the form of a fish.
  • Japanese

Moksha

  • Liberation
  • Sanskrit

Mondo

  • In Zen, a short dialogue between teacher and student.
  • Japanese

Mappo

  • 末法 Cn.: ??, Kr.: ??, Jp.: mappō. A time period supposed to begin 2,000 years after Sakyamuni Buddha's passing and last for "10,000 years and into eternity"; follows the two 1,000-year periods of 正法 Jp.: shōbō and 像法 Jp.: zōhō.

middle way

  • The practice of avoidance of extreme views and lifestyle choices

N

namo

  • Pali: An exclamation showing reverance; devotion. Often placed in front of the name of an object of veneration, e.g., a Buddha's name (Namo Amitabha , Jp.: Namu Amida Butsu), Three Jewels (Namu Sambō), or a sutra (Nam-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō), and used to express devotion to it. Defined in Sino-Japanese as 帰命 kimyō: to base one's life upon, to devote (or submit) one's life to.
  • Sanskrit: namaḥ, namas
  • 南無; Cn.: Nammu; Jp.: Namu, Nam

nirvana

  • Extinction or extinguishing; ultimate enlightenment in the Buddhist tradition.
  • Pāli: nibbāna, Sanskrit: nirvāna; 涅槃 Jp: nehan
  • Derivates: paranibbana/parinirvana - Final liberation (Pāli /Sanskrit)

O

Osho

  • A term used in Japan to address a monk of the Zen Buddhist tradition. Originally reserved for high ranking monks, it has since been appropriated for everyday use when addressing any male member of the Zen clergy.
  • Japanese

oryoki

  • Zen eating ceremony
  • Japanese

P

paramārtha

  • Absolute as opposed to merely conventional truth. See also: saṃv{{subst:r}}ti.
  • Sanskrit

paramita

  • Lit. "reaching the other shore," usually rendered in English as "perfection." The Mahayana practices for obtaining enlightenment
  • Sanskrit; 波羅蜜 Jp: haramitsu

paṭicca-samuppāda

  • "Dependent origination," the view that no phenomenon exists (or comes about) without depending on other phenomena around it.
  • Pāli; Sanskrit: pratātya-samutpāda

Purisa

  • The practicing Buddhist community as a whole; Sangha and laity

R

rebirth

  • The process of continuity of life after death

Rinpoche

Tibetan for 'Precious one' Title for:

  • Recognized rebirth of a (Tibetan) Buddhist teacher (also called tulku in Tibetan)
  • Tibetan teacher
  • Tibetan

Rinzai see Lin Chi

  • Zen sect emphasizing sudden enlightenment and koan study. Named for master Linji.
  • Japanese; Chinese: Linji

Rohatsu (臘八)

  • A day marking the attainment of Nirvana by Buddha; celebrated on the 8th day either of December or of the 12th month of the lunar calendar. According to the lunar calendar, the next Rohatsu will be January 17, 2005.
  • Japanese

Roshi

  • Zen title
  • Japanese

S

samanera /shramanera

  • A male novice monk, who, after a year or until the ripe age of twenty, will be considered for the higher Bhikkhu ordination.

samatha

  • Mental stabilization; tranquility meditation. Distinguished from vipāssana meditation.
  • Pāli; Sanskrit: śamatha

samu

  • Work, conceived as a part of Zen training.[1]
  • Japanese

saṃsāra

  • The cycle of birth and rebirth; the world as commonly experienced
  • Sanskrit and Pali

saṃv{{subst:r}}ti

  • Conventional, as opposed to absolute, truth. See also, paramārtha.
  • Sanskrit

saṅgha

  • The community of Buddhist monks and nuns.
  • Sanskrit

Sayadaw

  • Burmese meditation master

satori

  • Awakening; understanding. A Japanese term for enlightenment
  • 悟り Japanese; Chinese: 悟 wu

sensei

  • Teacher; Zen teacher
  • Japanese

skandha

  • The five constituent elements into which an individual is analyzed. These are rūpa, "form", saṃj˝ā, "cognition", vedanā, "perception", *saṃskāras, "mental formations", *vij˝āna, "consciousness".
  • Sanskrit; Pāli: khandha

sesshin

  • A Zen retreat where practitioners meditate, eat and work together for several days.
  • Japanese

shikantaza (只管打座)

  • Soto Zen. "Only concentrated on doing sitting" is the main meditation-method of Soto school of Zen-Buddhism in Japan.

śūnyatā

  • Emptiness. See also: Nāgārjuna
  • Sanskrit; Pāli: su˝˝atā

sōtō-shū(曹洞 宗)

  • Sect of Zen emphasizing shikantaza as the primary mode of practice. See also: Dogen
  • Japanese

store consciousness

sutta

  • Scripture. Originally referred to short aphoristic sayings and collections thereof.
  • Pāli; Sanskrit: sutra; 経 (trad. 經) Jp: kyō

T

tanha

  • Craving or desire
  • Pali (Sanskrit: trsna)

tanto

  • In Zen, one of the main leaders of a sesshin.
  • Japanese

Tathāgata

  • The "Thus-Come One" or “Thus-Gone One”; One of the Buddha's ten epithets
  • Sanskrit; 如来 Jp: nyorai

Tathagatagarbha

  • Buddha-nature or the seed of enlightenment
  • Sanskrit

teisho

  • A presentation by a Zen master during a sesshin. Rather than an explanation or exposition in the traditional sense, it is intended as a demonstration of Zen realisation.
  • Japanese

Tenzo

  • In Zen, the head cook for a sesshin
  • Japanese

Three poisons

  • The three primary causes of unskillful action or creation of "negative" karma:
  • Greed or selfish desire (Sanskrit trsna; Jp: 貪 ton)
  • Hatred or anger (dvesa; jp: 瞋 jin)
  • Ignorance or delusion (avidya; jp: 癡 chi)
  • 三毒 Jp: sandoku

Tripiṭaka

  • The "Three Baskets"; canon containing the sacred texts for Buddhism (Pāli )
  • Sanskrit; Pāli: Tipiṭaka; 三蔵 Jp: Sanzō

Tulku

  • A re-incarnated Tibetan teacher
  • Tibetan

U

upāya

  • Expedient or expedient means; i.e., something useful (for elevating a believer to a higher level of understanding) though not necessarily ultimately true. Originally used as a polemical device against other schools—calling them “merely” expedient, lacking in ultimate truth. Later sometimes used against ones own school as well, to prevent students form forming attachments to doctrines.
  • Sanskrit
  • Jp: 方便 Hōben

V

Vināya

  • "Discripline", the first basket of the canon, whichh deals with the rules of monastic life.
  • Pāli; Sanskrit

vipassana

  • Usually translated as “Insight” (lit. from √vis-drś, to “see apart”) meditation, most associated with the Theravada tradition, but present throughout Buddhism as an evolved tradition. Distinguished from śamatha meditation.
  • Pāli; Sanskrit: vipaśyana

Z

zazen

  • Zen meditation
  • Japanese

Zendo

  • In Zen, a hall where Zen (usually meaning zazen) is practiced (see Dojo)
  • Japanese

See also

External links

Last updated: 06-02-2005 13:20:37
Last updated: 08-16-2005 11:52:24