Brief Introduction for Beginners:
Extracts from the internet and books. (May blessings and appreciation go to the authors of these articles)
Anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi (阿耨多羅三藐三菩提). The unsurpassed, equally perfect enlightenment (無上正等正覺) , to benefit self and others. Anuttara means unsurpassed; samyak is derived from the stem samyañc, which means same or identical; saṁbodhi means perfect enlightenment. Equally means that the perfect enlightenment of all Buddhas is the same. The third epithet of a Buddha is Samyak-Saṁbuddha, the Equally, Perfectly Enlightened One.
Arahat: (Pali) The perfected disciple; one who has completed the discipline required to attain liberation.
Arahant: (Pali) A "worthy one" or "pure one;" a person whose mind is free of defilement and thus is not destined for further rebirth. A title for the Buddha and the highest level of his noble disciples.
Arhat: (Sanskrit) The perfected disciple; one who has completed the discipline required to attain liberation.
Bodhicitta: (Sanskrit and Pali) The aspiration to attain full enlightenment in order to enlighten all beings.
Bodhidharma: The twenty-eighth Ch'an patriarch in India and the first in China. He brought Zen to China from India.
Bodhisattva: "A being (striving) for Awakening;" a term used to describe the Buddha before he actually became Buddha, from his first aspiration to Buddhahood until the time of his full Awakening.
Bodhisattva :(Pu Sa) is a sanskrit word which can be split into 2 parts. “Bodhi” means wisdom and compassion, and “sattva” means a being. Thus, when these two words joined together to form “Bodhisattva”, it means “A being with great compassion and wisdom”.
One moved by compassionate zeal to aid fellow beings, hence willing to postpone his or her own entrance into Nirvana to this end.
Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva (菩薩摩訶薩). A holy Bodhisattva who is a mahāsattva (great being) because of his great vows, great actions, and the great number of sentient beings he delivers.
Dharma Seal (dharma-mudrā, 法印). Buddhist teachings are summarized in Dharma Seals, against which other doctrines should be measured. The Four Dharma Seals are as follows: (1) processes are impermanent; (2) experiences boil down to suffering; (3) dharmas have no selves; (4) nirvāṇa is silence and stillness. Because suffering is the consequence of the impermanence of everything in the life of a sentient being, including itself, the second Dharma Seal can be omitted from the list to make the Three Dharma Seals. Five Dharma Seals can be established by adding a fifth Dharma Seal: (5) dharmas are empty. In the Mahāyāna doctrine, all these seals are integrated into one, the one true reality.
Dana: (Sanskrit and Pali) giving assistance physically, mentally or verbally. Gift, Offering or Donation.
Deva: Literally, "shining one". An inhabitant of the heavenly realms
dhūta (頭陀). To shake off one’s desire or cravings for comfort in food, clothing, and shelter, one follows these twelve rules as a way of life: (1) beg for food; (2) beg for food from one door to the next without discrimination; (3) eat only one meal a day, at noon; (4) eat with moderation in quantity; (5) do not drink liquids after lunch; (6) wear clothes made of cast-away rags; (7) keep only three garments; (8) live in a quiet remote area; (9) live among graves; (10) live under a tree; (11) sit on open ground under the open sky; (12) sit, without reclining.
Dukkha: (Pali) Suffering, stress, pain, misery, sorrow, unhappiness, dissatisfaction with the way things are, a central factor in the human condition, one of the "three marks" of existence.
Eightfold Path: The path that leads to liberation, consisting of right understanding, right aim, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
Eightfold Right Path (八正道). This right path to one’s liberation from one’s cycle of birth and death includes (1) right views, (2) right thinking, (3) right speech, (4) right action, (5) right livelihood, (6) right effort, (7) right mindfulness, and (8) right meditative absorption (samādhi). Paths 1–2 educate one with understanding, paths 3–5 establish one on the ground of morality, paths 7–8 develop one’s mental power and wisdom through meditation, and path 6 is applied to the other seven paths of training.
Five desires (五欲). One’s desires for pleasures in the five sense objects are (1) sights, (2) sounds, (3) scents, (4) flavors, and (5) tactile sensations. One also has the desire for pleasure in (6) mental objects, verbal or nonverbal, coarse or fine. Humans are driven especially by their desires for (1) riches, (2) sex, (3) reputation, (4) food and drink, and (5) sleep. These are impure desires in the desire realm, and there are pure desires in the form and formless realms.
Five Precepts: or Five Training Rules:
(1) Undertaking the precept not to kill;
(2) Undertaking the precept not to steal;
(3) Undertaking the precept not to be involved in sexual misconduct;
(4) Undertaking the precept not to have false speech;
(5) Undertaking the precept not to indulge in intoxicants, that cloud the mind.
Five Khandas (Pali) (Skr. Skandhas): or Five Aggregates, that is, the five components of an intelligent being, or psychological analysis of the mind:
(1) Matter or Form (rupa) - the physical form responded to the five organs of senses, i.e., eye, ear, nose, tongue and body;
(2) Sensation or Feeling (vedana) - the feeling in reception of physical things by the senses through the mind;
(3) Perception and/or cognition (Pali, sanna) (Skr, sanjna) - the functioning of mind in distinguishing appearances;
(4) Volition or Mental Formation (Pali, sankara) (Skr, samskara) - habitual action, i.e., a conditioned response to the object of experience, whether it is good or evil, you like or dislike;
(5) Consciousness (Pali, vinnana) (Skr, vijnana) - the mental faculty in regard to perception, cognition and experience;
Five rebellious acts or sins (五逆). These are (1) patricide, (2) matricide, (3) killing an Arhat, (4) shedding the blood of a Buddha (including maligning His Dharma), and (5) destroying the harmony of a Saṅgha. They are also called the karma of the five no interruptions because any of them drives one into Avīci Hell, the hell of the five no interruptions.
Five transcendental powers (五通). Through meditation, one can develop these powers: (1) the god-eye to see anything anywhere; (2) the god-ear to hear any sound anywhere; (3) the ability to know the past lives of self and others; (4) the ability to know the thoughts of others; (5) the ability to transform one’s body and to travel instantly to any place.
Four Noble Truths:
Fact of suffering - suffering is a necessary attribute of sentient existence
Cause of suffering is caused by passions (Cause of Suffering)
Cessation of suffering or extinction of passion (Effect of Happiness)
The Path leading to the extinction of passion (Cause of Happiness); i.e. Eightfold Path.
Kalpa (劫). An eon. (Kalpa in Sanskrit, Kappa in Pali). It is a fabulous period of four hundred and thirty two million years of mortals, measuring the duration of world. It is the period of time between other creation and recreation of a world or universe. A large kalpa is the long period of formation, continuation, destruction, and void of a world. It is divided into eighty small kalpas, each lasting 16,800,000 years.
(業) Karma: (Sanskrit), Kamma: (Pali): "action or volitional activities" the cosmic law of cause and effect: every physical or spiritual deed has its long-range consequences as determined by the agent's intention. Sanskrit form: karma.
Law of Causal Condition: The fundamental doctrine of Buddhism that all phenomena in the universe are produced by causation. Since all phenomena result from the complicated causes and effects, all existing things in the universe are inter-dependent, i.e., no self nature or existence on its own. Moreover, all phenomena and things are impermanent (i.e. changing constantly). It was to this law that Shakyamuni was awakened when he attained enlightenment.
Law of Cause and Effect:
Law of Dependent Origination: (Paticcasamuppada) It states that all phenomena arise depending upon a number of causal factors. In other words, it exists in condition that the others exist; it has in condition that others have; it extinguishes in condition that others extinguish; it has not in condition that others have not.
Law of Karma: The results of actions, which produce effects that may be either good or bad. It is derived from the Law of Causal Condition (Law of Cause and Effect).
Lotus Sutra: Short name of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law, or Saddharma-pundarik-sutra in Sanskrit. It is one of the most important sutras of Mahayana Buddhism. Basically, it states that all sentient beings can attain Buddhahood, and nothing less than this is the appropriate final goal of all Buddhists. It also states that the Buddha is eternal, and the supreme form of Buddhist practice is the way of the Bodhisattva. Lotus flower is used to describe the brightness and pureness of the One Buddha Vehicle.
Lumbini Park: The birthplace of Shakyamuni Buddha, which lay between the state of the Shakyas and the Koliyas.
Maitreya: (Skt), literally means friendly and benevolent. He will be the next Buddha in our world. He is now preaching in Tusita Heaven. He is usually represented as the fat laughing Buddha.
mudrā (印). A seal, symbolized by positions of the hands and intertwinings of the fingers, used in ritual practices. A seal possesses secret meanings and magical efficacy (see Dharma Seal).
namo (南無). Reverential homage, salutation, adoration, or obeisance. Based on the Sanskrit rule of pronunciation, this word may be spelled as namo, nama, namaḥ, namas, or namaś, according to the initial letter of the next word.
Paramita: (Sanskrit and Pali) Perfection, ideal virtue.
Parinirvana: Beyond Nirvana, the state into which one that has attained Nirvana passes at death.
Pure Land: Generally refers to the Paradise of the West, presided over by Amitabha. Also known as the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Other Buddhas have their own Pure Lands, all of which are the adornment of merits and virtues in moral or spiritual cultivation. The Pure-Land Sect whose chief tenet is salvation by faith in Amitabha; it is the popular cult in China and Japan.
Rahula: He was one of the Ten Great Disciples of Shakyamuni. He was the first in esoteric practices and in desire for instruction in the Law. He was also the son of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Rebirth: The corollary of karma. The doctrine that each individual is born into the world again and again to inherit the effects of his deeds, or rather, that by action in this life the individual creates a fresh personality for himself in order that the results of his actions may be fulfilled in a future life.
Rebirth in Six Paths
By practicing the Ten Good Deeds and Ten Meritorious Deeds, the fully ripened fruit of these wholesome actions consists of rebirth in the higher realms of happiness, i.e. Man, Asura and Deva.
Conversely, the full ripened fruit of the unwholesome action consists of rebirth in the lower realms of suffering, i.e. Hell, Hungry ghosts and Animals.
The effect of Karma may be evident either in short term or in the long term. Karma can either manifest its effects in this very life or in the next life or only after several lives.
roots of goodness (kuśala-mūla, 善根). These are (1) no greed, (2) no anger, and (3) no delusion. The Five Roots included in Thirty-seven Elements of Bodhi are goodness in themselves and can grow other good dharmas (see Four Preparatory Trainings).
Saha world 娑婆世界
samādhi (定). A state of mental absorption in meditation. Above the level of the desire realm, there are eight levels of worldly samādhi (八定). The first four levels are the four dhyānas (四禪) of the form realm. The next four levels are the four samādhis of the formless realm (四空定): Boundless Space (空無邊), Boundless Consciousness (識無邊), Nothingness (無所有), and Neither with Nor without Perception (非有想非無想). A Buddhist or non-Buddhist who has attained any of the eight levels of meditation can be reborn in a corresponding heaven in the form or formless realm. Only an Arhat can attain the ninth level called the Samādhi of Total Halt (滅盡定), also more appropriately called the Samādhi of Total Suspension of Sensory Reception and Perception (滅受想定). To enter the Samādhi Door of Buddhas is to attain innumerable samādhis.
Samadhi: Complete concentration, lit: the (mental) state of being firmly fixed, is the fixing of the mind on a single object.
Samatha (奢摩他). It means stillness, a mental state in which one’s mind is in single-minded concentration (see vipaśyanā).
Samatha: (Pali) ‘Tranquillity’ is a symptom of samadhi (concentration). It is one of the mental factors in wholesome consciousness.
saṁsāra (輪迴), or jāti-maraṇa (生死). The cycle of birth and death, in which every sentient being transmigrates through the six life-journeys in the Three Realms of Existence. This endless cycle is called the hard-to-cross ocean, also called the ocean of suffering (see two types of birth and death).
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.
Samsara: (Sanskrit and Pali) The world of appearances and endless flux, including all aspects of becoming and death; cycles of birth and rebirth.
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.
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.
Sariputra: (Skt.) Sariputta (Pali): One of the Buddha's chief disciples.
Sutra / Sutta: (Sutta in Pali and Sutra in Sanskrit) Lit. 'thread', major category of Buddhist scripture.
six pāramitās (六度, 六波羅蜜). The Sanskrit word pāramita means gone across to the opposite shore. To succeed in crossing over to that shore of nirvāṇa, opposite this shore of saṁsāra, a Bodhisattva needs to achieve the six pāramitās: (1) dāna (almsgiving), (2) śīla (observance of precepts), (3) kṣānti (endurance of adversity), (4) vīrya (energetic progress), (5) dhyāna (meditation), and (6) prajñā (development of wisdom). See ten pāramitās.
six purification days (六齋日). On the 8th, 14th, 15th, 23rd, 29th, and 30th day of each lunar month, lay Buddhists can accept and observe the eight precepts, abstaining from committing sins that are evil by nature and from sensory gratification. The Sanskrit word word poṣadha (齋) means fasting for purification. However, not knowing the meaning of poṣadha, some lay Buddhists assign these six days for eating vegetarian meals.
Tathāgata (如來). The Thus-Come One, the first of the ten epithets of a Buddha, which signifies true suchness. Although the Tathāgata never moves, a Buddha appears to have come and gone in the same way as have past Buddhas.
Tathagata: (Pali/Skt.) Literally, "one who has become authentic (tatha-agata)," an epithet used in ancient India for a person who has attained the highest religious goal. In Buddhism, it usually denotes the Buddha, although occasionally it also denotes any of his Arahant disciples.
Ten Great Disciples of Skakyamuni Buddha:
- Mahakasyapa in Sanskrit, Mahakassapa in Pali - first in ascetism.
- Ananda - first in having heard the words of Buddha.
- Sariputra in Sanskrit, Sariputta in Pali - first in wisdom.
- Subhuti first in expressing emptiness.
- Purna first in explaining good law.
- Maudgalyayana in Sanskrit, Moggallana in Pali - first in supernatural power.
- Katyayana first in preaching.
- Aniruddha in Sanskrit, Anuruddha in Pali - first in the sharpness of his divine eyes.
- Upali first in taking precepts.
- Rahula first in esoteric practices and in desire for instruction in the law.
ten good karmas (十善). The opposites of the ten evil karmas are (1) no killing, (2) no stealing, (3) no sexual misconduct, (4) no false speech, (5) no divisive speech, (6) no abusive speech, (7) no suggestive speech, (8) no greed, (9) no anger, and (10) no wrong views.
ten precepts (daśa-śīla, 十戒). Observed by novice monks and nuns, the ten precepts include the eight precepts, but precepts 7 and 8 are renumbered 8 and 9, because precept 6 is divided into two: (6) no wearing perfumes or adornments, and (7) no singing, dancing, or watching song-dance entertainments. A tenth precept is added: (10) no touching or hoarding money or treasures.
Ten Stages of the Bodhisattva: These are the ten stages of development of Bodhisattva:
- Pramudita (joy) - joy at having overcome the difficulties and sufferings, now entering on the path to Buddhahood;
- Vimala (purity) - freedom from all possible defilement;
- Prabhakari (enlightenment) - stage of further enlightenment;
- Arcismati (widsom) - stage of glowing wisdom;
- Sudurjaya (no difficulty) - stage of mastering the utmost difficulties;
- Abhimukhi (open way) - the open way of wisdom above definitions of impurity and purity;
- Duramgama (proceeding afar) - getting above ideas of self in order to save others;
- Acala (unperturbed) - attainment of being unperturbed;
- Sadhumati (discriminatory wisdom) - the finest discriminatory wisdom, knowing where and how to save, and possessing the Ten Powers;
- Dharma megha (law cloud) - attainment of the fertilizing powers of law cloud.
The Four Apayas (Nether Worlds)
1. The Realm of intense continuous suffering/ Hell (Niraya);
2. The Realm of animals (Tiracchana)
3. The Realm of ever hungry beings (Peta)
4. The Realm of miserable petas (Asurakaya).
The Eight Atthakkhanas (Inopportune Times)
1. Being born in the Hell/ Niraya
2. Being born as animals
3. Being born as petas
4. Being born as Asaannatta-brahamas and Arupa-brahamas.
5. Being born as a human being in the remote part of a country which can not be reached by Buddha and his disciples
6. Being born as a human being having the wrong view during the time of the Buddha and his Teachings
7. Being born as a human being with no intellingence to understand the teachings of the Buddha
8. Being born as a human being with adequate intellingence to understand the teachings of the Buddha but not in the time of the Buddha.
The Five Veras (Enemies)
3. Bad Ruler
5. Bad sons and daughters who are unworthy heirs
The Four Vipattis (Deficiencies)
(Impairment; destruction; misfortune)
1. Living during the time of bad rulers (Kalavipatti)
2. Being reborn in four miserable existences (Gativipatti)
3. Having physical deformities and disfigurements (Upadhivipatti) and
4. Being deficient in intelligence, knowledge, mindfulness, right effort and diligence (Payogavipatti)
The Five Kinds of Losses (Byasanas)
1. Loss of relatives (Nati-byasana)
2. Loss of wealth (Bhoga-byasana)
3. Loss of health due to illness (Roga-byasana)
4. Loss of right view (Ditthi-byasana)
5. Loss of morality (Sila-byasana)
Thirty-seven Elements of Bodhi (三十七道品). Also called the Thirty-seven Aids to Attain Bodhi. These trainings are classified into seven categories:
- Four Abidings of Mindfulness;
- Four Right Endeavors: (1) end forever the existing evil, (2) do not allow new evil to arise, (3) cause new goodness to arise, and (4) expand existing goodness;
- Four Ways to Attain Samādhi: (1) aspiration, (2) energetic progress, (3) memory, and (4) contemplation;
- Five Roots: (1) root of faith, (2) root of energetic progress, (3) roof of memory, (4) root of samādhi, and (5) root of wisdom;
- Five Powers: (1) power of faith, (2) power of energetic progress, (3) power of memory, (4) power of samādhi, and (5) power of wisdom;
- Seven Bodhi Factors;
- Eightfold Right Path.
Three Realms of Existence (trayo-dhātu, 三界, 三有). The world of illusory existence, in which sentient beings transmigrate, comprises (1) the desire realm (欲界), where reside sentient beings with the full range of afflictions, such as hell-dwellers, ghosts, animals, humans, asuras, and some gods; (2) the form realm (色界), where Brahma gods, who have only pure desires, reside in eighteen form heavens classified into the four dhyāna heavens (四禪天), or four levels of meditation; and (3) the formless realm (無色界), where formless gods are in mental existence in four formless heavens, or at four levels of long, deep meditative absorption (see samādhi).
Three Refuges (三皈依). One becomes a Buddhist by taking refuge, for protection and guidance, in the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Saṅgha. According to the Sūtra of the Garland of a Bodhisattva’s Primary Karmas, with the four indestructible faiths, one should take the Four Refuges, and the fourth refuge is the precepts (T24n1485, 1020c22–24).
The Three Kappas (Disasters)
1. The disaster by famine
2. The disaster by weapons
3. The disaster by epidemic
Trikaya: (Sanskrit) The three 'bodies', kaya, or vehicles of manifestation of the Buddha; Dharma-kaya, Sambhoga-kaya and Nirmana-kaya.
Tripiṭaka (三藏). The three collections of texts of the Buddhist canon: (1) the Sūtra-piṭaka, discourses of the Buddha; (2) the Vinaya-piṭaka, rules of conduct; and (3) the Abhidharma-piṭaka, treatises on the Dharma. A Tripiṭaka master is accomplished in all three areas.
Two Paths (二道).
A. (1) The Path with Discharges (有漏道) is the worldly path taken by those with afflictions as they follow the first two of the Four Noble Truths and transmigrate in the Three Realms of Existence; (2) the Path without Discharges (無漏道) is the holy path taken by those who follow the last two of the Four Noble Truths, in order to eradicate their afflictions and transcend the Three Realms (see discharge).
B. (1) The Difficult Path (難行道) to Buddhahood is through repeated birth and death in the Three Realms of Existence; (2) the Easy Path (易行道) to Buddhahood is through rebirth in a Pure Buddha Land to train there.
Upāsaka (優婆塞). A Buddhist layman (see Saṅgha).
Upāsikā (優婆夷). A Buddhist laywoman. (see Saṅgha).
Western Paradise (also known as Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss)
It is a place of ease, without sorrow, in which beings may hear Amitabha's teaching and thereby realize enlightenment. In Pure Land Buddhism, it is believed trust in and devotion to Amitabha will enable one to be born in Sukhavati, and from there enter Nirvana.