A | B | C
| D | E | F
| G | H | I
| J | K | L
| M | N | O
| P | Q | R
| S | T | U
| V | W | X
| Y| Z
- Amitabha Buddha*
- The name of the bodhisattva
who established the Pure Land
form of Buddhism. The power he gained from his merit as a bodhisattva
enabled him to establish the Pure Land and now allows him
to help others enter the Pure Land. The laity in
particular can now enter the Pure Land with Amitabha's
help, they do not have to get there on their own power.
All they need do is to chant and believe the Amida Butsu.
- Amida Butsu
- In Japanese, the term by which devotees call on Amitabha
Buddha. They usually say "Praise to the Buddha
Amitabha," i.e., "Namu Amida Butsa," which
can be shortened to "Nembutsu."
- anatman/anatta *
- The Buddhist notion that there is no eternal soul, unlike
in Hinduism. Instead, each living person is an
association of five skandas,
which fly apart at death. Linguistically,
"atta" is Pali for "atman" while
"an" is the negative. The term literally means
- arhat/arhant/arahat/arahant *
- A term used primarily in Theravada
Buddhism to signify a person who has fulfilled its
ultimate goal, the attainment of nirvana. Upon death, the
arhat will become extinguished. The arhat, as an
individual, has attained full enlightenment,
peace and freedom. This should be contrasted to Mahayana Buddhism, in
which the ultimate goal is to become a bodhisattva--someone
who uses the power they gain from enlightenment to help
- Asura *
- This term is often translated as "ogre" or
"titan." They are one of the six states of existence that
are in samsara.
Different types of Buddhism view them differently. Asura
is usually seen as positive, resulting from good karma like human beings and
gods. In this interpretation, they dwell in the lower
heavens. Other views treat the asuras as resulting from
bad karma and hence they are seen as the enemies of the
gods. Some types of Buddhism ignore this category
altogether and have only five states of existence.
- Popularly known as the Bodhisattva
of Compassion. He has reincarnated in this world numerous
times (in both male and female forms) and therefore plays
many roles depending on which strand of Buddhism one
follows. First, in Mahayana Buddhism, he is considered to
be the manifestation of Amitabha
Buddha, the founder of the Pure Land school of
Buddhism, and is often represented at Amitabha's right
hand. As such he is available to help all in dire need.
Second, in China, she appears as Kuan Yin, the Goddess of
Compassion. In folk belief, she keeps people safe from
natural catastrophe. Third, in Tibet, he appears in
several forms. The most important of these are as Chenrezig (the male
partner of the couple who gave birth to the Tibetan
people), Tara, and as the
- A Zen term for enlightenment.
- bhikkhu, bikkhuni
- A Buddhist monk, a Buddhist nun.
- See Enlightenment.
- In Mahayana Buddhism,
a person who has achieved enlightenment, but
has who has chosen to remain in this world to help those
who are suffering, instead of going on to nirvana. This is the
highest ideal. Kuan Yin
is an important Chinese bodhisattva; her full name means
"Hearing World's Cries Bodhisattva." Amitabha Buddha is an
important Bohisattva in the Mahayana form of Buddhism
called Pure Land. The idea of the bodhisattva should be
contrasted to the arhat
- Buddha *
- (1) The Buddha is Siddartha
who was the founder of Buddhism. He was the first to
attain enlightenment, and then taught others how to
attain it. His first name is Siddartha, his family name
was Gautama. He was a
member of the Shakya
clan, and hence is called Shakyamuni,
"the wise one of the Shakyas." He is also known
"the Enlightened One." (2) Mahayana Buddhism
holds that there are five Buddhas who have/will manifest
themselves in the earthly realm. The fifth Buddha, who
will come in the future, is known as Maitreya. (3) In
Mahayana, a buddha is someone who has attained enlightenment.
- Buddha-fields *
- The Buddha-fields are the infinite number of paradises
which are populated by uncountable Buddhas and bodhisattvas. The
Buddha-fields are beyond the realm of samsara. Those within
them have reached enlightenment,
but have not yet attained nirvana.
This is where Amitabha
has his Pure Land.
- Chan Buddhism
- The Chinese name for Zen
- The Tibetan form of Avalokiteshvara,
the Bodhisattva of
Compassion. Chenrezig is viewed as the founding father of
the Tibetan people, and has had several manifestations
among them. The most famous are King Songtsen Gampo who
brought Buddhism to Tibet in the seventh century, and the
Dalai Lama. His female
aspect is Tara. The mantra associated with him
(om mane padme hum) was the first to enter Tibet.
- Dalai Lama*
- The bodhisattva
who is the reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara,
the bodhisattva of Compassion. He is a single being who
has been reincarnated 14 times as the Dalai Lama. See
also lama. The Dalai Lama
has always been a combination the chief spiritual leader
and the chief political leader of Tibet. The present
Dalai Lama lives in exile in Nepal; he remains spiritual
leader of his people, even under their oppression by the
Chinese government. For further information, click
- Dharma/ Dhamma*
- The teachings of the Buddha.
- Another way of spelling jhana.
- See Thunderbolt.
- dukkha *
- The Buddhist understanding of the nature of life,
especially human life. It is suffering, pain, misery, and
death. To see how dukkha is explained within Theravada
- Eightfold Path*
- The Noble Eightfold path consists of the eight steps by
which a person can achieve Nirvana.
This is the path by which one ceases to desire and
thereby ceases to suffer (see dukkha). This path leads
to a form of meditation which, similar to Raja Yoga in
Hinduism, enables a person to reach enlightenment. The
eight stages are:
- 1) Right Views.
- 2) Right Intent.
- 3) Right Speech.
- 4) Right Conduct.
- 5) Right livelihood.
- 6) Right effort.
- 7) Right mindfulness.
- 8) Right concentration.
To see how the Eightfold Path is described within
Theravada Buddhism, click
- Emptiness is usually the description of Enlightenment. To
the western mind, this description is often difficult to
comprehend, leading to the idea that it is
"nothing," and therefore quite unattractive.
Two points will help correct this view. First,
"emptiness" can be understood as the Buddhist
way of saying that Ultimate Reality is incapable of being
described, much the way that many Christian theologians
view the Christian God as beyond our human attempts to
describe. Second, the "emptiness" should not be
thought of an another place. Instead, it is identical to
the world or universe humans experience in this life. In
this way, it is much like the Hindu notion that this
world is simply maya (illusion), which prevents humans
from seeing the true unity of the cosmos (which in
Hinduism means the identity of Atman and Brahman). Thus
emptiness and the phenomena of this world are the same,
or as the Heart Sutra
says, "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form."
- This is the usual English translation of the Sanskrit
word "bodhi," which literally means
"awakening." It is achieved by following the Eight-fold path, and
therefore constitutes freedom from all desires.
Enlightenment gives the person who achieves it the wisdom
of perceiving the ultimate reality, which entails the
power and the ability to work to change that reality in
certain ways--especially to help people in need. For
created the western land--the Pure
Land--as a heaven for his followers. Enlightenment is
often described as emptiness.
This is the final step before nirvana. Gaining
Enlightenment can be likened to breaking through a wall.
At first, only a small hole may be created, through which
one can briefly see a small part of the other side.
Ultimately, the whole wall may be destroyed and all will
- Factors of Conditioned Rising
- There are twelve factors of conditioned arising: death,
birth, craving, ignorance, consciousness, becoming,
contact, sensation, the six senses, grasping, the power
of formation, and mind and body.
- Five Precepts *
- The minimum set of moral rules for Buddhism, practiced by
both the lay people and the monks of the sangha. They forbid (1)
theft, (2) improper sexual practices (adultery for lay
people, sexual activity of any kind for monks), (3)
killing, (4) lying and deceiving, and (5) drinking
alcoholic drinks. To see how the Five Precepts are laid
out within Theravada Buddhism, click
- Four Noble Truths *
- The most basic statement of Buddhist belief:
(1) All is suffering (dukkha).
(2) Suffering is caused by desire.
(3) If one can eliminate desire, they can eliminate
(4) The Noble Eight-fold
Path can eliminate desire.
To see how the Four Noble Truths are explained within
Theravada Buddhism, click
- Gautama *
- The Buddha's family name, or last name. His first name
- Guru *
- A teacher or guide for a novice. This is an important
activity in Vajrayana
- Heart Sutra *
- One of the central sutras in Mahayana Buddhism. It is
particularly important in Zen
because of its teaching about emptiness. The key idea
of this teaching is: "Form is no other than
emptiness, emptiness is no other than form." For an
on-line translation of the Heart Sutra, click
- The term literally means "the Little Way." It
is a derogatory term put onto Theravada Buddhism by
those who follow Mahayana,
which means "the Great Way (or vehicle, or
- Hungry Ghost *
- These ghosts are a state of existence, a type of rebirth.
This state stems from negative karma. The ghosts live
between the earth and hell. They are called hungry
because they have large stomachs and tiny mouths. This is
one of the six states of
- Impermanence *
- (Sanskrit: anitya, Pali: anicca) This term refers to the
Buddhist notion that all things of samsara are impermanent.
Once created, they decay and pass away. Although this is
particularly true for human illness and death, the idea
refers to the nature of all things. It is one of the
reasons for suffering
and is considered one of the three marks of existence.
- A jhanais one of the highest levels of awareness that can
be reached by the practice of samadhi. There are four
jhanas, which together essentially are enlightenment. This
is where the monk attains supernormal powers, sees his
past lives, and gains wisdom
of the true character of reality.
- Karma/Kamma *
- For Buddhism, as in Hinduism, this is the moral law of
cause and effect. People build up karma (both good and
bad) as a result of their actions. This then determines
the state of existence
to which one is reborn after birth. In Buddhism, the
different levels can include hells, humans or animals in
this world, or one of several heavens.
- koan *
- A riddle-like puzzle used for teaching in Zen Buddhism. It cannot be
solved by reason, but instead forces the student to solve
it through a flash of insight. A well-known example is
the question, "What is the sound of one hand
clapping?" For a collection of koans, click
- Kuan Yin
- The Chinese manifestation of Avalokiteshvara,
the Bodhisattva of
Compassion. Although originally depicted as male, he
gradually became represented as female. She appears to
all who need her help, especially those threatened by
water, demons, sword or fire. Childless women often turn
to her for help.
- An English word used to refer to the general members of a
religion (in Buddhism, Christianity, etc.) as opposed to
religious specialists such as monks or priests. In
Buddhism, the opposite of laity is the sangha.
- In Vajrayana, the
term for teacher or guru. He is usually the head of a
monastery or perhaps several monasteries. Some important
lamas are considered to be bodhisattvas, such as
the Dalai Lama.
- Lotus Sutra
- The Lotus Sutra is probably the most important text of
Mahayana Buddhism. It describes a lecture the Buddha gave
and the ideas and thoughts. He discusses all the things
that differentiate Mahayana
Buddhism from Theravada,
such as the idea of a bodhisattva,
in particular the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara,
the merit of the people who venerate the Lotus Sutra, and
the key to nirvana and
- This is the wrathful form of Avalokiteshvara,
the Bodhisattva of
Compassion. He protects from dangers and bad influences
that might hinder a monk's approach to enlightenment.
Mahakala is seen as the protector of the Dalai Lamas.
- Mahayana Buddhism *
- Mahayana means "The Great Raft" or "The
Great Vehicle." It is the largest and most
influential of the three main forms of Buddhism (the
other two being Theravada
and Vajrayana ). It
is practiced in China, Japan and Korea. Vajrayana derived from
it and shares many similarities with it. Mahayana
emphasizes the idea of the bodhisattva over that
of the arhat. The goal
of an individual is therefore not to pass out of this
world into nirvana, but to attain enlightenment--with the
wisdom, understanding and power that goes with it--and
then to show compassion by returning to this world to
help those in need. Amitabha
Buddha did this to establish Pure Land Buddhism. In
comparison to Theravada,
Mahayana Buddhism emphasizes the help that gods and
bodhisattvas can give to people to help them escape samsara. It has elaborate
descriptions of how this works and emphasizes prayers and
rituals that enable people to seek this help. Zen is another branch of
- Maitreya *
- The buddha who is
expected to come in the future, known to all schools of
Buddhism. He is worshipped as a being who guides those
who confess their wrongs, and teachers who become
discouraged. He is sometimes depicted as the
"Laughing Buddha" with his hands stretched over
his head, a smile on his face, and a large, bare stomach.
He represents all-encompassing love.
- mandala *
- In general, an art form based on the closed circle, which
is the symbol on eternal continuity. In Tantric Buddhism (Vajrayana), it is a
painting or tapestry based on concentric circles. Within
the circles, the Buddha usually appears with other
and other symbolic imagery. For the monk, a mandala
serves as a focus of meditation, and a symbolic
representation of the reality of the identity of samsara and nirvana. In popular
religion, the mandala is often the focus of worship--or,
to put it another way, the Buddhas and deities depicted
in a mandala become the object(s) of worship. For further
information about mandalas, click
- The Bodhisattva of
Wisdom (prajna), one of
the two key Mahayana
concepts; the other is compassion (represented by Avalokiteshvara). His two
main symbols are the sword of knowledge and a book of the
Sutra. His wisdom casts away the darkness of
- mantra *
- A sound that is used as a focus for mediation or worship.
Similar to Hinduism.
- Marks of Existence *
- There are three marks of existence: suffering (dukka), impermanence
(anitya), and "no-soul"
(anatman). For a fuller discussion of these in Theravada
Buddhism, go here
- Merit (punya)*
- Merit is essentially "good Karma." It can be
gained in a number of ways. Many of these involve
interaction between the sangha
and the laity. For
example, when a lay person gives a monk food, they gain
merit. Acting in a moral manner, teaching the proper
belief, preaching, and chanting also gain an individual
merit. Worship of the Buddha can also bring merit. The
notion of merit plays the largest role in Theravada Buddhism.
- Moon days *
- Every lunar month has four moon days. The most important
are the New Moon (which begins the month) and the Full
Moon (which is the middle of the month). On these days
the sangha gathers to
read the rules of monk behavior and each monk examines
himself to see if they have violated any of the rules.
The other two moon days are halfway in between these two.
Thus, there is therefore a moon day every seven days.
Members of the laity often gather at the monastery on
these days for religious activity.
- mudra *
- Symbolic hand gestures used in ritual or dance. The
Buddha is often depicted with his hands in the meditation
mudra or in the mudra symbolizing teaching. In Vajrayana, the gestures
enlarge to involve the entire body, and they enable the
gesturer to interact with Tantric deities.
- Nagarjuna *
- Nagarjuna was the first Buddhist thinker who attempted to
systematize Buddhist belief. He wrote extensive
commentaries on the the Prajna-Paramita Sutra.
He probably lived during the second century CE. Although
he founded a Mahayana
school, the Madhyamikas, his systematization was much
more important, being used by many Mahayana schools and
as being one of the intellectual bases of Vajrayana Buddhism.
- In Japanese, the term by which devotees call on Amitabha Buddha. They
usually say "Praise to the Buddha Amitabha,"
i.e., "Namu Amida Butsa," which can be
shortened to "Nembutsu."
- nirvana/nibbana *
- It is the cessation of suffering,
the liberation from karma,
and therefore the passing over into another existence.
The best way to think about nirvana is that it is the
final goal of Buddhism, and that Enlightenment is
the step immediately before it. Thus one becomes aware of
the nature of Ultimate Reality in Enlightenment, and then
one becomes unified with that reality in nirvana. Thus
the Buddha, when he
died, passed into Nirvana, having previously attained
Enlightenment during his life and sharing it with
humanity. A bodhisattva
is one who has attained Enlightenment, but rather than
passing over into nirvana, chose to come back to this
world to use their power to help other people.
- A translation of the word asura.
- Pali and Pali Canon
- Pali is a dialect of Sanskrit and
is thought to be the language the Buddha
spoke; it is also the language of Therevada
Buddhism. The Pali Canon (of Therevada) is the sacred.
Buddhist exts written in this dialect, the Tripitaka.
- These are the six virtues, or "perfections,"
that the bodhisattva perfects during his development.
They are: generosity, discipline, patience, energy,
meditation (jhana) and
wisdom (prajna). The
fifth paramita is meditation, or jhana. It refers to the
attainment of the four levels of jhana in which
non-duality is experienced. The sixth paramita is that of
supreme wisdom (prajna).
- This term, meaning wisdom, is the supreme wisdom
considered by Mahayana
Buddhism to be outside human experience and incapable of
being conveyed in this-world categories. The key
experience of prajna is insight into Emptiness, the true
nature of the cosmos. This is usually attained during enlightenment.
- Prajna-Paramita Sutra
- This term refers to a collection of 40 Mahayana sutras which
all deal with prajna
and its attainment. This was the focus of Nagarjuna's writing and
commentaries. The best known of the 40 is the Heart Sutra.
- The Sanskrit word usually translated as hungry ghost, one of the
six states of existence.
- puja *
- A act of worship or devotion to a buddha or a bodhisattva.
- punya *
- Merit. An act that gains good karma..
- Pure Land Buddhism *
- The form of Buddhism focuses on the Buddha Amitabha and the
"Pure Land" he created. Appearing in China in
the fourth century c.e. and later in Japan, Korea and
other nations, this form of Buddhism has the largest
following of all the different types of Buddhism. Pure
Land is aimed at the average person in its recognition
that most people cannot achieve enlightenment and so are
doomed forever to stay in samsara.
So Amitabha set up a "Pure Land" in the
"west"--a paradise--to which people can go when
they die. To gain entrance, people simply have to call on
the power of Amitabha. This is done by uttering a phrase
such as "Namu Amidha Butsu," (the Nembutsu) which is
Japanese for "Praise to Amitabha Buddha."
- Rain Retreat *
- In the earliest centuries of Buddhism, monks were
itinerant, wandering for nine months of the year. When
the monsoons began, in July, they gathered together for
teaching, instruction, meditation and encouragement. Theravada Buddhism,
which is in the area of the monsoons, still keeps the
rain retreats, even though its monks have long ago ceased
- This is an honorific term applied to lamas
in Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhism.
It literally means "greatly precious" and is
given to masters who are highly valued for their
spiritual knowledge. A Rinpoche is often believed to be
the reincarnation of a lama, guru, or
even a bodhisattva or a buddha. For introductions to some
Rinpoches, go here.
- A spiritual practice in Vajrayana Buddhism in
which the practitioner is guided by a guru. The goal is
to work towards identification with one's yidam.
- Sakya, Sakymuni
- The Sakya is the clan into which the Buddha was born.
"Sakyamuni" means "wise one of the
Sakya," which was a title given to the Buddha.
- Samadhi *
- A form of meditation widely practiced in Theravada Buddhism in
which the mind is concentrated on a single object and
gradually calmed until only the object is known. The
ultimate goal of this meditation is to enter the state of
samadhi which is when the distinction between the object
and the meditator disappears, which is the realization of
non-dualism. This state is a prerequisite to entering the
four levels of jhana and
- See sangha.
- samsara *
- The continual cycle of death and rebirth. This death and
rebirth is of course into this world of suffering and this is
viewed in a negative manner.
- sangha/samgha *
- A general term that refers to the monks (Bhikkhus) as a whole.
- The spoken language of ancient India, which belongs to
the class of the Indo-European languages. It is used both
in Hinduism and in some forms of Buddhism..
- This is the twice-daily meeting between the student and
the master in Zen Buddhism
to discuss the student's progress in meditation. The main
purpose is to determine whether the student has solved
their koan. If not, the
incorrect answer is rejected, and the master must then
spur the student on to find a correct solution.
- Zen Buddhism's term for enlightenment.
- Siddhartha *
- The Buddha's given name, or first name. His surname was Gautama.
- This term means precept or rule. It usually is used in
reference to the Five or Ten Precepts which form the
basic guidelines for the sangha's behavior.
- skandhas *
- The five elements of a human which come together at birth
and separate at death: body, feelings/senses,
perceptions, habits and inclinations, and consciousness.
This is linked to the notion of "no-soul."
- States of Existence *
- There are six states of existence (gati). The highest
three are the gods, the asuras,
and human beings; they result from good karma. The lowest three are
animals, hungry ghosts,
and demons (hell-dwellers); they result from bad karma.
Some forms of Buddhism view the asuras as stemming from
bad karma and others ignore them completely, having only
five states of existence.
- stupa *
- A shrine in which relics of the Buddha are kept. The
center is a raised temple which is usually surrounded by
a series of terraces.
- Suffering *
- See dukkha.
- (1) As in Hinduism, a term meaning sacred text. (2) The
Sutra Pitaka is one of the three divisions of the tripitaka. It contains
the words and teachings of Buddha himself. (3) The Sutras
are the foundational texts for Mahayana Buddhism, which
differentiate Mahayana from Theravada Buddhism. Two
important Sutras are the Heart
Sutra and the Lotus
- See Vajrayana.
- Tantrism *
- Tantrism and tantric ideas begin with notions in line
with all forms of Buddhism, namely, the idea that
Ultimate Reality is a singular Unity. It is not the
apparent multiplicity of the present world around us
(maya). Tantrism, which is a key component of Vajrayana, then goes
beyond these notions to their representation in the
symbol of the sexual union between male and female (see yab-yum). This union is a
symbol of the identity of the multiple nature of this
world (maya), which is represented by the male, with the
unity and wisdom of cosmos, represented by the female. In
some schools, the symbol of intercourse is reenacted as
part of meditation.
- A female manifestation in Tibet of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of
Compassion, whose Tibetan form is Chenrezig. She can
appear in 21 different forms, which differ in attributes
and are known by their color. She appears in both
peaceful and wrathful manifestations. The most commonly
appearing forms are Green Tara and White Tara. She is
often revered as a yidam,
monks towards enlightenment. Included in her earthly
manifestations are the two consorts of King Songtsen
Gampo who brought Buddhism to Tibet in the seventh
century, who is himself considered an manifestation of
- A term for the Buddha
(Siddartha) which means "The Enlightened One."
- Ten Precepts *
- This is the code of monastic discipline for the monks. It
consists of the Five Precepts
(no stealing, sexual activity, killing, lying, or
alcohol) which apply to all Buddhists, and five further
restrictions designed specifically for members of the sangha. These are:
- (6) Not to take food from noon to the next morning.
- (7) Not to adorn the body with anything other than the
- (8) Not to participate in or watch public entertainments.
- (9) Not to use high or comfortable beds.
- (10) Not to use money.
- To see how the Ten Precepts are laid out within Theravada
- Theravada Buddhism *
- Literally, "the path of the Elders." Of the
three major branches of Buddhism, this was the earliest
to crystallize into form. In contrast to Mahayana and Vajrayana, Theravada
emphasizes the individual over the group, holding that it
is the individual who must reach nirvana on their own.
Its central virtue is thus wisdom, which is to be
achieved by the arhat
who attains enlightenment
in this life and nirvana
upon death. It discourages speculation about the nature
of the cosmos, enlightenment, and nirvana, instead
focusing on meditation to achieve enlightenment. The main
social group is therefore the sangha, the gathered monks
and nuns who support and teach each other as each one
strives to achieve enlightenment.
- The Three Refuges, also known as
The Three Vows or The Three Jewels *
- 1) I take refuge in the Buddha.
- 2) I take refuge in the Dharma.
- 3) I take refuge in the Sangha.
- Thunderbolt *
- The English word often used to translate the Sanskrit
word "vajra" (Tibetan, "dorje"),
which is key symbol for Vajrayana
Buddhism. It means literally "Diamond
Thunderbolt." It symbolizes the indestructible
character of emptiness,
the true nature of all things. Tibetan Buddhists use a
crafted metal image of a thunderbolt in their rituals.
For a picture of Vajrasattva holding thunderbolts in his
- A translation of the term asura.
- tripitaka, also tipitaka.
- The three main sacred scriptures of Buddhism. A
"pitaka" is a basket and so the term refers to
the "three baskets." The first basket is the
teachings of the Buddha. The second is the discipline for
the sangha. The third
is that of special teachings. For further information
about the tripitaka, click
- Vajrayana *
- Since a "vajra" is a diamond, this term means
"The Diamond Way." It refers to the third form
of Buddhism (after Theravada
and Mahayana), which
is practiced largely in Tibet. It is also known as Tantric Buddhism. The
main claim of Vajrayana is that it enables a person to
reach nirvana in a
single lifetime. It is able to do this by using all of a
person's powers (including those of the body) to achieve
- This form of meditation is widely practiced in Theravada Buddhism. Its
goal is the realization of the three marks of existence: suffering, impermanence, and
leads to the realization of the true character of Emptiness. Vipassana
and Samadhi are
considered prerequisites for attaining nirvana by Theravada
- Wheel of Life
- (Sanskrit: Bava Chakra) In Tibetan Buddhism especially,
the Wheel of Life is a symbol consisting of three
concentric circles held by Yama, the God of the
Underworld. It signifies samsara.
The inner-most circle contains symbols of the three
sources of suffering:
the pig (ignorance), the snake (hate), and the cock
(desire). The next circle is divided into six sections,
each depicting one of the six states of being. The
outside ring is divided into twelve sections, each
representing a symbol of one of the twelve factors of conditioned arising
(death, birth, craving, ignorance, consciousness, etc.).
- Wisdom *
- This is the usual translation of prajna.
- In Tibeten Buddhism, or Vajrayana
Buddhism, this is the symbol of the male and female
sexual union--usually a union of a god or a bodhisattva
and his consort--which represents the completeness of the
cosmos. The male represents action, usually that of
compassion, in this finite world, and the female
represents wisdom, the unity of the Infinite. The male is
seen as passive and the female as active.
- yidam *
- A bodhisattva or
other "deity" assigned to a Vajrayana monk by his guru as his personal guide
and protector. Once established, this link will last the
monk's lifetime, and will help him work towards attaining
- Zazen *
- In Zen Buddhism, the
practice of extended periods of mediation, usually in a
group in a meeting hall. The monks sit quietly for long
periods of time in the cross-legged Lotus position. While
different individuals will be meditating with different
goals, often meditation focuses on solving a koan. For more information
than you ever wanted to know about zazen, click
- Zen Buddhism*
- A branch of Mahayana
Buddhism which was brought to China (where it was called
Chan) in 520 CE by Bodhidarma and arrived in Japan in the
twelfth century. It is probably the most common form of
Buddhism in the West. Practitioners of Zen must usually
devote themselves to a life as a monk, for it requires
extensive periods of meditation. It concentrates on
making clear that reality is beyond words and language
and beyond logic. To accomplish this, it makes use of the
koan, zazen, and sanzen. The word
"zen" derives from the Sanskrit term for the
concept of jhana.
A |B | C
| D | E | F
| G | H | I
| J | K | L
| M | N | O
| P | Q | R
| S | T | U
| V | W | X
| Y | Z
Top of Page | Introduction to
Religion Homepage | Religious
To send comments to the professor, please email PFlesher@uwyo.edu.
Copyright ©: 1996, 1997 Paul V. M. Flesher.
This glossary was written by Paul V. M. Flesher; it is not
drawn from any published work. It is for use with the course RELI
1000, Introduction to Religion, taught at the University of
m<<&WP Floppy 1:Buddhism HTML:Bglossry.htm@Ä