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Buddhist terms 1-50

Buddhism terms

Abhidamma Pitaka One of 3 ‘baskets’ of the Tripitaka (Theravada) related to philosophy; includes higher teachings or philosophy.
Alara One of the two high-caste Brahmins under whom Siddartha Gautama studied prior to his enlightenment.
Amitabha ’Unlimited Light.’ A celestial Buddha ruling over Sukhavati, a Buddha-field to the west, the basis for the Pure Land schools in East Asia. His Chinese name is A-mi-t’o; his Japanese name, Amida (Buddha).
arhat One deserving (of reverence), worthy; attained nirvana, destroyed the asravas, & no destined rebirth. Mainstream schools=applied to the Buddha & to highest level of his noble disciples (sravaka); Mahayana schools=applied to highest level of sravakas.
Asanga Buddhist founder of the Yogacara school of Buddhism.
Bodhi tree Literally ‘awakening,’ now ‘enlightenment.’ Applied to existing trees, (i.e. Sacred Fig) growing at Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya (India), which is a direct descendant planted in 288 BC from the original specimen that Gautama became enlightened under.
Bodhisattvas Enlightened beings; who refused liberation from the wheel of samsara, postponing their own salvation, and out of compassion, returned to assist all sentient beings towards perfect enlightenment.
Dalai Lama Literally, ’Ocean Teacher,’ (Ocean of Wisdom); currently the fourteenth (Tenzin Gyatso) was exiled by the Chinese in 1950; seeks to preserve Tibetan culture and Tibetan Buddhism.
Dharma-kaya One of the bodies of Buddha in Mahayana referring to the essence of Buddha and the innate reality of Buddhahood. (see Trikaya)
Diamond Sutra A famous Mahayana sutra written between 300-700 CE which, like the Heart Sutra, is a condensed version of the famous Perfection of Wisdom Sutras. (See Prajnaparamita Sutras)
dukkha Concept of suffering or ‘unsatisfactoriness,’ which explains the fundamental aspect of the human condition; and the crux of the Buddha’s teachings.
First Council Meeting in 483 BCE by Buddha’s disciples, which helped promulgate Buddhist doctrines.
Five Precepts See Ten Precepts (the first 5); used as ‘prescription’ for treating the human condition, and an antidote to the 3 poisons: greed, aversion and hatred, and ignorance or delusion.
Four Noble Truths The Buddha’s core teaching of 1) Dukkha-disease or suffering, 2) Samudaya-the arising or origin of dukkha, 3) Nirodha-the cessation of dukkha, and 4) Magga-the way leading to the cessation of dukkha.
Hinayana Literally, ‘little vehicle.’ A pejorative term used by Mahayana (great vehicle) Buddhists to describe ancient Buddhism, which, in their view, was not privy to the full knowledge of the Buddha’s revelations. (See Theravada)
Kami Spirit; charismatic force, object, or being.
koan A story, dialogue, question, or statement, used in Zen-practice to provoke the "great doubt", and test a student's progress in Zen practice.
Luang Phor Tuad 1582~1682 CE, Revered Buddhist monk; said he performed miracles; kept Sri Lanka from taking over Thailand by arranging 84,000 words of a sutra in front of their Kings; amulets are priceless & said to keep from accidents, danger, black magic, and demons.
Madhyamika school First major school of thought within Mahayana; ‘Middle Way’ school; formed in 2nd century by Nagarjuna; includes famous Buddhist texts such as Diamond Sutra.
Mahayana Buddhism Literally, ‘great vehicle,’ referring to the largest division of Buddhism which strives to become an enlightened being rather than a monk.
Maitreyanatha First traditional expounder of Yogacara.
Mantra ’Instrument;’ short verse or collection of syllables used to evoke a deity, gain protection against evil or adverse forces, or as a meditation object, especially—but not exclusively—in Tantra.
Mara the demon-god who tempted Buddha as he sat under the Bodhi tree prior to his enlightenment; aka Buddhist deity in the sense-realm who uses sensuality to prevent people from gaining enlightenment.
Middle Path AKA the fourth Noble Truth; avoids the two extremes of indulgence in sensual pleasures and self-mortification; grouped in three aspects of Buddhist practice: Ethical Conduct (Sila); Mental Discipline (Samadhi); Wisdom (Panna or Prajna).
Nagarjuna The first great teacher after Siddartha Gautama; aka the second Buddha.
Nirvana Eightfold process of discipline: 1) right understanding, 2) right thought, 3) right speech, 4) right action, 5) right livelihood, 6) right effort, 7) right mindfulness, & 8) right concentration; involves self-extinguishing & release from wheel of samsara.
Noble Eightfold Path Values introduced by the Buddha; 1) right understanding, 2) right intention, 3) right speech, 4) right action, 5) right livelihood, 6) right effort, 7) right mindfulness, and 8) right concentration.
Pali canon Title of the sacred text collection of the Theravada school of Buddhism. (See Tripitaka)
Prajnaparamita Sutras Term for a collection of Mahayana texts known as the ‘perfection of wisdom’ sutras dated around 100 BCE and later condensed in such influential texts as the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra.
Pratitya-samutpada Buddha’s theory of causality; AKA ‘dependent arising,’ refers to chain of dependent links to describe process that something is given apparent existence, which is causally conditioned & there's no 1st cause. Doctrine often shown with 12 links (nidanas).
prayer wheel A cylinder containing sacred prayer texts, which are believed to be activated when the cylinder is spun by the worshiper; prayer flags are similar.
Pure Land Buddhism Mahayana conception of a ‘Buddha-land’ where a transcendent bodhisattva resides. It has no ultimate reality or existence.
relic A part of the body of a saint or a venerated person, or else another type of ancient religious object, carefully preserved for purposes of veneration or as a touchable or tangible memorial.
Sangha Community: two levels of meaning: 1) ideal (arya) level=all of Buddha’s followers, lay or ordained, who have at least attained the level of srotapanna; 2) conventional level=Orders of Bhiksus & Bhiksunis. Buddha’s 5 friends called him hypocrite after eati
Second Council Influential Buddhist council 100 years after Budda’s death to reform monastic practice which revealed important early divisions between laity and monks.
Siddartha Gautama AKA The Buddha; lived during the 6th century; known at the Enlightened One; taught the Middle Way; and various Precepts.
skhandas All factors identified as one’s ‘self’ are impermanent, causally produced aggregations. The 5 skhandas are 1) form (the body or physical), 2) feeling, 3) perception, mental label, 4) thought formations, and 5) sensory consciousness; results in rebirths.
spirit houses Shrines to protective spirits primarily in Southeast Asia. Houses/businesses usually place miniature houses/temples on a stage on corners of property; chosen after talking with priests. Shelters spirits; causes problems if not appeased; form of animism.
Stupa Memorial shrine or reliquary, especially to a deceased Buddha or arhat.
Sukhavati Literally, ‘the Land of Bliss,’ the pure land presided over by the Buddha Amitabha. AKA the western paradise.
Sutras Group of authoritative texts in Hinduism & Buddhism; often including aphorisms.
Sutta Pitaka One of the 3 ‘baskets’ of the Tripitaka (Theravada) related to doctrine; includes the oldest dialogues or teachings given by the Buddha.
tantra Literally, ‘continuum,’...its most general sense means a manual or handbook. In Buddhism it refers to a text that contains esoteric teachings, often ascribed to the Buddha. These texts provide techniques for gaining siddhis, both mundane and supramundane.
Ten Precepts Refrain from: 1)harming living beings, 2)stealing, 3)sexual misconduct, 4)false speech, 5)intoxicating drinks/drugs, 6)untimely meals, 7)dancing, music, singing, & grotesque mime, 8)use of perfumes, & personal adornment, & 9)high seats & 10)gold/silver
Theravada Buddhism Literally, ‘the Elders,’ referring to the more ancient, monastic expression of Buddhism. (See Hinayana)
Thich Nhat Hanh Vietnamese monk who led the Buddhist Peace Delegation during the Vietnam War and has preached the Buddhist virtue of ‘mindfulness’ in the West.
Tripitaka Three ‘baskets’ or divisions in the Pali canon of Buddhism: Vinaya, Sutta, & Abhidhamma. (See Pali canon)
Vinaya Pitaka One of 3 ‘baskets’ of the Tripitaka (Theravada) related to discipline; includes discipline or rules of conduct governing the way of life of Buddhist monks or nuns.
Yogacara school Second major school of thought within Mahayana; aka school of Cittamatra (mind-only) or Vijnanavada (way of consciousness) by Maitreyanatha; ultimate reality is located in the mind only.
Zen Buddhism ‘Meditation’ school started by 6th century Indian monk, Bodhidharma b/c Buddhism became too attached to scriptures & not watching the mind or heart; good for Chinese culture influenced by Taoist philosophy; AKA Chan (Chinese), Zen in Japan.
Created by: Tjbaum24
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