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A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist terms
This glossary covers many of the Pali words and technical terms that you may
come across in the books and articles available on this website. The
"[MORE]" link that follows some entries will take you to a more detailed
article on the selected topic.
Many of the entries have been adapted (with permission) from the glossaries
in the books Straight
from the Heart, Things As
They Are, and The
Wings to Awakening.
See also the Index by Subject.
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | XYZ
Abhidhamma: (1) In the
discourses of the Pali Canon, this term simply means "higher Dhamma," and a
systematic attempt to define the Buddha's teachings and understand their
interrelationships. (2) A later collection of analytical treatises based on
lists of categories drawn from the teachings in the discourses, added to the
Canon several centuries after the Buddha's life.
abhi˝˝a: Intuitive powers that come from the practice of
concentration: the ability to display psychic powers, clairvoyance,
clairaudience, the ability to know the thoughts of others, recollection of past
lifetimes, and the knowledge which does away with mental effluents (see asava).
acariya: Teacher; mentor. See kalyanamitta.
adhitthana: Determination; resolution. One of
the ten perfections (paramis).
ajaan: (Thai; also "Ajarn", "Ajahn", etc.).
Teacher; mentor. Equivalent to the Pali acariya.
akaliko: Timeless; unconditioned by time or season.
akusala: Unwholesome, unskillful, demeritorious.
See its opposite, kusala.
anagami: Non-returner. A person who has abandoned
the five lower fetters that bind the mind to the cycle of rebirth (see samyojana),
and who after death will appear in one of the Brahma worlds called the Pure Abodes,
there to attain nibbana,
never again to return to this world.
anapanasati: Mindfulness of breathing. A meditation
practice in which one maintains one's attention and mindfulness on the
sensations of breathing. [MORE]
anatta: Not-self; ownerless. [MORE]
anicca: Inconstant; unsteady; impermanent.
with no fuel remaining (the analogy is to an extinguished fire whose embers are
cold) -- the nibbana
of the arahant after his passing away. [MORE]
anupubbi-katha: Gradual instruction. The
Buddha's method of teaching Dhamma that guides his listeners progressively
through increasingly advanced topics: generosity (see dana),
virtue (see sila),
heavens, drawbacks, renunciation, and the four noble truths. [MORE]
anusaya: Obsesssion; underlying tendency. (The etymology of
this term means "lying down with"; in actual usage, the related verb
(anuseti) means to be obsessed.) There are seven major obsessions to
which the mind returns over and over again: obsession with sensual passion
(kama-raganusaya), with resistance (patighanusaya), with views
(ditthanusaya), with uncertainty (vicikicchanusaya), with conceit
(manusaya), with passion for becoming (bhava-raganusaya), and with
ignorance (avijjanusaya). Compare samyojana.
apaya-bhumi: State of deprivation; the four
lower levels of existence into which one might be reborn as a result of past
unskillful actions (see kamma):
rebirth in hell, as a hungry ghost (see peta), as an
angry demon (see Asura), or as
a common animal. None of these states is permanent. Compare sugati.
arahant: A "worthy one" or "pure one"; a person
whose mind is free of defilement (see kilesa),
who has abandoned all ten of the fetters that bind the mind to the cycle of
rebirth (see samyojana),
whose heart is free of mental effluents (see asava), and
who is thus not destined for further rebirth. A title for the Buddha and the
highest level of his noble disciples.
Preoccupation; mental object.
ariya: Noble, ideal.
Also, a "Noble One" (see ariya-puggala).
ariyadhana: Noble Wealth; qualities that serve
as 'capital' in the quest for liberation: conviction (see saddha),
virtue (see sila),
conscience, fear of evil, erudition, generosity (see dana), and
discernment (see pa˝˝a),.
ariya-puggala: Noble person; enlightened
individual. An individual who has realized at least one of the four noble paths
(see magga) or
their fruitions (see phala).
ariya-sacca: Noble Truth. The
word "ariya" (noble) can also mean ideal or standard, and in this context means
"objective" or "universal" truth. There are four: stress, the origin of stress,
the disbanding of stress, and the path of practice leading to the disbanding of
asava: Mental effluent, pollutant, or fermentation.
Four qualities -- sensuality, views, becoming, and ignorance -- that "flow out"
of the mind and create the flood of the round of death and rebirth.
asubha: Unattractiveness, loathsomeness, foulness. The
Buddha recommends contemplation of this aspect of the body as an antidote to
lust and complacency. See also kayagata-sati.
Asura: A race of beings who, like the Titans of
Greek mythology, fought the devas for
sovereignty over the heavens and lost. See apaya-bhumi.
avijja: Unawareness; ignorance; obscured
awareness; delusion about the nature of the mind. See also moha. [MORE]
ayatana: Sense medium. The inner sense media are the sense
organs: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. The outer sense media are
their respective objects.
bhante: Venerable sir; often used when addressing a Buddhist
bhava: Becoming. States of being that develop
first in the mind and can then be experienced as internal worlds and/or as
worlds on an external level. There are three levels of becoming: on the sensual
level, the level of form, and the level of formlessness.
bhavana: Mental cultivation or development; meditation. The
third of the three grounds for meritorious action. See also dana and sila. [MORE]
bhikkhu (bhikkhuni): A Buddhist "monk" ("nun"); a
man (woman) who has given up the householder's life to live a life of heightened
virtue (see sila) in
accordance with the Vinaya in
general, and the Patimokkha
rules in particular. See sangha, parisa, upasampada.
bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma: "Wings to
Awakening" -- seven sets of principles that are conducive to Awakening and that,
according to the Buddha, form the heart of his teaching:  the four frames of
reference (see satipatthana);
 four right exertions (sammappadhana) -- the effort to prevent unskillful
states from arising in the mind, to abandon whatever unskillful states have
already arisen, to give rise to the good, and to maintain the good that has
arisen;  four bases of success (iddhipada) -- desire, persistence,
intentness, circumspection;  five dominant factors (indriya) -- conviction,
persistence, mindfulness, concentration, discernment;  five strengths (bala)
-- identical with ;  seven factors for Awakening (bojjhanga) --
mindfulness, investigation of phenomena, persistence, rapture (see piti),
serenity, concentration, equanimity; and  the eightfold path (magga) --
Right View, Right Attitude, Right Speech, Right Activity, Right Livelihood,
Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration. [MORE]
bodhisatta: "A being (striving) for
Awakening"; the term used to describe the Buddha before he actually become
Buddha, from his first aspiration to Buddhahood until the time of his full
Awakening. Sanskrit form: Bodhisattva.
"Great One" -- an inhabitant of the non-sensual heavens of form or formlessness.
brahma-vihara: The four "sublime" or
"divine" abodes that are attained through the development of boundless metta
(appreciative joy), and upekkha
brahman (brahmin): The brahman
caste of India has long maintained that its members, by their birth, are worthy
of the highest respect. Buddhism borrowed the term brahman to apply to those who
have attained the goal, to show that respect is earned not by birth, race, or
caste, but by spiritual attainment. Used in the Buddha sense, this term is
synonymous with arahant.
enlightened. An epithet for the Buddha.
The name given to one who rediscovers for himself the liberating path of Dhamma,
after a long period of its having been forgotten by the world. According to
tradition, there is a long line of Buddhas stretching into the distant past. The
most recent Buddha was born Siddhattha Gotama in India in the sixth century BCE. A
well-educated and wealthy young man, he relinquished his family and his princely
inheritance in the prime of his life to search for true freedom and an end to
After seven years of austerities in the forest, he rediscovered the "middle way"
and achieved his goal, becoming Buddha. [MORE]
cankama: Walking meditation, usually in the form of walking
back and forth along a prescribed path.
cetasika: Mental concomitant (see vedana, sa˝˝a, and
citta: Mind; heart; state of consciousness.
dana: Giving, liberality; offering, alms. Specifically, giving
of any of the four requisites to the monastic order. More generally, the
inclination to give, without expecting any form of repayment from the recipient.
Dana is the first theme in the Buddha's system of gradual training (see anupubbi-katha),
the first of the ten paramis,
one of the seven treasures (see dhana), and
the first of the three grounds for meritorious action (see sila and bhavana).
deva (devata): Literally, "shining one" -- an
inhabitant of the heavenly realms (see sagga and
Devadatta: A cousin of the Buddha who tried to
effect a schism in the sangha and who has since become emblematic for all
Buddhists who work knowingly or unknowingly to undermine the religion from
dhamma (Skt. dharma): (1) Event; a
phenomenon in and of itself; (2) mental quality; (3) doctrine, teaching; (4) nibbana.
Also, principles of behavior that human beings ought to follow so as to fit in
with the right natural order of things; qualities of mind they should develop so
as to realize the inherent quality of the mind in and of itself. By extension,
"Dhamma" (usu. capitalized) is used also to denote any doctrine that teaches
such things. Thus the Dhamma of the Buddha denotes both his teachings and the
direct experience of nibbana,
the quality at which those teachings are aimed.
Dhamma-vinaya: "doctrine (dhamma)
and discipline (vinaya)."
The Buddha's own name for the religion he founded.
dhana: Treasure(s). The seven qualities of conviction, virtue
conscience & concern, learning, generosity (see dana), and
dhatu: Element; property, impersonal
condition. The four physical elements or properties are earth (solidity), water
(liquidity), wind (motion), and fire (heat). The six elements include the above
four plus space and consciousness.
Voluntary ascetic practices that monks and other meditators may undertake from
time to time or as a long-term commitment in order to cultivate renunciation and
contentment, and to stir up energy. For the monks, there are thirteen such
practices: (1) using only patched-up robes; (2) using only one set of three
robes; (3) going for alms; (4) not by-passing any donors on one's alms path; (5)
eating no more than one meal a day; (6) eating only from the alms-bowl; (7)
refusing any food offered after the alms-round; (8) living in the forest; (9)
living under a tree; (10) living under the open sky; (11) living in a cemetery;
(12) being content with whatever dwelling one has; (13) not lying down. [MORE]
dosa: Aversion; hatred; anger. One of three
unwholesome roots (mula) in the
dukkha(m): Stress; suffering; pain;
distress; discontent. [MORE]
ekaggatarammana: Singleness of
preoccupation; "one-pointedness." In meditation, the mental quality that allows
one's attention to remain collected and focused on the chosen meditation object.
Ekaggatarammana reaches full maturity upon the development of the fourth
level of jhana.
ekayana-magga: A unified path; a direct path. An
epithet for the practice of being mindful of the four frames of reference: body,
feelings, mind, and mental qualities.
evam: Thus; in
this way. This term is used in Thailand as a formal closing to a sermon.
of mindfulness: see Satipatthana.
frame of reference: see Satipatthana.
gotarabhu-˝ana: "Change of lineage knowledge": The
glimpse of nibbana
that changes one from an ordinary person (puthujjana)
to a Noble One (ariya-puggala).
Hinayana: "Inferior Vehicle," originally a pejorative term
-- coined by a group who called themselves followers of the Mahayana, the "Great
Vehicle" -- to denote the path of practice of those who adhered only to the
earliest discourses as the word of the Buddha. Hinayanists refused to recognize
the later discourses, composed by the Mahayanists, that claimed to contain
teachings that the Buddha felt were too deep for his first generation of
disciples, and which he thus secretly entrusted to underground serpents. The Theravada
school of today is a descendent of the Hinayana.
hiri-ottappa: "Conscience and concern"; "moral shame and moral
dread". These twin emotions -- the "guardians of the world" -- are associated
with all skillful actions. Hiri is an inner conscience that restrains us
from doing deeds that would jeopardize our own self-respect; ottappa is a
healthy fear of committing unskillful deeds that might bring about harm to
ourselves or others. See kamma. [MORE]
idappaccayata: This/that conditionality. This name
for the causal principle the Buddha discovered on the night of his Awakening
stresses the point that, for the purposes of ending suffering and stress, the
processes of causality can be understood entirely in terms of forces and
conditions that are experienced in the realm of direct experience, with no need
to refer to forces operating outside of that realm. [MORE]
jhana (Skt. dhyana): Mental absorption. A state of strong
concentration focused on a single physical sensation (resulting in rupa
jhana) or mental notion (resulting in arupa jhana). Development of
jhana arises from the temporary suspension of the five hindrances (see nivarana)
through the development of five mental factors: vitakka
(directed thought), vicara
(pleasure), and ekaggatarammana
(singleness of preoccupation). [MORE]
kalyanamitta: Admirable friend; a mentor or teacher of
kamaguna: Strings of sensuality. The objects of
the five physical senses: visible objects, sounds, aromas, flavors, and tactile
sensations. Usually refers to sense experiences which, like the strings
(guna) of a lute when plucked, give rise to pleasurable feelings (vedana).
kamma (Skt. karma): Intentional acts that result in
states of being and birth. [MORE]
kammatthana Literally, "basis of work" or "place of
work". The word refers to the "occupation" of a meditating monk: namely, the
contemplation of certain meditation themes by which the forces of defilement
craving (tanha), and
ignorance (avijja) may
be uprooted from the mind. In the ordination procedure, every new monk is taught
five basic kammatthana that form the basis for contemplation of the body:
hair of the head (kesa), hair of the body (loma), nails
(nakha), teeth (danta), and skin (taco). By extension, the
kammatthana include all the forty classical meditation themes. Although
every meditator may be said to engage in kammatthana, the term is most
often used to identify the particular Thai forest tradition lineage that was
founded by Phra Ajaan Mun and Phra Ajaan Sao. [MORE]
karuna: Compassion; sympathy; the aspiration to
find a way to be truly helpful to oneself and others. One of the ten perfections
one of the four "sublime abodes" (brahma-vihara).
kathina: A ceremony, held in the fourth month of
the rainy season, in which a sangha of bhikkhus receives a gift of cloth from
lay people, bestows it on one of their members, and then makes it into a robe
before dawn of the following day. [MORE]
kaya: Body. Usually refers to the physical body
(rupa-kaya; see rupa), but
sometimes refers to the mental body (nama-kaya; see nama).
kayagata-sati: Mindfulness immersed in the
body. This is a blanket term covering several meditation themes: keeping the
breath in mind; being mindful of the body's posture; being mindful of one's
activities; analyzing the body into its parts; analyzing the body into its
physical properties (see dhatu);
contemplating the fact that the body is inevitably subject to death and
khandha: Heap; group; aggregate. Physical and
mental components of the personality and of sensory experience in general. The
five bases of clinging (see upadana).
(mental phenomenon), rupa
(physical phenomenon), vedana
(mental fashionings), and vi˝˝ana
khanti: Patience; forbearance.
One of the ten perfections (paramis).
kilesa: Defilement -- lobha
(aversion), and moha
(delusion) in their various forms, which include such things as greed,
malevolence, anger, rancor, hypocrisy, arrogance, envy, miserliness, dishonesty,
boastfulness, obstinacy, violence, pride, conceit, intoxication, and
kusala: Wholesome, skillful, good,
meritorious. An action characterized by this moral quality (kusala-kamma)
is bound to result (eventually) in happiness and a favorable outcome. Actions
characterized by its opposite (akusala-kamma) lead to sorrow. See kamma.
lakkhana: See ti-lakkhana.
lobha: Greed; passion; unskillful desire. Also
of three unwholesome roots (mula) in the
loka-dhamma: Affairs or phenomena of
the world. The standard list gives eight: wealth, loss of wealth, status, loss
of status, praise, criticism, pleasure, and pain. [MORE]
lokavidu: Knower of the cosmos. An epithet for
supramundane (see magga, phala, and
magga: Path. Specifically, the path to the cessation of
suffering and stress. The four transcendent paths -- or rather, one path with
four levels of refinement -- are the path to stream
entry (entering the stream to nibbana,
which ensures that one will be reborn at most only seven more times), the path
to once-returning, the path to non-returning, and the path to arahantship. See
mahathera: "Great elder." An honorific title
automatically conferred upon a bhikkhu
of at least twenty years' standing. Compare thera.
majjhima: Middle; appropriate; just right.
mara: The personification of evil and temptation.
metta: Loving-kindness; goodwill. One of the ten
perfections (paramis) and
one of the four "sublime abodes" (brahma-vihara).
moha: Delusion; ignorance (avijja).. One
of three unwholesome roots (mula) in the
mudita: Appreciative/sympathetic joy. Taking
delight in one's own goodness and that of others. One of the ten perfections
one of the four "sublime abodes" (brahma-vihara).
mula: Literally, "root". The fundamental conditions
in the mind that determine the moral quality -- skillful (kusala) or
unskillful (akusala) --
of one's intentional actions (see kamma). The
three unskillful roots are lobha (greed),
(aversion), and moha
(delusion); the skillful roots are their opposites. See kilesa
naga: A term commonly used to refer to strong, stately, and
heroic animals, such as elephants and magical serpents. In Buddhism, it is also
used to refer to those who have attained the goal of the practice.
nama: Mental phenomena. This term refers to the mental
components of the five khandhas,
and includes: vedana
(mental fashionings), and vi˝˝ana
(consciousness). Compare rupa.
nama-rupa: Name-and-form; mind-and-matter;
mentality-physicality. The union of mental phenomena (nama) and
physical phenomena (rupa) that
constitutes the five aggregates (khandha),
and which lies at a crucial link in the causal chain of dependent co-arising (paticca-samuppada).
nekkhamma: Renunciation; literally, "freedom
from sensual lust". One of the ten paramis.
nibbana (Skt. nirvana): Liberation; literally,
the "unbinding" of the mind from the mental effluents (see asava),
defilements (see kilesa),
and the round of rebirth (see vatta), and
from all that can be described or defined. As this term also denotes the
extinguishing of a fire, it carries the connotations of stilling, cooling, and
peace. (According to the physics taught at the time of the Buddha, a burning
fire seizes or adheres to its fuel; when extinguished, it is unbound.) "Total
nibbana" in some contexts denotes the experience of Awakening; in others, the
final passing away of an arahant.
nimitta: Mental sign, image, or vision that may
arise in meditation. Uggaha nimitta refers to any image that arises
spontaneously in the course of meditation. Paribhaga nimitta refers to an
image that has been subjected to mental manipulation.
nirodha: Cessation; disbanding; stopping.
nivarana: Hindrances to concentration -- sensual desire,
ill will, sloth & drowsiness, restlessness & anxiety, and uncertainty.
opanayiko: Referring inwardly; to be brought inward. An
epithet for the Dhamma.
pabbajja: "Going forth (from home to the homeless life)";
ordination as a samanera
(samaneri), or novice monk (nun). See upasampada.
paccattam: Personal; individual.
paccekabuddha: Private Buddha. One who, like a Buddha, has
gained Awakening without the benefit of a teacher, but who lacks the requisite
store of paramis to
teach others the practice that leads to Awakening. On attaining the goal, a
paccekabuddha lives a solitary life. [MORE]
Pali: The canon of texts preserved by the Theravada
school and, by extension, the language in which those texts are composed. [MORE]
pa˝˝a: Discernment; insight; wisdom; intelligence; common
proliferation. The tendency of the mind to proliferate issues from the sense of
"self." This term can also be translated as self-reflexive thinking,
reification, falsification, distortion, elaboration, or exaggeration. In the
discourses, it is frequently used in analyses of the psychology of conflict. [MORE]
parami (also paramita): Perfection of the
character. A group of ten qualities developed over many lifetimes by a bodhisatta,
which appear as a group in the Pali Canon only in the Jataka ("Birth Stories"):
generosity (dana), virtue
good will (metta), and
parinibbana: Total Unbinding; the complete
cessation of the khandhas
that occurs upon the death of an arahant.
parisa: Following; assembly. The four groups of
the Buddha's following that include monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen. Compare
pariyatti: Theoretical understanding of Dhamma
obtained through reading, study, and learning. See patipatti
paticca-samuppada: Dependent co-arising; dependent
origination. A map showing the way the aggregates (khandha) and
sense media (ayatana)
interact with ignorance (avijja) and
craving (tanha) to
bring about stress and suffering (dukkha). As
the interactions are complex, there are several different versions of paticca
samuppada given in the suttas. In the most common one, the map starts with
ignorance. In another common one, the map starts with the interrelation between
name (nama) and form
the one hand, and sensory consciousness (vi˝˝ana) on
the other. [MORE: SN XII.2,
Patimokkha: The basic code of
monastic discipline, consisting of 227 rules for monks (bhikkhus)
and 311 for nuns (bhikkhunis).
patipada: Road, path, way; the means of reaching
a goal or destination. The "Middle way" (majjhima-patipada) taught by the
Buddha; the path of practice described in the fourth noble truth
patipatti: The practice of Dhamma, as
opposed to mere theoretical knowledge (pariyatti).
See also pativedha.
pativedha: Direct, first-hand realization of
See also pariyatti
Peta: A "hungry shade" or "hungry ghost" -- one of a
class of beings in the lower realms, sometimes capable of appearing to human
beings. The petas are often depicted in Buddhist art as starving beings with
pinhole-sized mouths through which they can never pass enough food to alleviate
their hunger. [MORE]
phala: Fruition. Specifically, the fruition of any of the
four transcendent paths (see magga).
phra: (Thai) Venerable. Used as a prefix to the name
of a monk (bhikkhu).
piti: Rapture; bliss; delight. In meditation, a
pleasurable quality in the mind that reaches full maturity upon the development
of the second level of jhana.
puja: Honor; respect; devotional observance. Most
commonly, the devotional observances that are conducted at monasteries daily
(morning and evening), on uposatha
days, or on other special occasions. [MORE]
pu˝˝a: Merit; worth; the inner sense of well-being
that comes from having acted rightly or well and that enables one to continue
puthujjana: One of the many-folk;
a "worlding" or run-of-the-mill person. An ordinary person who has not yet
realized any of the four stages of Awakening (see magga).
raga: Lust; greed. See lobha.
run-of-the-mill person: See puthujjana.
rupa: Body; physical phenomenon; sense datum. The
basic meaning of this word is "appearance" or "form." It is used, however, in a
number of different contexts, taking on different shades of meaning in each. In
lists of the objects of the senses, it is given as the object of the sense of
sight. As one of the khandha, it
refers to physical phenomena or sensations (visible appearance or form being the
defining characteristics of what is physical). This is also the meaning it
carries when opposed to nama, or mental
sabhava-dhamma: Condition of nature; any phenomenon,
event, property, or quality as experienced in and of itself.
sacca: Truthfulness. One of the ten perfections (paramis).
saddha: Conviction, faith. A confidence in the
Buddha that gives one the willingness to put his teachings into practice.
Conviction becomes unshakeable upon the attainment of stream-entry (see sotapanna).
sadhu: (exclamation) "It is well"; an expression
showing appreciation or agreement.
heavenly realm. The dwelling place of the devas. Rebirth
in the heavens is said to be one of the rewards for practicing generosity (see
virtue (see sila). Like all
waystations in samsara,
however, rebirth here is temporary. See also sugati.
sakadagami: Once-returner. A person who has
abandoned the first three of the fetters that bind the mind to the cycle of
rebirth (see samyojana),
has weakened the fetters of sensual passion and resistance, and who after death
is destined to be reborn in this world only once more.
sakkaya-ditthi: Self-identification view. The view
that mistakenly identifies any of the khandha as
"self"; the first of the ten fetters (samyojana).
Abandonment of sakkaya-ditthi is one of the hallmarks of stream-entry
Sakyamuni: "Sage of the Sakyans"; an epithet
for the Buddha.
sakya-putta: Son of the
Sakyan. An epithet for Buddhist monks, the Buddha having been a native of the
of effacement (effacing defilement) -- having few wants, being content with what
one has, seclusion, uninvolvement in companionship, persistence, virtue (see sila),
concentration, discernment, release, and the direct knowing and seeing of
samadhi: Concentration; the practice of
centering the mind in a single sensation or preoccupation. [MORE]
samana: 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.
samanera (samaneri): Literally, a small samana; a
novice monk (nun) who observes ten precepts and who is a candidate for admission
to the order of bhikkhus
(bhikkhunis). See pabbajja.
sambhavesin: (A being) searching for a place
to take birth.
sammati: Conventional reality;
convention; relative truth; supposition; anything conjured into being by the
sampaja˝˝a: Alertness; self-awareness;
presence of mind; clear comprehension. See sati.
samsara: Transmigration; the round of death and rebirth.
samvega: The oppressive sense of shock, dismay,
and alienation that comes with realizing the futility and meaninglessness of
life as it's normally lived; a chastening sense of one's own complacency and
foolishness in having let oneself live so blindly; and an anxious sense of
urgency in trying to find a way out of the meaningless cycle. [MORE]
samyojana (sanyojana): Fetter that binds the
mind to the cycle of rebirth (see vatta) --
self-identification views (sakkaya-ditthi),
uncertainty (vicikiccha), grasping at precepts and practices
(silabbata-paramasa); sensual passion (kama-raga), resistance
(vyapada); passion for form (rupa-raga), passion for formless
phenomena (arupa-raga), conceit (mana), restlessness
(uddhacca), and unawareness (avijja).
sanditthiko: Self-evident; immediately
apparent; visible here and now. An epithet for the Dhamma.
sangha: On the conventional (sammati)
level, this term denotes the communities of Buddhist monks and nuns; on the
level, it denotes those followers of the Buddha, lay or ordained, who have
attained at least stream-entry (see sotapanna),
the first of the transcendent paths (see magga)
culminating in nibbana.
Recently, particularly in the West, the term "sangha" has been popularly adapted
to mean the wider sense of "community of followers on the Buddhist path,"
although this usage finds no basis in the Pali Canon. The term "parisa"
may be more appropriate for this much broader meaning. [MORE]
sankhara: Formation, compound, fashioning, fabrication --
the forces and factors that fashion things (physical or mental), the process of
fashioning, and the fashioned things that result. Sankhara can refer to
anything formed or fashioned by conditions, or, more specifically, (as one of
the five khandhas)
thought-formations within the mind.
perception; allusion; act of memory or recognition; interpretation. See khandha.
sanyojana: See samyojana.
sasana: Literally, "message". The dispensation,
doctrine, and legacy of the Buddha; the Buddhist religion (see Dhamma-vinaya).
sati: Mindfulness, self-collectedness, powers of
reference and retention. In some contexts, the word sati when used alone
covers alertness (sampaja˝˝a)
as well. [MORE]
satipatthana: Foundation of mindfulness;
frame of reference -- body, feelings, mind, and mental events, viewed in and of
themselves as they occur.
sa-upadisesa-nibbana: Nibbana with fuel
remaining (the analogy is to an extinguished fire whose embers are still
glowing) -- liberation as experienced in this lifetime by an arahant. [MORE]
savaka: Literally, "hearer". A disciple of the
Buddha, especially a noble disciple (see ariya-puggala.)
sayadaw: (Burmese). Venerable elder; an honorific
title given to a highly-respected Burmese bhikkhu.
sila: Virtue, morality. The quality of ethical and
moral purity that prevents one from falling away from the eightfold path. Also,
the training precepts that restrain one from performing unskillful actions. Sila
is the second theme in the gradual training (see anupubbi-katha),
one of the ten paramis,
the second of the seven treasures (see dhana), and
the first of the three grounds for meritorious action (see dana and bhavana).
sima: Boundary or territory within which the
monastic sangha's formal acts (upasampada,
recitation, settling of disputes, etc.) must be performed in order to be valid.
sotapanna: Stream winner. A person who has
abandoned the first three of the fetters that bind the mind to the cycle of
rebirth (see samyojana)
and has thus entered the "stream" flowing inexorably to nibbana,
ensuring that one will be reborn at most only seven more times, and only into
human or higher realms. [MORE]
stream-entry, stream-winner: see sotapanna.
stress: See dukkha.
stupa (Pali: thupa): Originally, a tumulus or
burial mound enshrining relics of a holy person -- such as the Buddha -- or
objects 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.
"such": See tadi.
sugati: Happy destinations; the two higher levels of
existence into which one might be reborn as a result of past skillful actions
rebirth in the human world or in the heavens (See sagga). None
of these states is permanent. Compare apaya-bhumi.
sugato: Well-faring; going (or gone) to a good
destination. An epithet for the Buddha.
Pleasure; ease; satisfaction. In meditation, a mental quality that reaches full
maturity upon the development of the third level of jhana.
sutta (Skt. sutra): Literally, "thread"; a
discourse or sermon by the Buddha or his contemporary disciples. After the
Buddha's death the suttas were passed down in the Pali language according to a
well-established oral tradition, and were finally committed to written form in
Sri Lanka around 100 BCE. Over 10,000 suttas are collected in the Sutta Pitaka, one of
the principal bodies of scriptural literature in Theravada Buddhism. The Pali
Suttas are widely regarded as the earliest record of the Buddha's teachings.
tadi: "Such," an adjective to describe one who has attained
the goal. It indicates that the person's state is indefinable but not subject to
change or influences of any sort.
tanha: Craving --
for sensuality, for becoming, or for not-becoming (see bhava). See
(greed; passion) [MORE]
tapas: The purifying "heat" of meditative practice.
Tathagata: Literally, "one who has truly gone
(tatha-gata)" or "one who has become authentic "(tatha-agata)," an
epithet used in ancient India for a person who has attained the highest
spiritual goal. In Buddhism, it usually denotes the Buddha, although
occasionally it also denotes any of his arahant disciples. [MORE]
than: (Thai; also "tan") Reverend, venerable.
thera: "Elder." An honorific title automatically
conferred upon a bhikkhu
of at least ten years' standing. Compare mahathera.
Theravada: The "Doctrine of the Elders" -- the
only one of the early schools of Buddhism to have survived into the present;
currently the dominant form of Buddhism in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Burma. See
ti-lakkhana: Three characteristics inherent
in all conditioned phenomena -- being inconstant, stressful, and not-self.
tipitaka (Skt. tripitaka): The Buddhist Canon;
literally, the three "baskets" -- disciplinary rules, discourses, and abstract
philosophical treatises. [MORE]
tiratana: The "Triple Gem" consisting of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha -- ideals
to which all Buddhists turn for refuge. See tisarana.
tisarana: The "Threefold Refuge" -- the Buddha,
Dhamma, and Sangha. See tiratana.
ugghatita˝˝u: Of swift understanding. After the Buddha
attained Awakening and was considering whether or not to teach the Dhamma, he
perceived that there were four categories of beings: those of swift
understanding, who would gain Awakening after a short explanation of the Dhamma,
those who would gain Awakening only after a lengthy explanation (vipacita˝˝u);
those who would gain Awakening only after being led through the practice
(neyya); and those who, instead of gaining Awakening, would at best gain only a
verbal understanding of the Dhamma (padaparama).
Unbinding: See nibbana.
upadana: Clinging; attachment; sustenance for
becoming and birth -- attachment to sensuality, to views, to precepts and
practices, and to theories of the self.
upasampada: Acceptance; full ordination as a bhikkhu
upasika (upasaka): A female (male) lay follower
of the Buddha. Compare parisa.
upekkha: Equanimity. One of the ten perfections
one of the four "sublime abodes" (brahma-vihara).
uposatha: Observance day, corresponding to the
phases of the moon, on which Buddhist lay people gather to listen to the Dhamma
and to observe special precepts. On the new-moon and full-moon uposatha days
monks assemble to recite the Patimokkha
vassa: Rains Retreat. A period from July to October,
corresponding roughly to the rainy season, in which each monk is required to
live settled in a single place and not wander freely about.
vatta: The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. This denotes
both the death and rebirth of living beings and the death and rebirth of
within the mind. See samsara.
vedana: Feeling -- pleasure (ease), pain (stress),
or neither pleasure nor pain. See khandha.
vicara: Evaluation; sustained thought. In
meditation, vicara is the mental factor that allows one's attention to
shift and move about in relation to the chosen meditation object. Vicara
and its companion factor vitakka
reach full maturity upon the development of the first level of jhana.
vijja: Clear knowledge; genuine awareness; science
(specifically, the cognitive powers developed through the practice of
concentration and discernment).
vijja-carana-sampanno: Consummate in knowledge and
conduct; accomplished in the conduct leading to awareness or cognitive skill. An
epithet for the Buddha.
vimutti: Release; freedom
from the fabrications and conventions of the mind.
Vinaya: The monastic discipline, spanning six volumes in
printed text, whose rules and traditions define every aspect of the bhikkhus'
way of life. The essence of the rules for monastics is contained in the Patimokkha.
The conjunction of the Dhamma
with the Vinaya forms the core of the Buddhist religion: "Dhamma-vinaya"
-- "the doctrine and discipline" -- is the name the Buddha gave to the religion
he founded. [MORE]
vi˝˝ana: Consciousness; cognizance; the act of
taking note of sense data and ideas as they occur. There is also a type of
consciousness that lies outside of the khandhas --
called consciousness without feature (vi˝˝anam anidassanam) -- which is
not related to the six senses at all. See khandha.
vipaka: The consequence and result of a past
volitional action (kamma).
vipassana: Clear intuitive insight into
physical and mental phenomena as they arise and disappear, seeing them for what
they actually are -- in and of themselves -- in terms of the three
characteristics (see ti-lakkhana)
and in terms of stress, its origin, its disbanding, and the way leading to its
disbanding (see ariya-sacca).
vipassanupakkilesa: Corruption of
insight; intense experiences that can happen in the course of meditation and can
lead one to believe that one has completed the path. The standard list includes
ten: light, psychic knowledge, rapture, serenity, pleasure, extreme conviction,
excessive effort, obsession, indifference, and contentment.
viriya: Persistence; energy. One of the ten perfections
five faculties (bala; see bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma),
and the five strengths/dominant factors (indriya; see bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma).
Visakha (also Vesakha, Vesak, Wesak, etc.): The
ancient name for the Indian lunar month in spring corresponding to our
April-May. According to tradition, the Buddha's birth, Awakening, and Parinibbana
each took place on the full-moon night in the month of Visakha. These events are
commemorated on that day in the Visakha festival, which is celebrated annually
throughout the world of Theravada Buddhism. [MORE]
vitakka: Directed thought. In meditation,
vitakka is the mental factor by which one's attention is applied to the
chosen meditation object. Vitakka and its companion factor vicara reach
full maturity upon the development of the first level of jhana.
yakkha: One of a special class of powerful "non-human"
beings -- sometimes kindly, sometimes murderous and cruel -- corresponding
roughly to the fairies and ogres of Western fairy tales. The female
(yakkhini) is generally considered more treacherous than the male. [MORE]
Revised: Sun 2 June 2002