A dictionary of Buddhism
By Damien Keown
Abhassara- name of a class of devas or heavenly beings who reside in the Form Realm. Their ethereal natures are said to be suffused with joy and love.
Abhijna- supernormal knowledge or supernatural cognition, normally acquired through the development of the power of samadhi or meditative trance. Up to six forms are recognized: clairvoyance, clairaudience, knowledge of the minds of others, miraculous abilities, knowledge of past lives, and knowledge of the cessation of the outflows.
Acarya- a teacher or religious preceptor. In later Buddhism, the term comes to be associated particularly with teachers of Tantra.
Ajahn- also sometimes spelt acan. Thai term deriving from the Sanskrit word acarya, and meaning a teacher or instructor, often of meditation.
Akusala-mula- collective name for the three roots of evil, being the three unwholesome mental states of greed (raga), hatred (dvesa), and delusion (moha). All negative states of consciousness are seen as ultimately grounded in one or more of these three.
Akusu-ku- in Zen Buddhism, a mistaken notion of emptiness (sunyata) which regards it as nothingness. Correctly understood, however, sunyata is not the mere negation of existence but the true nature of phenomena. According to the Heart Sutra, "˜form is not other than emptiness, and emptiness is not other than form."
Amrta- in Indian mythology a drink of the gods conferring immortality, similar to the Greek's ambrosia. It comes to be used as a synonym of nirvana as "˜the deathless", since one who has attained nirvana has escaped from the cycle of birth and death.
Anapana-sati- one of the oldest and most basic meditation techniques for attaining dhyana or trance. The technique involves merely paying attention to the movement and duration of the breath in the course of inhalation and exhalation. It is the preliminary exercise in establishing the four foundations of mindfulness (smrtiupa sthana).
Anusrava- teachings handed down by word of mouth typically through a lineage of revered masters. The term is used by both Buddhists and Brahmins, the latter group often being criticized by the Buddha for their slavish adherence to the authority of tradition and reluctance to think for themselves.
Anussati- group of six or ten objects said to especially worthy of contemplation. Through meditating on these things the three roots of evil (akusala-mula) can be destroyed. 1) The Buddha, 2) The Dharma, 3) the Samgha, 4) morality (sila), 5) generosity (dana), 6) the gods (deva), 7) death, 8) the body, 9) the breath, and 10) peace.
Apaya- collective name for the four unfortunate realms of rebirth, namely those of animals, hungry ghosts (preta), demons and hell-beings.
Artha-kriya- "˜capable of producing effects", a definition used in Buddhist epistemology (pramana) to distinguish objects that really exist from illusory ones.
Arupya- formless: a term used to qualify various states and divine beings (deva) that lack any matter or form that may be apprehended by the five senses.
Asana- a yogic posture which provides a seat for meditational practice. The most common example is the "˜lotus posture" (padmasana) in which both feet rest on top of the thigh of the opposite leg.
Asann Asatta- class of gods (devas) who exist on a noumenal plane without conscious experience of any kind. There are typically former practitioners of meditation who, having immersed themselves in the fourth dhyana for long periods, now in cline to dwell with their minds untroubled by any kind of through or sensation. Some mistake this condition for nirvana and become trapped there. As soon as an idea of any kind occurs to these devas, they fall to a lower spiritual abode.
Asraya-paravrtti- "the manifestation of the basis", a term used in yogacara works to describe the manifestation of inherent Buddha-nature. Once the mind has been cleared of adventitious impurities (agan-tuka-klesa).
Asura- demi gods, titans. A group of beings who were considered to be the opponents of the gods according to orthodox Vedic mythology. Later, there were incorporated into Buddhist cosmology as occupying one of the six modes of existence shown in the wheel of life (bhavacakra). They are thought to reside just below the gods who dwell on the slops of Mt. Meru.
Atman- in a philosophical context, the concept of an independent, unchanging, and eternal identity at the core of individuals and entities. Normally the existence of such a self is denied in Buddhism although a minority of modern scholars have claimed that the Buddha merely denied a lower ego-self. Additionally, some later, Mahayana texts, such as the nirvana sutra, speak of a transcendent Buddha-nature as the true self.
Avalokitesvara- one of the eight great Bodhisattvas, and one whose activities especially involve the active practice of compassion (karuna) in order to safe and protect beings. His name means "the Lord who gazes" (compassionately upon beings). Though well-known from early Mahayana sutras, the worship and cult of Avalokitesvara in Tibet derives greatly from later Tantric materials. Recitation of the mantra "˜om mani padmehum" is associated with Avalokitesvara. Several iconographic forms can be distinguished such as that with eleven heads and a thousand arms, the popular four-armed version, as well as several wrathful aspects. Avalokitesvara is considered to be the main patron Bodhisattva of Tibet, and the Dalai Lama is viewed as his incarnate manifestation.
Avatara- primarily a Hindu term referring to the manifestation or incarnation of a god in the human realm, typified by the ten incarnations of Visnu. The term may sometimes be used in Buddhism to describe the manifestations of a Buddha in the world as an Emanation Body (nirmana-kaya).
Avici- the nethermost of the eight hot hells, reserved for the most evil beings who must endure excruciating torments there, which though not eternal seem unending as they last for millions of years.
Ayatana- in Buddhist psychology, the twelve ayatanas are the six kinds of objects that correspond to, namely; 1) sight and color/form (rupa-ayanta); 2) hearing and sound (sabda-ayanta); 3) smell and scent (gandha-ayanta); 4) taste and favours (rasa-ayanta); 5) touch and tangible objects (sparsa-ayanta); and 6) the mind and ideas (mano-ayanta). Each ayanta is thus the sphere or domination of a particular sense, and encompasses everything that can be experienced through that particular "˜sense-door".
Bala- various lists of powers (bala) occur in the sources, but the most common is a group known as the "˜five powers." Each of these eradicates its opposite negative tendency as follows: 10 faith (srad-dha) overcomes false beliefs, 2) energy (virya) over comes laziness, 3) mindfulness (smrti) over comes forgetfulness, 4) concentration (samadhi) over comes distractedness, 5) insight (prajna) over comes ignorance. The five powers are developed through augmenting the strength of the five spiritual faculties (indriya). These powers also form part of the 37 "˜factors of enlightenmentâ€™ (bodhi-paksika-dharma).
Bhranta- term denoting confusion with regards to the true nature of reality, often used as a general synonym for ignorance (avidya).
Bhuta- 1. An element, particularly one of the four material elements, earth, water, fire and wind. 2. A kind of vampire spirit or evil ghost.
Bodhi- term which literally means "˜awakening", but which is commonly translated as "enlightenment". It denotes the awakening to supreme knowledge, as experienced by the Buddha as he sat under the Bodhi Tree at the age of 35. Technically, the experience of bodhi is said to consist of seven elements known as the "˜limbs of enlightenment" (bodhyanga) and is achieved when the Four Noble Truths are correctly apprehended. According to the earliest sources, Arhats, PratyeKabuddhas, and Buddhas all experience the same awakening, but other the course of time the awakening of a Buddha came to be seen as especially profound.
Bodhisattva- the embodiment of the spiritual ideal of Mahayana Buddhism in contrast to the earlier Arhat ideal advocated by the Hinayana. Bodhisattva literally means "enlightenment being" but the correct Sanskrit derivation may be "˜bodhi-sakta" meaning "being who is orientated towards enlightenment". The ideal is inspired by the lengthy career of the Buddha before he became enlightened, as described in the Jatakas. A Bodhisattva begins his career by generating the aspiration (pranidhana) to achieve enlightenment for the sake of all beings, often in the form of a vow, which according to many Mahayana texts is often accompanied by a prediction of success (vyakarana) by a Buddha. He then embarks on the path leading to enlightenment (bodhi) by cultivating the six perfections (sad-paramita) and the four means of attracting beings (sam-graha-vastu) over the course of three immeasurable kalpas. The spiritual progress of a Bodhisattva, is usually subdivided into ten stages or levels (bhumi). Many Mahayana sutras state that a Bodhisattva forgoes his own final enlightenment until all other beings in samsara have been liberated, or else describe a special form of nirvana, the unlocalized nirvana (apratistha-nirvana) by virtue of which a Bodhisattva may be "in the world but not of it". Earlier Mahayana sutras are specific in their belief that a Bodhisattva can only be male but later texts allow the possibility of female Bodhisattva.
Bodhyana- a list of seven factors that lead to or constitute bodhi, or awakening. Often referred to as the seven "˜limbs of enlightenment", the seven items are listed in Pali sources as: 1) mindfulness (sati), 2) investigation of the Dharma (dharma-vicaya), 3) energy (viriya), 4) joy (piti), 5) tranquility (passaddhi), 6) meditation (samadhi), 7) equanimity (upekkha). The seven occur as the sixth of the 37 "factors of enlightenment" (bodhi-paksika-dharma).
Brahma-loka- used in two senses to refer to the heavens or spiritual realms in Buddhist cosmology: 1) as a collective name for the two uppermost spiritual realms, namely the Form Realm (vupa-dhatu) and the Formless Realm (aru-pya-dhatu), 2) more specifically, the first three heavens of the Formless Realm.
Buddha- this is not a personal name but an epithet of those who have achieved enlightenment (bodhi), the goal of the Buddhist religious life, Buddha comes from the Sanskrit root "˜budh", meaning to awaken, and the Buddhas are those who have awakened to the true nature of things as taught in the Four Noble Truths. By contrast, the mass of humanity is seen as asleep and unaware of the reality of the human condition. Doctrinally, the Buddhas are those who have attained nirvana by destroying the defilements known as asravas. Accordingly they are free of sensual craving (avidya). Because they have eradicated all craving they have escaped from the round of cyclic existence (sansara) and will never again be reborn. For Theravada Buddhism, a Buddha is simply a human being who has undergone a profound spiritual transformation. In Mahayana thought, by contrast, the concept of the Buddha developed in various ways, notably in the doctrine of the Buddha's "three bodies" (trikaya). In terms of this teaching, the Buddha is seen as a cosmic being who from time to time manifests himself in human form.
An important function of a Buddha is to act as a teacher, leading others to salvation by expounding the Dharma. The exception to this is the "˜private Buddhaâ" (pratyeka-Buddha), who achieves enlightenment but does not teach. Such a Buddha is considered inferior to the "˜fully enlightened Buddha" (samyak-sambuddha) who teaches, and, according to Mahayana doctrine, is omniscient (sarvajna) and posses ten special powers (dasa-bala). Buddhas are distinguished from other enlightened beings such as Arhats by virtue of the fact that they discover the truth (Dharma) themselves, rather than hearing it from another. All schools of Buddhism believe there have been many Buddhas in the past and there will be more in the future, for instance Maitreya. The Mahapadana Sutta of the Pali Canon mentions six previous Buddhas, and the Buddhavamsa gives a list of 24. In all these cases a similar stereotypical biography is supplied. It is generally believed that there can never be more than one Buddha in any particular era, and the "˜historical Buddha" of the present era was Siddhartha Gautana. Numerous historical Buddhas make an appearance in Mahayana literature, notably the five Jinas who are popular in Tantric schools.
Arhat- one who has attained the goal of enlightenment or awakening (bodhi). Essentially, arhatship consists in the eradication of the outflows (asrava) and the destruction of the defilement (klesa). The Arhat is also free of the ten fetters (samyojama), and on death is not reborn. The difference is that the Buddha attains enlightenment by himself, whereas the Arhat does it by following the teachings of another. It should be noted, however, that the Buddha is also an Arhat and is frequently addressed as such in invocations such as the Pali formula "˜namo tassa Bhagavato arahato sammasam-buddhassaâ" (Homage to the Lord, the worthy one, the Perfect Awakened One). As taught in early Buddhism, the Arhat attains exactly the same goal as the Buddha. Mahayana Buddhism, however, comes to regard arhatship as an inferior ideal to that of Buddhahood, and portrays the Arhat (somewhat unfairly) as selfishly concerned with the goal of a "˜private nirvana". In contrast, emphasis is placed on the great compassion (mahakaruna) of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who dedicate themselves to leading all beings to salvation.
Asrava- a group of basis impurities or defilements which are the cause of repeated rebirth. There is an original list of three in Pali sources, namely sense-desires (kamasava), the desire for continued existence (bhavasava), and wrong views (ditthasava). The asravas summarize the cognitive and affective impediments to the state of full perfection, and their destruction (asavakkhaya) is equated with the attainment of arhatship. In Pali sources the four asavas are also referred to by the alternative designation of "floods" (ogha).
Buddha-ksetra- the sphere of influence and activity of a Buddha. Buddhist cosmology, each world-system (cakravala) is the domain of a particular Buddha within which he arises and leads beings to liberation through his teachings. The concept came to prominence in the Mahayana on the basis of early speculations about the range of a Buddha's knowledge and the extent of his sensory powers. With the concept of a plurality of Buddhas came the notion of an infinite number of "Buddha-fields" extending throughout the reaches of space in many directions or dimensions. These fields vary in their degree of perfection and are divided into two basic categories, pure and impure. The world we inhabit now is an instance of an impure Buddha-field since beings here are still subject to the basic vices of greed, hatred and delusion. The most famous of the pure Buddha-fields or "Pure Lands" is the paradise of the Buddha Amitabha in the West described in the Sukhavati-vyuha sutras, into which all may be reborn by calling upon the name of Amitabha. The existence of these pure Buddha-fields became immensely important in the development of popular devotional Buddhism, especially in China and Japan.
Amitabha- the Buddha "˜Infinite Light", also known as Amitayus (Infinite Light). One of the five Jinas, he is normally depicted iconographically as a red sambhoga-kaya Buddha associated with the Western quarter. He is also viewed as the embodiment of Discriminating Awareness, one of the five awarenesses, and as the lord of the Lotus Family. Early Mahayana devotion to Amitabha gave rise to a belief in his Pure Land, known as Sukhavati.
Bushido- a term meaning "the way of the warrior-Gentlemen"- more of a general outlook on life than a formal ethic, it was born in the opening years of the Tokugawa Period (1603-1868), when a prolonged peace made members of the samurai class nostalgic for former military campaigns and forced them to rethink their role in civil society. This outlook stressed frugality, honor, loyalty, mastery of martial arts, readiness for combat at a moment's notice, and, above all, a willingness to die at any time. Many samurai found that Zen training helped to inculcate the austerity, detachment, and presence of mind needed both in combat situations and in daily life.
Caitta- term in Buddhist psychology (being a later form of caitasika) denoting derivative mental states or functions of the mind (citta). Lists of these, derived from the sutras and differing in detail, are found in the various Abhidharma-Kosa systems. The list found in Vasubandhu's Abhidharma-Kosa was regarded as normative by many Buddhists in India and elsewhere and comprises 1) Five Universal functions: contact (sparsa), attention (manasikara), feeling (vedana), ideation (samjna) and intention (cetana); 2) five occasional functions: motivation (chanda), interest (adhimoksa), recollection (smrti), concentration (samadhi), and insight (prajna); 3) eleven wholesome functions: trust (sraddha), decency (hri), decorum (apatrapa), non-attachment (alobha), non-hatred (advesa), non-deludedness (amoha), effort (virya), lucidity (prasrabhi), carefulness (apramada), equanimity (upeksa) and non-violence (dvihimsa): 4) six root negative functions (klesa): lost (raga), hatred (pratigha), stupidity (aridya), arrogance (mana), doubt (vicikitsa), and opinionatedness (drsti): 5) 20 subsidiary negative factors (upaklesa): anger (krodha), hostility (upanaha), dissimulation (mraksa), malice (pradasa), jealousy (irsya), avarice (matsarya), hypocrisy (maya), dishonesty (sathya), spitefulness (vihimsa), pride (mada), contempt (ahrikya), indecorum (anapatrapya), over exuberance (auddhatya), inattentiveness (styance), distrust (asraddhya), carelessness (pramada), laziness (kausidya), forgetfulness (musita smrti), exit-ability (viksepa), and delusion (asamprajanya): and 6) four inderminate functions: regret (kaukrtya), drowsiness (middha), selection (vitarka), and discursive examination (vicara).
Cakra- 1. A wheel, often used symbolically in Buddhism to signify the various aspects of the Dharma. With eight spokes it connects the Eightfold Path, and with twelve spokes the doctrine of Dependent Origination (pratitya-samutpada) or three turnings of the wheel (three times the Four Noble Truths as mentioned in the first sermon). 2. In anuttara0yoga-Tantric practice, the cakras are energy centers in the body, located along the subtle channels (nadi); different numbers of cakras are described according to the specific meditational systems, ranging from three to five to six. It should be noted that the names and descriptions of these energy centers do not correspond to those found in Hindu Tantra, and there is no standard set of names and descriptions for the cakras in either Hinduism or Buddhism (standardized versions are all modern inventions). 3. A religious diagram, or mandala.
Cakra-samvara- literally "The Wheel of Supreme Bliss", a semi-wrathful Yi-dam or tutelary deity with four heads and twelve arms associated with a particular group of anuttara-yoga Mother Tantras. He is also known by the short form of his name, Samvara or alternatively Samvara. Normally he is depicted in union with his consort Vajra-Varahi.
Canon- texts or books that have special authority in a religious tradition. The concept of Canonicity derives mainly from Christianity, and in Buddhism identifies not divinely inspired literature but those writings that are thought to be "the word of the Buddha". This requirement is understood by the Theravada school as meaning words actually spoken by the historical Buddha. The Canon of this school, known as the Pali Canon, was closed according to tradition at the first council. It is acknowledged, however, that a number of discourses (sutta) in this collection were in fact uttered not by the Buddha but by senior disciples, and that others postdate him. None the less, they are included in the Canon since it is felt they were spoken with the Buddha's authority and faithfully express his teachings. Expanding on the principle, schools of Mahayana Buddhism regard their Canons as still open and have accepted as Canonical later compositions that are thought to bear the hallmark of inspired teaching. Such texts are designated as sutras. In many of these compositions (for example the Lotus Sutra), the Buddha is depicted as giving the teaching in a temporal heavenly paradise commentaries and treaties which are non-canonical are known as sastras.
Caturmahaharaja- the "˜four great kings", being four powerful gods (devas) who rule over the lowest of the heavens and thus are close to the human world, which they are said to visit frequently with their retinues. Each king is regent of one of the four cardinal points and they protect the Buddha and his followers in those regions.
China- Buddhism first entered China sometime during the 1st century CE, probably with foreign traders who arrived via the Silk Road or from the maritime route along the southeast seaboard. For the first two centuries or so, it existed primarily among immigrant settlements, while slowly making its presence known among the native Chinese population. As interest grew during the 2nd century, a few monks began translating scriptures into Chinese. Notable among these were An Shin-Kao and Lokaksema. With the fall of the Han dynasty in the early 3rd century, interest in Buddhism among the Chinese increased as the unstable political situation inspired people to seek new answers. At the same time, the division of China into kingdoms north and south of the Yangtze River gave Buddhism a different character in these two regions. In the north, greater proximity to India meant that Buddhism in this regions had a greater number of Indian and central Asian monks and meditation teachers, and so tended to emphasize religious practice over textual study. In addition, from the early 4th century, to the late 6th, the north was under non-Chinese rule. These barbarian rulers favored Buddhism and many monks served as court advisers, giving Buddhism in the north a more overtly political character. Many of the literati had fled the troubles of the north and migrated to the southern kingdoms, bringing with them their emphasis on literary skills. In addition to this, the northern kingdoms blocked their access to the living traditions of India and central Asia, and so the south developed a more literary approach to Buddhist study. During this time, Tao-am (312-85) produced the first catalogue of Buddhist scripture, and he and his disciples worked to produce critical editions of scriptures and treatises, and to develop principles for their translation into Chinese. It was during this period that Kumarajiua arrived in 402 and opened his translation bureau in the north, producing some of the finest translations from Sanskrit, many of which are still considered the standard. His rendering of Indian Madhyamaka texts led to the foundation of the San-lun (or "Three Treatise") school that specialized in Madhyamaka philosophy. Also, the dissemination of Buddhist texts and teachings among the educated elite led to a prolonged exchange of ideas between Buddhism and Taoism, and Buddhism absorbed and modified many Taoist ideas.
Other significant figures of the northern and southern kingdoms period include Tao-sheng (360-434) a great textual scholar, Lu-shan Hui-yuan (344-416) and Tan-luan (476-542), who helped establish the Pure Land teachings; the San-lun master Seng-Chao (374-414); and the great translations of Indian mind-only (citta-matra) literature paved the way for the future establishment of the Fa-hsiang School.
China was reunited by the Swi dynasty in 581 CE, but this was quickly toppled by the T'ang dynasty in 618. The T'ang dynasty held power for almost 300 years, and this period represents one of China's golden ages. Buddhism flourished during this period, although it also suffered several setbacks. Increased affluence and patronage enabled many original thinkers and practitioners to establish schools of Buddhism more in keeping with Chinese cultural and intellectual patterns and less dependent upon pre-existing Indian schools of thought. Examples include Chih-I (538-97), who founded the T'ien-t ai school, Fa-tsang (643-712), who consolidated the Hua-yen school, and the various meditation masters who established Ch'an as a separate school that transmitted the Buddha-mind directly "outside of words and scriptures". Tao-ch'o (562-645), Shan-tao (613-81), and others continued building up the Pure Lands movement, extending T'an-luan's teaching further. During this time Hsuan-tsang (596-664) traveled in India for sixteen years and brought back many texts which he translated into Chinese. After Kumarajiva, he is considered the second of the greatest translators in Chinese Buddhist history. He concentrated on Indian yogacara thought, and building on the foundation laid by Paramatha, founded the Fa-hsiang school.
Prosperity brought its own difficulties. As the numbers of ordained clergy increased, the government because concerned about the revenue and labor pool that would be lose due to the clergy's tax- and labor- exempt status. In addition, ever since Buddhism's inception in China some traditional Confucian scholars had decried it as a foreign religion that violated basic Chinese values, especially the loyalty that all citizens owed to the state and the filial piety that sons and daughters owed their parents. In addition, Taoists sometimes saw in Buddhism an antagonist and competitor rather than a colleague. In the past, the government instituted ordination examinations and state-issued certificates to control the size of the Samgha, and twice during the northern and southern kingdoms, period the state had suppressed Buddhism (in 446 and 574). In the year 845, the T'ang count was incited to suppress Buddhism once again, and for three years it pursued this policy of razing monasteries and temples, forcing clergy back into lay life or even killing them, and burning books, images, and properties. Unlike the previous two persecutions, this suppression happened in a unified China and affected all areas. Scholars are agreed that this even marked the end of Buddhism's intellectual and cultural dominance, as the Samgha never recovered its former glory. The T'ien-t'ai and Hua-yen schools experienced some revivals thereafter, but lost most of their vigor. The Pure Land and Ch'an school, being much less dependent upon patronage and scholarship, fared better and because the two dominant schools of Buddhism in Chine thereafter. After the persecution, Ch'an communities experimented with new teaching methods that circumvented conventional teaching and inculcated a dramatic, instantaneous experience of enlightenment (bodhi). The leading figure in this movement were Ma-tsu Tao-I (709-88), Pai-chang Huai-hai (749-814), Huang-po Hsi-yun (d. 850), Lin-chi I-hsuan (founder of the Lin-chi school, d. 866), Tung-Shan Liang-chieh (807-69), and Ts'ao-shan Pen-Chi (840-901), the two founders of the Ts'ao-tung school.
After the T'ang, the intellectual vigor of Buddhism was eclipsed by the rise of Neo-Confucianism in the Sung dynasty. Nevertheless, there were significant figures and movements during this time. Many figures worked to reconcile the very different outlooks and methods of the Ch'an and Pure Land schools, notably Yung-ming Yen-shou (904-75) and Yui-ch'i Chu-hung (1532-1612). The later was part of a revival of Ch'an in the later half of the Ming dynasty, that also included Tz'u-p'o Chen-K'o (1543-1603), Han-shan Te'-Ch'ing (1545-1623), and Ou-I Chih-hsu (1599-1655). All agreed that Pure Land and Ch'an, though differing in method, strove toward the same goal, though Han-shan and Tz'u-p'o still tended to define this goal in Ch'an terms. Chin-hsu, however, emphasized Pure Land teaching almost exclusively and came to be regarded as one of the patriarchs of this school.
From the Ming to the Ch'ing dynasty, Buddhism stagnated (although it remained strong in the central eastern seaboard) until the end of the 19th century, when there was a revival of interest in it as a part of the Chinese heritage that could be brought out to counter western culture's claims of superiority. During the early years of the 20th century, figures such as Ou-yang Ching-wu (1871-1943) and the Monk Tai-hsu (1889-1947) sponsored new editions of the scriptures and advocated a modernized educational system that would bring Buddhism into alignment with modern currents of thought.
The Communist victory in 1949 cut short the revival of Buddhism, as the new regime tried to undercut all societal support for religion in general. The Cultural Revolution proved a catastrophe for Buddhism during the 1960s and 1970s, as Red Guards destroyed many temples and treasures, and clergy were forced to return to lay status and submit to re-education. However, after the death of Communist leader Mao Tse-tung in 1976 and the passing of many of his allies, the government has grown more tolerant, and many monasteries are back in operation. Currently, the Chinese Buddhist Association is a thriving organization, and Chinese Universities sponsor the academic study of Buddhism. To what extent Buddhism will recover from the setbacks of the Mao era remains to be seen.
Chinnamasta- a goddess described in both Hindu and late Buddhist Tantric works, depicted naked and holding her own severed head with blood spurting from her neck into her mouth.
Cintamani- a legendary magical jewel which spontaneously provides its owner with whatever he wishes for. It can create wealth, drive away evil, cure illness, purify water, and perform other marvels. It is often used as a symbolic image for the activities of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the Mahayana, or the Dharma and it's marvelous powers.
Daiosho- a Japanese Buddhist term meaning "˜great teacher", used specifically by students to refer to ascendant masters in their lineage.
Daishi- in Japanese Buddhism, an honorific, usually granted posthumously, meaning "great master".
Dasa-bala- the ten powers of a tathagata consisting of knowledge relating to:1) what is and is not possible in any situation, 2) the ripening (vipaka) of deeds and the maturation of Karma, 3) the superior and inferior qualities of beings, 4) the various tendencies of beings, 5) the manifold constituents of the world, 6) the paths leading to the various realms of existence, 7) pure and impure behavior, 8) the arising of meditative states (dhyana) and related attainments, 9) the death and rebirth of beings, 10) liberation through the destruction of the outflows (asravas).
Dasa-kusake-karmapatha- the "˜Ten Good Paths of Action" or "Ten Good Deeds", a formulation of moral percepts, especially important in the Mahayana, governing actions by way of the body, speech, mind. The ten are: 1) not to kill, 2) not to steal, 3) to avoid sexual misconduct; 4) not to lie, 5) abstention from slanderous speech, 6) abstention from harsh speech, 7) abstention from idle talk, 8) non-greed, 9) non-hatred, 10) right views. In Mahayana sources, this moral code is said to be "˜mundane" (laukika) when adopted by ordinary beings intent on avoiding rebirth in any of the miserable states of existence, since in that cause it does not lead to liberation from Samsara. When accompanied by skillful means (upaya-kausalya) and insight (prajna) and adopted by Bodhisattvas, however, it is said to be supermundane (kokottara) as it then leads to liberation.
Deva- a god or supernatural being, normally resident in one of the numerous heavens and reborn there as the result of good karma. Buddhism inherited the Vedic concept of a pantheon of gods, originally 33, but which rapidly expanded in number. The gods are thought to reside on or over Mt. Meru, the cosmic mountain, and to be frequent visitors to the human world, especially to hear the Buddha's teachings. Offerings and sacrifices are made to the gods, and they may be appealed to for help or protection. They enjoy life spans of hundreds of thousands of years, but are eventually reborn when their good karma is exhausted, and are thus (in contrast to the Buddha) still within the realm of samsara.
Dharma-dhatu- 1. One of the eighteen dhatus, the objects, or contents of the mind. 2. The universal "˜matrix" which is space-like or empty (sunya) in nature, from which all phenomena (dharma) arise. 3. The universe itself with all its world-systems and societies of beings.
Dharmapala- supernatural beings who act as protectors or guardians of the Dharma, and its adherents from all negative forces. In Tibetan Buddhism, they comprise two categories: those who are manifestations of enlightened beings such as Mahakala, and the so-called "oath-bound" unenlightened beings who have been coerced into acting as protectors by magicians like Pad Masambhava and others.
Dhatu- 1. The perceptual bases or elements, of which there are eighteen in all, consisting of three groups of six. These are the six sense-faculties, their six corresponding objects, and the six perceptual awarenesses, hence: eye, color-form, sight awareness; ear, sound, aural awareness; nose, fragrance, olfactory awareness; tongue, flavor, gustatory awareness; body, touch, tactile awareness; and mind, phenomena (dharma), mental awareness. This form of analysis, designed to provide a comprehensive account of the elements present. When perception occurs, is used in the Buddhist analysis of perception to show that all the elements involved in the process are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and without autonomous existence. 2. Term used in compounds such as dharma-dhatu, Buddha-dhatu, loka-dhatu in the sense of "source" or "˜matrix".
Durgati- the miserable or evil states of being into which one can be reborn. Specifically, these are the three lower modes of existence: the hells, the realm of hungry ghosts (preta), and the animal world.
Bhavacakra- a wheel, commonly known as "the wheel of life", represented pictorially in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition as a wheel divided into six sections depicting the nature of life in each of the six realms of rebirth (gati). The six realms are laid out around a central hub around which a cock (desire), pig (ignorance) and snake (hatred) chase one another. Around the circumference is a rim divided in twelve sections depicting in symbolic form the twelve links of Dependent Origination (pratitya-samutpada). Behind the wheel and grasping it firmly (thus symbolizing that the whole of samsara is within his power) stands Yama, the god of death. According to some accounts, the wheel represents a mirror that Yama holds up to a person at the moment of death. The mirror reflects the possible realms of rebirth, and the dying soul will be drawn to one of them in accordance with its karma.
Eiheiji- the "Temple of Eternal Peace", established by Soto Zen founder Dogen in Echizen Prefecture in 1243, and still one of the head temples of the Soto order.
Evil- Buddhism has no concept of evil as a cosmic force or objective reality. The nearest it comes to this is the mythological figure of Mara, the Buddhist "˜devil". However, it has much to say about evil in the sense of human suffering (duhkha), and these teachings are set out in the First Noble Truth. Buddhism recognized that human experience inevitably contains much that is painful, such as sickness and death, and that human beings are exposed to many natural evils such as floods, fires, earthquakes, and the like. Alongside these there is also the category of moral evil, which is analyzed into various vices known as defilements (klesa). The most fundamental of these are the three roots of evil (akusala-mula), namely greed (raga), hatred (dvesa), and delusion (moha). The so-called "˜problem of evil" which afflicts theistic religions is not so acute in Buddhism since many (but not all) of life's misfortunes can be explained by the doctrine of karma.
Five degrees of enlightenment- scheme adopted within the Ch'an and Zen schools of Buddhism which classifies the nature of bodhi, or religious awakening, into five increasing profound levels, the fifth being the highest. The gradations are based on the doctrine of "Two Truths", namely relative and absolute truth, as expounded by the Madhyamaka school, and concern the manner in which each level of truth, and the relation between them, is perceived. The five degrees of enlightenment are termed: 1) Sho-chu-hen, or the absolute within the relative, 2) Hen-chu-sho, or the relative within the absolute, 3) Sho-chu-rai, or the absolute alone, 4)Ken-chu-shi, or the relative alone, 5) Ken-chu-to, or the absolute and the relative together.
Four Noble Truths- the four foundational propositions of Buddhist doctrine enunciated by the Buddha in his first sermon (Dharma-cakra-pravartana sutra). The First Noble Truth is duhkha, usually translated as "suffering" but often closer in meaning to "flawed" or "˜unsatisfactory". This states that all existence is painful and frustrating. The Second Noble Truth is samudaya or "arising", and explains that suffering arises due to craving for pleasurable sensations and experiences. The Third Noble Truth is that of "˜cessation" (norodha), which states that suffering can have an end (this is nirvana), and the Fourth Noble Truth is the Noble Eightfold Path, which consists of eight factors collectively leading to nirvana.
The stereotyped text which often recurs in the Pali Canon is as follows: I. But what, O Monks, is the Noble Truth of suffering? Birth is suffering, sickness os suffering, old age is suffering, death is suffering; pain, grief, sorrow, lamentation, and despair are suffering. Association with what is unpleasant is suffering, disassociation from what is pleasant is suffering. In short, the five factors of individuality (skandha) are suffering. II. This, O Monks, is the Truth of the arising of suffering. It is this thirst or craving (trsna) which gives rise to rebirth, which is bound up with passionate delight and which seeks fresh pleasure now here and now there in the form of thirst for sensual pleasure, thirst for existence, and thirst for non-existence. III. This, O Monks, is the truth of the cessation of suffering. It is the utter cessation of that craving (trsna), the withdrawal from it, the renouncing of it, the rejection of it, liberation from it. Non-attachment to it. IV. This, O Monks, is the Truth of the Path that leads to the cessation of suffering. It is this Noble Eightfold Path, which consists of 1) right view, 2) right resolve, 3) right speech, 4) right action, 5) right livelihood, 6) right effort, 7) right mindfulness, 8) right meditation. In the Visuddhimagga (XVI) Buddhaghosa uses an analogy with medical treatment to explain the four truths: "˜The truth of suffering is to be compared with a disease, the truth of the origin of suffering with the cause of the disease, the truth of cessation with the cure of the disease, the truth of the path with the "˜medicine".
fugyo-nigyo- a Japanese phrase meaning "to not practice and thus practice" (Chin., bu hsing erh hsing). This means to carry out one's religious cultivation naturally and spontaneously, without any calculation or force, artificial effort.
Gandharra- 1. A class of heavenly beings, famed particularly for their musical skills. Their name, meaning "˜fragrance-eater", derives from the belief that they feed only on fragrances. 2. A term for the non-material form a being is believed to take after death, according to some schools of Buddhism. In this ethereal form the spirit of the deceased person passes through the intermediate state or bar-do prior to a new birth, entering the motherâ€™s body at the moment of conception.
Garu-dharma- the eight additional "weighty rules" that the Buddha imposed as a condition of allowing women to be ordained as nuns. The intention behind the rules os commonly said to be to place nuns in an inferior position to monks, but a recent alternative explanation suggests they are intended more as a safe-guard for women living un vulnerable situations. The additional rules are listed in the Cullavagga as follows: 1) a nun must always show deference to monks, for example by bowing even to the most junior of monks. 2) A nun should not spend the rain-retreat (vassa) in a place where there are no monks. 3) The monthly posadha ceremony should be led by monks. 4) At the end of the rain-retreat a nun must appear before the assembles of monks and nuns to report on any actual or suspected breaches of the disciplinary rules. 5) If a nun commits a serious offense she must under go expiation before both assembles. 6) After her two-year period of training as a novice (sramaneri) is complete, a nun must be ordained by both assemblies. 7) A nun must never offend or insult a monk. 8) Nuns must never admonish a monk, but monks may admonish a nun.
Gati- name for the various destinies or realms of rebirth, of which there are generally held to be six: 1) the gods (deva), 2) humans, 3) demons (asura), 4) animals, 5) hungry ghosts (pretas), 6) hell (naraka). The first three are regarded as good destinies (sugati) and the last three as woeful (durgati). Early Buddhist sources usually speak of five realms, omitting the third.
Gobutsu- in Japanese esoteric Buddhism, these are the five Buddhas who occupy the center of the mandala. Although the contents of the two fundamental mandalas- the womb- treasury mandala and the Diamond World mandala- differ, they both place the Buddha Mahavairocana at the center, and then place a subsidiary Buddha at each of the four cardinal points around the center.
Hara- in Japanese esoteric and martial arts practice, this refers to a spot in the human body about 3 inches below the navel in the middle of the abdomen. This place serves as the center of gravity in martial arts and a place where the subtle energy of the body (châ€™i) is collected and transformed in a manner metaphorically described as an alchemical process whereby Cinnabar is heated and made into an elixir of immortality. For this reason, it is also called the "˜tanden", or "cinnabar field".
Hara-kiri- a vulgar term meaning "˜to slice the abdomen", which refers to a ritualized form of suicide carried out by Japanese samurai beginning in the Tokugawa period. More properly called Seppuku, it involved making two small cross-wise slices across the gut while in a kneeling position, after which a second would behead the samurai with a sword. In practice, the first step was rarely carried out.
Heaven- Buddhism has no concept of heaven as an eternal realm, but it recognizes a hierarchy of spiritual levels above and beyond this world in which one may be reborn as a god (deva). Later scholastic list 26 such heavenly worlds, although the number varies slightly in different schools. All the Buddhist heavens, however, are impermanent states, and in due course one will be reborn in a lower realm when the good karma which caused the heavenly birth runs out the ultimate goal of the Buddhist is therefore not heaven, but nirvana.
Hell- Buddhism has no concept of hell as a place of eternal punishment, and its notion of post-mortem retribution is close to the Western notion of purgatory. The accumulation of bad karma can lead to rebirth in one of a number of hells, often vividly depicted in popular art and folklore. There are said to be both hot hells and cold hells, each with numerous subdivisions where the evil-doers are tormented by demons until their bad karma has run its course and they are reborn in a better state. The deepest of all the hells is Avici.
Heruka- a "˜blood-drinker": a term for the wrathful deities, such as Herajra or Cakra-samvara, associated with an Uttara-yoga-Tantra and often adopted by a practitioner as a tutelary deity.
Hojo- 1. The practice of buying live animals at the market and then releasing them as an act of compassion (karuna). Sometimes this is done in a ritual in which large quantities of birds and fish are bough for the purpose. The practice is widespread throughout the Buddhist world. 2. A samurai family that ruled Japan as regents from 1199 to 1333, which saw the formative years of the Zen, Pure Land and Nichiren movements.
Homa- the ancient Vedic fire ritual in which offerings are burnt for the gods. The ritual was adapted in Buddhist Tantra for the elimination of internal and external obstacles. Various categories of homa ritual are delineated in texts according to the chosen aim- pacifying, enriching, subduing, or destroying- and this determines the shape of the hearth to be used, the fire-wood, and the types of offerings to be burnt.
Honji-suijaku- term meaning "˜original nature and provisional manifestation", and denoting away of relating the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of Buddhism to the Kami, or divinities, of the Native Shinto religion. This theory, which held sway from the earliest period of Buddhism in Japan until the Meiji Restoration of 1868, maintained that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were the "˜true" image or nature of the spiritual beings to whom the people prayed, while the Kami were localized, provisional manifestations of these same beings. The intent may have been to valorize the Kami within a Buddhist framework, but this theory ultimately derogated the Kami as mere expedients, and this caused dissatisfaction among Shinto priestly families and intellectuals.
Honshi- a Japanese Buddhist honorific meaning "original teacher", it is used to refer either to Sakyamuni Buddha or to the founder of a particular school or lineage.
Indriya- the sense-organs, powers or faculties of the human individual, commonly grouped into a list of 22. These consist of (1-6) the six sense bases (ayatana), namely the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; (7-9) three factors concerning gender, namely femininity, masculinity, and vitality; (10-14) five feelings, namely pleasant bodily feelings, painful bodily feelings, happiness, sadness, indifference; (15-19) five spiritual faculties, namely faith (sraddha), energy (virya), mindfulness (smrti), mediation (samadhi), insight (prajna); three supermundance faculties, namely 20) knowing what is not yet known, which marks the attainment of the supermundane path (arya-marga), 21) the highest knowledge, which marks the attainment of stream-entry (srotapanna), 22) perfect knowledge, which marks the stage of the Arhat.
Inka- Japanese term meaning the "˜seal of enlightenment" or certification by a Ch'an or Zen master of the authenticity and depth of a student's experience of enlightenment.
Ippen (Yugyo Shonin) (1239-89)- founder of the Jishu (literally, "time school") of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism. His sobriquet, Yugyo Shonin, means "wandering holy man", and accurately reflects his homeless lifestyle. He made it his primary practice to chant the name of Amitabha Buddha constantly, and to try to convert others to the practice by handing out amulets inscribed with the Nembutsu which he would encourage people to chant. Once a monk declined this gift, saying that he had no faith in Amitabha, and that it would be hypocritical for him to chant the name. This caused a crisis in Ippen's thinking: if Amitabha, were powerful enough to bring all beings to the Pure Land after their death, then could he not bring even those who had no faith? This doubt was resolved during a trip to Kumano, where a manifestation of Amitabha assured him that faith was immaterial, the Buddha's power was indeed enough to bring brings to rebirth. After that, he continued to distribute his amulets and encourage people to recite the name even if they did not believe. Ippen traveled with a group of disciples, both male and female, and they became known for their performance of the Odori Nembutsu, or "dancing Nembutsu", in which he and his followers would dance while chanting Amitabha's name. Spectators frequently reported miraculous occurrences during these performances, such as the appearance of purple flower-like clouds in the sky. Because he traveled with a mixed group, Ippen was very concerned with issues of morality, and he has his followers carry a set of blocks wherever they went, with which they would construct a wall between the men and the women at night when they slept. The Jishu remained strong for a time after Ippen's death, but by the 15th century, it was eclipsed by the Jodo Shinshu.
Japa- recitation or recital, particularly of mantras, for which a rosary (mala) of 108 beads in traditionally used.
Japan- the earliest official account of Buddhism in Japan states that it arrived at the imperial court in 552 (or 538 according to some authorities), when a delegation from the kingdom of Paekche on the Korean peninsula brought a Buddha image and some scriptures as gifts for the emperor. It is likely, however, that Buddhism was already known in Japan through other non-official channels. After this initial contact, the court had to decide whether allowing the practice and study of this new religion would anger the local deities or Kami, whose protection the imperial family needed in consolidating their rule over the newly centralized kingdom. During this earliest period, Buddhist texts, and clergy came to Japan along with aware of Chinese cultural imports that also included writing, political thought, urban planning, and other innovative ideas. It seems clear that the court and aristocrats understood Buddhism as a variant of their Native religion, and used it primarily as a way to cure illnesses and gain supernatural support for their political and military efforts. Prince Shotoku (572-621), who ruled Japan as regent after the death of his father, is credited with being among the first to see Buddhist teachings as distinct from the native cults. He is thought to have composed commentaries to several scriptures, and he fostered a program of rapid temple construction.
Scholars generally divide the subsequent history of Japanese Buddhism into periods defined by the capital city. The Nara (710-94), Heian (794-1185), and KamaKura (1185-1392) periods are the most important, since these are the periods in which the main schools of Buddhism were established and took shape.
The Nara Period
During the Nara period, Buddhist activity went in two primary directions: the clergy were busy trying to understand the doctrines found in newly imported texts, and the government put Buddhist rituals and organizations to work for the welfare of the state. As to the first of these tasks, the so-called "˜six schools of Nara Buddhism" comprised groups of clergy who concentrated on the texts and thought of six different Chinese schools. Almost all of the scholar-monks who engaged in these studies lived in the capital under government-sponsored establishment, a few self-ordained practitioners left society and lived in the mountains performing austeries and magical services for ordinary citizens. In addition to the scholarly activity in the capital, the primary activity of clergy was to perform rituals on behalf of a paid clientele that came almost entirely from the imperial family and the aristocracy.
The Heian Period
This saw a movement of Buddhism a way from government centers and out among the people, although this movement fell far short of a full-scale popularization of the religion. During this time both Saicho (767-822) and Kukai (774-835) journeyed to China to deepen their knowledge of Buddhism Saicho went to Mt. T'ien-t'ai to study Tâ'ien-t'ai doctrines, but while waiting for a ship to take him home, he encountered a monk who practiced esoteric rituals. After a short period of training and the conferral of the proper initiation, he returned to Japan and settled on Mt. Hiei, where he established the Tendai school to be a successor to the Chinese T'ien-t'ai school. However, because the real patronage came from the performance of esoteric rituals, he divided this new school's focus between the exoteric doctrines of T'ien-t'ai and esoteric ritual performance. In addition, he make a crucial move to establish the Tendai school independently from the government-controlled monastic establishment in Nara when he asked for permission to ordain his own monks on Mt. Hiei using only the Mahayana precepts of the Brahmajala Sutra (Jap., Bonmokyo). Permission was granted after his death, and the Tendai school was thus freed the necessity of submitting its monks to the Ritsu school in the capital for ordination. Meanwhile, Kukai went to China exclusively to receive training in esoteric texts and rituals, and the Shingon school that he established on Mt. Koya upon his return concentrated solely on esoteric Buddhism, and for a time out shone the Tendai school in patronage and popularity.
The relationship between Buddhism and its assembly of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and the Shinto pantheon, contributed to concern many in Japan, and during the Heian period the theory known as honji-suijaku, or "˜original nature and provisional manifestation", came to dominate. According to this theory, the local Kami of Shinto were manifestations of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that appeared in Japan to teach the people and protect the nation. Thus, for example, the sun goddess Amaterasu was in fact a local manifestation of the great Sun Buddha Vairocana. In this way, both religions could be accommodated in a single institution that incorporated both Buddhist and Shinto personnel and practices (known as the jinguji, or "˜shrine-temple").
The Kamakura Period
By the opening years of the Kamakura period the Tendai school was the largest and most powerful of the eight schools in existence at that time, and its broad focus on both doctrinal and esoteric study and practice, as well as its laxity, corruption, and militance (as seen it is infamous "˜monk-soldiers", or Sohei), made it the breeding ground for subsequent reform movements and schools out of the Tendai matrix, the following figures emerged to establish new schools under the following broad categories: 1) Pure Land Honen (1133-1212) founded the Jodo Shu; Shinran (1173-1262) the Jodo Shinshu; and Ippen (1239-89) the Jishu. 2) Zen: Eisai (or Yosai, 1141-1215) founded the Rinzai school, which took its lineage of Dharma-transmission from the Chinese Lin-Chi school, and Dogen (1200-53) the Soto school, derived from the Chinese Ts'ao-tung lineage. 3) Nichiren (1222-82) founded the Nichiren school, which proclaimed the superiority of the Lotus Sutra (Myoho renge kyo) over all other scriptures and recommended the constant repetition and praise of its title as the sole means of salvation. In addition to the formal establishment of these schools and their institutions, the tradition of mountain asceticism continued under the name Shu-gendo or "˜the way of experiential cultivation". Drawn primarily from the ranks of Tendai and Shingon esoteric clergy, practitioners lived in the mountains and practiced by fasting, repentance, esoteric rituals, and long, arduous journeys through the mountains that covered as much as 50 miles in a single day.
Ashikaga and Tokugawa Periods (1392-1868)
By the end of the Kamakura period, Buddhism was a significant presence at all levels of Japanese society. At times, this was a source of concern for the feudal government. In the 15th century, Jodo Shinshu adherents formed popular leagues called Ikko Ikki, which rose up on rebellion against local aristocratic rule in Kaga and in 1488 took control of the province themselves. In 1571 the shogun Oda Nobunaga, distrustful of the enormous land holdings and secular power of Buddhist monasteries, attacked and razed the Enryakuji in Mt. Hiei, dispersing its Sohei once and for all, and he suppressed many other Buddhist establishments. On the other hand, the pervasive presence of Buddhist institutions could be a source of strength for the government for instance, after the ban on Christianity in 1612 and the subsequent expulsion of Christian missionaries, the government required all citizens to register with local Buddhist temples beginning in 1640, effectively co-opting these institutions as a census bureau. Buddhism's close cooperation with and support by the government in this way led to an inevitable decline, although a few notable figures stand out as exemplars: Takuan Soho (1573-1645), Bankei Eitaku (1622-93), and Hakhin Zenji (1685-1768) in the Zen school, and Rennyo (1415-99) and Shimaji Komurai (1838-1911) of the Pure Land school to name a few. However, as the Tokugawa period drew to a close in the early 19th century, the real locus of religious vitality was in Confucianism and various intellectual and spiritual renew movements within Shinto. In addition, the first appearance of the so-called "New Religions" such as Tenrikyo offered real competition for the loyalty of the peasants and the middle classes.
The Meiji and Modern Periods
When the Meiji emperor succeeded in restoring real political and executive power to the imperial family in 1868, one of his first acts was to abrogate the honji-suijaku understanding of the relationship between Buddhism and Shinto, and declared the two put asunder in a more called Shinbutsu bunri, or "separation of Kami and Buddhas". Buddhism itself came under persecution during the first decade or so of the Meiji period, but the attack galvanized Buddhists into action, and they successfully demanded recognition and toleration under the new constitution. At the same time, Buddhist chaplains who accompanied Japanese troops on military adventures in China, Korea, Taiwan, and South-east Asia. As well as missionaries who traveled to America and Europe to participate in the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions and to settle abroad, gave Japanese Buddhism an international presence. While all schools of Japanese Buddhism came to Hawaii and the American mainland with the large numbers of immigrants at that period, Zen had the most success in making an impression on Euro-American culture. The westward expansion of Japanese Buddhism accelerated after the second world war. At the same time, social changes taking place in modern Japan have fostered the development of many Buddhist-derived "New Religions", most of which sprang from off shoots of the Nichiren school and its devotion to the Lotus Sutra. Prominent among these are the Nichiren Shoshu and its lay branch, the Soka Gakkai (which broke away from its parent organization in 1992), and Rissho Koseikai. Today, Japanese Buddhism is a combination of the old and the new: even the most ancient of the Nara schools continues to coexist alongside the newest of the "˜New Religions". The Soto and Jodo Shinshu schools are the largest of the traditional schools, and Buddhism remains completely integrated as a vital part of Japanese life and culture.
Jikkai- Japanese term meaning: 1. The ten precepts taken by novices in Buddhist monasteries and convents. 2. As different Japanese characters but with the same transliteration, the "˜ten realms" of Mahayana thought: hell, hungry ghosts (preta), animal, human, asura, heaven, sravaka, Prodye Kabuddha, Bodhisattva, and Buddha.
Jizo bosatau- Japanese form of the Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha. His legendary vow to travel into the underworld to rescue beings in torment made human immensely popular figure in east Asia. Where he because known as the chief of the ten kings who judge the dead and as the patron of longevity. Scriptures promoting his cult were composed in Japan and ceremonies directed to him carried out from an early date. Offerings are traditionally made to him on the 24th of each month. He is also regarded in Japan as the patron of travelers, and of infants who die before birth.
Kalpa- an aeon, a measurable of time widely used in ancient India. Several accounts exist of the precise number of years involved, and there are also small, medium, great, and "˜uncountable", Kalpas. The most common values given for an "uncountable" (asamkhyeya) Kalpa are 10 (to the 51st power), or 10 (to the 59th power) years. A Bodhisattva is said to become a Buddha after three of these "˜uncountable" Kalpas.
Kami- objects of prayers and offerings and the subjects of mythology in the Japanese Shinto religion. In some senses they are analogous to the gods of ancient Greco-Roman or Nordic mythology, although the range of the term covers not only beings who have names and life-stories but also dimly perceived entities that manifest as the awe inspired by particular objects or landscapes. When Buddhism came to Japan, one of the leading questions that caused great concern was: how would the native Kami respond to the importation of foreign deities? One answer that allowed Buddhism and Shinto to coexist for a time was the theory of honji-suijiaku, which held that the Kami were local manifestations in Japan of the Universal forms of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of Buddhism. Another was to see them as converting to Buddhism themselves and taking on the role of protector deities for particular shrines and temples.
Karma- the doctrine of karma states the implications for ethics of the basic universal law of Dharma, one aspect of which is that freely chosen and intended moral acts inevitably entail consequences and no one, not even the Buddha, has the power to forgive evil deeds and short-circuit consequences which inevitably follow. A wrongful thought, word, or deed is one which is committed under the influence of the three roots of evil (asusala-mula). These good or evil roots nourished over the course of many lives become ingrained dispositions which predispose the individual towards virtue or vice. Wrongful actions are designed in various ways as evil (papa), unwholesome (akusala), demeritorious (apunya), or corrupt (samklista), and such deeds lead inevitable to deeper entanglement in the process of suffering and rebirth (samsara). Karma determines in which of the six realms of rebirth one is reborn, and affects the nature and quality of individual circumstances (for example, physical appearance, health, and prosperity). According to Buddhist thought the involvement of the individual in samsara is not the result of a "˜fall", or due to "original sin" through which human nature became flawed. Each person, accordingly, has the final responsibility for his own salvation and the power of free will with which to choose good or evil.
Dharma- Dharma is etymologically derived from the Sanskrit root dhr meaning to bear or support. It is a term of great significance with three main meanings. First, it refers to the natural order or universal law that underpins the operation of the universe in both the physical and moral spheres. Secondly, it denotes the totality of Buddhist teachings, since these are thought to accurately describe and explain the underlying universal laws so that individuals may live in harmony with it. It is in this sense that it occurs as one of the "˜three jewels" (trivatna) and the "three refuges" (trisarana), along with the Buddha and the Samgha. Thirdly, it is used in the Abhidharma system of taxonomy to refer to the individual elements that collectively constitute the empirical world. Some of these elements (dharmas) are external to the perceiver and others are internal psychological processes and traits of character. It is in this context that the Madhyamaka school denied the substantial reality of dharmas, claiming that all phenomena were "˜empty" (sunya) of any substantial reality.
Kendo- Japanese term meaning "˜The Way (do) of the sword (Ken)". One of the Japanese martial arts that came to be associated with Zen from the Muromachi (1392-1603) period to the present.
Khwan (or Khuan)- term found in various of the Thai languages denoting the "˜vital essence" of a human being, rice plant, or certain animals (such as buffaloes and elephants). Known in Burmese as leikpya, and in Khmer as pralu'n, this "vital essence" is thought to exist in 32 parts of the human body according to the Thai belief, and in nineteen parts according to the Khmer. In practice, however, it is thought of as a unity, and as the spirit that must be within the body of the human being, the rice plant, or the animal if it is not to wither and die, or suffer misfortune. Periodic rituals are performed to secure the Khwan to the body, especially following any sudden change in status or place of residence. At death the Khwan ceases to exist and a new Khwan is formed at conception. Since the Khwan is impermanent, and is not understood as an atman or eternal soul, it poses no direct conflict to the Buddhist teachings of not self (anatman).
Klesa- general term for defilements, vices, or negative psychological tendencies. The term means something like "˜affliction", in the sense of disturbances of the mind. The three most basic are greed (raga), hatred (dvesa), and delusion (moha), although many different lists and variant terms are found. Thus, according to Vasubandhu in the Abhidharma-Kosa the six basic defilements are greed (raga), hatred (pratigha), ignorance (avidya), arrogance (mana), doubt (vicikitsa), and false views or opinionatedness (drsti). Sometimes the list is extended to ten to include delusion (moha), laxity (styana), excitability (auddhatya), shamelessness (ahrika), and recklessness (anapatrapya). Under the influence of these defilements individuals perform unwholesome (akusala) acts which produce bad karma leading to an inferior rebirth. They can be eliminated by the cultivation of their corresponding virtues and through meditation.
Koan- sometimes referred to as "˜Zen riddles", Koans are brief stories or dialogues from the Ch'an/Zen tradition upon which Zen students focus during their mediation in order to penetrate their meaning. During the late T'ang and early Sung dynasties in China, the Ch'an community experimented with many new teaching methods that would allow masters to directly elicit an experience of awakening (Satori) on the part of their students. There "shock Ch'an" or "crazy Ch'an" techniques included beatings, shouting directly into the student's ear, or giving paradoxical or nonsensical responses to their questions. Later, during the mid-to late Sung period, stories of master-student encounters that had succeeded, or simple tales of a master's strange behavior, circulated within Ch'an circles in the form of "sayings of the master" or "transmission of the lamp" (Chin., Ch'uan teng lu) literature. Examples included the Record of Lin-chi (Chin., Lin-chi hu) and the Patriarchs" Hall Anthology (Chin., Tsu-t'ang chi). As students reflected upon these stories, they found that they could use them as helpful devices in their own meditation. In reading the story of a master whose teaching method, had led a student to enlightenment (bodhi), they could ask themselves: what was the master's mind at that moment? What did the student experience? In other cases not involving the recounting of an enlightenment experience but simply giving an instance of a master's teaching or even a casual dialogue, the student could try to break through the obstructions in their own mind that kept them from directly experiencing their own nature and seeing their own inherent enlightenment. The formal use of such stories as a teaching device for students is first mentioned in connection with Nan-Yuan Hui-yung (d. 930).
Fen-yang Shan-chao (942-1024) of the Lin-chi school was the first to compile an anthology of Koans, many of which he composed himself. These appear in the middle volume of the Record of Fen-yang (Chin., Fen-yang lu). Subsequently, many Sung period masters of the Lin-chi school excelled in the use of Koans and in the contrivance of situations later enshrined in Koans. However, two anthologies of Koans stand out in the Ch'an tradition. The first is the Blue Cliff Records (Chin., Pi-yeh hu, Jap., Hekigan-roku), first compiled by Hsueh-tou Ch-ung-hsien (980-1052) and later expanded by Yuan-wu Ko-ch" in (1063-1135). Hsueh-tou had complied the hundred cases comprising the work and added his own verse to them, while Yuan-wu added an introduction and commentaries to the cause and Hsueh-tou's verse to each one. The second is the Wu-men Kuan (Jap., Mumonkan), a collection of 48 cases complied by the monk Wu-men Hui-K'ai (1183-1260) that appeared in 1229. The title could mean "˜Wu-men's Pass or "Wu-men's Barrier", but a play on the meaning of the characters of Wu-men's name also make it possible to give it the more paradoxical translation the "Gateless Gati" or "˜The Pass with No Door". The Koans included in this text are stripped of all but the most essential elements in order to confront the student with the pith of each story. While other Koan collections have appeared throughout the years, these two have enjoyed the greatest status, serving as textbooks in Koan training. Use of Koans has been mostly been the province of the Lin-chi school (and its Japanese successor, the Rinzai school), while the Ts'ao-tung (Jap., Soto) has tended to downplay their use, seeing Koans practice as an artificial effort to attain Buddhahood. Even within circles that made use of them, Koan practice has received criticism for encouraging mere cleverness and wordplay rather than genuine enlightenment, and periodically answer-books have appeared purporting to give students an easy way to pass through the "˜curriculum" and gain credentials.
However, when used properly, Koans are credited with helping students break down the barriers to enlightenment that the rational habits of the mind erect, and with instilling a profound understanding of Buddhism and its goals at a direct, experiential level. An example in the following, which is number 43 in the Wu-men Kuan: "Shou-shan held out his short staff and said, if you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality, if you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. Now quickly, say what it is!" Students of Buddhist doctrine might recognize in this the teaching of the Two Truths of the Madhyamaka: the ultimate truth (it's reality), and the conventional truth (the fact). However much a student understand this doctrine intellectually, the Koan confronts him or her with the understanding of the application of the doctrine to an actual thing. To do so, the student must break through to a new level of understanding. While the two anthologies mentioned earlier represent the core of the Koan tradition. It remains a living tradition, with new Koans being proposed to fit new times and places.
Ksitigarbha- a mythical Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism, especially associated with the underworld. Ksitigarbha is popular in Japan where he is known as Jizo bosatsu and associated with the care of young children who have died an untimely death. Statues of Ksitigarbha are common in Japanese cemeteries which depict him as a smiling monk with a staff and jewels in his hands; these statues usually have votive bibs of red cloth tied around his neck.
Kuan-Yin (Jap., Kannon)- one form of the Chinese name assigned to the Bodhisattva of compassion (karuna), Avalokitesvara. This Chinese form means"to hear or regard the sounds", and is a contraction of Kuan Shih Yin "˜to hear or regard the sounds of the world", indicating the Bodhisattva's ability to hear the cries of all beings in need or trouble. In the Heart Sutra, he is given the name Kuan Tzu Tsai. He is one of the most popular objects of devotion and reverence in East Asian Buddhism. The locus classicus for Kuan-yin's major attributes and functions in the seventh fascicle of the Lotus Sutra, in which the Bodhisattva proclaims his all-embracing compassion and willingness to act on behalf of all suffering beings. He tells the assembly that if anyone is in any need or trouble, whether shipwreck, threat of bandits, storms or other perils, all they need to do is call upon his name single-mindedly and he will deliver them. In addition, he will grant the requests of all who pray to him. In particular, he promises to grant a child to any woman who prays to him for one, and the image of the "˜child-granting Kuan-yin" has become especially popular. Finally, he says that he will assume any form in order to conform to the expectations and inclinations of anyone in order to teach them the Dharma and convert them: he might manifest as a Buddha, a high celestial Bodhisattva, a monk, a nun, a layman or laywoman, or even a prostitute if required. In addition to these characteristics found in the Lotus Sutra, the Pure Land traditions in China and Japan revere Kuan-yin as one of the Three meditation Sutra, the Larger Sukhavati-Vyuka Sutra, and the Smaller Sukhavati-vyuha Sutra, the Buddha Amitabha presides over this Pure Land, and is assisted by the two Bodhisattvas Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamapropta.
Kuan-yin's ability to appear in any form needed has led to a profusion of iconographic representations. The Bodhisattva can be represented as both male and female as need and occasion demands. The greatest number in variations appear within esoteric scriptures, mandalas, and images, in which he can appear in normal human shape, or with any number of heads, eyes, and arms, and also in independent guises with different names such as Chun-t'i. In one common practice, the devotee recites the Great Compassion Mantra (Chin., Ta pei Chou) while visualizing 108 separate forms of the Bodhisattva in sequence. The Bodhisattva's broad compassion (karuna), all-embracing vows, ability to manifest in various forms, and easy accessibility have all served to make him the most widely called upon source of help not only in east Asian Buddhism, but in the folk belief's of all regions as well.
Kung-fu- in Chinese, a general term for spiritual discipline. While many in the west use the term to refer to a particular form of martial arts, the word actually means any discipline that one undertakes as a vehicle for spiritual development . Thus, besides martial arts, other acts such as dancing, flower arranging, calligraphy, or painting can be considered one's "˜kung-fu".
Maha-bhuta- sanskrit term meaning the "˜great elements". These are the four forces which constitute materiality, namely solidity, fluidity, heat, and movement, and which are commonly referred to as earth, water, fire and wind. To these a fifth element, space (akasa) is often added and consciousness? (Vijnana) is sometimes mentioned as a sixth item.
Mahasthamaprapta- "˜he who has obtained Great Power", the name of an important mythical Bodhisattva. He is especially popular in east Asian Buddhism and is believed to open people's eyes to the need to strive for awakening (bodhi). Mahasthamaprapta is mentioned at an early date in Mahayana works such as the Lotus Sutra, and is often paired with Avalokitesvara and depicted together with the latter flanking Sakyamuni or Amitabha in the form of a trinity. Iconographically, he is white in color and is depicted holding an unopened lotus bud in his hand; sometimes he is also shown in east Asian art with a pagoda in his hair.
Maitri- kindness, benevolence, or goodwill, as in the disposition of a friend. An important Buddhist virtue, maitri is to be cultivated towards all in a spirit of generosity which is free of attachment or thoughts of self-interest. As the first of the four Divine Abidings (Brahma-Vihara), Maitri is practiced as a Meditational exercise by being directed first of all to oneself, then those close to one (such as friends and family), and then extended by stages to embrace all living beings. The Pali Metta Sutta, which expresses the wish that all beings may be well and happy, is a very popular text recited daily by many monks and lay-people.
Makyo- 1. The "˜realm of devils" in Japanese Buddhism. In Zen, this can be used to mean hallucinations that arise while in meditation. 2. With a different Chinese character for the second syllable, this means the "˜country of Mara", as opposed to the Pure Land of the Buddha Amitabha.
Mala- a rosary, used for reciting mantras or other prayers mainly Mahayana Buddhists. The beads of a mala, normally 108, can be made of wood, hard nut kernels, bone, crystal, or other materials. Shorter half or quarter malas are also used by some Japanese lay Buddhists.
Mandala- a sacred circle or circular diagram (also occasionally oblong as in Japan) having mystical significance. Mandalas are most commonly found in Tantric Buddhism, where they are believed to represent the body, speech, and mind of a Buddha, and are used for initiatory, meditational, and other purposes. Mandalas are said to exist in several planes of reality: the intrinsically existent mandala (svabhava-mandala), not accessible to ordinary beings, which is the actual configuration of the qualities of enlightenment (bodhi), the meditational mandala (samadhi-mandala) as visualized by a Tantric practitioner, and the representational mandala which is the mandala as depicted with colors and so forth. Mandalas are also subdivided according to whether they are Body Mandalas which embody the body form of the deities or aspects of enlightenment, Speech mandalas which represent the speech aspect with seed-syllables (bija-mantra), or mind mandalas which represent the mind aspect with symbols such as lotuses, vajras, or wheels.
Martial arts- martial arts is a broad term that covers a variety of schools and forms whose unity derives only from their origins in the arts of war and single combat. Thus, it covers the "˜empty-hand" fighting style of karate as well as forms that concentrate on the use of various weapons, from swords and bows and arrows to farming implements, such as sickles and threshers. Within Buddhist history, the martial arts have been closely identified with the teachings and practices of Ch'an and Zen from an early period, a situation that arose when the military classes discovered that Zen practice enhanced fighting techniques by eliminating the fear of defeat and death and by enabling the combatant to keep his mind and energy focused in the present moment, thus shutting out distraction and enhancing concentration and reflexes.
In China, the origin of this connection is traced to the putative founder of Ch'an himself, Bodhidharma (3rd-4th centuries). It is said that when he arrived at the Shao-lin monastery (vihara) in Honan Province, he found the resident monks in poor physical condition and subject to the depredations of local bandits, and so he taught them fighting techniques to improve their health and security. To this day, the monks of the Shao-lin monastery are famed for their fighting skills. A similar school of Buddhist martial arts (as opposed to "Royal Court Martial Arts") arose in Korea. In Japan, the association of Zen and fighting led to samurai class to Kamakura period onward. They found in the Rinzai school an active, goal-oriented program of self-cultivation that accorded with their own drive to self-discipline and achievement, and so a symbiotic relationship developed. Rinzai saw in the practice of martial arts a way to self-realization and expression of one's Buddha-nature of much the same sort that other arts (such as painting, calligraphy, and poetry) provided. The samurai found in Zen practice a way to further their own goals in becoming more skilled warriors. Some figures even straddled both worlds, such as Suzuki Shosan (1579-1655), who as a young man was a warrior who made use of Zen on his combat, and later in life became a Zen monk whose teachings were filled with martial arts.
Monk- usual English translation of the samskrit word bhiksu. Buddhist monks are referred to in different ways throughout the Buddhist world. For example, in Tibet they are known as lamas, in Burma as phongyi, and in Korea as pigu.
Nirvana- the summum bonum of Buddhism and goal of the Eightfold Path. The attainment of nirvana marks the end of cyclic existence in samsara, the condition to which it forms the antithesis, and in the context of which nirvana has to be understood. Samsara in thus the problem to which nirvana is the solution. The word nirvana is formed from the negative suffix nir and a sanskrit root which may be either va, meaning to blow, or vr, meaning to cover. Both connote images of extinguishing a flame, in the first case by blowing it out and in the second by smothering it or starving it of fuel. Of these two etymologies, early sources generally prefer the latter, suggesting that they understood nirvana as a gradual process, like cutting off the fuel to a fire and letting the embers die down, rather than as a sudden or dramatic event. The popular notion that nirvana is the "blowing out of a flame" is this not widely supported in the canonical literature. In general, nirvana is described in negative terms as the end or absence of undesirable things, such as suffering (duhkha), although positive epithets also occur, notably the famous description of nirvana, as the "˜unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed" found at Udana 8.3.
It is important to distinguish two kinds of nirvana: the first is the moral and spiritual transformation that takes place in life, and the second is the condition that subsists in the post mortem state. The former is known as "˜nirvana with remainder" (sopadisesa-nirvana) and the latter as "˜nirvana without remainder" (anupasisesa-nirvana) or "˜final nirvana" (parinirvana). Although in the earliest sources nirvana and parinirvana are used interchangeably. The former is attained through the destruction of the defilements known as the outflows (asrava), and the latter is characterized by bringing to a halt for all time the dynamic activity of the psycho-physical factors (samskara) that compose the human individual. One in the latter condition is free from the effects of karma, but one in the former is not, although no new karma will be produced.
In Mahayana Buddhism, the Bodhisattva ideal diminishes the importance of nirvana as a religious goal. This is because the Bodhisattva makes a vow not to enter before him. Nirvana thus becomes a collective endeavor rather than a personal one. As new doctrinal positions emerge, moreover, the concept of nirvana undergoes development and is understood differently according to the philosophical perspective of the main schools. The Madhuamaka, for example, famously conclude that one who perceives emptiness (sunyata) as the true nature of phenomena will see nirvana and samsara as co-terminus. The Yogacara school also teaches that the cessation of dualistic mental discrimination will lead to the realization that the opposition between nirvana and samsara is merely conceptual. Schools such as Zen Buddhism also emphasize that for those who are awakened and perceive with insight (prajna), nirvana saturates every aspect of samsara. Certain texts also elaborate a distinction between two types of nirvana, mirroring the one made in the early sources between nirvana in this life and final nirvana. In the Mahayana these are known as localized (pratisthita) and unlocalized (apratisthita) nirvana. The latter corresponds to the state of parinirvana, but in the former a Buddha remains "˜in the world but not of it", free of any attachment to samsara but accessible to help suffering beings.
Nivarana- the five nirvaranas or"hindrances" are vices that disturb the mind and obscure one's vision of the truth. In Pali sources they are: 1) sensuous desire (kama-cchanda), 2) hatred (vyapada), 3) sloth (thina-middha), 4) anxiety (uddhacca Kukkucca), and 5) doubt (vicikiccha). It is impossible to enter the trances (dhyanas) while these hindrances are present.
Mun- usual English translation of the sanskrit word bhiksuni. In this sense the term refers only to fully ordained member of the samgha. In various parts of the Buddhist world there are orders of women who devote themselves to the religious life but are not fully ordained. These usually follow a lesser number of precepts, such as the dasa-silmata of Sri Lanka.
Pana-marga- the "Five Paths", being a systematization of the stages of an Arhat's or a Bodhisattva's spiritual progress current in many pre-Mahayana forms of Buddhism, and also particularly emphasized in the Yogacara school. The five paths comprise: 1) the path of accumulation (sambhara-marga) in which one gathers the requisite accumulation of merit and awareness (punya-jnana-sambhara), 2) the path of preparation (prayoga-marga) when one develops skill in meditation, 3) the path of seeing (darsana-marga) when one attains a direct insight into the true nature of phenomena or emptiness (sunyata), 4) the path of cultivation (bhavana-marga) when one broadens one's experience of emptiness and makes it a living experience, 5) and the path of "no-more-learning" (asaiksa-marga) when all defilements (klesa) and perverse views about the knowable- such as a belief in an inherent, permanent self (atman)- are over come. It is at this point one either becomes enlightened as either an Arhat or a Buddha.
Panca-sila- the Five Precepts. A set of five moral rules, dating to the origins of Buddhism and common to almost all schools. They are: 1) not to kill or injure living creatures, 2) not to take what has not been given, 3) to avoid misconduct in sensual matters, 4) to abstain from false speech, 5) not to take intoxicants. The Five Precepts are the cornerstones of Buddhist morality, particularly for the laity. Monks and Nuns have additional codes of rules to follow.
Papa- that which is evil or wrongful and leads to suffering. Papa is the opposite of punya (meritorious action) and whereas punya leads to a heavenly rebirth, papa brings about rebirth in one of the three states of woe, namely as an animal, a hungry ghost (preta), or in hell. Papa arises from intentions and actions that are unwholesome (akusala), namely those motivated by greed, hatred, and delusion, the three roots of evil (akusala-mula). Essentially, papa is that which leads one away from nirvana, and is closer to the concept of error than an offense against divine authority or a condition innate in human mature such as original sin. In Buddhism sins cannot be forgiven, but may be confessed.
Papa-desana- the practice of confession. In Buddhism, confession is not a sacrament nor an appeal for absolution to a divine power to forgive sins. Instead, the confession of wrong doing is seen as psychologically healthy and an aid to spiritual progress by allowing feelings of shame (hri) and remorse (apatrapya) to be acknowledged and discouraged. A guilty conscience is viewed as a hindrance to religious progress and it is believed that owning up to wrongful deeds inhibits their repetition. For Monks there is an official occasion for confession at each posadha, when the Pratimoksa is recited and monks are obliged to declare any infringements of the rules by themselves or others. There is no equivalent ceremony for lay Buddhists.
Parajika-dharma- group of four offences that are the first and most serious in the Buddhist monastic code of discipline (Pratimoksa). The penalty for any of the four offenses is life long expulsion from the monastic order (samgha). The four offenses are: 1) sexual intercourse, 2) serious theft, 3) murder and 4) falsely claiming to have attained supernatural powers. A monk who commits a parajika offense is compared to "˜a person whose head is cut off, or a withered leaf dropped from the tree, or a stone slab split in two, or a palm tree cut from the top". Such a one has been "˜defeated" (the traditional etymology of parajika) and cannot be readmitted to the Order.
Parami- one of ten virtuous qualities mentioned in Pali sources that are said to lead to Buddhahood. The ten qualities occur frequently in the Jatakas, and are also found in the Buddhavamsa and Cariyapitaka. The list of ten paramis is: 1) generosity (dana), 2) morality (sila), 3) renunciation (hekhamma), 4) insight (panna), 5) energy (viriya), 6) patience (khanti), 7) truthfulness (sacca), 8) resolution (adhiyyhana), 9) loving kindness (metta), 10) equanimity (upekkha).
Paramita- in Mahayana Buddhism a "perfection" or virtuous quality practiced by a Bodhisattva in the course of his spiritual development. Apparently related to the ten paramis of early Buddhism, an original list of six Mahayana perfections was eventually increased to ten to complement the ten stages or levels (bhumi) of a Bodhisattvaâ€™s career. The full list of the ten Perfections is: 1) generosity (dana), 2) morality (sila), 3) patience (ksanti), 4) courage (virya), 5) meditation (samadhi), 6) intuitive insight (prajna), 7) skillful means (upaya-kausalya), 8) vow (pranidhana), 9) power (bala), 10) knowledge (jnana). The sixth is the subject of the extensive corpus of Perfection of Insight literature.
Pisaca- a class of flesh-eating demons, similar to the raksasa and yaksa.
Preta- "˜hungry ghosts", one of the miserable modes of existence in samsara. Various kinds of these spirits exist but all are subject to suffering in the form of insatiable and unsatisfiable appetites as a punishment for greed and avarice in previous lives.
Punya- ten meaning "˜merit", "˜meritorious action", or "˜virtue". Sometimes also used to refer to the results or potential results of good karma such as a heavenly rebirth and a future blissful existence, the enjoyment and duration of which depends of the amount of merit accumulated in a previous life. Pali sources mention three factors known as punna-kiriya-vatthuni (grounds of meritorious action) which produce merit: these are dana (generosity), sila (good conduct), and bhavana (contemplation).
Bhavana- the general term used in Buddhism for any type of meditational practice involving continuous attention by the mind to any suitable object. The two main kinds of meditation practiced in Buddhism are calming meditation (samatha) and insight meditation (vipasyana).
Pure Land- the term "Pure Land" is a Chinese invention, but it refers to a concept long known in Buddhism under other names such as Buddha-land or Buddha-field. The idea arose in India with the development of Mahayana Buddhism, among whose innovations was the teaching that beings do not simply go into extinction upon the attainment of Buddha-hood, but remain in the world to help others. Since they continue to exist, they must exist in a place, and since they are completely purified, their dwelling must also be completely pure. In some scriptures, such as the vimala-kirti-nirdesa sutra, this did not imply the existence of a separate realm distinct from that in which unenlightened beings dwelt, but was this very world of suffering. Its purity derived from the fact that the Buddhas saw its true nature, which was pure, whereas other beings saw it through the lens of their delusion, which rendered it impure. However, another strain of thought did assign different realms to different Buddhas, and in time several of the more prominent Buddhas received Pure Lands with names and definite locations: to the west, the Buddha Amitabha dwelt in the land of Sukhavati, while to the east, the Buddha Aksobhya presided over Abhirati. Within the esoteric tradition, these lands and their directions became part of maps of the cosmos known as mandalas. Despite the specificity of their locations and features, however, these lands were seen as outside of samsara and were thus not to be confused with the "˜heavens", the realms of the popular gods (deva) derived from Hindu mythology.
In India, the composition of the classic "Pure Lands Scriptures" (such as the Longer and Shorter Sukhavati-vyuha Sutras) helped to popularize the idea that the Buddhas who dwelt in these Pure Lands could bring unenlightened beings into them for teaching without compromising the purity of the environs. In China, the rise of the Pure Land school popularized this idea, and spurred many centuries of theoretical accounts of the nature of the Pure Lands, and the genesis of typologies that sought to classify the various types of Pure Lands. For example, the thinker Ching-Yin Hui-Yuan (523-92) identified three different types of Pure Land, depending upon the beings that dwell in them or attain their vision: 1) the phenomenal Pure Land where unenlightened beings go which, while purified by the Buddha's presence, still presents itself to their minds according to their desires, 2) the Pure Land with characteristics, which accommodates those who achieved enlightenment (bodhi) following the Hinayana path and Mahayana followers in the early stages of practice, and 3) the true Pure Land, achieved by accomplished Bodhisattvas on the Mahayana path. This latter type had further subdivisions into lands of Bodhisattvas and lands of Buddhas, with the latter further categorized into two aspects: the land as it appears to the Buddha residing in it, and the way he manifests it to other beings.
The T'ien-t'ai school of China established a four fold typology of both pure and impure lands. 1) "Lands where the holy ones and ordinary beings dwell together", indicated impure lands where Buddhas appear in order to teach, 2) "˜Lands of skillful means with remainder" pointed to lands inhabited by Hinayana adepts who had taken the path of skillful means in which teachings were adapted to their capacities rather than expressed directly. They had escaped samsara, and so this realm is outside their ordinary realms of rebirth and represents a true liberation, but the true inhabitants still have more to learn. 3) "˜Lands of true recompense without obstruction" are attained by those Mahayana Bodhisattvas who have achieved a direct vision of truth. 4) Finally, the "˜Land of eternally quiescent light" is the destination of perfected Buddhas and is free of all defining characteristics and dualisms, and so manifests only quiescence and peace, with nothing to fix the mind upon.
Within the Pure Land movement in China, another issue was whether the particular manner which sukhavati, the Pure Land of the Buddha Amitabha, manifests is due to the karma of the Buddha or of the unenlightened beings whom he draws into his land after their death. In part, the answer to this question depended upon correlating the Pure Land with one of the three bodies (trikaya) of a Buddha. Early Pure Land masters regarded Sukhavati as corresponding to a Buddha's Emanation Body (nirmana-kaya), which meant that the Buddha emanated it as a teaching device for the worldlings who entered it: it appearance did not reflect the enlightened vision of its Buddha. Breaking with this view, the master Tao-ch'o (562-645) held that it was a "˜reward" and corresponding to the Buddha's Enjoyment Body (sambhoga-kaya), which implied that the appearance of the land did indeed correspond to the Buddhas own level of realization, and was not adapted to the inferior capacities of worldlings. Logically, the third body, the Truth Body (dharma-kaya), would have corresponded to something like the land of eternally quiescent light referred to above, but Tao-ch'o denied that such a thing existed: being a complete vision of the final nature of all reality, it could not be separated from impure phenomena or localized in any way, and so such a land could not be identified anywhere. The above is a sampling of some of the reflections of Chinese masters on the nature of Pure Land in general, and sukhavati in particular. There were other issues upon which various writers disagreed, such as whether or not Pure Lands exist within the "˜Triple World", and how to think of Pure Lands using the dyadic notions of "˜principle" and "˜phenomena" that became popular later. All of these issues yielded a richly textured body of literature explaining the nature of Pure Lands.
Raksasa- in Buddhist mythology, a class of evil flesh-eating demons who also caused sickness and misfortune.
Rebirth- the belief that one is reborn after death. The idea is pre-Buddhist and is first encountered in the early Upanisads ( C. 800 B.C.E.). The notion is widespread in Indian religions, which believe in a continuity of the individual from one life to the next. Belief in rebirth is a corollary of the doctrine of karma, which holds that a person experiences the good or bad fruits of moral action at a later date. According to Buddhism, there are six possible realms of rebirth. Rebirth is one of the "˜givens" of Buddhist thought and since it's truth is universally assumed it is rarely asserted or defined as a dogma. The authorities claim that the fact of rebirth is open to empirical verification by advanced yogins (such as the Buddha) who is said can recall in great detain the circumstances of countless previous lives. Some contemporary Buddhists have suggested that belief in rebirth is not an essential part of Buddhist teachings, but the notion is deeply engrained in the tradition and the ancient texts.
Roshi- in Zen, an honorific meaning "˜venerable master", the term is also used in other schools as a respectful way of addressing or speaking to elders. It is a contraction of rodai shushi, or "venerable great master of the school".
Samatha- one of the two main types of meditational technique taught in Buddhism, the other being vipasyana or insight meditation. It is normally recommended that the two techniques be developed in tandem since they complement one another. The primary aim of samatha is to achieve the state of mental absorption known as "˜one-pointedness of mind" (citta-ekagrata), in which states the mind remains focused unwaveringly on its meditation subject. When the mind is calm and focused in this way it can successively attain the eight dhyanas or trances. By contrast, vipasyana meditation leads to the intellectual understanding of doctrine and depends upon the mind being in a state of conscious awareness. The primary technique used in samatha is to concentrate on the breath as it enters and leaves the body, perhaps counting the in and out breaths up to a certain number and then resuming again to zero. The aim is to monitor the breath with bare attention rather than trying to control it. Other methods include focusing on an external object, known in Pali sources as a Kasina, or by concentrating on any of the 40 traditional meditation subjects. These practices lead to physiological changes in the body and an altered state of consciousness which is amenable to spiritual development. The practice of samatha frees the mind from distractions and removes mental impurities such as the five hindrances (nirvana), which are left behind on the attainment of the first dhyana.
Sensa- a Japanese honorific meaning "˜teacher" that is sometimes used in religious as well as secular settings.
Shiguzeigan- term for the "˜four great vows" of the Bodhisattva: 1) although sentient beings are numberless, I vow to save them all, 2) although defilements are measureless, I vow to cut them all off, 3) although the Dharma-gates are inexhaustible, I vow to study them all, 4) although the Buddha-way is unsurpassed, I vow to attain it. In east Asia, these vows are generally taken in rituals conferring the Bodhisattva precepts, or in other rites of passage.
Shinto- the indigenous religion of Japan. This is not so much as organized, unified religion as a cultural complex of religious myths and rituals carried out originally by clan and village groups and centering on tutelary deities called Kami. These Kami can be thought of as deities with names and life stories attached to them, as in the case of the sun goddess Amaterasu, a personifications of forces of nature; or as the spirit animating awe-inspiring natural features such as waterfalls, stones, mountains, or large and ancient trees. Later in Japanese recorded history, with the successful claim of the Yamato family to rule all of Japan, state-sponsored temples and cults arose to honour and petition Kami that transcended familial and local concerns, and imperial/national rituals added a new layer to Shinto practice. The Yamato family was in the process of consolidating their power in the 6th century when Buddhism arrived in Japan. Thereafter, various proposals were made and decisions taken on the question of how to relate the foreign religion to the native one, or how Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were to relate to Kami. The Shinbutsu Shugo movement, beginning in the late 7th century, proposed that the Kami were to be guardians of the new religion, or, alternatively, that the Kami, while powerful enough to answer certain petitions, were themselves caught in the cycle of suffering and in need of Buddhist teaching. Finally, the honji-suijaku theory identified the Kami with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, claiming them as particularized, local manifestations of their original and universal natures. Such theories paved the way for the combination of Shinto and Buddhism at the institutional level with the founding of jinguji, or "shrine temples" where both Shinto priests and Buddhist monks worked side by side, although with the Shinto function aries generally in the Subordinate position.
Buddhism also stimulated more philosophical reflection among Shinto priestly families. For example, Yoshia Shinto, founded in the 15th century by Urabe Kanetomo (1435-1511), proposed a cosmology according to which a great Shinto deity created the universe and all that was in it, including Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Later in the Edo period (1603-1867), Shinto thinkers made use of new Neo-Confucian ideas from China to bolster a philosophical system. Sophisticated enough to compete with Buddhism. Shinto also provided the rallying point for restoration of the imperial family to political power, since Amaterasu was both the Kami of the nation and the tutelary god of the Yamato clan, and since the ruling warlords (shogun) had made such use of Buddhist temples in their administration. Within this situation, it became easy to associate Shinto with the emperor and Buddhism with the warlords. When the Meiji emperor came to power in 1868, he declared a policy of sundering the connection between Shinto and Buddhism (this split is called Shinbutsu bumri in Japanese). This put an end to syncretism between Shinto and Buddhism, although many of the new religions that have appeared in Japan since the early 1800s, while ostensibly basing themselves on either Buddhism or Shinto, have in fact mixed elements of the two in a new synthesis.
Samurai- member of the Japanese warrior class that developed alongside the late medieval system of land ownership by feudal lords known as "˜shoen". Due to the weakness of the central government in the medieval period, local nobles were able to recruit their own fighting forces, and the founding of the Kamakura Shogunate in 1192 ushered in an era of military rule that lasted until the Meiji Restoration of 1868. The relationship between the samurai warrior and his lord was governed by a code of conduct known as bushido, which emphasized honour, glory, heroism, and loyalty. Many samurai found Buddhist religious teachings, particularly those of Zen, helpful in remaining mentally concentrated in battle and in developing an attitude of calm detachment, in the face of death.
Vipasyana- one of the two main types of meditational techniques taught in Buddhism, the other being samatha, or calming meditation. The technique leads to the direct personal apprehension and verification of the truth of formations (samskara) bear the "three marks" (trilaksana), namely that they are impermanent (anitya), without self-essence (an atman), and sorrowful (duhkha). This insight leads to entry into the supermundane paths and to nirvana. Vipasyana thus leads to an intellectual understanding of doctrine, in contrast to samatha which leads to a transit state of rapt absorption. It is normally recommended, however, that the two techniques be developed in tandem, since insight is hard to attain if the mind is distracted.
Zen- the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word "Ch'an", meaning "˜meditation". This word stands not only for a particular religious technique, but is an umbrella term for the various schools of Zen in Japan: Rinzai, Soto, Obaku and Fuke. Besides specific reference to the above-named Japanese schools (and their American and European derivatives), the term is also used to cover the entire tradition from which Japanese Zen arose in China, and all the other derivatives of Ch'an in other countries such as Son in Korea.