Abhidharma Abhidharma is part of the Tripitaka or open teachings of the Buddha that includes the extracted and systematized philosophy implicit in the teachings. Shakyamuni Buddha taught this to His mother who had been reborn in the Trayastrimsa heaven, but returned each night to transmit the teaching to his chief disciple, Shariputra.
abhijna (abhinna): superknowledge or supernormal power. There are five that can be achieved by ordinary beings (miraculous abilities, clairvoyance, clairaudience, ability to read minds, and knowledge of former lives), but the sixth (asavakkhaya) is only achieved by a holy one.
abhimana: conceit or arrogance, characterized by the arrogant posturing that one has achievements that one does not actually possess.
abhimukhi-bhumi: “Facing Forward,” the sixth of the Bodhisattva Levels or bhumi, reached through the cultivation of the perfection of wisdom, having gained an understanding of the emptiness and sameness of all phenomena.
Abhirati: The Buddha land of the East of Aksobhya Buddha, known as the “World of Wonderful Bliss” or the “Realm of Joy.” It is described in the Vimalakirti Sutra.
abhiseka: Literally “sprinkling” whereby a disciple receives initiation or empowerment. Sometimes refers to the vows taken with tantric initiation or the third set of vows, the other two being the pratimoksa vows or precepts of the hinayana tradition and the bodhisattva vows of the open mahayana tradition.
absolute truth: See “ultimate truth.”
acala-bhumi: The eighth of the bodhisattva levels known as the “Unshakeable One.” Once a bodhisattva reaches this level there is no turning back (avaivartika)
acharya (acarya): Literally means guru, teacher, preceptor, or master of esoteric Buddhism. It is also used to designate someone who has brought many practitioners to the dharma. See “vajra master.”
accomplishment (cheng-jiu): Common accomplishments can be simply attaining supernormal powers. Supreme accomplishment means liberation from the cycle of reincarnation or enlightenment and the end of suffering. To realized great accomplishment, you must arouse mahayana bodhichitta.
Adharma Buddha: The primordial Buddha, sometimes identified as Samantabhadra Buddha or Kuntuzangpo in Tibet, especially with the Nyingmas. The embodiment of enlightenment (“bodhi”) or ultimate reality (“dharmakaya“). Although the Adharma Buddha has no form, this unchanging, all pervasive entity is often shown symbolically as a red sun on top of a yellow crescent moon. Sometimes referred to as the Adi-buddha. See “stupas” and the book H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.
adhicitta: Higher mentality, “samadhi.”
adhiprajna: Higher understanding, “prajna.”
adhisila: Higher morality.
advesa: Non-hatred or love.
afflictions (fan-nao): Can also be translated as defilements. Refers to the passions and ignorance that cause one to wander in “samsara” and hinder one from attaining enlightenment. Six of the basic defilements are greed, hatred (anger), ignorance (delusion), conceit, doubt, and wrong views. Use of the word afflictions emphasizes the effects of the defilements.
“afflictions are bodhi:” This is a mahayana teaching of the highest level. The defilements are inseparable from Buddhahood. Enlightenment is achieved only when one realizes that the defilements themselves have no real, independent existence. When one sees the empty nature of the defilements, one realizes that there is, in essence, nothing to eliminate in order to enter into enlightenment. This phrase is often used in conjunction with the phrase “Samsara is the same as nirvana.”
Agamas: They are a class of scriptures from the early Buddhist teachings contained in the mahayana Tripitaka that correspond to the suttas (sutras) of the Pali canon. Literally the term means that which has “come down” as these are considered to be the actual sermons given by the Buddha during His lifetime.
aggregates: See “five aggregates.”
Ajàtasatru (Ajatasattu): He was an infamous usurper of the throne of Magadha, killing his father, Bimbisàra, who had converted to the Buddha’s teaching. He disliked the Buddha at first but was later converted and died a liberal king, hosting the First Council of the Sangha after the Buddha’s Parinirvana. See Samannaphala Sutta.
Ajnata Kaundinya (Annata-Kondanna): One of the five ascetics who had been companions of the Buddha and the first humans to hear the Buddha teach after his enlightenment. His name means “One who Knows” as he was the first to understand the Buddha’s message. He became the first monk ordained by the Buddha and the first to become enlightened. He had been the King of Kalinga and had dismembered the Buddha in a jealous rage in a former life. The Buddha vowed that when he attained enlightenment King Kalinga would be the first one he would save. See Shurangama Sutra, Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta, and Anatta-lakkhana Sutta .
Akshobhya Buddha (Bu-dong Fo): The eastern Immutable, Immoveable, or Imperturbable Buddha with mirror-like wisdom. Usually shown as being deep blue, but in certain higher tantras, He is white. One of the Five Transcendent Buddhas. Appears in His wrathful form as Hevajra Buddha.
alabha: Loss. One of the “eight winds.”
alambana: Literally foundation or basis. Anything functioning as the objective support or basis of perception either in normal consciousness or during meditation.
alamkara: Literature or literally ornament.
alaya vijnana (ba-shi): The storehouse or basis from which come all “seeds” of consciousness –the eighth consciousness. Also called the ground consciousness. The latent imprint of all karma created in the present life and previous lives is stored in the alaya consciousness. It is regarded as that which undergoes the cycle of birth and death. See the Law of Cause and Effect.
amala: See Vajrasamadhi Sutra.
Ambapali: The very beautiful courtesan and mother of Doctor Jivaka who donated her famous mango grove at Vaishali to the Buddha and the sangha.
Amitabha Buddha (O’mi-tuo Fo): The red western Infinite Light Buddha with discriminating wisdom. One of the Five Transcendent Buddhas and the leader of Esoteric Buddhism. He is also the leader of the Pure Land Sect, but that is but a small part of his duties. Incarnated as Guru Padmasambhava shortly after Shakyamuni Buddha left this world and remained in this world until eighth century of the current era after he had established Buddhism in Tibet. In pictures of Amitabha in the Pure Land Tradition, Great Strength Bodhisattva (Mahàsthàmapràpta Bodhisattva) is often shown standing to the Buddha’s right, while Bodhisattva Guan Yin (Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva)– Amitabha’s other constant companion — stands to his left.
Amitàyus (Changshou Fo): The Buddha of Infinite Life or the Long-Life Buddha is a manifestation of Amitabha Buddha. When Amitabha became the leader of Esoteric Buddhism, it was very hard for living beings to become enlightened. They would practice, but die at an early age. Amitabha then manifested himself as light and went in the ten directions to invite all the Buddha lights to merge with his own body. Suddenly, after he combined with all the Buddhas, his body became a coral color and he was transformed into the Long-life Buddha, Amitàyus.
Amoghasiddhi Buddha (Bu-kong Cheng-jiu Fo): The green northern Buddha of Action with all-accomplishing wisdom. One of the five transcendent buddhas.
an : Chinese term for all things that are dark and unbeneficial to sentient beings. The opposite of “ming” which means brightness.
anagamin: Non-Returner or no-more-rebirths, the third of the “four stages of becoming an arhat.”
Ananda (fifth century BCE) was the Buddha’s cousin and personal attendant for twenty-four years. After the Buddha’s death, at the First Council of Arhats held at Rajagrha, Ananda, having total recall, was instrumental in the codification of the oral traditions that preserved the lectures and teachings that he had witnessed as the Buddha’s attendant. At that time he recited the entire sutra section of the hinayana Tripitaka from memory. Because he devoted his time to attending to the Buddha and did not practice what the Buddha taught, he only attained arhatship after the passing away of the Buddha, just before the commencement of the First Council. His current incarnation is Nyingma Dharma King Renqing Rongbo Barongbo Rinoche. See “disciples.”
Anavatapta Lake: Literally “heat-free,” this mythical lake is sometimes thought to be Lake Manasarovar, a sacred lake at the foot of Mount Kailash in The Himalayas, the source of four of the world’s great rivers: the Ganges (east), the Indus (south), the Oxus (west), and the Huang He or Yellow River (north). It was thought to be able to cool the fires that torment beings and the home of a dragon of the same name.
antipathy: Normally defined as anger, hostility, fixed opposition, or disgust directed toward a particular person or thing.
anuttara-samyak-sambodhi: The unsurpassed proper and equal correct enlightenment of a Buddha. See “enlightenment.”
anuttara-yoga-tantra: the highest or supreme of the four classes of tantra practiced in Tibet. See TANTRA.
appearances, outward: See “SEVEN JEWELS.”
appropriate methods: See “SEVEN JEWELS.”
apramana: Four unlimited states of mind.
arhat (arahant or luo-han): Literally translates as worthy of offerings, without birth, and killer of thieves. An eminent monk or saint who has achieved a level of enlightenment, but is not a Buddha. One who has overcome outward manifestation of afflicting emotions, but who has not completely eliminated their psychic imprint. Although free of the cycle of birth and death, an Arhat is not fully enlightened. Also called a lohan, Venerable, the worthy, or foe-destroyer. This is the first stage of liberation or ending the cycle of birth and death and goal of the hinayana sects. The Arhat is said to be beyond both merit and demerit because, as he has abandoned all defilements, he can no longer perform evil actions; and as he has no more attachment, his virtuous actions no longer bear karmic fruit. See “Sixteen Arhats” and The Four Stages on Becoming an Arhat.
arcismati-bhumi: The fourth bodhisattva level or “Brilliant Bhumi” where the paramita of strenuousness or effort is perfected. Also called the Flaming One.
arya-marga: Attainment of the supermundane path, “knowing what is not yet known,” or the path of the arya that leads to nirvana. See “marga.”
Aryadeva (2nd century): One of the “seventeen great panditas” of ancient India and foremost disciple of Nagarjuna. Author of Four Hundred Verses on the Yogic Deeds of Bodhisattvas (Catuhsataka). See Kadampa Lineage Chart.
Asanga (Asangha) (fourth century) (Wu-zhuo Fa-wang): Indian Bodhisattva Dharma King who founded the Yogachara school. One of the “seventeen great panditas.” Received the “Five Treatises of Maitreya” when he visited Maitreya in the Tusita Heaven. Half brother of Vasubandhu. See Kadampa Lineage Chart.
Ashoka (A-shu-ga): Buddhist King who ruled India from 272-231 BCE. He sent his son Mahinda, a monk, and his daughter Sanghamitta, a nun, to Sri Lanka as Missionaries. He also sent other missionaries to various parts of Asia and even to Africa and Europe.
Asravas (asava): Also known as the “cankers” or “floods” or “outflows,” they are the four basic defilements of sensual desire (kamasava), desire for continued existence (bhavasava), false views (ditthasava), and ignorance of the truth (avijjasava) that are the cause of repeated rebirths. The hinayana tradition usually lists only the first three.
asubha: Literally, “the impurities.” Subjects of meditation, which focus on the inherent repulsiveness of the body, recommended especially as powerful antidotes to lust. It can either take the form of seeing a so-called beautiful or desirable person as a skin bag that is full of urine, feces, pus, blood, etc. or it can be done as a “Cemetery Meditation” where you actually watch a body decompose over a period of time. Not usually done by laypersons unless lust is a particular problem.
asuras are described as titans with a violent and jealous disposition, some of whom however are Buddhist protectors (dharmapalas). One of the eight types of celestial beings.
Atisha, Venerable (980-1052) (Dipankara Srijnana, A-di-xia Fa-Wang): Indian Dharma King who brought the Dharma to Tibet from India in 1042. One of the “seventeen great panditas” and holder of the “mind training” or lojong teachings. Wrote Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment to provide a simple guide for the Tibetans. See Kadampa Lineage Chart.
atiyoga: See “dzogchen.”
atman: The philosophical concept that there is an independent, unchanging, and eternal identity at the core of individuals and entities. Not held to be true by most Buddhists.
attachment: The two attachments are: (1) attachment to the concept of self, i.e., the concept that there is a real, permanent ego entity; and (2) attachment to things of the world or to the concept that things of the world and worldly phenomena in general are real. Both concepts are based on wrong views and the source of our clinging to samsara or worldly existence.
Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva (Guan-zi zai Pu-sa): The Bodhisattva of Compassion. Also known as Kuan Yin in China, Kannon or Kanzeon in Japan, and Chenrezi or Chenrezig in Tibet. Also called “Perceiver of the World’s Sound.” Actually an ancient Buddha by the name of Zheng Fa Ming or True Dharma Brightness Buddha who transformed into the Bodhisattva of Compassion so as to help living beings in this world. Manifests a wrathful form as Hayagriva, the Horse Head Vajra Deity. Currently incarnated as the Red Jewel Crown Regent Dharma King, Shamarpa Rinpoche.
Avatamsaka Sutra (Fo-tuo Ga-ye) was taught to Bodhisattvas and Buddhas and other higher beings at Bodhgaya directly after the Buddha’s enlightenment. This was the principle text of the Hua-yen school.
avidya: Literally, ‘Without illumination’ or ‘unseeing’. Ignorance is a crude translation of this term which is so fundamental to the Buddhist perspective. Avidya is held to be the root cause of one’s coming to exist in this plane of affliction, continuing to crave and cling to it, and repeatedly returning without understanding. Hence, ‘ignorance’ here is the subtle ignorance of the fundamental reality of phenomenal existence. See also “vidya.”
avyaakata: See “questions, ten indeterminate.”
Awang Banma Nan Jie (1930-) (Ngagwang Pedma Namgyal Palzangpo): Current Dharma King for the Jonang Sect who lives in China.
ayasas: Disgrace, dishonor, infamy. One of the “eight winds.”
ayatana(kye che): The eighteen constituents for perception: the six sensory objects such as sight, sound, smell, tase, and body sensation; the six sense faculties such as the visual sensory faculty, the auditory sensory faculty, etc., and the six sensory consciousnesses such as the visual consciousness, the auditory consciousness, etc.