Madhyamaka School (Zhong-lun-xing Jiao): One of the two major Mahayana schools in ancient India founded by Nagarjuna. Its two major branches are the Prasangika-Madhyamaka and the Svatantrika-Madhyamaka. Those who follow this school of thought are called “Madyamikas.” The main tenent of this school is proving that everything is empty of self-nature using rational reasoning as based on the second turning of the wheel at Vulture Peak.
Maha-Cunda Thera was the brother of the “Venerable Sariputta (Shariputra)Thera.”
Mahakala Vajra Bodhisattva: One of the main Dharma Protectors who manifests in many wrathful forms. He is the main Dharma Protector of Esoteric Buddhism and the guardian of all mantras. One of the “Eight Guardians of the Law” and one of the ten dharma protectors in the Lineage of Dorje Chang Buddha III. See Tantra.
Mahakasyapa or Kasyapa (Maha Kassapa): He was one of the foremost disciples of the Buddha and became the president of the First Great Council at Rajagrha held shortly after the Buddha’s Parinirvana. He is considered the first ancestor in the Zen tradition as he was the only one who understood the Buddha’s meaning when the Buddha held up a flower and smiled, saying nothing. This meant that Mahakasyapa understood that the truth is beyond words or doctrine and requires a direct transmission from teacher to disciple. See “disciples,” “Theravadan Lineage Chart,” “Lineage Chart for Exoteric Mahayana Sects,” “Kadampa Lineage Chart,” “Shurangama Sutra.”
Mahakatyayana (Katyayana, Maha Kaccana): Eminent disciple of the Buddha who was known for his ability of explaining in depth the terse teachings of the Buddha. See disciples.
Mahakaushthila: Uncle of Shariputra and first among the Buddha’s disciples in debate.
Mahamaudgalyana (Mahamaudgalyayana or Maha Moggallana): The second of the Buddha’s chief disciples, second only to his good friend Venerable Sariputra. He was pre-eminent in supernatural powers being able to conjure up innumerable living shapes and change himself into any form at will. He was beaten to death by brigands–karmic retribution for his beating to death his blind parents in a previous life. See disciples, Shurangama Sutra.
Mahamaya, Queen (6th BCE) (Moye Nuwang): The mother of Sakyamuni Buddha, who died seven days after the birth of the Buddha and was reborn in the “Trayastrimsa Heaven.”
mahamudra (da-shou-yin): Literally means “Great Seal,” i.e., the seal of emptiness on all phenomena. This is a profound system of meditation upon the mind and the ultimate nature of reality. Mahamudra is a meditation system closely associated with and the highest Dharma of the Kagyu school that emphasizes direct realization of the luminous and empty nature of mind and phenomena. It is comparable to the Nyingma school teachings of dzogchen, from which it is, however, subtly different.
Mahamudra of Liberation: Abreviated title of The Supreme and Unsurpassed Mahamudra of Liberation by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.
Mahàsthàmapràpta Bodhisattva(Da Shi Zhi Pu-sa): Also called Great Strength Bodhisattva; Bodhisattva attendant to Amitayus Buddha who personifies the power of the Buddhas and is in charge of the Pure Land Sect. Name literally means Great Might that Extends Everywhere or Great Strength as an Elephant. Sometimes referred to as a manifestation of Vajrapani. Birthday celebrated on the thirteenth day of the seventh lunar month.
Mahavairocana (Vairochana) Buddha (Da-ri Fo): The central Sun Buddha and one of the “five transcendent Buddhas.” Usually depicted as white in color, but in the higher tantras, this Buddha is blue. See “five wisdoms of a Buddha.”
mahayana (da-sheng): The path or vehicle to become a bodhisattva. It is one of the two general divisions of Buddhism, the other being hinayana. It is the tradition of Buddhism practiced in northern Asia, China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Tibet and the Himalayan regions. The Mahayana practitioners’ motivation for following the Dharma path is principally their intense wish for all sentient beings to be liberated from suffering and its causes. To this purpose, the goal of the mahayana is the attainment of the supreme enlightenment of Buddhahood. The open path consisting of the practice of the six paramitas (perfect virtues) or paramitayana and Vajrayana, the secret mantra or adamantine vehicle (tantra), are the two great vehicles of the mahayana.
Mahinda: Son of King Ashoka who became a monk and went to Sri Lanka as a missionary.
mahoraha: A kind of serpent-like celestial being.
Maitreya (Mi-le Fo): The next buddha who is currently living in the Tushita Heaven, but who manifests from time to time to teach living beings. Based on his vows and merit, he will transform this earthly realm into a world of saints similar to the “Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss.” Living beings who have a karmic connection with him will become his citizens, see this Buddha, hear the dharma, and attain enlightenment. Name literally means The Loving One. His current incarnation is Dharma King Trulshik Rinpoche of the Nyingma Sect. See Shurangama Sutra, “Five Treatise of Maitreya,” “Mahayana Lineage Chart,” and “Kadampa Lineage Chart.”
Maitripa (978-1053): Disciple of Saraha and one of Marpa’s teachers.
mandala (tan-cheng): Although this term is used in different ways, all of its meanings are derived from its holy meaning of a Buddha Land. It is either the place where Buddhas live including Their palaces, instruments, etc. or various symbols of this sort of place. It is often used to refer to the Buddhist altar area where tantra initiations are performed. It can also be a type of offering or a formal diagram or construct used in the practice of tantra and as a guide in various forms of meditation. It has other uses such as those associated with the dharma methods relating to inner and outer mandalas and certain states of realization. All of these uses relate to its symbolic form and the establishment of a sacred space.
manifestation: A visible form in which a holy being or concept is revealed or expressed.
Manjushri Bodhisattva (Wen-shu Pu-sa): The Bodhisattva of Wisdom who manifests from time to time to teach living beings. An ancient Buddha who is known as the guru or teacher of seven Buddhas and is sometimes depicted as wielding a sword of wisdom that cuts through illusion. His bodhimanda is Wu Tai Mountain, one of the four sacred mountains in China. His name means “Wonderful Virtue” or “Wonderful Auspiciousness.” He is the foremost in the universe when it comes to wisdom. Current nirmanakaya incarnation as H.H. Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya Sect. Other famous manifestations include Sakya Pandita (1182-1251), Longchen Rabjampa (1308-1364), and Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419). See “Mahayana Lineage Chart,” and “Kadampa Lineage Chart.”
Manjushrimita (first-third centuries) (Miao Ji-xiang You): Received the Great Perfection (dzogchen) dharma from Garab Dorje. Teacher of Shri Singha. See Nyingma Lineage.
mantra (zhen-yan): Sacred words recited by Buddhist practitioners. See Tantra.
mantra teacher: A pejorative term for one who only teaches the recitation of mantras and does not know or does not teach the exoteric dharma.
Mantrayana: See “Vajrayana.”
maõi: A jewel, crystal, often a pearl, that symbolizes purity and is often attributed powers such as granting wishes or appearing to have whatever colors or patterns a person thinks about.
Mara (Papiyan) literally means “the killer.” As a specific being, he is often called “Mara the Evil One” or the “non-liberator” since he appears as the opponent of liberation. Actually Mara is a Bodhisattva whose job is to test living beings, especially those who are on the path to Buddhahood. He and his demon followers are emanations of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who test those engaged in self-cultivation. He appears in the texts both as a real being (i.e. as a deity who is the King of Demons of the Paranirmita Heaven, the sixth and highest heaven in the desire realm) and as a symbol of everything that hinders the arising of wholesome roots and progress on the path of enlightenment. This includes the internal difficulties encounterd by the practitioner. There are four kinds: 1) skandha-mara or incorrect view of self; 2) klesha-mara or being overpowered by negative emotions; 3) matyu-mara or death that interrupts the spiritual practice; and 4) devaputra-mara or becoming stuck in the bliss that comes from meditation.
marga (magga): Literally means path or way, specifically in the sense of a system of religious practice leading to nirvana. The most common use of the term in Buddhism is in reference to the “Noble Eight-fold Path.” In the hinayana tradition the four-fold path of the arya-marga is followed (See Maha-satipatthana Sutta). The mahayana tradition has the five-fold path (panca-marga): 1) the path of accumulation (sambhara-marga), 2) the path of preparation (prayoga-marga), 3) the path of seeing (darsana-marga), 4) the path of cultivation (bhavana-marga), and 5) the path of no further learning (asaiksa-marga).
Marpa (1012-1097) (Ma-er-ba): Tibetan Dharma King and disciple of Naropa and teacher of Milarepa. Went to India several times to receive the teachings. See “Kagyu lineage.”
master: Synonymous with the word Guru. See “Vajra Master.”
meditation: A general term that includes many specific techniques and practices designed to concentrate and focus the mind. See “contemplation (bhavana),” “dhyana,” “samadhi,” “shamatha,” “vipasyana,” and “visualization.” See dharma.
merit (punya; shan-gen or ji-fu): In general, it means the good that one does; virtue or meritorious action. The positive energy or karma generated by wholesome actions of body, speech, and mind. There are two types of meritorious collections—the accumulation of merit and the accumulation of wisdom (punya-jnana-sambhara). The hinayana teachings list generosity (dana), good conduct (sila), and contemplation (bhavana) as the grounds of meritorious action. The nirmanakaya is the result of the accumulation of such merit. See also “dedicating merit.”
Method Lineage (Vast Bodhisattva Way): Lineage that came from Ven. Asanga and Lord Maitreya.
method of practice: See “darma methods” and “practicing dharma.”
middle way: Has several meanings in Buddhism, but usually used to mean the dharma that is neither of the two extremes of nihilism where nothing exists and eternalism where everything has a real or permanent existence. Also refers to the mode found to be most conducive to liberation of neither indulging in the senses (hedonism) or denying them (asceticism). Also used to refer to “Madhyamaka School.”
Milarepa (1052-1135) (Mi-la-ree-ba): Disciple of Marpa and teacher of Gampopa. Because of his black karma (he killed many people and caused hail storms that destroyed crops) he had to undergo extremely difficult tests before Marpa would teach him the esoteric Dharma. His biography is an excellent introduction to what is involved in following this path. He wrote many songs of enlightenment.
mimamsa: Concentration of reasoning, inquiry or investigation. One of the four bases or roads to psychic power (riddhipada).
Mind-only School (Wei-shi zong): Cittamatrin School. See “Yogachara School.”
mind training: See “lojong.”
mindfulness (smrty-upasthana, yinian): Basic teaching whereby one is mindful of one’s body, feelings, thoughts, and phenomena.
Mindrolin Trichen XI (1930-2008 ) (Min-zhuo-lin Chi-qin Fa-wang): Head of the Mindroling Monastery, which was founded in 1676 and is one of the six major Nyingma monasteries in Tibet. Was a Nyingma Dharma King who was head of the Nyingma Sect. He lived in Dehra Dun, in northern India. His daughter, Khandro Rinpoche, is a current nirmanakaya incarnation of Yeshe Tsogyal.
Ming Dynasty (Ming Cháodài): The last dynasty of the Han Chinese that existed from 1368 to 1644. Prior to that time China had been ruled by the Mongolians and after that by the Manchu clan.
Mipham Jamgon Rinpoche (1846-1912): Great Nyingma master and prolific writer of the nineteenth century and important master of the rime (non-sectarian) movement. His root master was Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, but he also studied under Patrul Rinpoche and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye. Composed the Tashi Prayer (The Verses of the Eight Noble Auspicious Ones) and wrote Fundamental Mind.
Miracle of the Pairs: Miracles performed by Shakyamuni Buddha at Sravasti whereby He rose in the air and flames poured out of the top of His body while jets of water streamed from the lower part. He then reversed the act and had water streaming out of the top of His body and flames from the bottom.
miracles: See Holy Manifestations.
Moggallana: See Mahamaudgalyana.
Mongolian Living Buddha (hu-tu ke-tu): See “khutukhtu” and “rinpoche.”
monk (bhikshu): Male follower of the Buddha who has left “home” and keeps the full 250+/- pratimoksa vows. A female follower of the Buddha who has left “home” and keeps the full 348+/- vows is a nun (bhiksuni).
Monkey King: See “Sun Wukong.”
Morality (sila), concentration or meditation (samadhi), and wisdom (prajna): The three principle trainings of a Buddhist as taught by the Buddha. One must be moral and abide by the precepts in order to attain deep concentration. Only after attaining deep concentration can one attain wisdom. Only after attaining wisdom can one master worldly and supermundane ways.
motivation: See SEVEN JEWELS.
Mount Sumeru: This mountain is akin to Mount Olympus in function, being a huge mountain at the center of the world that holds up the heavens and in which the gods dwell. See “Sumeru.”
Mucalinda: A naga king who came and protected the Buddha when a thunderstorm broke out while he was meditating in Bodhgaya. This is the significance of the art depicting a hooded cobra poised over the Buddha.
mudra (shou-yin): Sacred hand gestures or body postures used by Buddhist practitioners. See Tantra.