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Glossary of Terms

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  Z

A

Aham:  'Self', 'I', that which represents the person/being.

Ahamkara:  Grasping at 'self'; believing that 'self' is separate from the body and mind, existing in its own right.

Anitya:  Impermanence; all phenomena that are caused by other factors will eventually come to an end.  There are two degrees of impermanence, gross and subtle. Gross impermanence means anything that comes into being, stays for awhile, then disappears, due to secondary factors.  Subtle impermance means the momentariness of things - the cessation or disintegration of things which does not require secondary causes because the cause of its destruction is already present in the cause that gives rise to it.

Arya:  Noble. superior. One who has realized the ultimate truth, emptiness.

Asura:  Demi-gods.

Atman:  The idea of a self that is autonomous and independent form body and mind.  This is a misconception that gives rise to delusions and is the primary cause of suffering.

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B

Bhumi:  Ground. level. stage. There are ten levels of meditative wisdom through which a Bodhisattva must pass or travel in order to attain Buddhahood.

Buddha:  Enlightened one - not only referring to Buddha Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha.

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C

Chakra:  The energy channels in the human body.  There are seven:  1) crown chakra, 2) between the eyebrows, 3) throat chakra, 4) heart chakra, 5) navel chakra, 6) secret chakra (at the base of the sexual organ), 7) at the tip of the sexual organ.

Citta:  Mind.  consciousness.  There are six types of consciousness, five sensory ones and the mental consciousness. The 5 sensory ones make contact with form, sound, taste, touch, and smell.  The mental consciousness follows, making evaluations (whether something is good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, etc.).  Depending upon our evaluations, attachment, anger, hatred, jealousy, love, or compassion arise.  Because of this complexity, Buddhism identifies 51 different mental factors (qualities of the mind) which are like cabinet members who work under the pwer of the king (the prime mind or consciousness).

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D

Delusions:  Distorted thoughts that have maximum potential to destroy one's peace and calmness of mind, e.g. anger.  There are 6 root delusions and 20 secondary delusions.

Demon:  (Mara).  Anything that obstucts one in the attainment of liberation or Enlightenment. There are 4 principal types of demon or mara:  1) the demon of delusions, 2) the demon of the contaminated aggregates, 3) the demon of cureless death, and 4) the demon of misleading, intentional misguidance.

Deva:  Gods. Highest form of birth within samsara, the ceaseless cycle of birth and death under the control of karma and delusion.

Deva:  A being living in the form and formless realms of existence who is still subject to the cycle of birth and death. According to Buddhist cosmology, there are 3 realms or dimensions of world. These are:

Dharma:  The teachings of The Buddha.

Dharmakaya:  Truth or Wisdom Body; the inner qualities of the Buddha, his perfect abandonment of all negativities, delusions, and his perfect attainment of all realizations and superior qualities such as Infinite Compassion, Infinite Wisdom, and Omniscience.

Duhka:  Suffering.  There are 3 types of suffering:  

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E

Enlightenment:  The state of perfection when one has achieved perfect abandonment and perfect attainment of realization.  Perfect abandonment is no t only abandoning delusions but the subtle obscurations which prevent one from being of most benefit to other sentient beings.  These subtle obscurations hinder us from knowing the precise ways and timing to be of most help to others.

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F

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G

Guna:  Positive quality.

Guru:  Spiritual teacher.

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H

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I

Impermanence:  (Anitya).  All phenomena that are caused by other factors will eventually come to an end.  There are two degrees of impermanence, gross and subtle. Gross impermanence means anything that comes into being, stays for awhile, then disappears, due to secondary factors.  Subtle impermance means the momentariness of things - the cessation or disintegration of things which does not require secondary causes because the cause of its destruction is already present in the cause that gives rise to it.

Interdependent Origination:  (Patitya Samutpada).  That means that every phenomena is due to millions of fast moving particles coming together, and nothing exists autonomously.  The understanding of interdependence is the key to understanding the Buddhist concept of emptiness.

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J

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K

Kalpa:  Eon, cosmic cycle.

Karma:  Intentional action that brings a corresponding result, cause and effect.  For example, a positive action will bear a positive result, etc.

Kaya:  Body.

Klesa:  Delusions.  Distorted thoughts that have maximum potential to destroy one's peace and calmness of mind, e.g. anger.  There are 6 root delusions and 20 secondary delusions.

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L

Lalana:  Left psychic channel, white in color.

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M

Mamakara:  Grasping at 'mine'; seeing things and objects as possessions of such a self-arising or inherently existing 'self' or 'I'.

Mantra:  Means mind protection.  Mantras protect the mind form ordinary appearances and the flow of disturbing conceptual thoughts and emotions.

Manusa:  Human being.

Mara:  (Demon).  Anything that obstucts one in the attainment of liberation or Enlightenment. There are 4 principal types of demon or mara:  1) the demon of delusions, 2) the demon of the contaminated aggregates, 3) the demon of cureless death, and 4) the demon of misleading, intentional misguidance.

Merit:  The good fortune that is created through the power of virtuous actions.  It has the potential to increase good qualities, bring happiness, and help an individual to obtain higher spiritual realization.

Method:  (Upaya). The main cause of the ripening of one's Buddha nature.  Method constitutes the practices of compassion, love, bodhicitta, giving, moreal discipline, patience, joyous or virtuous effort, and mental stabilization or shamatha meditation. The practice of method directly helps and supports one's gaining or giving birth to Wisdom, which is the main cause for the attainment of Buddhahood or liberation, the state of being fully awakened.

Moksha:  (Nirvana).  Liberation, freedom from samsaric suffering; state of true peace, not a feeling, a state of peace. The Buddhist concept of moksha is not a destination but a pure state of mind in which there is total freedom from samsaric suffering and all kinds of emotional frustrations. The 4 features of moksha:

Mudra:  A posture, refers to both physical and mental gestures-physical gestures like hand gestures of teaching, earth-witness, meditation, giving and protection. Mental gesture refers to a perfect view to see things and objects as they are in the absence of conceptual thoughts, projection, and judgments based on delusion.

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N

Nadi:  Energy channels and nervous system in the human body.

Nirmanakaya:  Emanation Body of a Buddha that can be directly perceived by ordinary beings. The physical body.

Nirvana:  (Moksha).  Liberation, freedom from samsaric suffering; state of true peace, not a feeling, a state of peace. The Buddhist concept of moksha is not a destination but a pure state of mind in which there is total freedom from samsaric suffering and all kinds of emotional frustrations. The 4 features of moksha:

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O

Ordinary Being:  A common person who has not realized emptiness directly or experientially.

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P

Prajna:  (Wisdom).  The main means through which one can release oneself from the bondage of delusions and their imprints.  It is a practice of gaining a correct understanding of emptiness and developing it to its deepest level, so that one can see things as they truly are, even in experiences outside of one's meditation.  According to Buddhism, the spiritual path of enlightenment should have these two aspects or elements.  Wisdom and Method.

Pramana:  Valid cognition, unmistaken awareness.

Prana:  Energy wind in the human body.

Pratitya Samutpada:  Interdependent Origination.  That means that every phenomena is due to millions of fast moving particles coming together, and nothing exists autonomously.  The understanding of interdependence is the key to understanding the Buddhist concept of emptiness.

Pretas: Hungry ghosts.

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Q

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R

Rasana:  Right psychic channel, red in color.

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S

Sambhogakaya:  Enjoyment Body.  The Buddha's subtle physical body which ordinary beings cannot perceive.  Only superior Bodhisattvas can perceive this and receive teachings from this body.  from the Sambhogakaya, the Nirmanakaya arises.  When the historical Buddha died at the age of 81, he dissolved back into the Sambhogakaya.

Shunyata:  Emptiness, vacuity, voidness.  The infinite potential that exists as the Essence of all phenomena.  The infinite potential of all phenomena that give rise to infinite possibilities.

Suffering:  (Duhka).  There are 3 types of suffering:  

Sutra:  Lord Buddha's teachings that were directly taught in public and open to everyone. Generally, it consists of 108 volumes.

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T

Tantra:  Lord Buddha's secret teachings, given only to select spiritually advanced disciples and not open to everyone.  The tantric practice can be effective for someone who has a good foundation built on understandings and practices based on sutra teachings.  Therefore, the tantric teachings were given much later than the sutra teachings.  

Tathagata:  "The one who goes beyond". gone beyond the experience of the ordinary and mundane world.

Tiryak:  Animals or creatures.

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U

Upaya:  (Method).  The main cause of the ripening of one's Buddha nature.  Method constitutes the practices of compassion, love, bodhicitta, giving, moreal discipline, patience, joyous or virtuous effort, and mental stabilization or shamatha meditation. The practice of method directly helps and supports one's gaining or giving birth to Wisdom, which is the main cause for the attainment of Buddhahood or liberation, the state of being fully awakened.

Ushnisha:  Crown protrusion, the physical sign of enlightenment. ("We're not referring here to the Punjabi's head turbans!", adds Geshe-la, laughing.)

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V

Vinaya:  Collection of teachings of the Buddha regarding the rules of discipline and ethics for monks, nuns and laypeople. One of the three major teachings of Lord Buddha. The 3 major teachings are: 1. teachings on ethics, 2. teachings on meditation, 3. teachings on wisdom.

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W

Widsom: (Prajna).  The main means through which one can release oneself from the bondage of delusions and their imprints.  It is a practice of gaining a correct understanding of emptiness and developing it to its deepest level, so that one can see things as they truly are, even in experiences outside of one's meditation.  According to Buddhism, the spiritual path of enlightenment should have these two aspects or elements.  Wisdom and Method.

Wrong View:  Any view that denies the existence of enlightened beings, liberation, Karma, and rebirth.

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Y

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Z