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Sutra Translations
Select Glossary of Names and Terms



Agama Sutra

One of the beginning Buddhist Sutras. It is said that this Sutra contains the sermons of Shakyamuni Buddha during the early two to three years after His having attained Enlightenment.
This Sutra consists of “the Four Agamas”:
1)  Dirghagama (Long Sermons)                2)  Madhyamagama (Middle Sermons)
3)  Samyuktagama (Kindred Sermons)     4)  Ekottaragama (Gradual Sermons)


Without forms, appearances, aspects, or characteristics.

Alara-Kalama (Pali), Arada-Kalama (Sanskrit)

One of the sages under whom Shakyamuni Buddha studied meditation for years before His entering the practice of Samadhi under the Bodhi-tree.
The core of his teachings was “a formless world” where any matter no longer exists.


The so-called “store house of consciousness or consciousness-repository”. An eternal substance containing all forms and existences.
It is the store or totality of consciousnesses both absolute and relative. It is the last of the eight kinds of consciousnesses, usually called the eighth consciousness from which the Great Round Mirror is derived.


Dana in Sanskrit. The first of the six paramitas. Usually “charity” in English.
There are three kinds of Almsgiving regarding 1) goods, 2) doctrines (Dharma), and 3) fearlessness (courage). Out of them, the meritorious virtues of Doctrine-almsgiving is the most surpassing.
In Zen-Buddhism, the meritorious virtues of pure charity without abiding in marks is the best.

Amitabha (Sanskrit)

Literally means the Buddha of boundless light or boundless life, and he is the Main Buddha in the Pure-Land of Ultimate Bliss.
Amitabha-Buddha has set up Forty-eight Great Vows to establish and adorn the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. His name is one of the most often invoked Buddha-names among Oriental Buddhist lay-people. It is said in the Amitabha Sutra that people who recite or call upon his name by the time of dying will be reborn in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss being received by Amitabha.


He was a cousin of Shakyamuni Buddha, and one of His Ten Great Disciples.
He is known as the foremost in hearing the Buddha’s teachings. As he had an excellent memory, he committted all sermons of the Buddha to memory, and he was called a living repository of the Buddha’s teachings.
He accompanied the Buddha for many years as the Buddha’s personal attendant, and he was also ranked as the Second Indian Patriarch of Seon (Jap. Zen) after Mahakashyapa.

Anathapindika (Pali), Anathapindada (Sanskrit)

A name given to Sudatta. He was a wealthy merchant of the Great City of Sravasti in ancient India, who bought the beautiful park from Prince Jeta, its owner, for as many gold coins as to cover the surface of the ground for the construction of Jetavanna Grove - one of the great Bodhimandala-monasteries - and offered it to Shakyamuni Buddha.
He was an uncle of the Venerable Subhuti, who came to be ordained as a disciple of the Buddha by his advice and who later was to become One of the Ten Great Disciples.

Annutara-Samyak-Sambodhi (Sanskrit)

Utmost, right and perfect enlightenment. It means the perfect wisdom of a Buddha, which is an attribute of every Buddha. It is the highest, correct and complete awareness, usually called “the Right Enlightenment”.


1) Cousin of Shakyamuni Buddha, who was one of His Ten Disciples, known as the foremost in divine insight.
2) An author of the renowned work, called “Abhidharmattha-Sangaha”, which expounds the entire teaching of the Theravada.


It means a place of tranquil extinction, which means to practice and cultivate pure conduct by cutting off the attachment to the Four Marks.

Arahat (Pali), Arhat (Sanskrit)

One who is worthy, honourable. The forth of the four stages (Srota-apanna, Sakrdagamin, Anagamin, Arhat) of Hinayana practice. It means ‘worthy of offerings’ and ‘slayer of the enemy’ and is one of the ten titles of the Buddha.
Arhat is the one who destroys the enemy of passions.
Arhat is the one who is worthy, deserving of honor and offerings, etc.

Asamkhyeya (Sanskrit)

Asankya in Pali. It is interpreted as innumerable and countless. One of the units of infinite time in ancient India.

Asanga (290 - 360 A.D.)

Buddhist monk who received a series of teachings from Maitreya that became the basis of the Yogacana School. He was an elder brother of Vasubandhu, a Hinayanist, but later he converted his brother Vasubandhu to become a Mahayanist. They both founded the Yogacana School of Buddhism.
The annotation which he added to the Diamond Sutra is known as the earliest commentary of it, which was translated into Chinese twice, once by Dharmagupta and again by I-Ching.

Ashoka (300 B.C.)

A Buddhist monarch, the third emperor of the Mauryan Dynasty, who unified most of India under his rule a little over a century after the Buddha’s Nirvana. It is said that the Third Council was held during his reign.

Asura (Pali), Ashura (Sanskrit)

One of the Six Paths of Existence. Originally meaning a spirit, spirits or even the gods, it generally indicates titanic demons, enemies of the gods (Indra), the jealous gods.
Asuras, called jealous gods, are born in a celestial realm through the force of both powerful positive karma and negative karma. Though blessed with wealth, intelligence and longevity, they are jealous of the superior wealth, celestial bliss of the devas and so are constantly at war with them.


A sage in India who visited the Kingdom of Kapila after Shakyamuni’s birth and predicted His attaining Enlightenment in the future.


The individual self. The soul in Brahmanic thought.


A Brahmin converted to Buddhism. He settled at Benares and became the twelfth patriarch of the Seon (Zen) sect. Author of  “The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana” .

Avalokitesvara (Sanskrit)

One of Four Great Bodhisattvas. Known also as the 'Sound-Seer' from the image of the lord who watches the sounds of the world to rescue beings in distress. Therefore She is called the Bodhisattva with Great Compassion and Great Mercy or the Guardian of Compassion and Mercy
It is said in the Surangama Sutra that Avalokitesvara attained enlightenment through audition by turning back to look into the source (master) of the hearing;  this meditative exercise is well known and often applied in Seon (Zen) practice.

In Korean, She is called Kwan Se Eum Bosal or Kwan Eum Bosal, in Chinese, Guan Shr Yin or Guan Yin Bodhisattva.
Kwan Se Eum Bosal is one who is one of the most chanted Bodhisattva names among oriental lay people. Kwan Se Eum Bosal transforms into many different forms according to the situation, and She shows Herself in order to save all beings. Kwan Se Eum Bosal usually is represented as a female figure and She is one of the most popular Bodhisattvas in the Orient, including Korea.

Avatamska Sutra

One of the great Sutras in Buddhism, also known as the Flower Adornment Sutra, or Flower Garland Sutra.
It is said that this Sutra was sermoned on earth and in heaven by Buddha Shakyamuni soon after his attaining of Buddhahood. It also reveals how to enter the Avatamska Realm (the Buddha’s Realm) from the Saha World (our world).

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Bamboo Grove

Veluvana in Pali, Venuvana in Sanskrit.
The first monastery (Bodhi-mandala) for the Shakyamuni Buddha, which was donated by the elder Kalanda and built by King Bimbisara of Magadha.

Bhaisajyaguru (Sanskrit)

The Tathagata of Medicine Master, who quenches all diseases and prolongs life (gives longevity). He is the Buddha in the Pure Land of the Paradise of the East, i.e., Pure Land of Lapus Lazuli Light.

Bhikkhu (Pali), Bhiksu (Sanskrit)

A male Buddhist monk, who has left home, is fully ordained to follow the path of the Buddha, and subsists his living by depending on alms.

Bhikkhuni (Pali), Bhiksuni (Sanskrit)

A female Buddhist nun, who observes more strict precepts than a Bhiksu.

Bodhi (Pali = Sanskrit)

Enlightenment, the Perfect Wisdom.

Bodhidharma (?- 528)

An Indian missionary monk.
The 28th Patriarch who came to China from India in 520 to teach Seon (Zen); he was the first Patriarch of China and died in 528. He was born into a family of the warrior caste (Kshatriya class), and his original name was Bodhitara. He was the third son of a raja (King) of southern India. He was ordained as a Buddhist monk by the 27th Patriarch Prajnatara and became his Dharma successor.


Truth-plot, holy site of Enlightenment, the place where the Buddha attained Enlightenment. A place for teaching and learning the Dharma.

Bhodhisatta (Pali), Bhodhisattva (Sanskrit)

A Mahayanist seeking Enlightenment for the salvation of others and of all; he is devoid of egoism and devoted to help all living beings. Bodhi means Enlightenment and Sattva means sentient or conscious. Therefore the term Bodhisattva refers to a sentient being of (or: for) enlightenment.


One of the three major deities of Hinduism, along with Sisnu (Vishnu) and Siva (Shiva).
Adopted as one of the protective deities of Buddhism.


The eighteen heavens of the realm of form, divided into four dhyana regions.


The highest class of the four main castes in ancient India at the period of Shakyamuni. They served Brahma with offerings.


The Enlightened One; the first of the Triple Gem, along with Dharma and Sangha.


The Doctrine of the Buddha, i.e. the Buddhist Sutra.

Buddhata (Sanskrit)

Buddha-nature; according to the Mahayana view, the true, immutable, and eternal nature of all things. All sentient beings possess the Buddha-nature. Therefore it is possible for them to attain Enlightenment and become a Buddha, but it requires to be cultivated in order to be revealed.


The basic enlightened nature of sentient beings, which is chronically obscured by their ignorance.
The complete unfolding of the Buddha-nature is enlightenment itself.
According to the highest teaching of Buddhism, buddhahood cannot be separately attained, because it is fundamentally and perfectly primordial.

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The Wheel of a Ruler of a Universe. It means the universal Monarch‘s Turning-Wheel.

Cakravartin (= Cakravarti-raja)

A god over a universe; a world-ruler. Wheel-turning King (Sage) or Monarch; the Indian ideal of a universal monarch who rules the world with the wheel which he is spontaneously endowed with at his enthronement. But in Buddhism the wheel-turning kings are kings who rule by virtue rather than by force.

Cave of the Seven Leaves

Saptaparna-guha in Sanskrit, Sattapanna-guba (in Pali).
The site of the First Buddhist Council, near Rajagaha.

Ch’an (Chin.)

Dhyana in Sanskrit (Korean: Seon, Jap.: Zen), Jhana in Pali.
Meditation or Contemplation; refers to convergence of mind or meditative absorption in which all dualistic distinctions like you and me, subject and object, true and false are eliminated.

The essential nature of Seon can be summarized in four short statements;

1) Special transmission outside the teaching (orthodoxy; Sutra)
2) Non-dependence on writings
3) Direct pointing to the human mind
4) Seeing one‘s own nature and becoming a Buddha.


see: Almsgiving

Chao Chou

Master Ts’ung Shen of Chao Chou, successor of Nam Chuan and known for his Gong-an (Koan) “Wu" (Korean: "Mu"). Wu means “no” or “not”. Died in 897 in his 120th year.


A practice-method of the Tien Tai sect in China. It is similar to meditation, looking into the mind.

There are two processes:

1) Chi - a Chinese word which means fixing the mind to meditate on the ten Dharma realms.
2) Kuan - a Chinese word which means contemplating and looking into fundamental reality of all things.

Conditioned Dharma

Samkrta Dharma. The Dharma of beings-realms, such as the realm of desire, the realm of form, the realm of formlessness. It refers to “All Phenomena and Law” in the world. The worldly Dharma is governed by the law of Cause and Effect.


Vijnana in Sanskrit, Viññana in Pali. Sense-mind. Knowing; the awareness of something. It means a separation of subject and object or inside and outside, and a distinction between object and object, or thought and thought, etc.. The prefix “vi” in Sanskrit “VIJNANA” expresses discriminatory function. There are two kinds of opinions in the theory of consciousness. (Vijnana).

A) The theory of “the six consciousnesses” in Hinayana and Mahayana.

(1)  the eyes-consciousness
(2)  the ears-consciousness
(3)  the nose-consciousness
(4)  the tongue-consciousness
(5)  the body-consciousness ;  (1) - (5) is called the front 5 consciousness.
(6)  the mind-consciousness (the sixth consciousness: mano-vijnana in Sanskrit)

B) The theory of the eight consciousnesses of Yogacarya-School.

(1)  the eyes-consciousness
(2)  the ears-consciousness
(3)  the nose-consciousness
(4)  the tongue-consciousness
(5)  the body-consciousness
(6)  the mind-consciousness;  (1) - (6) is called the front 6 consciousness.
(7)  the seventh consciousness (manas in Sanskrit)
(8)  the eighth consciousness (the store-house consciousness; alaya-vijnana in Sanskrit); In the Yogacarya-School, this eighth consciousness (Araya) is called “mind (cita)”.

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Dana (Sanskrit)

The first paramita of six paramitas. Charity or alms giving. The gift of goods (money etc.), doctrine or courage.


Heavenly Deity, Divine or God. The highest incarnations of the six worlds of existence, which are “Catur-mahara¯ja deva, Trayastrimsha deva, Suyama deva, Tushita deva, Nirmana-rati deva and Paranirmita-vasvarti deva” in Sanskrit.


A cousin of the Buddhas Shakyamuni, of whom he was an enemy. At first, he was a follower of the Buddha, but later left the Buddha and even attempted to kill him. However, the Buddha always treated him with great mercy and compassion.

Devine Eye

One of the six psychic power or the six supernatural power; it is also called clairvoyance. And one of the five eyes. Unlimited vision, large and small, distant and near, the destiny of all beings in future rebirth. It may be obtained by human eyes through the practice of meditation.

Dhammapada (Pali)

Dharmapada in Sanskrit. An anthology of statements of Buddha's teaching. A sutra consisting of two sections and 39 chapters, with 423 short verses on the basics of the Buddha's teachings. It is regarded as the "original teachings" of the Buddha, which can be used for reference, moral instruction and inspiration. It was composed by Dharmatrata in 400 -30 B.C.


or Mantra, an incantation, spell, oath, mystical formulae employed in Yoga.

Dharma (Sanskrit)

Dhamma in Pali. Lit. carrying, holding, “what is real.” There are two meanings :

1) the Buddhist doctrine or teachings; often translated as the “Law”.
2) the reality or truth revealed in the Buddhism teachings.

It is used in the sense of all things, visible or invisible. In Buddhist tradition, it is generally referred to as the teaching of the Buddha.


The wheel of the Doctrine; Buddha truth which is able to crush all evil and all opposition, like Indra’s wheel, and which rolls from man to man, place to place, age to age.


Dharma realm; the unifying underlying spiritual reality, regarded as the ground or cause of all things, the absolute from which all proceeds.


Body in its essential nature, or that of Buddha, invisible in physical eyes. Only Buddha can see it.

Dharma-Laksana School

Also Known as Yogacana. Fa Hsiang school in China (Korean: Beob Sang Jong, Jap.: Hosso); established in China on the return of Hsuan Tsang, consequent on his translation of the "Yogacarya works". Its aim is to understand the principle underlying the nature and characteristics of all things, through the realization of the fundamental nature of ?self? in mystic illumination.


King of the Law; it means the Buddha.


Dharma nature; the nature underlying all things, the Bhutatathata.

Dharma Voidness

The emptiness or underlay of things; the illusory nature of all things as being composed of elements and not possessing reality.


An ascetic; a monk engaged in austerities.


Meditation, abstract contemplation.


Vajra-prajna in Sanskrit. Diamond wisdom, the wisdom inherent in man's nature which is indestructible like a diamond.


Suffering, misery, being a necessary attribute of sentient beings ; the first of the Four Noble Truths.

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Ego and Dharma

Ego means “a self”, and Dharma does “things”; the most subtle dualism which must be wiped out before enlightenment can be attained.

Eight Divisions of Gods and Dragons

Devas (gods), Nagas (Dragons) and others of eight divisions (classes) : Deva, nagas, yakas, gandarvas, asuras, gauras, kinaras, mahoragas.

Eight Negations

The eight negations of Nagarjuna, founder of Madhyamika are actually four pairs of neither birth nor death, neither end nor permanence, neither identity nor difference, neither coming nor going. This is one of the important concepts of the Middle Way, the ultimate truth of Buddhism and reality character of all Dharmas.

The Eight Precepts

1. no killing
2. no stealing
3. no sexual misconduct
4. no false speech
5. no alcoholic drink
6. no cosmetic, personal adornments, dancing or music
7. no sleeping on fine beds
8. no eating afternoon

Eight Sufferings

1. Suffering of Birth
2. Suffering of old Age
3. Suffering of Sickness
4. Suffering of Death
5. Suffering of being apart from those who you likes
6. Suffering of being together those who you dislike
7. Suffering of not getting what you desire
8. Suffering of the flourishing of the five Skandhas

Eightfold Path

The eight right ways for the Arhat leading to Nirvana :

1) Right View
2) Right Thought
3) Right Speech
4) Right Action
5) Right Livelihood
6) Right Effort
7) Right Mindfulness
8) Right Concentration (Meditation)


The four basic elements constituting the physical body.
The four kinds of Earth, Water, Fire and Wind or Air.
They are usually called the Four Greatnesses or the four snakes.


Sŭnyata¯ in Sanskrit.  Sunnata in Pali.
Void; central notion of Buddhism. In Hinayana emptiness is only applied to the ‘person’; in the Mahayana, all things are regarded as the concepts of emptiness of self-nature (svabha¯va). The doctrine that all phenomena can only exist independence on causes and effects.

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