ALTRUISTIC INTENTION (BODHICITTA): the mind dedicated to attaining enlightenment in order to be able to benefit all others most effectively.
ARHAT: a person who has attained liberation and is thus free from cyclic existence.
ATTACHMENT: an attitude that exaggerates the good qualities of a person or thing and then clings to it.
BODHICITTA: see altruistic intention.
BODHISATTVA: a person who has developed the spontaneous altruistic intention.
BUDDHA: any person who has purified all defilements and developed all good qualities. “The Buddha” refers to Shakyamuni Buddha, who lived 2,500 years ago in India.
BUDDHA NATURE (BUDDHA POTENTIAL): the factors al-lowing all beings to attain full enlightenment.
CALM ABIDING: the ability to remain single-pointedly on the object of meditation with a pliant and blissful mind.
COMPASSION: the wish for all others to be free from suffering and its causes.
CYCLIC EXISTENCE: taking uncontrolled rebirth under the influence of disturbing attitudes and karmic imprints.
DETERMINATION TO BE FREE: the attitude aspiring to be free from all problems and sufferings and to attain liberation.
DHARMA: in the most general sense, Dharma refers to the teachings and doctrine of the Buddha. More specifically, it refers to the realizations of the path and the consequent cessations of suffering and its causes.
DISTURBING ATTITUDES: attitudes such as ignorance, attachment, anger, pride, jealousy, and closed-mindedness, which disturb our mental peace and propel us to act in ways harmful to others.
EMPTINESS: the lack of independent or inherent existence. This is the ultimate nature or reality of all persons and phenomena.
ENLIGHTENMENT (BUDDHAHOOD): the state of a Buddha, i.e. the state of having forever eliminated all disturbing attitudes, karmic imprints and their stains from one’s mindstream, and having developed one’s good qualities and wisdom to their fullest extent. Buddhahood supersedes liberation.
IMPUTE: to give a label or name to an object; to attribute meaning to an object.
INHERENT OR INDEPENDENT EXISTENCE: a false and non-existent quality that we project onto persons and phenomena; existence independent of causes and conditions, parts or the mind labeling a phenomenon.
KARMA: intentional action. Our actions leave imprints on our mindstreams which bring about our experiences.
LIBERATION: the state of having removed all disturbing attitudes and karma causing us to take rebirth in cyclic existence.
LOVE: the wish for all others to have happiness and its causes.
MAHAYANA: the Buddhist tradition that asserts that all beings can attain enlightenment. It strongly emphasizes the development of compassion and the altruistic intention.
MANTRA: a series of syllables consecrated by a Buddha and expressing the essence of the entire path to enlightenment. Mantras can be recited during meditation to calm and purify the mind.
MEDITATION: habituating ourselves to positive attitudes and accurate perspectives.
NIRVANA: the cessation of suffering and its causes. Freedom from cyclic existence.
NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH: the path leading to liberation. The eight branches, which can be categorized under the three higher trainings, are correct speech, action, livelihood, mindfulness, con-centration, view, realization and effort.
POSITIVE POTENTIAL: imprints of positive actions, which will result in happiness in the future.
PURE LAND: a place established by a Buddha or bodhisattva where all conditions are conducive for practicing Dharma and attaining enlightenment. Pure Land Buddhism is a Mahayana tradition emphasizing methods to be reborn in a pure land.
REALIZATION: a deep understanding that becomes part of us and changes our outlook on the world. When we realize love, for example, the way we feel about and relate to others changes dramatically.
SANGHA: any person who directly and non-conceptually realizes emptiness. In a more general sense, sangha refers to the communities of ordained monks and nuns. It sometimes is used to refer to Buddhists in general.
SELFLESSNESS: see Emptiness.
SPECIAL INSIGHT (VIPASSANA): a wisdom thoroughly discriminating phenomena. It is conjoined with calm abiding and enables one to analyze the meditation object and simultaneously remain single-pointedly on it. This removes ignorance.
SUFFERING (DUKHA): any dissatisfactory condition. It doesn’t refer only to physical or mental pain, but includes all problematic conditions.
SUTRA: a teaching of the Buddha; Buddhist scripture. Sutras are found in all Buddhist traditions.
TAKING REFUGE: entrusting one’s spiritual development to the guidance of the Buddhas, Dharma and Sangha.
TANTRA: a scripture describing the Vajrayana practice.
THERAVADA: the Tradition of the Elders. This Buddhist tradition is widespread in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka.
THREE HIGHER TRAININGS: the practices of ethics, meditative concentration and wisdom. Practicing these results in liberation.
THREE JEWELS: the Buddhas, Dharma and Sangha.
THREE PRINCIPAL REALIZATIONS (THREE PRINCIPAL ASPECTS) OF THE PATH: the determination to be free, the altruistic intention and the wisdom realizing emptiness.
VAJRAYANA: a Mahayana Buddhist tradition widespread in Tibet; also known in Japan.
WISDOM REALIZING REALITY: an attitude which correctly understands the manner in which all persons and phenomena exist; i.e., the mind realizing the emptiness of inherent existence.
ZEN (CH’AN): a Mahayana Buddhist tradition widespread in China and Japan.