Included in this list are Pāḷi (and some Hindi and Burmese) terms that appear in the text.
ānāpāna – Respiration; inhalation-exhalation. Frequently used as a shortened version of ānāpāna-sati: Awareness of respiration.
anattā – Not self, egoless, without essence, without substance. One of the three basic characteristics of phenomena, along with anicca and dukkha.
anicca – Impermanent, ephemeral, changing. One of the three basic characteristics of phenomena, along with anattā and dukkha.
arahant – Liberated being; one who has completely destroyed all mental impurities.
bhāva – Becoming; the continuity of life and death.
bhāvanā – Mental development; meditation. The two divisions of bhāvanā are the development of tranquility (samatha- bhāvanā), concentration of mind (samādhi); and the development of insight (vipassanā-bhāvanā), wisdom (paññā). Development of samatha leads to states of mental absorption; development of vipassanā leads to liberation.
bhāvatu sabba maṅgalaṃ – Traditional wish of good will— literally, “May all beings be well, be happy.”
bhikkhu – Monk; meditator.
bhikkhunī – Nun; meditator.
brahma-loka – One of the 20 highest planes of existence.
Buddha – Enlightened person; one who discovers the way to liberation, practices it, and reaches the final goal by his own efforts.
dāna – Generosity, charity; donation.
deva – Deity; a heavenly being. Also, devaputta – son of a deva.
dhamma – Phenomenon; object of mind; nature; natural law; law of liberation, i.e., teaching of an enlightened person. (Sanskrit, dharma.)
doha – (Hindi) Rhyming couplet.
dukkha – Suffering, unsatisfactoriness; one of the three basic characteristics of phenomena, along with anattā and anicca.
gāthā – Verse of poetry.
Gotama – Clan or family name of the historical Buddha. (Sanskrit, Gautama)
Goenkaji – Mr. S.N. Goenka. The suffix “-ji” indicates affection and respect.
Jainism – Ancient, non-theistic, Indian religion stressing nonviolence, morality, wisdom, and the necessity of self-effort to achieve liberation.
kāma – Desire, sensual pleasure.
kamma – Action; specifically, a mental, verbal, or physical action producing an effect. (Sanskrit, karma.)
loka – Universe; world; plane of existence.
maṅgala – Welfare, blessing, happiness.
maraṇānusati – Awareness of death.
Mataji – (Hindi) Mother. In this context, Mrs. Goenka.
mettā – Loving-kindness; selfless love, good will.
mettā bhāvanā – systematic cultivation of mettā through meditation.
nibbāna – Extinction; freedom from suffering, liberation; the ultimate reality; the unconditioned. (Sanskrit, nirvāṇa)
Pāli – Line; text. Texts recording the teaching of the Buddha, hence the language of these texts. Historical, linguistic, and archaeological evidence indicates that Pāli was spoken in northern India at or near the time of the Buddha.
paññā – Wisdom. Third of the three trainings by which the Noble Eightfold Path is practiced. See ariya aṭṭhaṅgika magga. There are three kinds of wisdom: suta-mayā paññā (received wisdom, i.e., wisdom gained from listening to others); cintā-mayā paññā (wisdom gained by intellectual analysis); and bhāvanā-mayā paññā (wisdom developed by direct, personal experience). Only bhāvanā-mayā paññā, cultivated by the practice of vipassanā-bhāvanā, can totally purify the mind.
pāramī / pāramitā – Perfection, virtue; wholesome mental qualities.
paṭicca-samuppāda – Dependent origination, conditioned arising, causal genesis. The process, born of ignorance, by which beings generate suffering.
rūpa – Matter; visual object.
sādhu – “Well done; well said.” Traditional expression of approval or agreement, usually spoken three times.
samādhi – Concentration, control of one’s mind. Second of the three trainings by which the Noble Eightfold Path is practiced. See ariya aṭṭhaṅgika magga. When cultivated as an end in itself, leads to the attainment of the states of mental absorption (jhāna), but not to total liberation of mind.
saṃsāra – Cycle of rebirth; conditioned world; realm of suffering.
saṅkhāra – Volitional activity; mental formation or mental conditioning; mental reaction. One of the four mental aggregates or processes, along with viññāṇa, saññā, and vedanā. (Sanskrit, samskāra.)
saññā – Perception, recognition. One of the four mental aggregates or processes, along with viññāṇa, vedanā, and saṅkhāra. Saññā is conditioned by one’s past saṅkhāras and therefore conveys a distorted image of reality. In the practice of Vipassana, saññā changes to paññā, the understanding of reality as it is: anicca- saññā, dukkha-saññā, anattā-saññā, asubhasaññā— perception of impermanence, of suffering, of no-self, of the illusory nature of beauty.
sāsana – Dispensation of a Buddha; period of time in which the teaching of a Buddha is available.
sati – Awareness. Ānāpāna-sati – awareness of respiration. Sammā-sati – right awareness, a constituent of the Noble Eightfold Path. See ariya aṭṭhaṅgika magga.
satipaṭṭhāna – Establishing of awareness, in four aspects:
kāyānupassanā – of the body,
vedanānupassanā – of sensations within the body,
cittānupassanā – of mind,
dhammānupassanā – of mental contents. All four are included in the observation of vedanā since sensations are directly related to both body and mind.
sayadaw – (Burmese) Literally, “royal teacher.” Abbot or senior monk of a monastery.
sayagyi – (Burmese) Lit. “big teacher.” An honorific or respectful title.
sīla – Morality, abstention from physical and vocal actions that harm oneself or others. First of the three trainings by which the Noble Eightfold Path is practiced. See ariya aṭṭhaṅgika magga.
sutta – Discourse attributed to the Buddha or one of his leading disciples. (Sanskrit, sutra.)
Tipiṭaka – Literally, “three baskets.” (Sanskrit, tripiṭaka) The three collections of the teachings of the Buddha: vinaya-piṭaka – monastic discipline, sutta-piṭaka – discourses, abhidhamma-piṭaka – systematic philosophical exegesis of the Dhamma.
U – (Burmese) Mister.
vedanā – Sensation; bodily feeling. One of the four mental aggregates or processes, along with viññāṇa, saññā, and saṅkhāra. According to the doctrine of Dependent Origination, taṇhā (craving), arises dependent on vedanā (sensation). See paṭicca-samuppāda. Having both mental and physical aspects, vedanā is a convenient object for investigation of body and mind. By learning to observe vedanā objectively, one can avoid new reactions of craving or aversion, and experience directly within oneself the reality of anicca (impermanence). This experience is essential for the development of upekkhā (equanimity), leading to liberation of the mind.
viññāṇa – Consciousness, cognition. One of the four mental aggregates or processes, along with saññā, vedanā, and saṅkhāra.
vipassanā – Literally, “seeing in a special way.” Introspection. Insight that purifies the mind; specifically, insight into the impermanent, unsatisfactory, and substanceless nature of mind and body. Also, vipassanā-bhāvanā – the systematic development of insight through observation of sensations within the body.
Pragyā jāge balavatī,
aṅga-aṅga rama jāya.
Aṇu-aṇu cetana ho uṭhe,
cita nirmala ho jāya.
May wisdom arise,
mighty in power,
and spread throughout your being,
enlivening every atom
and purifying the mind.
—Hindi doha, S.N. Goenka