Glossary

Acariya:   Teacher; mentor.

Anagami:   Non-returner.   A person who has abandoned the five lower fetters that bind the mind to the cycle of rebirth (see sanyojana), and who after death will appear in one of the Brahma worlds called the Pure Abodes, there to attain nibbana, never again to return to this world.

Anatta:   Not-self; ownerless.

Anicca:   Inconstant; unsteady; impermanent.

Anupadisesa-nibbana:   Nibbana with no fuel remaining (the analogy is to an extinguished fire whose embers are cold) -- the nibbana of the arahant after his passing away.

Apaya-mukha:   Way to deprivation -- extra-marital sexual relations; indulgence in intoxicants; indulgence in gambling; associating with bad people.

Arahant:   A person who has abandoned all ten of the fetters that bind the mind to the cycle of rebirth (see sanyojana), whose heart is free of mental effluents (see asava), and who is thus not destined for future rebirth.   An epithet for the Buddha and the highest level of his Noble Disciples.

Ariya-sacca:   Noble Truth.   The word 'ariya' (noble) can also mean ideal or standard, and in this context means 'objective' or 'universal' truth.   There are four:   stress, the origin of stress, the disbanding of stress, and the path of practice leading to the disbanding of stress.

Asava:   Mental effluent or pollutant -- sensuality, becoming, views, and unawareness.

Avijja:   Unawareness; ignorance; obscured awareness; delusion about the nature of the mind.

Ayatana:   Sense medium.   The inner sense media are the sense organs -- eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind.   The outer sense media are their respective objects.

Bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma:   'Wings to Awakening' -- seven sets of principles that are conducive to Awakening and that, according to the Buddha, form the heart of his teaching:   [1] the four frames of reference (see satipatthana); [2] four right exertions (sammappadhana) -- the effort to prevent evil from arising in the mind, to abandon whatever evil has already arisen, to give rise to the good, and to maintain the good that has arisen; [3] four bases of success (iddhipada) -- desire, persistence, intentness, circumspection; [4] five dominant factors (indriya) -- conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, discernment; [5] five strengths (bala) -- identical with [4]; [6] seven factors of Awakening (bojjhanga) -- mindfulness, investigation of phenomena, persistence, rapture, serenity, concentration, equanimity; and [7] the eightfold path (magga) -- Right View, Right Attitude, Right Speech, Right Activity, Right Livelihoood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration.

Brahma:   'Great One' -- an inhabitant of the heavens of form or formlessness.

Buddho (buddha):   Awake; enlightened.

Deva:   'Shining One' -- an inhabitant of the heavens of sensual bliss.

Devadatta:   A cousin of the Buddha who tried to effect a schism in the Sangha and who has since become emblematic for all Buddhists who work knowingly or unknowingly to undermine the religion from within.

Dhamma (dharma):   Phenomenon; event; the way things are in and of themselves; their inherent qualities; the basic principles that underlie their behavior.   Also, principles of behavior that human beings ought to follow so as to fit in with the right natural order of things; qualities of mind they should develop so as to realize the inherent quality of the mind in and of itself.   By extension, 'Dhamma' is used also to refer to any doctrine that teaches such things.   Thus the Dhamma of the Buddha refers both to his teachings and to the direct experience of nibbana, the quality to which those teachings point.

Dhatu:   Property; element; impersonal condition.   The four physical properties or elements are earth (solidity), water (liquidity), wind (motion), and fire (heat).   The six properties include the above four plus space and cognizance.

Dhutanga:   Ascetic practices that monks may choose to undertake if and when they see fitting.   There are thirteen, and they include, in addition to the practices mentioned in the body of this book, the practice of using only one set of three robes, the practice of not by-passing any donors on one's alms path, the practice of eating no more than one meal a day, and the practice of living under the open sky.

Dukkha:   Stress; suffering; pain; distress; discontent.

Evam:   Thus; in this way.   This term is used in Thailand as a formal closing to a sermon.

Kamma (karma):   Intentional acts that result in becoming and birth.

Khandha:   Heap; group; aggregate.   Physical and mental components of the personality and of sensory experience in general (see rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara, and vinnana).

Kilesa:   Defilement -- passion, aversion, and delusion in their various forms, which include such things as greed, malevolence, anger, rancor, hypocrisy, arrogance, envy, miserliness, dishonesty, boastfulness, obstinacy, violence, pride, conceit, intoxication, and complacency.

Magga:   Path.   Specifically, the path to the disbanding of stress. The four transcendent paths -- or rather, one path with four levels of refinement -- are the path to stream-entry (entering the stream to nibbana, which ensures that one will be reborn at most only seven more times), the path to once-returning, the path to non-returning, and the path to arahantship.

Majjhima:   Middle; appropriate; just right.

Nibbana (nirvana):   Liberation; the unbinding of the mind from mental effluents, defilements, and the fetters that bind it to the round of rebirth (see asava, kilesa, and sanyojana). As this term is used to refer also to the extinguishing of fire, it carries the connotations of stilling, cooling, and peace. (According to the physics taught at the time of the Buddha, a burning fire seizes or adheres to its fuel; when extinguished, it is unbound.)

Nirodha:   Cessation; disbanding; stopping.

Panna:   Discernment; insight; wisdom; intelligence; common sense; ingenuity.

Phala:   Fruition.   Specifically, the fruition of any of the four transcendent paths (see magga).

Rupa:   Body; physical phenomenon; sense datum.

Sabhava dhamma:   Condition of nature; any phenomenon, event, property, or quality as experienced directly in and of itself.

Sakidagami:   Once-returner.   A person who has abandoned the first three of the fetters that bind the mind to the cycle of rebirth (see sanyojana), has weakened the fetters of sensual passion and irritation, and who after death is destined to be reborn in this world only once more.

Sakya-putta:   Son of the Sakyan.   An epithet for Buddhist monks, the Buddha having been a native of the Sakyan Republic.

Sallekha-dhamma:   Topic of effacement (effacing defilement) -- having few wants, being content with what one has, seclusion, uninvolvement in companionship, persistence, virtue, concentration, discernment, release, and the direct knowing and seeing of release.

Samadhi:   Concentration; the practice of centering the mind in a single sensation or preoccupation.

Sammati:   Conventional reality; convention; relative truth; anything conjured into being by the mind.

Sampajanna:   Self-awareness; presence of mind; clear comprehension.

Sanditthiko:   Self-evident; immediately apparent; visible here and now.

Sangha:   The community of the Buddha's disciples.   On the conventional level, this refers to the Buddhist monkhood.   On the ideal level, it refers to those of the Buddha's followers, whether lay or ordained, who have attained at least the first of the transcendent paths (see magga) culminating in nibbana.

Sanna:   Label; allusion; perception; act of memory or recognition; interpretation.

Sanyojana:   Fetter that binds the mind to the cycle of rebirth (see vatta) -- self-identification views, uncertainty, grasping at precepts and practices; sensual passion, irritation; passion for form, passion for formless phenomena, conceit, restlessness, and unawareness.

Sati:   Mindfulness; alertness; self-collectedness; powers of reference and retention.

Satipatthana:   Frame of reference; foundation of mindfulness -- body, feelings, mind, and phenomena, viewed in and of themselves as they occur.

Sotapanna:   Stream winner.   A person who has abandoned the first three of the fetters that bind the mind to the cycle of rebirth (see sanyojana) and has thus entered the 'stream' flowing inexorably to nibbana, which ensures that one will be reborn at most only seven more times.

Tanha:   Craving -- the cause of stress -- which takes three forms: craving for sensuality, for becoming, and for no becoming.

Tapas:   The purifying 'heat' of meditative practice.

Tathagata:   One who has become true.   A title for the Buddha.,

Ti-lakkhana:   Three characteristics inherent in all conditioned phenomena -- being inconstant, stressful, and not-self.

Ugghatitannu:   Of swift understanding.   After the Buddha attained Awakening and was considering whether or not to teach the Dhamma, he perceived that there were four categories of beings:   those of swift understanding, who would gain Awakening after a short explanation of the Dhamma, those who would gain Awakening only after a lengthy explanation (vipacitannu); those who would gain Awakening only after being led through the practice (neyya); and those who, instead of gaining Awakening, would at best gain only a verbal understanding of the Dhamma (padaparama).

Vassa:   Rains Retreat.   A period from July to October, corresponding roughly to the rainy season, in which each monk is required to live settled in a single place and not wander freely about.

Vatta:   The cycle of death and rebirth.   This refers both to the death and rebirth of living beings and to the death and rebirth of defilement in the mind.

Vedana:   Feeling -- pleasure (ease), pain (stress), or neither pleasure nor pain.

Vinaya:   The disciplinary rules of the monastic order.   The Buddha's own name for the religion he founded was 'this dhamma-vinaya' -- this doctrine and discipline.

Vinnana:   Cognizance; consciousness; sensory awareness.

Vipassana:   Clear intuitive insight into physical and mental phenomena as they arise and disappear, seeing them as they are in terms of the three characteristics and the four Noble Truths (see ti-lakkhana and ariya-sacca).


If anything in this translation is inaccurate or misleading, I ask forgiveness of the author and reader for having unwittingly stood in their way.   As for whatever may be accurate, I hope the reader will make the best use of it, translating it a few steps further, into the heart, so as to attain the truth to which it points.

-- The translator

Tree Line

Discuss this lesson on sangha, the Buddhist discussion group!