Buddhism Key terms
Terms in this set (89)
No fixed self, no soul; the Universal Truth that the soul is insubstantial; that people change in the course of their lives; denial of a real or permanent self.
Impermanence, instability, not permanent.
A perfected person. In Theravada Buddhism this is a term for a person who has attained nibbana.
A life free from worldly pleasures (especially sexual activity and consumption of alcohol), often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals.
A concept in Mahayana Buddhism. A being destined for enlightenment, who postpones final attainment of Buddhahood in order to help living beings.
Historically the Buddha - the enlightened one. An awakened or enlightened person.
In Mahayana Buddhism this refers to the fundamental nature of all beings, which means that all beings can attain Buddhahood
An image of a being that has achieved Buddhahood.
Singing or intoning.
Karuna; pity; part of the spiritual path.
Focusing one's attention.
The fifth of the Five Aggregates. Awareness of something without or before recognition (perception).
Paticcasamupada. The belief that everything in existence is because other things are. The idea that everything is interconnected and that everyone affects everyone else.
Puja. A ceremony that involves meditation, prayer and offerings.
Universal law; ultimate truth; the teachings of Buddha. Spelt in Sanskrit as dharma.
A sacred text of the Pali tradition with 426 verses.
Dharma (in brackets)
The Sanskrit form of dhamma. Universal law; ultimate truth; the teachings of Buddha.
Suffering; ill; everything leads to suffering; unsatisfactoriness.
The Eightfold Path
The fourth Noble Truth. Magga. The Middle Way. The way to wisdom; mental training and the way of morality. Eight stages to be practised simultaneously.
One of the six perfections, it relates to making a courageous effort to attain enlightenment.
Wisdom or understanding enabling clarity of perception; this allows a Buddhist to be freed from the cycle of rebirth.
Sila. Moral conduct.
The Five Aggregates
The five skandhas of form, sensation, perception, mental formation, consciousness. The idea that one's being is composed of these five factors.
The five moral precepts
To not kill any living being, refrain from stealing, refrain from wrongful sexual activity, refrain from lying, refrain from taking drugs and alcohol that cloud the mind.
The first of the Five Aggregates. It refers to matter, to the sense organs and the objects of their experience
The Four Noble Truths
Dukkha, Samudaya, Nirodha, Magga (suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering, the path to the end of suffering).
The Four Sights
Gautama's four encounters with illness, old age, death and a holy man.
One of the six perfections. The sincere and selfless desire to benefit others with no expectation of reward.
Tibetan monasteries associated with learning.
One of the Three Poisons, it is the attachment to material things, sensual desire.
One of the Three Poisons, it is about wishing others harm, anger, hostility etc.
One of the Three Poisons, it is the inability to see things as they really are.
Anicca. The idea of instability, nothing being permanent.
Substances that cloud the mind.
The Jataka Tales are stories about the previous lives of the Buddha.
Literally 'action'. Deliberate actions that affect the believer's circumstances in this and future lives; cause and effect.
The Sanskrit form of kamma. Literally 'action'. Deliberate actions that affect the believer's circumstances in this and future lives; cause and effect.
Compassion or pity. Part of the spiritual path.
Metta. A pure love which is not possessive and which does not seek to gain.
The Eightfold Path. 'The Middle Way' which leads to freedom from suffering (The Fourth Noble Truth).
A short sequence of words or syllables chanted repetitively as a form of meditation.
A form of Buddhism which includes both the lay and monastic communities. Literally "Greater Vehicle", it focuses on achieving enlightenment for the sake of all beings. It is the Buddhism of China, Tibet and Japan.
Strings of beads, used as a prayer aid.
The fourth of the Five Aggregates. They refer to mental activities which direct a person to good, bad or morally neutral actions. They produce good or bad kamma.
A spiritual experience that opens a person up to the highest state of consciousness. One of the six perfections
Loving kindness. A pure love, which is not possessive and which does not seek to gain.
Mindfulness of breathing
A form of meditation found in Theravada, Zen and Tibetan Buddhism. It entails focusing on breathing, both inhalation and exhalation.
Viharas. Buildings that house monks and nuns.
One of the six perfections. It entails following the five moral precepts
Literally 'blowing' out. To reach a state of perfect peace where the individual experiences liberation from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
The Sanskrit form of nibbana
No fixed self
Anatta No self, no soul; the Universal Truth that the soul is insubstantial; that people change In the course of their lives; denial of a real or permanent self.
Insight into the true nature of reality.
A festival in Mahayana Buddhism that celebrates the death of the Buddha and his attainment of final nibbana. It is most often celebrated on 15th February.
The concept of dependent arising. The belief that everything in existence is because other things are. The idea that everything is interconnected and that everyone affects everyone else
One of the six perfections. Tolerance, forbearance, endurance.
The third of the Five Aggregates. The ability to distinguish between different objects that we experience through our senses. It enables memory.
The name given to ceremonies that involve meditation, prayer and offerings. Devotional ritual.
This is the dominant form of Buddhism in Japan and focuses on chanting the name of Amitabha Buddha.
This refers to the belief that when a person dies he / she is reborn and that this process of death and rebirth continues until nibbana is attained.
Temporarily leaving one's everyday life and going to special places to aid spiritual development.
Meditation, the spiritual experience leading to the highest form of consciousness.
Concentration and tranquility. A method of meditation; a state of calmness.
The causes of suffering (the Second Noble Truth).
The second of the Five Aggregates. It is about the feelings that arise from our sense organs making contact with their objects.
A room or part of a room which contains a statue of the Buddha (or Bodhissatva in Mahayana Buddhism), candles and an incense burner.
Sila (in brackets)
The six perfections
Guides in Mahayana Buddhism to lead one to enlightenment.
The Five Aggregates of form, sensation, perception, mental formation, consciousness. The idea that a person consists of these five factors.
Dukkha. Refers to the unsatisfactoriness of life. Suffering is physical and mental pain.
Literally 'emptiness'. In Mahayana Buddhism, it refers to the absence of an intrinsic nature (or identity) in all phenomena.
Craving/desire, which causes suffering. The attempt to grasp at the things we enjoy.
A structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer.
The kind of Buddhism found in Sri Lanka and Thailand. It came before Mahayana.
The Threefold Way
A term that refers to three divisions of the Eightfold Path into ethics, meditation and wisdom.
The Three Marks of existence
Sometimes known as the Three Universal Truths: dukkha, anicca, anatta (unsatisfactoriness, impermanence, no self).
The Three Poisons
Ignorance, greed and hate.
The Three Refuges
Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha.
The Three Universal Truths
Dukkha, anicca, anatta (unsatisfactoriness, impermanence, no self). Also known as the Three Marks of Existence.
A state of peace and calm.
Unsatisfactoriness of life
Dukkha. The experience of suffering means that life is unsatisfactory.
Monasteries. Buildings that house monks and nuns.
Insight into the true nature of things; meditation.
Visualisation of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas
In Mahayana Buddhism, imagining an image of a Buddha or Bodhisattva, focusing on it, on the qualities of a Buddha and with the aim of becoming one to help others.
A Buddhist festival celebrating the Buddha's birth. For some Buddhists it also celebrates his enlightenment and death.
Insight into the true nature of reality. One of the six perfections and in Mahayana Buddhism, it is the realisation of sunyata, the 'emptiness' of all phenomena.
This is the main form of meditation in Zen Buddhism and is practised while sitting cross-legged.
A Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism. It focuses on the value of meditation and intuition rather than ritual worship and study of the scriptures.