Abhidharma (S): Tibetan: Chö-ngön-pa. One of the three baskets (tripitaka) of the Buddhist canon, the others being the Vinaya and the Sutra; the systematized philosophical and psychological analysis of existence that is the basis of the Buddhist systems of tenets and mind training. The scholastic system of metaphysics that originated in Buddhas discourses regarding mental states and phenomena. Originally taking form at the first Buddhist Council, the final modifications took place between 400 and 450 ce.
abhisheka (S): Tibetan: wang. See: Empowerment.
accumulation of merit: Sanskrit: punysambhãra; Tibetan: sonam shok. Accomplishment of virtuous activities accompanied by correct motivation, which is a "reserve of energy" for spiritual evolution. This accumulation is done by very varied means: gifts, offerings, recitation of mantras and prayers, visualizations of divinities, constructions of temples or stupas, prostrations, circumambulations, appreciation of the accomplishments of others, etc. One of the "two accumulations," necessary for enlightenment, the other being the accumulation of wisdom.
accumulation of wisdom: Sanskrit: jñãnasambhãra; Tibetan: yeshe shok. Development of knowledge of the nature of the emptiness of all things; obtained by contemplating the profound truth of emptiness. One of the "two accumulations," the other being the accumulation of merit.
acharya (S): Teacher or spiritual guide. An honorific title denoting great spiritual attainment.
action seal: Sanskrit: karma-mudra. Tibetan: le kyi chag gya. A tantric consort in the sexual practices of highest tantric yoga.
action tantra: Kriya Tantra. First of the four classes of tantra. It emphasizes external ritual, purity in behavior, vegetarianism and cleanliness. The meditation deity is separate and other than onself. See Dzogchen; Atiyoga
Adibuddha (S): The original Buddha, eternal with no beginning and with no end. In Mahayana Buddhism, the idea evolved, probably inspired by the monotheism of Islam, that ultimately there is only one absolute power that creates itself. He is infinite, self-created and originally revealed himself in the form of a blue flame coming out of a lotus. Over time this symbol was also personified in the form of the Adibuddha. There are various forms and manifestations in which this supreme essence of Buddhahood becomes manifest.
advaita (S): Nondual; not two. Nonduality or monism. The Hindu philosophical doctrine that Ultimate Reality consists of one principle substance, Absolute Being or God. Opposite of dvaita, dualism. Advaita is the primary philosophical stance of the Vedic Upanishads, and of Hinduism, interpreted differently by the many rishis, gurus, panditas and philosophers. See: Vedanta.
affliction: Sanskrit: klesha; Tibetan: nyon mong. Any emotion or conception that disturbs and distorts consciousness. The six root afflictions are attachment, anger, self-importance, ignorance, wrong views and emotional doubt.
aggregates: Sanskrit: skandha. Tibetan: phung po. The components of the psycho-social personality by which beings impute the false notion of self; the five components of the individual existence:
1. Form (matter): (S. rupa, T. zug) The physical body, mind and of sense organs. The body is thus analyzed in terms of the five elements: space, solidity, fluidity, motion, and heat.
2. Sensation: (S. vedana, T. tsor wa) Analyzed in terms of the sense organs, feelings are of three distinct kinds: pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. The mind is considered a sense organ.
3. Perception: The relationship between outer forms presented by the five sense organs and the inner mind through the process of naming and categorization; the interaction between mind, sense organs and their objects gives rise to feelings which are further qualified by perception.
4. Mental Formation: This includes all of the willed actions of the mind. This is the skandha associated with volition and the formation of new karmas.
5. Consciousness: (S. vijnana, T. nam par she pa)The resultant moment of conditional awareness which arises when suitable conditions conspire. When the mind makes contact with an object simple read-out awareness arises as a result of the contact. The Buddha taught that consciousness does not arise without conditions. These conditions are brought into the present through the mechanism of the first four skandhas.
agura (S): Sitting cross-legged, where neither foot is placed firmly on the opposite thigh. This is neither the half or full lotus position. It is the common cross-legged position used to sit on the floor in the West.
AH (S): Mantra seed syllable (bija) symbolizing great emptiness from which all forms arise, the speech of all the buddhas, or the "Vajra Speech of the Buddhas." Associated with the Sambhogakaya (Beatific Body or Body of Bliss, Rapture, Perfect Enjoyment), the color ruby and the throat chakra.
ahamkara (S): "I-maker." Personal ego. The mental faculty of individuation; sense of duality and separateness from others. Sense of I-ness, "me" and "mine." Ahamkara is characterized by the sense of I-ness (abhimana), sense of mine-ness, identifying with the body (madiyam), planning for one's own happiness (mamasukha), brooding over sorrow (mamaduhkha), and possessiveness (mama idam). See anava mala, ego
ahimsa (S): Harmlessness. Action that is non-injuring; non-violence.
Ajatasatru (S): Tibetan: Ma-kye-dra. Ajatasatrua was Prince of Magadha who plotted with Buddhas manipulative cousin Devadatta, imprisoned and killed his father, King Bimbisara. Realizing the enormity of his sin he sought refuge in the Buddha, he made efforts to purify this negativity and some believe he became an arhat. King Ajatasatru sponsored the first Buddhist council. King Bimbisara of Magadha was imprisoned by his ambitious son and either starved to death or committed suicide. Ajatasatru ascended to the throne and expanded his territory by conquests. Ajatasatru also waged war with King Prasenajit of Kosala but was defeated. He married Prasenajit's daughter. Ajatasatru patiently schemed for 16 years to break the unity and strength of Vajjis. He quarreled with this strong confederacy led by Cetaka for reasons which are differently given by Buddhists and Jains. However it was not easy to break the solidarity of the Licchavis and other members of the confederacy. Ajatasatru resorted to foul methods, sowing seeds of discord among different classes of the confederacy through one of his ministers who settled amongst the Vajjis and became adept in destroying the social unity of the people. Ajatasatru eventually executed King Cetaka, (Mahavira's uncle) and took over the area which had been held by the Vajji confederacy.
Akashagarba (S): Tibetan: Namkhai Nyingpo, "Matrix of the Sky." Akashagarba is the principle Bodhisattva of the Jewel Family. He is associated with the Eastern wisdom through the dawning of light from that direction. He wears a white robe and holds a lotus with a large sword shedding that light in his left hand. He is known for his generosity and meritorious acts.
Akshobhya (S): Tibetan: Mi-kyö-pa. "Unshakeable One." Lord of the Vajra Family, one of the five dhyani buddhas, or heads of the five buddha families, representing the fully purified skandha, or aggregates of form. In the Natural Liberation, he represents the wisdom-mirror and the transmutation of the poison of aggression and hatred. Akshobhya is blue, and is associated with the east and the ground - Abhirati Buddha. He originates from the blue seed syllable HUM and represents the vajra family; immutable and imperturbable. The path to enlightenment through the Vajra family is one of breaking free of constraints and obstacles, transmuting negativity, and is generally more dynamic and proactive. He makes the earth touching mudra (S. bhumisparsa) with the tip of the middle finger touching the earth with palm drawn inwardly, while his left hand rests on his lap face . He faces the East and, is often depicted with his consort Lochana, She of the Buddha Eye, who expresses the mirror-like primordial wisdom.
alaya (S): Abbreviation of Alaya-vijanana. A division of the mind into eight consciousness was introduced by the Yogacara schools. Alaya is considered the eighth, a sort of ground or eternal matrix, a storehouse of creativity containing all karmic traces and phenomenal possibilities; ultimately, it is transpersonal and is the receptacle or totality of consciousness both absolute and relative. In the Yogacara school it is described as the fundamental mind or ground consciousness of sentient beings, which underlies the experience of individual life, and which stores the germs of all future affairs. It is the eighth consciousness which transforms into Mirror-like wisdom.
Amdo (T): Region of northeastern Tibet. Today, it includes the bulk of Qinghai Province as well as the Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province. Along with Kham and U-Tsang, it is one of Tibet's three historic regions. Each of these regions speaks its own distinctive dialect of Tibetan. Amdo is also known in Tibetan as Dotoh province.
Amitabha (S): Tibetan: Opame. "Boundless Light." The Buddha of Limitless Light, Lord of the Lotus Family (Padma); one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas, the fourth and most ancient of the five Transcendental Buddhas that embody the five primordial wisdoms. He presides over the Western Buddha realm Sukhavati (Tibetan: Dewachen, "Pure Ground of Great Bliss"), which is the expression of his own field of compassionate wishes, pure heart and nothing else. Having manifest a place of awakening accessible to all beings, it is the special vow of Amitabha that in order to benefit beings who are caught in the realm of their own confusion and suffering, one must only remember his name with faith at the time of their death to take rebirth in Dewachen. Through this birth they will easily achieve enlightenment and not again fall into a realm of suffering. This is due to the merit-power of Buddha Amitabas virtuous activities accumulated throughout countless lives as a bodhisattva.
Amitabha is the pure expression of the wisdom of discriminating awareness, which transmutes the poison of attachment and desire. He and the other Lotus family members support the gradual unfolding of ones spiritual petals into enlightenment. The embodiment of compassion and wisdom, he is depicted as sitting in the lotus posture upon a great lotus blossom throne (symbolizing primordial purity), his body radiating the color of the ruby and clothed in monastic attire. His hands are in the Meditation Mudra, (the right hand rests on the left hand above the lap with the tips of the thumbs touching), and holding an alms bowl. Embodying the Wisdom of Discriminating Vision, he transmutes mundane perception into inner vision. In some mandalas, Amitabha is depicted in union with his Wisdom Consort Gokarmo, who embodies the pure element of fire. The eminent bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Chenrezig) the Bodhisattva of Compassion is an emanation of Amitabha.
In China, Amitabha and his Buddha land are described in the Smaller Pure Land Sutra and the Greater Sukhavati Sutra. A third Sutra was written in China, entitled the Visualizations of the Buddha of Infinite Life Sutra. This pertains to another reflex of Amitabha known as Amitayus. These Sutras, as well as others such as the Aksobhya Buddha Sutra, served as the central scriptures for a populist practice intended for lay Indian Buddhists incapable or uninterested in delving into the intricate philosophies and meditations of monastic Buddhism. Although there is no evidence that they were the center of any organized sect of Indian Buddhism, when these Sutras were translated into Chinese, a cult soon developed around them which would blossom during the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD) into a full fledged sect of Chinese Buddhism, called the Pure Land. This sect has continued to influence Chinese Buddhism to this day, as it has been absorbed into the Chan schools. In Japan Pure Land adherents would remain independent from other traditions, competing with populist sects such as that of Nichiren, and splintering into several sub-sects.
Amitabha Sutra: One of the main sutras in the Chinese Pure Land sect. It is said to be the only sutra Shakyamuni preached without being asked, and one of the most popular sutras in China.
Amitayus (S): Tibetan: tse pa me, "Boundless Life." Particular or reflexive form of Buddha Amitabha, to which is attached the idea of longevity. The embodiment of infinite life and therefore the focus of the life practices that remove the possibility of untimely or premature death. He brings about a healing of sicknesses, degeneration and imbalances in the five elements of the body due to karma, excess and unclean living. He is often depicted as ruby red, less frequently depicted as white. His two hands rest in his lap in the mudra of equanimity with the palms facing each other holding the Vase of Life, that is filled with the nectar of immortality. It is only in the Tantric Buddhism of Tibet and Japan that Amitayus and Amitaba are considered different deities.
Amoghasiddhi (S): Tibetan: Donyo Drupa. Buddha of Unfailing Accomplishment; Lord of the Karma Family, the fifth of the Dhyani or Transcendental Buddhas that embody the five primordial wisdoms. Lord of the Karma Buddha family, he is seated upon a lotus supported by shang-shang birds (S. garuda). Associated with the wisdom that achieves all, the transmutation of the poison jealousy, the color green, and the aggregate of volition, Amoghasiddhi is associated with the north of the ground of Prakuta Buddha, or Karmasampat, (T. la rab zog pa) "success in evolution." His recognition symbol is the double dorje (visvavajra), representing the wisdom of all-accomplishing activity. His power and energy are both subtle, their dynamics often hidden from conscious awareness. Amoghasiddhi is Lord of the Supreme Siddhi the magic power of enlightenment which flowers in Buddha Activity. In this way the inner and outer world, the visible and invisible are united as body is inspired and thegreat spirit of bodhicitta spontaneously embodies. Amoghasiddhi is depicted with emerald-green skin, his left hand resting in his lap in the mudra of equipoise and his right hand at chest level facing outwards in the fearless (S. abhya) mudra of granting protection. He is often depicted in union with his wisdom consort Damtsig Drolma -- Green Tara, who embodies the pure element of air.
amrita (S): Tibetan: dudtsi. Nectar of Immortality. The visualized flow of divine bliss which streams down from the sahasrara chakra when one enters very deep states of meditation.
Angulimala (S): Rosary of Fingers An incredible Dharma story illustrating - on the down side the danger of having great devotion to the wrong guru and on the up side the possibility of transformation for anyone. To fulfill his commitments under a perverse teacher, Angulimala murdered those unlucky enough to wander into his corner of the jungle on the outskirts of Sravasti. He killed 999 people and made a rosary out of their finger bones. He was prevented by the Buddha from killing his thousandth victim, which he believed would lead him to liberation. After his encounter with the Buddha, Angulimala was eventually able to purify his mind and become an arhat.
animal realm: One of the six realms of conditional existence, where consciousness is consumed by brute ignorance and the struggle for survival.
annuttara samyak sambodhi (S): Perfection of complete enlightment -- an attribute of every Buddha. In the Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug schools, this the highest, correct and complete or universal knowledge or awareness, the perfect wisdom of a Buddha.
anuttarayoga (S): Tibetan: la me gyu. This term refers to the higher tantras of the Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug schools. Practiced as the Mahayoga in the Nyingma school. The highest of the four levels of Vajrayana teachings. The three lower tantra classifications are Kriya, Carya and Yoga (the three Outer Tantras of the Nyingma school.) There are three divisions:
1. Pitriyoga or Father (Method) tantra.
2. Matriyoga or Mother (Wisdom) tantra.
3. Advityayoga or non-dual tantra.
anuyoga (S): Tibetan: je su naljor. 'further union' Second of the Nyingma three inner tantras and eighth of the Nine Yanas (vehicles). Emphasis is placed on the Perfection Phase, especially practice on the channels and winds. Based in tantras associated with Vajrasattva, Vimalakirti and King Dza. These teachings also involve visualizations wherein the deity is generated instantly (as compared to gradually as is done in the lower tantras).
appearances: T. nang wa. Literally, lighting up Phenomena. Every thing we perceive in the world, beings, situations - are projections of the mind and in essence no other than the expanse of pure awareness. All appearances (mental and sensory phenomena) arise from a single source clear of the mind - its dynamic power. Manifestation derives from the same root as mani. Ignorance and attachment of the real situation support the foment of dualistic views, the intertia of karmic obscurations and negative habit patterns; appearances, including the perceiver are viewed dualistically and not recognized for what they are. Pure appearances are an expression of the dynamics of primordial wisdom: undisturbed by the obscuring operations of duality and world-forming karmas.
Arhat (S): Tibetan: dra bcom pa. "Foe destroyer." A person who has destroyed his or her delusions and attained liberation from cyclic existence. The Arhat represents the Theravada ideal, one who has experienced the cessation of suffering by extinguishing all passions and desires and is thus free of the cycle of rebirth. According to Mahayana Buddhism, the arhat still has yet to achieve the ultimate goal; he has realized the emptiness of self, but has not yet refined this understanding to the point where he also realizes the emptiness of phenomena. By emphasizing his own salvation, the arhat has yet to attain full Buddhahood, as he has not yet awakened his compassion by working for the salvation of all beings. Stream-enterer, once-returner, and never returner are the first three stages on the path which lead to the realization of the arhat, which is considered the final goal of Sravakayana.
Aryadeva (S) noble shining one c. 375, Born spontaenously of a lotus (as was Padmasambhava) in Sri Lanka. Met Nagarjuna on pilgrimage and became his devotee. Matrceta, the poet, was a Brahman convert after debating Aryadeva at Nalanda. His student was Rahulamitra who taught Nagamitra who taught Samgharaksita who passed these teachings to Buddhapalita and Bhaviviveka.
Asanga: (S): Tibetan: Thok-me. "Without Attachment." Fifth century Indian pandit abbot of Nalanda who met Buddha Maitreya after twelve years of seemingly fruitless practice in a cave around Vulture Peak. Receiving the Method lineage teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha directly from the future Buddha, Maitreya, he re-transcribed them in the form of five works known as the "Five Treatises of Maitreya" Founder of the Cittamatra, or the "Mind Only School" of Buddhist tenets.
Ashoka: Buddhist monarch, c. 300 BCE, the third emperor of the Mauryan Dynasty, who unified most of India under his rule and fostered the dissemination of Buddhism. It is said that the Third Council was held during his reign. Ashoka set the model for many other rulers who sought to govern in accordance with Buddhist philosophy.
asura (S): Evil spirit; demon. Tibetan: lha ma yin. Opposite of sura: "deva; god." Demi-gods. who do battle with the gods for the fruits of the wish-fulfilling tree. They do have access to the roots, from which they derive medicines to heal their wounds and continue fighting their lost cause. Also called the titans, these powerful beings embody the effects of prolonged envy. Non-physical being of the lower astral plane, Naraka. Asuras can and do interact with the human realm, causing major and minor problems in people's lives. Like sentient beings in the other five realms, asuras are not permanently in this state.
Atisha (T): [982-1054] Sanskrit: Dipamkara. Also, Jowo Atisha. Indian Buddhist Master and scholar who spent 12 years in Sumatra and in 1042 went to Nepal and Tibet, where he exerted enormous influence. A main teacher at the university of Vikramasila who after traveling to Indonesia, received bodhicitta teachings from Dharmakirti (Lord of Suvarnadvipa). He spent his last years in Tibet as a teacher and translator. His disciples founded the Kadampa school. Also known as Dipamkara (S) or Jowo Atisha (T).
Atiyoga (S): Tibetan: shin tu naljor. The highest of the Nyingma three inner tantras, the culmination of the Nine Yanas (Vehicles). Atiyoga corresponds directly to the Great Perfection. Atiyoga is said to be an expression of perfect harmony between appearance and openness (sunyata), the non-duality of space and awareness; it is about the direct realization of the intrinsic nature ofmind... pure and free from beginningless time. (Tarthang Tulku) Through Atiyoga, enlightenment can be achieved in a single lifetime by an ardent practitioner and results in a self-existent pristine awareness which recognizes the utter perfection of all experience. See Dzogchen
atman (S): In Hinduism, atman is the soul; the breath; the principle of life and sensation. The soul in its entirety as the soul body (anandamaya kosha) and its essence (Parashakti and Parashiva). One of Hinduism's most fundamental tenets is that we are the atman, not the physical body, emotions, external mind or personality.
Auspicious symbols (Eight Auspicious Symbols): In Tibetan Buddhism, a series of symbols associated with the Buddhas: a gold fish; a parasol; a conch shell; the Knot of Eternity; the Banner of Victory; a vase; a lotus; the wheel with eight spokes.
Avalokitesvara (S): Tibetan: Chenrezi. "The Lord Who Looks Upon All Suffering" The Buddha of Compassion. Avalokitesvara is the embodiment of the compassion of all the Buddhas and is regarded by the Tibetan people as the progenitor of the race and guardian of the country. As a monkey, he mated with a rock ogress and gave birth to the Tibetan people. He is one of the two chief Bodhisattva emanations of Amitabha. As a sambhogakaya emanation of the Lotus (Padma) Family, he is one of the Three Protectors of the Tantra; the other two being Manjusri and Vajrapani. Through his sharing of mankinds misery, he positions himself to help those in distress and is considered a savior. Chenrezi is usually depicted with white wisdom-light skin; either two or four arms, sometimes in his 1,000-armed form. In his four-armed form, he sits in the lotus posture, with hands clasped in prayer over his heart; his other right hand holds a crystal mala upon which he counts mantras, and his other left hand holds an open lotus flower that radiates blessings to all beings. He rescues all beings by hearing their suffering and cries for help.
His thousand-armed form is depicted standing and has eleven heads with three levels diminishing in size as they face outward and to either side, representing his all-penetrating gaze. Upon these nine heads is the wrathful head of the Bodhisattva of Indestructible Power, dark blue Vajrapani, whose unfailing dynamic strength and power assist Avalokitesvara in the benefit of beings. Vajrapanis head is crowned with that of Buddha Amitabha, the Lord of the Lotus Family of whom Avalokitesvara is an emanation. The 1,000 arms represent the appearance of 1,000 Buddhas during this Eon of Light, whose compassion will guide beings from the darkness of ignorance and delusion into the light of Great Awakening. The eyes on his 1,000 hands symbolize his all-seeing compassionate gaze upon every being in existence throughout the past, present and future. He symbolizes infinite compassion (Karuna) for his refusal of accepting nirvana, which he considers limited and beside the point and instead chooses to reincarnate so he can help mankind. He has appeared in this world numerous times (in both male and female forms) and therefore plays many roles depending on which strand of Buddhism one follows. The Dalai Lama is a manifestation of Chenrezi.
In China, Avalokitesvara was originally depicted in male form, later as a female in the graceful form of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion or Goddess of Mercy. In folk belief, she keeps people safe from natural catastrophe and in various forms traverses the realms of existence to aid all beings.
Avatamsaka Sutra: Flower Adornment, Flower Garland, Flower Ornament (Cleary) Sutra, a teaching of the tathagatabarbha class given by Buddha Shakyamuni soon after his attainment of Buddhahood. The sutra has been described as a link between Yogacara and Tantra (Conze), evoking a universe where everything freely interprets everything else. With such images as the Jewel Net of Indra, like a vast web of gems each of us, each thing reflects all other things. This was the principal text of the Chinese Hua-Yen Flower Adornement School. These teachings grew from a system of commentaries and were transmitted to Japan as Kegon.
Ayodhya: Situated on the south bank of the river Ghagra or Saryu, Just 6 km from Faizabad, Ayodhya is a popular place of pilgrimage and temple cities long standing. This town is closely associated with Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. One of the seven most sacred cities of India, the ancient city of Ayodhya, according to the Ramayana, was founded by Manu, the law-giver of the Hindus. King Dasaratha ruled there peacefully for ten thousand years, and still had no son to succeed him. After performing an elaborate puja and fire offering to the Gods, his wife Kausalya gave birth to Lord Sri Rama, who the Lord Brahma had sent to earth as a human incarnation of the god Vishnu. In contemporary Hinduism, Rama, who is also called Ram, is often worshipped as God. For centuries, Ayodhya was the pride of the kings of the Surya or Ikshavaka dynasty, also known as the Raghuvansh, of which Lord Rama was the most celebrated king. With the death of the last king of the Raghuvanshis, Ayodhya fell into decadence. Today, Ayodhya has many beautiful temples, although practically nothing of that age remains in the city, and none of the ancient structures survive. Of the present temples, 35 are dedicated to Lord Shiva and 63 to Lord Vishnu.The place where Lord Rama was born is marked by a small temple. The site where, according to legend, Lord Rama was cremated, Lakshman Ghat and Sita Ghat is still visible, and there are also ancient earth mounds, Mani Parbat, identified with a stupa built by Emperor Ashok and Sugriv Parbat, identified with an ancien monastery. Remnants of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam can still be found in Ayodhya. According to Jain tradition, five Tirthankaras were born at Ayodhya, including Adinath (Rishabhadeva) the 1st Tirthankar. MORE BUDDHISM
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