Like dhyana, samadhi also refers to states of meditative absorption, but is a broader and more generic term than dhyana. although numerous specific samadhis are mentioned in Buddhist scriptures, the term "samadhi" itself is flexible and not as specific as dhyana. In this book it also refers to the state of "one mind, " or expanded sense of self ─ a unity of mind and body, self and environment.


The historical Buddha who lived in northern India during the sixth century, B.C. Son of a provincial king, he renounced the royal life, practiced austerities in the forest for six years, and finally attained Supreme Enlightenment. The rest of his life was spent wandering and teaching, thereby laying the foundations of Buddhism.


In a narrow sense, the sangha is the community of Buddhist monks and nuns; in a broad sense, the sangha is the Buddhist community as a whole, including laypersons.


The classic Indian literary language in which the major mahayana Buddhist scriptures are written.


the beginningless and continuing cycle of birth and death caused by afflictions, attachment, ignorance, and karma. It is also the world of suffering, in which ordinary sentient beings are inexorably entangled.


One of Shakyamuni Buddha’ s closest and foremost disciples. Renowned for his wisdom, Sariputra is the person to whom the Buddha directs his discourse in the Heart Sutra.


. The intrinsic, inherent, or independent existence of things, or the property of things that makes them not dependent upon the conceptualizing activity of the mind or on conditioned arising. According to the Madhyamaka conception of selfnature, if something has self-nature, it is permanent and immutable, beyond causality. The Madhyamaka concept of emptiness entails that nothing has self-nature, not even the most basic components of experience. 2. Buddhist schools such as the Sarvāstivāda and Yogācāra affirmed that some things do have self-nature (svabhāva). But in this sense of the word, they mean that such things are not dependent on conceptual construction and are hence “irreducible,” i.e., cannot be analyzed into component parts. The Madhyamakas, in contrast, believe that if something is irreducible then it must be uncaused, and that it therefore could not exist. 3. A synonym for buddha-nature, which depending on one’s school of thought may or may not be equivalent to emptiness. (Also translated “inherent nature” or “own nature.”)

Sectarian Buddhism

A term coined by Japanese scholars, referring to Buddhism in the period after the San˙gha began to divide into different sects, from the end of the period of primitive Buddhism until the beginning of the Common Era. This period was characterized by many competing sects with different understandings of abhidharma (Buddhist philosophy). (Sometimes called abhidharma Buddhism. )


As a Buddhist technical term, something that is unchanging, able to be fully controlled, and unsusceptible to suffering. Most schools of Buddhism deny that anything is self and advocate the doctrine of no-self or anātman.


(Chinese "teacher-father") A term of respect used by a disciple when referring to or addressing his master.

Sixth Patriarch Huineng

(638-713) The sixth patriarch of Chan Buddhism in China. He is attributed with giving Chan its distinctive flavor, thus he is sometimes regarded as the father of the tradition. The Platform Sutra is attributed to Huineng.


The five categories, or "heaps, " of existence ─ form, sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness.


Associated with the Hinayana tradition. Literally "sound-hearer, " one who has heard the Buddha's teaching and attained the first of the four levels of Arhatship.

Spiritual Power

In Chinese translation, literally “spiritual penetrations


for the Theravāda, the only surviving “Hīnayāna” school. These terms are acceptable if not confused with another set of terms used by some scholars for contemporary Buddhist traditions, namely: southern Buddhism for the Buddhism common in South and Southeast Asia, eastern Buddhism for that of East Asia, and northern Buddhism for that of Inner Asia. Some Mahāyānists claim that Hīnayāna should really only be used to describe those individual people (not entire schools) who seek individual liberation rather than liberation for all beings. According to this view, Theravāda Buddhists who nevertheless aspire to Buddhahood (such as those mentioned in Spiro 970, 62–63) would not be labeled “Hīnayānists.” Besides the term Nikāya Buddhism, other terms for early nonMahāyāna Buddhism include fundamental Buddhism, “foundational Buddhism,” and “original Buddhism.” Since evidence increasingly suggests that historically, Mahāyāna Buddhism was generally if not always a minority movement within India, in a primarily Indian context nonMahāyāna Buddhism has also been called “mainstream Buddhism.”


The unchanging, underlying reality behind phenomenal appearances. Different Buddhist texts contain differing conceptions of Suchness: for example, for some it is the central Buddhist principle of conditioned arising, and for others it is an ineffable essence that undergirds everything else. (Sometimes translated “Thusness.”)


Generally, scriptures. Specifically, the recorded teachings of the Buddha. The distinctive mark of a Buddhist sutra is the opening line, "Thus have I heard." This indicates that what follows are the direct teachings of Buddha, as remembered and recorded by his disciples.