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List of Buddhist terms and concepts

Several Buddhist terms and concepts lack direct transliterations into English that cover the breadth of the original term. In this list, the terms are in languages most relevant to their traditions, that is: English for terms that are common to all traditions. Pali for Theravada, Sanskrit for mainstream Mahayana, Tibetan for Vajrayana and Japanese for Zen. A short translation and a link to a (hopefully) more in-depth article is given, as well as the relevant tradition(s).

  • Ajahn[?] - "teacher" in the Thai language. In the Theravada tradition it is generally a title given to a Bhikkhu or Bhikkhuni who has been fully ordained for ten rain retreats (10 years).
  • Anagarika[?] - A white-robed student in the Theravada tradition, who for a few months, awaits being considered for Samanera ordination
  • Anapanasatti[?] - Mindfulness of the breath meditation
  • Anicca[?] - Impermanence (Pali)
  • Anatta - Not-self or Non-self (Pali)
  • Arahant - A living person that has reached the Enlightenment
  • Bhikkhu[?] - A Theravada monk
  • Bhikkhuni[?] - A Theravada nun
  • Bodhi - Awakening or Enlightenment
  • Bodhi tree - The type of tree under which Gautama reached Enlightenment
  • Bodhisattva - A being bend and striving towards enlightenment, or somebody who has postpones nirvana for the sake of helping humanity
  • Buddha - The Awakened being who has taught the Dharma
  • Dukkha - Suffering, unsatisfactoriness, stress
  • Dharma(Dhamma) - Truth, nature of reality
  • gassho[?] - a gesture of respect; palms placed together
  • kinhin - Zen walking meditation
  • koan - a Zen riddle used to trick the mind to go beyond rational thought
  • kyosaku[?] - stick used to strike zazen practitioners in order to improve concentration
  • Jhana[?] - Mental absorption acheived through Samatha (Pali)
  • Lama - A Tibetan (Vajrayana) teacher, monk or master
  • Moksha - Liberation or freedom from dukkha
  • Middle way - The practice of non-extremism
  • Nirvana(Nibbana) - Unbinding; the deathless liberation from the rounds of rebirth and death
  • oryoki[?] - Zen eating ceremony
  • Paramita - Virtue or the process of obtaining enlightenment
  • Paranibbana[?] - Final death without rebirth? (Pali)
  • Purisa[?] - The practicing Buddhist community as a whole; Sangha and laity
  • Rebirth - The proccess of continuity of life after death
  • Rinpoche[?] - Tibetan teacher
  • Samanera[?] - A male novice monk in the Theravada tradition who, after a year or until the ripe age of twenty, will be considered for the higher Bhikkhu ordination.
  • Samanera[?] - A female novice nun (see Samanera)
  • Samatha[?] - Tranquility meditation (Pali)
  • Samsara - This world of suffering, seen as temporary and illusory
  • Sangha - The community of Buddhist monks and nuns.
  • Sayadaw[?] - Burmese meditation master
  • Satori - The Enlightenment (Zen)
  • Sensei - Zen teacher
  • Shunyata - Emptiness
  • Tanha[?] - Craving or desire
  • Tathagata[?] - The "Thus-Gone One"; Gautama Buddha's title for himself
  • Tipitaka - The "Three Baskets"; canon containing the sacred texts for Buddhism (Pali)
  • Tulku[?] - A re-incarnated Tibetan teacher
  • Vinaya[?] - The monastic rules of discipline for Buddhist monks & nuns. (Sanskrit, Pali)
  • Vipassana - Insight meditation practiced in the Theravada tradition. In the tipitaka (Pali) it was stressed by the Buddha to be practiced in conjunction with Samatha.
  • Zazen - Zen meditation (Japanese)

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