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Glossary of Words/Phrases
Householdersvinaya.com’s Glossary is a quick reference to commonly used Pali words, English words and frequently used phrases that litter the Home Retreat Guide and the meditation landscape.

 

Definitions from Access to Insight, Buddhist Dictionary: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, dhammadāna.org, Wikipedia, and Allan Cooper.
Pāli/English
From to D

adiṭṭhāna/determination: 1. Determination. 2. Commitment to  training into a certain kind of conduct or to moral principles.

anatta/non-self: 1. Refers to the doctrine of “non-self”, that there is no unchanging, permanent self, soul or essence in living beings. 2. One of the three characteristics of existence (tilakkhana).

annicā/impermanence: 1: The doctrine asserts that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is “transient, evanescent, inconstant”. 2. All temporal things, whether material or mental, are compounded objects in a continuous change of condition, subject to decline and destruction. 3. One of the three characteristics of existence (tilakkhana).

bhāvanā/mental development: 1. Mental development. 2. Meditative development. 3. Progression, development of  concentration. 4. Training in developing concentration.

dāna/gift or generosityś: 1. Gift, offering, generosity. 2. dāna is the practice of gift, which takes place through the development of states of mind such as generosity and disinterestedness.

brahmavihāras/devine abodes: 1. Sublime states of concentration and mental qualities that can be developed in everyday life: mettā (lovingkindness), karunā (compassion), muditā (empathetic joy), upekkhā (equanimity).

dhamma-vicaya/investigation:1. Investigation. 2. Investigation of all phenomena. 2. Second factor of the Seven Factors of enlightenment.

dukkhā/suffering or unsatisfactoriness: 1. Is an important Buddhist concept, commonly translated as “suffering“, “pain”, “unsatisfactoriness” or “stress”. 2. It refers to the fundamental unsatisfactoriness and painfulness of mundane life. 3. It is the first of the Four Noble Truths. 4. One of the three characteristics of existence (tilakkhana).

From E to K

indriya/spiritual faculties: 1. The mental factors of faith, energy/effort, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. 2. The balancing of these mental factors allows the mind to engage intuitively with reality and is necessary for the maturing of meditative wisdom.

indriya-samvara/restraint of the senses: 1. Restraint of the senses is a multi-tiered meditative practice that encompasses a conscious effort to restrain our speech and actions in the outer world and to bring sati to any sense object at the moment of its arising in consciousness. By not indulging in the habit of taking that which is pleasant in a mental process that leads to clinging or that which is unpleasant in a mental process that leads to aversion, we train the mind to stay with what is. allan cooper 2. Sense restraint is a practice within Clear Comprehension. Circumstances define what skills we apply. Applied sense restraint is a ‘Gradual Path’ which is supported by continuous determination imbued with a caring patience. allan cooper 3. AN 4:198. 4. AN 4:37 5. DN 2:64, 6. MN 38.

kalyāmitta/spiritual friend: 1. Is a Buddhist concept of “spiritual friendship” within Buddhist community life, applicable to both monastic and householder relationships. One involved in such a relationship is known as a “good friend”, “virtuous friend”, “noble friend” or “admirable friend”. 2. Original meaning was someone who could give good instructions in the Dhamma. 3. A teacher.

khama/forgiveness: 1. Forgiveness with an open heart. 2. The practice and training in forgiveness.

khanti/patience: 1. Patience, forbearance. 2. One of the Ten Perfections (pāramis).

kilesās/defilements: 1. Are mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions. Kilesās include states of mind such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression, etc. Contemporary translators use a variety of English words to translate the term, such as: afflictions, defilements, destructive emotions, disturbing emotions, negative emotions, etc.

kusala/wholesome: 1. That which is good, free from fault. 2. Proper, convenient, skillful. 3. Good action, benevolent deed, meritorious action. 4. Any positive action by means of thought, speech and body is a kusala. It does naturally beget some benefit to the one who does perform it. 5. akusala/unwholesome: The reverse of kusala.

From L to S

mettā/loving kindness: 1. Mettā means benevolence, loving-kindness, friendliness, amity, good will, and active interest in others. 2. It is the first of the four sublime states (brahmavihāras) and one of the ten pāramīs of the Theravāda school of Buddhism.

nekkhamma/renunciation: 1. In the Noble EightfoldPath, nekkhamma is the first practice associated with Right Intention. In the Theravada list of ten perfections, nekkhamma is the third practice of perfection (pārami). It involves non-attachment (detachment) and limiting choices. Wikipedia. 2. Renunciation is an everyday practice that can simplify a person’s life by eliminating habitual reliance on habit and preference. allan cooper 3. MN 137:10-15.

nibbāna/enlightenment (nirvana in Sanskrit): 1. Reality bearing neither object, nor consciousness. In nibbāna, physical and mental phenomena do no longer appear. 2. When a being does experience nibbāna, he/she becomes an ariyā (enlightened one). Being no longer inclined to commit strongly negative actions, such as killing or stealing, he/she will never take birth within lower worlds. nibbāna can be experienced a large number of times and last from the fraction of a second up to several hours according to the intensity of concentration being developed. 3. The one who has eradicated the whole of kilesās (the arahanta) will experience nibbāna at the end of his/her life and will never more take a birth in any realm. This is called parinibbāna. 4. Among all these terms, nibbāna is probably the subtlest and most difficult to understand. It is inconceivable by definition or concept.

nīvarana/hinderances: 1. Hinderances, are five qualities which are obstacles to the mind and blind our mental vision. (Sensual desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restless and worry, subjective doubt. 2. Any unwholesome mental state that clouds the mind and hinders concentration.

Pāli: Is a Middle Indo-Aryan language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the Pāli Canon or Tipiṭaka, and is the sacred language of some religious texts of Hinduism and all texts of Theravāda Buddhism. The earliest archaeological evidence of the existence of canonical Pāli comes from Pyu city-states inscriptions found in Burma dated to the mid 5th to mid 6th century CE.

papañca/proliferation: 1. Mental proliferation. 2. Refers to conceptualization of the world through the use of ever-expanding language and concepts.

paññā/wisdom: 1. Understanding, knowledge, wisdom, insight. 2. As part of the Noble Eightfold Path. 3. Intuitive knowledge which brings about the 4 stages of holiness and the realization of nibbāna 

pāramī/perfection: 1. Perfection. 2. Ten qualities leading to Buddhahood: a. Generosity. b. Morality. c. Renunciation. d. Wisdom. e. Energy. f. Patience. g. Truthfulness. h. Resolution/determination. i. Loving-kindness. j. Equanimity.

puñña/merit: 1. Is a concept considered fundamental to Buddhist ethics. It is a beneficial and protective force which accumulates as a result of good deeds, acts, or thoughts. Merit-making is important to Buddhist practice: merit brings good and agreeable results, determines the quality of the next life and contributes to a person’s growth towards enlightenment. 2. A cultural overlay fundamental to the relationship between lay and monastic and the living and dead especially in Southeast Asia. saddhā/faith: 1. Faith. 2. Belief in the law of kamma. 3. Confidence towards dhamma. 4. One of the Five Spiritual Faculties.

samādhi/concentration: 1. Calm, serenity. 2. Clarity of the mind caused by a sharp concentration that is the fruit of a sustained training.

samatha/tranquility: 1. Tranquility, serenity. 2. Is a synonym of samādhi (concentration). 

samatha/vipassanā: 1. Tranquility and insight are identical with concentration (samādhi) and Wisdom (paññā). 2. Form the two branches of mental development (bhāvana).

sampajañña/clear comprehension: 1. Contemplation of all physical and mental phenomena in order to know them vividly. sati/attention/mindfulness: 1. Attention, mindfulness. 2. To remember.

sati-sampajañña/mindfulness and clear comprehension: 1. See above.

sīla/morality: 1. Morality, virtue, conduct, good behavior, attitude. 2. Main foundation of all kinds of practices of dhamma. Without training into sīla, it is not possible to progress on this path.

From T to Z

Theravadā/School of the Elders: 1. Oldest extant form of Buddhist practice. Most commonly found in Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Laos. 2. Western vipassanā or Insight meditation  finds most of its roots in this school of practice.

tilakkhana/three characteristics: 1. The ‘Three Characteristics of existence, or signata, are Impermanence (aniccā), suffering/dissatisfaction or misery (dukkhā) and Not-Self (anattā). Buddhist Dictionary by Nyanatiloka. 2. In Buddhism, the three marks of existence are three characteristics of all existence and beings, namely impermanence (aniccā), unsatisfactoriness or suffering (dukkhā), and non-self (anattā). These three characteristics are mentioned in verses 277, 278 and 279 of the Dhammapada. That humans are subject to delusion about the three marks, that this delusion results in suffering/dissatisfaction, and that removal of that delusion results in the end of suffering/dissatisfaction, are central themes in the Buddhist Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path.

upāya/skillful means: 1. The skills necessary to think, speak and act with wholesomeness.

vinaya/monastic code of behavior: 1. Set of rules of conduct that the Buddha has taught designed for bhikkhus (monks) and bhikkhunis (nuns).

English Phrases/Terms/Names

Mindfulness/vipassanā: 1. In English vipassanā, mindfulness, sati, and insight, are often used interchangeably to describe the meditation practice of bringing one’s unfiltered attention to our experience at any of the six sense doors. The Pali term sati is also commonly used to mean vipassanā. allan cooper 2. Vipassanā, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills. This non-sectarian technique aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation. https://www.dhamma.org/en/about/vipassana (unknown) 3. Insight meditation (vipassanā): Attending to objects of consciousness with bare attention. 4. ‘The Noble Eightfold Path: Way to the End of Suffering’, Chapter Six, ‘Sammā-Sati’, Bhikkhu Bodhi.

Home Practice: 1. Whatever the practice a meditator might have at home. It could be very focused or loose. The criteria for having a Home Practice is how we hold our meditative life. If we hold our spiritual life as our core we can consider our life as having a Home Practice. One who has a Home Practice is inclined to try and improve themselves with attention to virtue, concentration and wisdom. 

Home Retreat: 1. See Home Retreat Guide.

Householding yogi: 1. One who is not a monastic, lives a lay life and seeks to train the mind towards enlightenment.

Householder’s Vinaya: 1. Code of practice trainings for the householder. 2. Trainings and practices rooted in the development of generosity, virtue, concentration and wisdom for the householder.

Restraint of the senses/indriya-samvara: 1. Restraint of the senses is a multi-tiered meditative practice that encompasses a conscious effort to restrain our speech and actions in the outer world and to bring sati to any sense object at the moment of its arising in consciousness. By not indulging in the habit of taking that which is pleasant in a mental process that leads to clinging or that which is unpleasant in a mental process that leads to aversion, we train the mind to stay with what is. allan cooper 2. Sense restraint is a practice within Clear Comprehension. Circumstances define what skills we apply. Applied sense restraint is a ‘Gradual Path’ which is supported by continuous determination imbued with a caring patience. allan cooper 3. AN 4:198. 4. AN 4:37 5. DN 2:64, 6. MN 38.

Skillful means/upāya: 1. The skills necessary to think, speak and act with wholesomeness.

Three Characteristics/tilakkhana: 1. The ‘Three Characteristics of existence, are impermanence (aniccā), suffering/dissatisfaction or misery (dukkhā) and Not-Self (anattā). 2. These three characteristics are mentioned in verses 277, 278 and 279 of the Dhammapada. That humans are subject to delusion about the three marks, that this delusion results in suffering/dissatisfaction, and that removal of that delusion results in the end of suffering/dissatisfaction, are central themes in the Buddhist Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path.

Yogi mind: 1. A contemporary term to mean when during retreat the mind can manifest any/all of the following: obsession, swings of mood, refusing to cooperate, having the hindrances frequently arising, and/or to be under a cloud of confusion.

 

Mahasi Sayadaw: 1. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahasi_Sayadaw.

Sayadaw U Pandita: See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U_Pandita

Nyanaponika Thera: 1. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyanaponika_Thera

Bhikkhu Bodhi: 1. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhikkhu_Bodhi

Munindraji: 1. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anagarika_Munindra

 

Five precepts/panca sīla: See footnotes and index.

Eight precepts/attha-sīla: See footnotes and index.

 

The Noble Eightfold Path/ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo

  1. sammā-diṭṭhi/right view
  2. sammā-saṅkappā/right intention
  3. sammā-vācā/right speech
  4. sammā-kammanta/right action Pali
  5. sammā-ājīva/right livelihood vipassanā
  6. sammā-vāyāma/right effort
  7. sammā-sati/right mindfulness
  8. sammā-samādhi/right concentration

See The Noble Eightfold Path: Way to the End of Suffering, Bhikkhu Bodhi. Available for free download on Access to Insight.