Learn about various Buddhist words and terms.

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Amitabha Buddha:
(Sanskrit); Amida (Japanese);  It means Infinite Light, known for Longevity as well, is also called as “The Buddha of Immeasurable Life and Light”or "Amitayus". He is one of the major Buddhas of the Mahayana school, and presides over the Western Pure Land, Sukhavati and promises that beings would be reborn in his paradise.
One of Sakyamuni Buddha’s Ten Great Disciples. Among all disciples, he stood out for having the most retentive memory.  He recorded the Buddha’s teachings as sutras.
Anatman (Sanskrit) ; There is no permanent self or soul in living beings and no abiding essence in anything or phenomena. It is one of the Three Marks of Existence. This, along with Anicca and Nirvana, is one of the Three Dharma Seals.
Anatman (Sanskrit) ; There is no permanent self or soul in living beings and no abiding essence in anything or phenomena. is It is one of the Three Marks of Existence. This, along with Anatta and Nirvana, is one of the Three Dharma Seals.
Arhat (Arhant):
(Sanskrit); It refers "one who is worthy" or as a “perfected person”who has attained Nirvana. He is in the highest rank in Sravakayana.  It contains 3 meaning : (1) eliminate all thieves, means to eliminate all problems; (2) no life, no more death or reborn; (3) merit, deserved being offered in the Heavenly Beings and Human Beings.
Asura (Ashura):
(Sanskrit & Pali); “Demigod” or “antigod”, one of the Six Realms of Existence, obsessed with ego, force and violence, addicted to envy, bellicosity.
A feeling, that binds one to a person, thing, cause, like or dislike, the cause of suffering.
Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva:
(Sanskrit); Kannon (Japanese), Chenrezig (Tibetan), Kwan Um (Korean), Kuan Yin (Chinese).  It means “The One Who perceives the sound of the world”. The Bodhisattva of Compassion, helps free all sentient beings from life’s sufferings.  Commonly known as the “Mercy Goddness”.  The bodhisattva often has multiple heads and arms, which symbolize his limitless capacity to perceive suffering and to help all beings. Sometimes the Bodhisattva is pictured with features of both genders. This is symbolic of the Bodhisattva's transcendence of dualities, such as male-female gender distinctions. Further, the Lotus Sutra says that the Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva can manifest in whatever form is best suited for the situation.

There are more than 30 iconographic representations of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva. These are distinguished by the number of heads and arms (a thousand) the Bodhisattva displays, the Bodhisattva's body position, and by what is carried in the Bodhisattva's hands. The Bodhisattva may hold a lotus, mala beads, or a vase of nectar.

 There is often a small figure of Amitabha Buddha gracing the Bodhisattva's head.  He may be standing, in meditation, or seated in a "Royal Ease" pose.
Avatamsaka Sutra:
(Sanskrit); Translated in English as “Flower Garland Sutra”, “Flower Adornment Sutra” or “Flower Ornament Scripture”.  One of the longest sutras in the Buddhist Canon, and the epitome of Buddhist thought, sentiment, and experience. It is cited by all Mahayana Buddhist schools. It is the most influential sutras in the Buddhist Canon. It reveals how reality appears to an enlightened being and describes the stages of development of a bodhisattva.
(Sanskrit); Avidya (Pali); Ignorance or misunderstanding, delusion. It refers to ignorance or misconceptions about the nature of metaphysical reality, in particular about the impermanence and non-self doctrines about reality. It ranks in the first place in Twelve Nidanas.  It is the root cause of Dukkha.
Bhikshu, Bhikshuni:
(Sanskrit); Bhikshu is an ordained male monastic (“monk”) and Bhiksuni is a fully ordained female monastic (“nun”). They live by a set of rules called the pratimoksa.
(Sanskrit);  The understanding possessed by a Buddha regarding the true nature of things. Literal meaning “awakening, enlightenment”.  Bodhi is always there within one’s mind, but requires the defilement to be removed.
Bodhi Mind:
Bodhicitta (Sanskrit);  It means “awakening mind” or “mind of enlightenment”. It is a spontaneous wish to attain enlightenment motivated by great compassion for all sentient beings, accompanied by a falling away of the attachment to the illusion of an inherently existing self.
(ca. 470-543): The first patriarch of Zen (Chan) Buddhism. According to legend, he was the "Barbarian from the West" who brought Chan from India to China. "Why did Bodhidharma come from the West?" is a well-known Chan koan. He was Persian, born in South India. He is credited as the transmitter of Chan Buddhism to China. He was the founder of Chan school and is regarded as the first Chinese patriarch.  He is also credited as founder of the martial arts at the Shaolin Temple.
(Sanskrit); One who postpones his or her own Enlightenment, to help liberate other sentient beings from their cyclic existence, samsara. Compassion is the main characteristic of the Bodhisattva.
Brahma's Net Sutra / Brahmajala Sutra:
It is a part of the Vajrasekhara Sutra.  It contains the Ten Major and 48 Minor Bodhisattva precepts. These 58 precepts constitute the Bodhisattva vows taken by most Mahayana nuns and monks, and some advanced lay practitioners.
(Sanskrit); Butsu (Japanese); Literally means "awakened one". A Buddha is an enlightened being is a person who has been awakened and released from the world of cyclic existence, samsara, and has been liberated from desire and attachment in nirvana. Historically Buddha refers Gautama Buddha who was the founder of Buddhism.  All beings will eventually become buddha because they possess the Buddha nature.
Buddha Nature:
The luminous mind of the Buddha is inherently present in every sentient beings, and will shine forth when it is cleansed of the defilement.  The true, immutable nature of all beings.
Buddha Recitation:
(Buddha Remembrance): Recitation of Amitabha Buddha's name, or contemplation of His auspicious marks.
The Dharma wheel. It means Dhamachakra which is a symbol of the wheel of the law of Buddhism.  There are 3 meanings : (1) to defeat all evil or bad things done by all sentient beings; (2) to keep on rolling of the wheel of the teachings of the Buddha; (3) Perfection.
Dedication of Merit:
See Transference of Merit.   Allow one to share all the blessings, all the merit and goodness that one has earned.  One can send out all the benefits that would otherwise accrue to oneself, to every living being in the world.
Degenerate Age:
See Dharma Ending Age.
Delusion (Ignorance):
An idiosyncratic or false belief or impression. Unawareness of the meaning of existence, or the true nature – Buddha nature – of things.
Influences which disturb the mind and hinder cultivation.
(Sanskrit); Heavenly, divine, terrestrial beings of more excellence, shining ones. Deities, gods.
(Sanskrit); Dhamma (Pali); The central idea of Buddhism, and the cosmic law underlying all existence and, therefore, the teaching of the Buddha. One of the "Three "Jewels" of Buddhism, and often used as a general name for Buddhism.
Dharma Discourse (Dharma Talk):
Formal talk or discussion by a spiritual teacher.
Dharma Ending Age:
Present age. The time following Sakyamuni Buddha's age is divided into (1) the Perfect Age of the Dharma, which lasted 500 years, (2) the Dharma Semblance Age, which lasted about 1000 years, and (3) the Dharma Ending Age, lasting about 10,000 years.
Dharma Nature:
The nature of all things. "Emptiness" and "Reality". See also Buddha Nature.

(Sanskrit); The Bodhisattva who later became Amitabha Buddha. See the Longer Amitabha Sutra. Famous for his 48 vows. particularly the 18th vow promises rebirth in the Pure Land to those who recite His name with utmost sincerity and faith at the time of death.

Diamond Sutra:
Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra (Sanskrit); or called “Vajra Sutra” A self-contained section of the Prajnaparamita Sutra, or “Perfection of Wisdom” genre. It shows that phenomenal appearances are not the ultimate reality, but rather illusions of one's own mind.  It emphasizes the emptiness and the practice of non-abiding and n0n-attachment.  The title relies on the power of the vajra (diamond or thunderbolt) to cut things as a metaphor for the type of wisdom that cuts and shatters illusions to get to ultimate reality.  
(1200-1253): Brought the Soto school of Zen Buddhism to Japan. He emphasized meditation as the means to Enlightenment.
(Sanskrit); Literally means “Suffering and discontent”, but it should mean the ultimately unsatisfactory nature of temporary states and things, including pleasant but temporary experiences as one expects happiness from states and things which are impermanent, and therefore cannot attain real happiness. Dukkha is central to human life, and is one of the Four Noble Truths as well as one of the Three Marks of Existence.
All mundane things that can cloud our otherwise bright self-nature, including form (matter), sound, scent, taste, touch, and thought. Dusts, i.e. Six Dusts correspond to the six senses. The six sense objects can lead one to create greed, anger and ignorance which cause one to ruin one’s good mind, can steal away one’s good deeds, is the cause of suffering and results in the world of samsara.  Therefore six sense objects are also called the “six delusions”, the “six ruinous things” and “the six thieves”.
Tibetan; literally, "great perfection". Atiyoga (Sanskrit); The supreme teachings of the Nyingmapa school of Tibetan Buddhism. Adherents believe that these teachings are superior, and that no other means are necessary.
Easy Path of Practice:
Also known as Pure Land Practice. It is called the “Easy Path” as it involves reliance on the power of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to the Pure Land.  One needs to generate faith and make the vows, to recite the Buddha’s name, and at the end of one’s life, Amitabha Buddha will compassionately descend to meet and guide one to rebirth in the Pure Land.
Eightfold Path / Noble Eightfold Path:
Aryastangamarga (Sanskrit); The way to Enlightenment consists of right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. By restraining oneself, cultivating discipline, and practicing mindfulness and meditation, one can attain nirvana and stop their craving, clinging and karmic accumulations, thereby ending their rebirth and suffering. The Noble Eightfold Path is one of the principal teachings  of  Theravada Buddhism, taught to lead to Arhatship. In the Theravada tradition, this path is also summarized as sila  (morality), samadhi (meditation) and prajna (insight).
Endurance World:
See Saha World.
Translation of the Sanskrit term bodhi ("awakened"). Generally used by Mahayanists. It is an awakening to the true nature of reality, rather than the extinguishing of desire implied by the Theravada term nirvana.
Evil Paths:
The realms of suffering into which fall those who have committed evil deeds. Three Evil Paths are the realms of hells, hungry spirits, and animals. The lowest of the six paths.
Expedient Means:
Upaya (Sanskrit); “Skillful Means” or “Expedient Means”.  It is the method that targeted to the capacities of individual so as to lift them to Enlightenment. It can be unconventional; something not normally associated with Buddhist doctrine or practice.  The most important points are that the action is applied with wisdom and compassionate and that it is appropriate in its time and place.  Upaya sometimes is spelled Upaya-kausalya, which is  “skill-in-means”.
Followers of non-Buddhist paths.
Five Desires:
(Five Sensual Pleasures): Sensory desires refers to that particular type of wanting that seeks for happiness through  the five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and physical feeling.
Five Precepts:
Pancasilani (Sanskrit); They are not rules or commandments, but “principles of training”, which are undertaken willingly by the lay Buddhists and need to put into practice.  Five Precepts are
  1. abstain from killing,
  2. abstain from stealing,
  3. abstain from incorrect speech,
  4. abstain from sexual misconduct,
  5. abstain from consuming intoxicants.
By observing five precepts lay Buddhists will result in building of good character, or an expression of such character and they help them to avoid harm to themselves and others.  Also see Eight Precepts and Ten Precepts
Flower Store Sea of World:
See Lotus Treasury World
Four Noble Truths:
Life is suffering (Dukkha), cause of suffering is attachment (Samudaya) ; Cessation of Suffering is attainable (Niroha) and path to cessation of suffering (Marga).  It was the first dharma of the Sakyamuni Buddha to his followers after he attained the enlightenment.  Four Noble Truths are the foundation of Buddhism.
One of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama is considered the spiritual head of the Gelugpa school.
(Sanskrit); Spiritual teacher.
Heretical Views:
The 62 externalist views prevalent in Sakyamuni Buddha's time.
“The True Essence of the Pure Land Teaching” or “Shin Buddhism” or “True Pure Land Buddhism”, is a school of the Pure Land Buddhism. Founded by Shinran, it is the dominant school of Japanese Buddhism today. It is a lay community with no monastics, and emphasizes reliance on Amida Buddha (Amitabha) for salvation.
Literally, "School of the Pure Land". A school of Japanese Buddhism, derived from the Pure Land School of China in the 9th century. It was officially founded by Honen in the 12th century, to provide an easier path to liberation by invoking the Amida Buddha (Amitabha). In contrast to the Jodo-shin-shu school, Jodo-shu adherents enter the monastic life, and consider Buddha Recitation as an act of gratitude rather than a way to strengthen trust in Amida.
One of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and is also known as “Oral Lineage” or Whispered Transmission school.  It emphasizes the transfer of knowledge from master to student.
(Sanskrit); literally, "action". Universal law of cause and effect that governs rebirth and the world of samsara.
Japanese; sudden realization of one’s nature and enlightenment in Zen Buddhism.
A paradoxical story or riddle used as a training device in Zen, to force the mind to abandon logic and dualistic thought.
Tibetan Buddhist monk of higher rank. A spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism.  Originally it was applicable only to heads of monasteries or great teachers. Now it is extended out of courtesy to any respected monk or priest.
Lankavatara Sutra:
(Sanskrit); Is a prominent Mahayana Buddhist Sutra.  The most important doctrine issuing from this Sutra is that of the primacy of consciousness and the teaching of consciousness as the only reality.  The Buddha assets that all the objects of the world, and the names and forms of experience, are merely manifestations of the mind. The only sutra recommended by Bodhidharma, the First Zen Patriarch of China.
Last Age:
See Dharma Ending Age.
Lotus Grades:
Nine grades of rebirth in the Western Pure Land. The more merits and virtues the practitioner accumulates, the higher the grade.
Lotus Sutra:
Saddharma Pundarika Sutra (Sanskrit;). Literally means sutra on the white lotus of the sublime dharma. Pundarika means white lotus, a symbol of enlightenment. When all beings are free from delusion and sufferings, just like the lotus flower is rooted in the mud but flows on the water without becoming wet and muddy. Major Buddhist text, and is one of the most widely read sutras today, superior to all other sutras and therefore claims to be the “King of Sutras”. It contains the final teaching of the Shakyamuni Buddha, complete and sufficient for salvation. It describes the path to enlightenment for everyone, the sravakayana, pratyeka buddhayana and buddhisattva and they all can attain Buddhahood.  Lotus Sutra is known for its extensive instruction on the concept and usage of skillful means or perfection of a Bodhisattva – mostly in the form of parables.
Lotus Treasury World:
Kusumatala-garbha-vyuhalamkara-lokedhatu-samudra. See Ocean-Wide Lotus Assembly.
Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva:
His name literally means “arrival of the great strength”. He is a Bodhisattva mahasattva that represents the power of wisdom, often depicted in a trinity with Amitabha Buddha and Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, especially in Pure Land Buddhism.  He is one of the oldest Bodhisattvas. In the Shurangama Sutra, Mahāsthāmaprāpta tells of how he gained enlightenment through the practice of Buddha recitation, or continuous pure mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha, to obtain samadhi.
(Sanskrit); literally, "the Great Vehicle". One of the three major schools of Buddhism which developed in the 1st century C.E., in India. It is called the Great Vehicle for its all-inclusive approach to liberation, as embodied in the bodhisattva desire to liberate all beings. The Mahayana school introduced the notion of sunyata, and places less emphasis on monasticism than the Theravada school.
Maitreya Bodhisattva:
(Sanskrit); His name is derived from maitre (“loving-kindness” ). Future Buddha; The fifth and last of the earthly Buddhas. He will be a successor to the Gautama Buddha and preach anew the dharma when the teachings of Gautama Buddha have completely decayed.  Expected to arrive about 30,000 years from now, and believed to reside in the Tushita heaven until then.  Maitreya is a bodhisattva revered by Buddhists of most schools.
Characteristics, forms, physiognomy.
Meditation Sutra / Amitayus Meditation Sutra:
Amitayurdhyana Sutra (Sanskrit); One of the three core sutras of the Pure Land School. The others are the "Amitabha Sutra" and the Longer Sukhavativyuha Sutra. Sutra on the Contemplation of  Amitabha Buddha. It illustrates the importance of performing certain meritorious acts in order to be reborn in the Pure Land.  Amitabha is the preeminent figure in Pure Land Buddhism, and this Sutra focuses mainly on meditations involving complex visualization.
Merit and Virtue:
Merits are the blessings of the human and celestial realms. They are temporary, and subject to birth and death. Virtues transcend birth and death and lead to Buddhahood.
Mindfulness of the Buddha:
See Buddha Recitation.
Nagarjuna Bodhisattva:
Founder of the Madhyamika School of Buddhism.  He is best known in the West for his writings on emptiness, especially as set forth in his most famous work, the Mulamadhyamakakarika (“Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way”). He is also credited with developing the philosophy of the Prajnaparamita Sutras.  According to legend, he retrieved from the bottom of the sea a Perfection-of-Wisdom Sutra that the Buddha had entrusted to the king of the nagas (water deities) for safekeeping. Nagarjuna also composed hymns of praise to the Buddha and expositions of Buddhist ethical practice.
(Sanskrit); literally, "extinction, blowing out". It is the ultimate goal of Buddhist spiritual practice, which is a state of perfect quietude, freedom, highest happiness with it being the liberation from samsara, the repeating cycle of rebirth and suffering, as a result of extinction of individual passion, hatred and delusion.  It is the highest aim of the Theravada tradition. Nirvana is part of the Third Truth on "cessation of dukkha" in the Four Noble Truths, and the summum bonum  destination of the Noble Eightfold Path. Two types of Nirvana : sopadhishesa-nirvana (nirvana with a remainder) and parinirvana or anupadhishesa-nirvana (nirvana without remainder, or final nirvana).
(No-Birth): The nature of Nirvana. No-birth is the elimination of discursive thinking one conceive of things as arising and perishing, forming attachments to them..
One of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.  All their monks and nuns wear red cap and therefore it is also known as “Red Cap” School.
Ocean-Wide Lotus Assembly:
The gathering of Amitabha Buddha, the Bodhisattvas, the sages and the saints, and all other superior beings in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. The term is generally associated with the Avatamsaka Sutra.
Once Returner:
Sakrdagamin (Sanskrit); Returning once. It is the second stage of the four stages of enlightenment. A sage who has but one rebirth left before reaching Arhatship, and escaping birth and death.
One-life Bodhistava:
A Bodhisattva who is one lifetime away from Buddahood. Maitreya is a One-life Bodhisattva.
Perfection in virtue.
Prajnaparamita Hrdaya:
(Sanskrit); The Heart Sutra, belongs to the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamita) section of the Mahayana Buddhist Canon is along with the Diamond Sutra, the most prominent representative of the genre. The Heart Sutra is very brief, only has 260 Chinese characters. Its standard version was translated by Tripitaka Master Xuanzang. It contains key concepts of Buddhist Philosophy. These include the skandhas, the four noble truths, the cycle of interdependence and the central concept of Mahayana Buddhism, “Emptiness”.   It is the most popular sutras in Mahayana Buddhism and covers the entire meaning of the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sūtra.
Pratyeka Buddhas:
Buddhas who become enlightened by meditating upon the principle of causality, but do not exert themselves to teach others.
The realms free from suffering, in which it is easier to attain Nirvana.  When the mind is pure, any environment can be a pure land.
Pure Land:
A realm of the Buddhas.  Sukhavati is the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha; individuals need only to call out His name to be reborn in it. Pure Land Buddhism is based on this devotion to Amitabha Buddha.
Japanese; Lin-chi (Chinese). One of the two major schools of Zen Buddhism which uses koan meditation as the means to achieve Enlightenment.
Saha World:
World of Endurance. It refers to this world of suffering and afflictions.
Sakyamuni Buddha:
Also known as the “Buddha” or Founder of the Buddhism, attained Enlightenment and Deliverance from this life around 600 B.C.  He was born Siddhartha Gautama as an Indian prince in what is present day Nepal.  He renounced all worldly pleasures to seek the meaning of life and the suffering he saw around him.  After six years of arduous training and strict self-discipline, the Buddha finally found the answer to the question of suffering, cause of suffering and the method to end suffering.  In doing so he attained Enlightenment and became the “Buddha” under the Bodhi tree.
One of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
Meditative absorption; usually the final stage of pure concentration.
Samantabhadra Bodhisattva:
(Sanskrit); means “Universal Virtue”.  A major Bodhisattva who personifies the transcendental practices of the Buddhas. Usually depicted as being seated on an elephant with six tusks, for the six paramitas. Together with Gautama Buddha and his fellow bodhisattva Manjusri, he forms the Shakyamuni Trinity in Buddhism.  He made Ten Great Vows of Buddhist practice which are the basis of a bodhisattva as per Avatamsaka Sutra.
Samatha (Vipasyana):
(Sanskrit & Pali);  It is the Buddhist practice of calming of the mind and its formations.  This is done by practicing single-pointed meditation most commonly through mindfulness of breathing.  It usually accomplished by concentration, then is used for insight practices, inquiry into the nature of the object, resulting in wisdom.
(Sanskrit); wheel of life, the cyclic existence of birth, death, and rebirth of all living beings, is linked to their karma, from which nirvana provides liberation.
(Pali); the Buddhist monastic community, which has come to include all Buddhist practitioners. It is one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism, along with the Buddha and the Dharma.
(Sanskrit); One of the Ten Great Disciples of Sakyamuni Buddha and was foremost in wisdom.
Enlightenment and the realization of truth, in Zen Buddhism.
Seven Treasures:
Gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, red pearl, and carnelian. They represent the seven powers of faith, perseverance, the sense of shame, avoidance of wrongdoings, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom.
(1173-1262): Founder of the Jodo-shin-shu school of Japanese Buddhism.  He was a pupil of Honen who was the founder of the first independent branch of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism.
Six Directions:
North, South, East, West, above, and below.
Six Dusts:
See Dusts.
Six Planes of Existence / Six Realms of Samsara:
Sadgatih (Sanskrit); The paths within the realm of birth and death. They include the three paths of evil (hells, hungry ghosts, animality), and the paths of humans, asuras, and celestials. These paths can be regarded as states of mind.  The nature of one's existence is determined by Karma - our actions and states of awareness from previous lives.
Sixth Patriarch:
Hui Neng (638-713), is one of the most important figures in Chan Buddhism.  He was the Sixth and Last Patriarch of Chan Buddhism.  He was an illiterate but he had an awakening having heard a customer reciting the Diamond Sutra while delivering firewood to a store. He then sought out the Fifth Patriarch, Daman Hongren at his monastery on Huangmei Mountain after travelling for thirty days on foot.  Afterwards he got the succession of Hongren. Platform Sutra contains his stories and teachings.    
Skillful Means:
See Expedient Means.
(Japanese); Ts'ao-tung (Chinese). One of the two major schools of Zen Buddhism, brought to Japan by Dogen in the 13th century. Its emphasis is on zazen, or sitting meditation.
(Sanskrit); Sunnata (Pali). Literally, "emptiness". Not as a negation of existence but rather as the undifferentiation out of which all apparent entities, distinctions, and dualities arise. The realization of sunyata leads one to no attachment and clinging.  It is a door to attain enlightenment. Sunyata is a core Buddhist idea which states that all phenomena are "empty". Theravadin Buddhists apply this idea to the individual, to assert the non-existence of a soul. Mahayanists expanded on the idea and declared that all things are empty of intrinsic existence and nature. Emptiness is the focus of the Madhyamika school.
Surangama Sutra:
(Sanskrit); It is the “Sutra of the Indestructible”.  It is a Mahayana Buddhist sutra that has been especially influential in Chan Buddhism.  It consists of the broad scope of its teachings and in the depth and clarity of its prescriptions for contemplative practice.
(Sanskrit); Means discourse, also means “threads”. A discourse attributed to the Buddha.  Sutras were originally oral traditions.  They contain the teachings of the Buddha and important religious practices.  These texts were a collection of memory of his disciples after the death of Sakammuni Buddha. Sutras comprise the first part of the Buddhist canon, or Tripitaka, and generally begin with "Thus have I heard". They are believed to have been recorded by the Buddha's disciple Ananda a hundred years after Shakyamuni Buddha's death.
T'ien T'ai (Tendai):
A major school that uses the Lotus Sutra as its main text. It’s name is derived from the fact that Zhiyi (538–597 CE), the fourth patriarch, lived on Tiantai Mountain. Zhiyi is also regarded as the first major figure to make a significant break from the Indian tradition, to form an indigenous Chinese system.  It's doctrine and practices had an influence on Chinese Chan (Zen) and  Pure Land Buddhism. It emphasized both scriptural study and meditative practice, and taught the rapid attainment of Buddhahood through observing the mind.
See Vajrayana.
(Sanskrit & Pali); One of the titles for the Buddha. It means “One who has thus (tatha) gone (gata)” or “ one who has thus (tatha) come (agata)”.  This is signifying that the Buddha is beyond all coming and going – beyond all transitory phenomena. There are various interpretations of Tathagatha such as
  1. From the moment a being realizes complete enlightenment until he passes into nirvana , leaving no trace behind, whatever he teaches is just so (tatha) and not otherwise.
  2. What he does is in the manner of (tatha) what he teaches. Likewise, what he teaches is what he does.
In the sutras, Tathagata is a title the Buddha himself uses when speaking of himself.
(Pali); literally, "the School of the Elders". One of the three major schools of Buddhism. It is widely practiced in Southeast Asia, and its teachings focus on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Theravada Buddhism emphasizes personal, rather than collective, liberation.
Transference of Merit:
Sharing one's merits and virtues with others.  One doing good on behalf of, or in the name of, another and then giving them the opportunity of rejoicing in that act of goodness.
(Sanskrit); literally, "The Three Baskets". It refers to the Buddhist canon, which has three parts: the Sutras, the Vinaya, or Monastic Code, and the Abhidharma – Buddhist philosophical treatise.
Triple Jewel:
The Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
Consort of King Bimbisara of Magadha, India. The Meditation Sutra records Sakyamuni Buddha’s preaching in response to the queen’s entreaties.
Vairocana Buddha:
Also known as Mahavairocana (Sanskrit); A celestial buddha.  Represents the Dharma Body of Sakyamuni Buddha, and all Buddhas.  In the conception of the Five Wisdom Buddhas of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, Variocana is at the center and is considered a Primordial Buddha.
(Sanskrit); literally, "the Diamond Vehicle". One of the three major schools of Buddhism. It developed from Mahayana teachings in northwest India around 500 C.E., and then spread to Tibet, China, and Japan. It involves esoteric visualizations, rituals, and mantras, which can only be learned from a master. Vajrayana Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism due to the use of tantras, or sacred texts.
Vimalakirti Sutra:
An important Mahayana sutra popular with Zen and Pure Land followers.  It contains a report of a teaching addressed to both Arhats and Bodhisattvas by the upasaka (lay practitioner, Vimalakirt), who expounds the doctrine of sunyata to them.
Vipassana (Vipashyana):
(Pali); Meditation upon one’s own thoughts and actions, or insight into the Three Marks of Existence.
See Merit and Virtue.
Way, The:
The path to Buddhahood.
Wisdom Life:
As an ordinary person's life is sustained by food, the life of a Buddha or Bodhisattva is sustained by wisdom.
Yogacara School:
Also the Mind Only School, founded in the 4th century.
Seated meditation in Zen Buddhism.  The aim is just sitting, suspending all judgmental thinking and letting words, ideas, images and thoughts pass by without getting involved in them.  The posture of zazen is seated, with folded legs and hands, and an erect but settled spine.  The hands are folded together into a simple mudra over the belly. The practitioner breathes from the belly and the eyelids are half-lowered the eyes being neither fully open nor shut.
Japanese; Ch'an (Chinese). A branch of Mahayana Buddhism which developed in China during the 6th and 7th centuries after the arrival of Bodhidharma. It later divided into the Soto and Rinzai schools. Zen stresses the importance of Enlightenment, and the futility of trying to attain it through rational thought, intellectual study, or religious ritual. The heart of Zen is zazen, which helps to free the mind of all thought. Zen buddhists also hold that everything has Buddha Nature.