Friday, August 19, 2005

Excerpts from a glossary I've been writing

I've been writing a glossary, slowly and piecemeal. It is for a site I am thinking of creating since it was announced a Buddhism forum I've been visiting is offering 20MB of space for members to make Buddhism-related websites. Here is a small sample--

Sunyata (Emptiness) ... There is no direct equivalent to the concept in English. In older publications the term was translated as "Void". The current preference in translation is "Emptiness". It refers to the lack of an instrinsic reality. In Buddhism to say something is empty is not to deny its existence or any meaning to its existence (nihilism) but rather to deny it has an eternal, unchanging, independent existence. Emptiness itself can also be represented as the "dimension" in which existence occurs, that which provides "room" for the perpetual flow of time and space. It is often compared to the term/concept Tao.

Anitya (Impermanence) ...The nature of form, based on the idea of Sunyata. Form is constantly arising and falling away, forever changing. The only constant is change.

Anatman (No-Self) ...The idea that there is no enduring or constant form which can be identified as the "self", either physically or in terms of an "immortal soul".

Dukkha (Suffering) ...The anxiety and anguish caused by failing to fully appreciate or accept impermanence, especially the lack of an unchanging form that we can identify as the self (as demonstrated by observing birth, disease, old age, and death).

Karma ...The effects of actions based on ignorance, specifically ignorance concerning the lack of an intrinsic or unchanging self. Ignorance leads to the delusion of an independent, static identity which then reinforces ignorance in a cyclic fashion.

Merit ...The virtue produced by enlightened action, it is the opposite of karma, or actions based on ignorance and their effects. Merit can effectively purify or neutralize the suffering caused by ignorance. While some talk about transferring merit, the shared benefit of activities producing merit is both automatic and instantaneous.

Buddha ...One who lives an enlightened existence. It is an Indian term that predates Siddhartha Guatama, the prince-turned-sage who is often known as "the Buddha", or Buddha Shakyamuni (sage of the Shakyas, the ethnic group into which Siddhartha was born). Some Buddhist sutras speak of an unfantomable number of Buddhas, and according to the teaching that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature, everyone is either a realized or unrealized Buddha.

Bodhi ...Awakening to Buddha-nature (i.e. enlightenment).

Buddha-nature ...You must see for yourself. It is often conceptualized as "our true face" or as that common quality which unites all forms beyond form, or represented through the symbolism of different mythical Buddhas and Bodhisattvas demonstrating our capacity to live enlightened lives as Buddhas through discovering Bodhi. Yet perceiving your own Buddha-nature goes beyond these expedient means.

Upaya (Expedient Means) ...Frequently translated as "Expedient Means" or "Skillful Methods", it refers to teachings or practices which may be useful, especially for beginners, but may not be completely correct or accurate. Much of Buddhism itself is often referred to in this way, comparing itself to a raft to get to the other shore, a means to an end but not the end in and of itself.

There are 46 terms in all so far, plus 21 names in a directory of figures from Buddhist mythology and history. They are each marked so I can link directly to an entry in either the glossary or directory from other pages on the site. So if I post an essay that uses the word "Buddha", it will be highlighted blue and clicking on it takes you to the definition as I use it for clarity's sake. Just sharing a little of what I've written so far.


References Added To This Blog Instead

I decided to install the glossary and directory here at Peaceful Turmoil instead. May you find them helpful in appreciating what I write here.


  1. i love this blog! what a nicely done, thoughtful, clear space in the internet!

  2. Hello grace. Thank you for your compliment and visit. I take it from your own blog (I just read it) you are a teacher? Very brave and commendable. :-)


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