Arahant:  A “worthy one” or “pure one”; a person whose mind is free of defilement and is thus not subject to further rebirth. A title for the Buddha and his highest level of noble disciples.

Asava:  Effluent; fermentation. Four qualities—sensuality, views, becoming, and ignorance—that “flow out” of the mind and create the flood of the round of death and rebirth.

Bodhisatta:  A being (satta) intent on awakening (bodhi). The Buddha’s term for himself prior to his awakening.

Brahman:  A member of the priestly caste, which claimed to be the highest caste in India, based on birth. In a specifically Buddhist usage, “brahman” can also mean an arahant, conveying the point that excellence is based not on birth or race, but on the qualities attained in the mind.

Deva (devata):  Literally, “shining one.” An inhabitant of the heavenly realms.

Dhamma:  (1) Event; action; (2) a phenomenon in and of itself; (3) mental quality; (4) doctrine, teaching; (5) nibbana (although there are passages describing nibbana as the abandoning of all dhammas). Sanskrit form: Dharma.

Gotama:  The Buddha’s clan name.

Jhana:  Mental absorption. A state of strong concentration focused on a single sensation or mental notion. This term is related to the verb jhayati, which means to burn with a still, steady flame.

Nibbana:  Literally, the “unbinding” of the mind from passion, aversion, and delusion, and from the entire round of death and rebirth. As this term also denotes the extinguishing of a fire, it carries connotations of stilling, cooling, and peace. In the time of the Buddha, the fire property was believed to cling to its fuel while burning, and to be released when it let go. Used to describe the liberated mind, the implication is that the mind is not trapped by fabrications. Rather, it is trapped by its own clinging to fabrications and will find freedom when it learns to let go. Sanskrit form: Nirvana.

Tathagata:   Literally, “one who has become authentic (tatha-agata)” or “one who is truly gone (tatha-gata).” An epithet used in ancient India for a person who has attained the highest religious goal. In Buddhism, it usually denotes the Buddha, although occasionally it also denotes any of his arahant disciples.

Vinaya:  The monastic discipline. The Buddha’s name for his own teaching was “this Dhamma-&-Vinaya.”