Ajaan (Thai): Teacher; mentor.
Arahant: A “worthy one” or “pure one”; a person whose mind is free of defilement and thus not destined for further rebirth. A title for the Buddha and the highest level of his noble disciples.
Bhava: Becoming. A sense of identity within a particular world of experience. The three levels of becoming are on the level of sensuality, form, and formlessness.
Bodhisatta: “A being (striving) for awakening;” the term used to describe the Buddha before he actually became Buddha, from his first aspiration to Buddhahood until the time of his full awakening. Sanskrit form: Bodhisattva.
Brahmā: An inhabitant of the higher heavenly realms of form or formlessness.
Brahman: A member of the priestly caste, which claimed to be the highest caste in India, based on birth.
Brahmavihāra: A mental attitude that, when developed to a level where it can extend without limit to all beings, is conducive to rebirth in one of the Brahmā worlds. There are four altogether: unlimited goodwill (mettā), unlimited compassion (karuṇā), unlimited empathetic joy (muditā), and unlimited equanimity (upekkhā).
Chedi (Thai): A spired monument, usually containing relics of the Buddha or other arahants.
Deva (devatā): Literally, “shining one.” A being on the subtle levels of sensuality, form, or formlessness, living either in terrestrial or heavenly realms.
Dhamma: (1) Event, action; (2) a phenomenon in and of itself; (3) mental quality; (4) doctrine, teaching; (5) nibbāna (although there are passages describing nibbāna as the abandoning of all dhammas). Sanskrit form: Dharma.
Gotama: The Buddha’s clan name.
Jhāna: Mental absorption. A state of strong concentration focused on a single sensation or mental notion.
Kamma: (1) Intentional action; (2) the results of intentional actions. Sanskrit form: Karma.
Khandha: Aggregate; physical and mental phenomena as they are directly experienced; the raw material for a sense of self: rūpa—physical form; vedanā—feeling-tones of pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain; saññā—perception, mental label; saṅkhāra—fabrication, thought construct; and viññāṇa—sensory consciousness, the act of taking note of sense data and ideas as they occur. Sanskrit form: Skandha.
Mahāyāna: Literally, the “Great Vehicle.” A branch of Buddhism that recognizes one valid spiritual goal: full Buddhahood.
Māra: The personification of temptation and all forces, within and without, that create obstacles to release from saṁsāra.
Mettā: Goodwill (see Brahmavihāra).
Nibbāna: 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. Sanskrit form: Nirvāṇa.
Pāli: The language of the oldest extant Canon of the Buddha’s teachings.
Parinibbāna: Total unbinding. In some cases, this denotes the final passing of an arahant.
Pīti: Rapture; refreshment.
Saṁsāra: Transmigration; the process of wandering through repeated states of becoming, with their attendant death and rebirth.
Saṁvega: A sense of dismay over the meaninglessness and futility of life as it is ordinarily lived, combined with a strong sense of urgency in looking for a way out.
Saṅgha: 1) On the conventional (sammati) level, this term denotes the communities of Buddhist monks and nuns. 2) On the ideal (ariya) level, it denotes those followers of the Buddha, lay or ordained, who have attained at least stream-entry, the first stage of awakening.
Saṅkhāra: Fabrication (see Khandha).
Satipaṭṭhāna: Establishing of mindfulness.
Tathāgata: Literally, one who has “become authentic (tatha-āgata)” or who is “truly gone (tathā-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.
Theravāda: One of the early schools of Buddhism, which takes the Pāli Canon as authoritative.
Upekkhā: Equanimity (see Brahmavihāra).
Uposatha: Observance day, coinciding with the full moon, new moon, and half-moons. Lay Buddhists often observe the eight precepts on this day. Monks recite the Pāṭimokkha, the basic code of monastic rules, on the full moon and new moon uposathas.
Vinaya: The monastic discipline, whose rules and traditions comprise six volumes in printed text. The Buddha’s own term for the religion he taught was, “This Dhamma-Vinaya.”
Vipassanā: Clear-seeing insight into the processes of fabrication in the mind, with the purpose of developing dispassion for those processes.
Wat (Thai): Monastery.