Ajaan (Thai): Teacher; mentor. Pāli form: Ācariya.
Arahant: A “worthy one” or “pure one;” a person whose mind is free of defilement and thus is not destined for further rebirth. A title for the Buddha and the highest level of his noble disciples. Sanskrit form: Arhat.
Deva: 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) nibbāna (although there are passages describing nibbāna as the abandoning of all dhammas). Sanskrit form: Dharma.
Jhāna: Mental absorption. A state of strong concentration focused on a single sensation or mental notion. This term is derived from the verb jhāyati, which means to burn with a steady, still flame. Sanskrit form: Dhyāna.
Kamma: Intentional act. Sanskrit form: Karma.
Khandha: Aggregate; heap; pile. Sanskrit form: Skandha.
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. “Total nibbāna” in some contexts denotes the experience of Awakening; in others, the final passing away of an arahant. Sanskrit form: Nirvāṇa.
Samaṇa: Contemplative. Literally, a person who abandons the conventional obligations of social life in order to find a way of life more “in tune” (sama) with the ways of nature.
Saṁsāra: Transmigration; the process of wandering through repeated states of becoming, with their attendant death and rebirth.
Saṅgha: On the conventional (sammati) level, this term denotes the communities of Buddhist monks and nuns. On the ideal (ariya) level, it denotes those followers of the Buddha, lay or ordained, who have attained at least stream-entry.
Sutta: Discourse. Sanskrit form: Sūtra.
Tathāgata: Literally, “one who is truly gone (tatha-gata)” or “one who has become authentic (tatha-āgata),” 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, whose rules and traditions comprise six volumes in printed text.