Ajaan (Thai): Teacher; mentor.

Arahant: A person who has abandoned all ten of the fetters that bind the mind to the cycle of rebirth, whose heart is free of mental defilement, and is thus not destined for future rebirth. An epithet for the Buddha and the highest level of his Noble Disciples. Sanskrit form: arhat.

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.

Asura: A member of a race of beings who, like the Titans in Greek literature, battled the devas for sovereignty in heaven and lost.

Avijja: Ignorance of the four noble truths and the skills associated with their duties. Sanskrit form: avidja.

Brahman: A member of the priestly caste in India.

Brahma-vihara: Sublime attitude of unlimited goodwill, compassion, empathetic joy, or equanimity.

Buddho: A meditation word meaning “awake.”

Chedi: A spired monument to the Buddha.

Deva: Literally, “shining one.” An inhabitant of the terrestrial and heavenly realms higher than the human.

Dhamma: (1) Event; action. (2) A phenomenon in and of itself. (3) Mental quality. (4) Doctrine, teaching. (5) Nibbana (although there are passages in the Pali Canon describing nibbana as the abandoning of all dhammas). Sanskrit form: dharma.

Dhutanga: Ascetic practice. There are thirteen such practices listed in the Canon that monks—and lay people—can voluntarily take on to polish away their defilements around food, clothing, and shelter.

Dukkha: Stress; pain; suffering.

Jhana: Mental absorption. A state of strong concentration focused on a single sensation or mental notion. Sanskrit form: dhyana.

Kamma: Intentional act. Sanskrit form: karma.

Luang Pu (Thai): Venerable Grandfather. A term of respect for a very senior and elderly monk.

Metta: Goodwill; benevolence. See brahma-vihara.

Naga: (1) A serpent with magical powers. (2) (Thai) A candidate for the monkhood. The Vinaya tells of a naga (1) who wanted to become a monk, but whose request was denied by the Buddha. In a Thai version of the story, the naga asked, as a boon, that all subsequent human candidates for the monkhood be called “naga” for the duration of their candidacy.

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. Sanskrit form: nirvana.

Pali: The name of the earliest extant canon of the Buddha’s teachings and, by extension, of the language in which it was composed.

Sala: Meeting hall.

Samsara: The wandering-on through rebirth and redeath.

Samvega: A sense of dismay, terror, or urgency.

Sangha: On the conventional level, this term denotes the communities of Buddhist monks and nuns. On the ideal level, it denotes those followers of the Buddha, lay or ordained, who have attained at least their first taste of the deathless.

Somdet (Thai): A royal rank given by the king to monks at the top level of the Thai ecclesiastical hierarchy.

Sutta: Discourse. Sanskrit form: sutra.

Upasika: A female lay-follower of the Buddha.

Vijja: (1) Clear knowing; skill. (2) Mastery of the skills associated with the four noble truths.

Vinaya: The monastic discipline.

Wat (Thai): Monastery.