Meditation glossary

Amitabha (Sanskrit) = The red Buddha of the West. His name means “Infinite Light.” He is particularly important in Far Eastern Buddhism.

Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit) = The Bodhisattva of compassion.

Bhavana (Pali/Sanskrit) = Development, cultivation.

Bodhi (Pali/Sanskrit) = Spiritual awakening, Enlightenment.

Bodhicitta (Sanskrit) = “Mind set on Awakening.” The arising of the desire to seek Enlightenment for the sake of all beings.

Bodhisattva (Sanskrit. Pali, Bodhisatta) = One who aims to attain Awakening for the sake of all beings.

Brahmaviharas (Pali/Sanskrit) = “The Divine Abodes.” The four practices of Metta Bhavana (development of lovingkindness), Karuna Bhavana (development of compassion), Mudita Bhavana (development of joyful appreciation), and Upekkha Bhavana (development of Equanimity).

Buddha (Pali/Sanskrit) = One who has attained full spiritual Awakening. More precisely, one who has attained this goal without the aid of a teacher. This is a title, not a name. The historical Buddha was known as Shakyamuni (another title) or Siddhartha Gautama (his personal name).

Dharma (Sanskrit. Pali, Dhamma) = The Truth. The way things are. Reality. The Buddhist teachings and practices that help us to see Reality.

Dhyana (Sanskrit. Pali, Jhana) = A state of meditative “flow” where meditation practice becomes effortless, pleasurable, and joyful, and where the mind is calm. There are four levels of dhyana, each of which brings a deeper level of absorption.

Elements (see Six Elements)

Four Brahmaviharas (see Brahmaviharas)

Jhana (see Dhyana)

Karma (Sanskrit. Pali, kamma) = Volitional action that shapes character. Not to be confused with vipaka, which is the result of actions.

Karuna (Pali/Sanskrit = Compassion. One of the Brahmaviharas.

Manjushri (Sanskrit) = Bodhisattva of wisdom.

Mantra (Sanskrit. Pali, Manta) = Phrases that are repeated as objects of meditation. Generally these are connected with specific Buddhas or Bodhisattvas.

Meditation = The cultivation of awareness (mindfulness) and the application of methods to change ourselves in order that we become more fulfilled and more able to see reality.

Metta (Pali. Sanskrit, Maitri) = Lovingkindness, love, universal friendliness. One of the four Brahmaviharas.

Mindfulness = The quality of non-attached, non-judgmental observation of experience.

Mudita (Pali/Sanskrit) = Empathetic Joy, or Sympathetic Joy. Happiness that arises as we become aware of the happiness and positive qualities of ourself and others.

Sampajañña (Pali. Sanskrit, samprajanya) = Mindfulness of purpose. Continuity of awareness over time.

Sati (Pali. Sanskrit, smriti) = Mindfulness of one’s present-moment experience.

Shakyamuni (Sanskrit. Pali, Sakyamuni) = A title of the Buddha, meaning “The Sage of the Shakyan clan.”

Six Elements = Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space, & Consciousness, used as an analytical framework in meditation in order to deconstruct the false sense of a separate and permanent self.

Tara (Sanskrit) = A bodhisattva in the form of a 16 year old goddess. The two most common forms are Green Tara and White Tara.

Upekkha (Pali. Sanskrit, upeksha) = Equanimity, in the sense of 1. Not being unduly swayed by emotions, and 2. Seeing the suffering and joys of living beings with an awareness that suffering and joy arise as natural processes.

Vajrapani (Sanskrit. Pali, Vajirapani) = “The Wielder of the Thunderbolt.” A Bodhisattva associated with the energy that destroys delusion.