A Dhammatalk by Ajahn Chah

Glossary of Pāli Words

ācariya - teacher (Thai: Ajahn).

Ājīvaka - sect of contemplatives contemporary with the Buddha who held the view that beings have no volitional control over their actions and that the universe runs only according to fate or destiny.

Ālāra - teacher who taught the bodhisatta the formless attainment of the base of nothingness as the highest attainment of the holy life.

anattā - selflessness, nonself, the voidness of any permanent essence, emptiness of any soul-entity.

ānāpānasati - Mindfulness of breathing

anicca - impermanent, inconstant, sometimes used by Ajahn Chah to mean 'not a sure thing'.

arahant - a fully awakened disciple of the Buddha, one who has attained the fourth and final stage of enlightenment on the Buddhist path. Literally, 'Worthy One'.

ariya - noble, a noble one; i.e. one who has attained transcendent insight on one of the four levels, the highest of which is the arahant.

asekha puggala - one beyond training; i.e., an arahant.

attā - self, soul.

avijjā - ignorance (of the Four Noble Truths), delusion, the main root of evil and continual rebirth.

bhavatanhā - craving for becoming.

bhikkhusangha - the community of Buddhist monks.

Buddhasāsana - the Buddha's dispensation; primarily refers to the teachings but also the whole infrastructure of the religion (roughly equivalent to 'Buddhism').

cankama - walking meditation

chanda - desire, aspiration, intention, will. This term can be used to refer to wholesome desire (e.g. in the four iddhipāda) as well as unwholesome desire (e.g. kāmachanda, the hindrance of sensual desire).

citta - heart, mind.

devadūta - 'divine messengers'; a symbolic name for old age, sickness, death and the samana (one who has gone forth into the homeless life seeking to realize true happiness and liberation from the fearful cycle of rebirth).

Dhamma - 1. the truth of the way things are, natural principles; 2. the teachings of the Buddha as the perfect description of natural principles; 3. phenomena, things, states, factors, qualities.

dhammasavana - hearing (or studying) the Dhamma.

dhammavicaya - investigation, contemplation of Dhamma.

dhutanga - see entry on tudong.

dukkha - suffering, unsatisfactoriness. This word has a broad meaning including: dukkha-dukkha - pain ; viparināma dukkha - the suffering due to change and instability ; and sankhāra dukkha - the unsatisfactory nature of all formations.

iddhipāda - bases for spiritual power, pathways to spiritual success. The four iddhipāda are: chanda - zeal ; viriya - effort ; citta - application of mind ; and vīmamsā - investigation.

jhāna - very deep states in meditation of sustained, blissful awareness taken to the levels of meditative absorption.

kalyānajana - good person, virtuous being.

kāmatanhā - sensual craving.

kammatthāna - meditation object

kasina - external object of meditation used to develop samādhi (e.g. a coloured disc, a dish of water or a candle flame).

khandhā - five aggregates or groups which the Buddha used to sum up all the physical and mental phenomena of existence, consisting of form, feeling (not emotion), perception or memory, mental formations (includes thoughts and emotions) and consciousness.

lokavidū - Knower of the World, an epithet of the Buddha.

Māra - Evil and temptation personified; the name of a powerful malevolent deity.

nāga - dragon, also used as an epithet for an arahant.

nāmadhammā - mental phenomena.

ñāyapatipanno - practice possessed of insight into the true way.

nimitta - a mental sign or image arising in meditation.

Nibbāna - the extinguishing of all greed, hatred and delusion; the end of suffering; liberation from samsāra; the Unconditioned; the Supreme Happiness and Peace, the goal of the Buddhist path.

nīvarana - hindrances to samādhi. There are five hindrances: sensual desire, ill-will, drowsiness and dullness, restlessness and remorse, and uncertainty or doubt.

ogha - flood; another name for the four āsava (tainted outflows from the mind): the flood of sensuality, the flood of views, the flood of becoming and the flood of ignorance.

opanayiko - worthy of inducing in and by one's own mind; worth of realizing; to be tried by practice; leading onward.

paccattam - to be individually experienced (i.e. veditabbo viññūhi - by the wise for themselves).

paññā - wisdom, knowledge of things as they are.

paramatthadhamma - Dhamma described in terms of ultimate meaning (not mere convention).

pāramī - accumulated wholesome spiritual qualities or perfections, especially referring to virtues cultivated and developed in past lives. The ten paramı are generosity, moral conduct, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, truthfulness, determination, lovingkindness, and equanimity.

pīti - rapture, spiritual joy and bliss.

puthujjana - a common worldling, an ordinary person who has not yet entered the path to stream entry (as opposed to an ariya).

sabhāva - principle or condition of nature, things as they truly are. Sabhāvadhamma in the forest tradition refers to natural phenomena and insights that arise in the development of Dhamma practice.

saccadhamma - truth.

samāpatti - attainment (of the four jhāna, the four immaterial attainments, or the path-fruition stages of Awakening).

samādhi - established mindfulness in meditative concentration, when the mind experiences a calm, peaceful, unified, and blissful sustained awareness (technically samādhi is synonymous with the four jhāna, but is often used in a more general way).

sāmaññalakkhana - that all things are the same in terms of the three characteristics (anicca, dukkha, anattā).

samatha - calming, stilling; samatha and vipassanā are two complimentary and inseparable aspects of the mind released from the five hindrances.

sāmīcipatipanno - those who practice are possessed of complete rightness or integrity.

sampajañña - Self-awareness, self-recollection, clear comprehension, alertness

samsāra - the repeated round of rebirth, growth, aging and death that chains beings to existence (literally: the activity of 'wandering on').

samudaya - origin, origination, arising.

sankhāra - formations or volitional formations (referring to both the volitional activity of 'forming' things and the things formed).

sāsana - teaching.

sati - Mindfulness, recollection

sāvaka - disciple or 'hearer' of the Dhamma. Here the term refers to the ariya-sāvakā, the eight types of noble disciples: one on the path to stream entry and the stream enterer (sotāpanna), one on the path of once-returner and the once returner (sakadāgāmı), one on the path of non-returner and the non-returner (anāgāmı) and the one on the path to arahantship and the arahant.

sekha - one in training, refers to the seven ariya-sāvakā or ariyapuggalā who have entered the fixed path of rightness but have not yet attained the final fruit of arahantship. All non-noble ones are classified as n'eva sekhā n'āsekha, neither-in-training-nor-trained.

sīla - virtuous conduct of body, speech and mind, moral precepts training, development in wholesome habits.

supatipanno - those who practice well.

sukha - happiness, pleasure, ease.

tanhā - Craving; desires conditioned by ignorance of the way things are.

Tathāgata - 'The one who has gone thus'. The Buddha frequently used this word to refer to himself.

tudong (Thai; Pāli dhutanga) - austere practices recommended by the Buddha for monastics to use to 'shake off' defilements, purify the mind and help develop contentment, renunciation, and energy. In general usage, the Thai word tudong refers to the practice of a monk wandering.

Uddaka - the second teacher of the bodhisatta, who taught the formless attainment of the base of neither-perception-nor-nonperception as the highest attainment of the Holy Life.

ujupatipanno - those whose practice is straight or direct.

vibhavatanhā - craving for non-existence.

vicāra - examination, sustained activity of attention.

vijjā - true knowledge of the Four Noble Truths.

vīmamsā - investigation, inquiring.

vinaya - the monastic code of discipline.

vipassanā - insight, direct seeing of anicca, dukkha and anattā.

viriya - effort, energy, mental fortitude and diligence.

vitakka - thought, initial activity of attention (the compound vitakka-vicāra has a broad range of meaning from 'thought and examination' to 'initial and sustained application of mind' (on a meditation object).

Contents: © Wat Nong Pah Pong, 2007 | Last update: March 2008