Anatta – No-self, egoless. Along with anicca and dukkha, one of the three characteristics of all conditioned existence.
Anicca – Impermanence. (See above)
Arahant – One who is fully liberated, having eradicated all mental defilements.
Bodhichitta – Lit. “awakening mind.” The spirit of, or will to, enlightenment.
Bodhisattva – One who seeks Buddhahood through the practice of compassion and wisdom, but renounces complete entry into nirvana until all beings are saved.
Dharma – Has many meanings ranging from law, through teaching and truth, to ultimate reality and nirvana. Usually refers to the teaching that holds beings apart from suffering.
Dukkha – Suffering, unsatisfactoriness. (See anatta)
Jataka stories – Former life stories of the Buddha, presented as folk tales about animals, gods and other beings.
Kagyu tradition – “Oral transmission lineage.” A Tibetan Buddhist order whose teachings were brought from India by Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa.
Karma – Lit. “deed.” Universal law of cause and effect.
Koan – A formulation, in baffling language, pointing to the nature of ultimate reality. Koans cannot be solved by reason; they require a leap to another level of comprehension.
Mandala – A symbolic representation of cosmic forces, significant in the Tantric Buddhism of Tibet. A drawing constructed of squares and circles, used primarily as support in meditation practice.
Mantra – A sacred letter-form and sound that contains the genetic essence of an entity and makes it accessible to the mind.
Metta – Lovingkindness.
Nirvana – Departure from the cycle of rebirths. Oneness with the absolute, and freedom from attachment to illusion, affects and desires.
Nyingma tradition – “School of the Ancients.” The oldest order of Tibetan Buddhism, dating from the late 8th century.
Rinzai sect – One of the two schools of Zen still active in Japan. Stresses Koan practice as a path to enlightenment.
Samadhi – One-pointedness of mind through the calming of mental activity. A non-dualistic state of consciousness in which “subject” becomes one with “object.”
Samsara – The life cycle that includes death and rebirth; worldly existence.
Sesshin – Lit. “collecting the heart-mind.” The Zen intensive retreat.
Soto sect – One of two active schools of Zen in Japan. Stresses meditation practice as a path to enlightenment.
Sutra – Discourses of the Buddha and other sacred texts of Buddhism.
Tantra – Lit. “continuum.” Can be thought of as the high technology for building an enlightened world, mobilizing great bliss in the form of creative imagination.
Vinaya – A school of Buddhism stressing strict observance of the rules outlined in the early Buddhist texts about the communal life of monks and nuns.
Zazen – In Zen, the sitting meditation.