Rissho Ankoku Ron
Abbreviations: Chin = Chinese; Jpn = Japanese; Skt = Sanskrit
abandoned, closed, set aside, and cast away: Nichiren’s epitome of Honen’s statements regarding all other sutras, buddhas, and Buddhist practices aside from the Triple Pure Land Sutras and the chanting of nembutsu.
act of right assurance: Shan-tao called the nembutsu the “act of right assurance” in contrast to what he called the “auxiliary acts” of Pure Land practice because he viewed it as the one practice that assured rebirth in Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land of the West.
Agamas: See Agama Sutras.
Agama Sutras: The sutras of the Sarvastivadin canon originally written in Sanskrit but now preserved in Chinese translation.
Amaterasu Omikami: The Japanese Sun Goddess who is also believed to be the ancestor of the imperial Yamato clan. Also called Tensho Daijin.
Amitabha Buddha: The Buddha of Infinite Light who resides in the Western Pure Land. An idealized celestial buddha representing the bliss of enlightenment.
Amitayus Buddha: The Buddha of Infinite Life. Another name for Amitabha Buddha.
Ananda: One of the ten major disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha. He was a cousin of the Buddha, his personal attendant, and the monk responsible for memorizing all of the Buddha’s discourses or sutras. It is Ananda who says, “Thus have I heard...” at the beginning of every sutra.
arhat: (Skt) “noble one.” A disciple (shravaka) who has achieved the goal of Theravada (or Hinayana) Buddhism. An arhat is one who has extinguished the three poisons and broken free of the wheel of becoming, thereby attaining nirvana.
Aryadeva: (n.d.) The successor of Nagarjuna who lived during the third century in southern India.
auxiliary acts: According to Shan-tao the acts of chanting the Triple Pure Land Sutras, contemplating Amitabha Buddha and his Pure Land, worshipping Amitabha Buddha, and praising and making offerings to Amitabha Buddha are all “auxiliary acts” that support the “act of right assurance” which is the nembutsu.
auxiliary right practices: Another way of referring to the auxiliary acts.
Avatamsaka Sutra: See Flower Garland Sutra
Avichi Hell: The hell of uninterruped suffering which is the lowest of the hells.
band of robbers: In Shan-tao’s parable of the white path they represent people of false views. Honen identified them with the teachers of other schools of Buddhism besides the Pure Land school.
bodhi: (Skt) “enlightenment” or “awakening.”
bodhichitta: (Skt) “enlightened mind.” The aspiration to attain enlightenment for oneself and others.
bodhisattva: (Skt) “enlightening being.” A being dedicated to attaining buddhahood or enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.
Bodhisattva Never Despise: A past life of Shakyamuni Buddha in which he greeted all those he met by telling them that they would become buddhas.
bodhisattvas from underground: The bodhisattvas and their four leaders who appear from beneath the earth in the 15th chapter of the Lotus Sutra who are the original disciples of the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha.
Brahma: (Skt) The supreme god of the Brahmanistic pantheon. In Buddhism, he is considered a protector of the Dharma.
brahman: (Skt) The highest caste in Brahmanism. Also, a priest of Brahman.
Brahmanism: The main-stream religion of India at the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. Later developed into what is today known as Hinduism.
buddha: (Skt) “awakened one.” Someone who has awakened to the true reality of all existence and is therefore able to free all beings from suffering.
Buddha Dharma: The true nature of reality. Also, the teachings of the Buddha.
buddha-nature: The potential that all beings have to become buddhas. In Skt, this is called “buddhata” or “tathagata-garbha.”
Busshin: The Buddha Mind, another name for the Zen school.
Ch’eng T’ang: The feudal prince who rose up against the corrupt and evil Emperor Chieh and became the founder of the Shang or Yin dynasty (c. 1751-1112 BCE) in China.
Chia-ts’ai: (c. 620-680) A Chinese monk who is regarded as a master of Pure Land Buddhism.
Chieh, Emperor: The corrupt and evil last emperor of the Hsia dynasty (c. 2205-1751 BCE) in China who was overthrown by Ch’eng T’ang.
Chih-i: (538-597) The founder of the T’ien-t’ai school. Also known as T’ien-t’ai.
Chisho: See Enchin.
Chou Hsin, Emperor: The corrupt and evil last emperor of the Shang or Yin dynasty (c. 1751-1112 BCE) in China who was overthrown by Wu Wang.
Collection of Passages on the Land of Peace and Bliss: A treatise on Pure Land Buddhism by Tao-ch’o.
Commentary on the Sutra of Meditation on the Buddha of Infinite Life: A commentary written by Shan-tao.
Commentary on the Ten Stage Sutra: Commentary attributed to Nagarjuna on a sutra that is actually a chapter in the Flower Garland Sutra.
Commentary on the Treatise on Rebirth in the Pure Land: A commentary by T’an-luan on the Treatise on Rebirth in the Pure Land attributed to Vasubandhu.
Confucius: (551-479 BCE) The ethical teacher and political theorist who founded the system known as Confucianism in China.
contemplative practices: According to Shan-tao the first 13 visualizations of Amitabha Buddha and his attendants and the Pure Land of the West found in the Sutra of Meditation on the Buddha of Infinite Life are known as “contemplative” practices because they involve focused contemplation.
correct practices: See right practices.
Counterfeit Age of the Dharma: See Middle Age of the Dharma.
Dan Senchaku: (Denouncing the Collection of Passages on the Nembutsu) A critique of the Senchaku Shu by the Tendai monk Josho.
Dengyo: See Saicho.
devas: (Skt) The Vedic gods who reside in the heavens.
dharani: (Skt) A term that means “retention” and refers to Sanskrit incantations that are said to enable practitioners to retain their memory of the Dharma and receive the blessings conferred by the Dharma and the buddhas, bodhisattvas, and deities who uphold the Dharma and protect its practitioners.
Dharma: (Skt) A term meaning Truth, Law, Reality, or the teachings of the Buddha.
dharma: (Skt) The lower case form of Dharma which is used when the word refers to “phenomena,” “realities,” “entities,” or “events.
Dharma-realm: Reality as experienced by a buddha. In Skt, this is called the “dharmadhatu.”
dhyana: (Skt) (Chin ch’an; Jpn zen) A term meaning “concentration” or “absorption” and refers to deepening levels of mental concentration.
Discourse on the Pure Land: The auto-commentary on the Hymns of Aspiration for Birth in the Pure Land attributed to Vasubandhu.
distractive practices: According to Shan-tao the practices associated with the high, middle, and lower grades of spiritual aspirants found in the Sutra of Meditation on the Buddha of Infinite Life are known as “distractive practices” because they can be done even when distracted.
Duke of Chou: The brother of King Wu who ruled as regent until King Wu’s son came of age.
Eagle Peak: One possible translation of Mt. Grdhrakuta, where the Buddha taught the Lotus Sutra.
Eighteenth Vow: See Original Vow.
eightfold path: The Middle Way consisting of right views, right thoughts, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditation.
eight teachings: Chih-i’s categorization of the teachings of the Buddha into four teachings by content and four by method. Altogether the eight teachings are: Tripitika, Common, Specific, Perfect, Sudden Gradual, Secret, and Indeterminate.
emptiness: The lack of a static, independent selfhood in any entity or phenomena. In Skt, this is called “shunyata.”
Enchin: (814-891) also known as Chisho Daishi. Fifth abbot of Enryakuji, the main temple of the Tendai school.
Ennin: (794-866) also known as Jikaku Daishi. Third abbot of Enryakuji, the main temple of the Tendai school.
Enryakuji: Main temple of the Tendai school on Mt. Hiei.
esoteric: A type of Buddhism that uses mudras, mantras, and mandalas in order to attain buddhahood in this lifetime.
Eternal Buddha: See Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha
Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha: The unity of the historical, ideal, and universal aspects of the buddha in the person of Shakyamuni Buddha as revealed in the 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. Also called the Original Buddha since all other buddhas are emanations of the Eternal Buddha.
exclusive nembutsu: Honen’s teaching that the only practice that should be done is the nembutsu.
exclusive practice: the exclusive practice of nembutsu.
exoteric: Those forms of Buddhism that are not esoteric.
Expansive Sutras: (Skt. Vaipulya; Jpn Hodo) The Mahayana sutras that encompass the Consciousness Only, Pure Land, and esoteric sutras according the T’ien-t’ai categorization. T’ien-t’ai also teaches that they were taught during the 13 to 20th years of the Buddha’s teaching career.
Fa-tsang: (643-712) The founder of the Flower Garland (Chin Hua-yen) school in China.
Fa-yun: (467-529) one of many early Chinese monks who held that the Nirvana Sutra was superior to the Lotus Sutra.
final nirvana: (Skt parinirvana) the passing away of a buddha or arhat. It means that not only are the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance extinguished, but so the body and all it’s weaknesses and infirmities.
five aggregates: The components of a sentient being – form, sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness. In Skt, these are called the “skandhas.”
five classics: The five classics of Confucian learning. They are: the Book of Changes, the Book of Poetry, the Book of History, the Book of Rites, and the Spring and Autumn Annals.
five constant virtues: Five virtues that Tung Chung-shu taught were the most important in Confucianism. They are: benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and faithfulness.
Five Emperors: In Confucianism the legendary emperors who ruled China after the Yellow Emperor: Shan-hao, Chuan-hsu, Ti-hung, Yao (r. 2356-2347 BCE), and Shun (r. 2244-2205 BCE).
five flavors: Chih-i’s division of the Buddha’s teachings into five different kinds depending on the mixture of the ingredients which are the four teachings by content: the Flower Garland that combines the Perfect teaching with the Specific teaching, the Deer Park that excludes all but the Tripitika teaching, the Expansive that uses all four teachings as they correspond to the needs of the audience, the Perfection of Wisdom that includes the Common and Specific with the Perfect teaching, and the Lotus/Nirvana that has only the Perfect teaching. See the five periods.
five grave offenses: Five acts that Buddhism teaches are so heinous that one who commits them is said to be reborn in hell immediately upon dying. They are: (1) killing one’s father, (2) or mother, (3) or an arhat, (4) injuring the Buddha (it is believed that a buddha cannot be killed due to accident or foul play but only injured), (5) creating a schism in the Sangha.
five guides for propagation: Nichiren’s taught that five things must be taken into account by a teacher of the Dharma: the teaching, the time, the capacity, the country, and the sequence of the teachings.
five major precepts: The five precepts for lay people: not to kill, not to steal, not to engage in sexual misconduct, not to lie, and not to indulge in intoxicants.
five major writings: The five most important works of Nichiren Shonin. The five major writings are: Rissho Ankoku Ron (Treatise on Spreading Peace Throughout the Country by Establishing the True Dharma), Kaimoku Sho (Opening the Eyes), Kanjin no Honzon Sho (Spiritual Contemplation and the Focus of Devotion), Senji Sho (Selection of the Time), and Ho’on Jo (Essay on Gratitude).
five periods: Miao-lo taught that Chih-i’s five flavors corresponded to different periods of the Buddha’s teaching career: the Flower Garland was taught in the first three weeks after the Buddha’s enlightenment, then the Deer Park teachings were given for 12 years, then the Expansive teachings for 8 years, then the Perfection of Wisdom teachings for 22 years, and then the Lotus and Nirvana teachings were taught in the last 8 years.
five precepts: See five major precepts.
five virtues: See five constant virtues.
Flower Garland school: (Chin Hua-yen; Jpn Kegon) Mahayana school of Buddhism founded in China by Fa-tsang based on the teachings of the Flower Garland Sutra.
Flower Garland Sutra: (Skt Buddha-avatamsaka-nama-mahavaipulya Sutra or just Avatamska Sutra; Chin Hua-yen Ching; Jpn Kegon Kyo) A Mahayana Buddhist sutra that is the main sutra of the Flower Garland school. According to the T’ien-t’ai school it was the sutra the Buddha taught for the sake of advanced bodhisattvas in the weeks immediately following his enlightenment.
Former Age of the Dharma: The first and second five hundred year periods after the death of the Buddha. During this period the true spirit of the Dharma flourishes and people are able to practice and attain enlightenment.
four elements: The four physical components of life which are earth, air, fire, and water that represent the qualities of density, movement, temperature, and cohesiveness.
four heavenly kings: the four heavenly generals who guard the four directions of the slopes of Mt. Sumeru.
four noble truths: The truth of suffering, the truth of the origin of suffering, the truth of the cessation of suffering, and the truth of the means of ending suffering, which is the eightfold path.
four seals of the Dharma: The three marks of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness which characterize all phenomena; and the perfect peace of nirvana. Any teaching which conforms to the four seals of the Dharma can be considered authentic Buddha Dharma.
four standards: four standards for judging the relative merits and profundity of Buddhist teachings set forth in the Nirvana Sutra: “Rely on the Dharma and not upon persons; rely on the meaning and not upon the words; rely on wisdom and not upon discriminative thinking; rely on sutras that are final and definitive and not upon those which are not final and definitive.”
four teachings by content: Chih-i’s division of the Buddha’s teaching into four different types by content: the Tripitika, Common, Specific, Perfect.
four teachings by method: Chih-i’s division of the Buddha’s teaching into four different types of presentation: the Sudden Gradual, Secret, and Indeterminate.
Four Treatise school: Mahayana school in China based on the Madhyamika treatises of Nagarjuna and Aryadeva.
Fu Hsi: (c. 2852 BCE) The first of the legendary Three Sovereigns of China Fu who allegedly invented cooking, hunting, and the domestication of animals while his wife “discovered” marriage and family.
Gateway of the Holy Path: According to Tao-ch’o this is the path of self-cultivation leading to enlightenment.
Gateway of the Pure Land: According to Tao-ch’o this is the path of relying on the Original Vow of Amitabha Buddha.
Genshin: (942-1017) A Tendai monk who wrote the Ojo-yoshu.
Gishin: (781-833) Successor of Saicho and the first abbot of Enryakuji, the main temple of the Tendai school.
Gohonzon: (Jpn) “Essential Focus of Devotion.” In Nichiren Buddhism, the Gohonzon is the transmission of the Wonderful Dharma by the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha to all sentient beings, especially the bodhisattvas from underground, during the Ceremony in the Air. This is often, but not always, depicted in the form of a calligraphic mandala.
Great Arrogant Brahman: An arrogant brahman in India who believed he was wiser than the gods or even the Buddha and used statues of the gods and the Buddha as pillars to support his teaching platform.
Great Concentration and Insight: The magnum opus of Chih-i.
Gyogi: (668-749) An early teacher of the nembutsu among the common people in Japan.
Hachiman Daibosatsu: Shinto kami who was grante the title “Great Bodhisattva” and later became the tutelary deity of the Kamakuran shogunate.
Hinayana: (Skt) “Small Vehicle.” A Mahayana term for those who only wish to attain liberation for themselves and do not try to benefit others by striving for buddhahood.
Holy Path: See Gateway of the Holy Path.
Honen: (1133-1212) The founder of the Pure Land school in Japan and author of the Senchaku Shu.
Ho’on Jo: (Jpn) Essay on Gratitude is one of Nichiren’s five major writings, written in 1276.
Hosso: The Japanese name of the Consciousness Only school that had been founded by Hsuan-tsung.
Hsuan-tsang: (596-664) Chinese monk who brought back many sutras and commentaries from India, translated them, and founded the Consciousness Only school.
Huai-kan: (7th-8th centuries) Disciple of Shan-tao.
Hunag-ti: (c. 2607 BCE), The third of the legendary Three Sovereigns of China, also known as the Yellow Emperor, who invented pottery, houses, carts, and boats while his wife discovered how to gather and weave silk. A member of the court of the Yellow Emperor is even credited with the creation of the Chinese ideograms. The Yellow Emperor also organized the first army and used it to conquer the fertile land around the Yellow River.
Hui-yuan: (334-416) Regarded as the founder of the Pure Land tradition in China.
Hymns in Praise of Rebirth: Treatise on Pure Land Buddhism written by Shan-tao.
Hymns of Aspiration for Birth [in the Pure Land]: A commentary on the Sutra of the Buddha of Infinite Life attributed to Vasubandhu.
icchantika: (Skt) “incorrigible disbeliever.” Someone who has no potential for enlightenment. the Lotus Sutra, however, teaches that even an icchantika can attain enlightenment.
Ichidai Shogyo Tai-i: (Outline of All the Holy Teachings of the Buddha) Written by Nichiren in 1258.
Ichidai Goji Keizu: (Genealogical Chart of the Buddha’s Lifetime Teachings in Five Periods) Written by Nichiren in 1275.
Ippen: (1239-1289) The founder of the Ji or Timely school of Pure Land Buddhism in Japan. A grand-disciple of Honen.
Jikaku Daishi: See Ennin.
Jiron: (Jpn) (Chin Ti-lun) The Treatise on the Ten Stages school, based on the treatise of that name by Vasubandhu.
Jodo: (Jpn) The name of Honen’s Pure Land school in Japan.
Jodo Ketsugi Sho: (Jpn) Discerning the Meaning of the Pure Land written by Koin.
Jokakubo Kosai: (1163-1247) A disciple of Honen who taught that nembutsu need only be recited once in order to be reborn in the Pure Land.
Josho: (c. 13th century) Tendai monk who wrote the Dan Senchaku.
Kaimoku Sho: (Jpn) Opening of the Eyes is one of Nichiren’s five major writings, written in 1272.
Kakuban: (1095-1143) A Shingon monk who provided an esoteric explanation for the nembutsu and set the stage for the later development of the Shingi (New Doctrine) school of Shingon in the late 13th century.
kalpa: (Skt) An aeon.
kami: The Japanese gods.
karma: (Skt) “action.” Karma means an action and its consequences. It is also called the “law of cause and effect.”
Kegon: The name of the Flower Garland school in Japan. See Flower Garland school.
Ken Hobo-sho: (Jpn) A Clarification of Slandering the True Dharma written by Nichiren.
Ken Senchaku: (Jpn) Revealing the Collection of Passages on the Nembutsu written by Ryukan as a response to Josho’s Dan Senchaku.
King Possessor of Virtue: A king in the Nirvana Sutra who dies while defending a Buddhist monk named Realizaton of Virtue from hostile brahmins. This king was supposed to have been a past life of Shakyamuni Buddha.
King Sen’yo: A king in the Nirvana Sutra who puts several brahmins to death after they slander Buddhism. This king was supposed to have been a past life of Shakyamuni Buddha.
King Wen: The father of Wu Wang.
Kobo Daishi: See Kukai.
Koin: (1145-1216) Tendai monk who wrote the Jodo Ketsugi Sho.
Kukai: (774-835) The founder of the Shingon school of esoteric Buddhism in Japan.
Kuya: (903-972) One of the early teachers of nembutsu among the common people in Japan.
Kyo Ki Ji Koku Sho: (Jpn) Treatise on the Teaching, Capacity, Time and Country) written by Nichiren in 1262.
Lao-tzu: (6th century BCE?) The legendary founder of Taoism in China.
Latter Age of the Dharma: (Jpn mappo) The fifth five hundred year period after the death of the Buddha. During this period the true spirit of the Dharma is completely lost and all that is left is sectarianism and bickering.
Lotus Sutra: (Skt Saddharma-pundarika Sutra; Chin Miao-fa Lien-hua Ching; Jpn Myoho Renge Kyo) A Mahayana Buddhist sutra that is the main sutra of the T’ien-t’ai school. According to T’ien-t’ai Buddhism it was taught in the last 8 years of the Buddha’s life.
Madhyamika: (Skt) “Middle Way school.” The school founded by Nagarjuna which emphasizes the dialectics of emptiness.
Mahayana: (Skt) “Great Vehicle.” The school of Buddhism which emphasizes the bodhisattva path wherein one strives to become a buddha for the liberation of all sentient beings.
mandala: (Skt) Diagrams or paintings used to focus the mind and express the ultimate truth.
Mandate of Heaven: The Confucian concept of a divine commission is given to a nobleman worthy enough to serve as the emperor of China and in doing so unite Heaven and Earth by fulfilling the will of Heaven in this world through benevolent leadership and the performance of the proper rituals and sacrifices. However, if the rulers do not fulfill their obligations and maintain their virtue, the Mandate of Heaven can be rescinded.
mantra: (Skt) Chants or invocations used to invoke protective powers and the ultimate truth.
Mara: The devil king of the sixth heaven. He is the entity whose mission is to entice or threaten beings into remaining within the cycle of birth and death.
Maudgalyayana: One of the ten major disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha. He was well known for his supernatural abilities developed through meditation.
Medicine Master Buddha: (Skt Bhaishajyaguru; Jpn Yakushi) The buddha of the Pure Land of the East.
Mencius: (372-289 BCE) The second greatest teacher of Confucianism after Confucius.
Middle Age of the Dharma: The third and fourth of the five hundred year periods after the death of the Buddha. During this period the true spirit of the Dharma is gradually lost and while people are able to cultivate themselves they are no longer able to attain enlightenment in this world.
Middle Way: Refers to the Middle Way of selflessness that avoids self-indulgence and self-denial. Also refers to right view that avoid the extreme views of existence and non-existence.
miscellaneous practices: According to Shan-tao these are all other practices of Buddhism aside from those of Pure Land devotion and piety.
Mt. Hiei: The mountain in Japan where Dengyo established the Tendai school.
mudra: (Skt) Hand gestures used to signify the ultimate truth.
Myoe Koben: (1172-1232) A monk of the Kegon school.
Nagarjuna: (c. 150-250) The founder of the Middle Way school.
Namu Myoho Renge Kyo: (Jpn) “Devotion to the Wonderful Dharma of the Lotus Flower Teaching.” The Sino-Japanese pronunciation of the two Chinese characters which are used to transliterate the Skt word “Namas” which means “devotion” and the five Chinese characters which are used to translated the Skt title “Saddharmapundarika-sutra” which means “Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.”
nembutsu: (Jpn) Term that refers to the chanting of the name of Amitabha Buddha but could mean either "calling on" or "being mindful of the Buddha."
Nichiren Shonin: (1222-1282) The Japanese reformer and teacher who propagated the Lotus Sutra by refuting false teachings and introducing the Three Great Secret Dharmas.
nirvana: (Skt) “extinction.” The extinction or extinguishing of the fire of the defilements.
Nirvana Sutra: A Mahayana Buddhist sutra that purports to be the last teachings of the Buddha’s life given on his deathbed.
non-returner: In Theravada or Hinayana Buddhism, someone who has sufficiently cut-off greed, anger, and ignorance so that they can attain liberation from birth and death in the pure abodes without having to return to this world.
Odaimoku: (Jpn) “Great Title.” Refers to the practice of chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra in the form of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.
Ojo-yoshu: (Jpn) Essentials of Rebirth in the Pure Land written by Genshin.
once-calling: Theory that one need only recite the nembutsu once to be reborn in the Pure Land. This was taught by some followers of Honen.
One Vehicle: The one vehicle that leads to buddhahood and subsumes all other vehicles, such as the two vehicles.
Original Vow: The eighteenth of the 48 vows of Amitabha Buddha that states that anyone who calls upon his name even ten times can be reborn in the Pure Land of the West except for those who have committed the five grave offences or slandered the Dharma.
Other-power: (Jpn tariki) The power of a transcendent buddha who enables us to attain enlightenment.
Pali Canon: The complete canon of the Buddha’s teachings according to the Theravada school. It is written in the Pali language.
parable of the white path: Shan-tao’s parable of a man who crosses a white bridge across a river of fire and raging waters in order to get to the western shore and escape from a band of robbers and wild animals. It represents the power of the nembutsu to enable people to escape the afflictions and attain rebirth in the Pure Land of the West.
parinirvana: (Skt) “total extinction.” The total extinguishing of all defilements and even physical needs upon the death of the body.
Path of Rebirth in the Pure Land: See Gateway of the Pure Land.
Path of Sages: See Gateway of the Holy Path.
Perfection of Wisdom Sutras: (Skt Prajna Paramita Sutras) A class of Mahayana sutras consisting of many versions of various lengths that teach the six perfections and the doctrine of emptiness. According to the T’ien-t’ai teachings they were taught during the 21st to 42nd years of the Buddha’s teaching.
Prajna Paramita Sutras: See Perfection of Wisdom Sutras.
pratyekabuddhas: (Skt) “private buddha.” The solitary contemplatives who attain enlightenment independent of the Buddha Dharma and who do not try to liberate others.
Pratyutpanna Samadhi Sutra: (Skt) Sutra on the Meditation to Behold the Buddhas is a Mahayana sutra that teaches various ways of visualizing Amitabha Buddha.
Provisional: A term for sutras and teachings that lead to but do not reveal the ultimate truth of the Buddha Dharma.
provisional: The provisional nature of contingent phenomena which are empty of static, independent existence.
pure abodes: The highest of the heavens of the realm of form.
pure land: A transcendent realm or world created by a buddha or bodhisattva where people are at ease and able to attain enlightenment without hindrance.
Pure Land Buddhism: Forms of East Asian Mahayana Buddhism centered on devotion to Amitabha Buddha and rebirth in his Pure Land of the West, the most popular practice of which is nembutsu.
Pure Land of the West: The pure land of Amitabha Buddha where people who call upon his name are reborn in accord with his 18th vow.
Pure Land of Tranquil Light: The true nature of this world as seen by the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha.
Real: Those sutras and teachings that do reveal the ultimate truth of the Buddha Dharma.
Realization of Virtue: A monk in the Nirvana Sutra who is protected by King Possessor of Virtue. This king was supposed to have been a past life of a Kashyapa Buddha.
realm of desire: The realm of rebirth that encompasses the hells, hungry ghosts, animals, fighting demons, humans, and the first six heavens. The beings in this realm are dominated by their desires.
realm of form: the heavens above the realm of desire wherein the beings contemplate form but have temporarily transcended all but the most subtle kinds of desire.
realm of formlessness: the heavens above the realm of form wherein the beings contemplate the formlessness of space, consciousness, nothing, and the state of neither perception nor non-perception.
rebirth: the process whereby when a sentient being dies their consciousness and karmic tendencies contribute to the birth of a new being.
rightly established act: See act of right assurance.
right practices: According to Shan-tao, these are the practices of chanting the Triple Pure Land Sutra, contemplating Amitabha Buddha and his Pure Land, worshipping Amitabha Buddha, chanting the Buddha’s name (the nembutsu), and praising and giving offerings to Amitabha Buddha. These are in contrast to the miscellaneous practices.
Rissho Ankoku Ron: Nichiren’s Treatise on Spreading Peace Throughout the Country by Establishing the True Dharma written in 1260 and submitted to the rulers of Japan in an attempt to bring Japan back to the teaching of the Lotus Sutra.
Ryochu: (1199-1287) Tendai monk who became a disciple of Shokobo Bencho and became the third patriarch of the Jodo school.
Ryokan: (1217-1303) A monk of the Shingon-Ritsu school, an esoteric school that also attempted to revive the observance of the precepts.
Ryonin: (1072-1134) Tendai monk who developed the Yuzu Nembutsu.
Ryukan: (1148-1227) A disciple of Honen who wrote the Ken Senchaku.
Saha: (Skt) “Endurance.” The Buddhist name for this world where one must endure many forms of suffering.
Saicho: (767-822) The founder of the Japanese Tendai school. Known posthumously as Dengyo.
Sainan Koki Yurai: (Jpn) The Cause of Misfortunes written by Nichiren in 1260.
Sainan Taiji Sho: (Jpn) Treatise on the Elimination of Calamities written by Nichiren in 1260.
Sangha: (Skt) “assembly.” The community of those who uphold the Buddha Dharma.
Sanron: (Jpn) The Three Treatise school, a Madhyamika school of Mahayana Buddhism founded in China and brought to Japan based on the teachings of Nagarjuna and Aryadeva.
San Sanzo Kiu no Koto: (Jpn) Concerning the Prayer Services for Rain by Three Tripitika Masters written by Nichiren in 1275.
Sarvastivada: One of the various schools of Buddhism in India. Considered a Hinayana school by Mahayana Buddhism.
self-power: The power of the individual to attain enlightenment through his or her own efforts. In Jpn, this is called “jiriki.”
Senchaku Hongan Nembutsu Shu: (Jpn) Honen’s Collection of Passages on the Nembutsu and the Original Vow.
Senchaku Shu: See Senchaku Hongan Nembutsu Shu.
Senji Sho: (Jpn) Selection of the Time written by Nichiren in 1275.
seven disasters: seven disasters of a human, natural, and astronomical nature predicted in the Benevolent Kings Sutra if the Dharma is not upheld: (1) irregularities of the sun and moon, (2) irregularities of the stars and planets, (3) fires, (4) floods, (5) tornadoes, (6) drought, (7) warfare brought about by foreign invasion or revolt. Can also refer to the set of seven predicted in the Medicine Master Sutra: (1) disease, (2) invasion, (3) revolt, (4) strange celestial omens, (5) eclipses of the sun and moon, (6) unseasonable storms, (7) drought.
Shakyamuni Buddha: The historical Buddha who taught in India 2,500 years ago. Also see Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha.
Shan-tao: (613-681) One of the patriarchs of Pure Land Buddhism in China.
Shariputra: One of the ten major disciples. He was well known for his wisdom.
Shen Nung: (c. 2737 BCE) The second of the legendary Three Sovereigns of China who is credited with the invention of the plow and agriculture, tea drinking, and herbal medicine.
Shingon: (Jpn) The True Word school of Japanese esoteric Buddhism founded by Kukai.
Shinran: (1173-1262) The founder of the Jodo Shinshu or True Pure Land School in Japan.
Shogei: (1340-1420) The seventh successor of Honen in the Jodo school.
Shoka era: The period in Japan from 1257 to 1259 during which there were many disasters.
Shokobo Bencho: (1162-1238) The second patriarch of the Jodo school after Honen.
Shoron: A school of Buddhism in China, it was based on the Consciousness Only teachings of Mahayana Buddhism.
shravakas: (Skt) “voice-hearers.” The disciples of the Buddha who were able to hear his teachings.
Shugo Kokka Ron: (Jpn) Treatise on Protecting the Nation written by Nichiren in 1259.
Shun (r. 2244-2205 BCE): The last of the legendary Five Emperors who ruled ancient China.
six classics: The five classics of Confucianism with the addition of the Book of Music that is was lost during the persecution of Confucianism by the Ch’in dynasty (221-206 BCE).
six forms of consciousness: According to Buddhism the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind all have a corresponding form of consciousness.
six lower worlds: The six worlds of the hells, hungry ghosts, animals, fighting demons, humans, and the heavens.
six objects of consciousness: The sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tangibles and mental events that are the objects of the six forms of consciousness.
six organs of sense: The eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind that are receptive of sensations.
six perfections: The six practices of a bodhisattva consisting of generosity, discipline, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom.
six worlds: The worlds of the hells, hungry ghosts, animals, fighting demons, humanity, and the heavens.
slander: The abuse, denigration, or misrepresentation of the Dharma.
stage of non-retrogression: A stage reached by bodhisattvas wherein they will never again backslide in their progress towards buddhahood.
sutra: (Skt) “thread of discourse.” A Buddhist scripture.
T’an-luan: (476-542) A patriarch of Pure Land Buddhism in China.
Tao-ch’o: (562-645) A patriarch of Pure Land Buddhism in China.
tathagata: (Skt) “thus come one” or “thus gone one.” Another title for a buddha. It refers to one who comes from and goes to ultimate reality.
Tendai: (Jpn) The Japanese version of the T’ien-t’ai school founded by Saicho.
Theravada: The school of Buddhism found in Southeast Asia that relies upon the Pali Canon and does not recognize the Mahayana sutras.
three ages of the Dharma: The three ages during which the Buddha Dharma at first flourishes, then declines, and then disappears. They are the Former, Middle, and Latter Ages of the Dharma. Also called the True, Counterfeit, and Corrupt Ages of the Dharma.
three calamities: famine, war, and epidemics predicted in the Great Collection Sutra that will occur if the Dharma is not upheld.
Three Kings: The Three Kings were the founders of the first three dynasties to rule China. They were Yu, the founder of the Hsia dynasty (c. 2205-1751 BCE); Ch’eng Tang, the founder of the Shang or Yin dynasty (c. 1751-1112 BCE); and King Wu Wang, the founder of the Chou dynasty (c. 1111-249 BCE).
three evil realms: The worlds of the hells, hungry ghosts, and fighting demons.
threefold world: The realms of desire, form, and formlessness. The realm of desire extends from the hells up to the more concrete heavens. The realms of form and formlessness include the higher heavens of increasing refinement.
three kinds of activities: Mental, verbal, and physical activity.
three kinds of faith: discussed in the Meditation on the Buddha of Infinite Life Sutra as essential for rebirth: sincere faith, deep faith, and the faith that aspires to rebirth in the Pure Land.
three powerful enemies: According to Miao-lo’s interpretation of chapter 13 of the Lotus Sutra these are (1) the ignorant laity who are deceived by the false and hypocritical monks and elders and will abuse the true monks, (2) the false monks who are deceitful and claim to be enlightened when in fact they are not, and (3) the respected elder monks who are revered as arhats (“worthy ones” who are liberated from birth and death) but who in fact are simply better at hiding their ulterior motives of greed and contempt.
three proofs: The first “proof” is that a teaching must be accord with what the Buddha taught. The second is that a teaching must be reasonable and in accord with what we know about our own lives. The third is that a teaching must actually lead away from harm and suffering and lead to welfare and happiness.
three refuges: Another name for the three treasures.
Three Sovereigns: The mythical prehistoric tribal rulers credited with the beginnings of civilization in China. They were Fu Hsi (c. 2852 BCE), Shen Nung (c. 2737 BCE), and Hunag-ti (c. 2607 BCE).
three treasures: The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha which every Buddhist takes refuge in.
three truths: Emptiness, provisionality, and the Middle Way.
three vehicles: The vehicles are the Buddha’s teachings for the shravakas, pratyekabuddhas and bodhisattvas that are united as the One Vehicle in the Lotus Sutra.
T’ien-t’ai: The Chinese school of Buddhism founded by Chih-i and based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. Also, the name by which Chih-i is often known.
Treatise Explaining the Ten Stages: See Commentary on the Ten Stages Sutra.
Treatise on Rebirth in the Pure Land: See Discourse on the Pure Land.
Triple Pure Land Sutras: the sutras that expound on the most popular buddha and pure land of all – Amitabha Buddha (aka Amitayus) and the Pure Land of the West. These sutras are: the Sutra of the Buddha of Infinite Life, the Sutra of Meditation on the Buddha of Infinite Life, and the Pure Land Sutra.
True Age of the Dharma: See Former Age of the Dharma.
True Dharma: The authentic and ultimate teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha and the ultimate reality that the Buddha is awakened to.
Tsung-mi: (780-841) A patriarch of both the Flower Garland and Zen schools in China.
Tung Chung-shu: (179-104 BCE) Confucian teacher during the Han dynasty (206 BCE–8 CE).
twelve links of dependent origination: The twelve links that describe the process of birth and death over many lifetimes.
two vehicles: The teachings for the disciples and the solitary contemplatives which lead to individual liberation but not to buddhahood. Another term for Hinayana Buddhism.
Tz’u-en: (632-682) Disciple of Husan-tsang and one of the founders of the Consciousness Only school in China.
Vaipulya Sutras: See the Expansive Sutras.
Vasubandhu: (c. 320-400) Co-founder of the Consciousness Only school along with his older brother Asanga.
Vedic: That which relates to the Vedas, which were the divinely revealed hymns of Brahmanism in ancient India.
Vijnanavada: (Skt) “Consciousness Only school.” The Mahayana school founded by Vasubandhu, Asanga, and Maitreyanatha which emphasized the role of consciousness in shaping our experience of reality.
Vimalamitra: A scholar of the Sarvastivadin school who tried to refute the teachings of Vasubandhu
Way of Difficult Practice: The way of gradual self-cultivation in order to attain enlightenment.
Way of Easy Practice: The way of relying on the assistance of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, and especially Amitabha Buddha, in order to attain enlightenment.
Wonderful Dharma: The True Dharma, esp. as expressed in the Lotus Sutra.
Wu Wang: The king who rose up against the corrupt and evil Emperor Chou Hsin and became the founder of the Chou dynasty (c. 1111-249 BCE) in China.
Yao: (r. 2356-2347 BCE) The fourth of the Five Emperors who ruled ancient China.
Yellow Emperor: See Huang-ti.
yang: The dynamic and creative element.
Yen-hui: (511-480 BCE) The favorite disciple of Confucius.
yin: The receptive and nourishing element.
Yogachara: (Skt) “Yoga school.” Another name for the Consciousness Only school due to that school’s emphasis on meditation.
Yokan: (1033-1111) Pure Land practitioner of the Sanron school in Japan.
Yu: The successor of the Yellow Emperor and founder of the Hsia dynasty (c. 2205-1751 BCE). He was an engineer who was the first to succeed in bringing the flooding of the Yellow River under control.
Yuzu Nembutsu: (Jpn) The Nembutsu of Mutual Interpenetration wherein it is taught that the nembutsu contains the merits of all other practices and one person’s practice becomes the practice of all
Zaijarin: (Jpn) Refuting the Evil Dharma is a critique of the Senchaku Shu written by Myoe Koben.
Zaijarin Shogonki: (Jpn) Supplementary Writing to Refuting the Evil Dharma is a critique of the Senchaku Shu written by Myoe Koben.
Zen: (Chin Ch’an) The Japanese name for the Mahayana school of Buddhism founded by Bodhidharma and based on the practice of silent meditation called “zazen” or sometimes “Zen meditation.”
Zenne Shoku: (1177-1247) A disciple of Honen who brought about the acceptance of Honen’s teaching among the aristocracy in Kyoto and for founding the more Tendai oriented Seizan branch of the Jodo Shu.
Copyright by Ryuei Michael McCormick. 2004.