D.S. – terminology

“Dharma” has been rendered “lesson.” In Hinduism, which defined the context in which the Buddha spoke, “dharma” meant “law of nature.” To Buddhists, “dharma” means “teaching.” But a dharma is also an attainment. “Lesson” has been used as the nearest standard English word that can be used to indicate this constellation of meanings.

“Bodhisattva.” From “bodhi,” literally “awakening,” to indicate enlightenment, and “sattva,” “being.” A bodhisattva is an enlightenment-being, not necessarily enlightened yet, but destined to become enlightened. One who is awakening.

“Mahasattva.” “Great being.” A bodhisattva mahasattva is a great bodhisattva, a bodhisattva who has greatly attained Awakening.

“Samadhi” has been rendered “Focus.” This term indicates a persistent mental act which is attained through meditation and self-discipline.

“Paramita” means “crossing to the other shore.” Perhaps the most direct way to render this into English would have been “Beyond,” if that did not have Twilight-Zone associations.

“Prajna” means “wisdom.”

“Vajra” is the name of a symbolic weapon used in religious rites in the Buddha’s time (and currently). The word meant “diamond” and “lightning bolt.” A diamond’s significance here is it cuts through anything without itself being cut. The device itself somewhat resembles an ornate, hand-held barbell, to be held in a fist, where the “bells” at either end are spherical cages.

“Sutra” comes from the word for “thread,” and means an aphorism, a rule or a formula.

“Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra” is the Diamond Sutra, the Sutra of the Lightning-Flash Wisdom of Crossing to the Far Shore.

“Kalpa” has been glossed as “cycle.” A kalpa is the life-span of the Universe; an eon. However, in Hinduism, the Universe is understood to repeatedly come back into being after its demise. A kalpa is said to be 311.04 trillion years.

“Stupa” has been glossed as “shrine.” A holy place where Buddhists keep relics.

“Bhikshus and Bhikshunis” are monks and nuns.

“Upasakas and upaksikas” are devout laymen and laywomen, who participate in the religion and its teaching without taking the vows of the monks and nuns.

“Asuras” are demigods.


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