Caution! Under Construction. Suggestions and Corrections Welcome.

Buddhism A to Z: "A" Entries

abbot ¤è¤V

The abbot is the head of a monastery.

One Chinese term for abbot, fangzhang 'ten feet square' is a term used primarily in Chan monasteries and refers to the ideal size of the abbot's quarters. The great enlightened Buddhist layman Vimalakirti, who lived during the time of the Buddha, was said to have lived in a stone room of that size.

Another frequently used Chinese term for abbot is zhuchi, literally "dweller and upholder", is explained as meaning that the abbot is one who protects the Dharma while abiding peacefully in the world.

1) Ch. fangzhang ¤è¤V , zhuchi ¦í«ù , 2) Skt. vih@radhishvara, 3) Pali vih@radhipati.

Abhidharma ªü¬s¹F¿i

The Abhidharma is the third of the three divisions or "baskets" of the Tripitaka or Buddhist Canon. Its Dharma is organized thematically and logically; it can be said to be a systematic exposition of Buddhist psychology of mind.

The Abhidharma taught by the Buddha is the seven books of the Abhidharma-pitaka. Later Abhidharma includes systematic treatises by enlightened masters. The most well-known of the Hinayana Abhidharma treatises is the Abhidharma-kosa by the Venerable Vasubandhu (see entry). Among the most widely studied of Mahayana Abhidharma treatises is the Treatise on Consciousness Only (Cheng Wei-shi Lun) by Tripitaka Master Xuanzang (see entry).

According to the Abhidharmakosa "Abhidharma is the immaculate prajna [i.e., wisdom] with its retinue." (Jha, p. 5) "In common use, the Abhidharma designates all prajna that makes one obtain the Abhidharma in its proper sense." (Jha, p. 7)

"Abhi" means "paired", and "dharma", which is variously translated, is of two types: one, Dharma in the supreme sense, that is, nirvana, which is both wholesome and permanent, and so is called "supreme"; two, dharma of dharma marks, which coincides with the Four Sagely Truths . . . . (FAS-PII 97)

The paired Dharma Store has the special name "wisdom shastra". The old translation [into Chinese] means "incomparable dharma". That is because it portrays wisdom as supreme. (FAS-PII 103)

1) Ch. a bi da mo °þ¹G·fºN, lun±Á, 2) Skt. abhidharma, 3) Pali abhidhamma, 4) Alternate Translations: paired dharma, incomparable dharma, special Dharma, higher knowledge.

See also: Tripitaka, Dharma, dharma.

BTTS References: FAS-PII 97-108.

Ajita (Bodhisattva) ªü¶h¦h(µÐÂÄ)

Another name for the Bodhisattva Maitreya. Ajita is Sanskrit and means "unconquerable". See Maitreya (Bodhisattva).

Amita (Buddha) ªüÀ±ªû(¦ò)

Amitabha's body is the color of gold,
The splendor of his hallmarks has no peer.
The light of his brow shines round a hundred worlds,
Wide as the sea are his eyes pure and clear.
Shining in his brilliance by transformation
Are countless Bodhisattvas and infinite Buddhas.
His forty-eight vows will be our liberation,
In nine lotus-stages we reach the farthest shore.
Homage to the Buddha of the Western Pure Land,
Kind and Compassionate Amitabha.
(RH 137-138; UW 28)

The Buddha Amita is the Buddha of the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. He is also known as Amitabha 'infinite light', and Amitayus 'infinite life'.

"Both Amitabha Buddha and Shakyamuni Buddha were people who became Buddhas . . . . " (AS 11)

1) Ch. a mi to fo (Jap. 'Amida'); 2) Skt. amita, amitabha, amitayus; 3) Pali ---.

See also: pure land, Five Types of Buddhist Study and Practice- Pure Land, Buddha-recitation,
Avalokiteshvara (Bodhisattva).

BTTS References: AS 10-11, 20; UW 28-29, 131-135, 215-217; SM IV 53; SM V 10-11.

Amitabha (Buddha) ªüÀ±ªû¦ò

See Amita (Buddha).

Amitabha Sutra ªüÀ±ªû¸g

The complete title is The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra. Two sutras, the large and the small, have this title, both taking as subject Amitabha Buddha, his pure Buddhaland to the West, and the means to rebirth therein. Sukhavati, or, as translated from the Chinese, Ultimate Bliss, is the name of this land. A third sutra also describes Sukhavati: the Meditation on Amitabha Sutra (Amiturdhyana-sutra). Together, these three sutras comprise the basic texts of the Pure Land School.

The large Amitabha Sutra explains the causal affinities resulting in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. It relates Amitabha Buddha's vows made in a former life and their realization in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

The Meditation on Amitabha Sutra is concerned with quite another matter. It is a guide to cultivation and describes a series of sixteen meditations which lead to various grades of rebirth by transformation in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Both sutras contain Dharmas preached in specific response to the requests of sentient beings: the large Amitabha Sutra at the request of Ananda, "who had still to be advanced on the path of disciples"; and the Meditation on Amitabha Sutra at the request of Vaidehi, queen mother of the wicked Prince Ajatasatru:

"My only prayer," she continued, "is this: O World Honored One, mayest thou preach to me in detail of all the places where there is no sorrow or trouble, and where I ought to go to be born anew. I am not satisfied with this world of depravities, with Jambudvipa, which is full of hells, full of hungry ghosts (pretas), and of the brute creation. In this world of depravities there is many an assemblage of the wicked. May I not hear, I pray, the voice of the wicked in the future; and may I not see any wicked person."

The small Amitabha Sutra, although the shortest of the three, is by no means unimportant. Nor is it just a summary recapitulation of the doctrine set forth in the other two. It is unique, because the entire sutra belongs to the "self-spoken division." In other words, the Buddha spontaneously preached the Dharma of this sutra, overstepping the usual practice of speaking Dharma only upon request. The very fact that no one in the Great Assembly knew to ask shows the extreme importance and inconceivability of the Dharma of this sutra. The Buddha proclaims in the text of the Sutra: "You should know that I, in the evil time of the Five Turbidities . . . for all the world speak this Dharma, difficult to believe, extremely difficult."

The Sutra explains the causes and circumstances for rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

"The essential message of this sutra is to teach us to recite the name 'Namo Amitabha Buddha'. Amitabha Buddha has a great affinity with living beings in the Saha world. Before realizing Buddhahood, he made forty-eight vows and each one involved taking living beings to Buddhahood. At that time, he was a Bhikshu named Dharma Treasury. He said, 'When I realize Buddhahood, I vow that living beings who recite my name will also realize Buddhahood. Otherwise, I won't either. . . .'

"By the power of his vows, Amitabha Buddha leads all beings to rebirth in his country where they realize Buddhahood. This power attracts living beings to the Land of Ultimate Bliss, just as a magnet attracts iron filings. If living beings do not attain enlightenment, he himself won't realize Buddhahood. Therefore, all who recite his name can realize Buddhahood." (AS 20)

1) Ch. fo shuo a mi to jing , 2) Skt. sukhavati-vyuha sutra.
3) Pali .................

See also: Amita (Buddha), pure land, Five Types of Buddhist Study and Practice-Pure Land, Buddha-recitation, sutra.

BTTS References: AS.

Ananda (Venerable) ªüÃø(´LªÌ)

One of the ten great disciples of the Buddha Shakyamuni.

"Ananda was the Buddha's first cousin and his attendant. He also compiled and edited the sutras. His name means rejoicing, because he was born on the day the Buddha realized Buddhahood. His father also rejoiced and gave him that name. The entire country celebrated the Buddha's enlightenment on that day. With his flawless memory, Ananda was able to remember all the Sutras the Buddha spoke and was foremost among the Buddha's disciples in erudition." (DFS II 124)

"The Shurangama Sutra was spoken for Ananda's sake, precisely because he didn't have sufficient samadhi-power. He had not done the work of meditation required to develop it. When others were sitting investigating dhyana, Ananda would go read a book or write instead . . . . Put another way, Ananda hadn't cultivated real mark prajna; he thought he could realize Buddhahood through literary prajna alone. He thought that since he was the Buddha's cousin, the Buddha, who had realized Buddhahood, would certainly help him realize Buddhahood too, and so it didn't really matter whether he cultivated or not. He ended up wasting a lot of time.

"One day, as the Shurangama Sutra relates, Ananda went out begging for food by himself. He took his bowl and went from house to house, and while alone on the road he encountered the daughter of Matangi . . . . Ananda was particularly handsome, and when Matangi's daughter saw him she was immediately attracted to him. But she didn't know how to snare him. And so she went back and told her mother, 'You absolutely must get Ananda to marry me. If you don't, I'll die.'

"The mother, Matangi, belonged to the religion of the Kapilas, the 'tawny haired', and she cultivated that religion's mantras and dharma-devices, which were extremely effective. Since Matangi truly loved her daughter, she used a mantra of her sect-it was a mantra formerly of the Brahma heaven-to confuse Ananda. Ananda didn't have any samadhi-power, and so he couldn't control himself. He followed the mantra and went to Matangi's daughter's house, where he was on the verge of breaking the precepts.

"The first five precepts prohibit killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and the taking of intoxicants. Ananda was about to break the precept against sexual misconduct. The Buddha knew about it as it was happening. Realizing his cousin was in trouble, he quickly spoke the Shurangama Mantra to break up the mantra formerly of the Brahma Heaven of the Kapila religion. Ananda's confusion had made him as if drunk or as if he had taken drugs-he was totally oblivious to everything. But when the Buddha recited the Shurangama Mantra, its power woke Ananda up from his confusion, and there he was wondering how he had gotten himself into such a situation.

"He returned, knelt before the Buddha, and cried out in distress. 'I have relied exclusively on erudition and have not perfected any strength in the Way. I have no samadhi-power. Please tell me how the Buddhas of the ten directions have cultivated so that they were able to obtain samadhi-power.' In reply the Buddha spoke the Shurangama Sutra." (SS I 25-26)

The Dharma Flower Sutra records the Buddha bestowing the prediction of future Buddhahood upon Ananda:

At that time the Buddha told Ananda, 'You in a future age shall become a Buddha by the name of King of Self Control and Penetrations with Wisdom like the Mountains and Seas Thus Come One. One Worthy of Offerings, One of Proper and Universal Knowledge, One Perfect in Clarity and Practice, Well-Gone One, Unsurpassed One Who Understands the World, Hero Who Subdues and Tames, Teacher of Gods and Humans, Buddha, World-Honored One. You shall make offerings to sixty-two million Buddhas, protecting and upholding their storehouses of Dharma. After that you shall obtain anuttarasamyaksambodhi. You shall teach and transform twenty-thousand myriads of millions of Ganges' sands of Bodhisattvas, causing them to accomplish anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Your country shall be called Banner of Victory Always Raised. That land will be pure, with lapis lazuli for soil. The kalpa shall be called All Pervasive Wonderful Sound. Your lifespan as a Buddha shall be countless thousands of myriads of millions of asankhyeyas of aeons. Were someone to attempt to reckon it through countless thousands of myriads of millions of asankhyeyas of aeons, they could not do so. The proper Dharma shall dwell in that world for twice that length of time. The Dharma Image Age shall dwell twice the length of Proper Dharma.

'Ananda, the merit and virtue of the Buddha King of Self-Control and Penetrations with Wisdom Like the Mountains and Seas shall be praised by all the Buddhas of the ten directions equal in number to the sands of countless thousands of myriads of millions of Ganges rivers.' (DFS VIII 1500-1501)

1) Ch. a nan ; 2) Skt. Ananda; 3) Pali Ananda.

See also: Arhat.

BTTS References: FAS-PI (door 7); AS 91-92; SS I 24-26; DFS II 124; DFS VIII 1500-1510.

anuttarasamyaksambodhi ªü¿®¦hù¤TÂƤTµÐ´£

This is a Sanskrit term refering to the perfect and universal enlightenment of a Buddha. It is variously translated as meaning "Utmost, right and perfect enlightenment," "Supreme, orthodox, and equal awakening", or the like. The commentarial traditions indicate that the term includes the levels of enlightenment of the Bodhisattva and Arhat within that of the Buddha.

This Dharma is level and equal, with no high or low.
Therefore, it is called anuttarasamyaksambodhi.
(FAS Ch16, p. 22)


1) Ch. wu shang zheng deng zheng jye ; 2) Skt. anuttarasamyaksambodhi; 3) Pali anuttarasammasambodhi; 4) Alternate Translations: see above.

See also: enlightenment, Buddha.

BTTS References: FAS Ch16, 22; DFS IV 519; DFS VII, 1305.

Arhat ªüùº~

Be careful not to believe in your own mind: your mind cannot be believed. . . . Once you have become an Arhat, then you can believe your own mind. (S42 57)

In the Pali texts of the Theravada tradition (see Theravada School) the standard formula for describing the Arhat is as follows: "destroyed is (re-)birth, lived is the chaste life (of a student), done is what had to be done, after this present life there is no beyond." (Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary)

"Arhat" is one of the four kinds of truly enlightened beings (see enlightenment). It is a Sanskrit word, which can be interpreted in three ways:

1) "'One worthy of offerings'. Arhats are worthy of offerings from humans and gods. On the causal ground a Bhikshu makes the alms round for his food, and as a result, as an Arhat he is 'worthy of offerings'." (SS I 107).

"If you make offerings to an Arhat, an enlightened sage, who has been certified . . . you thereby attain limitless and boundless blessings. There is no way to calculate how many."
(S42 3-4)

2) 'Slayer of thieves'. 'The thieves referred to are not external thieves, but the thieves within you: the thieves of ignorance, the thieves of afflictions and the six thieves-the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Unknown to you, they rob you. . . . These six thieves steal your unsurpassed true treasures . . . ." (SS I 107-108)

3) 'Unproduced'/'Unborn'. "They have attained the patience with the non-production of dharmas. They do not have to undergo birth and death again... Although they have not attained anuttarasamyaksambodhi, the unsurpassed, proper and equal right enlightenment, they will not fall into the Three Realms (see entry)." (SS I 108)

Those three aspects of being an Arhat are the result of causes created in cultivation as a Bhikshu.

Constantly observing the 250 precepts, they enter into and abide in purity. By practicing the four true paths [i.e., paths to the Four Stages explained below], they realize Arhatship.
(S42 1)

"Having been certified as having attained the patience with the non-production of dharmas, the Arhat is beyond coming into being and ceasing to be. Wouldn't you agree that the state of the Arhat is really terrific? The Arhat isn't busy in the least. He is totally free and at ease, taking it easy, laid back, and not doing much, collecting unemployment. Do you recognize the Arhats? Their heads are bald and shiny, and so are their feet. That is, they don't wear shoes. Nobody supervises them and they don't pay any attention to anyone else. No ties, no cares, no hang-ups, no self, no others, no living beings, no life, no nothing. Ahhh...

"Their minds have attained self-mastery. They have no false thinking. Once they enter samadhi, they can sit (in meditation) for several thousand years. The First Patriarch Mahakashyapa (see entry) went to Ji-Dzu Mountain [Yunnan Province, China] and entered samadhi. He hasn't come out of it yet. That's because his mind has attained self- mastery." (DFS VIII 1449-1450)

"As killers of thieves, Arhats have killed the thief of ignorance. Ignorance is a thief who ruins one's karma for the Way. Why do people do things that are upside-down? It's out of ignorance. Why is it that, when one has no attachments, one deliberately looks for attachments? It's all out of ignorance. In spite of the fact that it is in our power to end birth and death, why do we fail to do so? It is because of ignorance. Ignorance is simply terrible!

"Arhats kill ignorance. While we say they 'kill' ignorance, they haven't killed it entirely. They have killed coarse ignorance, but a subtle ignorance remains. Ignorance could be likened to a virus. Perhaps you break out in a sore. When you put some medicine on it, it clears up. But as soon as you quit applying the medicine, it breaks out again, and your skin itches like crazy. The Arhats have the medicine and put it on the sore, but they haven't gotten rid of the disease at its source. The only way to get rid of it entirely is to become a Buddha..." (DFS VII 1371-1372)

Four Stages of Arhatship

Strictly speaking the term Arhat refers to the fourth stage only, but is often used to refer to those of all four stages. (The term can also include Pratyekabuddhas and is also employed in its more general meaning as one of the Ten Titles of the Buddha.)

1) First Stage

"The Arhat of the first stage is called one who has 'entered the stream' (srota-apanna). He has entered the stream of the Dharma-nature of the sage, and he goes counter to the flow of the stream of the six senses of common people. He still has to undergo seven more rebirths among those in the heavens and among humans before he comes to the end of the Path." (DFS X 52)

The srota-apanna . . . has seven deaths and seven births remaining, and then will be certified as an Arhat. Severing love and desire is like severing the four limbs; one never uses them again. (S42 1)

2) Second Stage

"The Arhat of the second stage is called a 'once-returner' (sakrdagamin). He has one more birth to undergo in the heavens and one among humans.

The sakrdagamin . . . ascends once, returns once more, and thereafter becomes an Arhat. (S42 1)

3) Third Stage

"The Arhat of the third stage is called a 'never-returner' (anagamin). He does not have to undergo birth again in the human realm." (DFS X 52)

At the end of his life an Anagamin's vital spirit will ascend to the nineteenth heaven [i.e., the highest heaven of the fourth dhyana-see Four Dhyanas] and there he will be certified as an Arhat. (S42 1)

4) Fourth Stage

"The Arhat of the fourth stage is called 'unborn'. The fourth stage Arhat has attained patience with the non-production of dharmas. This means that he does not see the slightest dharma come into being or the slightest dharma cease to be. Such a

vision is not easy to bear, but he has the patience to bear

it. . . ." (DFS X 52)

"What proof is there that someone has been certified as a fourth stage Arhat? A fourth stage Arhat's feet don't touch the ground. His feet are off the ground by three-tenths of an inch, and because of that, he never squashes worms or ants. . . . Not only can one of the fourth stage do this, one of the first stage can also do this." (S42 4)

Arhats can fly and transform themselves. They have a lifespan of vast aeons, and wherever they dwell they can move heaven and earth (S42 1)

"Wherever an Arhat dwells, the gods, dragons, and others of the Eightfold Division protect his Dharma, and it is very peaceful wherever he is. There aren't any hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tidal waves, or any such disasters, because the Dharma-protectors and good spirits are always protecting him and making auspicious things happen to him." (S42 5)

"People who have been certified as fourth stage Arhats have freedom over birth and death. They are truly free; no one can watch over them. If they want to live, they can live. If they want to die, they can die whenever they want. If they want to die standing up, they can die standing up. If they want to die sitting down, they can die that way. If they want to die walking, they can die walking. If they want to die sleeping, they can die sleeping. It's up to them. . . ." (S42 5)

When the Venerable Master Da-Syou decided it was time to leave, he chiselled a space out of the rock cliff next to where he lived and meditated and then fashioned some doors. He then sat down inside, arranged his body in full-lotus position, closed the doors, and entered the final stillness. Upon the doors he had inscribed this verse:

There is no great, no small, no inside nor out, Cultivate yourself, understand yourself, and make your own arrangements.

The Non-Ultimacy of Arhatship

In the Dharma Flower Sutra assembly the Buddha explains that the enlightenment of the Arhat is not ultimate. At that time five hundred Arhats in the assembly proclaimed:

"World Honored One, we had always thought that we had gained the ultimate cessation (i.e., nirvana). Now we know that we were like unknowing ones. Why is this? We should have obtained the Thus Come One's wisdom, but were content instead with lesser knowledge." (DFS VIII 1466)

"Having attained the way of the Arhat, we said of ourselves that we had gained cessation. In the difficulty of maintaining our livelihood [Comm.: The lifetyle of the small vehicle is like that of a very poor person.], we were content with what little we had gained. Still, our vows for All Wisdom remain; they have not been lost. Now the World Honored One has caused us to wake up, saying, 'Bhikshus! What you have obtained is not ultimate cessation!'" (DFS VIII 1475-1476)

Arhats are sometimes referred to as Shravakas (see entry).

1) Ch. a luo han , 2) Skt. arhat, arhant, arhanti, 3) Pali arahant, 4) Alternate Translations: worthy, deserving and meritorious person, one worthy of offerings, destroyer of enemies, slayer of thieves.

See also Shravaka, enlightenment, Eighty-Eight Deluded Viewpoints, Eighty-One Cognitive Delusions.

BTTS References: DFS VII 1371-2, 1449-50; DFS X 52; TT 47; EDR II 57-58 (18 transformations); FAS Ch16 28-31; SS I 107-109; AS 66; VBS #196, pp. 4-5.

Asanga (Bodhisattva) µLµÛ(µÐÂÄ)

Together with his teacher the Bodhisattva Maitreya, Asanga was the founder of the Yogacara, or Consciousness-Only, School of Mahayana Buddhism.

The oldest of three sons, all called Vasubandhu, born in Purusapura (Peshwar) who were members of the Kausika family of Indian brahmins. All three became Buddhist Bhikshus. Asanga's youngest brother was known as Virincivatsa, while the middle brother was known merely as Vasubandhu (see entry).

Asanga was a man who was endowed with the innate character of a Bodhisattva. He became a Bhikshu of the Sarvastivada School, but afterwards he practiced meditation and became free from desire. Though he investigated the doctrine of emptiness, he could not understand it. He was about to commit suicide. Pindola, an Arhat, who was then in Eastern Purvavideha, having perceived this, came to him from that region and expounded the doctrine of emptiness peculiar to the Hinayana. He arranged his thoughts according to what he was taught and at once comprehended it.

Though he had attained the doctrine of emptiness peculiar to the Hinayana, he, nevertheless, did not find comfort in it. Thinking that it would not be right to drop the matter altogether, he went up to the Tusita Heaven using the supernatural power peculiar to the Hinayana and inquired of Maitreya, the Bodhisattva, who expounded for him the doctrine of emptiness belonging to the Mahayana. When he returned to Jambudvipa, he investigated according to the methods explained to him and soon became enlightened. While he was engaged in investigation, the earth began to quake (of its own accord) in six ways. Since he understood the doctrine of emptiness, he called himself "Asanga", which means "without attachment".

He afterwards often went up to the Tusita Heaven in order to ask Maitreya about the doctrines of the Mahayana sutras. The Bodhisattva explained them extensively for him. Whenever he acquired any new understanding, he would come back to Jambudvipa and teach it to others. Most of those hearing him did not believe him. Asanga, Teacher of the Dharma, then prayed, saying, "I now intend to bring all beings to believe fully in the doctrine of the Mahayana. I only pray that you, O Great Master, come down to Jambudvipa to expound the Mahayana so that all beings may become fully convinced of its truth." Maitreya, thereupon, in accordance with his prayer, came down to Jambudvipa at night, flooding it with great rays of light, had a large assembly of those connected with the Dharma called in a lecture hall, and began to recite the Saptadasabhumi sutra. After having recited a passage, he would explain its purport. The seventeen bhumis were finished during the nights of four months. Although all were together in one and the same hall listening to the discourse, it was, nevertheless, only Asanga, Teacher of the Dharma, who had access to the Bodhisattva Maitreya, while the others could merely hear him from afar.

At night, all together heard the religious discourse by Maitreya, while in the daytime Asanga, Teacher of the Dharma, commented once again, for the sake of others, upon what had been taught by the Bodhisattva. In this way all the people could hear and believe in the doctrine of the Mahayana. Maitreya, the Bodhisattva, taught Asanga, Teacher of the Dharma, to learn the "sunlight" samadhi. As he learned according to what he had been taught, he subsequently attained entry into that samadhi. After he attained entry into that samadhi, what he formerly could not understand all became intelligible. Whatever he heard or saw was never forgotten, his memory having become retentive, whereas he formerly could not fully understand the sutras of the Mahayana, such as the Avatamsaka, previously taught by the Buddha. Maitreya explained for him all these in the Tusita heaven; thus the Teacher of the Dharma became well-versed in them and remembered them all. Afterwards in Jambudvipa he composed several upadesa on the sutras of the Mahayana, in which he expounded all the teachings of the Mahayana taught by the Buddha. (Paramartha, "The Life of Vasubandhu", J. Takakusu, tr. [with some editing], pp. 273-275)

1) Ch. wu zhao ; 2) Skt. asanga.

See also: Maitreya (Bodhisattva), Vasubandhu (Bodhisattva), Consciousness-Only School.

BTTS References: HD 9-12; UW 1-3.

asankhyeya/asamkhyeya ªü¹¬¬é

One of many Sanskrit words signifying an extraordinarily long or infinitely long period of time.

The Abhidharmakosa states that an asankhyeya is a period of time equal to 1 followed by 59 zeros number of great kalpas. (For information of the length of a great kalpa, see time.)

1) Ch. a seng chi ; 2) Skt. asankhyeya; 3) Pali asankheyya; 4) Alternate translations: measureless, innumerable, incalculable, an immense period.

See also: time.

asura ªü­×ù

Asuras have a violent nature,
Laden with blessings, lacking power.
Absolutely determined to fight,
They bob along in karma's tow.
(TD 42)

The path of the asuras is one of the Six Paths of Rebirth (see entry); asuras are also one of the Eightfold Division of Ghosts and Spirits (see entry).

Asura is a Sanskrit word that is explained as meaning either a) one without heavenly beer, or b) ugly one, or c) not a god.

"They are without intoxicants because after drinking heavenly beer offered by Sakra, they became extremely drunk and were hurled out of heaven onto the slopes of Mount Sumeru on Sakra's command. Upon regaining their awareness, they vowed never again to drink the heavenly beer (sura). Therefore, they were called asura 'without intoxicant'." (DPPN 214-215)

Asura is said to mean 'not a god' because the asuras have the blessings to be reborn in the heavens but not the virtue of the gods and so are defeated by them.

"The category of asuras includes all beings who like to fight. Asuras who use their pugnacious natures beneficially join the armed forces and protect their countries. Asuras who use their propensity to fight in a bad way end up as thieves, robbers, and gunmen. Asuras may live in the heavens, among people, in the animal realm, or as ghosts..." (SS V 135)

"Male asuras are extremely ugly; the females are beautiful. It is the nature of the male asura to initiate fights. The female asura also is naturally fond of fighting, but wages covert wars, unlike the overt physical battles of the males. She uses weapons of the mind such as jealousy, obstructiveness, ignorance, and affliction. . . . The world is full of asuras who are constantly battling with one another, and they will keep on fighting forever. During the Age Strong in Fighting, that is, the present Dharma Ending Age (see entry), we should vow not to fight. If we do that, every place we go will become a place of genuine Dharma. If everyone fulfilled this vow, the Dharma Ending Age would become the Age of Proper Dharma." (TD 43-44)

1) Ch. a xiu luo , 2) Skt. asura, 3) Pali asura, 4) Alternate Translations: a fallen angel, a Titan.

See also: Six Paths of Rebirth, Ten Dharma Realms.

BTTS References: TD 42-44; SS IV 239-242; SS V 135; TT 47, 57-58; VBS (May 1970) "The Kennedys Request a Lecture", pp. 34-37.

attachment °õµÛ

Attachments are what keep us turning on the wheel of rebirth. Becoming enlightened is nothing other than severing all our attachments. What is meant by "attachment"? It is the investing of mental or emotional energy in an "object". We can become attached to people, things, experiential states, and our own thoughts and preconceptions. In Buddhist teachings attachments are usually divided into two general categories: attachments to self and attachments to dharmas.

1) Ch. zhi zhao ; 2) Skt. bandha, sangaupadana; 3) Pali bandha, sanga; 4) Alternate Translations: fetter, bond.

See also: ignorance.
BTTS References: EDR II 131-132.

Avalokiteshvara (Bodhisattva) Æ[¥@­µ(µÐÂÄ)

The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara rubbing the top of the head of a suffering living being.

One of the four Bodhisattvas of greatest importance in Mahayana Buddhism, Avalokiteshvara is the Bodhisattva of Compassion and disciple and future successor of the Buddha Amita in the Pure Land of the West. His name, which is Sanskrit, is often translated as Observer of the Sounds of the World. It can also be interpreted as meaning Contemplator of Self-Mastery.

1) Ch. guan yin , guan shi yin , gwan zi zai , 2) Skt. avalokitesvara, avalokitasvara (rare), 3) Pali ---, 4) Alternate Translations: Observer of the Sounds of the World, Contemplator of Self-Mastery.

See also: Bodhisattva, One Thousand Hands and Eyes.

BTTS References: DFS II 149ff; DFS Ch25; HS 16-17; LY I 1-3; LY II 6; SS V 127-184; DS 5-6; EDR IV 110-127.

Avatamsaka Sutra µØÄY¸g

See Flower Adornment Sutra.

avici hell ªü»ó¦aº»

The 'lowest' hell, in which suffering is greatest and longest.

1) Ch. a bi di yu , wu jian di yu ; 2) Skt. avici naraka/niraya.

See also: hells.

Return to "Contents."
Continue to next page.