The language of the Theravada Buddhist Canon, Pali was originally a natural, spoken dialect closely related to Sanskrit, which was not used for every day discourse. Pali was not the dialectspoken by the Buddha.


1) Ch. pa li yu/wen , 2) Skt. -----, 3) Pali pali.


"Paramita, a Sanskrit word, literally means 'having arrived at the other shore'. It means to finish completely whatever you do. If you decide to become a Buddha, then the realization of Buddhahood is paramita. If you want to go to a university and get a Ph.D., obtaining the degree is paramita. If you're hungry and want to eat, then when you have eaten your full, that is paramita. If you're sleepy, then paramita is when you lie down and fall asleep. The Sanskrit word paramita is transliterated into Chinese as bwo lwo mi. Bwo lwo is Chinese for pineapple, and mi means 'honey'. And so the fruit of paramita is said to be sweeter than pineapple or honey." (SS 9-10)

What is meant by paramita? It is a Sanskrit word which in our language means 'having arrived at the other shore', and is explained as 'being apart from coming into being and ceasing to be'. When one is attached to states of existence, coming into being and ceasing to be arise like waves on water. That is what is meant by 'this shore'. To be apart from states of existence, with no coming into being or ceasing to be, is to be like freely flowing water. That is what is meant by 'the other shore'. Therefore, it is called 'paramita'." (PS 96)

The most well-known paramitas in Buddhism are the Six Paramitas (see that listing) and the Ten Paramitas.

Although the paramitas are usually associated with Mahayana teachings about the practices of the Bodhisattva, they are also found in Theravada teachings. The Ten Parami concern the "perfect exercise of the ten principal virtues by a Bodhisattva" (PTSD).


1) Ch. bwo lwo mi , du , 2) paramita, 3) Pali paramita, parami, parami, 4) Alternate Translations: perfection, mastery, supremacy, supreme virtues, completeness, highest state, crossing to the other shore.

See also: Six Paramitas.

BTTS References: PS 96-97; VS 7; SM III 8; SS I 9-10.

polluted thoughts

"When it comes right down to it, the Buddhadharma is spoken simply to tell living beings not to have polluted thoughts." (FASÄ PI 87)

"Trace the source of your polluted thoughts. For example, if you have polluted thoughts of eating food, it is because you are a gluttonous person. If you have polluted thoughts about sounds, it is because you are greedy to listen to fine sounds. If you have polluted thoughts about sights you see, it is because you enjoy indulging in visual forms. If you have polluted thoughts about bodily contact, it is because you are greedy to experience sensual pleasures. If you have false thoughts about ideas and concepts, it means you are prone to seeking mental dharmas.

"If you are like that, then it means you haven't made it through the gates. You run out the six gates of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. The six sense organs get confused by the six sense objects. But the six sense organs can 'turn' the six sense objects. When that can be done then you are capable of 'not entering' the gates. The Six Sense Objects are: forms, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, and dharmas. When you have passed through the gates, fame and profit won't move you either. You are then not influenced by anything:

The eyes see shapes and forms, but inside there is nothing.

the ears hear defiling sounds, but the mind does not know.

You are no longer turned by false aspects of your environment." (TT 38)


1) Ch. wang syang , 2) Skt. parikalp(it)a, vikalpa 3) Pali vikappa, pakappeti, 4) Alternate Translations: false thinking, (false) discrimination, wild thoughts.

See also: outflows.

BTTS References: PS 98-99, 192-193; TT 38; FAS-PI 87; PDS .


Good Knowing Advisors, what is meant by prajna? Prajna in our language means wisdom. Everywhere and at all times, in thought after thought, remain undeluded and practice wisdom constantly; that is prajna conduct. Prajna is cut off by a single deluded thought. By one wise thought, prajna is produced. Worldly men, deluded and confused, do not see prajna. They speak of it with their mouths, but their minds are always deluded. They constantly say of themselves, 'I cultivate prajna! and though they continually speak of emptiness, they are unaware of true emptiness. Prajna, without form or mark, is just the wisdom-mind. If thus explained, just this is prajna-wisdom. (PS 94-95)

"Prajna is Sanskrit and means, generally, wisdom. Wisdom is a fairly common word. Prajna is a revered term and so it is not translated. It is a miraculous kind of wisdom. Also, it includes several meanings, and [for that reason also] it is not translated. Prajna is of three kinds:

1) Literary Prajna. This refers to the wisdom contained in the Sutras and commentaries spoken by the Buddha. It doesn't refer to ordinary worldly literature. Literary wisdom gives rise to:

2) Contemplative Prajna. After reading the Sutras, one then contemplates and illuminates their meanings through actual practice. This type of prajna then leads one to:

3) Real Mark Prajna. Real Mark Prajna is without a mark. But there is nothing not marked by it. It has no mark, and it is also without the mark of having no mark! The Real Mark is neither existent nor non-existent. Literary prajna is existent. Contemplative prajna is non-existent. Real mark prajna is neither existent nor non-existent. From existence one penetrates to nonÄ existence, and from non-existence one arrives at neither existence nor non-existence. If you can comprehend the realm of neither existence nor non-existence, you have attained Real Mark Prajna.

"Because prajna has these three meanings, we do not translate it. If you have wisdom, you will have prajna. If you have no wisdom, you're stupid. Stupid people lack wisdom. Wise people are devoid of stupidity.

"'I'm worried,' you say, 'because I'm really stupid. I don't have any prajna.'

"Don't worry. To know that you are stupid is just the beginning of prajna! It is just to be feared that you don't know that you are stupid. If you think that you are wise and that you have a lot of prajna, then you are stupid. Why? Because you don't understand yourself. If you understand yourself, you have prajna. If you understand yourself today, then today you have wisdom. If you understand yourself tomorrow, then tomorrow you will have wisdom. If you understand yourself every day, then every day you have wisdom. And so don't be afraid of not having wisdom. Just be afraid that you won't realize that you don't have wisdom! Where does wisdom come from anyway? It comes from stupidity. If you weren't stupid, you couldn't become wise. If you know that you are stupid, that means that your wisdom is starting to manifest. It is just that wonderful, that ineffably wonderful. Basically, I can't explain wonderful Dharma to you, but now I see that you have developed to the point that it's okay to tell you. Since we have arrived at the discussion of prajna, you are no doubt wise enough to hear it!" (DFS X 24-25)


1) Ch. bwo rwo , 2) Skt. prajna, 3) Pali panna, 4) Alternate Translations: wisdom, gnosis, insight, intuitive knowledge.

See also: Six Paramitas--prajna (wisdom), emptiness.

BTTS References: PS 94-96; DFS X 24-25.


The holy sages enlightened to conditions
Doze high on mountain peaks alone.
Springtime's flowers wither in the fall
In a cycle of twelve interconnecting links.

"'The holy sages enlightened to conditions . . .' When there is a Buddha in the world, sages are called those 'enlightened to conditions.' When there is no Buddha in the world, they are called 'solitary enlightened ones' or Pratyekabuddhas, because they are able to become enlightened by themselves.

"'Doze high on mountain peaks alone.' They prefer to doze alone in the high desolate mountains. 'Springtime's flowers wither in the fall in a cycle of twelve interconnecting links.' In the spring the myriad things are born. Those enlightened to conditions watch the white blossoms open, and in the autumn they see the yellow leaves fall. They awaken to the knowledge that all phenomena are non-existent. They see that everything naturally gets born and dies, and thus they become enlightened to the twelve links of conditioned co-production." (TD 29-31)


1) Ch. bi jr fwo , du jywe/jyau , ywan jywe/jyau ; 2) Skt. pratyekabuddha, pratyayabuddha (rare); 3) Pali paccekaÄ buddha, paticcabuddha; 4) Alternate translations: Sage Enlightened by Conditions, Solitary Enlightened One, Solitary Realizers.

See also: enlightenment.

BTTS References: TD 29-31.


See moral precepts.

pure land

A pure land is a land in which Buddhas and other pure beings live. It is undefiled by the Five Turbidities (see listing). The most well-known of the pure lands described by the Buddha is the Land of Ultimate Bliss of Amita Buddha in the West, which is described in The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra.

All beings of this country endure none of the sufferings but enjoy every bliss. . . . This land of Ultimate Bliss is surrounded by seven tiers of railings, seven layers of netting, and seven rows of trees, all formed from the four treasures . . . . This Land of Ultimate Bliss has pools of the seven jewels, filled with waters of eight meritorious virtues. The bottom of each pool is pure, spread over with golden sand. On the four sides are stairs of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, and crystal; above are raised pavillions adorned with gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, mother-of-pearl, red pearls, and carnelian. In the pools are lotuses as large as carriage wheels, green colored of green light, yellow colored of yellow light, red colored of red light, white colored of white light, subtly, wonderfully, fragrant and pure. . . . In that Buddhland there is always heavenly music and the ground is yellow gold. In the six periods of the day and night a heavenly rain of mandarava flowers falls, and throughout the clear morning, each living being of that land, with sacks full of the myriads of wonderful flowers, makes offerings to the hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhas of the other directions. At mealtime they return to their own country, and having eaten, they stroll around. . . . In this country there are always rare and wonderful varicolored birds: white geese, peacocks, parrots, and egrets, kalavinkas and two-headed birds. In the six periods of the day and night the flocks of birds sing forth harmonious and elegant sounds; their clear and joyful sounds proclaim the five roots, the five powers, the seven bodhi shares, the eight sagely Way shares, and Dharmas such as those. When living beings of this land hear these sounds, they are altogether mindful of the Buddha, mindful of the Dharma, and mindful of the Sangha. . . . (AS 109-116)

A Buddha's pure land is a world system which has may special characteristics. It is without the three evil destinies of the hells, ghosts, and animals. The earth is level and the land is very beautiful with all kinds of wondrous adornments. Human life is very blissful as in the heavens. Yet, unlike the heavens, everything in a pure land is set up so that living beings there are always mindful of the Three Jewels (see that entry), and they are always able to hear a Buddha and his retinue of Bodhisattvas teaching the Dharma, which they diligently cultivate. All beings born in pure lands eventually become Buddhas themselves in other world systems or they purposely remain as high Bodhisattvas and go to other world systems to help rescue living beings. Once born in a pure land one will never again fall into the three lower realms of existence or retreat from the Buddha's Path.

The Sixth Patriarch (of the Chan School) Hwei Neng (see listing) said of the Pure Land:

Common, deluded people do not understand their own inherent natures and do not know that the Pure Land is within themselves. Therefore, they make vows for the East and vows for the West. To enlightened people all places are the same. As the Buddha said, 'In whatever place one dwells, there is constant peace and happiness.' (PS 143)

The Venerable Master Hsuan Hua commented on the Christian heaven and the Buddhist pure land: "Fundamentally there is no heaven and there is no Pure Land. People imagine a heaven and a heaven exists. They imagine the existence of a Pure land and a Pure Land exists. The Pure Land Dharma-door was spoken by the Buddha in order to teach you to do away with your false thoughts. It is intended to lead you to a realization of the pure, inherently wonderful True Suchness nature. At the ultimate point, when you have no false thoughts or confused ideas, you arrive at the Pure Land. Whoever can do away with their false thoughts can reach the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Whoever cannot do that is still in the Evil World of the Five Turbidities. Heaven is the same. We imagine how fine and wonderful heaven must be, but only on the basis of what we have heard. We also imagine the Pure Land to be as the Buddha said it was. We haven't yet seen it ourselves, except in our imaginations. As I see it, the Pure land Dharma-door is taught only for the sake of causing you to purify your mind. That is the Pure Land. If your mind has no confused ideas, that is heaven. If you look for it elsewhere, you only show your greed." (Shambala Review, v.5, nos.1&2, Winter, 1976, pp. 27-28)


With one mind we return our lives to the Land of Ultimate Bliss. With a pure light Amita Buddha's vows illumine us, and those kind vows gather us in. Now, with proper mindfulness, we praise the Thus Come One's name in order to take the path of Bodhi and to seek rebirth in the pure land. In the past the Buddha vowed, 'If living beings who wish for rebirth in my land and who resolve their minds with faith and joy, even for just ten recitations, are not reborn there, I will not attain the proper enlightenment.' Through mindfulness of the Buddha, we enter the sea of the Thus Come One's vows and receive the power of the Buddha's kindness. Our multitude of offenses is eradicated and our good roots increase and grow. As we approach the end of life, we ourselves will know the time of its coming. Our bodies will be free of illness and pain. Our hearts will have no greed or fondness, and our thoughts will not be upside down, just as in entering dhyana-samadhi. The Buddha and the assembly of sages, leading us by the hand to the golden dias, will come to welcome us. And in the space of a single thought we will be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. The flower will open, and we will see the Buddha, straightway hear the Buddha vehicle and immediately attain the wisdom of a Buddha. We will take across living beings on a wide scale, fulfilling our Bodhi vows. All Buddha of the ten directions and the Three Periods of Time! All Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas! Mahaprajnaparamita! (RH 230-231)


1) Ch. jing du ; 2) Skt. parisuddham-budhaksetram; 3) Pali -Ä ---.

See also: Buddhaland, Pure Land School, Three Bodies of a Buddha, Buddhaland.

BTTS References: PS 140-145; FAS-PI 116ff.

Pure Land School

See Five Types of Buddhist Study and Practice--Pure Land.