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Buddhist Helpful Terms

Bodhi means “Awakening.”


Bodhicitta means “enlightenment-mind.” It is the mind that strives toward awakening, empathy and compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings. 


Bodhisattva has two parts, Bodhi means “awakened” and sattva means “being.” Together, Bodhisattva means an “awakened being.”


Buddha means "the Enlightened one or Fully Awakened one." A person who sees things as they truly are. The title is applied to those who have perfect wisdom and universal compassion.


Dharma is “cosmic law and order,” and refers to the nature of reality regarded as a universal truth taught by the Buddha.


Dukkha means “intolerable,” “unsustainable,” “difficult to endure,” and can also mean “imperfect,” “unsatisfying,” or “incapable of providing perfect happiness.”


Eightfold Path, consists of Right Understanding (View), Right Intention (Thinking), Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort (Diligence), Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.


Four Noble Truths, The (see Noble Truths below)


Karma in the Buddhist tradition is the cycle of rebirth after death, which is determined by actions driven by intention, a deed done deliberately through body, speech, or mind which leads to future consequences. Our past actions affect us, either positively or negatively, and our present actions will affect us in the future. 


Lumbini Grove is the place of Siddhārtha Gautama’s birth


Mara, also known as “Namuci,” “the Evil One,” “Demon,” “Passion,” and “Death.” Mara symbolizes the passions that overwhelm human beings as well as all the unwholesome desires that take us away from our spiritual life. Mara is the “personification of temptation of all forces,” within and without that creates obstacles to release from the round of desire, death and rebirth.


Namo has multiple meanings: “homage,” “I bow” or “I return to” This term is often used in chants such as “Namo Shakyamuni Buddha.”


Noble Truths, also known as “The Four Noble Truths” 

1) The Noble Truth of Suffering (Life is suffering.)

2) The Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering (Desire causes suffering.) 

3) The Noble Truth of the End of Suffering 

4) The Noble Truth of the Way that leads to the End of suffering (Follow the Noble   Eight-fold Path).


Refuges, The Three (see The Three Refuges / Triple Jewels below)


Right Precepts, There are the precepts designated for your personal path toward religion.

  • The Precepts for a Monk are 250

  • The Precepts for a Nun are 348

  • The Precepts for a Buddhist are 5 (see The Five Precepts for Buddhist Lay-friends below)

The Five Precepts for Buddhist Lay-friends 

  1. To abstain from killing

  2. To abstain from stealing

  3. To abstain from sexual misconduct

  4. To abstain from lying

  5. To abstain from all intoxicants


Sangha means “community,” and in Buddhism, it refers to the ordained monastics of Buddhism who practice Dharma.


Shakyamuni Buddha is the name of the historical Buddha (also known as Siddhārtha Gautama) He was a spiritual and philosophical teacher and founder of the world religion of Buddhism who lived and taught in India. Shakya is the Buddha’s clan name, meaning “able to be humane.” Muni means “sage.” After his enlightenment he was known as “Shakyamuni” or “Sage of the Shakya clan.”


Sutras are the teachings of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas or other awakened beings certified by the Buddha; Discourses.


The Three Refuges / Triple Jewels Buddhists take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Each of these is considered a rare and precious element of the Buddhist path and so they are called the Triple jewels.


Ullambana: “Ullambana is the most popular Buddhist festival. On this day ceremonies are held in which the sutras are recited in order to soothe the torments of the deceased in the lower realms of existence.”  The origin of this ceremony is to be found in the story of Maudgalyayana, who saw his mother through his “divine eyes” had been reborn as a hungry ghost, and he wanted to save her. “The Buddha told him that only the combined effort of all Buddhist monks could help here escape her fate.” During this festival, offerings are made to the spirits of the dead and to hungry ghosts. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. “Ullambana is a festival of liberation, which advocates and reinforces the concept of filial piety. The word ‘Ullambana' is a transliteration of the Sanskrit word meaning ‘deliverance from suffering', and specifically refers to the salvation that is granted to tormented souls in hell.” On this day, Buddhists offer prayers both to their ancestors, and to their living parents and elders.  (

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