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A Few Basic Terms.

CittaCitta Veteran
edited December 2017 in Buddhism Basics

MODERATOR NOTE: I have happily revived this thread because we could all do with a bit of revision and focus, now and then.

In view of its scholastic intent, PLease stick to topic.

OFF-TOPIC POSTS will be deleted.

A few basic terms that will aid understanding debate on this and other Buddhist forums.


literally ' again becoming ' often translated badly as 'rebirth ' or very badly as 'reincarnation '.

It means our built in tendency to cling to an identity. It might refer to an after death state..but it happens constantly throughout life.


literally 'heaps ' ..our changing bodies, consciousness, perceptions, cognitions, feelings, which are in constant change and from which we weave our self sense. The illusory sense of of a permanent self.
Our repeated clinging to a self sense is one meaning of punabhava..see above.

Brahma Viharas.

the Brahma Viharas are a set of four meditations which aim at increasing Metta ( loving kindness ) Karuna ( compassion ) Mudita ( sympathetic joy ) and Upekkha ( equanimity ) in ourselves.

These are seen as arising together and hang together interdependently..metta for example without upekkha can result in attachment.
Upekkha without metta is likely to result in indifference..and so on.

There is a lot of material on the Brahma Viharas to be found on the internet.



  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited March 2014


    the description of mental relationships (dependent origination) going from ignorance all the way to death.

  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited March 2014


    ' skillful means ' those actions or practices which lead to greater awareness.

    Meditation is an upaya, but so is painting an elderly neighbours fence..chanting is another upaya..

    Prajna ( sanskrit ) Panna ( pali )

    Wisdom, concentrated Insight that is part of the flux of things. It is ' uncovered ' , not created, by the use of upayas see above.

    Dhamma Vinaya

    The doctrine ( dharma ) and discipline ( vinaya ).

    What the Buddha called the Way that he founded, he did not call it Buddhism..that's a western construct.

  • Bodhicitta

    The awakened mind.

  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran

    Rigpa: Rigpa is the knowledge that follows from recognizing one's nature, the basic pure awareness that is. In cutting through to the basic understanding of this recognition of the true nature one comes to know that there is a primordial freedom from grasping in the mind, and is attainable in the present moment.

    The opposite of rigpa (vidyā, right knowledge or clarity) is marigpa (avidyā, ignorance).

  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    edited March 2014

    Prajna (from Sanskrit prajñā) - may also be described or interpreted as wisdom, and can be understood within the domain of meditation. It can also be thought of as the direct insight into the essential truth taught by the Buddha, and some have described as being an inherent or acquired prerequisite to attain liberation.

    Incidentally, we all have it, and it may be described as buddha nature.

  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited March 2014


    Literally " he/she flows into himself "

    Not a place or even a condition, but a misperception which arises constantly by identification with that which is not permanent , which in turn causes suffering.


    " mental absorption " from dhy to see

    Inadequately translated by the English term 'meditation'.

    Dhyana has four stages which range from a realisation of that which disturbs the mind through one pointedness to complete absorption beyond the thinking process.

  • CittaCitta Veteran

    Sems khrid ( Tibetan )

    This is a term from Dzogchen which refers to the 'pointing out instructions by which a teacher qualified to do so brings about a glimpse of Prakriti which is translated as Original Mind , in the mindstream of the student.

  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited March 2014


    Prapanca ( Sanskrit ) and Papanca ( Pali ) concerns the tendency of our minds to speculate more and more..the origin of the word translates as expansion..

    To give an is night. We hear a sound downstairs, our mind forms the idea of a robber.
    It then goes on to tell us a story that becomes more and elaborate..injury.. death..heroism...
    All from hearing a sound. That is papanca.

    Another example we speculate about some future scientific discovery and the way that it will affect humanity..the narrative takes on a life of its own.

    It might be fun but it has little to do with suffering and the ending of suffering.

    It is another exmple of Papanca.

    The Buddha talks about Papanca in the Honeyball Sutta.
    A lesser known sutta/sutra.
    But one that is extremely interesting because it outlines a different model of the Nidanas than the more well known model.
    A model that focuses on our emotional functitioning and the way that it affects perception.

  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited December 2017

    As always in this occasional series of looks at common phrases or terms ( or "farting Pali" as one member put it ) lets start with the bad translation and get it out of the way.. :)

    Saddha (Pali ) or Sraddha ( Sanskrit ) is frequently translated as 'faith'..Although this conveys part of the meaning of saddha/ is misleading by association...

    In some but not all Theistic religion 'faith' has come to mean believing in something when there is no evidence for such belief, or even evidence which is contrary to that belief..

    That is not what is meant by saddha/sraddha.

    The roots of the word are srat which means 'trustful' or 'confidence'. And dha which means 'support' or 'uphold'..

    So it is 'that which supports or upholds trustfulness or confidence.'

    Nothing there about belief at all.

    Instead its about action..its what we do.

    So if we take a skillful means ( an upaya ) like Mindfulness Of Breathing we dont simply take it on faith that it will work. If on the other hand we have no faith that it will work we wouldn't start it what to do ?

    We give it provisional credence. We say ' I will put my doubt to one side and give it a try. If I see it working I will have confidence in it, I will trust it '. Mindfulness Of Breathing then becomes both a support and means (dha ) for confidence ( srat ).

    We have sraddha/saddha..

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran

    I thought the Saddha Sutta might be relevant....

    Saddha Sutta: Conviction

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    I more or less agree, although I do think there's an aspect of faith (as in belief not necessarily founded upon direct experience) involved as well. The way I see it, faith isn't necessarily a bad thing; although I agree there are different kinds of faith. And as rational as many aspects of Buddhism may be, there's still a role for faith/belief, in my opinion.

    In the Pali Canon, the word saddha is generally translated as 'confidence,' 'conviction,' or 'faith.' More specifically, it's a type of confidence, conviction, or faith that's rooted in understanding as well as what we'd conventionally refer to as faith in the West (i.e., confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing). And that kind of conviction also extends to things that we may not have any direct experience or knowledge of, at least at the beginning.

    Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with faith in and of itself; and I think having a certain amount of conviction in the Buddha's teachings is needed from a purely pragmatic point of view. For one thing, without at least a modicum of confidence in the Buddha as a teacher, there's no motivation to put his teachings into practice (and the same with the teachings and the advice of those who dedicate themselves to practicing them/passing them down). As Thanissaro Bhikkhu writes in his essay "Faith in Awakening":

    The Buddha never placed unconditional demands on anyone's faith... We read his famous instructions to the Kalamas, in which he advises testing things for oneself, and we see it as an invitation to believe, or not, whatever we like. Some people go so far as to say that faith has no place in the Buddhist tradition, that the proper Buddhist attitude is one of skepticism. But even though the Buddha recommends tolerance and a healthy skepticism toward matters of faith, he also makes a conditional request about faith: If you sincerely want to put an end to suffering — that's the condition — you should take certain things on faith, as working hypotheses, and then test them through following his path of practice.

    Without faith that the Buddha had at least some insight into the nature of suffering, there's little reason to take anything he said as a working hypothesis to test. Therefore, while faith by itself isn't a sufficient condition for arriving at the highest fruits of the Dhamma, there are elements of faith that are important to the practice, which is illustrated in places like MN 70:

    Monks, I do not say that the attainment of gnosis is all at once. Rather, the attainment of gnosis is after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice. And how is there the attainment of gnosis after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice? There is the case where, when conviction has arisen, one visits [a teacher]. Having visited, one grows close. Having grown close, one lends ear. Having lent ear, one hears the Dhamma. Having heard the Dhamma, one remembers it. Remembering, one penetrates the meaning of the teachings. Penetrating the meaning, one comes to an agreement through pondering the teachings. There being an agreement through pondering the teachings, desire arises. When desire has arisen, one is willing. When one is willing, one contemplates. Having contemplated, one makes an exertion. Having made an exertion, one realizes with the body the ultimate truth and, having penetrated it with discernment, sees it.

    In essence, faith in Buddhism is a stepping stone to gnosis, much as it is in many forms of Christianity. And while some find theistic spiritual traditions like Christianity a source of comfort, guidance, and happiness, I've found Buddhism to be the same. I don't know if nibbana — the extinction of craving; the extinguishing of greed, hatred and delusion; the complete end of suffering — is attainable, but I certainly like where the path has taken me thus far, and I have confidence that it's worth my continued effort. And I imagine that others feel the same about their respective spiritual journeys, whatever the context, which is something I can appreciate.

  • CittaCitta Veteran

    i would not dissent from any of that @Jason .

    I was trying to draw out the difference between saddha and blind belief. Which of course is found at least as much in Buddhism as in Theistic religions..

    I think it is only problematic if those approaching dharma/dhamma have been conditioned to associate 'faith' with such blind belief.

    For such people the idea of 'faith' ..which is something that they are keen to shake off..can be problematic at first.

    They then see from various contexts that something different, or something more nuanced, is intended.

  • Dukkha is:
    Disturbance, irritation, dejection, worry, despair, fear, dread, anguish, anxiety; vulnerability, injury, inability, inferiority; sickness, aging, decay of body and faculties, senility; pain/pleasure; excitement/boredom; deprivation/excess; desire/frustration, suppression; longing/aimlessness; hope/hopelessness; effort, activity, striving/repression; loss, want, insufficiency/satiety; love/lovelessness, friendlessness; dislike, aversion/attraction; parenthood/childlessness; submission/rebellion; decision/indecisiveness, vacillation, uncertainty.

    — Francis Story in Suffering, in Vol. II of The Three Basic Facts of Existence (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1983)

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Ha! I like how it included "parenthood" @lobster.
    You could possibly add "English cricket fan" to that list at the moment too I'd suggest :)

  • Satipaṭṭhāna is: The establishment or arousing of mindfulness, as part of the Buddhist practices leading to detachment and liberation.

    Traditionally, mindfulness is thought to be applied to four domains, "constantly watching sensory experience in order to prevent the arising of cravings which would power future experience into rebirths,"[1] namely mindfulness of the body, feelings/sensations, mind/consciousness, and dhammās

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