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founded by S. N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin







Glossary of Pāli and other terms used on this site: Included in this list are Pāli terms that appear in the text as well as some other terms of importance in the teaching of the Buddha.


Ānāpāna Respiration
Ānāpāna-sati Awareness of respiration
Anattā Not self, egoless, without essence, without substance. One of the three basic characteristics of phenomena, along with anicca and dukkha.
Anicca Impermanent, ephemeral, changing. One of the three basic characteristics of phenomena, along with anattā and dukkha.
Anusaya The unconscious mind; latent, underlying conditioning; dormant mental impurity (also anusaya-kilesa).
Arahant/Arahat Liberated being. One who has destroyed all impurities of the mind.
Ariya Noble; saintly person. One who has purified the mind to the point of having experienced ultimate reality (nibbāna).
Ariya aṭṭhaṅgika magga The Noble Eightfold Path leading to liberation from suffering. It is divided into three trainings, namely
Sīla Morality, purity of vocal and physical actions
Sammā-vācā Right speech
Sammā-kammanta Right actions
Sammā-ājīva Right livelihood
Samādhi Concentration, control of one's own mind
Sammā-vāyāma Right effort
Sammā-sati Right awareness
Sammā-samādhi Right concentration
Paññā Wisdom, insight which totally purifies the mind
Sammā-saṅkappa Right thought
Sammā-diṭṭhi Right understanding
Ariya sacca Noble truths

The Four Noble Truths are

(1) the truth of suffering;

(2) the truth of the origin of suffering;

(3) the truth of the cessation of suffering;

(4) the truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering.
Bhaṅga Dissolution. An important stage in the practice of Vipassana. The experience of the dissolution of the apparent solidity of the body into subtle vibrations that are continually arising and passing away
Bhāvanā Mental development, meditation. The two divisions of bhāvanā are the development of tranquility (samatha-bhāvanā), corresponding to concentration of mind (samādhi), and the development of insight (vipassanā-bhāvanā), corresponding to wisdom (paññā). Development of samatha will lead to the states of mental absorption; development of vipassanā will lead to liberation
bhāvanā-mayā paññā Experiential wisdom. See paññā
Bhikkhu monk; meditator. Feminine form bhikkhuṇī-nun
Buddha Enlightened person. One who has discovered the way to liberation, has practised it, and has reached the final goal by his own efforts
Chaṭṭha saṅgāyana the Sixth Council of learned monks held in Myanmar in 1954
Cintā-mayā paññā Intellectual wisdom. See paññā
Citta - Mind. Cittānupassanā observation of the mind. See sati-paṭṭhāna
Dhamma Phenomenon; object of mind; nature; natural law; law of liberation, i.e., teaching of an enlightened person
Dhammānu-passanā observation of the contents of the mind. See satipaṭṭhāna. (Sanskrit dharma.)
Dukkha Suffering, unsatisfactoriness. One of the three basic characteristics of phenomena, along with anatta and anicca
Gotama Family name of the historical Buddha. (Sanskrit Gautama.)
Goenkaji "ji" is a respectful term . Used for Mr. Goenka
Guruji Principal Teacher, a term used for Mr. Goenka
Hīnayāna Literally, "lesser vehicle." Term used for Theravāda Buddhism by those of other schools. Pejorative connotation
Jhāna State of mental absorption or trance. There are eight such states which may be attained by the practice of samādhi, or samatha-bhāvanā. Cultivation of them brings tranquility and bliss, but does not eradicate the deepest-rooted mental defilements
Kalāpa Smallest indivisible unit of matter
Kamma Action, specifically an action performed by oneself which will have an effect on one's future. (Sanskrit karma)
Kāya Body
Kāyānupassanā observation of the body. See sati-paṭṭhāna
Mahāyāna Literally, "greater vehicle." The type of Buddhism that developed in India a few centuries after the Buddha and that spread north to Tibet, Mongolia, China, Viet Nam, Korea, and Japan
Mettā Selfless love and good will. One of the qualities of a pure mind
Mettā-bhāvanā the systematic cultivation of mettā by a technique of meditation
Nibbāna Extinction; freedom from suffering; the ultimate reality; the unconditioned. (Sanskrit nirvāṇa.)
Pāli Line; text. The texts recording the teaching of the Buddha; hence the language of these texts. Historical, linguistic, and archaeological evidence indicate that Pāli was a language actually spoken in northern India at or near the time of the Buddha. Later the texts were translated into Sanskrit, which was exclusively a literary language
Paññā Wisdom. The third of the three trainings by which the Noble Eightfold Path is practised (see ariya aṭṭhaṅgika magga). There are three kinds of wisdom: suta-mayā paññā - literally, "wisdom gained from listening to others," i.e., received wisdom; cintā-mayā paññā - wisdom gained by intellectual analysis; and bhāvanā-mayā paññā - wisdom developing from direct, personal experience. Of these, only the last can totally purify the mind; it is cultivated by the practice of vipassanā-bhāvanā
Paṭicca-samuppāda The Chain of Conditioned Arising; causal genesis. The process, beginning with ignorance, by which one keeps making life after life of suffering for oneself
Samādhi Concentration, control of one's mind. The second of the three trainings by which the Noble Eightfold Path is practised (see ariya aṭṭhaṅgika magga). When cultivated as an end in itself, it leads to the attainment of the states of mental absorption (jhāna), but not to total liberation of the mind
Sammā-sati Right awareness, See sati
Sampajañña Understanding of the totality of the human phenomenon. i.e., insight into its impermanent nature at the level of sensations
Saṃsāra Cycle of rebirth; conditioned world; world of suffering
Saṅgha Congregation; community of ariyas, i.e., those who have experienced nibbāna; community of Buddhist monks or nuns; a member of the ariya-saṅgha, Bhikkhu-Saṅgha, or Bhikkhuṇī-Saṅgha
Saṅkhāra (Mental) formation; volitional activity; mental reaction; mental conditioning. One of the four aggregates or processes of the mind, along with viññaṇa, saññā, and vedanā. (Sanskrit samskāra.)
Saṅkhāra-upekkhā / Saṅkhārupekkhā - Literally, equanimity toward the saṅkhāras. A stage in the practice of Vipassana, subsequent to the experience of bhāṅga, in which old impurities lying dormant in the unconscious rise to the surface level of the mind, manifesting themselves as physical sensations. By maintaining equanimity (upekkhā) toward these sensations, the meditator creates no new saṅkhāras, and allows the old ones to be eradicated. Thus, the process gradually leads to the eradication of all saṅkhāras
Saññā Perception, recognition. One of the four mental aggregates or processes, along with vedanā, viññāṇa, and saṅkhāra. It is ordinarily conditioned by one's past saṅkhāras, and therefore conveys a distorted image of reality. In the practice of Vipassana, saññā is changed into paññā, the understanding of reality as it is. It becomes anicca-saññā, dukkha-saññā, anattā-saññā, asubhasaññā - that is, the perception of impermanence, suffering, egolessness, and the illusory nature of beauty
Sati Awareness
Ānāpāna-sati awareness of respiration
Sammā-sati right awareness, a constituent of the Noble Eightfold Path (see ariya aṭṭhaṅgika magga)
Satipaṭṭhāna  The establishing of awareness. There are four interconnected aspects of Satipaṭṭhāna: (1) observation of the body (kāyānupassanā); (2) observation of sensations arising within the body (vedanānupassanā); (3) observation of the mind (cittānupassanā); (4) observation of the contents of the mind (dhammānupassanā). All four are included in the observation of sensations, since sensations are directly related to both body and mind
Sayagyi A respectful title used for Mr. U Ba Khin, means teacher
Siddhattha Literally, "one who has accomplished his task." The personal name of the present Buddha. (Sanskrit Siddhārtha.)
Sīla Morality, abstaining from physical and vocal actions that cause harm to others and oneself. The first of the three trainings by which the Noble Eightfold Path is practised (see ariya aṭṭhaṅgika magga)
Suta-mayā paññā Received wisdom. See paññā
Sutta Discourse of the Buddha or one of his leading disciples. (Sanskrit sūtra)
Taṇhā Literally, "thirst." Includes both craving and its reverse image of aversion. The Buddha identified taṇhā as the cause of suffering in his first sermon, the "Discourse Setting in Motion the Wheel of Dhamma" (Dhamma-cakkappavattana Sutta). In the Chain of Conditioned Arising, he explained that taṇhā originates as a reaction to sensation
Tathāgata Literally "thus-gone" or "thus-come" One who by walking on the path of reality has reached the ultimate reality, i.e., an enlightened person. The term by which the Buddha commonly referred to himself
Theravāda Literally, "teaching of the elders." The teachings of the Buddha, in the form in which they have been preserved in the countries of South Asia (Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia). Generally recognized as the oldest form of the teachings
Tipiṭaka Literally, "three baskets." The three collections of the teachings of the Buddha, namely: (1) Vinaya-piṭaka-the collection of monastic discipline; (2) Sutta-piṭaka-the collection of discourses; (3) Abhidhamma-piṭaka-"the collection of higher teaching," i.e., systematic philosophical exegesis of the Dhamma. (Sanskrit Tripiṭaka.)
Vedanā Sensation. One of the four mental aggregates or processes, along with viññaṇa, saññā, and saṅkhāra. Described by the Buddha as having both mental and physical aspects; therefore vedanā offers a means to examine the totality of mind and body. In the Chain of Conditioned Arising, the Buddha explained that taṇhā, the cause of suffering, originates as a reaction to vedanā. By learning to observe vedanā objectively, one can avoid any new reactions of craving or aversion, and can experience directly within oneself the reality of impermanence (anicca). This experience is essential for the development of detachment, leading to liberation of the mind
Vedanānupassanā observation of sensations within the body. See satipaṭṭhāna
Viññāṇa Consciousness, cognition. One of the four mental aggregates or processes, along with saññā, vedanā, and saṅkhāra
Vipassanā Introspection, insight that totally purifies the mind. Specifically, insight into the impermanent nature of mind and body
Vipassanā-bhāvanā the systematic development of insight through the meditation technique of observing the reality of oneself by observing sensations within the body
Yathā-bhūta Literally, "as it is." Reality
Yathā-bhūta-ñāṇa-dassana Wisdom arising from seeing the truth as it is