I would like to express my grateful thanks to Ling-Yen Mountain Temple (located at Etiwanda, City of Rancho Cucamonga, California) where I obtained several free Buddhist  publications, which included  “Buddhist Dictionary – Manual of Buddhist Terms and doctrines” (in Sanskrit, Pali, and English), by Venerable Nyanatiloka in 1946, Third Edition edited by Venerable Nyanaponika in 1970.

Venerable Nyanatiloka (1878-1957)  was a renowned German Buddhist scholar and translator.  His original name was Walter Florus Gueth.  After receiving his high school diploma, he studied music and became a violin virtuoso.  During a trip to Sri Lanka, he came in contact with Buddhism.  He went to Burma, where he entered the Buddhist monastic order.  He was considered one of the most important Pali scholars.

I also would like to express my deepest appreciation to Ven. Nyanatiloka and Ven. Nyanaponika for their remarkable book, “Buddhist Dictionary,” which deepened my knowledge of the profound teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha . The beauty of Shakyamuni Buddha  is that he did not promise to remove the ills of the world; he empowered us to bring compassion to them.  He taught us how to transform life’s difficult situations into expressions of loving-kindness, compassion and tranquility.

I am pleased to present you the “Buddhist Terms” to share with you the timeless wisdom of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha  — from the Four Noble Truths to developing a heart of true compassion.   Through practicing mindfulness, concentration and insight, we can help ourselves and others recognize, embrace and learn from the suffering, and generating abundant peace and true happiness.

With its emphasis on awareness and mindfulness, Buddhism has much to offer the mindful living, mindful consumption of the resources on which we all depend, and the practice of living life with enlightened attitude.

The major source of the following important “Buddhist Terms” was “Buddhist Dictionary” by Ven. Nyanatiloka and Ven. Nyanaponika.  The other sources included “The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen” by Shambhala Publications, Inc.;  “Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith” by Dharma Master Thich Thien Tam; “The Core Teachings” by Venerable Master Hsing Yun; “Peaceful Action, Open Heart” by Dharma Master Thich Nhat Hanh; “Amitabha Sutra” by Venerable Yifa;   “Open Heart, Clear Mind” by Thubten Chodron; and “World Religions” by Franjo Terhart and Janina Schulze.


Buddhist Terms

1.  The 3 Baskets (Tripitaka) is the name for the 3 main categories of the Buddhist Canon:  the sutras (teachings of the Buddha), the precepts and rules,  and the commentaries on the Buddha’s teachings.

2.  The 3 Bodies of the Buddha are the “Transformation Body” (or “Manifestation Body”), the “Retribution Body” (or “Body of Delight”), and the “Body of the Great Order”  (or “Dharma Body.”

3.  The 3 Characteristics of Existence are Impermanence, Suffering, and Non-self (or Non-ego).  It is from the fact of impermanence that suffering and non-self are derived.

4.  The 3 Dharma Seals (or 3 Marks of Everything Existing) are:  (1)  Impermanence: All phenomena are impermanent; (2)  Non-Self: All phenomena do not have a substantial self; and (3) Nirvana is a perfect tranquility.  The 3 Dharma Seals are the mark of an authentic Buddhist teaching.

5.  The 3 Doors to Liberation.  Liberation is possible only through these 3 realizations. (1)  All things are devoid of a self (emptiness);  (2) There are no objects to be perceived by sense-organs (signlessness); (3) No wish of any kind whatsoever remains in the practitioner’s mind, for he no longer needs to strive for any thing (wishlessness).

6.  The 3-fold Training.  The Training which the Buddha’s disciple has to undergo is 3-fold:  Training in Higher Morality, in Higher Mentality, and in Higher Wisdom.  Practicing these results in liberation.  The 3-fold training is to eradicate the 3 poisons (Greed, Hatred, and Ignorance or Delusion).

7. The 3 Gates (or the Mountain Gate which refers to the front entrance of a monastery) are:  (1)  the Gate of Faith, leading one to the  Buddha, (2) the Gate of Wisdom, leading one to the Dharma, and (3) the Gate of Compassion, leading one to the Sangha.

8.  The 3 Gems (or 3 Jewels, 3 Precious Ones) are:  the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

9.  The 3 Gateways to Liberation (or Deliverance) are:  (1) the Conditionless Liberation (or Signless), (2) the Desireless Liberation, and (3) the Emptiness (or Void) Liberation.  They are also called  “the Triple Gateway to Liberation,” as they are three different approaches to the paths of Holiness.

10.  The 3 Karmically Wholesome Roots (Deeds) are:  Hatelessness, Greedlessness and Non-delusion (or Widsom).

11.  The 3 Kinds of Full Understanding (or Comprehension) are:  Full Understanding of the Known, Full Understanding as Investigating, and Full Understanding as Overcoming.

12.  The 3 Kinds of Gifts are:  (1) the gift of material things, (2) the gift of life, and (3) the gift of Truth.  The gift of Truth means to teach and explain the Buddha’s teachings  to the people, to deviate them from the wrong path and lead them on the right path, to organize discussions and seminars on the Dharma, to write and print books already written and to establish reading centers for the long standing of the Buddha’s words.  The gift of Truth excels all other gifts.  The Buddha said, “He who has destroyed craving overcomes all sorrow.”

13.  The 3 Kinds of Insight-Knowledge are:  (1) Knowledge consisting in the Desire for Deliverance, (2)  Reflecting-Contemplation-Knowledge, and (3) Knowledge consisting in Equanimity regarding all formations.

14.  The 3 Kinds of Knowledge are:  (1) Knowledge based on Thinking, (2) Knowledge based on Learning, and (3) Knowledge based on Mental Development.

15.  The 3 Kinds of Suffering are:  (1) suffering as pain, (2) the suffering inherent in the formations, and (3) the suffering in change.

16.  The 3 Lower Realms are:  hell, hungry ghosts, and animals.

17.  The 3 Poisons (or the 3 Roots of Evil) are: Greed, Hatred (or Anger), and Ignorance (or Delusion).  The Buddha said, “These things make one blind and ignorant, hinder one’s knowledge; are painful, and do not lead one to peace.”

18.  The 3 Principal Realizations  (of the Noble 8-fold Path)are: (1) the determination to be free, (2) the altruistic intention to  attain enlightenment for the benefits of all beings, and (3) the wisdom realizing emptiness.  Another way to describe the Noble 8-fold Path is by speaking of these three Principal Realizations.  These three are called realizations because as we familiarize ourselves with them, these deep understandings become part of us and transform our outlook on the world.

19.  The 3 Realms (or 3 Worlds)  where sentient beings reside and transmigrate are:  (1) the realm of sense-desire (our world), (2) the realm of form (realm of lesser deities), and (3) the realm of formlessness (realm of the higher deities).

20.  The 3 Studies includes precepts, meditative concentration, and wisdom.  Precepts can prevent one from the unwholesome acts.  Concentration can help one eliminate distracting thoughts with a singly focused mind, see the true nature, and attain the path.  Wisdom can enable one to reveal the true nature, eliminate all afflictions, and see the Truth.

20-1.  The 3 Virtues of Nirvana are:  (1) the virtue of the Buddha’s eternal, spiritual body; (2) the virtue of the Buddha’s wisdom, knowing all phenomena in their reality; and (3) the virtue of his freedom from all bonds.

21.  The 3 World-elements are:  the Sensuous World, the Fine-material World, and the Immaterial World.

(Spring Liao, 05/17/2011)