Alaya Consciousness:  Also called “Storehouse Consciousness”, “Eighth Consciousness”, or “Karma Repository.”  (See: Consciousness)

Alms (food, robes, etc.):   He who gives alms bestows a 4-fold blessing.  He helps to long life, good appearance, true happiness and strength.  Therefore, long life, good appearance, true happiness and strength will be his share.

On the morning alms round, monks go out to collect food.  This is not begging, but rather allowing lay people the opportunity to earn karmic merit by giving.  By providing sustenance to the monastic community, lay people can accumulate merit and be blessed.

Amitabha (Amida, Amita):  Amitabha is the Buddha of Infinite Light and Infinite Life.  Amitabha Buddha  presides over the Pure Land, where anyone can be reborn through utterly sincere recitation of His name, particuarly at the time of death.  Amitabha Buddha at the highest level represents the True Mind, the True-Nature common to the Buddhas and all sentient beings.  Pure Land and Chan (Zen) are two of the most popular schools of Mahayana Buddhism.

Answering Questions:   The Buddha said, “There are 4 ways answering questions:  (1) There are questions requiring a direct answer; (2) questions requiring an explanation; (3) questions to be answered by counter-questions; and (4) questions to be rejected (as wrongly put).”

Arhat:  The Arhat was the ideal of early Buddhism.  An Arhat  is a Buddhist Saint who has attained liberation from the cycle of existence, generally through a monastic life in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings.

Attachment (Clinging, Craving):  All attachments create bonds and bind beings to existence and drive them from rebirth to rebirth.  Objects of attachment are constituted by the 5 Skandhas (5 Groups of Existence).  In the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha taught that attachment to self is the root cause of suffering.

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, literally, “He Who Hears the Sounds (Outcries) of the World” or “Perceiver of the Sounds of the World.”  In Mahayana Buddhism, Avalokitesvara is known as the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion. Thirty-three different ways of depicting Avalokitesvara are known, distinguished by the number of heads and arms as well as by the attributes held in the hands.  The numerous arms symbolize his ability to work for the welfare of sentient beings in a manner corresponding to any situation.

In China, he is usually portrayed in the female form and is known as “Kuan Yin ,” usually recognizable by the small Buddha adorning Her Crown.  Kuan Yin  can manifest in any form necessary to help any being.  Her limitless compassion expresses itself in her wonderful ability to help all beings who turn to her at times of extreme danger.  In folk belief, Kuan Yin  also protects from natural catastrophe and grants blessings to children. In Japan, Avalokitesvara is venerated under the name of Kannon.  The Tibetan form of Avalokitesvara is Chenresi.

Awakening vs. Enlightenment.  When a practitioner  experiences a Great Awakening (Awakening to the Truth), his afflictions (greed, anger, and delusion) are temporarily suppressed, but not yet totally eliminated.  To achieve Supreme  Enlightenment  is the ultimate goal.  Only after becoming a Buddha, can one be said to have truly attained Suprmere Enlightenment.

Awareness.  The content and quality of our lives depend on our level of awareness — a fact that we are often not aware of.  With its emphasis on awareness and mindfulness, Buddhism has much to offer the new environmentalism.  The practice of  mindful living and mindful about consumption  encourage us to embrace environmental awareness and a sense of global responsibility.

Bodhi  means awakened, enlightenment.  It is described as the realization of prajna-wisdom, awakening to one’s own buddha-nature, insight into the essential emptiness of the phenomenal world, and perception of suchness (the true nature of all things).

Bodhichitta (Bodhi Mind) means the awakened mind, the mind of enlightenment, and the equanimity of attitude and compassionate love for all.  Bodhichitta is one of the central notion of Buddhism.  It involves two parallel aspects:  (1)  the determination to achieve Buddhahood, and (2) the aspiration to rescue all sentient beings.

Bodhidharma   was the first Patriarch of Chinese Chan Buddhism and the twenty-eighth Patriarch of Indian Buddhism.  He arrived in China from India around the sixth century C.E.  He was the father of Japanese Zen Buddhism.  Bodhidharma  said, “‘Among all things, nonarising is formless;’ and, ‘Among all things, the nature of Dharma is the biggest.'”

Bodhisattvas  refer to those who aspire to  Supreme Enlightenment  (Buddhahood) for themselves and all beings.  The word Bodhisattva can therefore stand for a realized being such as Kuan Yin , but also for anyone who has developed the Bodhi Mind, the aspiration to save oneself and others.  The concept of the bodhisattva is the defining feature of Mahayana Buddhism.  There is no distinction between sentient beings, i.e. sameness of all beings, is the basis for the compassion that determines the action of a bodhisattva.

Buddha is a title meaning “Awakened One, Enlightened One,” used for a person who has purified all defilements, developed all good qualities, and achieved the enlightenment that leads to release from the cycle of existence, and has thereby attained complete liberation.

The Buddha refers to the historical founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama who lived 2,500 years ago in India.  After seeing an old man, a sick man, a corpse and a monk, Prince Siddhartha gave up his royal life and led a simple life of an ascetic in meditation.  He became a Buddha at age of 35 and was known asShakyamuni Buddha  — the Sage of Shakyas. For the next 45 years, he walked with his disciples in northern and eastern India compassionately teaching the Dharma. (See:  Siddhartha Gautama)

Representations of the Buddha generally depict him in one of three positions:  standing (symbolizing authority), sitting cross-legged in the lotus position (signifying calm), or lying on his right side (reserved for representation of parinirvana).

Buddhahood.  The attainment and expression that characterizes a Buddha.  Buddhahood, which is formless,  is the ultimate goal of all sentient beings.

Buddha Nature (Buddha Potential).  Buddha nature is the true, immutable, and eternal nature of all  sentient beings.  Since all sentient beings possess buddha nature, and the buddha nature of all beings are equal, it is possible for every being to attain enlightenment and become a buddha, regardless of what level of existence they occupy.

Buddhism is “Yana” – the vehicle (or the ferry) that figuratively carries belivers across the ocean of suffering (Samsara) into Nirvana.  Many different forms and expressions of Buddhism have evolved.   The Supreme Enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha  is the beginning of the Buddha-dharma, i.e. that which is known as Buddhism.  Buddhism is basically the religion of enlightenment; one of the three great world religions.  Life is regarded by Shakyamuni Buddha as impermanent, non-self, and characterized by suffering.  The recognition of these 3 marks of existence marks the beginning of the Buddhist path.

The suffering-ridden quality of existence is conditioned by craving and ignorance, through the clearing away of which liberation from  the cycle of existence can be attained.  The entanglement of  beings in the cycle of existence is explained in Buddhism by the chain of conditioned arising.  The termination of the cycle is tantamount to the realization of nirvana.

The way to this can be summarized in terms of the 4 Noble Truthsthe Noble 8-fold Path, training in discipline and morality, meditation and mindfulness, and wisdom and insight.  The basic thought of Buddhism is summed up in the 3 Baskets (Tripitaka).  The Buddhist community consists of monks, nuns as well as lay followers.

The Buddhist teachings do not directly promote environmental protection, but emphasize simple living, non-violence, compassion and loving kindness, and so indirectly encourage environmental concern.

(Spring Liao, 05/30/2011)