Death, in ordinary usage, means the disappearance of the vital faculty confined to a single life-time.  In Buddhism, death refers to the arising and passing away of all mental and physical phenomena. Death is the continually repeated dissolution and vanishing of each momentary physical-mental combination, and thus it takes place every moment.  One may reflect on death in the following vaious ways:  one may bear in mind that all happiness ends in death; or that life is something dependent on in-and-out breathing, and bound up with it; or that life continues only as long as the elements, food, breath, etc. are properly performing their functions; or that life is very short and limited.

Deliverance of Mind  is the state of mind which is free from greed, hatred, and ignorance.  In the highest sense it signifies the Fruition of Arhatship, and, in particular, the concentration associated with it.  It is often linked with the “Deliverance through Wisdom.”  ‘Boundless Deliverance of Mind’ is a name for “the 4 Boundless States”, i.e. Loving-kindness, Compassion, Altruistic Joy and Equanimity.

Delusion (or Ignorance) refers to belief in something that contradicts reality.  In Buddhism, delusion is a lack of awareness of the true nature or buddha-nature of things, or of the true meaning of existence.  Delusion is the primary root of all evil and suffering in the world, veiling man’s mental eyes and preventing him from seeing the true nautre of things.  It is the delusion tricking beings by making life appear to them as permanent, happy, substantial and beautiful, and preventing them from seeing that everything in reality is impermanent, liable to suffering, non-self, and basically impure. (See: Ignorance)

Demons are the evil influences which hinder cultivation.  These can take an infinite number of forms, including evil beings, disease and death, as well as the 3 poisons of greed, hatred and delusion are also equated to  demons, as they disturb the mind.

Dependent Origination is the doctrine of the conditionality.  The “Wheel of Existence,” or ‘Wheel of Life,” is a name for Dependent Origination.  When the Buddha attained the Perfect Enlightenment under the bodhi tree, he awakened to the universal truth of Dependent Origination.  Dependent Origination means that everything in the world arises from causes and conditions, and that nothing has a substantial existence.  All phenomena do not come into existence independently, but only as a result of causes and conditions; therefore, no phenomenon possesses an independent self-nature.   The characteristic of all phenomena having no substantial existence is called “Emptiness.”  Frequent contemplation of Dependent Origination can inspire us to be grateful for the things we have and the world we live in.  Dependent Origination gives us hope as it shows us how to understand the deepest meaning of life.

Dharma is anything that can be thought of, experienced, or named; close in meaning of “phenomena.”

The Dharma, a central notion of Buddhism, is the Buddha’s teaching or explanation of reality and universal truth.  The teaching of the Buddha  expresses the universal truth about the way things are, and will always be, in the universe or in nature.  The Dharma in this sense existed already before the birth of the Buddha, but He is a manifestation of it.  The Dharma, as the universal law discovered and proclaimed by the Buddha, is summed up in the 4 Noble Truths.  It forms one of the 3 Gems (the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha), and one of 10 Recollections.

Dharma Body refers to the true nature of a Buddha, and also to the absolute Dharma that the Buddha attained.  It is also one of three bodies possessed by a Buddha.

Dharma-doors.  It appears in many Mahayana Sutras, and is often said to be 84,000 in number, a symbol of the various incalculable teachings through which the Buddha-dharma (which is usually translated as “Buddhism”) may be entered.

Diamond Sutra  is an independent part of the Prajnaparamita Sutra, which attained great importance, particularly in East Asia. It shows that all phenomenal appearances are not ultimate reality but illusions, projections of one’s own mind.  Every practitioner of meditation should regard all phenomena and actions in this way, seeing them as “empty, devoid of self, and tranquil.”  The work is called Diamond Sutra  because it is sharp like a diamond that cuts away all unnecessary conceptualizations and brings one to the further shore of enlightenment.  In Buddhism, “Diamond” stands for true reality, emptiness, and the essence of everything existing.  This emptiness is indestructible like diamond.

Disturbing Attitudes are attitudes, such as ignorance, attachment, anger, pride, jealousy, and closed-mindedness, which disturb our mental peace and propel us to act in ways harmful to ourselves and others.

“Divine Messengers” is a symbolic name in Buddhism for old-age, sickness, and death, since these three things remind man of his future and rouse him to strive earnestly to attain perfection.  The role of these three things is to make people aware of the suffering and impermanence of existence and urge them onto the path of enlightenment.

Emptiness (Voidness) is not nothingness or nihilism.  It is the understanding that all phenomena are impermanent and interdependent.  They are interdependent in that they come together due to causes and conditions.  Buddhism has been called the “Gate to Emptiness” since ancient times because emptiness is one of its most important doctrines.  Emptiness is also one of the characteristics that distinguishes Buddhism from other religions.  In Buddhism, it is said that existence relies on emptiness, which means that all phenomena have no “independent” nature.  Emptiness is the ultimate nature or reality of all things.

Emptiness and existence are two sides of the same coin, namely that all phenomena are empty because no substantial existence can be attained, and all phenomena have existence because the manifestation of existence is not empty.  Without emptiness, the phenomenal world could not exist.  Emptiness embraces the boundless universe and true emptiness is able to give rise to all existence. ” Without emptiness, there is no form; and  “Without form, there is no emptiness.”

Things that we think are solid and unchanging are in fact in a constant state of change.  We just can always see it because it happens very slowly, so we have the false view that things are unchanging.  When we do see things changing, we often suffer a great deal because we don’t want them to change.  Cultivating this view of emptiness is key to overcoming ignorance and finding true happiness.

Enlightenment.  There is a 3-fold classification of Enlightenment:  (1) that of a Noble Disciple, (2) of an Independently Enlightened One,  and (3) of a Perfect Enlightened One, i.e. The Enlightenment of a Buddha.  The Perfect  Enlightenment (Buddhahood) is the state of awakening to  the true nature of emptiness and phenomena, having forever eliminated all disturbing attitudes, karmic imprints, and their stains from one’s mindstream, and having developed one’s good qualities and wisdom to their fullest extent.  Buddhahood supersedes liberation.

The Perfect (Supreme) Enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha  is the beginning of the Buddha-dharma, i.e. that which is known as Buddhism.  Buddhism is basically a religion of Enlightenment; without this experience there would be no Buddhism.

Equanimity (mental balance) literally meaning remaining here and there in the middle, is the keeping in the middle of all things.  It is an ethical quality and should not be confused with “indifferent feeling.”  Equanimity is one of the Factors of Enlightenment.  “Equanimous Happiness” is the feeling of true happiness accompanied by a high degree of equanimity.

Equanimity is one of the most important Buddhist virtues.  It refers to (1) a state that is neither joy nor suffering but rather is independent of both; (2) the mind that is in equilibrium and elevated above all distinctions.  Equanimity is one of the 7 Factors of Enlightenment and one of the 4 Boundless States.

Evil Paths are the paths of hells, hungry ghosts and animality.  These paths can be taken as states of mind; i.e. when someone has a vicious thought of killing another, he is effectively reborn, for that moment, in the hells.


(Spring Liao, 06/14/2011)