five ascetics Five men whom Shakyamuni’s father sent to accompany Shakyamuni when he embarked on ascetic practices. Later, when Shakyamuni forsook extreme asceticism, they thought he had abandoned the search for truth and accordingly left him. After Shakyamuni had attained enlightenment, he sought them out and preached to them at Deer Park in Varanasi, converting them to his teachings. One of them was Ajnata Kaundinya, who is mentioned in the Lotus Sutra.
five cardinal sins The five most serious offenses in Buddhism: (1) killing one’s father, (2) killing one’s mother, (3) killing an arhat, (4) injuring the Buddha, and (5) causing disunity in the Buddhist Order. Committing any of them causes one to fall into the Avichi hell, or the hell of incessant suffering.
five components Also called the five skandhas. Form, perception, conception, volition, and consciousness.
five desires The desires that arise from the contact of the five sense organs, eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body, with their respective objects. Sometimes the five desires are defined as the desire for wealth, sex, food and drink, fame, and sleep.
five emotions Another term for the five desires.
five impurities Sometimes called the five defilements; they are (1) the impurity of the age, such as war or other disruptions of the social or natural environment; (2) impurity of desire, the tendency to be ruled by emotions such as greed, anger, or foolishness; (3) impurity of living beings, the physical and spiritual decline of human beings; (4) impurity of view deriving from mistaken views or values; and (5) impurity of life span, the distortion of life itself, which leads to a disordered and shortened life span.
five obstacles Five limitations set forth in some Buddhist teachings that women face in their religious practice. According to this view, a woman can never become a Brahma heavenly king, can never become a lord Shakra, can never become a devil king, can never become a wheel-turning sage king, and can never become a buddha. In chapter twelve of the Lotus Sutra, this view is refuted.
five precepts The basic precepts expounded for lay people: not to kill, not to steal, not to engage in sexual misconduct (such as adultery), not to lie, and not to drink intoxicants.
five transcendental powers The first five of the six transcendental powers; see six transcendental powers.
five types of vision Five kinds of perceptive faculty: (1) the eye of ordinary people, also called the physical eye, which distinguishes color and form; (2) the heavenly eye, which allows heavenly beings to see beyond the physical limitations of darkness, distance, or obstruction; (3) the wisdom eye, which allows people of the two vehicles to perceive the constantly changing nature of phenomena; (4) the Dharma eye, which allows bodhisattvas to understand all teachings and save others; and (5) the buddha eye, with which buddhas perceive the true nature of life spanning past, present, and future.
foremost worldly stage The fourth of the four good roots, or the stage at which one obtains the highest of the four good roots. One who has reached this stage in time will enter the way of insight and become a sage.
four elements The four basic elements that according to ancient Indian belief make up all things. They are earth, water, fire, and wind. These are often discussed with a fifth, space, or ether.
four heavenly kings Lords of the four quarters who serve Indra (also known as Shakra) as his generals and protect the four continents. They are Dhritarashtra (Dhṛtarāṣṭra), who appears in the Lotus Sutra under the name Upholder of the Nation, guardian of the east; Virudhaka (Virūḍhaka), guardian of the south; Virupaksha (Virūpākṣa), who guards the west; and Vaishravana (Vaiśravaṇa), who guards the north.
four kinds of believers Monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen.
four kinds of fearlessness Four aspects of a buddha’s fearlessness in preaching. A buddha is fearless in declaring that he is enlightened to the truth of all phenomena; fearless in proclaiming he has extinguished all desires and illusions; fearless in teaching that desires and karma can be obstacles to enlightenment; and fearless in teaching that one can overcome all sufferings by practicing Buddhism.
four methods of winning people Four methods employed by bodhisattvas to attract others to the Buddhist teachings. They are to give alms and expound the teachings; to speak in a kindly manner; to work to benefit others; and to share their hardships and cooperate with them.
four noble truths A fundamental doctrine of early Buddhism, it teaches that (1) all existence is marked by suffering; (2) suffering is caused by craving; (3) by doing away with craving one can gain release from suffering; (4) there is a method for achieving this goal. The method is that known as the eightfold path, which enjoins one to cultivate right views, right thinking, right speech, right action, right way of life, right endeavor, right mindfulness, and right meditation.
four-stage enlightenment The four stages of enlightenment that voice-hearers aim to attain, or the stages of the stream-winner, once-returner, non-returner, and arhat.
four unlimited kinds of knowledge Unlimited powers of understanding and preaching that buddhas and bodhisattvas possess. They are complete understanding of the Law; complete mastery of the meanings deriving from the Law; complete freedom in expressing the Law in various languages and dialects; and the ability to preach to all people at will by employing the first three powers.
four-way enlightenment The four ways to enlightenment. The stage preparatory to cutting off earthly desires and delusions, the stage of eradicating all earthly desires, the stage of gaining emancipation, and the stage of progressing in meditation and wisdom through assiduous practice.