Abbreviations: Skt = Sanskrit; Chin = Chinese; Kor = Korean; Jpn = Japanese; b. = born; d. = died; r. = reign; n.d. = no dates; c. = circa; fl. = flourished
āchārya (Skt) An honorific title meaning teacher, conferred upon a priest who guides the conduct of disciples and serves as an example to them.
acting administrator Hōjō Yoshitoki (1163–1224), the second regent of the Kamakura government.
administrator of priests An official rank within the Buddhist priesthood. The administrator of priests as the highest-ranking official was general supervisor over the other priests and nuns. Later the system of ranking for priests became a matter of formalism, with such titles bestowing honor but indicating no specific function or position.
Āgama sutras A generic term for the Hinayana sutras.
Ajātashatru A king of the state of Magadha in India. Incited by Devadatta, he killed his father, King Bimbisāra, a follower of Shakyamuni, and ascended the throne to become the most influential ruler of his time. Later he contracted a terrible disease and, in remorse for his evil acts, converted to Buddhism and supported the First Buddhist Council for the compilation of Shakyamuni’s teachings.
Ajitavatī See Hiranyavatī.
ālaya-consciousness Also called “storehouse consciousness.” The level of consciousness where the results of one’s actions (karma), good or evil, accumulate as karmic potentials or “seeds” that later produce the results of happiness or suffering. According to the Consciousness-Only school, which postulates the existence of eight levels of consciousness, the ālaya-consciousness corresponds to the eighth level and is the source of the first seven consciousnesses, as well as the storehouse for the seeds that produce all things and phenomena. The T’ien-t’ai and Flower Garland schools refer to another, deeper, level—the ninth consciousness—which corresponds to the true aspect of life, or the Buddha nature.
Amida (Skt Amitāyus or Amitābha, “Infinite Life” or “Infinite Light”) The Buddha of the Land of Perfect Bliss in the west. According to the Buddha Infinite Life Sutra, a bodhisattva named Dharma Treasury made forty-eight vows concerning the Buddha land he would establish upon attaining enlightenment. After many kalpas of practicing austerities, he became Amida Buddha and realized his Pure Land. Amida is worshiped by adherents of the Pure Land school.
Amida Sutra One of the three basic scriptures of Pure Land Buddhism. Kumārajīva’s translation of the smaller Sukhāvatīvyūha. Written in the form of a discourse between Shakyamuni, Shāriputra, and others, it describes the blessings associated with Amida Buddha and his Pure Land and asserts that one can attain rebirth in this land by relying on Amida.
amrita (Skt) A legendary, ambrosia-like liquid. Often translated as sweet dew. In ancient India it was regarded as the sweet-tasting beverage of the gods. In China it was thought to rain down from heaven when the world became peaceful. The word amrita means immortality.
Ānanda One of Shakyamuni’s ten major disciples. He was a cousin of Shakyamuni and also the younger brother of Devadatta. For many years he accompanied Shakyamuni as his personal attendant and thus heard more of his teachings than any other disciple. He was known, therefore, as the foremost in hearing the Buddha’s teachings. In addition, he is said to have possessed an excellent memory, which allowed him to play a central role in compiling Shakyamuni’s teachings at the First Buddhist Council after the Buddha’s passing.
Angulimāla A notorious murderer who became a follower of Shakyamuni. After having already killed 999 people, he was just about to kill his own mother and Shakyamuni, when he received instruction from the Buddha and repented.
Aniruddha A cousin of Shakyamuni and one of his ten major disciples, known as the foremost in divine insight. His father is regarded as having been either King Amritodana or King Dronodana, each of whom was the younger brother of Shuddhodana, Shakyamuni’s father.
An Lu-shan (705–757) A military officer in China during the T’ang dynasty. He gained control of a large area on the northeastern frontier and achieved power at court through the patronage of Emperor Hsüan-tsung. In 755 he led a rebellion and took control of the capital.
An’ne (795–868) The fourth chief priest of Enryaku-ji, the head temple of the Tendai school in Japan.
Annen (b. 841) A priest of the Tendai school who helped establish the doctrine and practice of Tendai esotericism in Japan.
Annotations on “Great Concentration and Insight,” The A commentary by Miao-lo on Great Concentration and Insight, one of T’ien-t’ai’s three major works.
Annotations on “The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra,” The A commentary by Miao-lo on The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra, one of T’ien-t’ai’s three major works.
Annotations on “The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra,” The A commentary by Miao-lo on The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra, one of T’ien-t’ai’s three major works.
arhat (Skt) One who has attained the highest stage of Hinayana enlightenment. Arhat means one worthy of respect.
Āryadeva (n.d.) A third-century scholar of the Mādhyamika school in India. He was born to a Brahman family in southern India and studied the doctrine of non-substantiality under Nāgārjuna. He was also called Kānadeva because of the loss of an eye (kana means “one eye”). He refuted teachers of Brahmanism at Pātaliputra in a religious debate and was killed by one of their disciples. Āryadeva is regarded as the fifteenth of Shakyamuni’s twenty-four successors.
Āryasimha (n.d.) The last of Shakyamuni’s twenty-four successors, who lived in central India during the sixth century. His efforts to propagate Buddhism led to his execution by Dammira, a king who destroyed many Buddhist temples and murdered scores of monks.
asamkhya (Skt) “Innumerable.” An ancient Indian numerical unit indicating an exceedingly large number. One account has it equal to 1059, while another describes it as 1051.
Asanga (n.d.) Scholar of the Consciousness-Only doctrine. He is thought to have lived around 310–390 or, according to another account, around 390–470. Born to a Brahman family at Purushapura in Gandhara in northern India, he initially studied the Hinayana teachings but was dissatisfied with these doctrines and made efforts to master the Mahayana teachings as well. When Vasubandhu, his younger brother, became attached to Hinayana teachings, Asanga converted him to Mahayana Buddhism.
Ashoka (r. c. 268–232 b.c.e.) The third ruler of the Indian Maurya dynasty and the first king to unify India. During the early years of his reign he was a tyrant, but later he converted to Buddhism and governed compassionately in accordance with Buddhist ideals.
Ashvaghosha (n.d.) A second-century Mahayana scholar and poet of Shrāvastī in India. He at first criticized Buddhism but was later converted by Pārshva. He led many people to the Buddha’s teachings through his skill in music and literature. Ashvaghosha is known as the twelfth of Shakyamuni’s twenty-four successors.
Asita (1) A seer mentioned in the “Devadatta” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, referred to as a former incarnation of Devadatta. According to this chapter, in one of his past existences, Shakyamuni was seeking the great Law. At that time, Asita expounded the Lotus Sutra for him. (2) A seer of Kapilavastu. When Shakyamuni was born, King Shuddhodana asked Asita to examine his newborn child’s physiognomy. Asita, perceiving the thirty-two features of a great man, foretold that, if the boy remained in the secular world, he would become a wheel-turning king by the age of twenty-nine, but if he renounced secular life, which was more probable, he would achieve supreme wisdom and attain Buddhahood. Asita lamented that, since he himself was already ninety years old, he would die before the prince attained enlightenment and therefore be unable to hear the Buddha’s teaching.
Aspiration for the Law The name of Shakyamuni in a past existence. When the ascetic Aspiration for the Law was seeking the Law, a devil disguised as a Brahman appeared to him and said that he would reveal to him a Buddhist teaching if he was ready to transcribe it using his skin as paper, one of his bones as a pen, and his blood as ink. When Aspiration for the Law gladly complied and prepared to write down the Buddhist teaching, the devil vanished. In response to his seeking mind, a Buddha appeared and taught him a profound teaching.
asura (Skt) A type of demon in Indian mythology, contentious and belligerent by nature, who fights continually with the god Shakra, or Indra. The world of asuras constitutes one of the six paths of existence.
Avīchi hell Also, the hell of incessant suffering. The most terrible of the eight hot hells. The Avīchi hell is also referred to as the great citadel of the Avīchi hell because it is surrounded by seven solid iron walls that make it impossible for its inhabitants to escape. The Sanskrit word avīchi was translated into Chinese as “incessant,” indicating that in this hell, pain and suffering continue without interruption. It is said that one who commits any of the five cardinal sins or slanders the correct teaching is destined to be reborn in the Avīchi hell.
Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana, The A work that sets forth the fundamental doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism and attempts to awaken people to faith in it. This work is traditionally attributed to Ashvaghosha, though there are differing opinions.
Awesome Sound King A Buddha mentioned in the “Never Disparaging” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. Bodhisattva Never Disparaging appeared during the Middle Day of the Law of the Buddha Awesome Sound King when Buddhism was in decline and arrogant monks held great authority. He revered all people for their innate Buddha nature, for which he was slandered and beaten by ignorant and conceited people.