Gangō-ji A temple of the Flower Garland school in Japan. One of the seven major temples of Nara. The construction of this temple was begun in 588 by the court official Soga no Umako and was completed in 596.
Ganjin (688–763) (Chin Chien-chen) A Chinese priest who founded the Precepts school in Japan. He was invited to Japan to perform orthodox ordination ceremonies. After five attempts to make the voyage, he finally arrived in Japan in 753 and, the following year, conducted ceremonies conferring the precepts on the Retired Emperor Shōmu, high court officials, and priests.
garuda (Skt) A huge bird in Indian mythology that feeds on dragons and is regarded as the king of birds. Garuda has been incorporated into Buddhism and is counted as one of the eight kinds of nonhuman beings. In the Chinese translations of the Buddhist scriptures, a garuda is often rendered as “golden-winged bird.”
Gautama The family name of Shakyamuni. “Gautama” is often used to refer to Shakyamuni Buddha.
Gautamī See Mahāprajāpatī.
Gayā A city in Magadha. It is near Buddhagayā, the site of Shakyamuni’s enlightenment.
Gayāshīrsha A mountain in India on which Shakyamuni is believed to have preached. It has been identified as the hill now known as Brahmayoni, located 1.5 kilometers southwest of Gaya city. Mount Gayāshīrsha was translated in Chinese as Elephant-Headed Mountain.
Gembō (d. 746) A priest of the Dharma Characteristics school in Japan. After twenty years of study in China, he returned to Japan, bringing images of the Buddha as well as sutras, Buddhist treatises, and commentaries totaling more than five thousand volumes.
General Stone Tiger Li Kuang (d. 119 b.c.e.), a general who served Emperor Wu of the Former Han dynasty and excelled in archery. It is said that, once when he was out hunting, he mistook a stone in the grass for a tiger and shot at it with an arrow. Upon realizing that his target was in fact a stone, he was surprised to see that the tip of the arrow had embedded itself in the stone. He thus came to be known as General Stone Tiger. According to a later version of this anecdote, Li Kuang’s father (his mother, by another account) had earlier been killed by a tiger. He mistook a stone in the grass for the tiger that had killed his parent and shot at it with an arrow.
Genji clan of Kai A powerful family descended from the Genji clan whose influence extended throughout Kai and Shinano provinces.
Genshin (942–1017) Also known as Eshin, a Tendai priest of Mount Hiei. In 985 he compiled The Essentials of Rebirth in the Pure Land, which lent tremendous impetus to the establishment of the Pure Land school in Japan. Later he recanted and wrote The Essentials of the One Vehicle Teaching, a defense of the Tendai doctrine of the one vehicle of Buddhahood for all, in which he asserted the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra. He was often called the Supervisor of Priests Genshin and also the Supervisor of Priests Eshin.
ghee The finest clarified butter, or the last of the five flavors (milk, cream, curdled milk, butter, and ghee), the stages in the process by which milk is made into ghee. The word ghee is used to indicate the supreme teaching. T’ien-t’ai used ghee as a metaphor for the Lotus Sutra, the highest of all the sutras.
Gijō-bō (n.d.) A senior disciple of Dōzen-bō at Seichō-ji temple in Awa Province, where Nichiren Daishonin entered the priesthood. When the Daishonin refuted the errors of the dominant schools and declared the teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo on the twenty-eighth day of the fourth month in 1253, the steward of the village, Tōjō Kagenobu, ordered his arrest. At that time, Gijō-bō and another priest named Jōken-bō helped the Daishonin escape. They continued to correspond with him and sought his teaching. Nichiren Daishonin sent them several letters and treatises, including On Repaying Debts of Gratitude, The Tripitaka Master Shan-wu-wei, and Flowering and Bearing Grain.
Girika (n.d.) A notorious man in the state of Magadha during King Ashoka’s time who killed many people, including his own father and mother.
Gishin (781–833) Dengyō’s successor and the first chief priest of Enryaku-ji, the head temple of the Tendai school. When Dengyō traveled to China in 804, Gishin accompanied him as his interpreter. In 827 he established a Mahayana ordination center on Mount Hiei in fulfillment of Dengyō’s wishes.
Gladly Seen Also, Gladly Seen by All Living Beings. A bodhisattva who appears in the “Medicine King” chapter of the Lotus Sutra as a previous incarnation of Bodhisattva Medicine King. He learned the Lotus Sutra from a Buddha called Sun Moon Pure Bright Virtue and, in gratitude, anointed himself with oil and burned his body as an offering for twelve hundred years. He was reborn in the land of the Buddha Sun Moon Pure Bright Virtue and again served this Buddha. After the death of the Buddha Sun Moon Pure Bright Virtue, he burned his arms for seventy-two thousand years as a further offering.
gods of the sun and moon Deifications of the sun and moon.
Gohonzon The object of devotion in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism and the embodiment of the Mystic Law permeating all phenomena. It takes the form of a mandala inscribed on paper or on wood with characters representing the Mystic Law as well as the Ten Worlds, including Buddhahood. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism holds that all people possess the Buddha nature and can attain Buddhahood through faith in the Gohonzon.
Gokuraku-ji A temple of the True Word Precepts school in Kamakura, built in 1259 by Hōjō Shigetoki. Later Hōjō Nagatoki invited Ryōkan to act as chief priest. The temple was destroyed by fire in 1275, but was rebuilt in 1281 by Hōjō Tokimune as the government’s official place of prayer. In 1332 it became affiliated with the imperial court.
Gokuraku-ji, the lay priest of Hōjō Shigetoki (1198–1261), the third son of Hōjō Yoshitoki, the second regent of the Kamakura government. Shigetoki held several important posts and served as cosigner to Hōjō Tokiyori, the fifth regent of the Kamakura government. A “cosigner” was an official subordinate to the regent who placed his signature next to that of the regent on official documents. After retiring from office, he lived at Gokuraku-ji temple, which he had founded as a devoted Nembutsu believer.
Golden Light Sutra A sutra that takes the form of a discourse by Shakyamuni on Eagle Peak. It teaches that those who embrace this sutra will obtain the protection of the four heavenly kings and other benevolent deities, and that, if a ruler takes faith in the correct teaching, his country will be protected by these deities. On the other hand, if he fails to protect the correct teaching, the benevolent deities will abandon the nation, and calamities and disasters will occur. In Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, the Golden Light Sutra refers to a Chinese translation by Dharmaraksha of the Northern Liang dynasty that is entitled the Golden Light Sutra, and it also refers to the Sovereign Kings of the Golden Light Sutra translated by I-ching of the T’ang dynasty. The Sovereign Kings of the Golden Light Sutra is a newer translation of the Golden Light Sutra and contains more chapters than the older version.
Gomyō (750–834) A priest of the Dharma Characteristics school in Japan. In 827 he was designated administrator of priests. In 819 he petitioned the throne to protest Dengyō’s attempt to construct a Mahayana ordination platform.
Gonsō (758–827) A priest of the Three Treatises school in Japan. As the supervisor of priests, Gonsō administered Tōdai-ji and Saidai-ji temples at Nara, and in 826 he was appointed general supervisor of priests.
good friend (Jpn zenchishiki) One who leads to other people to the correct teaching. Buddhism teaches that one should associate with a good friend in order to pursue the way to enlightenment. In the “Devadatta” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni describes Devadatta, his lifelong enemy, as a good friend because in a past life he received instruction in the Lotus Sutra from Devadatta. In like manner, the “King Wonderful Adornment” chapter of the sutra describes the two brothers Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye as good friends to their father, King Wonderful Adornment, because they converted their father to Buddhism. This chapter defines a “good friend” as follows: “A good friend is the great cause and condition by which one is guided and led, and which enables one to see the Buddha and to conceive the desire for supreme perfect enlightenment.” A “good friend” is also called a “good teacher” because he or she gives instruction in the correct teaching. In his writings, the Daishonin also refers to enemies as “good friends” to the extent that they help one strengthen one’s resolve to carry out Buddhist practice. See also evil friend.
Good Treasures A bodhisattva in the Flower Garland Sutra who visits a total of fifty-three teachers in order to seek the truth.
Gosho The designation of the individual and collected writings of Nichiren Daishonin, made by his successor Nikkō Shōnin. The Japanese “sho” means writing and “go” is an honorific prefix.
gradual teaching Teachings expounded to gradually elevate people’s capacities to an understanding of higher doctrines. One of the four teachings of method, or T’ien-t’ai’s classification of Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings according to the way in which they were expounded.
Great Adornment (1) A Buddha mentioned in the Buddha Treasury Sutra. According to the sutra, the Buddha Great Adornment lived in the extremely remote past. His life lasted for sixty-eight trillion years, and he amassed a following of sixty-eight trillion disciples. One hundred years after this Buddha’s death, his followers split into five schools. Only the monk Universal Practice, the leader of one of the five schools, correctly upheld what Great Adornment had taught. The leaders of the four other schools, such as the monk Shore of Suffering, held erroneous views and, along with their followers, persecuted Universal Practice. For this reason, these four monks and their followers fell into hell. (2) A bodhisattva appearing in the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra who represents the assembly on Eagle Peak that listened to Shakyamuni Buddha preach that sutra, an introductory teaching to the Lotus Sutra. The Buddha entrusted the sutra to him and the other eighty thousand bodhisattvas present, who then vowed to propagate it.
Great Arrogant Brahman (n.d.) A Brahman in the kingdom of Mālava in India. He was overly proud and boastful of his erudition. When he was defeated in debate by a Mahayana Buddhist monk, Bhadraruchi, the king of Mālava sentenced him to death. The Brahman was spared at Bhadraruchi’s request but slandered him nevertheless. It is said that he fell into hell alive.
Great Collection Sutra A sixty-volume sutra preached by Shakyamuni Buddha to a great assembly of Buddhas and bodhisattvas who gathered from the ten directions. The Great Collection Sutra is a collection of sutras translated into Chinese by Dharmaraksha (385–433) and others. These sutras were compiled into a single sutra, or the Great Collection Sutra, by Seng-chiu of the Sui dynasty in 586. The work refers to the three calamities and predicts how the spread of Buddhism will unfold over the five five-hundred-year periods following Shakyamuni’s death.
Great Concentration and Insight One of T’ien-t’ai’s three major works. This work clarifies the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life based on the Lotus Sutra. And it elucidates the method of meditation for observing one’s mind and realizing the principle within oneself.
Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra A reference to two different sutras: (1) Kumārajīva’s translation of one of the major Wisdom sutras. Consisting of ninety chapters, it is also called the Larger Wisdom Sutra, in constant to the Smaller Wisdom Sutra. It expounds the doctrine of supreme wisdom and the non-substantiality of all phenomena. Nāgārjuna commented on the Sanskrit version of this sutra in his Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom. (2) Another sutra translated by Kumārajīva under the same name. Consisting of only twenty-nine chapters, it is also called the Smaller Wisdom Sutra. Though considerably different in length, the Larger and Smaller Wisdom sutras set forth basically the same doctrine.
Great Power A bodhisattva said to possess great strength of wisdom and compassion with which to save people. According to the Meditation on the Buddha Infinite Life Sutra, he attends Amida Buddha, together with Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds.
Great Teacher An honorific title awarded to priests of virtue in China and Japan by the imperial court, usually after their death.
Great Treasure Chamber The name of the vast court where the Great Collection Sutra was preached. According to the sutra, it is located between the world of desire and the world of form.
Great Universal Wisdom Excellence A Buddha who appeared and taught the Lotus Sutra major world system dust particle kalpas ago. His story appears in the “Parable of the Phantom City” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. Originally a king who had sixteen sons, after he attained Buddhahood, he preached the Lotus Sutra at the request of his sixteen sons. All sixteen spread the Lotus Sutra as bodhisattvas, and the sixteenth son was reborn in the sahā world as Shakyamuni.
Gridhrakūta See Eagle Peak.
Gunamati (c. 420–500) A monk of the Consciousness-Only school in southern India, revered as one of the ten great scholars of the school.
Gunaprabha (n.d.) A scholar of India who first studied the Mahayana but converted to the Hinayana after reading a Hinayana treatise. According to The Record of the Western Regions, he ascended to the Tushita heaven in order to resolve his doubts concerning the Hinayana and the Mahayana. There he met Bodhisattva Maitreya but did not respect or learn from him because Maitreya was not an ordained monk.
Gyōhyō (722–797) A priest of the Three Treatises school in Japan. He became the chief priest of Sōfuku-ji temple in Ōmi Province and was appointed as provincial teacher by the imperial court. In 778 he performed the ceremony in which Dengyō was ordained a priest.