Udayana A king of Kaushāmbī in India. He converted to Buddhism at the urging of his wife and became a patron of the Buddha. When Shakyamuni ascended to the heaven of the thirty-three gods to preach the teaching to his mother, King Udayana lamented that he could no longer see the Buddha and fell ill. Thereupon he ordered his retainers to fashion an image of the Buddha, the first such image ever made.
udumbara (Skt) A mythical plant said to bloom only once every three thousand years to herald the advent of a gold-wheel-turning king or a Buddha. The udumbara is often referred to in the Buddhist scriptures to symbolize the rarity of encountering a Buddha.
Ulūka Also called Kanāda. The founder of the Vaisheshika school, one of the six major schools of Brahmanism in ancient India. Ulūka is also known as one of the three ascetics, together with Kapila and Rishabha.
unconditioned, the That which is not created, that is, the eternal, unchanging, and pure. “The unconditioned” refers to Buddhist truths and ideals such as nirvana and enlightenment. Its opposite is the conditioned, which refers to all phenomena that are produced through causation, that are changeable and impermanent.
unification of the three truths A principle expounded by T’ien-t’ai on the basis of the Lotus Sutra, explaining the three truths of non-substantiality, temporary existence, and the Middle Way as an integral whole, each of the three possessing all three within itself. It teaches that these three are inseparable phases of all phenomena.
Universal Brightness (1) (Skt Shrutasoma) The name of Shakyamuni in a past existence when he was a king engaged in the pāramitā of observing precepts. This king appears in the Sutra on the Wise and the Foolish, The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom, and elsewhere. The king Universal Brightness and 99 other kings (999 kings according to another source) had been captured by the king called Spotted Feet and were about to be beheaded. The king Universal Brightness asked Spotted Feet to let him first carry out a promise he had made to give offerings to a certain monk. Spotted Feet granted him seven days’ grace to fulfill his promise, and the king Universal Brightness returned to his country, where he gave the monk offerings and transferred the throne to his son. After proclaiming to his people that keeping one’s promise is the most important precept, he returned to the king Spotted Feet; the latter was so impressed by the king Universal Brightness’s integrity that he released him and the other kings and then converted to Buddhism. (2) The name that Kaundinya and other voice-hearer disciples will assume when they attain Buddhahood, according to the “Prophecy of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. In this chapter, Shakyamuni predicts that a group of five hundred arhats and another group of seven hundred will in the future all become Buddhas named Universal Brightness.
Universal Worthy One of the two bodhisattvas, with Manjushrī, who attend Shakyamuni Buddha and lead the other bodhisattvas. He represents the virtues of truth and practice. In the “Universal Worthy” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, he vows to protect the sutra and its votaries.
Universal Worthy Sutra A one-volume sutra that was preached three months before Shakyamuni’s passing. This sutra is regarded as a continuation of the last, “Universal Worthy,” chapter of the Lotus Sutra and as the epilogue to the Lotus Sutra. It describes how to meditate on Bodhisattva Universal Worthy and explains the benefit of this practice.
unseen crown of the head The top of a Buddha’s head, which no one can see. One of a Buddha’s eighty characteristics. This feature is generally identified as a protuberant knot of flesh—one of a Buddha’s thirty-two features—on the crown of a Buddha’s head.
Usa Shrine A shrine in Kyushu, a southern island of Japan, dedicated to Emperor Ōjin, Empress Jingū, and the goddess Himegami. It is also called Usa Hachiman Shrine.
Utpalavarnā A nun and follower of Shakyamuni Buddha. She is said to have attained the state of arhat under the guidance of Mahāprajāpatī. She was beaten to death by Devadatta when she reproached him for his evil acts.